Rik Mayall dies at the age of 56.

It is reported that renowned comedian and actor Rik Mayall passed away earlier today (June 9th)

He starred in The Young Ones with friend Ade Edmonson, followed by Bottom, he also cameoed in Blackadder as Lord Flasheart (see below) and perhaps most famously for people my generation is his portrayal of an imaginary friend in Drop Dead Fred.

His flasheart entrance in blackadder was unrehearsed and unscripted. Rowan Atkinson and Stephen Fry have since told how it was impossible to keep a straight face during the take, saying it was “typical Rik”
He was also a member of the famed “comic strip” alongside friends and colleagues such as Dawn French, Ade Edmonson, Jennifer Saunders and others.

It is not known what caused his untimely death but it’s thought it may be related to a quad bike accident he had in 1998 which left him in a coma for several days.

He was my favourite comedian, as a hard nosed journalist I’ve never shed a tear at a celebritys death but I have to admit I reached for the tissues on this occasion. He was an inspiration to many and one of the few reminders of what real comedy is.
It was rumoured a new series of bottom would be commissioned but this was soon debunked when Rik and Ade informed the public they had no desire to work together again.

See some of his memorable performances below.
What are your favourite Mayall moments?

The digital revolution

A new initiative to stop people illegally downloading music has just been announced with various internet providers such as BT, Virgin Media, Talk Talk and Sky sending out “educational” letters to people they believe have been downloading any illegal content. A maximum of 4 letters will be sent to one household with no further action taken.

The efficiency of the idea has been criticised widely with members of the public calling it a joke and others saying “People throw away bailiff letters, why would they take this seriously” nevertheless the scheme is due to be rolled out next year.

Music is undergoing a massive transformation and the future of music has changed forever. Traditionally music has always been purchased from a retail store in exchange for a physical copy of music in the form of an 8-track, cassette, CD, or vinyl but in a world of ever increasing technology music can be purchased on your phone, computer or tablet.

As a direct result of this web streaming services have become more prevalent and are a force to be reckoned with as they offer instant, affordable (sometimes free) and almost unlimited amounts of music.

iTunes and spotify are today’s main players, iTunes was created in 2001 and had sold ten billion songs by February 2010 whilst Swedish company spotify came along in 2008 and by 2010 it had 2.5 million paying members.

 Whilst sites like Amazon and play.com sell second hand music second hand making no money for the artists websites such as spotify and iTunes pay a small amount to the artists each time a track is played.

However, not all artists have seen the benefits behind the idea with performers from Adele to ACDC opting out.

Adele decided she only wanted her hit album 21 to be available to subscribed users, which spotify refused to do, according to business magazine Fastcompany, Spotify “decided it did not want to split up its content catalogue, so as to create separate music libraries for paying subscribers and freemium users”

The founder and CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek said on the website “From day one we wanted to create a catalogue with the widest possible choice for our users.”

Despite spotify allowing you to listen to songs for free at home music lovers still want to be able to download a song onto their MP3′s to listen to on the go.

Due to this piracy is the main problem facing the music industry today, costing the American economy between $200 and $250 billion per year. It’s easy for anyone to download music onto their laptops or phones that is then available to them in digital form forever.

Some people argue that they have found new bands through illegal downloading that they would never have known about before.

Despite it being a criminal act there seems to be no permanent solution to the problem of p2p file sharing and torrenting. In America The Stop On-line Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced in October 2011, which amongst other things aimed to blacklist known offenders and block entire websites found to be allowing free downloads as well as the requesting of court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites, and search engines from linking to the websites imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

This was met with hostility from people all over the world who claimed it was an infringement on their human rights and their right to expression. On January 18, 2012, the English Wikipedia site Google and around 7,000 other smaller websites took part in an organised service blackout. They publicised this widely and Wikipedia had a banner on the top of their page explaining why this was happening with a reported 162 million people viewing the banner.

