Do you know of any Modern Nursery Rhymes?

Do you know of any modern western nursery rhymes? By modern I mean created this century, or even in the last 30 years of the last century. I have not heard of any new rhymes, just re-imaginings or updates of old ones. The ones I know about have words changed or new music or a brought back into favour because of new teaching methods. Not that I am a connoisseur of nursery rhymes, but I did start to wonder about them a rhyme was used as a plot device in a book I was reading.

Have nursery rhymes been replaced by the children's song from a branded entertainer such as The Wiggles or Barney the Dinosaur? Are these songs our modern nursery rhymes? Will they be passed down through generations like the ones created before or will they be replaced by the next big children's entertainment thing?  I suppose it is just a reflection of the change in society in the western world combined with technology and global economics. The empires are no longer physical land masses but information and culture.

But back to traditional nursery rhymes. I discovered this great website that gives you the historical origins of some English nursery rhymes. Fascinating. Like Grimm's Fairy Tales there should be some violence warnings on the label. If you keep with this model of creating nursery rhymes from actual political and social events, it would be interesting to see what would be created from The Gulf War in 1990 or the Second Sudanese Civil War from 1988 - 2003. Or would the focus be on The Kardashians or the death of Michael Jackson? What would these rhymes teach our children? 

Woman's Hour Collection - The Archives Are Open for All

The best thing about the internet is the access we have to archives of radio shows that were on when you were not alive. BBC Radio 4 have restored interviews and highlights for the Woman's Hour archive.  Woman's Hour is a week day hour long radio magazine program on BBC Radio 4 that has been on the air since 7 October 1946 and its collection of interviews range from Enid Blyton, Maya Angelou, Hilary Clinton, Winnie Mandela, Doris Lessing, Gloria Steinem, Nancy Astor, June Chang, Benazir Bhutto to many more. It is basically free access to great discussions featuring incredible women from all around the world.

This is the best thing about a public broadcast system, it gives you glimpses of history and lives from the last 67 years. For free. Just go there and a listen.   

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Woman's Hour has had the same basic format over the years. The first 45 minutes are reports, interviews and debates on issues such as health, education, cultural and political topics aimed at women. The last 15 minutes is a drama serial which are periodically changed.   There have been only 10 full time presenters throughout the 67 years

Stories from South Africa

With the death of Nelson Mandela and the host of world leaders heading down South for his funeral, many an article and social media posts have been written and will be written dissecting Mandela's life, choices and what he represents to the writer of the article or post, South Africans, and the world in general. All I can suggest is reading, watching or listening to the following stories from South Africa and scratch the surface of this beautiful country:

Amandla!, A Revolution in Four Part Harmony

This 2002 documentary is directed by Lee Hirsch that depicts the struggle against Apartheid  by black South Africans through the music and song. The word 'amandla' Xhosa for power. The documentary inter-cuts interviews with playwrights, singers, poets and activists with archived footage and filmed performances. It is very effective and an insight into a place and time.

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The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War by Greg Marinovich, Joao Silva

This is a great book that gives you an insight into the dilemmas that war correspondents and photographers can encounter.  According to the official website for the works of THe Bang-Bang Club, "Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva are the only surviving members of the original four members from the Bang Bang Club, and are co-authors of the autobiographical book titled The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War, recently adapted for the cinema. The book is based on selected experiences and fragmented memories linked to the now vintage, highly collectible photographs. The Rooke Gallery is the sole representative of the Bang Bang Club’s vintage photographic material. All the texts in the Bang Bang Club book are pieced-together memories, based on specific photographs that are available for purchase from the Rooke Gallery.

The Bang Bang Club turned photojournalism into an art form, going to extraordinary lengths to capture the horrors that still reverberate throughout South Africa. Without such artistic grit the violence and poverty brought about by the Apartheid regime may not have been as intensely protested. The international headlines created by these photographs introduced the world to the scarring events circa 1990 to 1994. The demise of Apartheid and the birth of Democracy in South Africa was a tumultuous period, and life-threatening opportunities to photograph history-in-the-making were plentiful."


