Articles Comments

David Porter » Archive

The UK’s Parliamentary Lobby is an Arcane Ritual but it Works

Selected ‘Lobby’ journalists are allowed access to Westminster’s inner sanctum, close to the Chamber and MPs. It’s changing, like much in political life. A lobby has various meanings: a large room or entranceway into a building like a hotel or public office. In the US it can apply to a domestic house, in the UK’s Staffordshire it’s a thick edible stew, while in Parliament and politics, it has other meanings. To lobby Parliament is to seek to influence or persuade either one or both Houses or MPs themselves to take or avoid particular action. It’s a campaigning word, and applies to both well-organised, professional businesses, or one or two citizens asserting their rights/objections/pleas. The Right to Lobby Every citizen has right of access to Parliament to speak with his/her elected Member. That is, of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Concept Albums That Defined Their Eras and Inspired Generations

The concept/themed musical collection has been around for decades. Some of them are known classics; many still have profound musical and cultural impacts. A concept album is broadly a collection of musical and/or narrative material which is unified by some theme. There is debate over whether the genre subdivides into ‘theme’ and concept’, but that may be merely semantics. In commercial and artistic justification, the concept becomes a major part of the culture of the band or artiste. Many albums have defined an era, for commentators, music buyers and performers themselves, living on in music collections, frequently adopted by children of the original fans. Early Claimants to the Title In Feb 2011 radio station WNYC raised one of its weekly music debates, started with two people from prog-rock band Porcupine Tree, asking: ‘are concept … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

The Godfather Revisited and Reinterpreted for Today

A novel and film 40 years old still thrills, chills and excites imitators. This seminal work set the benchmark for crime family drama. People love it. On his American Movie Classics (AMC) website, Senior Editor and Film Historian Tim Dirks composed a fulsome commentary of 1972’s masterpiece, The Godfather, in three parts, portraying the mafia as integral part of the fabric of 20th century American society. In a sense, their business became part of the ‘American Dream.’ Dirks styled it: “superb, a mythic, tragic film which contributed to resurgence in the American film industry.” Part 1 was the era’s highest grossing movie. Director Francis Coppola collaborated with Mario Puzo, author of the best-selling novel (1969) about a Cosa Nostra dynasty. The catchphrase “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” (i.e., … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Forever Young: The Cursed Quest of the Performer

While no one wants to be old, performers chase any elusive butterfly to stay forever young. Technology may answer their prayer, but is it curse or blessing? Pete Townshend of The Who stuttered in “My Generation”, “hope I die before I get old.” Many did just that: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Karen Carpenter, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, Tammi Terrell and Marc Bolan. Those who didn’t and lived into this century found themselves with renewed careers in their old age, touring the nostalgia circuit, reliving the memories, retelling the songs they sang in their teens like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Eric Burden, Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Eric Burden, Van Morrison, Paul McCartney and Ray Davies. In a sense, and as their audiences have grown old with … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Oxymorons, Verbosity and Tautology: Mangling the Language

  English is a living language, constantly adapting, changing, absorbing. When some people mangle it too far, senses of perspective, poetry and humour help. ‘Oh the games people play now/never meaning what they say now/never saying what they mean’. Lyrics from the song Games People Play (1968) by Joe South sum up the fact that few people say what they mean. Ever. According to net language course provider, Word Power, in the days of Shakespeare/Milton (say 16th and 17th centuries), the English vocabulary contained about 60,000 words. Today, it’s well over a million and growing. If words are the building blocks of thinking, then accurate language is vital. Statements of the Obvious On a day with particularly strong weather, people will invariably point out to somebody else things like: ‘What a lovely day!’ or ‘A … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Sunday Trading Laws Are Dilemma Now Facing UK Government

Under the guise of Olympic Games needs, Britain is set to ‘try’ unrestricted Sunday shop opening as an experiment. It may become permanent. Shortly after the 2010 General Election, I wrote the following article, to raise awareness of how Sunday Trading laws would become a real problem for the then new Government. The 2012 Budget is likely to lead to a dry-run of abandoning laws for the summer, to enable Britain’s trading doors to be open 24/7, Understandably, churches and campaigners for Sunday respite from relentless commercialism are opposed. It will be a hotly contested issue during 2012. The arguments rehearsed below are still relevant to the debate. The April 2010 Article: Britain’s new government will have competing priorities, from fiscal restraint and taxes to Afghanistan and immigration. However, there is another issue: should … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

2001: A Space Odyssey Revisited and Reinterpreted for Today

Visionary, profound, astounding, a visual experience and epic, the movie was a cinematic special effects landmark with messages that speak still. Tim Dirks, senior editor and film historian at American Movie Classics (AMC) wrote an extensive commentary on the structure, meanings, purpose and parallels of Kubrick’s 1968 film masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film has entertained, intrigued and mystified audiences ever since it came out; today, astonishingly, it has much to teach the world. Dirks described it as “a landmark classic, probably the best science-fiction film of all time about exploration of the unknown.” Coincidentally released at the height of the US-USSR space race, it “prophetically showed the enduring influence computers would have on our daily lives” and how man is dwarfed by technology and space. It broke conventions – no spoken … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Future Change Management May Be Beyond Political Control

No change in the news that things are changing. Rapidly. Things get faster, more efficient, more gadget-based. Is there a limit? Is tomorrow controllable? In a world increasingly dependent on digital technology, it’s easy to think people will go on developing new ideas, new ways of living and ordering lives, without end into some unknown (but reassuringly safe) forever. But can they? According to Grady Booch, IBM Fellow, the limits of technology were defined in 2003 by the laws of software and physics, the challenge of algorithms, the difficulties of distribution, the problems of design functionality, the importance of organization, the impact of economics and the influence of politics. Politicians strive to frame laws to deal with cyber-crime, pornography, data protection, individual freedom, protecting internet commerce, but they are essentially only able to … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

The Beggar’s Opera: How One Work Feeds Many Reinventions

Like body part transplants, ideas get recycled. One 18th century play with music inspired other art forms in entertainment history, and still speaks today. On the principle that in life nothing is ever wasted, no experience is too insignificant that some creative can’t turn it into a novel, play, movie, painting or song, The Beggar’s Opera is a study in how the arts feed off each other. It also shows how later work can be far more ‘original’ than the first works. The Beggar’s Opera First hitting the London stage in 1728, John Gay’s piece was an immediate success being performed more than any other work in the whole century. It was original in the sense that it broke from contemporary Italian operatic conventions: it used dialogue and music to push plot that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

The Dubliners

The Dubliners in concert at Norwich Theatre Royal Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 14 March 2012 The world of fifty years ago was a foreign country when Ireland’s Dubliners began performing. Their celebratory tour recalls many changes of the decades. Original Barney McKenna is still playing, and while some have come and gone, all are long-serving. A certain magic binds them together, sharing their love of jigs and reels, instrumentals, ballads and folk songs, traditional and new. A packed house, many the same age as the band, others younger, was spellbound by quality Celtic folk tradition, guitar, banjo, whistle, fiddle, tapping along approvingly. 1967’s chart-topper Seven Drunken Nights was followed by songs, some poignant, others funny, about Ireland, mountains, alcohol and jobs long gone, like the ferrymen. Many lyrics were from the political-social commentary … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reviews