People from all over the world got involved to campaign against the act. On January 19, 2012 members of the group anonymous (so called Hactivists) carried out “denial of service” attacks on pro-SOPA websites. They claimed the attacks were a protest of SOPA and the United States Department of Justice’s shut down of Megaupload earlier that day.

Others boycotted companies that supported the act, a petition by Google was allegedly signed over 7 million people.

Whilst piracy seems to be a never ending battle the answer may lay in the distribution models.  In 2007 Radio head made the decision not to resign with their long standing label and go it alone. They release their seventh studio album in rainbows as an exclusive digital download, the twist being that their fans were in control of how much they paid.

This “pay what you wish” trend was ground breaking at the time as there was no set price, allowing customers to choose the album’s worth for themselves. Whilst Radiohead refuse to release their profit it is estimated that the average price paid was between $6 and $8, meaning the band would have grossed $2,736,000 from digital sales alone.

In Rainbows went on to enter the Billboard chart, the U.K. Album Chart and the United World Chart at No. 1, going on to sell millions worldwide. According to Radiohead’s publisher, Warner Chappell, In Rainbows made more money before the album was physically released than the total sales for the band’s previous album, Hail to the Thief.”

Managers now consider this non-traditional pricing strategy as a viable opportunity to enhance sales revenue. This new strategy as well as income made from tours and merchandising means that although illegal downloading may be one of the biggest problems to hit the music industry there are other legitimate ways for bands to make money.

 

The differences between a civil partenrship and a marriage

The 29th of March was a landmark day for LGBT people all over the UK, with same sex couples around the country rushing to tie the knot as the clock struck midnight.

Equalities minister, Maria Miller, said: “Marriage is one of our most important institutions and, from 29 March 2014, it will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same sex or opposite sex.

The new law legalising gay marriage in the UK kicked in at midnight, whether well timed or by sheer coincidence it was also United Nations human rights day. The change came severeal months earlier than had been expected, but what exactly is the diference between a civil partnership (C.P) and a marriage and who exactly benefits?

Whilst a civil partnership is not available for same sex beaus it does have many of the same perks such as inheritance tax, pension provisions as well as responsibility for maintenance of partner and children.

It seems the answer here is that there are very few differences in law between civil partnerships and marriages, most of the issues that arose from the two distinctions were notional and social. For example those who campaigned for equal marriage argued that having two different terms for the same general commitment only served to divide society, deepening the idea that LGBT people are in someway “different”.

They argued it was an indication that society attaches less importance to civil partnerships, makng them second best or that homosexual people were asking for something lesser or greater than hetrosexual couples were offered.

In official forms such as the UK census a declaration of marital status is required which means that civilly partnered people are forced to state their sexuality which risks outing people that would prefer to keep their private life to themselves.

However there are some key differences,travel restrictions affect those that opted for the civil union. 11 countires have legalised gay marriage but these same countires do not recognise partnerships.

Whilst marriages are universally acknowledged and respected the “seperate but equal” partnerships are not. Countries like Sweden and Portugal where same sex marriage is legal do not recognise the civil equivalent meaning gay couples living in one of these 11 countries are not viewed as anything other than co-habiting. In addition, the marriages of foreign gay couples who travel to the UK are not legally viewed as marriages.

However same-sex couples who married abroad under foreign law and are currently treated as civil partners in the UK will now have their marriage recognised in England and Wales.

Unlike in a religious ceremony a civil event does not require any vows to be exchanged, whilst same sex couple are free to include readings, songs or music they can not include anything religious at all, including hymns, readings from the buble and even religious symbols are excluded. They also don’t need to be consumated and cheating is not seen as a valid reason to end the C.P.

Those campaigning for equality for all LGBT members say there is still some major work that needs to be done, mainly surrounding gender identity. Sex and not just sexuality are written into the structure of UK marriage law. If a married transgendered person would like to get a Gender Recognition Certificate as part of living in their preferred gender, they must divorce their spouse and reapply for civil partnership.

