26 September 2021

Iconic Dance in Film

This will put a spring in to your step if all else fails… The students at AMDA (the American Musical and Dramatic Academy) in New York studied rigorously for their Fall Dance Concert of 2015. Named Iconic, it was a modern celebration of 20th Century dance on film re-imagined through live performance. Cain DeVore, an independent filmmaker and screenwriter, actor and teacher put this video together to inspire the students.

It is a whistle-stop tour of the best dance in movies from the 1920s up to the present day. Pop Dancin Fool by Barry Manilow over the clips and you get a truly exhilarating few minutes. As well as a reminder of what has been achieved in the past this video, in its own way, lays down the gauntlet for today’s filmmakers – get dance fully and properly back in to the movies now!

The full list is below if you want to see how many movies you spotted correctly.

Caravanserai – Staging Posts of the Desert

There were once thousands of caravanserai, staging posts for the weary traveler, dotted throughout Asia, North Africa and the South-Eastern parts of Europe.  The Silk Road, an important and extensive trans-continental network of routes, was dotted with them.  Many still survive, but more, like the one in the Lut desert of Iran (above) are abandoned and slowly turning to dust.

Modern methods of transportation have meant that the caravanserai, where they are not fortunate enough to be restored and made in to hotels, slowly but surely rejoin the sand of the desert.  However, you can still see the rising columns in the Lut example, above, which one day perhaps looked something more like the interior of the one to be found in Meybod (also in Iran, below).

The Cutty Sark Story

If you might  not get the opportunity to visit Cutty Sark, the British Clipper ship which is preserved as a museum ship in Greenwich, London, then this will get you a little closer, at least imaginatively.  Created by Beakus director Steve Smith for the Cutty Sark, it tells the story of the ship’s years of service as a tea and wool cargo ship, and its record breaking round-the-world voyages. It has been screened on a loop in the actual ship's lower hold from September 2014.
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Flawless is a short film looking at the loving relationship between a father, Ansel and his gifted daughter, Iniko. One grey day a major incident causes a deep fracture that changes their lives forever, causing Iniko to long for a time when things were perfect. Created by Badshoes Film in February 2014 in Leicester and released on to the festival circuit in June 2014, Flawless was selected for 23 festivals over 18 months including Festival de Cine Lanzarote 2015, Cineglobe 2015 at CERN Institute, Cannes Short Film Corner, CineFiesta 2014, New York Independent Film Festival 2015, Aesthetica 2015 as well as a pretty good run at the BAFTA's too.
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23 September 2021

3 online hobbies you should consider trying in 2021

Finding a new interest or hobby can be a fantastic way of developing a new skill, meeting new, like-minded friends, building your self-confidence and having a lot of fun.

There is no shortage of avenues to pursue, which can make the process of deciding which hobby to pursue daunting and not a little confusing. After all, when you live in an age of unlimited information and unprecedented levels of entertainment in the forms of YouTube, streaming services and social media, sticking to one interest is difficult. 

On top of this, there is the very real challenge of fitting your new hobby within your existing lifestyle. If you work full-time, have a family or a busy social calendar, then you may think it is impossible to find time for a new hobby. 

However, as long as you are organized, plan your weeks carefully and are prepared to sacrifice time-sapping pastimes like social media or watching movies, then you will free up more time than you might imagine.

This is why online hobbies work so well. They allow you to participate in your hobby without needing to waste time traveling to a set location or putting it on pause every time you need to travel. 

Here are three great online hobbies you should consider trying in 2021:

Gaming is going from strength to strength

One of the most popular online hobbies is gaming, which has gone from strength to strength over the past decade. Far from simply being a pastime popular with teenagers, gaming is now a thriving industry that offers a variety of immersive thrills.

Indeed, there is no shortage of games to choose from. You could, for example, become involved with esports, which hold both amateur and professional tournaments based on virtual versions of real sports - such as football and Formula One, as well as gaming titles like Dota 2 or League of Legends. 

Alternatively, there is a range of role-playing and sandbox games such as the Elder Scrolls series or Grand Theft Auto, which boast huge online communities. 

