Blog February 2006 - AndyPryke.com
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Sun 26th Feb 2006

Darwin Day

Finally wrote a brief entry for Darwin Day in Birmingham including the excellent Genomic Dub collective.

The Power of Nightmares - Mirage Film Festival

Rescheduled at late notice from Tipton Muslim Centre to the Dorothy Parkes centre in Smethwick, the turn out for this film wasn't great. However, a dedicated band did gather to enjoy this documentary film previously seen on what Robyn Hitchcock refers to as the devil's fishbowl (aka television). The film deals with the rise of the "radical islam" and American "neo-con" movements, and their use of propaganda and manipulation to establish (what the films claims are) false dichotomies and dangers. Again, an interesting one to see, in the vein of Farenheit 911.

One of the things I liked was observing the interviewees slightly bizare taste in decor and soft furnishings. One ex-CIA operative, who had worked in Afganshistan during the Soviet occupation and US funding of the Taliban, had a quite amazingly brightly coloured lamp in the background, with matching body and shade. Another ex-middle eastern official had lovely roccoco gold chairs in his suite. Proof that power corrupts - corrupts your taste that is!

The 39 Steps

ThePublic, 7 Inch Cinema and SugarfootStomp all brought together in a beautiful venue - with it's own organ. What more could you want from a Sunday evening? Sugarfoot brought groovy 1930's music (plus some groovy clothes of course), 7" brought the films and ThePublic brought venue, audience and tasty popcorn. We also had a slide show of West Brom as it used to be, including a lot of slides of the very street in which we were. In fact, unlike Birmingham (which seems to have a policy to remove any individuality or identity from the city) West Brom architecture seems to have survived the 60's relatively unscathed, and, fingers crossed, won't be repeating Birmingham's continuing fad for knocking down old buildings.

  • West Bromwich Town Hall:
    West Bromwich Town Hall

People's Democratic Republic of Birmingham

Added The People's Democratic Republic of Birmingham to my list of BirminghamBloggers. A very nicely crafted, rant-based blog from the future, which even features it's own t-shirts via cafepress!

Sat 25th Feb 2006

Moseley Farmers Market

I was down here doing a stall with Friends of the Earth on the Corporate Law Reform bill, and the links between palm oil production and the extinction of Orangutans (see http://www.palmoil.org.uk).

  • Orangutan at Moseley Farmers Market:
    Orangutan at Moseley Farmers Market

Purchase wise I got some lovely fresh shiitake mushrooms and young horse mushrooms, plus some goats cheese. I've never tried the horse mushrooms before, but they have a slight aniseed flavour and made the most delicious omelette! The goats cheese stall also drew my attention - I hadn't noticed it before, but the cheese was great. If only the farmers market could be every day, I could eat like a king, with wonderful tasty fresh ingredients smile

  • Horse Mushrooms:
    Horse Mushrooms

Fri 24th Feb 2006

Paradise Now - Mirage Festival

1st official film of the Mirage Festival running this weekend in Birmingham ( Mirage Website ). Paradise Now tells the story of two palestinian friends who are asked to become suicide bombers. It's a fascinating film, with a couple of set piece speeches on how war doesn't solve problems, but not generally "preachy". In fact, it's a bit of a thriller, with various taut situations on route. Certainly one I'd recommend.

This was my first visit to the AMC cinema near Five Ways, and I quite liked the space inside - there' a massive lobby like an engine hall which you view as you travel the escalators to the top floor. Probably not one for those with a fear of heights though!

Thu 23rd Feb 2006

Film Birmingham Launch and Mirage Launch

The launch of Film Birmingham took place at St Martin's in the Bullring tonight - It appears to be a bit like the New York mayor's film office but for Brum - i.e. it will facilitate access to the city as a film location. I'm not really clear how it relates to Screen West Midlands and other organisations, but then I don't work in film, so I guess I don't need to. Anyway, nice sociable reception plus some good VJing from Leon (and someone else).

A big night for film aficionados in Birmingham tonight, with the first event of the Mirage festival taking place at Chi bar... I must admit I missed the film, as I arrived late, having, for some reason, thought that Chi was in the Arcadian Centre. Note to self: Work out where you're going before you set off!

Sun 19th Feb 2006

Eastside Lighting Festival

As aforementioned the Eastside / Digbeth lighing festival is currently running, and I was lucky enough go on a guided tour. The Sunday tour itself has officially cancelled (for reasons unknown), but luckily our guide showed up anyway to look after people who hadn't booked and therefore wouldn't know it was cancelled....

By accounts, the Saturday tour (6:30 only, the 5:30 one being cancelled due to it being too light) has been very busy with either 60 or 120 people attending.

The full map for the festival can be found at http://makeashorterlink.com/?Y3752368C and the lights are on until the 26th Feb.