The Church of England fought to retain their right not to have to marry gay couples with some stating it was against their human rights. Members of the long established church said it was against their teachings and that it would undermine the churches authority, saying it was one of the biggest threats of distablishment of the church of England since the riegn of Henry VIII.

Originally campaigning to appose the law change, they were faced with large opposition from the general public and they effectivley gave up on their fight against equality, however it is still illegal for gay mariages to take place in a Church of England.

LGBT members are now free to choose between a marriage or a Civil Partnership, couples that already commited themselves to eachother in a civil partnership were told it would automatically change into a marriage however this has not been the case with some couples having to end their partnership and file for a new marriage.These kinks are expected to be ironed out by the end of the year.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights campaign group Stonewall has declared online that he was delighted by the announcement, saying “This historic step will mean that, for the first time, every gay person in England and Wales will finally enjoy exactly the same rights as their heterosexual friends and family.”

Some members of the millitary were not covered in the law changes and those wishing to take part in same-sex weddings overseas or in military chapels will have to wait until June this year.

POLLY AND THE BILLETS DOUX REVIEW

Polly and the Billets Doux have returned with their much anticipated and crowd funded second album, Money Tree.

The four piece are radio 6 favourites and signed to Bleak Mouse Records in 2007, which saw the release of UK Chart hit ‘Head of Steam’ reaching number 21 on BBC radio’s indie chart.

Their debut album, Fiction, Half-Truths and Downright Lies was released in September 2009 which won them the opportunity to perform at festivals like Glastonbury, The Secret Garden Party and The Big Chill. They have a lot to live up to and fans are expecting big things.

Despite the band being signed to a label they release their music independently and chose to use the crowd funding website Pledge to pay for their second release.  Staying true to their genre defying style the band didn’t simply offer the obvious things like buying a signed copy of their album for £12 they also offered their fans quirkier and more exciting opportunists, a framed A3 drawing by lead vocalist Polly Perry could be yours for £100 or If you have a spare £75 you could “slap some bass” in a guitar lesson from bassist Dan via Skype.  If you have forgiving neighbours you could opt for the priciest option which sees the band play a full gig in your own front room for 2,500

In just under 3 months they had secured the money they needed and were able to release Money Tree and are now touring. Visiting Brighton on the 27th of May.

Money Tree features songs that you won’t be able to get out of your head for days to come, with possibly the best example being the fourth track- ‘Sweet Simon’ which combines a catchy track and fun group vocals almost instantly becoming a firm favourite.

The very next song shares the same name as the album and has a much more soulful and serious sound but is no less catchy or funky. The group combine gritty folk rhythms with pop, soul and even elements of country, yet for a band refusing to conform to any genre they don’t appear to have spread themselves too thinly, achieving a well rounded effortless cool every time.

There are some great guitar solos and it’s clear to see where all 3 musicians have contributed to the making of Money tree but it’s Polly’s striking vocals that stand out, her Soulful melodic voice turning gravelly and raw during my father’s house and money tree. The variety in Polly Perry’s voice is astounding.

Each musical offering has a different sound and just as you think you’ve got them pinned down they make you sit up and take notice with a new element. They’re not afraid to take chances and refuse to stick with one theme, using a variety of instruments throughout including accordion, mandolin, harmonica and even an organ.

You can’t help but to be swept along with the music, scatterings of fast paced anthems punctuate the slow and melodic beauty, ultimately combining to make an unforgettable collection like nothing you’ve ever heard before. 

While the rock and folk influences are obvious, their sound is constantly evolving and isn’t constrained by any particular style, overall Money Tree has an overwhelming acoustic sound and for a band with their roots firmly in this method of performance and famed for their live energetic shows this is hardly surprising.

This is a perfect summer sound track from an exciting band, if you like your music catchy and soulful you’ll be singing along on the first listen pretending to know the words, desperate to see them live, and you can!

Check them out at the Latest Bar in Brighton on Tuesday 27th.

Review of The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

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I’d had this book on my shelf for a couple of years, a reward of a past relationship that if I’m being honest I kept entirely out of spite, I didn’t want to give it back but I couldn’t bear to throw away a book either.