Online gaming is a great way to become involved in a passionate community of like-minded people, as well as relax after a long day at work. You can get started relatively cheaply, too, if you find gaming laptop deals

You could start meditating using online resources

Another great online hobby you should consider trying is a meditation app or course. While meditation has been around for thousands of years in various forms and practices, it has never been easier (or more important) to start, thanks to the variety of online apps, tutorials and courses on offer.

This means you can practice meditation easily wherever you are, whether at home, on the train, or even on your lunch breaks at work. Given how stressful and fast-paced modern life can be, meditation offers a rewarding experience, with minimal costs or discipline needed to start.

Learn a new language via an online course

One of the most useful hobbies you can start is to learn a new language. While this is nothing new, language learning is considerably more accessible and easier now that you can engage with online content - such as apps, courses and podcasts - which allow you to learn wherever you go. 

This accelerates the learning process and helps you to master a new language faster, which is ideal if you want to explore a particular country or learn more about a certain culture. 

Image Credit

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20 September 2021

Using Interior Spaces and Furniture Improve our Well Being


When we decide to choose furniture such as dining chairs to the colours we put on the wall, smart choices improve our well being and general health. To understand why this is, we have to understand how decorating works and how it affects our mood, and we have to look at what our homes mean to us.

An Englishman’s Home Is His Castle

If we consider what home is, it offers both shelter and protection. When you get home you feel safe and warm. This is the place where you bring up your family, and where you sleep.

Whereas in the past, your home may not have been decorated to the degree it is now, it still offered the qualities outlined above.

As the twentieth century unfolded, increasingly people wanted to personalise their homes. As such, furniture design, DIY, and decoration products became highly popular.

As well as having the means, choices can be influenced consciously and subconsciously. This is why we often see a canopy over a front door or a railing. This symbolises a barrier between our homes and the outside world. It is a psychological comfort and protection.

Not every design decision is designed to make us feel protected. Other mindfulness is at work with other decisions.

An Interesting Experiment

Google partnered with the Arts & Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University where they experimented to assess the aesthetic impact of rooms. At the 2021 Salone del Mobile in Milan visitors were bands that tracked their physiological responses as they moved from room to room.

They were encouraged to fully engage with their surroundings and to remain quiet and avoid using their phones.

The results were interesting with around 50% feeling the calmest in rooms they were not attracted to visually. Ivy Ross, VP of Product Design at Google concluded that people have been approaching room design and décor too cognitively and they needed to get back to what feels good rather than what looks good.

Taking Control

Ivy Ross may have a point. When we decorate to our tastes often it is to create a feel rather than a look. If you feel good in your home you are more likely to feel protected and comfortable. This contrasts a room that may look amazing but feels a little cold or you simply can’t relax.

This makes furniture and décor choices important. It isn’t just how it looks and gels with the rest of its surroundings, it is also the feelings it generates. This also extends to the artwork you have on your walls. Some point out that often art that conjures childhood memories are the most comforting.


Some hospitals from around the world have started to employ interior designers and architects to make medical settings less institutional and clinical. Organisations such as Maggie have tried to make the clinical environment come across as more homely. This, they believe provides a better environment for healing.

So, when you come to make furniture and design choices, go with what feels right rather than what looks right. You won’t regret it.

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5 September 2021


Bushido literally means the way of the warrior and that is (again, literally) what you get here.  We see just a few split seconds in the life of a meditative samurai.  Bushido allows for the violent existence of the samurai to be subsumed by wisdom and serenity.

This animated short was created by Said Ibrahim as his 2013 graduation film.  It’s a great combination of drawing and animation styles and is a great showcase for Ibrahim’s talents as an animator. It is also very, very cool.
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Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Gathering or People on the Planet

Kumbh Mela is a Hindu pilgrimage which attracts, each year, the greatest peaceful get together of people in the world.  The  Maha Kumbh Mela of 2013 saw over 100 million people gather to bathe at dawn in the sacred Ganges River.

