Sunday, 29 November 2009
Saturday, 28 November 2009
Friday, 27 November 2009
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Film director Woody Allen has asked French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to star in his next film, she has revealed in an interview.
The wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy told French TV station Canal Plus that she had agreed to appear but did not know what part she would play.
"I cannot in my life miss an opportunity like this," she said.
"I'm not at all an actress. Maybe I'll be absolutely terrible," the former model added.
The 41-year-old, who is also a singer-songwriter, said starring in a movie would be a "great experience".
She added: "I'd like to, you know, when I'm a grandmother, to have done a Woody Allen film."
Last year, she released her third album Comme si de rien n'etait (As If Nothing Had Happened)
The Italian-born singer wrote 11 of the album's 14 songs, but said at the time she had no plans to release a fourth record because her official duties would take priority.
She tied the knot with Mr Sarkozy in February last year after a three-month whirlwind romance.
Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Several Dylan covers on the night including Tombstone Blues and Knocking On Heaven's Door plus spirited renditions of The Boxer and Sunny Afternoon by two young scalliwags.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set
"Like buried treasure reclaimed from the past, this remarkable set is like no other Bing Crosby collection ever released. Here is the great crooner and a quartet led by his longtime accompanist Buddy Cole, occasionally augmented by a few wind instruments, in a thesaurus of 160 songs recorded in the most informal of circumstances at 16 sessions, during a period (1954-56) when Bing was in exceptionally good voice." - Gary Giddins, liner notes
It'll cost you a fair bit if you want to buy your brother the present he deserves, Terry:
Limited Edition: 20,000 copies
7 CDs - $119.00
Monday, 23 November 2009
Dizzy Gillespie, Royal Roost, New York, 1948
Ella Fitzgerald with Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Richard Rodgers in the audience, Downbeat, New York, 1949
Louis Armstrong, Paris, 1960
Nat King Cole, New York, 1949
Duke Ellington, Paris, 1958
Sonny Stitt, 1953
Thelonius Monk, New York, 1949
Billie Holiday, New York, 1949
Buddy Rich, 1954
Sarah Vaughn, New York, 1949
Dexter Gordon, Royal Roost, New York, 1948
Tony Bennett, 1950
Oscar Peterson, 1954
Charlie Parker with the Metronome All Stars, New York, 1949
Miles Davis, Birdland, New York, 1954
Chet Baker, 1956
Frank Sinatra, 1956
Stan Getz, New York, 1949
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Alcohol 'protects men's hearts'
Wine, beer, vodka - the type of drink did not appear to change the results
Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third, a major study suggests.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
Obituary: Edward Woodward
Although Edward Woodward's repertoire included both musicals and Shakespeare, it was television series Callan which initially made him a household name in Britain.
He acquired an early love of theatre from the exuberant performances of the traders at the street market in his home town of Croydon, south of London, and his visits to the Croydon Empire.
He was only five when his recital for a talent contest at Wallington in Surrey won him the first prize, what he believed to be a silver penknife, until it began peeling to reveal a dull, base metal.
It taught him scepticism. "You start doing deals with Americans, particularly the big Hollywood ones, and you'll appreciate the story about the silver penknife."
Edward Woodward's next prize was more valuable, a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, which enabled him to give up his job as a sanitation engineer.
At 16, he became Rada's youngest student and made his professional debut in repertory in 1946. Nine years later, he graduated to the London stage in Where There's a Will.
Woodward improved his credentials with a season at Stratford-on-Avon and made his first breakthrough in Rattle of a Simple Man in London.
Its success took it to Broadway, and led to Woodward's appearance in a New York production of a musical, High Spirits, based on Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit.
With his pleasing, light-tenor voice, Woodward then played the leading role of Sydney Carton in a musical version of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, and was on tour with the show when he received a call from Laurence Olivier.
Invited to choose his own role at the National Theatre, Woodward shook Olivier by declaring: "I want to play Cyrano de Bergerac", a work requiring several dozen actors.
He triumphed in the role, although he was obliged to supplement his income by singing in cabarets and clubs to support his wife and family.
Edward Woodward made more than a dozen records and featured in many dramas on BBC radio.
But it was in the title role of Callan, a brooding, resentful and rebellious British secret agent, that will be one of his best remembered roles.
