22 January 2022

The Kennecott Mines: Abandoned Alaskan Boomtown

In 1900 two prospectors were traveling through Alaska. Their horses were hungry and so when they spied a distant green hillside they thought their luck was in.

They were not wrong. They had stumbled upon a massive deposit of copper ore, exposed at the surface. Industry on a massive scale quickly followed. Yet by 1939 the copper was exhausted, the place abandoned. This is what remains of the Kennecott Mine Camp.

What is a URL?


What is a URL? It is the ‘address’ to a resource somewhere on the internet, yes.  However there is more to a URL than meets the eye.  Did you know, for example, that a URL has two main components and – more often than not these days – a third? This video goes in to some detail about each and even explains what the letters behind the acronym URL really mean. Plus it’s very easy to understand so if you are new to all this – no problem!
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Newton in Space


If you need to know how Newton’s three laws of motion work then look no further. This educational animation, made at Beakus, for the Royal Observatory Greenwich, explains the three laws in words and terms that most people can understand.

Newton in Space was directed and designed by Amaël Isnard.  OK, it's for kids but guess what?  Yes indeed.
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If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Madeira, You Will after You Watch This


This short hyperlapse and timelapse combo by Kirill Neiezhmakov is short but amazing.  What I would like to know is how he got the fountain to appear as if by magic (you have to get to around the 40 second mark for that!).  This is technically amazing work – the timelapse equivalent of street magic, perhaps?  Whatever, we hope you will love the sights of Madeira presented in this remarkable way!
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Pardon the Intrusion


Betty isn’t happy.  After a stroke has left her dependent on the morning and evening visits of carers her existence has dwindled to little but TV and soggy sandwiches.  However, one day an intruder enters her house and the status quo is at once threatened – but not quite in the way you might imagine.

Featuring a tour de force performance by Sarah Kestelman who has been a regular face on British TV screens since the 1950s, Pardon the Intrusion is a Cue Pictures film, directed by Louise C Galizia and written by Harry Chadwick.
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9 January 2022

Earth Song


If you have ever been to Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks in northern England then you will have been, no doubt, struck by their incredible natural beauty.  They have never looked so magnificent in this short time-lapse film about the ever changing light and beauty in nature made by Alex William Helin. The stirring music is Epic Journey by David Tobin, Jeff Meegan and Malcolm Edmonstone.
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Star Wars Snowflakes

Be the Snow: A Pillow Runs Away to See the World


There are times in life when we have to leave our comfort zone behind and that is as true for pillows as it is for us.  This little guy decides to run away one night and discover the world.  How will he fare on his adventures?

This charming short combining live action and animation was created by Amir Honarmand for the National Film Board of Canada.
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Juhyo: The Snow Monsters of Japan

Dinosaur
There are monsters, high in the Japanese mountains of the country’s northeastern region of Tohoku.  A few miles outside of Yamagata city the mountains rise and as the seasons turn and autumn becomes a memory, the monsters appear.  Winter isn’t coming here; it’s well and truly arrived.

IceMonster
Their shapes are not uniform. The imagination can truly take flight when considering what might lie beneath the snow. Is that a dragon? Is that a troll? Is that Sulley and Mike from Monsters Inc over there?

1 January 2022

Eternal Flame Falls

At the base of a waterfall deep in the forests of the state of New York an eternal flame burns. A small grotto between the layers of shale protects this everlasting fire. Although it glows brightly throughout the year it radiates light and warmth more on Midsummer’s Night than on any other time on the calendar. Then, it is said that the fair folk…

Craco - The Abandoned Town


Back in 1963 massive landslides made the inhabitants of the hilltop town of Craco in Italy shrug their shoulders one last time and move elsewhere.  As no one wished to (or could…) move in the place was left to nature.  Today although the local authorities have made attempts to rehabilitate the town as a tourist attraction it remains eerily abandoned.  If a town could have a beautiful corpse this is it, as amply demonstrated by Walter Molfese’s amazing film.
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If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Saint Petersburg, You Will After Watching This


This is a stunning example of aerial motion photography at its very best.  The beautiful Russian city of Saint Petersburg is captured in all of its glory by Timelab, who enable us to see the place from heights and angles probably not captured on film before.  The result is an enchanting – hypnotising even – tour through this amazing city which the company call White Nights in Saint Petersburg.  Simply stunning.