The chrysalids (re-birth to any Americans out there) is from science fiction author John Wyndham, it’s his only book set way into the future and his only coming of age story. Whilst it is markedly different to his other novels, including The Kraken Wakes and perhaps most famously Day of the Triffids it is said to be his best.

As with most of Wyndhams popular novels, The Chrysalids was adapted for BBC radio in 1982 and again in 2012 and was transformed again becoming a play re-written by playwright David Harrower in 1999.

As soon as I started reading I began to realise this was no ordinary book. The style of writing was different to anything I had read before; a strange but immensely enjoyable fusion of old and new language and style all from the perspective of a young boy.

From the very beginning the book envelopes you into a post apocalyptic world full of religious zealots, all ignorant and fearful of the world surrounding them, with the exception of few.

Any slight differences must be eradicated; meaning a child born with an extra toe or a “four legged chicken” must be disposed of. This is all due to the characters believing themselves to be living in the “tribulation”. A biblical term referring to a short space of time in which those who believed in and followed God would be persecuted, ultimately resulting in the individual’s purification and strength.

Our protagonist, David Strorm just so happens to be a little different to everyone around him, he has the power of telepathy. After meeting a girl with one extra toe who is soon sent away he realises how important it is to keep his own secret.

As the reader you feel grow up with him and a group of children, also mind readers, who question the motives of the adults around them.  Their strange abilities are down played in this story, the fact they can communicate without talking is completely downplayed and understated, their powers are the means of their escapism rather than the bulk of the narrative itself. This same nonchalant tone is applied to the relationship between two cousins planning on marriage! This isn’t a story about a group of x men like characters; rather it is a story of the underdog, the “different” child both trying to blend in and make his own way in life.

As a reader you are totally immersed in the dialogue, you quickly connect with the children and feel a sort of affinity with them; I was left not wanting to put the book down. It’s one of few books that left me thinking about the individual characters long after finishing it.

In just 200 pages a lot is covered and it could easily be a lot longer, though this may just be wishful thinking. A short succinct and easily readable book that’s hard if not impossible to put down. I couldn’t recommend this enough although perhaps if you’re a deeply religious person, this is not the book for you.

An understated and in my humble opinion under appreciated timeless classic, dealing with subject matter that still resonates today. It’s a book that once finished will always stay with you.

Who needs feminism now?

-who-needs-feminism-new-tumblr-promotes-gender-equality-cf9318d9f6A new photo trend sees people all over the world sharing why feminism is important to them.