Last screen appearance
The Thames Television series ran from 1969 to 1973, spawning a film of the same name. Woodward also starred in The Wicker Man, a film which attracted a huge cult following on both sides of the Atlantic, and in Breaker Morant, set during the Boer War.
The success of Callan earned him an award for TV Actor of the Year and led to Woodward starring in a long-running American television series, The Equaliser.
His five years in New York made him wealthy, but Woodward regretted making the series, which took a heavy toll on his health.
Working 20 hours at a time, he coped by smoking 100 cigarettes a day - and had a major heart attack.
Woodward's two sons and a daughter by his first marriage are both actors, while he and his second wife, the actress Michele Dotrice, also have a daughter.
Edward Woodward gave up smoking and continued working, appearing in the BBC series Common as Muck.
He also had a role in Simon Pegg's big screen police comedy Hot Fuzz.
His last on-screen appearance was as Tommy Clifford in EastEnders earlier this year, a character who sought forgiveness for the murder of Patrick Trueman's girlfriend decades earlier.
Despite his success in several fields, and the authority he brought to each of them, he was grateful for simply enjoying employment in a tough profession.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/11/16 12:27:38 GMT
© BBC MMIX
Ben Elton's emigrating to Australia!
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Manhood for Amateurs by Michael ChabonThe novelist pities -- and commiserates with -- the sappier, more confused sex in a collection of essays.
By Steve Almond October 4, 2009
Over the course of 20 years and six acclaimed novels, Michael Chabon has proved one of the most imaginative fiction writers of his generation. His readers have come to expect, along with silky prose and high-concept plots, a thrilling immersion in far-flung, intricately conceived worlds.
His new book, "Manhood for Amateurs," is a decidedly more traditional offering: a raft of shortish essays that traces his progression from a lonely, bookish boy to a thoughtful if addled husband and father. Thankfully, even in this, Chabon remains an invitingly restless writer. His focus swivels from unrepentant geekitude (comic books, Carl Sagan, "Planet of the Apes") to the sorrows of divorce, with welcome excursions into the wonders of Bisquick, telescopes, basement lairs and Roberto Clemente.
Chabon is more or less incapable of writing a boring sentence. Like Updike, he is an inveterate noticer, and the central appeal of his style lies in its lyric precision, whether he's describing a pack of stickers "scented with the sweet dust of bubble gum" or a fudge upside-down cake "floating like the earth's mantle on a glutinous brown magma." If the book has a unifying theme, it is the need to preserve our sense of wonder against an incessant tide of marketing. Chabon takes direct aim at the forces eroding our cultural imagination. He is especially good at diagnosing the neuroses of what used to be called the bourgeoisie. Here's his take on the paranoia that plagues modern parenthood:
"The endangerment of children . . . resonates so strongly because, as parents, as members of preceding generations, we look at the poisoned legacy of modern industrial society and . . . feel guilty. . . . [O]ur children have become cult objects to us, too precious to be risked. At the same time, they have become fetishes, the objects of unhealthy and diseased fixation. And once something is fetishized, capitalism steps in and finds a way to sell it."
For elaboration, visit your local Babies R Us outlet.
Of course, one of the occupational hazards of writing about children, particularly one's own children, is the slippery descent into sentiment. Chabon -- who has four kids, God bless him -- is not immune to spells of earnest contemplation. But more often he's sensationally funny, as when his 10-year-old son, having established that Chabon smoked pot, asks how many times: "So far, even blindsided as I had been by the abrupt onset of this conversation, I hadn't violated the guiding principle my wife and I had decided on for its eventual proper conduct: I had been honest. But now I had a moment's pause before replying, unwilling to pronounce those two simple words: one million."
I hear you, brother.
A few of the pieces are slight enough -- like a rather mystifying defense of the baseball player Jose Canseco -- to remind us that they were originally written for men's magazines, presumably on deadline. And there are particular moments when I wish Chabon had ditched his eloquent digressions in favor of a more sustained account of his own history. The apparently operatic dissolution of his first marriage, for instance, transpires in a single page. He spends more time lamenting the current state of Legos.