The long running South African soap opera from SABC 3 started in 1998. It is set in the fictional mining town Horizon Deep and the fictional ON TV studios in Johannesburg. The main characters are the Matabanes, the mine manager, Vusi Molestane, the Haines family and the boarders of the hostel owned by Maggie Webster. The show is multilingual and gives most South Africans a chance to see their language spoken and an element of their culture on national television.

Portraits of Power: Profiles in a Changing South Africa by Mark Gevisser

This book is a collection of 40 profiles written and collated by  Mail & Guardian columnist Mark Gevisser. The profiles include singer Brenda Fassie, University of the Witwatersrand academic, Malegapuru William Makgoba, musician and director Mbongeni Ngema, film maker Anant Singh, politicians such as Trevor Manuel and Sam Shilowa, Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris and soccer star Mark Fish. To name a few.


The New Century of South African Poetry Edited by Michael Chapman

According to, "this new anthology is the ultimate overview of South African poetry, reaching from its earliest manifestations in the oral culture of the land's indigenous inhabitants to the complexities of post-apartheid verse. It includes translations from the country's many languages, discovering hitherto hidden voices as well as placing in context the best- known names of our rich poetic heritage." 

A Smattering of Contemporary Music

Simphiwe Dana, Xhosa singer

Thandiswa Mazwai, Kwaito singer

 Shwi Nomtekhala, duo combining mbaganga rhythms and maskandi sounds. 

Nianell, Afrikaans folk and pop singer

Australia - The Ridiculed Country

This week Australia as a country became the laughing stock of the international community as there was another leadership challenge in the ruling Labour party causing a change in Prime Minister nearly four months before its Federal government elections. Let's take a look at what this shows about the country.  This was not about just one thing, gender, it is also about the failure of traditional journalism and the focus on polling and popularity rather than facts and issues that face this country.  First off, let's talk about misogyny.  Julia Gillard gave a fantastic speech in parliament in December last year just on this subject. Last month Australian feminist, Anne Summers, gave this very insightful speech on the state of gender in Australian politics.  Sobering facts.  

And how has this issue been covered?  I agree with Corinne Grant, in her article for The Hoopla and what has happened to the reporting of politics in Australia.  Here is another interesting piece from former News Ltd executive, Rodney E. Lever, which certainly highlights the influence of Murdoch and his companies.  But the most condemning is from inside the Canberra Press Gallery itself. A sad state of affairs.

There is also a trend in modern politics to follow the opinion poll.  Isn't that sad that we are allowing a form of Australian Idol to dictate who the political party will make leader.  The first leadership challenge may have been about the fact that Rudd was impossible to work with and he was not listening to the Labour power brokers.  So they brought in Gillard, who actually got more done in her tenure than any previous Labour government.  But she was losing the opinion polls.  The arrogant Labour power brokers think that Rudd will help them lose less seats in the next election.  They have made a country a laughing stock because they were not worried if they would lose (that decision was made at the first leadership challenge) but by how much.  A really sad state of affairs.

I leave you with Julia Gillard's concession speech, which was well given and inspirational.  I hope she finds a great job in international politics where she can make a difference by negotiating peace deals and bringing people to the table. 


One Man, Two Guvnors at the Sydney Theatre Company

The National Theatre of Great Britain's production of One Man, Two Guvnors was brought to Australia by the Sydney Theatre Company and is running for six weeks.  I got tickets for the show based on three things - loads of accolades and awards (which is a good start but an acclaimed show does not mean an entertaining night), a comedy with songs (yes, this means I am not going to be totally depressed about the human condition by the end of the night), and it is from the National Theatre of Great Britain (this tipped the scales).  It was a good choice.  The show is loads of fun and fantastically performed.  The British cast is great and the humour translates.  There are nods and winks to the slice of British culture of the time such as vaudeville song and dance, the Tommy Cooper fez, The Beatles, angry young men in the theatre, Brighton Rockthe Kray brotherscockney humour, and Benny Hill physical comedy and stereotypes.  

Try and get a ticket before the run ends on 11 May and just join in on the fun.  Audience participation is encouraged.

All About Women at The Sydney Opera House

A day of talk at the Sydney Opera House is part of the broader concept of Festival of  Ideas and is focused on women.  I find it a bit weird that to a day talking about women is an idea, but that is a cheap shot at semantics.  The opinions, discussion and issues that are highlighted this day are very interesting.  

