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Showing posts from August, 2012

The Night I Dreamt of Joanna Newsom

Last night I dreamt that I found Walnut Whales, Joanna Newsom's self-released debut EP in a second hand record shop.  I was so overwhelmed by the find that I felt my hand shaking as I took it to the counter.  Fans of Newsom will testify that this is the most sought-after album in her catalogue, pre-dating The Milk-Eyed Mender - her official debut - by two years.  When I woke, I felt the pang of disappointment to find that it was only a dream.    
I've seen Joanna Newsom perform both indoor and out.  The first occasion was in 2008 when I saw her perform in the truly spectacular neo-classical setting of Somerset House.  She didn't play Ys - her second full-length album - from start to finish as she had done as part of the Ys tour, but we were treated to some highlights from The Milk-Eyed Mender, Ys, as well as Colleen (from her 2008 EP, Joanna Newsom & the Ys Street Band) and some early versions of songs such as In California and Baby Birch that would go on to appear on h…

An Expert Analysis of Michael Fassbender's Running Style From the Film 'Shame'

Tom Wiggins: What are your first impressions of Michael Fassbender/Brandon's running style? Paul Whittaker: He's running nice, smooth and relaxed. He seems like he has a good amount of fitness and he is running well within himself in terms of pace.   TW: What improvements could he make to his running style? PW: The main improvement I'd make is his foot plant.  He lands heel first and this causes a 'breaking' effect when travelling forwards.  If he landed on his mid-foot/forefoot, this would be a much better for impact stress and propulsion going forward into the next running stride. TW: Regarding his speed, how many minutes per mile is he running? PW: I would say he is running approx 7-7.30 minutes per mile. TW:  What do you make of his stride lengths?  Is he overstriding/understriding? PW: The actor is definitely overstriding in this clip.  It would help if his feet landed underneath and below his centre of gravity. TW: What's his posture like? PW: A slight forward le…

The Fruit & Veg Man

The bags on the ground a pound! The bags a pound on the ground! The bags on the ground a pound! The bags a pound on the ground!
Wow, I thought.  I pointed.
Those bags
Those bags Those bags
Each a quid?
Yes, mate.
Good lord.
You can’t fault the fee of the fruit on the floor! You can’t fault the fruit of the fee on the floor! You can’t fault the flaws of the fruit on the floor! Your fruit is free as I flee from your stall!

So What If I Cried At Bambi?

Did you blub at Bambi?  Get Extremely Tearful over E.T?  Did you melt at the sight of The Snowman?  If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes', please look away now.

For many of us, the memory of crying over cartoons is as much soaked in nostalgia as the event itself was soaked in tears.  Now we've grown up, we're over our childhood cinematic losses.  Sure, there's always a few hiccups: Marley & Me may quiver a lip, but Disney's deer, home-phoning aliens and sweating snowmen no longer have the emotional pull as they once did.  But that's fine.  They were fundamental in our emotional development and we're now the better for it.  We can move on.    

And yet, there are two children in America who have been stripped of this basic human right.  The trauma of a tearjerker was one thing, but like any trauma, its aftermath should not - I repeat, should not - be filmed.  Parents are within their rights to tell an embarrassing story of how their young so…

Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep

Will you marry me when you're 70 and have nothing to lose?




10 Songs from 10 Female Singer-Songwriters of the Indie Scene

Sea of Bees - Willis




Camille - Wet Boy




Regina Spektor - Somedays 




Tiny Vipers - Dreamer 




Feist - Service Bell



Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps




Sia - Soon We'll Be Found




Joanna Newsom - Does Not Suffice



Laura Marling - Blackberry Stone




My Brightest Diamond - All Things Unwind 


Usain Bolt & The 100 Metre Final: An Hour to Go

We've got under an hour to go until the Olympic 100 Metre Final.  Ever since Bolt dismantled the competition in Beijing, I've been intrigued to find out whether he can do it in the same fashion again in London.

On paper at least, Bolt was none-too impressive in the 100 metre heats, winning the race in 10.08 seconds, but he did what he had to do to get into the next round.  The semi-finals revealed a Bolt of old: a Bolt capable of dismantling the competition and having enough time to look around to see their reaction.  In the BBC analysis afterwards, Michael Johnson said that he could have run two tenths of a second faster if he hadn't slowed down.  His winning time in the semis was 9.87 seconds, meaning he could have run the race in 9.67 seconds.  Not even Yohan "The Beast" Blake would be able to compete with that.  They finished the analysis off by saying "Blake was fantastic, but Bolt was Bolt."  That says it all: Bolt seems to be on-form, and an in-fo…

"Whistle" by Martin Figura at Cheltenham Poetry Festival

In April, my uncle and I went to see award-winning poet Martin Figura read from "Whistle", his second full-length collection of poetry.  His performance caused quite a stir at Ledbury Poetry Festival in 2010, where he received a standing ovation, which by all accounts is not an easy thing to do at Ledbury.  Not only was this for the Shropshire poet's extremely poignant and unsentimental verse, but for his understated and - at times - humorous delivery of it.  Without having previously read any of Figura's work, I purchased Whistle before his performance as part of Cheltenham Poetry Festival.  Thumbing through its pages, first impressions of his poetry proved dark.  And relentlessly so.  I prepared myself, and warned my uncle.

'When Martin Figura was nine years old, his father killed his mother,' as begins the blurb of the Whistle tour.  I could see where Cheltenham Poetry Festival were coming from when they booked the rather severe and low-lit chapel within th…

The Greatness of Kindness

"I suppose the thing I would most like to have known or be reassured about is in the world what counts more than talent, what counts more than energy, or concentration, or commitment or anything else, is kindness.  And the more in the world you encounter kindness and cheerfulness - which is its kind of amiable uncle or aunt - just the better the world always is.  And all the big words: virtue, justice, truth, are dwarfed by the greatness of kindness."

- Stephen Fry