Happy Chinese Year of the Rooster

Today 28th January 2017 marks the start of the year of the rooster. Chinese new year has long been celebrated in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam. Of course today, it inspires celebrations around the globe.

Celebrating Chinese New Year at Sheffield Street City Food Market avec Music

The timing of the Chinese new year is based upon a lunar calendar and hence the date varies against the Georgian calendar. The chinese new year begins  when there is a new moon between 21January and 20th February.

Each year is associated with an animal. As the calendar is different, from the lunar calendar those born in January / February’s Chinese new year birth animal may vary, I recommend if checking Chinese birth animal to use the calculater on the following website, it als provides Chinese horoscope for the year other interesting information.

http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/

The sequence the years of animals  is according to the number of claws or hooves they have. The rat is first in the sequence as it is unusual and therefore valued having four toes on front legs and 5 on it’s back. Followed sequentially by ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Different years are also characterised by a sequence of 12 branches that do not repeat in line with the animals. In Mandarin the 12 branches are zi, chou, yin, mao, chen, si, wu, wei, shen, you.  In Cantonese the 12 branches are zi2, cau2, jan4, maau5, san4, zi6, ng5, mei6, san1, jau5. Hence in Mandarin you can be  a zi rat, a  chou rat etc… A further layer of complexity is years alternate between either being Yin or Yang. Yin and Yang are types of energies they are opposites but, need to exist together.

To simplify celebrations; chines food is delicious. Red is a lucky colour at Chinese new year … as the advert says money is often given in red envelopes. In particular when an individual’s birth year comes around every 12 years, as that is thought of as unlucky for them they should try to counteract that by wearing red.

 

 

 

Another day to remember the holocaust and some places dedicated to remembering (Boston, Prague, Austwich, Laxton)

Tomorrow is National Holocaust Memorial Day. 27th January marks the day that the largest concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberarted. Holocaust Memorial Day also remembers those affected by genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.  Of course, every day we should be observant about groups being victimized. At different times I have been to three holocaust memorials around the globe. I have been to Krakov in Poland but, could not seriously consider going to Austwich from there although it is theoretically possible, because it is a 3 – 4 hour round trip, just to get there and I did not have a whole day spare. I’m not sure I would have wanted to go, it seems a rather morbid activity and perhaps rather voyeuristc.

Appropriately the Holocaust memorial in Boston, Massachusetts is part of the Freedom trial which also. commemorates those denied freedom due to slavery. It features a line of six, tall glass towers. Each tower represents a major Nazi death camp: Majdanek, Chelmno, Sobibor, Treblinka, Belzec, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. The glass is etched with 6 million random numbers to represent the 6million Jews in  concentration camps. You can walk in line through one tower to the next like a tunnel. At the bases of each tower steam rises, from the grate below, therefore it is very eerie to walk though and brings to mind walking into gas chambers.

More personal than the numbers on the Boston memorial, the walls of the Pinknova synagogue in Prague features handwritten names of the 78thousand Czech and Moravian victims. So many names and no the only details being, if known their data of birth and date of death; no information about them as a person. Although upstairs in the synagogue is an exhibition of Child Holocaust victims art, so the loss creativity can be seen. Downstairs I zoned in on someone who shared the same first name as me and I’m trying to find out more about her, which is not proving easy so far.


The Berlin memorial close to the Brandberg gate (which was once part of the the Berlin wal) features no lists of names or numbers. It is a collection of large square blocks of granite. It covers a relatively large area with most blocks been too high to see over as you walk though. Some of the paths roll like waves rather,than being flat. Therefore it feels a bit like being in a maze and disorirntated, whether this makes you think about about holocaust victims or taking pictures in a different location is debatable. I believe there is just one explanatory board on the site. The blocks darkness makes the place rather bleak.

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Upon realising I have not been to a Holocaust museum in the  I did a google search. I found there is National Holocaust Centre in Laxton near Newark, which features exhibits about the holocaust and outside a rose garden to contemplate in Additionally a Holocaust memorial for London is currently been designed, echoing the Freedom trial in Boston it will be displayed im Victoria Tower Gardens next to the Thames and Westminster; alongside monuments to suffragettes, abolishment of slavery and civic service.

The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘How can life go on’ i.e. after the genocide; something to consider today.

Another recommendation from Origins as to a Hull city of Culture activity and of the merits of Hull!

2nd-4th September 2016 For the last few years, as a student and then a graduate from the University of Hull, I have seen firsthand how underrated the city of Hull is and how people’s perceptions are still influenced by old criticism, such as being top of the list in the 2003 book Crap Towns. This is an identity […]

via Escaping Past Identities: Hull’s Freedom Festival and the City of Culture 2017 — ORIGINS

La La Land Oscars vs Manchester by the Sea Oscars CONTAINS big SPOILERS

I’m not a film bluff, so I don’t tend to watch many films or think that deep about Oscars. I prefer films under 2hours. Unexpectedly I have watched two films (La La Land and Manchester by the sea) in the last two weeks with Oscar nominations and both were over 2 hours!