For the most part, though, Chabon proves excellent company, an insightful chatterbox, curious, erudite, occasionally profane and ultimately wise to the delusions of masculinity. "This is an essential element of the business of being a man," he explains, "to flood everyone around you in a great radiant arc . . . whose source and object of greatest intensity is yourself." There aren't many male writers around who would cop to such a statement and with such obvious good cheer.
Whatever its excesses and evasions, "Manhood for Amateurs" offers a fascinating glimpse inside the mind of a preeminent literary artist, one whose towering ambitions have been fueled by immense doubts, whose outsized hunger for connection derives from an aching loneliness. It would be natural to suppose -- given the general bustle and acclaim of his present life -- that Chabon has left such woes behind. But he returns to his childhood again and again as a sort of repository of galvanizing regret.
At one point, he recalls an episode in which a classmate appeared at his door, with a backgammon set under his arm. Chabon doesn't much like backgammon. "If only there were a game," he muses, "whose winning required a gift for the identification of missed opportunities and of things lost and irrecoverable, a knack for the belated recognition of truths, for the exploitation of chances in imagination after it is too late!"
If that's not a perfect description of writing, I don't know what is.
Almond is the author of the forthcoming "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life."
Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son by Michael Chabon
Harper: 306 pp., $25.99
Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times
June 21, 2009
Sunnyside By Glen David GoldReviewed by Christian House
Charlie Chaplin returns to life in this dazzling novel
In his bestselling first novel, Carter Beats the Devil, Gold fictionalised the real life of Charles Carter, a lovelorn 1920s magician. A striking, funny and inventive book, it placed its author at the forefront of American letters, a position further enhanced by his marriage to Alice Sebold. It has taken Gold eight years to produce his follow up, Sunnyside, which again spins a kaleidoscopic tale of romance and intrigue around the life of a well-known showman from the early 20th century.
For this performance, the curtain goes up on perhaps the most famous entertainer of all time, Charlie Chaplin. Sunnyside begins with a wondrous ripple-effect of mass illusion as Chaplin is spotted in 800 places simultaneously on an eventful winter's day in 1916. One of these sightings is by movie-mad lighthouse-man Leland Wheeler, of Chaplin on the bow of a sinking skiff. That Chaplin is safe quickly becomes clear, as does Leland's place in the narrative: enter the romantic hero. The other significant recurring character, Hugo Black, is a young, pretentious, persistently unlucky engineer from Detroit. The various interwoven misadventures of Leland, Hugo and Chaplin form the tapestry covering a bed of global drama that incorporates the Great War, the Russian Revolution and the birth of a nation to rival DW Griffith's.
Gold has the ability to create unwavering sympathy for complicated characters. Chaplin emerges as an insecure, witty, likeable autocrat while Leland is conflicted by his celluloid dreams and familial duties. "Acting is acting like you're doing something important," states his disapproving mother. A warm, humanist sense of humour unifies the various stories with theatrical aplomb. I particularly enjoyed how the career of Leland's father, the world's worst Wild West impresario, implodes during a performance for Kaiser Wilhelm II. This is a book to remind you of the pleasures of chuckling aloud in public.
There's no doubt that the editing could have been tighter; it's a novel as expansive as the period it chronicles. Yet there is still plenty to enjoy, even when Gold is distracted down a historical cul de sac. In particular, the foundations of Tinseltown are captured with glee. Opportunity is ever-present, from the sublime ("There was no use sleeping when someone as delightful as Douglas Fairbanks was around") to the ridiculous: "If Los Angeles were a village," realises Chaplin, "then by definition, he was the village idiot."
The silent-film era is undergoing a well-deserved critical reappraisal and, like the finest curator, Gold inspires intense curiosity in the barmy peculiarities of the industry and its mugging, wide-eyed players. Timeless is an overused adjective but this undervalued cinematic form deserves it, and Gold has captured its rare quality using many of its trademark hooks. The cliff-hangers and epic set-pieces, damsels in distress and plucky underdogs, are all present and correct.
As the studio boss Samuel Goldwyn claimed, the public wants "three-and-a-half reels of sorrow, resolved by five minutes of happiness". Glen David Gold delivers. After a dazzling debut, he has managed to pull off a consummate, ambitious encore. Sunnyside is a cane-twirling, bowler-doffing triumph.