Our tour started at local landmark and meeting place _the Bullring Bull_. Down towards New St Station, and through the underpass under the Bullring Centre - here were strip lights in various colours plus small pixelated blue and purple floor lights. The green strip lights arrange vertically on columns with light shining only from their sides, reminded me of the lighting you often see for crosses.

  • Underpass:
    Underpass

Onwards, past Moor St station, along to Island House - the only building in this area not to have been demolished as part of the city council's plans to recreate the architectural vandalism of the 1960's redevelop Digbeth / Eastside as a modern and vibrant study in 1990's architecture. Doh! I just can't control the cynisism can I smile I mean, look at the wonderful Millenium Point building...

Island House has a permanent installation of lights / coloured windows in the form of a barcode.

  • Island House:
    Island House

Next down past the fair, which is a lighting display in itself, to see subtle pulsing lights under a bridge, with weird echoing voices reflected from the dodgems and walzters.

  • Digbeth Fair:
    Digbeth Fair

Along Fazeley St to see lights installed in Typhoo basin - what looks like a canal deadend on the left hand side of the road. There's a small island with what is apparently a dumped car, lit, and also lights playing on the walls of the buildings. On the right hand side, there's the access to the canal towpath along which there's a permanent lighting installation under the canal bridge. This is one of the most effective from an architectural point of view, picking out the individual ribs of the metal tunnel structure in differing colours.

  • Typhoo Wharf:
    Typhoo Wharf

  • Tunnel:
    Tunnel

Past the MADE building with another installation independent of the festival, by Colin Pearce. Here we see ripples of light seemingly reflected off water onto the ceiling of the offices.

Next we have the medical mission, with a lit roof and a spot light in the street(no pic I'm afraid). The roof lighting didn't seem to have much of an effect to be honest, though the spotlight was fun, generating a pool of light in the darkness, as if a film was being made. A couple of photographers asked us to stand in the light while they shot.

Next to a long and lovely railway viaduct, floodlit in multiple places with slowly changing colours. The weird windows I've noticed before here are also lit up.

  • Arches:
    Arches

  • Windows under bridge:
    windows under bridge

Finally to a carpark near the custard factory where we see a coloured chimney, graffiti and a "burning" car.

  • Custard Factory:
    Custard Factory

  • "Burning" Car:

Sat 18th Feb 2006

Upcoming - Mirage Film Festival

Running Thursday 23 February to Sunday 26 February, Mirage will feature films on/from the middle east, Japan and Korea (including an IMAX screening of Godzilla). Venues range from the standard (AMC, Broad St) to the novel (Tipton Muslim Centre). The Power of Nightmares at Tipton Muslim Centre sounds interesting to me, showing "...how paranoia has been fomented by those that dominate political discourse in the 21st century. With archive footage and interviews covering over 50 years from 1949 to 2004 ". More at: www.miragefilmfestival.com

Fri 17th Feb 2006

What no Blog?

Quite a big "blogging gap" for me since last Thurs. I generally blog about arts and events, or stuff I've seen on the net, rather than personal stuff (see EditorialPolicy) and I haven't been to any public events for a whole week!

Quiet Watercourse Blog

Added Richard Barker's "Quiet Watercourse" blog ( http://quietwatercourse.blogspot.com/ ) to my list of BirminghamBloggers. Happy blogging Rich!

Festen

Festen.... much talked about, well recommended, I went along not having seen the Dogma film on which it is based, and with no idea about the plot. Set at a Danish family reunion, for the patriarchial father's 60th birthday. I don't want to give too much away, but the publicity tells us that a "dark secret is revealed".

I enjoyed it, found it quite exciting. A couple of the characters seemed not to fit in so well - the rather comic grandfather and the boyfriend.

The scenary was minimal - we had 3 "spaces": a bedroom (with bed rising out of the stage, to some laughter), a dining room (with a table which magically slides backwards and forwards) and an outside space (with bed and table hidden).

I can't really say much more with out descending into "spoilers", so I'll leave it there.

Fri 10th Feb 2006

Darwin Day

Darwin Day events take place all over the world to celebrate the birthday of Charles Darwin the most famous proponent of the theory of evolution. During the day, I saw a great quote along the lines of "Never before has a theory explained so many facts with so few assumptions". The theory of evolution is one of the most explainatory theories we have. In combination with work in genetics and biochemistry is has removed the vague concept of "life force" which living things were suppose to contain but for which there was no real explaination or evidence. Maybe at sometime in the future the concept of "consciousness" will go the same way.