I preferred La La Land, it was a pleasant 2 hours and 8minutes. Both feature some of the grit of life, but La La Land, is about two people following their dreams and their romantic relationship. Whereas Manchester by sea flashes back and forth between two tragedies in the same family and is therefore a more somber film. At 2 hours 17 Manchester by the sea did feel like a long film. To be fair , I did watch Manchester by the Sea after a busy day at 8.25pm whereas, I watched La La Land earlier at 1745 so this may have contributed. I think Manchester by the Sea felt long to me because although it features, two major tragedies the actual tragicevents themselves,  features minimally with the focus being the aftermath. The film is quite subtle in it action, mixing the practicalities of dealing with a death such as dealing with funeral and legal arrangements whilst also showing life going on for the teenage son of the deceased. This meant there was no natural end point to climax to, therefore at various points near the end I wondered if the film was going to fade out. But slightly disppoitingly failed to and continued.

Neither film arrives at a happy Hollywood ending, making both poignant. Manchester by the Sea ends with little being resolved, which is authentic in terms of the aftermath of a death, it would have not been in the spirit of the film to have a more dramatic ending. Not too much of a spoiler there but, please stop reading if you want to watch La La Land and be surprised by the ending. Unfortunately before watching, I accidently read a brief comment by Rachal Johnson  which stated that the couple did not get together at the end. So when near the end of the film, it fasts forwards 5 years and you see them, not together that was not a surprise to me unlike for the lady next to me who I heard let out a cry signaling sadness that the couple had not ended up together. But, then  the alternative film sequence started with the couple kissing upon first meeting. The kiss was a less realistic than the actual start, with him walking out on her and then several false starts before they finally got together. The alternative sequence after believing ,was being denied a happy ending felt magical and you wanted it to be true. The alternative version would not have made such a good film as it would have been less believable without the grit and perhaps annoyingly saccharine. Therefore, when she opens her eyes and you realize she had just been fantasising and they are not together it is a fantastic twist which, I got to enjoy because it would not have totally contradicted what I had read about the ending. I also enjoy the thought of how one moment, can change everything like in Sliding Doors.

It will come as no surprise, that overall I agree with La Land receiving more Oscars nominations than Manchester by the Sea (14 to 6) and also that in the categories of Best Picture and Original Screen play which both are nominated in; thst between just the two (not having seen the other nominees) then I would go for La La Land.

Manchester by the Sea’s main characters are male therefore, there was no chance of a nomination for best actress. Emma Stone for her portrayal of Mia in La La Land is nominated for Best Actress. 

Both leading men (Ryan Gosling and Casey Affleck) are nominated as best actor. Goslings role in La Land playing Sebastian, involved the challenges of singing and dancing. Whilst Casey Affleck role as Lee Chapman in Manchester on the Sea, on the surface appears more straight forward, he appears to be not expressing much. However, actually to create the socially in-edept character that he has without ruining it by overplaying it takes skill. Therefore in best male actor category I would go for Casey Affleck.

Both films are nominated for best director:  Damien Chazelle for La La Land and Kenneth Lanerghan for Manchester by the Sea. I do not know enough about the impact of directors to judge who was most effective.

As La Land is so focused just on Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling there was no one else who played a big enough part to be worth of supporting actor / actress. Whereas Manchester by the sea although it is centered around Lee (Affleck) it more complex and a variety of characters play, their part in the film including Affleck’s boss in Boston giving him a hard time, to the ladies in Boston and Manchester who flirt with him, to Patrick (Lee’s nephew and his two girlfriends, Patrick’s Mum and Lee’s ex wife.

In the flashback scenes,  I would have liked to have seen more of Lee’s brother who dies in the film, triggering Lee’s journey from Boston to Manchester.  Initially his journey was aimed at one last goodbye then morphing into caring for Patrick on a temporary basis to shockingly for Lee, later being told he had been picked to be Patrick’s legal guardian. It would have been good for him to feature more to understand Lee and Patrick’s grief better. As it was it was left to Patrick’s character to throw in comments about his Dad. Alas when he says that ‘is or not what Dad would have wanted’ is it a true reflection of his Dad or is he just using the statements to try and influence his Uncle Lee? Lucas Hedges who plays Patrick, certainly has to display a range of emotions to deal with the death of his Father, the arrival of his Uncle as carer, aggressive side at hockey, his side with his two girlfriends including displaying sexual frustration and handling his estranged Mum and her new partner. He has been nominated for best supporting male which seems fairly justifiable and especial his portrayal of experiencing a panic attack.