From The Independent On Sunday
Last Night in Twisted River by John IrvingJohn Irving's novel, 20 years in the making, is his most autobiographical yet, says Stephanie Merritt
The Observer, Sunday 1 November 2009
John Irving has sown autobiographical themes throughout his novels, but always obliquely, in ways that resist simplistic comparisons. He has frequently pointed out to interviewers that many of his preoccupations come purely from imagination and that he considers these just as "autobiographical" as those that proceed from personal experience.
His intricately crafted 12th novel examines, in minute detail, the formation of an American novelist over the past 50 years; through his most overtly autobiographical character, Irving mounts a passionate defence of the art of fiction.
The novel opens in 1954 in the New Hampshire logging camp of Twisted River with two tragic accidents in quick succession. A 15-year-old logger is drowned; then, 12-year-old Daniel Baciagalupo, son of the camp's cook, kills a native American woman, mistaking her for a bear. Daniel's widowed father, Dominic, makes the decision to run from Twisted River with his son before the body is discovered, even though he knows the woman's violent boyfriend, the local constable, Carl, will be consumed with the desire for revenge.
Over the next half-century, the course of Dominic and Daniel's lives (and, later, that of Daniel's son, Joe) is determined by this choice. From Boston to Vermont, to Iowa and Toronto, through several name changes and numerous transitory women, the promise of Carl's vengeance drives the Baciagalupo men onwards, just as, in Irving's vivid descriptions, the relentless and often fatal force of the Androscoggin river drives the freshly cut logs downstream to the mills.
Daniel becomes bestselling novelist Danny Angel, whose writing career follows familiar lines. He publishes a novel about an abortionist that is adapted into an Oscar-winning film; like Irving, he is mentored by Kurt Vonnegut at the University of Iowa. The drama of his formative years surfaces in various ways throughout his novels, though the people closest to him complain that the author remains elusive in his books. "Somehow what struck [the cook] about Daniel's fiction was that it was both autobiographical and not autobiographical at the same time."
Through Danny, Irving draws back the curtain to reveal something of the novelist's process: the ways in which elements of experience, recurring preoccupations and, above all, imagination come together in unique configurations to create the self-contained world of a novel, an art form in danger of being sidelined by the media's obsession with "reality".
"Who else was more interested in fictiLast Night in Twisted River is also a novel about men, about the human need to construct narrative and pattern out of coincidence in "a world of accidents", as Danny's father likes to put it. "Was Danny superstitious?" the narrator asks at one point, before immediately answering: "Most writers who believe in plot are." It is further evidence of Irving's playfulness and not altogether a surprise to the reader to learn at the end that the novel we have been reading was being written by Danny Angel all along.
Though Constable Carl is barely glimpsed over the five decades, the threat of his pursuit underpins the narrative so powerfully that once this element of the story has reached its climax, some time before the end, the remainder of the book loses momentum and becomes more didactic. This final section, which appears as a kind of epilogue, begins with the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. In common with many serious novelists, Danny Angel struggles to respond as a writer; the media urge him to be more politicised, but Danny, who in his youth wrote a novel about Vietnam, finds himself unable to muster the political fury expected of him. He tells interviewers, somewhat defensively: "I'm a fiction writer – meaning that I won't ever write about the September Eleventh attacks, though I may use those events, when they're not so current, and then only in the context of a story of my own devising." By 2004, "the politics on the writer's refrigerator had become tedious. Conceivably, politics had always been boring, and the writer had only now noticed". Fiction, at least for Danny Angel, remains the more vivid means of understanding the world.
Irving has said that this novel was 20 years in the making, and this slow process of maturing has left the book rich with vintage Irving motifs. Once again, he demonstrates his instinctive ear for language, for the subtle distinctions in voice and idiom that give his full-bodied characters their individual resonances, although there are moments when the author's insistence on the uniqueness of a writer's sensibility is overplayed: waiting to receive bad news, "Danny had already imagined a few of the details – the way writers do". The way anyone does, surely, in those circumstances?
Similarly, the sheer exuberance of detail – reminiscent of the 19th-century novels Irving admires – at times threatens to overwhelm the story. But for the most part, Last Night in Twisted River is a big, old-fashioned novel in the best sense; Irving has created in painstaking, loving detail a whole and complete world, a record of momentous social changes, but, above all a testament to the enduring power of love and fiction.
Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC,
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009