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All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play
makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no
play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes
Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes
Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

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The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

(Jack Kerouac, On the Road )

Dennis Hopper, whose portrayals of drug-addled, often deranged misfits in the landmark films “Easy Rider,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Blue Velvet” drew on his early out-of-control experiences as part of a new generation of Hollywood rebels, died Saturday at his home in Venice, California. He was 74. The cause was complications from metastasized prostate cancer, according to a statement issued by Alex Hitz, a family friend. Mr. Hopper, who said he stopped drinking and using drugs in the mid-1980s, followed that change with a tireless phase of his career in which he claimed to have turned down no parts.

His was the best line in Speed:

“I’m not crazy. Poor people are crazy. I’m eccentric.”

Most recently he was Jack Bauer’s first and ultimately best opponent, in the first series of 24, which Hopper did as a favour (Kiefer Sutherland earned his Executive Producer credit on later shows by bringing in a lot of his friends in the first series, including Hopper – friend of Donald Sutherland – and Lou Diamond Phillips).

Funnily enough, Easy Rider wasn’t my favourite of his performances. After a good start, it goes off on a few tangents throughout the movie, and there are better films that get what I would call the “culture of the time” across. OK, I’ll be really pretentious and say “zeitgeist”.

Hopper was in a similar state, i.e. ripped to the tits, but gave a better performance, in Apocalypse Now, the greatest movie ever, whichever version you see.

Although his death doesn’t come as a surprise, he’s yet another “last link” to classic Hollywood that has now gone (remember he was in Rebel Without a Cause over half a century ago now), a screen presence who continued to show up in varied places until recently and who will be genuinely missed.

R.I.P. Dennis Lee Hopper, actor, photographer and painter, born 17 May 1936; died 29 May 2010

Here’s part of a letter from Hazel Blears MP to her constituents in Salford. She had her snout stuck as firmly in the Westminster trough as any slippery tax-dodging Tory, so now she’s desperate to gain some credibility and hold on to her seat, which has been declared a marginal constituency for the first time in 1,000 years.

I grew up in the 1960s in Salford in a traditional working class street, with children playing outside terraced houses, and neighbours who looked out for each other.

My Dad was a fitter in a factory. As a teenager, my Mum had won a scholarship to a London arts college, but couldn’t afford to go. She worked as a secretary for the Plumbers’ and Electricians’ union.

When my brother and I were little, they filmed the classic black and white film “A Taste of Honey” on location in Salford. The director, Tony Richardson, saw us playing in our street. He asked my mum if he cold film us and my Mum, being a proud working class woman, scooped us up and put us in our Sunday best. The film director wanted us running around barefoot, and my Mum wanted us to be better than that. I’ve still got those same aspirations.

I grew up with a strong sense of social justice – life just didn’t seem fair to me. At 14, I saw a homeless person eating dinner from a rubbish bin, and I was angry that someone had to live like that.

My young friend Melissa and I went to a bit of a garden party at Hazel Blears’ house before the last General Election. There were cans of Stella Artois cooling in the ornamental pond and thick slices of halloumi sizzling on the barbecue. We were all impressed by Hazel’s pro-European stance.

She had her fingers burnt in the expenses scandal and has spent more time in Salford since then. But will it be enough?

UK Blog Directory

The self-taught Argentine tenor, star of David McVicar’s new Aïda, talks to Emma Pomfret of the Times.

He is in town for Verdi’s Aïda, directed by David McVicar. It is Alvarez’s debut as Radames, the heroic Egyptian general caught in a love triangle between Aïda, a prisoner, and the scorned princess Amneris.

“I’m very engaged with the production,” Alvarez announces, explaining that this Aïda is no “earthy” Egypt but a mix of evocative ancient traditions: Aztec Mexico, Ancient Greece and samurai warriors. “It looks a little like Stargate.”

“Normally Radames is sung with a big warrior voice: ‘Wah, wah, bah, bah!’ ” Alvarez barks like an hysterical seal.

“I don’t have the body of a young man, but I’m athletic. I can move well on stage.”

“The audience think we are capricious billionaires; 20 or 30 years ago, yes, but not now. It’s not true.”

His greatest vitriol is reserved for opera bloggers, whose continual criticism and sniping gossip, he says, damages singers. “Perhaps you sing one bad performance and these websites attack and blow it out of proportion. They always write: bad, bad, bad!” he rants, drowning out the translator in English. “Some artistic directors read these sites and a lot of contracts go.” This hasn’t happened to him, and he cannot give me a direct example but, he says: “I know it has happened. This is the real cancer of our opera world.”

They know who they are.

Bigelow shows off her two big ones

You may wonder what the job of being a Gulf War journalist is like. Well, we spend all day broadcasting on the radio and TV telling people back home what’s happening over here. And we learn what’s happening over here by spending all day monitoring the radio and TV broadcasts from back home. You may also wonder how any actual information ever gets into this loop.

(P.J. O’Rourke, Give War a Chance: Dispatches from the Gulf War, 1991)

Kathryn Bigelow is now a strong contender to become the next Mrs Stainforth. Those on the shortlist are (in order of wealth):

1. J.K. Rowling
2. Nigella Lawson
3. Helena Bonham Carter
4. Kathryn Bigelow
5. Katherine Jenkins

As for her film, The Hurt Locker starts out serious, but it runs out of steam half way through, and then ditches the original story for fantastical adventures that the characters would not have been involved in if it were real.

Also, the movie doesn’t try to explain or even understand the situation in Iraq, it’s content to simply pull on heart strings. I would have preferred something less heart on sleeve, and more intellectually stimulating. Would anything approaching a narrative be too much to ask for?

And it has a pretentious title; should have called it Guys Defusin’ Bombs, or even better Smoke ’Em If You Got ’Em.

Oscars 2010: is Kathryn Bigelow’s victory a win for women?
Kathryn Bigelow: director with a different take



Arts

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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