31 March 2008

Leeds and Reading Festival line-up

I've been a bit slack on the blog front recently. That's because I've been so busy but also because I've been learning Adobe Flash and have been working on drawing up a map for this year's Glastonbury as a Flash project. You can see it here.

Another of this summer's big festivals has announced it's line-up and tickets went on sale tonight. And what a great line-up it is (if you like your rawk). So here's this year's list of the best acts playing at both Reading and Leeds over the August Bank Holiday weekend:

Rage Against the Machine
The Killers
Metallica (who's Enter Sandman is my alarm every morning!)
Queens of the Stone Age
Manic Street Preachers
The Raconteurs
The Fratellis
The Enemy
Bify Clyro
The Cribs
The Wombats
The Subways
Vampire Weekend
Dirty Pretty Things
Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly
Tenacious D
Bloc Party
...and more

Not a bad line-up and certainly looking better than Glastonbury. But hey, Glasto is Glasto and there's so much more than just the music.

27 March 2008

Leona Lewis - Top of the (American) Pops

I read today that the winner of the third series of reality show The X-Factor, Leona Lewis is the first British solo female to top the American Billboard chart for 21 years, with Bleeding Love! The last was Kim Wilde in 1981.

British women who have toped the U.S. chart with their debut single:

  • Petula Clark
  • Sheena Easton
  • Leona Lewis
On top of having the fastest selling download single ever for her debut release, A Moment Like This (over 50,000 in the first 30 minutes) and the top selling single of 2007, (Bleeding Love) astonishingly her first release is only the sixth record by a solo female Brit to top the U.S. Hits 100:
  • Petula Clark
  • LuLu
  • Sheena Easton
  • Bonnie Tyler
  • Kim Wilde
  • Leona Lewis
So reality TV does it again. Interestingly Sheena Easton arrived at stardom via the reality show The Big Time back in 1980 - they're not a new thing!. I can appreciate her talent but I think she is dull, has no personality and can't stand the music but, hey, congratulations Leona, great achievement.

26 March 2008

David Beckham's century

Former Manchester United footballer (now with LA Galaxy) is set to make his 100th cap for England tonight, when he plays in the friendly against France in Paris. Only the fifth player to reach this landmark, it's unlikely he'll catch goalkeeper Peter Shilton's 125 appearances, especially after England failed to qualify for the European Championships.

The former England captain was famously dropped by the previous manager, Steve McClaren, Fabio Capello left him out in his first game in charge but has offered Beckham this chance to reach his century. Man Utd defender Rio Ferdinand has been named captain for the first time.

The England football players to reach 100 caps:

:: 125 Peter Shilton
:: 108 Bobby Moore
:: 106 Bobby Charlton
:: 105 Billy Wright
and unless he injures himself in training
:: 100 David Beckham

23 March 2008

Edopter - Top Twelve Future Trends

Edopter is a web site that lets people predict what new trends and ideas will be shaping the future. Decided on, reviewed and voted on by it's users, it describes itself a "social trendcaster" where it's ethos is to "discover and share new trands in fashion, music, lifestyle, design, pretty much everything...".
Split into six categories they also give a statistic on what age/sex is most interested in each entry. Here's a list of some of the most interesting in each category:

Barack Obama:
"Barack Obama is the agent of change America needs to lead it back into the light."

Hatsune Miku:
"Hatsune Miku ("sound of the future") is the latest singing sensation to hit Japan. No, she's not a new idol singer, she's Yamaha's Vocaloid2 software based on the voice of vocalist Saki Fujita. Anyone can make a song by inserting the lyrics and notes"

United Arab Emerates - Disneyland of the Middle East:
"The UAE is the richest per capita country in the world. That means they have money, and they just so happen to spend it on the more innovative projects known to man. Hotels, houses, beaches, corporate buildings...just not the way we know them"

A recent trend in nightlife/restaurants - the faux-speakeasy. Back-alleys, secret doors, unpublished reservation lines..."

"Clear registered travelers are able to pass through airport security checkpoints with greater ease on a growing list of airports across the US"

Green Supercars:
"One time gas guzzlers are becoming earth-friendly"

Tap Water:
"Stop buying bottled water, and start drinking tap water."

Boycotting the 2008 Olympics:
"The movement to publicly express concern about the countless violations of every fundamental freedom in China by boycotting the 2008 games in Beijing."

