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A note on Brexit, and putting thy money where thy mouth is

25463076012_eaab9345d4_bThere’s a lot of (justified) outrage on social media about Brexit, but what are you planning to actually do about it? 

Networks are too often passive and used to observe. I am writing in the hope that it encourages you to participate in our democracy and take the opportunity to make your voice heard.

You are not powerless. Writing to your MP is simple and I think will make a difference: if you’ve got the strength of feeling to actually write to them rather than just sign an online petition, then they are more likely to actually represent you.   

Please find two attachments, both templates of letters to MPs. One is by my friend Benet Brandreth, the other is a group effort to which I contributed. I hope you will find them helpful and perhaps use them to write your own letter. Your MP and MEPs details can be found at

Last word to Benet: 

Like many people in the UK, though sadly not all, I found the vote to Leave and both the immediate and prospective consequences of it, devastating and heart-breaking. It does not seem an idle matter to me. I worry deeply about a course that seems likely to destroy the Union and impoverish the country morally and economically. It also appears to me a course that diverts vital political capital from the deep, underlying problems that have manifested themselves in the vote to Leave.
“But please do write. Now is the moment. If there is any good to come of this, let it be that we become more politically active. These are our rights at stake, our country, our sense of community.
Channel your passion on this important matter. Do something about it. If you do nothing, nothing will change.

Click below to download:

Letter ONE: No Brexit letter

Letter TWO: no brexit letter 02

Jack and his fiddle

“Jacky, come and give me thy fiddle,
If ever thou mean to thrive.”
“Nay, I’ll not give my fiddle
To any man alive.

“If I should give my fiddle,
They’ll think that I’ve gone mad;
For many a joyous day
My fiddle and I have had.”

(It’s an old nursery rhyme)

The man who hears everything (“That’s a good beep, Lar”) – modern arts and crafts

Seen first in The Week, I’ve extracted this from Jordan Kisner‘s piece in The Guardian, Audio version is here.


Skip Lievsay, an unassuming-looking guy in his mid-60s with highly trained ears, stood before the stacks of speakers and giant movie screen in his office, fussing quietly. Lievsay is one of the preeminent sound designers working in film today, and whatever he does – whether it’s fussing or making jokes or padding down the hall of his New York offices to murmur instructions to employees – he does it quietly, as if his personal volume dial operates in inverse correlation to the often noisy task at hand.

On this midwinter afternoon, he was meeting with one of his effects editors, a similarly soft-spoken young man named Larry Zipf, about a film they had been hired to work on: Miles Ahead, a forthcoming Miles Davis biopic directed by and starring Don Cheadle.

The two men stood with their arms crossed and heads cocked at the same angle, reviewing a scene in which a sound cue they had designed had gone awry. The sound, originally of vintage tape decks turning, had ended up evoking a sci-fi odyssey rather than a jazz biopic. One of the problems, it was agreed, is that to the untrained ear, 1970s tape decks sound a bit like lasers.

On screen, Cheadle entered an elevator and pushed the button for the lobby. The button emitted a soft, innocuous beep. “That’s a good beep, Lar,” Lievsay muttered. “Good beep.”

As he said so, Cheadle-as-Miles leaned against the wood-panelled elevator wall, eyes closed. Suddenly, the elevator swung open to reveal a dark room of Miles’s imagination, filled only with a piano, a horn, and a spotlight. The moment was intended to feel surreal, as though you were entering Miles’s mind, but as the door began to swing, a deep rumble erupted into a volley of zings and swishes – those troublesome tape decks – as if the scene had plunged into a battle in outer space.

Lievsay hit pause and turned to Larry, shaking his head. No good.

For research, Lievsay had spent a few months reading biographies and listening through all the recordings in the Miles Davis estate: Miles interviews, Miles in the studio, Miles in concert, Miles on the street. He briefly tried to compile a timeline of every recording Miles ever made, then gave up. The film is set in the 1970s, “which is Bitches Brew Miles”, Lievsay explained, a period when Miles favoured improvisational rhythms and electric instruments over traditional jazz. The research had led to the idea of experimenting with recording equipment of the sort that Miles would have used. Lievsay thought that they might fit moments that called for more abstract sound design, such as when Cheadle wanted to evoke Miles’s agitated mental state. “He was a creature of the studio,” Lievsay explained, taking off thin-rimmed glasses and rubbing one eye. “The sounds of his mental landscape would probably have been the sounds you’d hear in a recording studio, like tape decks or the click of instruments.”

They had got their hands on some vintage tape decks and spent an afternoon recording the sound of them playing forward and backward, clicking and scrubbing. But when Zipf edited the sounds and played them underneath scenes from the movie, the result sounded like Battlestar Galactica, not old-fashioned music equipment. Lievsay sighed. “Probably because sound editors used to use tape decks when they needed space sounds. Bet you Battlestar Galactica was tape decks.” He threw the noises out and started over.

It is a central principle of sound editing that people hear what they are conditioned to hear, not what they are actually hearing. The sound of rain in movies? Frying bacon. Car engines revving in a chase scene? It’s partly engines, but what gives it that visceral, gut-level grist is lion roars mixed in. To be excellent, a sound editor needs not just a sharp, trained ear, but also a gift for imagining what a sound could do, what someone else might hear. Continue reading

Aim Higher and Breakfast, Dallas Clayton is RAD



Bonus ‘Lily The Unicorn’


The Old Man And The Sea (animated, paint on glass, by hand, by golly and by gosh)

“It is silly not to hope, he thought.”

This was the first animated film to be released in IMAX. A 1999 paint-on-glass-animated short film directed by Aleksandr Petrov, based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Hemingway. The film won many awards, including the Academy Award for Animated Short Film.

Work on the film took place in Montreal over a period of two and a half years and was funded by an assortment of Canadian, Russian and Japanese companies. French and English-language soundtracks to the film were released concurrently.

I like the bit around here.

(Spotted on B3TA)

Happy brains and a year of ping pong

What’s an enigmatologist? It’s Will Shortz, puzzle editor of The New York Times since 1993. He’s the only academically accredited one in the world, having designed his own major program at Indiana University, which in 1974 led to his one-of-a-kind degree in enigmatology.

Mr. Shortz also received a law degree from the University of Virginia. When he entered law school, he said, “my plan was to practice law for 10 years, make a lot of money, and then retire to do what I really wanted — create puzzles.” However, law was not creative enough for him, and after graduating, he skipped the bar exam and began his career in puzzles immediately.

He challenged himself to play table tennis every day for a year — and Supermarché NYC challenged him to film it. As Will says “If you’re gonna set a goal for yourself then follow the goal.”

Antarctica. And it’s a kind of paradise.

Do yourself a favour and full-screen this beauty. I grew up on stories of the Antarctic. My distant uncle (great great?) was one of Shackleton’s furthest south crew, my Dad went a few times, writing stories, making documentaries and lecturing on tourist ships. Some of the footage here is achingly beautiful. A different flavour of armchair tourism compared to the up-close Attenborough documentaries. Really lovely.

Director Kalle Ljung says: “This movie was shot during our 20 days trip to Antarctica in December 2014 to January 2015. We started from Ushuaia in Argentina and went to Port Williams in Chile, rounded Cape Horn and crossed the Drake Passage towards the Melchior Islands in Antarctica. We spent 16 days in the Antarctic and got to experience the most amazing scenery and wildlife before we returned back to Ushuaia.”