Monday, 16 October 2017

Photography: Unique Skies Over PGS

by Tony Hicks

BBC weather presenter Simon King said it was due to the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia dragging in tropical air and dust from the Sahara. He added that debris from forest fires in Portugal and Spain was also playing a part. The dust has caused light to be refracted and reflected in longer wavelengths, making it appear red.

The Presentation of Evil in A Clockwork Orange

by Lily Godkin

A Clockwork Orange is a unique novel in the fact that it simultaneously vividly displays extreme violence whilst encouraging the author to empathise with the perpetrator of this violence.  Anthony Burgess wrote this novel shortly after finding out that he had a terminal illness, and it was written in order to support his wife after his inevitable death, to put in place the financial means to support her, this may explain the sinister theme to the novel and the emphasis on time and its limitations, a concept even loosely referred to in the title.

Throughout the novel it is constantly made debatable whether the main character of the book, Alex, is the protagonist or the antagonist. Whilst, his actions are time and time again immoral, and he proves himself a rapist and murderer.  The reader learns to like Alex, despite Burgess graphic descriptions of his violent and remorseless acts, his articulate speech and energetic personality allows him to be a desirable character, he is cultured and intelligent, proved through him being able to speak is own created language, formed from a combination of Cockney and Russian, he has an appreciation of classical music and forms a link between the works of Beethoven and his own violent actions to stimulate himself more powerfully.

Burgess also encourages us to see Alex as a protagonist as his clear inspiration for the character of Alex is one of the most famous characters of Aristotle, Alexander the Great, who at sixteen became regent while his father marched against the Byzantium. Alexander’s razing of the Thebes struck terror into all of Greece. The Alex of Burgess novel is 15 at the start of the book and commands his own terrorizing army. Alexander the Great, was widely considered a hero, he created one of the largest empires of the ancient world by the age of thirty, stretching from Greece to north-western India. He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history's most successful military commanders. Therefore, therefore I believe that it was Burgess' intention to have the audience see Alex as a protagonist despite his clearly evil actions.

Why Choirs Are Good For You

by Eleanor Matthews

As an avid singer I have been part of choirs for as long as I can remember, but I have only recently become aware of all the benefits that provides.

Being part of a choir can be potentially therapeutic as it is proven to help boost self esteem, confidence and release muscle tension which consequently reduces stress levels. It can also be a great way to make friends and bond as recent studies have found that after taking part in just one singing class the participants felt closer to each other than those in other classes such as art.

When a choir performs, a number of chemical changes occur in the body. These changes been proven to boost mental health and well being. Singing also has chemical benefits such as producing antibodies in the blood which enhanced the immune system as proven by research carried out on a Frankfurt choir. Singing is an aerobic activity so when we sing we draw more oxygen into the blood stream. This enables us to hold our breath and also improves circulation.

Singing has many practical benefits such as engaging the creative part of your brain which can impact the subjects you choose and your creativity, highly valued in a growing number of professions. It has also been proven to increase mental alertness.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Short Story: Village Tales: The Barn Dance Bonanza

by Nina Watson

It was a chilly autumn night in Maplebottom, but the heat in the barn was positively tropical. It was a see of worn denim, checked shirts and novelty cowboy hats on the heads of all the regular Maplebottom dancers.  Susan Hornslade was stripping her willow all over the barn and Pam Turner was behind the refreshment table, as usual, handing out plates of questionable cuisine that she’d concocted. Madge Greene was subtly trying to do-si-do her way over to the chairman of the Village Council who, in turn, was quite obviously promenading very quickly away from the busybody. Fiona Port was watching on with an amused little smirk on her face as she waited for her elderberry gin to slowly take effect on the participants. The drink was sinful really, sweet as summer and deadly like no other, Fiona’s gin was known to take a toll on a person for quite a while. With such vigorous moves being thrown on the dance floor, everyone had guzzled the gin down like it was water and Fiona had felt slightly conflicted about keeping mum on the potency of her gin. Oh well, she thought, everyone was old enough to look after themselves….