Upper West Side Soweto:7"
The latest uplifting indie craze, fronted by Vampire Weekend, which mixes indie rock and ska with a traditional African sound. In the same vein as Paul Simon and Dave Matthews Band."

Out-of-Home Interactive Entertainment:
"The slowdown of the arcade has seen the birth of a new industry that uses the latest in immersive display technology and CGi computer power to create networked attractions that can be placed in malls and venues offering pay-to-play fun."

The Web:
"A person who is very well known or famous but mainly only on the internet... I bet you can name at least one right now..."

VisualCV Inc:
"VisualCV.com is reinventing the resume by applying Web 2.0 technologies like mashups, video, pictures and professional social networking to make it easier for candidates to truly stand out and highlight their credentials."

20 March 2008

The Royal Television Society Awards 2008

“…beautifully constructed and layered… and oozes originality on so many levels. It is a fresh and invigorating piece of high-concept comedy that has captured the imagination of its target [audience].”
“The jury described the winning show as a phenomenon – a Great British programme, incredibly old-fashioned but absolutely part of the zeitgeist. It’s the panel show that’s beyond a panel show.”
“The jury felt that this series reflected the best of powerful contemporary drama - strong storylines, consistent scripts and good characters.”
::CHILDREN'S DRAMA My Life As A Popat - Evil Granny
“Sometimes bizarre, certainly unique but never dull – the winning programme is a children’s comedy that is genuinely funny.”
“An empowering, moving, compelling and beautifully executed documentary that was truly engaging.”
“It’s rare… to find programmes that combine humour, warmth and a real sense of purpose so successfully. The characters were unforgettable and the insights into modern British life really stay with you.”
::HISTORY Andrew Marr's History Of Modern Britain
“A combination of wit, insight and scholarship were deployed to provide a fresh take on our recent past.”
::SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives
“Weaving together an emotional odyssey with an exploration of some of the most challenging front-line science was an audacious idea, but this film pulled it off magnificently.”
::OBSERVATIONAL DOCUMENTARY You're Not Splitting Up My Family
“Extraordinary and absolutely outstanding, a prime example of what documentary could – and should – do. Immensely compelling and very moving, the film gave viewers a profound insight into a process rarely, if ever, observed at such close quarters.”
“This series has continually reinvented itself, and the three presenters really are Three Men in a Boat for the 21st Century.”
“A pioneering show for daytime, with refreshing, articulate characters, and great energy and pace.”
"Deserving of a prime network slot…, the winning programme combined amazing access with riveting stories and great characters.”
::PRESENTER Andrew Marr
“… combined wit, humour and intellectual rigour without a trace of stuffiness. A wonderful story teller, he bravely dispensed with interviews and in so doing invented a new kind of television essay.”
“The winning show exemplifies what digital TV should be about; where talent can explode on to the scene from nowhere and rewrite what television can do.”
ARTS Genius Of Photography
“The jury praised the imaginative direction of the winning programme, which they said was intelligent, inspiring and a thoroughly enjoyable watch.”
::INTERNATIONAL AWARD Flight Of The Conchords
“…warm, fabulous, and one of the most surprising, fresh and original TV comedies to arrive in a long time.”
“The jury found the boldness of this contemporary drama compelling. Riveting and brilliant, it held a mirror up to a life not often shown on screen.”
::SINGLE DRAMA Stuart: A Life Backwards
“This was a refreshing, exciting, inventive and unexpected film. With a great lightness of touch, a potentially bleak subject was treated with enormous affection, complexity and wit.”
“Fabulous writing that tackles big stories in an incredibly accessible way and delivers a compelling emotional hit every time.”
::ACTOR - MALE Matthew Macfadyen - Secret Life
“The jury was struck not only by the bravery but also by the complexity of this performance which left them torn between sympathy and loathing. … an utterly compelling performance.”
::ACTOR - FEMALE Sally Hawkins - Persuasion
“The jury felt that the winning actor brought an extraordinary depth and subtlety to a deceptively complex role, and re-told a familiar story in a brilliantly fresh performance.”
::WRITER - DRAMA Heidi Thomas - Cranford
“The writing literally shone through - dancing effortlessly between rich comic subtext and almost unbearable emotion. Idiosyncratic and tender, and yet hugely confident and bold.”
::WRITER - COMEDY Graham Linehan - The I.T. Crowd
"Skilful writing with dextrous word-play and great characterisation makes this a quick witted and superb show with universal appeal.”
::ENTERTAINMENT PERFORMANCE Harry Hill - Harry Hill's TV Burp Series
"The winning performer has masterfully moved his show from the edge to the heart of the schedule. His inventiveness and wit shine through a simple format in a unique way.”
::COMEDY PERFORMANCE David Mitchell and Robert Webb - Peep Show
“… the winners have grown into television’s most consummate comedy performers. Their characters are beautifully drawn and the two performers play brilliantly off each other.”