My day started with the a speech from Liza Mundy, the author of The Richer Sex, which is about the worldwide trend where "more households will be supported by women than by men. In The Richer Sex, Liza Mundy takes us to the exciting frontier of this new economic order: she shows us why this flip is inevitable, what painful adjustments will have to be made along the way, and how both men and women will feel surprisingly liberated in the end.' This bestselling author and Washington Post  writer anchored her talk in her research and a balance of context and a well rounded opinion.  

This tone is very hard when you are discussing subjects that are very subjective and often debated or positioned in the media in the past from personal experience rather than research and study.  What is interesting is that the research is happening more often now because the discussion is on the agenda more in public discourse.  For example the conversation about Children? No Thanks has started from the personal, however, this is an issue that will now hopefully join the socio-economic markers that are tracked and researched, and will come out of the personal and become just as important as the conversation about 'working families'.  

I don't think we will solve it, but the discussions are being had, and that is a great thing.  The conversations I will sitting in on for the rest of the day are: How to Lead, Invisible Women and Is Rape Culture Everywhere? These are just three of 16 I have to choose from.  So I must congratulate the Sydney Opera House on this idea and thank them for bringing the subjects to the fore.

Click on the image below to watch a promo on the day.

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb

When driving from Albuquerque to Las Cruces you can go via the White Sands National Monument which is according to its website, is "great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand that have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world's largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dune field, along with the plants and animals that live here."  The website is not kidding.  This is a beautiful place and the dunes are a sight to behold.  What the website has in an alert that comes up when necessary is that this national park is damn smack in the middle of the White Sands Missile Range.  Yes, the cradle of the American development of the atomic bomb,  missiles and the space program.  

According to wikipedia, "White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) is a rocket range of almost 3,200 square miles (8,300 km2) in parts of five counties in southern New Mexico. The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR includes the Oscura Range and the WSMR Otero Mesa bombing range. WSMR and the 600,000-acre (2,400 km2) McGregor Range Complex at Fort Bliss to the south, form a contiguous swath of territory for military testing.  An interesting area to drive through.  Jet fighters flying overhead and signs that say stop if flashing as missiles are being tested.  Thankfully, they were not testing the day I drove through.

On 16 July 1945, the first atomic bomb was detonated at the Trinity test site.  Four years later, in 1949, German rocket scientists transferred from Fort Bliss to Redstone Arsenal.  The White Sands Proving Ground was offically renamed White Sands Missile Range on 1 May 1958.  And that is only a couple of snippets of information about what goes on here that are in the public domain.  

This is what the Trinity explosion looked like 0.016 seconds after detonation.

This is what the Trinity explosion looked like 0.016 seconds after detonation.

"This is the text of the letter signed by Albert Einstein which was delivered to President Franklin Roosevelt by Alexander Sachs on October 11, 1939. The chief author is believed to be Leo Szilard" which can be found on the the Official Home Page of White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Albert Einstein 
Old Grove Rd. 
Nassau Point 
Peconic, Long Island 

August 2d, 1939 

F.D. Roosevelt 
President of the United States 
White House 
Washington, D.C. 


Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. I believe therefore that it is my duty to bring to your attention the following facts and recommendations.

In the course of the last four months it has been made probable--through the work of Joliot in France as well as Fermi and Szilard in America--that it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.

This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable--though much less certain--that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove to be too heavy for transportation by air.

The United States has only very poor ores of uranium in moderate quantities. There is good ore in Canada and the former Czechoslovakia, while the most important source of uranium is the Belgian Congo.

In view of this situation you may think it desirable to have some permanent contact maintained between the Administration and the group of physicists working on chain reactions in America. One possible way of achieving this might be for you to entrust with this task a person who has your confidence who could perhaps serve in an unofficial capacity. His task might comprise the following:

a) to approach Government Departments, keep them informed of the further development, and put forward recommendations for Government action, giving particular attention to the problems of securing a supply of uranium ore for the United States.

b) to speed up the experimental work, which is at present being carried on within the limits of the budgets of University laboratories, by providing funds, if such funds be required, through his contacts with private persons who are willing to make contributions for this cause, and perhaps also by obtaining the co-operation of industrial laboratories which have the necessary equipment.

