All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

An Atonement (Of Sorts)

Israel to Beatles: Um, can you play now?

More than 40 years after it barred the iconic British band from playing there, Israel said it wants the surviving members of the Beatles to participate in a concert celebrating the country's 60th birthday.

But the Israeli embassy in London denied a report that the Jewish state had apologized for its original refusal to let the Beatles perform in the country. The band had been booked to appear in 1965, but the government refused to grant the necessary permits on the ground that its music might corrupt the country's morals.

"Israel missed a chance to learn from the most influential musicians of the decade, and the Beatles missed an opportunity to reach out to one of the most passionate audiences in the world," Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor said in a letter addressed to Sir Paul McCartney. "On our 60th anniversary, we would like to take the opportunity to offer you a second chance to play in Israel."

The embassy said a letter was presented by Prosor to Jerry Goldman, CEO of the Beatles Story in the north England city of Liverpool. It was also sent to Sir Paul McCartney and Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr.


Wednesday, 23 January 2008

The "Out Of The Blue" Feeling

I could probably count on the fingers of one hand, the news stories that have caught me totally by surprise throughout my life.

I still remember waking up to the radio in utter shock, upon hearing that Princess Grace had been involved in a car accident. Similarly so (though I wasn't awake) with Princess Diana's death and the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin (can you see a rather morbid pattern developing here?)

I had another such experience yesterday, when I heard about Heath Ledger's death.
I just so wasn't expecting it.

A suicide bombing in Israel or any other part of the world, is something that sends a shudder down my spine as it is tragically something that I've come to expect.

A political scandal doesn't shock me either or even a natural disaster such as the 2006 Tsunami.

So why was I so taken aback by poor old Heath's passing?

Simply, because it was not something that I could have anticipated in any way.

Here was a good looking guy, clean cut, serious and well respected, who was getting quite an esteemed reputation in the Hollywood and around the world. How could anyone imagine that he wouldn't make it past the criminally young age of 28 (which I celebrated as being the last birthday as a bachelor)?

Who would have guessed that this actor would join a select (but probably not too welcome) club of actors who have died young over the years?

It's that "totally out of the blue" feeling, which I suppose I should be grateful I haven't quite become used to.

Rest in peace, Heath.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Bill Gates' Last Days

Friday, 11 January 2008

Tip Of The Day: How To Keep Fit

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can.

Try to reach a full minute, and then relax. Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.

After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks.

Then try 50-lb potato sacks and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I'm at this level.)

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Back To School

and I've survived my first day (just about)!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Re-Educating Myself

'twas the night before the start of the new term and the teacher was in a reflective state of mind.
He'd spent the better part of the last week preparing for the new term, in the full knowledge that he'd be bombarded with another stack of deadlines as soon as he graced the interior of the staffroon.

It was at the start of January 2008 that he looked blankly at his computer screen and sighed a sigh that was as deep as the ocean.

The holidays were truly over.

Then again, he'd be in Israel in six weeks...

Friday, 4 January 2008

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Star Wars - A New Perspective (For Me)

Note: If you aren't a fan of Star Wars, you are excused from reading the following!

I wasn't one of those kids who immediately flocked to see the original Star Wars movie back in 1977. Maybe I was just that bit too young, or more likely, my parents showed little interest in taking me to see it when it first came out. It is a shame, although I didn't take too long to get hooked, because I remember going to the ABC cinema in Golders Green Road to see the first two movies in one showing (circa 1983), just so that I could understand what the third one was all about.

I do recall that double feature being a very long experience (enjoyable as it was) as well as the frisson of genuine surprise I experienced when Darth Vader made that famous admission at the end of The Empire Strikes Back - I know that you are probably aware of what he told Luke, but something within me, as a movie buff precludes me from giving away one of the all time greatest movie twists. The later admission in the third movie seemed less of a shock.

I also remember that Sunday when Star Wars was shown on TV for the very first time. I was in Golders Hill Park with my parents that afternoon, counting the hours till it's evening transmission. Either I was a very sad case, or television was so much more exciting in those pre-VCR days. I'd like to think the latter - because when it came on, I was genuinely excited, but I can't remember whether I'd set it yet or not.