One of the highlight was "The Origin in Dub", an astonishing combination of words from the book "The Origin of Species" with dub music and computer graphics from the Genomic Dub Collective. You can see a few still's here, or buy the DVD very cheaply from Mark Pallen via the Darwin Day in Birmingham page at http://www.infection.bham.ac.uk/BPAG/Darwinday/

  • Darwin Day:
    Darwin Day

  • Darwin Day:
    Darwin Day

  • Darwin Day:
    Darwin Day

Thu 9th Feb 2006

Down at the Sugarfoot Stomp

The Sunflower Lounge is the home venue for Birmingham's cult 1920's to 1960's club night which is also known to visit The Rainbow. Descending the stairs to the basement room I noticed the trademark Sugarfoot images of dancing ladies from various periods (you can see some examples at: http://www.downatthesugarfootstomp.com/ ) The room itself had tables with nice table cloths and lots of retro-sweets - dunnock cakes (?), those wafer sandwiches with gooey marshmallow filling that look like ice creams, sherbert fountains etc. Little sugar mice climbed over the wafers but soon disappeared! Projections of old films and music sheets decorated the walls. One of the things I liked was the cohesive style - quite a few people had dressed for the occasion which is always fun.

Musically, we had quite a mix of groovy tunes - hard to describe but fun and happy. Go Sugarfoot, Go!

Tue 7th Feb 2006

Jerry Springer the Opera

I was sorely disappointed. Sorely disappointed at the lack of effective Christian protest that is! I was really expecting another Behzti, with crowds of people protesting, banners, chanting, police, rioting etc. Nope. All we got on the protest side was 9 or 10 people singing, and not very loudly. Very disappointed. My indignation is no longer righteous!

  • Jerry Springer Protest (a bit blurry!):
    Jerry Springer Protest (a bit blurry!)

Protest aside, it was a fantastic show. Part opera, part musical, part parody, part theology, Jerry Springer the Opera was funny, moving and had way-too-catchy songs! I'll avoid "spoilers" for those who haven't seen the show, but my favourite song has to be "This is my Jerry Springer Moment" as sung by Baby Jane. Oh, but it was quite poignant at moment too, people with hopes which would never be achieved, and dreams shattered beyond repair. But don't think it was downbeat - the effect as a whole is fantastic and by the end, my face hurt from laughing and smiling. It's very tempting to sing along, and maybe a sing-a-long-a-Jerry-Springer could be the follow up? It worked for Abba the Musical! smile

The lighting was great, with nice cloud effects for the inner valkrie (a character who was never really resolved) and dramatic changes for the scenes and songs. Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening - I heard several people saying that they'd go see it again, and I think I would too - which is quite a recommendation.

Sun 5th Feb 2006

Complaints Choir

I noticed that the mp3 of the First Complaints Choir of Birmingham is available from the website of the artists, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen - http://www.ykon.org/kochta-kalleinen/complaintschoir.html The Complaint Choir was one of my favourite events of 2005. They've now gone on to stage CC events in Helsinki, Hamburg and St Petersburg.

Sat 4th Feb 2006

In a Movie

Went to Walsall New Art Gallery to see the "interactive installation" of Reuben Henry and Karin Kihlberg (Springhill Institute). I wasn't really sure what form it would take, though I kind of knew that it involved acting in some way. Basically, the setup is this - Karin and Reuben have built a studio set and storyboarded a number of short films in which the visitor is invited to take part. Each person has a unique film, and the storyboards define the process of what shots, lighting setup, what the "actor" must do etc. My one involved me counting on my fingers whilst being interupted/distracted by a tannoy which called out random numbers. (aside: I don't think I've written the word "tannoy" before - or noticed the "annoy" hidden inside.) It was fun to be directed, and interesting to see how all the short were done etc. I believe the films will be shown as an installation in May.

Fri 3rd Feb 2006

Breaking the Law?

As I understand it, writing "You should hate xxxx" breaks the new law on religious hatred if xxxx refers to members of a religion. I'm going to write to my MP and see if they can find out for me...

Dear Lynne Jones M.P.,
I wonder if you could find out whether I have broken the religious hatred bill by writing the sentence "You should hate scientologists" on my website.

Many Thanks,
Andy

Oooops, I think I just broke it by posting my letter. Oh dear wink

Wed 1st Feb 2006

Scientology

Reading about the South Park episode on Scientology(tm) being withdrawn in the UK due to complaints from Tom Cruise, lead me to the best possible answers to the scientologists "personality test". Now all I've got to do is memorise them, go down to Scientology central in Birmingham and become their god! Not sure if this is what happens in the censored episode, as I haven't seen it yet... maybe.

Way back in my Blog March 2002, I had a play with their online test and got a bit suspicious.

1st Blog Post

I was kind of amazed to find that I've been blogging since December 2001, I sometimes think of myself as a relative newcomer!

Here's my 1st blog post. Like you care. I only write this for my own amusement you know.

22 Dec 2001

Read a nice article interviewing Seth Shostak, a SETI astronomer - http://www.pigdog.org/interviews/shostak/seti_interview.html

Which reminds me, something everyone should know about is the DrakeEquation.

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