“Pam. Pam. PAM!” Madge shouted from the hay bale which she was currently trying to stay upright upon. Pam, not much better, was currently gripping her husband Andrews shirt in an iron fist and trying to put one foot in front of the other all the way over to Madge’s bale. “Pam, I love you I really really do. I’m so jealous of you and I don’t know why I’m telling you that but I am. Pam it’s the jam. Ha! That rhymed, anyway I just need to tell you that your jam for the jamboree was amazing, honestly beautiful.” Madge threw her arms around Pam with such force that both women flew off the hay bale into a giggling mess on the floor. Susan, God bless Susan, was twirling gaily by herself in the middle of the barn dancing to the band who had also started to feel the gin, judging by the frequent bum notes from the banjo. Men and women were hunched lazily together slurring and stumbling and trying as hard as they can to keep their eyes open. Fiona sat with a contented smile on her face with her head resting on her palm, knowing that this years barn donate would go down in history. She couldn’t help but wonder how many attendees there would be at church tomorrow morning…

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Poetry: Utopia

by Mozhy H-Ashrafi

So much depends
on the memories of those
long forgotten.

because even in the harshest nights
when the world is crumbling to dust
and the trees tumble to ash
and lay broken
new life will one day remember
their place.

even when the fury of
a thousand army men rain down
on the innocent
and homes fall apart like
raindrops from a cloud
survivors will know to build
their shelters stronger.

even when children go hungry
and drink water others
turn their noses to
and mothers watch on as their
young wither
like a nightmare they can’t wake from
the struggles of yesterday
will fuel their searches tomorrow.

Memories cradle lessons,
and lessons cradle hope.

Photography: Sunny October Day

by Tony Hicks

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Communism: 100 Years On

by Henry Percival

Lenin addresses a crowd in St Petersburg, 1917
Depending on what calendar you follow, this month will mark 100 years since the Provisional Government fell in Russia, and the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin took over (Russia used to use the Julian calendar, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar we use so they were always a month behind. The October revolution took place in November if you follow the Gregorian calendar.) This could perhaps be described as communism’s finest hour. The communist dynasty would last in the USSR until Boxing Day 1991. Throughout these 74 years, it would reach many more countries and start regimes which still exist to this day.

Where does the idea of communism come from? Most ideals and communist beliefs are based on Marxism. This was an ideology conceived by German sociologist Karl Marx in the mid nineteenth century. He believed in collective property and a classless society. These beliefs gained support from many people throughout the European continent, but there were no successful revolutions until the Russian Revolution.

In 1917, there were two revolutions in Russia: the February Revolution, when Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, and the Provisional government took over. The second was the October Revolution, when, as previously mentioned, the Bolsheviks seized power from the Provisional government. This brought an end to Russia’s involvement in the First World War (they signed the Treaty of Brest Litovsk with Germany and lost land to them). But how did the Bolsheviks manage to gather enough support to overthrow the provisional government? 

One reason is their Leader, Vladimir Lenin. In his April Theses he proclaimed “Peace, Land and Bread” and “All Power to the Soviets!” This former is what the people of Russia wanted most. In the 100 years prior, there had been many reforms from various different Tsars, giving the serfs land and then taking it away from them. The Bolsheviks were superbly organised. The Red Guards, organised by the brilliant Trotsky, were well-trained and ruthless. They took over the government almost bloodlessly and almost without anyone noticing. And, finally, the Provisional government was useless. The Russian people wanted to pull out of the war, and the PG did not do this.

Why Every Classical Singer Should Sing Jazz

by Cordelia Hobbs

A year ago, I was primarily a classical singer. I sang at the Cathedral and in Chamber Choir a few times a week alongside weekly singing lessons. Then one day my singing teacher introduced me to a jazz piece that I absolutely loved and from then on my voice and love for music has improved so dramatically I felt I had to write about it.

Some choral and classical singers will turn their noses up at the scat style improvisation and label it as messy and untraditional. This musical snobbery is not well placed. In fact, this free musical style leaves room for a singer to exercise his or her inbuilt musicality. Exploring the tricks your voice is capable of, such as slides and the ability to throw the pitch around (a care in the world is definitely not obligatory) is a wonderful feeling. Often classical singing can feel like a straitjacket with technique, posture and specific notes to hit. Whilst these are important, when singing jazz these rules can often be relaxed. You can improvise and work with your accompanist much more; there’s nothing better than sitting with your accompanist when they go off on an improvised section and get lost in the music with you. As singers, we can often get very stressed with our voice not doing what we want it to do or if it sounds different to someone else’s version. But singing jazz combined with the support of classical is like falling in love with your voice all over again.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Waitrose Food Festival 2017

by Alex Porter

Back in August, on a warm but cloudy Sunday, we arrived at Leckford Estate in Hampshire to attend the Waitrose Food Festival.