"...Inspiring millions with the wonders of nature, no one has contributed more to both broadcasting and the conservation of nature than Sir David Attenborough."

::Judges’ Award - Glenwyn Benson
"...one of the most influential figures in factual broadcasting over the last twenty five years... In a fast changing industry, Glenwyn is true to her convictions and remains steadfastly loyal to the audience. Glenwyn is rare indeed - driven purely by the need to serve the public."

19 March 2008

Arthur C Clarke: RIP

The genius science fiction writer and visionary, Arthur C Clarke passed away at his home in Sri Lanka today, aged 90. He was an amazing man that predicted many technological advances with uncanny accuracy. He theories the idea of satellite communication, a world wide net work of computers and in the 1940's predicted man would walk on the moon by the year 2000.
Best known for his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick on the book and film 2001: A Space Oddessy, he wrote over 100 books. basing his science fiction on scientific theory and fact, whilst also breaking to broadcasting with both radio and television shows.

As a mark of respect here is a list of 10 amazing quotes and three "laws" from the great man:
  • The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.
  • A hundred years ago, the electric telegraph made possible - indeed, inevitable - the United States of America. The communications satellite will make equally inevitable a United Nations of Earth; let us hope that the transition period will not be equally bloody. First on the Moon, 1970
  • It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.
  • How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when clearly it is Ocean
  • If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run - and often in the short one - the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative. The Exploration of Space, 1951
  • I'm sure we would not have had men on the Moon if it had not been for Wells and Verne and the people who write about this and made people think about it. I'm rather proud of the fact that I know several astronauts who became astronauts through reading my books. Address to US Congress, 1975
  • At the present rate of progress, it is almost impossible to imagine any technical feat that cannot be achieved - if it can be achieved at all - within the next few hundred years. 1983
  • "The mind has an extraordinary ability to "see" things that are hoped for." 1973
  • Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.

Clarke's three laws, "Technology and the Future" 1961

  • Clarke's first law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  • Clarke's second law: The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.
  • Clarke's third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

  • "As three laws were good enough for Newton, I have modestly decided to stop there.""Profiles of the Future" (1962)

Other deaths this week include Gary Gygax, inventor of Dungeons and Dragions, and Oscar winning film director, Anthony Minghella.

18 March 2008

Expensive Divorces - We Can't Work it Out

The red-tops love a bit of it. The tabloid papers have been having a field day with the latest celebrity divorce, the court case between Sir Paul and Heather (Mills) McCartney. The former Beatle didn't do as badly as was expected, having to hand over £24.3 million of his fortune. Mills had asked for £125 million (including property and the £500,000 she has spent since their split, plus an annual payment for their daughter Beatrice). She was obviously not happy. Report suggest she threw a carafe of water over Sir Paul's lawyer.

Her reputation hasn't come out very well either. Despite just four year of marriage to a British icon making her a very rich woman she lost the appeal to stop details of the case being made public. Having defended herself after her legal team walked out, the press are going to have a field day picking over the finer details. *

Nearly £24 million is a hefty amount but it's not the biggest divorce settlement in history.

Biggest celebrity divorces:

  1. £80 million approx. - Michael and Juanita Jordan - after 19 years of marriage the former basketball star divorce settlement cost him $168 million. Juanita's final severance package also includes the Jordans' seven-acre estate in Chicago and custody of their three children.
  2. £75.5 million - Singer Neil Diamond and Marcia Murphy - Neil said Marcia "deserved every penny she received" after the payout to the woman he married before he rose to stardom.
  3. £50 million - Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving - a prenuptial agree written on a napkin was deemed unsuitable, costing the director half of his fortune
  4. £41 million - Kevin Costner, the actor, and Sindy Silva
  5. £30 million - Kenny Rogers, the singer, and his wife Marriane
  6. £25 million - James Cameron, the director, and Linda Hamilton, the actress
  7. £24.3 million - Sir Paul McCartney and Lady McCartney
  8. £23 million - Michael Douglas, the actor, and his first wife Diandra
  9. £15 million - Ted Danson, the actor, and Casey Coates
  10. £7.5 to £12.5 million - Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall

Had Chelsea owner Roman Albromovich conducted his divorce, from his wife Irina ,in this country it would have top the list of divorce settlements in Britain. The package included £155 million, property in Britain and Moscow, a private plane and yacht. It made her the 41st richest woman in Britain.