Anyway, I think I redeemed myself somewhat by watching the The Return Of The Jedi when it came out (as a single feature, thank G-d) in the cinema and I did know all three stories by this time, since I'd also bought them as comic strips. Ah, those were the days! In fact, I clearly remember buying the third comic book immediately after I'd seen the final movie (i.e. that same afternoon).

Although I hadn't seen the movies in the late seventies,I did collect the figurines, as well as the X-wing fighter, the desert cruiser (which my late great-aunt gave me as a birthday present) and my treasured cardboard Death Star, which I received for being a good boy - not something that happened often(!) and which gave me no end of entertainment. Being an only child, I used to spend hours playing with my Death Star. I then stupidly gave all of my Star Wars merchandise to my cousin when I felt I'd outgrown it. Who thought then that it would be worth quite a bit?

The Return Of The Jedi came and went and the wonderful Star Wars trilogy ended. That was that - at least for me.

Apparently not.

Ten years ago, after we were married, we went to the cinema to see all three Star Wars movies in their re-released (and superior) form. We even booked, because they were that popular. I then came to the conclusion that the Empire Strikes Back was the best of the three - an opinion that I have yet to change.

We soon found out that George Lucas's clever ploy in re-releasing the movies was simply to whet our appetite for three more prequels. This time, I didn't miss out and saw the movies as soon as they came out. Of course, my expectations that they would match their sequels was unrealistic and maybe aside from the Revenge Of The Sith, which one can relate to, as it brings the story closer to the start of the first Star Wars film - and you see Vader, Luke and Leia for the first time, I don't believe that the originals need to worry about competition in the quality states.

I'm going to make a confession here.

I didn't quite understand the story lines of at least the first two films. Yes, I got the general idea, but didn't put together in my mind the continuing theme of the emperor's crucial role behind the scenes, in pulling the strings and causing general mayhem in order to consolidate his position.

Whereas I had understood the original stories from the very start, these episodes (at least in the cinema) were far more sophisticated in tone and maybe as a result, infinitely more confusing.

I found there to be much too much information provided at the start (where the text appears horizontally) for me to grasp the initial storyline and this, coupled with some truly stunning special effects dazzled me (especially in the cinema) at the expense of providing some pretty dense and confusing plot lines.

So why am I telling you all of this?

Last week, I went to HMV in the Trocadero, Piccadilly Circus with the aim of spending the generous vouchers I had received for my birthday. I walked around the store for an hour-and-a-half picking up and then putting down countless DVDs, trying to get what I wanted, without over-spending too much (I'd worked out that this would happen, irrespective of how much I'd received).

Eventually, I settled on the extended Lord Of The Rings box set (which I'll watch when I have 12 hours to spare) and of course the entire Star Wars sixtology (I think that word exists and it sounds more prosaic than "sextuplet") set. Over the last week, I have been working my way through the series and with the beauty of DVD (i.e. you can pause the writing at the start to take it in and rewind whenever you want to watch a key scene again), finally enjoying and understanding the first three movies.

That said, I still believe the original trilogy to be superior, not least because the characters of Luke, Han, Leia, Chebacca and the droids are so much more interesting than Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme. I find that I can relate to them in a deeper sense. In other words, I find that I care about them more as people (and as a result, what happens to them) than about their predecessors - and that's why I believe the original movies score higher with everyone than their prequels.

I would also add that the original story lines are clearer and ultimately, we all relate to the idea of the good guys fighting the bad guys, which is more apparent in the first trilogy. I'm still not sure whether these are two separate stories or just one long timeline (as a friend put it) detailing the rise (episodes 1-3) and fall (4-6) of Darth Vader. Without doubt thoug, George Lucas has creating a stunning feat in his six offerings. I can't say the same though about his interesting directing!

No matter. I've still got one film to go and then I think I'll give Star Wars a rest.

Then again, I have a feeling that this won't be the first time that I visit the galaxy that is so far, far away...

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

2008 Is Upon Us

wayyyyyyhayyyyyyyyyyyyyy- it's my very first blog of



Y E A R !