Time-lapse Photography and Adventure Filmmaker Rufus Blackwell was there and captured these astounding time-lapse images.
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The Golden Rock – The Gilt Boulder of the Buddha

It looks as if it is just about to fall off the edge of Mount Kyaiktiyo and roll down in to the sweeping landscape of Myanmar. Yet the enormous granite boulder, known as the Golden Rock, has perched precariously here for as long as the land’s recorded history.  The Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, built atop, is, alone, over seven meters in height. The whole edifice is said to be balanced on a single strand of the Buddha’s hair.

As such, this is an important pilgrimage site for adherents of Buddhism.  It is said that those who visit it three times in a single year will be blessed with wealth and acknowledgement of their goodness. The main legend associated with the rock and the pagoda is that the Buddha, on one of his visits, gave a single strand of his hair to the local hermit, Taik Tha.

30 August 2021

Science Behind The Game: The Psychology of Players in Online Casinos

Gamblers are a certain category of people who live by their own rules, have their own interests and idols to follow. The real world of players is very closely intertwined with the gambling world. That is why they often risk everything they have in life.

Players who gamble and win real money at online Casino are considered to be gambling people. They come to such establishments to get their dose of adrenaline. Why don't they choose rock climbing and mountaineering? Or diving? After all, these sports also give the opportunity to feel adrenaline but do not cause negative attitudes of those around them.

The Reason for This Behavior

Psychologists believe that the desire to take risks is embedded in us at an early age. When a child begins to learn about the world, he is constantly taking risks, testing his guesses and assumptions (for example, by touching a hot frying pan and making sure that it hurts).

The gameplay process is somewhat similar to a child's familiarization process. Participants are constantly learning new games, trying them out, taking risks, and sometimes "getting burned.

Trying a new strategy in the game, a person does not know its result. And if he wins, he realizes that he did everything right and continues to use it.

Many people dream of becoming rich without making any effort to do so. So they buy lottery tickets or go to casinos. Gambling and the desire to win a large sum of money pushes them to this step. For some players, gambling is a way to distract from everyday life and forget about their problems for a while.

The Rationality of Gamblers’ Behavior

But in addition to excitement, gamblers are driven by a desire to learn new things. Some of them want to test their luck. And many even have their own superstitions for each game.

Is this behavior rational? No. It is impossible to understand why one person, when playing roulette puts only red and the number of his birthday, why an adult and a respectable man whispers some words on the chips?

Starting to play slot machines for free, a person is fully immersed in this world and has ceased to control his emotions. And the interface of the institution, as well as additional chips in the design only contribute to this. But is it only the casino that makes a person make crazy bets and live in an unreal world?

The Psychology of Winning

The psychology of the game is built on the intermittency of winning. If a person wins or loses often, he may soon get bored with it. After all, the emotions a person gets from the game should be varied.

If a player wins a lot and then doesn't for a long time, he will still keep playing, waiting for a better time.

In most gambling establishments, the chances of winning are 40% to 50% and the player is rewarded for a certain amount of action.

Coming to the casino, a person seeks to have fun and enjoy the player. Experience the feeling of adrenaline and distract from everyday life. But whether he becomes a gambler or not - it's only his choice.

The Main Reasons Why Most People Prefer to Play Online

  • First, it is the convenience of access. You can play almost anywhere and anytime, you only need to have access to the Internet with a good speed.
  • Secondly, a large variety of online games. Everyone can choose for themselves the most suitable option - the most modern version or the old classics, pick up the slot that seems to him the most advantageous.
  • Thirdly, online games are preferred for the fact that they can actually make good money.
  • And fourthly, they are loved for their anonymity. Not all want to reveal their personal data and show up in front of other players. Even playing with a live dealer, you introduce yourself to him as you like, come up with a beautiful name or username, and plunge into the world of anonymity. Along with this survey was conducted and another, quite the opposite.
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29 August 2021

The Blind Photographer

The Blind Photographer is an intriguing short movie. It focuses on a photographer who goes to unusual lengths to capture unprompted pictures of homeless people. To use his own words he wants his pictures to be “not gloomy staged or posed but spontaneous and full of joy”.

Yet perhaps this photographer’s eye is not quite what it should be as we follow him to a viewing of his work at a swanky art gallery. My immediate thoughts were well, that's biting the hand that feeds you. Watch the short through to the very end to see what I mean – it is a thought provoking yet not entirely downbeat ending. Cynicism and decadence are, perhaps, trumped by youthful hope – morally at least.