I understand that Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium from the Czechoslovakian mines which she has taken over. That she should have taken such early action might perhaps be understood on the ground that the son of the German Under-Secretary of State, von Weizaecker, is attached to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut in Berlin where some of the American work on uranium is now being repeated.

Yours very truly 
(signed) A. Einstein

SOURCE: U.S. Army in World War II Special Studies Manhattan: The Army and the Atomic Bomb 

by Vincent C. Jones 
Center of Military History 
United States Army 

Little did he know that five years later this would happen: Re-enactment from the BBC Worldwide Documentary, 2007.  Militarising scientific breakthrough is nothing new.  But nothing can excuse the devastation of these bombs.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy gives this account of the death toll of the bombing of Hiroshima:"By the end of 1945, because of the lingering effects of radioactive fallout and other after effects, the Hiroshima death toll was probably over 100,000. The five year death total may have reached or even exceeded 200,000, as cancer and other long-term effects took hold."

Kit Carson Home and Museum in Taos, New Mexico

There are at least 25 written titles about Kit Carson dating from 1849 to present day.  Not to mention novels, seven films, comics and a couple of TV programs, especially the fictional western The Adventures of Kit Carson, starring Bill Williams and Don Diamond, ran in syndication from 1951-1955.  All this fiction and myth built up the legend of Kit Carson, frontierman and Amercian hero.

This is what the PBS New Perspectives on the West documentary says about Kit Carson.  The truth is a little bit more interesting.

"Enshrined in popular mythology even in his own lifetime, Kit Carson was a trapper, scout, Indian agent, soldier and authentic legend of the West.  

Born on Christmas eve in 1809, Carson spent most of his early childhood in Boone's Lick, Missouri. His father died when he was only nine years old, and the need to work prevented Kit from ever receiving an education. He was apprenticed to a saddle-maker when he turned fourteen, but left home for the Santa Fe, New Mexico area in 1826.

From about 1828 to 1831, Carson used Taos, New Mexico, as a base camp for repeated fur-trapping expeditions that often took him as far West as California. Later in the 1830's his trapping took him up the Rocky Mountains and throughout the West. For a time in the early 1840's, he was employed by William Bent as a hunter at Bent's Fort.

As was the case with many white trappers, Carson became somewhat integrated into the Indian world; he travelled and lived extensively among Indians, and his first two wives were Arapahoe and Cheyenne women. Carson was evidently unusual among trappers, however, for his self-restraint and temperate lifestyle. "Clean as a hound's tooth," according to one acquaintance, and a man whose "word was as sure as the sun comin' up," he was noted for an unassuming manner and implacable courage.

In 1842, while returning to Missouri to visit his family, Carson happened to meet John C. Fremont, who soon hired him as a guide. Over the next several years, Carson helped guide Fremont to Oregon and California, and through much of the Central Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin. His service with Fremont, celebrated in Fremont's widely-read reports of his expeditions, quickly made Kit Carson a national hero, presented in popular fiction as a rugged mountain man capable of superhuman feats.

Carson's notoriety grew as his name became associated with several key events in the United States' westward expansion. He was still serving as Fremont's guide when Fremont joined California's short-lived Bear-Flag rebellion just before the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846, and it was Carson who led the forces of U.S. General Stephen Kearney from New Mexico into California when a Californio band led by Andrés Pico mounted a challenge to American occupation of Los Angeles later that year.

At the end of the war, Carson returned to New Mexico and took up ranching. By 1853, he and his partner were able to drive a large flock of sheep to California, where gold rush prices paid them a handsome profit. This same year Carson was appointed federal Indian agent for Northern New Mexico, a post he held until the Civil War imposed new duties on him in 1861.

Carson played a prominent and memorable role in the Civil War in New Mexico. He helped organize the New Mexico volunteer infantry, which saw action at Valverde in 1862. Most of his military actions, however, were directed against the Navajo Indians, many of whom had refused to be confined upon a distant reservation set up by the government. Beginning in 1863 Carson waged a brutal economic war against the Navajo, marching through the heart of their territory to destroy their crops, orchards and livestock. When Utes, Pueblos, Hopis and Zunis, who for centuries had been prey to Navajo raiders, took advantage of their traditional enemy's weakness by following the Americans onto the warpath, the Navajo were unable to defend themselves. In 1864 most surrendered to Carson, who forced nearly 8,000 Navajo men, women and children to take what came to be called the "Long Walk" of 300 miles from Arizona to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where they remained in disease-ridden confinement until 1868.

