Once Upon an Oscar Season

Oscar season is upon us again and as usual the run-up and the jockeying is so much more interesting than the hallowed ceremony itself. The annual critics’ awards only rarely propel a film to Oscar glory, but they do sustain film and performances in the awards conversation. With super-hero, Star Wars, Disney animation and sequels […]

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and Rachel Ingall’s Mrs Caliban

In 1982 The British Book Marketing Council unveiled a list of what it anointed the Best American Novels Since WW2. The list contained a stunner no one expected and barely a handful of people had read: Mrs Caliban by Rachel Ingalls. I immediately bought it to read out of curiosity more than anything else. What […]

Brief Thoughts on North Korea

I don’t like Donald Trump, in fact I loathe him but who among us would like to face his choices. Trump inherited situation that Obama tired to wish away with balm of rhetoric and oratory, his solution for everything. In trump Kim has found the perfect actor who will rise to every threat, jibe. Trump […]

Brief Thoughts on Hurricane Harvey

The destruction from Hurricane Harvey and its financial aftermath may allow the Western public, not just Houstonians, Texans, Americans, to grasp something vitally important and profound: rather than the trite gospel that climate change will create havoc in developing nations, the truth is climate change will create most poverty in developed countries. People living in […]

Twilight of the Middle-Class

Every so often, and with increasing regularity, the progress or plight of the American middle-class is cited as either proof of economy recovery or stagnation. That group so indispensable to political rhetoric and for so long the key indicator of recovery and the ever-shining beacon of progress are indeed suffering, but not necessarily unduly. As […]

The Oscar Race Begins Today!

Today the National Board of Review will fire the starting gun of the most high profile, and longest, derby in popular culture – the Hollywood awards season. Originally founded to protect morals from the hazards of the cinema it has evolved to become the oldest award-conferring body of film historians and archivists rather than reviewers, […]


Though search engines are new, their most obvious old media comparison is the encyclopaedia. Encyclopaedia publishers gathered and verified information which was sold as a book(s) or belatedly as a CD ROM and they received money for their work. Google’s business model is rather different, though Google has successfully masked its impact by constantly telling […]

Publishers Are Dead- Long Live Books!

The first (obvious) tremors of the deepening economic crisis are being felt in the detached worlds of New York and London publishing, the principal centres of English language writing. What is dismaying is that these outfits – they can hardly be classed as businesses or cultural bodies – have not collapsed already. Publishers face extinction. […]


Of all our artistic achievements literature is undoubtedly the most significant. From Homer and the Epic of Gilgamesh to more recent works, we have an unrivalled and unsurpassed testament to human creativity. In barely more than a human lifetime the West has gone from mass illiteracy to very high nominal levels of literacy, yet this […]


Hollywood’s collapse is, as of the summer of 2006, not imminent but it is facing certain economic challenges. A bit like Detroit, it has left innovation to the Europeans and Asians and opted to concentrate on the star-and-dollar-guzzling V12 land yacht movie. Imports are not the biggest problem facing Hollywood, rather it’s an issue totally […]