The highest payout in Britain was by insurance magnate John Charman. He paid his wife Beverley £48 million in 2006 including £8 in assets after 30 years or marriage, when neither were rich. They had two children. This was 37% of Charman's fortune.

All this money and they couldn't work it out.

*Update: The Judge's report, published today, described Heather Mills as "less than candid" in her evidence to court and a "less than impressive witness" and accused her of "make-belief". I think she got a very good settlement if this is the case. See The Times report here.

16 March 2008

St Patrick's Day: yesterday or tomorrow?

March the 17th is St Patrick's Day, patron saint of Ireland. However, due to Easter falling early officially the feast of St Patrick should have been celebrated yesterday. Saint's days are not supposed to happen in Holy Week as focus should be on Jesus (today Palm Sunday). Despite this I'm sure the Irish will use it as an excuse to quaff a few Guinness's on both days.

Here's a list of 10 facts about St Patrick's Day:

  • St Patrick was born in Britain
  • When he was about 16 he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland but later escaped.
  • When he returned home he joined the church (as his father and grandfather had done), becoming a deacon and a bishop.
  • He returned to Ireland as a missionary to spread the word of God and is credited as bring Catholicism to Ireland.
  • Due to early Christian Saints being canonised by canonisations were done on the diocesan or regional level, so St Patrick was never canonised by a pope.
  • Legend has it that St Patrick banish all snakes from Ireland (though there were no snakes there after the last ice age.
  • Many believe the snakes may have referred to pagan symbols used by druids and it was Pelagianism that St Patrick banished.
  • It is thought St Patrick used the shamrock to teach the idea of the Holy Trinity to the Irish, the three leafed shamrock becoming the symbol of Ireland.
  • St Patrick's Day is celebrated by the Irish all around the world and secular cultures are getting in on the act too, where it's popular in, amongst other places Canada and Australia where people eat Irish food, wear green (or orange), party and drink plenty of Guinness or Irish whiskey.
  • The largest St. Patrick's Day parade is held in New York City and it is watched by over 2 million spectators.

14 March 2008

Michael Caine, 75 today

"My name is Sir Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, Jr., CBE". Better known as Michael Caine, the English actor is 75 today. One of this countries best known actors I thought I'd mark the occasion by listing my top ten favourite Michael Caine movies. Same rules as usual, only films I've seen and only ones where he plays a major role, rather than a small part (like Batman Begins).

  1. The Ipcress File (and The Billion Dollar Brain)
  2. Get Carter
  3. The Italian Job
  4. Alfie
  5. Educating Rita
  6. The Eagle Has Landed
  7. Zulu
  8. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
  9. The Forth Protocol
  10. Escape to Victory

...and he's done a few stinkers but nothing as bad a Jaws: The Revenge

13 March 2008

SF: 10 Science Fiction Films That Never Make the List

Inspired by Vimes' fantastic post over on his Here and Back Again blog I was inspired to make this list. Whenever you see "favourite films" lists the same movies always appear. When narrowing down to genre the lists become even more predictable. There are so many bad science fiction turkeys out there that I thought I'd do something different.

My favourite sf films seem to be on all the top ten list (see Vimes' entry, To space and back again the Sci-Fi list for the usual suspects and a few additions of his own): Blade Runner, Alien (also in the horror top tens), Close Encounters, Back to the Future trilogy and Star Wars classic trilogy would all be in my top favourites. Here is a list of some favourites that never seem to make the grade:

  • The Fifth Element: Despite the cod-philosophy and Chris Rock's second most annoying character in sf (after Jar-Jar) this is a still sumptuous movie, with some of the most sunning visuals in the CGI age. When the Earth is in peril who would you want there to save the day, Bruce Willis of course. This is fun science fiction. And with the amazingly beautiful Milla Jovovich in (and out) of some amazing costumes and speaking a very sexy child-like alien language (and kicking ass with the best of them) it's not just the computer imagery that is a feast for the eyes. (Plus it's an excuse to show a picture of her so had to goon this list).
  • Logan's Run: Michael York and Jenny Agutter on the run from the authorities after discovering a disturbing secret about the ceremony the inhabitants of the leisure-city of the future goes through when they reach the age of 30. Hardly Fahrenheit 451 but a great 70's romp, all white plastic and tight costumes. Ripping stuff.
  • Silent Running: The other side of the 70's view of the future. An environmental movie about a greenhouse spaceship sent from a dying Earth to preserve the natural fauna, sending it's loner crew member insane despite the company of three cute robots.
  • Brazil: Terry Gilliam's masterpiece and take on the 1984 dystopia of a bureaucratically retro future. Jonathan Price escapes his pen pushing life by dreaming as the authorities descend after a bug in the system and fantasy and reality merge. Brilliant.
  • Twelve Monkeys: Gilliam again brings us this brilliant movie about time travel and madness where nothing is at it seems. Like all his movies the attention to detail and weird humour make draw out some superb performances from Brad Pitt and Bruce (again).
  • Demon Seed: A truly horrific film. A scientist working on a new computer develops a sentient machine which grows into a abomination that rapes his wife. Plays on all the fears on technology over taking it's creator in the most graphic way.
  • Scanners: Probably he most commercial of Cronenberg's science fiction about a group of humans with special powers with the ability to control and read the thoughts others and even kill. The hidden enemy amongst us. And who can forget the exploding heads!
  • Battle Beyond the Stars: Post Star Wars cash in, a trash movies that I loved from my childhood. Expanding on Star War's western plotting, BBtS is essentially The Magnificent Seven with rubber aliens.
  • Robocop: A biting satire masquerading as a glossy action movie. Of the 80's big budget sf's this is my favourite. there's more depth than The Terminator and is clever and funny too. It was a toss up between this and Total Recall.
  • The Day of the Dolphin: Scientist teach dolphins to talk but those pesky military types kidnap them to use for their nefarious ways. Humans should leave well alone, whatever they do is always turned around and used for warfare. This film make me cry like a fish when I was a kid.

12 March 2008

The Other Blog of Lists

It seems that whilst I was away, my good buddy, the boy Vimes, took up the Blog of Lists mantel and filled my boots by creating his own lists, over at his blog Here and Back Again: A Muppet's Tale.

This is a link list of what he's been up to, and a very good job he did too:

These are great. I might have to re-steal them back and make lists of my own from them in the future. Thanks Vimes, good on ya mate.

10 March 2008

Quiz: Where in the World?

You may have noticed I haven't been around for a while. Well, I've been on holiday. Yes, the hotel had internet access but I wasn't going to pay four Dinah and hour when the all inclusive bar was waiting. Yep, we went to Tunisia, not the nicest place I've ever been and a nice break and quality time with Sally. Here's a GoogleEarth image of the area we stayed, Port El Kantaoui:

So, I thought today's list could be a picture quiz (probably the most difficult you'll ever do!). Now I'll be amazed if you get all of these but here goes. Below are twelve satellite images of places I've visited or been on holiday to over the years. See if you can name any of them. Put your answers in the comments. Good luck! Click images to see a bigger version of the images.
1. 2.

3. 4.

5. 6.

7. 8.

9. 10.

11. 12.

I'll post the answers when I have enough guesses!

09 March 2008

The Empire Movie Awards 2008

So after the rebuff from both the BAFTAs and Oscars, there was some atomement for one film in the UK's biggest movie awards voted for by the movie-goers themselves. Atonement won both acting categories and best British Film in this year's Empire Movie Awards.

A good list below, from what I consider to be the country's best film magazine.

Best Film - The Bourne Ultimatum
Best British Film - Atonement
Best Actor - James McAvoy (Atonement)
Best Actress - Keira Knightley (Atonement)
Best Director - David Yates (Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix)
Best Newcomer - Sam Riley (Control)
Outstanding Contribution To British Film Award - Shane Meadows
Empire Icon - Ewan MacGregor
Empire Inspiration Award - Guillermo Del Toro
Best Thriller - American Gangster
Best Comedy - Hot Fuzz
Best Soundtrack — Control
Best Horror - 28 Weeks Later
Best Sci-fi/Fantasy - Stardust
Right: Keira Knightly takes the plunge in Atonement