After the Civil War, Carson moved to Colorado in the hope of expanding his ranching business. He died there in 1868, and the following year his remains were moved to a small cemetery near his old home in Taos."

Here are some pictures of Kit Carson's home in Taos and some of the lovely mountain countryside in which he claimed.

The World of Georgia O'Keeffe

"When I got to New Mexico that was mine. As soon as I saw it, that was my country.  It fitted to me exactly."

Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe came to New Mexico in 1929 and left a legacy that had a huge impact on the modern American art scene.  She drew inspiration from this unique environment and brought the rich colours and harsh nature to the world.  She discovered Ghost Runch in fall 1934, an extraordinary colorful, 25,000 acre painted desert, some 20 miles north of Abiquiu, New Mexico and about a couple of hours from Sante Fe.  

In 1936, O'Keeffe rented Ranchos de los Burros a small adobe house about 3 miles from the main complex of Ghost Ranch (she finally bought it in 1940) where she painted aspects of the view she saw every morning from the picture window of her bedroom.  She greatly enjoyed watching part of the cliffs nearby becoming an immense waterfull when extensive rainstorms swept the desert and a black water cascaded down the cliffs to the desert floor.  Here she has painted only a section of this massive form, which she often did with her subjects.   The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Old Town, Sante Fe is a lovely way to be introduced to her art.  All the information above is from the museum.  If you are anywhere near Sante Fe or Abiguiu go and find out what Georgia O'Keeffe saw and discover the most beautiful landscape.

Here is Black Hills with Cedar painted in 1940 and a picture of Georgia O'Keeffe.

From 15 February to 5 May, 2013 the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum is showing Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage.  This travelling exhibition is organised by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and includes 64 photographs taken between April 2009 and May 2011. The pictures do not have people in them, but are still portaits of subjects that shape Leibovitz's view of who has shaped American culture. She visited the homes of iconic figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickenson, Georgia O'Keeffe, Pete Seeger, Elvis Presley, Annie Oakley, Ansel Adams as well as iconic US sites such as Niagra Falls, Yosemite Valley, Walden Pond and Old Faithful.  It is quite stunning and it was wonderful to stumble upon it.  If you cannot get to the travelling exhibition, there is a book of course, you can get it here.

My favourite image was of the television set Elvis Presley shot in 1970, in a storage room at Graceland.  I also quite liked Jacob Lott’s farm, East Cavalry Field, Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 2010.  

Durango the town, not the Movie

Durango, Colorodo is a town that was organized in September 1881 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) to serve the San Juan mining district. The D&RG chose a site south of Animas City for its depot after Animas City refused to pay a dowry to the D&RG. The city is named after Durango, Mexico, which was named after Durango, Spain. The word Durango originates from the Basque word "Urango" meaning "water town".

Durango is nestled in the Animas River Valley surrounded by the San Juan Mountains. The Animas River—El Río de las Animas—runs through downtown and boasts gold medal fly fishing waters, and is popular for whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing. Durango is also popular for outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, road biking, backpacking, rock climbing, hunting, off-roading, year-round fishing, kayaking and golfing.

It is known for its Snow Festival and Music in the Mountains, which is an annual summer classical music festival. Performances are held from early July through early August and feature performances by both professional and student artists.

Durango also hosted the first-ever Mountain Bike World Championships in 1990. But his week its hosting duties was focused on Durango Film, an Independent Film Festival.  Quite a happening town.    I didn't do any of the outdoor activities, but I did enjoy the local music scene and wonderful food.  Definately more my style.

The Meadows

Las Vegas is a sight to see.   You have witnessed just about every version of the city through the years in films, TV, songs and youtube clips.  Everyone has a story about it.  Here are just a few.


From left to right: Bugsy, Casino, Leaving Las Vegas, Ocean's 11 (both versions)

Vegas Shows

From left to right: Elvis, Siegfried & Roy, Liberace, The Rat Pack.