Feminism brings to mind angry bra burning women with bowl cuts and sensible shoes, but the fight for equality affects everyone, not just those with a vagina.
People have been fighting for equal rights since the late 19th century, yet only 10 per cent of the world’s front page stories are written by women. In the UK today just 18 out of 108 High Court judges are female, three out of the 22 parliamentary cabinet positions are held by women and none of them are mothers.
This shocking lack of women in English politics could be down to the fact that the palace of Westminster is the only major workplace where women have no right to maternity leave. In the commons as a whole, women make up only 23 per cent of the members of parliament, a smaller percentage than both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The dictionary definition of feminism is “a doctrine or movement that advocates equal rights for women”. By this definition “true” feminism isn’t about becoming the dominant sex, nor is it about denouncing men, moving to a women only commune and belittling anyone that wears makeup or wants to be a “stay at home mum”. It is simply defending the power of choice. Or as Susan B Anthony – an American social reformer who played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement said- “Men their rights and nothing more; women their rights and nothing less.”
In this vein, a group of American all-female students have set up the project “Why Do I Need Feminism” which focuses on why actively campaigning for equality is still something that society both needs and wants.
They began by recruiting friends and acquaintances, young women and men from a cross section of races, sexualities and backgrounds. They then captured them proudly holding up whiteboards on which they had written in black marker, “I need feminism because…”
The campaign instantly went viral, with one man stating “I need feminism so that my future daughter will grow up never being limited by the ignorance of society”
The women that started the movement met on their “women in the public sphere” course, they were tasked with a final project with the only guideline being to focus on social change. Their idea was simple, it says on their website “We aim to challenge existing stereotypes surrounding feminists and assert the importance of female equality today.”
They believe that coming from a variety of backgrounds, networks and social groups, has enabled them to connect with a large audience and despite expecting it to stay within the walls of their college it soon exploded all over the internet.
They began on blogging site, Tumblr but the group now has a twitter and Facebook page too, all featuring posters, photo submissions and media news regarding feminism. Many of the comments talk very specifically about things like gender-based violence, gender-based slurs, as well as reproductive freedom.
Laura Kuhlman, a junior at Duke’s Trinity College says that they identified Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter as the main social media sites to concentrate on early into the project. “As college students, these are the platforms we use most frequently and we knew that we’d get an expansive reach. We initially thought Facebook would serve as our main source of promotion, but the Tumblr has really taken off,” she says.
The Facebook page has almost forty thousand likes, over two thousand follow the cause on twitter and the official Tumblr has been accessed by people in at least 3,509 different cities and has earned over 50,000 page views.
The campaign first spread through America with various universities having their own ‘WNF’ Tumblr or Facebook page with thousands of people submitting their photos.
One man from Cambridge wrote “I need feminism because it’s obviously wrong for the world to be run in favor of half the world’s population”
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However it has resulted in a backlash with people using the tag to explain why they in fact do not need feminism as well as sparking debates such as “is feminism the best term for general equality anymore” both men and women are using the WNF tag to share the reasons they believe feminism is a redundant concept with some arguing that feminism isn’t all encompassing enough.
This subsection argues that women already have equal rights and the focus should be directed towards the abolishment of genders in general. One woman from America writes “I don’t need feminism because I think women are equal” others include “Because I don’t hate men” and “because I like wearing makeup”
It seems that this project has been more successful than anyone could have anticipated. The differences in opinion have only served to deepen the newly aired discussion surrounding feminism.
The unexpected success of the campaign speaks for itself with the differences in opinion only serving to deepen the discussions surrounding femininity, equality and everything in-between.

Is feminism something you or the women around you still need today? Vote below!

Glen Johnson’s autographed boots on ebay.

There’s less than one hour to get your bids in for a pair of signed Glen Johnson boots.

A children’s football team in Kent are trying to raise money to buy a new kit and training items for their under 9s team by selling off a much beloved collectors item.

Glen Johnson plays as a defender for Liverpool and the England National Team. Johnson has previously played for West Ham United, Millwall, Chelsea and Portsmouth. So there are bound to be a few fans of his around. The boots are currently going for just over £200 as the sale had no previous advertisement.

 

 

Bath man that made obscene gesture behind Farrages back has “drinking fund” set up

A pub in the city of Bath, UK, has raised £250 for a local man who made an obscene hand gesture behind UKip leader Nigel Farage during a live television broadcast.

During an interview for the BBC on Tuesday evening, a man known only as Gary is seen making an obscene gesture nicknamed the “Farage wave” behind UKip leader Nigel Farage before walking into a pub.

This pub was The Bell Inn of which “Gary” was a regular. This pub on Walcott Street had earlier caused a stir when senior manager Jamie Mathews asked Mr Farrage to stop filming in the premises. 

In a statement Mr Matthews said: “Avoiding any actual political argument, I told him that he was welcome as a citizen to have a pint – we are, after all, a public house – but it was inappropriate for him to be using our premises for his hustings. I asked the camera man to stop filming.”

Despite claiming it was not a political statement the pub has received messages of support from around the world.

A 40 second clip of the interview has now been posted on YouTube and watched by 2,799 people.

After being inundated with requests to buy Gary a pint staff at The Bell have set up a PayPal account which has so far raise £250.

On its website the pub said: “Due to popular demand we have set up a PayPal donation page for the originator of the Farage Wave.”

To donate to the Buy Gary A Pint fund, visit http://www.thebellinnbath.co.uk

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