This was the first year that Waitrose had held the festival, so many people came to see what was there and to look at the different types of produce on offer. As we entered the gates, the staff gave us woven bags to put any handouts and other items in. Like other festivals we were given wristbands/bracelets. There was around 40 or so different stalls selling products. My favourites were Belazu, Moorish and Dorset Cereals.

Belazu is a company that supplies oils and vinegars to high quality restaurants and now also supplies to Waitrose. The main reason why I liked this stall was that they had balsamic vinegar which had been added to algae. As soon as you tasted it, it popped in your mouth, it was weird, but still an interesting product. It is best eaten with salad, and bread with cream cheese. We decided to order a hamper with a selection of Belazu products in it.

Another exhibitor was ‘Moorish’, a dip company which smokes humous and other dips to really give them an unusual and interesting taste. I liked the ‘Original smoked humous’ the best, so we decided to buy a selection of the different ones they had on offer.

The final exhibitor that I enjoyed was ‘Dorset Cereals’. They produce a variety of cereals containing unusual oats, grains and dried fruit. I didn't buy any of the products there, although I did later buy some at my local Waitrose.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

How Did 2D Animation Die Out?

by Nicholas Lemieux

In the media community over the last few years, a question commonly brought up is: whatever happened to 2D animated movies? Once a major powerhouse in the film industry in the 90’s, today, outside of countries such as Japan, 2D animation in films and theatres is nowhere to be seen, with CGI having become the more prominent animation software. My article today will examine the downfall of 2D animation, my personal theory as to how exactly it occurred and also the theoretical possibility over whether or not it could possibly return to theatres in the near future.

Throughout the 90’s, hand-drawn films were the norm, with the Disney Renaissance at its highest peak producing hit after hit 2D films. Imitators tried to compete but could not compare. Several non-Disney films at the time, such as Quest for Camelot and Thumbelina, were all simply seen as Disney knock-offs and quickly bombed at the box office. Meanwhile, in the animation industry of TV, Nickelodeon was dominating with its brand new show Rugrats. Similar to The Simpsons or SpongeBob today, Rugrats was a massive phenomenon in the 90’s, complete with tons of publicity and merchandising. 

Capitalising on the show’s immense success, Nickelodeon tried its own hand at the film industry with 1998’s Rugrats: The Movie. This movie became the first animated film not made by Disney to gross over $100 million worldwide. Considering how much cheaper the film’s budget, $28 million, was when compared to Disney’s Mulan that year, $70 million, Rugrats: The Movie was minor financial risk returning a massive profit at the box office. As is so common in Hollywood show business, once an all-original product becomes success, many imitators will soon arise and try to cash in on the trend. After all, why try to beat Disney at their own game, putting tons of time, effort and money into your own original work, when you could just go for a simpler option of using a recognizable brand, such as for example beefing up a TV-quality cartoon for the big screen.

Following the success of Rugrats, nearly every 2D animated TV show was getting adapted to theatres. Pokémon, SpongeBob, Powerpuff Girls, South Park, Yu-Gi-Oh, two additional Rugrats sequels, the list goes on. From 1998 to 2004, 15 of these kinds of movies were released all in the span of 6 years. The quality of these movies ranged depending upon whatever effort was put into them. Some of these movies had careful input from their respective creators trying to make an enjoyable viewing experience for fans of the shows, such as South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Others were simply cheap direct-to-video TV films hastily dropped off in cinemas, such as the rather ironically named Doug’s 1st Movie. As this trend of TV movies slowly started to run out of steam, so too did the big-time dedicated hand-drawn films such as Disney.  The Disney Renaissance had ended at the dawn of the millennium, and several of their more recent films had heavily bombed. Think of your average movie goer who had been constantly scorned by these cheap TV movies in theatres. How were they to know which of these 2D films were actually made with effort and not to just rob audiences of their money?