TV Shows

rom left to right: Vega$, CSILas VegasVegas


From left to right: Angelina Jolie & Billy Bob Thornton, Britney Spears & Jason Alexander, Axel Rose & Erin Everly, Dennis Rodman & Carmen Electra.

LA Stories - Kick push, kick push, coast

Good Morning America is filming at the Dolby Theatre the morning after the Oscars, and Hollywood is a crowded nightmare.  So we decide to head to Venice Beach and Santa Monica.

oth beach fronts are known as skateboarding meccas.  Check out the 1986 cult classic Thrashin' starring a young Josh Brolin and Lords of Dogtown, with Heath Ledger and Emile Hirsch.  Both are set in and around Venice Beach and give you a take on the skateboarding scene in the 1970s and 80s as well as featuring many well known skateboarders.

Venice Beach was also the start of a young Austrian called Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Check him out in Pumping Iron, which features Muscle Beach on the Venice strip, again, in the 70s.  

Both beaches are quite beautiful.  Santa Monica is aimed at the rich and famous and is investing in some funky coffee cafes and boutique shops that extend to Venice Beach. Although Venice Beach has lost some of its fame and fortune, the suburb of Venice is still a hub for artists of all kinds, whether they arrive on a skateboard or not.

LA Stories - Who are you?

Los Angeles, one of the most filmed cities in the world.  You know what it looks like and you have seen it so often and the big and small screen, but nothing prepares you for this vast, eclectic city.  I arrived in LAX and was immediately greeted by an Immigration officer called Grishom. When he asked to take my fingerprints, I was waiting for the low blue lights and The Who soundtrack.  Fingerprints taken for a vacation?  That is a bit over the top.   Not the welcome I was expecting.  

Redondo Beach, Los Angeles

Redondo Beach, Los Angeles

My first couple of days in LA and we head to the beaches and check out the sites for many a TV show and film.  I nearly put on my red bathers and ran down the beach in slow motion, but it was just too cold.  The iconic California beach life savers huts are impressive, and the long straight beaches are beautiful.  We also did a drive down Santa Monica Boulevard to Rodeo Drive and spotted the history of cinema flash by in a BMW convertible.  That is the way to do it.  

e spent an afternoon driving through Palos Verdes, a group of coastal cities in the Palos Verdes Hills on the Palos Verdes Peninsula within southwestern LA. According to  wikipedia 'the peninsula is an affluent community known for its dramatic ocean and city views from the Hills, extensive horse trails and high home prices.'  It has nature trails, park lands and the Wayfarers Chapel designed by Lloyd Wright in 1951.  It a transparent glass chapel in a redwood forest overlooking the ocean at the western entrance of Portuguese bend. And that is just a couple of the highlights.  It is also the setting for MTV's latest stab into original programming - Awkward.  One side of the Hills is the working class port of Los Angeles and the other side are the beaches and middle income, Trader Joe's shoppers.  This is one beautiful city.



Mrs Warren's Profession at The Sydney Theatre Company

According to The Cambridge Companion to Victorian and Edwardian Theatre, George Bernard Shaw's wrote this play "to draw attention to the truth that prostitution is caused, not by female depravity and male licentiousness, but simply by underpaying, undervaluing, and overworking women so shamefully that the poorest of them are forced to resort to prostitution to keep body and soul together."

He makes this point very well as serves up his challenge of the world order through comedy. It was very controversial in its day, well, for a long time afterwards I am sure, as Bernard Shaw was a man ahead of his time.  He was a socialist, a playwright, music critic and the co-founder of the London School of Economics.  His works were popular because they were comic, but his points certainly hit home.  The current Sydney Theatre Company's production of Mrs Warren's Profession is well done.  

Helen Thomson plays Mrs Warren.  She dominates every scene she is in and is charismatic, pragmatic and a wonderful character.  Lizzie Schebesta plays her daughter, Vivii, who is very much cut from the same cloth.  They may have different professions, but their attitudes and approaches are very similar.  

The production crackles with wit and universal truths.  Truths that are as relevant today as they were back in 1893.  I recommend the play and the Sydney Theatre Company's production is simple, elegant and forthright.  And the staging and backdrop is very effective.  Watch a behind the scenes vignette below about the making of the backdrop.

