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THE OSCARS GO TO... SOME POTENTIAL BEST ACTORS

There have been many exceptional films this year, but it is hard to know which are strictly eligible, given that so many have appeared on streaming platforms only or first; I think I am right in saying the Academy is being lenient for the 2020 crop, and feature-length is all that is required. Despite there being some superb films of the year I have yet to see, here are what I predict as definite picks, and likely, winners, for some major categories - STARTING TODAY WITH some best actor possibilities. BEST ACTOR Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Boseman electrifies in his role as the arrogant upstart Jazz musician with a streak of genius , deformed by cruel white racism into madness; as he died too soon, this award is his to lose. Gary Oldman - Mank Lose it he won't, but could, to Oldman's finest hour since Churchill, as a drunken, brilliant, and crushed screenwriter with the soul of a poet, matching wits with starlets, tycoons, studio heads, and Orson Welles. Riz
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MAXIMUM CHAOS PART TWO

As this blog warned a few weeks ago, this was never going to be a period of calm. Unexpectedly, Brexit trade was negotiated speedily, and is not the issue. However, in the UK, a new total lockdown occasioned by a rampant new strain killing 1000 a day, and in the US, a president amok, powered for 12 more days, have made the anglo-sphere shaky, to say the least. I now turn to the events yesterday on Capitol Hill. There has been some hyperbole, but most of the claims for the historical moment are on the money. This blog long expected a 'Reichstag' moment from the president, what is surprising is how haplessly he unleashes, and then passively leashes the dogs of chaos back in. He seems the Hamlet of coups. A bolder, smarter demagogue would have yesterday declared the Insurrection Act, called out the army, and suspended all rights, annulling the election results, and getting sworn in by a flunky, while launching wars against enemies. That's what Augustus , more or less did, at t

SWIFT REPORT 2020

Without bravado, I want to thank God, and my friends, human and otherwise, and family, that I made it through. So many didn't. If I have one thing I am proud of this year, it is two things - tied - having written some poems that may last about our current world (they likely won't) - and keeping the Black spring press group alive and going for one more year - thereby keeping dozens of writers and books in print, and assisting designers, editors, proofreaders, printers, writers, and others, to make some money to feed their families in very uncertain times. I'd note the sad deaths of Roddy Lumsden , and Leah Fritz , friends and poets, at the start of the year; and also note how so many icons of my youth, from Diana Rigg to Sean Connery , also died this year; up to the recent awful news about Pierre Cardin, and   Jean Valentine , which I heard today. The books I commissioned and published this year were meant to celebrate frontline workers, champion freedom of expression, and

MAXIMUM CHAOS AND BEST OF 2020: Nature is the Law?

As the planets, literally align, in a once in 800 year way, the UK experiences its worst economic downturn in 300 years, the world struggles with the most grim global pandemic in 100 years, and Brexit returns the UK to where it was 40 or more years ago, it is impossible to claim 2020 is not a unique year, a unique moment. If one adds the heat of the planet is the most extreme it has been for many centuries, it is more striking, still. One can also add that AI and robotics, gene-editing, and cyber-attacks on the pentagon, new cultural ways of identifying humans, and potent generational conflicts last seen 60 years ago, further illuminate, and mark as era-defining, our moment. But that's for history to decide. What we know now is this - Trump is still president for about a month more; the darkest days of the year are the next few; Brexit is down to a tight deadline of a fortnight that cannot go further; and, before the vaccines are unrolled by 'Easter' or 'the summer'

A new poem at Christmas considering what a best year might be

  THAT BEST OF YEARS   On days like this I just want to suck on a boiled sweet And be a boy called Roger, whose glum existence Is about to be changed on a gloomy, grey day At his Uncle’s in the Cotswolds, when a sign From another world, possibly Saxon, or Jute, Breaks into the Anglican community at Christmas, And the bronze-age sword in the drawing room Begins to glow umber at night, as owls Hunt voles, and a light frost lands at midnight On the ruined chestnut trees down the lane.   It is 1970, and there are a few new anthologies Discussing a young poet called Heaney, But otherwise, the main idea is that science Is coming, and the future is geodesic; also, Population is a time bomb as the covers show, With the globe shaped like a bomb, with a fuse, As if Africa was an anarchist in a Conrad novel. And as Roger’s Uncle has a rather large library, Which you access via a panel hidden in the pantry, You have read all the books about jetpacks,  

playing some chicken, some neck

Film fans may recall the famous James Dean scene where a game of chicken is played - two cars race, and the first who 'blinks' - in this case swerves to avoid death - loses. If neither side 'blinks first' disaster  can ensue. This is also called 'brinkmanship politics' - when one appears to risk going to the brink - and when ultimatums get issued, and no one swerves, wars get started. In the case of Brexit, and the UK-EU negotiations, a trade, or even cold, war. I voted against Brexit, but I wouldn't now. Not after seeing the rude, intransigent, arrogant and controlling ways in which the EU has treated the past few British PMs, but especially Boris Johnson . Johnson went to Brussels the other night to have dinner and talks, and was basically snubbed. Even though 95% of a deal has been hammered out, the 'red lines' remain. The current odds seem 50% for No Deal. That would be a temporary tragedy and disaster - though not in the long run. But it is fore

LEAVE WINSTON ALONE

Imagine if you were at war with another country, and they wanted to undermine your morale, and weaken your resolve to fight on. They might broadcast propaganda, and drop leaflets, suggesting your leader was not the genius and hero you thought she was, but instead, a monstrous racist. The enemy might constantly bombard you with  self-doubt, rumour, lies, scandal and divisive claims. Rather than standing together, standing strong, you'd doubt your own opinions, and consider surrendering. Now imagine this had happened, and was happening, in the UK. Winston Churchill almost single-handedly stood up against the idea of striking a peace deal with Hitler before WW2 - which would have allowed Hitler to take over and control all of Europe, ultimately, and kill even more people than he managed to. Without Churchill, Britain may well have had to surrender during the Battle of Britain. Churchill won the Nobel prize for his linguistic genius. It is not for nothing that he remains the most popul