Michelle Williams who plays Lee Chapman’s ex wife, has a nomination for best supporting actress. I may not disagree with this is, had it not been for the scene below where the attempt at crying was very weak. As Lee walked away her attempt at crying was merely holding her hand over her face. Until that point I had not had an issue with her acting.

I feel perhaps that the above scene, could have been more powerful with different dialogue. It may have  been Lee who left the fire unattended however, it was mentioned in one scene about it being cold because of her health they used the fire rather than central heating; therefore this scene could have conveyed her guilt more.

Another one of the categories that La La Land has been nominated in, is costume design. Whilst watching La La Land my friends and I noticed Emma Stone’s fabulous dresses, not sure they quite count as costumes. Although when Emma goes to auditions she always has a different outfit and they do count as costumes! Similar to Carrie is Sex and the city, I’m not sure how at the start when she was a barista , going to  auditions she could afford her wardrobe; so fabulous dresses but not authentic!

It may seem like, I have been more critical of Manchester by the sea than La La Land however I do, like Manchester by the sea. Manchester by sea is more complex in a good way, with more storylines, characters etc and hence more to comment on. Sometimes part of the fun with viewing is the thought and discussion afterwards of the good and the bad points!

La La Land

 

 

 

 

 

30+ moths, 2 toads; Land of Green Ginger, gold Post box and Gold phone box; features of a walk around Hull

 One of Hull’s heros is Amy Johnson. I have not seen them, but there is statues of her on Prospect Street and near one of her homes in Hawthorn avenue. Untill March 2017 there are 30+ moths in Hull in her honour. Possibly after, the auction of them in April some will be bought and put back on display.

Tips for viewing Amy Johnson’s moths

Butterfly net out; to catch Amy Johnson Inspired Moths

In 2010 there was a similar project to honour Hull poet Philip Larkin; Larkin with toads. I have seen two toads that remain in Hull; there may be more!

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Outside Hull’s Historical centre
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In Museum Quarter
In the train station there is also a statue of Phillip Larkin.

 

Hull along with Beverley has white phone boxes instead of the usual red of the rest of the UK. It seems they also have one gold phone box; there is no explanation around it as to why it is gold.


The gold post box on Hessle road is in honour of Luke Campbell’s gold medal in the 2012 olympics when London hosted.


The Land of Green Ginger is a street in the centre of Hull. It’s name possibly coming from the  twising  of the name, of a Dutch family that lived in Hull in the early 19th centruy. The family name was Lindegreen Jonger which means green lime street. Or perhapas, it references the spices that came into the nearby docks. A range of goods and people travelled to and through the docks. A sculpture along the Humber shows a faimly who have arrived at the docks from North Europe who then proceeded by train to Liverpool and from there by boat to America.


The family sculture is between the Humber and Hull’s marina which forward of Princess Quay shopping city.Walking away from the marina, towards the Deep in front of the pub, come to tables and benches with typical Hull phrases recorded.


Recognising Hull’s fishing and sea faring history, Zebedee’s yard has a tributary scultpture, into which flowers can be placed.


Hull has many scultpures. the newest being the Blade in Queen Victoria Square which was positioned in January 2017 as part of city of culture. Before I went  I had heard it was part of a theme of looking up, looking up from the ubiquitous phone and noticing what is going an around. The Blade is certainly big and therefore,  causes people to gather, around it. It is not that high up; you can see it without lifiting your head. The highest part is the tip that, protrudes acrooss above the road. At least one of the emotions experincec by crowds in Queen Victoria Square , will be puzzlement. It is impressive in size but, other than that is rather stark with no adornment and a very simple shape some may consider it rather phalic like. It is for all to judge.


 

Trainspotting 1

I was familiar with the opening lyrics of Iggy Pops chose life; I had probably first heard it about 20years ago so, I have had that long to hear it. But in 2017, this was my first time watching Trainspotting. At the time of release it would have gone over my head; aside from anything else I would not have know what a suppository was or I probably had not heard of or read Cosmopolition.

I can not remember hearing Perfect Day untill a year after Trainspotting. The context in the film was, so different from the charity single in 1997 that I was not sure whether it was about being out of it on heroin. I had to google it. Apparently Lou Read did have an addiction to heroin. But,reassuringly not ruining my image of the song it was written in 1972 after Read spent a day with Bettye Kronstad his then fiancée who later became his wife in Centeral Park. I also learnt Lou Read’s version was produced by Davie Bowie and Mick Robson (no  relation to Mark) and that Susan Boyle covered in 2010.

Even though it was 20 years old, it could have been produced now about the 90s, albeit a 90s I did not know. I was a losing interest at about 80 minutes, but luckily it is only 90minutes long. I appreciated getting an alternative view of the world at the time of my teenage years and I’m prepared to see the sequels hoping it features 90s music!