Film Map

This is a rather lovingly crafted film map containing film titles as locations on a fictitious city map.

Created by Dorothy it really is a thing to behold – inventive, witty and meticulously produced by what can only be described as a room full of film nuts.

And here’s the entire thing:

Is black the new black?

The new Moleskine range takes the black theme to the next level with black internal pages throughout the range.

And I like it. A lot.

I particularly like the fluorescent gel pencils you get with them to scribe artily on the jet black surface.

I’m in.

Me and my owl

I went to the Get Stuffed exhibition at long last today and saw myself and my fellow Get Stuffed participants immortalised in photographs alongside their taxidermic companions. It really is a great project and on at Armley Mills until this Sunday – well worth a look if you’re in and around West Leeds this weekend.

It was quite odd to see myself large scale in an exhibition but thankfully I looked Ok on the photograph so no shame there!

Thanks to Jane Earnshaw for making it happen. It is an inspirational project and huge fun to take part in.

When you Tweet be Discreet

Loved the cod wartime tone of voice on these posters designed by student Matt Clixby from Nottingham Trent University.

It is interesting to see how the wartime paranoia sentiment relates to the modern corporate fear of social media slip ups by employees. So much so, these posters wouldn’t look out of place on an office noticeboard in a financial services institution.

Song of Achilles

This month’s book club choice was this year’s Orange Prize winner Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller. The last Orange prizewinner we read was Bradford author Joolz Denby so we were overdue a female prize -winning author.

Song of Achilles tells the well known story of Achilles and the siege of Troy in a polished and vivid way through the eyes of Petroclus, Achilles’ long term companion and in this telling of the story, his lover. I’ll be honest and admit that I’m no Greek scholar and my knowledge of ancient Greece, its gods and their stories is sketchy to say the least, but on the upside, this meant that Song of Achilles was very new to me. The book is based on The Iliad by Homer which tells the story of Helen of Troy, sieges, ten year wars, Hector and Achilles and all that stuff of antiquity.

This book, however, uses the grand sweep of an ancient story to tell a very intimate story – the love between two men, Petroclus and Achilles. Together since boys, their love develops naturally into a full blown relationship which is very tenderly portrayed by Miller. This is a very sensual and sinuous story that draws the reader into a magic realism world where gods and men share the earth, have relationships, love and fight each other. I particularly liked how the author describes with nonchalance the sea nymph Thetis popping up everywhere (she was Achilles’ mother) with pantomime villain regularity. This book is all about the relationship which happens to be played out against an ancient military backdrop but it could have been set in modern day New York and I’m not sure it would have a difference. Miller is exceptional at painting a fantastically rendered backdrop, but what she really loves is Achilles and Petroclus.

Whilst I was drawn into this book by the engaging characterisation and beautiful writing, I felt ultimately it didn’t tell me anything new about the human condition. It was fascinating to see hubris played out on a demi god scale when Achilles refused to fight the Greeks, and only when his lover is killed by Hector does he see the folly of his behaviour. Thousands of years may separate our eras but not a lot of things change in human behaviour.

This is a brisk and exciting book that is very easy to read and urges the reader on at every page turn. But for me it felt very shallow and I struggled to find the depth and insight that nurtures with great literature. I scored it a 7 out of 10 which may seem like a relatively high score but in truth this was a very entertaining book that although it had many failings, I enjoyed it immensely, looking forward to picking it up as the story reached its inevitable tragic conclusion.


I realise that I’m a little late to the party here, but I’ve actually got round to writing up my thoughts on Prometheus.

First up I’d say that the film is visually ravishing. Ridley Scott and his team of art directors and photographers have created one of the most beautifully inventive films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s really one for the geeks too with lots of references back to the original Alien film from 1979. In some ways the dense visual nature of the film hampers the story telling but there’s no denying it: it’s a treat.

I saw it twice and these second time I saw it was on the IMAX 3D which I have to say was spectacular. This film really was made for a screen as tall as three double decker buses with its pin sharp digital print and incredible 3D effects.

Visuals aside then, what of the story? Well it aims to tell the story before the original alien and how they came about and as such that works well. But what Scott has done is build out a wider narrative around the origins of life on earth and all manner of other things and to be honest I think it weighs itself down a bit with all this baggage. It gets a tad pompous at times but manages to keep focused on a taut and pacey action finale with exploding heads, spaceships and giant alien squid things.

Coming from a purely geek perspective it ticks all the boxes although I did have a few continuity issues such as the engineer / space jockey bit at the end but I’m being very picky. I can see how there have been some lukewarm reviews as Scott does try to do too many things with this Prometheus perhaps but I’m prepared to overlook these. On second viewing I found it more enjoyable – Ok some of the set pieces on first viewing blow you away but second time around they can be enjoyed for what they are.

This summer has delivered some amazing movies so far with rollicking adventures with The Avengers and esoteric SciFi with Prometheus. Next up is The Amazing Spider Man and The Dark Knight Rises. Watch this space!

The unbearable Leedsness of being

The Promised Land, Leeds Carriageworks Theatre

The Promised land is a fantastic book by Anthony Clavane plotting the rise and fall of his beloved hometown team Leeds United set against the backdrop of the rise and rise of on of the powerhouse cities of the industrial revolution, Leeds. Clavane is also Jewish and the way he weaves the history of Leeds’ Jewish population (once the largest outside of London) into the rich history of the city and its love hate relationship with its football team.

I was fascinated then to see how it would be translated on to a the stage. Billed as a Northern Love Story, the documentary style of the book had to be fundamentally translated into a narrative that could be told in a theatre and I have to say I thought it was a huge success. The production was by local amateur company Red Ladder and full credit to the company: this was a production of professional standards from the staging, design, direction and acting.

It was a touching, thrilling and at times uncomfortable experience as the starstruck lovers at the centre of the story played out their awkward North Leeds Jewish and South Leeds Beeston relationship against a backdrop of racism, hooliganism and dead-end opportunity of Leeds in 1975. The book told the fascinating story of immigrant jews in Leeds and how they came to dominate the city’s sporting clubs, first with Rugby League and latterly Football – this was very well handled in the stage production using the descendants of the central couple to tell this revealing story.

The title of the post by the way came from the programme notes for the production written by Anthony Clavan and I really quite liked it. He talks a lot about the “Leeds Attitude” that permeates the city – we’re used to being hated (particularly in the context of LUFC) and as such we’ve developed our own coping mechanism, a kind of ‘us against the world’ approach. This phrase kind of summed up my own personal love hate relationship with the city which over the years has provided me personally with a wealth of opportunities (and I am blessed) but also can frustratingly hold us back with a lack of vision and old-fashioned parochialism.

But having said that I still live here and I like to think that in doing so, I’m playing my own small part in The Promised Land.