Kate Bush Before The Dawn album

More than two years after the event Kate Bush’s acclaimed Before the Dawn show is released in full though only in audio formats.  She’s said in interviews that she feels this is the best way to represent it however the fact that the production was clearly intended to be a rich visual experience and the cd even comes with a booklet of photos showing such a show only underlines how the best way to preserve the performance would surely be visually. 


Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Is the new JK Rowling penned film series as wizard as Harry?

You can never quite reproduce the thrill of something brand new and I recall some 15 years (!) ago emerging from a cinema in London absolutely bowled over by the visualisation of the first of Harry Potter’s adventures. Time and repetition takes its toll and the simple delights of that first film were replaced by harder times for Harry and friends and familiarity for us. Now JK Rowling has started a fresh wizarding franchise (what other word can there be?) in the form of 1920s wizard Newt Scamanger and his capacious case of creatures. Can it once again excite us? Is this just a way of extending the lucrative fiction? Well we’re in different territory and this is a promising if rather uneven start.
If you don’t want to know the plot details then use an obliviator after reading on…


Top of the Pops 19 Nov 1981

Top of the Pops 1981 showing on BBC4. Being watched by Chris Arnsby.
Steve Wright, "Hello. Good evening. Welcome to another Top of the Pops. I think it's gonna be a mad one tonight. We're gonna start off with Modern Romance.  Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey!"

Modern Romance: Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey [17]. Once again the Top of the Pops studio looks amazing. Ron Bristow is on Lighting and maybe he's illuminating the studio differently because the colours look more vibrant and vivid (although lurid would be a better description for the vile luminous purple shirt the lead singer of Modern Romance is wearing). It's not just the lighting. It's as if someone has tweaked and boosted the colour signal; presumably Vision Mixer Hilary West. The effect reminds me of how I used to play around with the television's colour and brightness because I liked the way it made the picture look. Oh, and someone in the studio (a luckless member of Zoo probably) is dressed in a Moose costume.


The cuts cont...

Cuts and austerity are so common in the UK now we rarely see them make big headlines. Some people –particularly those living in the South- even appear to think the cuts are over. This week our council started a public consultation about the next round of cuts in which they have to save £90m. Part of this involves a Budget Simulator application on their website in which members of the public can attempt to balance the budget by making cuts across all of the council’s services. This exercise definitely brings home the stark choices that remain after all the so called `fat` has been cut. The fact is that our city’s council tax only accounts for 11% of the council’s budget because most properties are in lower council tax bands. 72% of the council’s budget comes from central government and 58% of that has been cut over the past six years. These new cuts are on top of that. So I had a go at the simulator to see exactly what cuts would be needed to balance the books.


Ten years ago in New York City

Ten years ago today in November 2006  a group of us went to New York which I'd seen so many times on tv and film yet ever since it's looked different. I suppose it was sort of in between time to go there, pre Obama but five years beyond 9/11. They were still building the memorial then. Having studied weather forecasts warning of bitter American November weather my case was full of woolies and big coats few of which I actually needed as it turned out to be unseasonably mild.



I don’t know much about the details of US politics but then neither does Donald Trump. The idea that such a character is now to be the next President may have filled some people with horror but we should not be too surprised. It’s nothing to do with 2016 being some sort of hexed year more to do with a worldwide distrust of professional politicians and what a certain tranche of people see as failed ideas. The white fifty plus male seems to have seen Trump as the last great hope to enable them to reclaim their pre-eminence, a position of strength they enjoyed in the States until the voices of minorities became louder and those minorities became larger. In every respect dinosaurs appear to have reclaimed the landscape like some Jurassic Park.


Top of the Pops 5 Nov 1981

Top of the Pops 1981 currently on BBC4. Watched by Chris Arnsby. 
Peter Powell, "Hello! Welcome to Top of the Pops! And as always we're changing things round just a little bit and we've got something brand new for you tonight! Stay with us, enjoy the show, and for starters Modern Romance! Ay Ay Moosey!"

Modern Romance: Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey [45]. The opening crane shot of the Top of the Pops studio looks amazing. The camera is fitted with some variant of a star filter and the studio lights appear to be shooting out rays. There's a big enthusiastic crowd waving flags and streamers. And, rather more worrying from a health and safety perspective, people juggling with fire when there's a lot of hairspray and artificial fabric in the studio. Astonishingly at no point during this song does anyone attempt to form an impromptu conga line.


Doctor Strange

Marvel’s mystical medic!
The latest instalment in Marvel’s mighty Universe revolves around an unlikely character. Stephen Strange is a skilled surgeon and doesn’t he just like everyone to know it. Till one day when distracted by his phone he is involved in a terrible car crash which inflicts the most damage on his hands if not his sanity. Refusing to believe his career is over his search for an unlikely solution to his problem leads him to Nepal where he seeks what he thinks will be the cure but turns out to be a mystical cult whose calm skills seem ill matched to his temperamental sarcasm. It does seem a tad familiar albeit buoyed by Benedict Cumberbatch’s identifiably frustrated persona and some neatly planted gags that stop the whole thing being taken too seriously. Oh and then there’s some folding buildings….