The Blind Photographer was made by Christian Denslow, who sums himself up thus - filming things makes me happy – which is cool. It start the very photogenic (can one say filmogenic?) Thiru Naidoo (pictured) as the eponymous artist whose last scene (and I am sure he didn’t mind) was completely stolen by Ino (another one name only child actor in the vein of Sabu, perhaps?) who gives this short film its heart.
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The Manhattan Project – Time Lapse

Hold on to your hats for a whistle stop tour of Manhattan.  Cameron Michael lugged 120-130 pounds of gear around all of Manhattan in order to bring you this astonishing footage.  Not all of it, strictly speaking, was legally done but I am sure you will turn a blind eye once you have sat through this amazing piece of work!

What I particularly like about this stop motion piece is the camera work, strictly speaking the way that the camera pans while the stop motion is actually happening.  This is a fairly new technique and has not been attempted successfully (let alone brilliantly!) by many people.  Here it is seamless. Just awesome work!
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The Astronomer’s Sun

The Astronomer’s Sun is a multi-award winning stop motion animation directed by Simon Cartwright and Jessica Cope.  A young man enters an observatory which was created by his father many years ago – to confront the events of those times and to follow, ultimately, in his father’s path.  He is accompanied by the mechanical teddy bear which has been his companion since the traumatic events of his childhood.

This really is quite a magical piece of film, mysterious and haunting – and which stays with you long after the final credits have rolled.  Little wonder then that The Astronomer’s Sun has won 16 awards.  If you are in or near West Yorkshire in the UK and want to see the sets and characters for yourself then pay a visit to the Animation Gallery at the National Media Museum in Bradford.
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The Cast Courts

The Cast Courts of the V&A museum in London are simply exhilarating although many people puzzle why what are effectively copies should entrance visitors to such an extent.  You get the answer in this video which takes a close look at some of the gallery’s most famous pieces.  The two which stand out, of course, are the plaster cast of Trajan’s column and the 5.5 metre high cast of Michelangelo's David which we see getting to see really close up here. Fascinating.
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Covert Cashew: The Secret Life of a Nut

It’s difficult to know quite where to start when it comes to the cashew nut.  To many people it is nothing more than an occasional (if moreish) snack. So, let’s begin with a picture of one on the tree – there it is, above.  Not quite what you expected?  It’s a nut with a number of secrets hidden in plain view, not least the way it grows. And before we go any further, let’s get another thing straight: it isn’t a nut either.

The way it grows will only be a surprise to you, of course, if you live outside the regions where it is farmed – and there is one good reason for that too.  Originating in Brazil the cashew was introduced elsewhere in the 1500s and is now grown in countries such as India, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Vietnam. In fact anywhere between the latitudes of 25°N and 25°S, where the tropical evergreen can flourish, it is farmed.  It takes shape like this...

28 August 2021

Quizzes for GCSE English

Are you looking for some good quizzes for GCSE English? Over on our sibling site, Pass GCSE English, you can find many a good reason why giving learners quizzes in the classroom is a good idea – even if the terminal exam doesn’t have any! A quiz can do a lot more than just ask for answers – it can be the trigger for a whole lot more.

So, whether it’s structure, language, writers’ perspective or synthesis, there are quizzes that can be made – and this site is the gateway to a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) that allows learners working towards GCSE English to do loads of quizzes. Loads and loads and loads!

Here’s the first two paragraphs from the article: When a student walks into that big scary hall to take their GCSE English exam, they won’t have to do a single quiz – unless you count the “true or false” element of Paper 2 which is worth a measly four marks out of the 160 up for grabs across both exams. So, why on earth use quizzes as a teaching and learning tool in preparation for this incredibly important exam?

That’s a good question – and a simple one too. My very simple answer would be “because they’re fun” and generally that’s where I would like the questioning to end. I’ve never seen anything engage students more than a good quiz, especially on a platform like Kahoot.

Want to read more – then go to passgcseenglish.com
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