A Girls' Night Out At The Golden Globes

I think the biggest surprise in this year's Golden Globes was that it was fun to watch.  Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were funny and irreverent setting the tone for a quirky off beat awards show. 

Here is a collection of some of the coverage:

Flavourwire - have done a supercut of just the Fey/Poehler bits.  Awesome.

Huffington Post - Mo Ryan writes a great article about the night.

Vulture - Give us the highs and lows.

TV Line - Michael Ausiello getting access as he only can. And being charming about it.

Jodie Foster's speech below.

Top 10 Best Lists for 2012

As we get to the end of the year, there are a plethora of lists about every aspect of pop culture that are posted, printed, read out and done in interpretive dance.  They all spark conversations, debate or even a shrug of shoulders, most importantly you sometimes get to learn something new.  Here is a collection of my favourite lists for 2012:

10.  PopTen’s Top 10 Things China Invented

Who knew?  That is the question.  A great list that teaches you those bits of trivia that will help you win that pub night trivia quiz. Click here

9. Triple J’s 20 of the Most Eye-catching Album Covers of 2012

Triple J, the youth focused national radio station is all about the music.  As part of  the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Triple J does not play adverts and is not beholden to commercial music interests.  This is a great list that shows you exactly what Triple J is all about, and lets you indulge in that lost art form – the album cover. 

For the pictures of the album covers, click here

8. The Olympics Wiki’s Top 10 Olympic Movies

Look it was an Olympic year and the year could not pass without one mention of this great show in London.  Here is a public voted list of movies about sports where the Olympics are involved.  My personal guilty pleasure is Cutting Edge.  Love it.

For the list, click here

7.  The 2012 Black List – The Top 10 Unproduced Scripts in Hollywood

According to the About Us section on the Black List website, “It began as a survey. In 2005, Franklin Leonard surveyed almost 100 film industry development executives about their favourite scripts from that year that had not been made as feature films. That first list - many of which have been made since - can be viewed here. Since then the voter pool has grown to about 500 film executives, 60% of whom typically respond.”

Check out the list here

6. SFX’s Top 25 Worst Sci-Fi and Fantasy TV Shows Ever

From the best Sci-Fi magazine in the world is one of the most comprehensive lists of lessons learned when it comes to TV shows.  As voted by readers and Facebook posters (so basically the most scientific way you can do a list), here is the list

P.S. some of them actually ended up being guilty pleasure TV watching.

5. Den of Geek’s 5 Great Geek TV Christmas Specials

Den of Geek does a fantastic job of covering all that is geek from the US and the UK.  This list inspires you to go back and watch a couple of these.  Especially the X-Files episode.

For details on the list, click here

4. The American Library Association’s Most Frequently Challenged Classic Novels

The American Library Association organises the annual Banned Books Week in the US.  This week is usually held during the last week of September and it highlights the value of free and open access to information in the United States.  According to the Banned Book Week website, “hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events….Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. According to the American Library Association, there were 326 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2011, and many more go unreported. The 10 most challenged titles of 2011 were:

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle - Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa - Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins - Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.
  4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler - Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie - Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor - Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint.
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley - Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit.
  8. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones - Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit.
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar - Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit.
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee - Reasons: offensive language; racism.

Click here for the list of the most challenged classic novels

3. Huffington Post’s 15 Shows That Almost Made The Cut

I have been following Mo Ryan’s writing since she was at the Chicago Tribune.  Here at Huffington Post she pops out great, thoughtful insights into TV programs and the nature of the industry.  This list is actually more exciting than the Top 10 list, as I think these programs are watched more for enjoyment rather than watched because the show has a buzz or critical aclaim about it – which is usually the case about Top 10 lists.  For details on her list of the 15 shows that almost made the cut into her Top 10 TV programs for 2012, click here

2.  Miss Manners on Sentiments In The Digital Age

In this day and age we still need Ms Manners to remind us about basic rules of politeness and consideration.  Technology may make everything more immediate but it can make people seem further away than they actually are.  Click here for some thoughts from Ms Manners

1. The Discovery Channel’s 20 Ways The World Might End

Were the Mayans right?  Is it the end of the world?  The Discovery Channel put together the top 20 ways the world might end based on risk and probability.  From killer couches to mass insanity, enjoy the list here