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451°


If you are familiar with Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, Fahrenheit 451 then you will love this.  Even if you’re not I think you will appreciate the message about a dystopia where books are banned and firemen are tasked to eliminate them. The title refers to the temperature at which paper will auto-iginite (although this has been debated, er, hotly).  This is a student film, created by Anastasia Chernova at the All-Russian State University of Cinematography : I think you will agree that it shows immense promise.
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Spin


A launderette may not be the first place you would think of when it came to dance but Mietta Gornall makes it beautiful (80s film fans will see what I did there).

Directed by LAW this is a beautifully put together piece of film – where elegance collides with this week’s washing.

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26 December 2021

Bokor Hill Station – Cambodia’s Abandoned Town

The history of Cambodia in the twentieth century is one of almost continual struggle and conflict. One place which encapsulates the traumatic events which the country persevered is the Bokor Hill Station. This eerie ghost town has been abandoned not once, but twice in its history.

Even its birth was savage. Designed as a resort for the French colonists of the early twentieth century, the construction of Bokor Hill Station was complete by 1925. Built by indentured Cambodian laborers it took nine months to build. Almost a thousand men perished during that time.

21 December 2021

Using Structure to Plan a Story for GCSE English


How many times have you had a student, pen in hand, poised over a blank and unspoiled piece of paper, look up at you and plaintively say “I don’t know where to start!”? Me too.

It’s not that they don’t have the words – they plainly do as otherwise you wouldn’t spend half the lesson telling (commanding, imploring, encouraging – the verb is interchangeable) half the class to be quiet.

Joking aside, it isn’t about a lack of language or vocabulary (or writer’s block as some of them insist!)  – it’s about structure.  They are thinking too much about content and not enough about organisation.

Jeremy Bentham once said: “Stretching his hand up to reach the stars, too often man forgets the flowers at his feet”.  We must forgive the very gender-specific language used by this pre-eminent eighteenth-century British philosopher and social reformer – but he wasn’t wrong.  In the case of GCSE English, language is “the stars” and structure “the flowers”.

Before you close the tab with a tut and move on, let me explain a little further.  Language is – or at least seems to me – hugely over-represented in GCSE English.  There’s a veritable tsunami of language for students to get to grips with – whether it’s in the twenty marks specifically targeted at the way that writers use language over the two papers – or the texts that must be read and understood to respond to Section A questions - not to mention the texts that students must themselves write for the final question of each paper.

19 December 2021

Krampus – Santa Claus’ Secret Weapon

The song lyrics have never been truer.  Oh You better watch out,  You better not cry,  You better not pout, I'm telling you why.  Yet it isn’t Santa Claus that you have to watch out for – it is his sinister sidekick – Krampus. He has a whip – and he is going to use it.

What on earth has this creature of the night – more orc than elf – to do with Christmas?  If you have children you may well be aware of the mantra – if you don’t behave then Father Christmas won’t bring you anything.  The idea behind Krampus is similar – only the threat is not that Santa won’t bring them anything but that Krampus will whip them in to the New Year.

Tis the Season


Have you ever wondered what Santa does with his time off? What about the reindeer, the presents and the Christmas trees? Not spared a second thought?

Well, perhaps it’s time for you to look in to the secret lives of these yuletide characters, take a peek through the proverbial keyhole as it were.  This marvelously silly animation comes courtesy of Jens and Anna of Animate Me.
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12 December 2021

How Did Music Begin?


If you have a child who has asked this question then you know that, on first appearance, it sounds quite straightforward.  However, the answer is a little more convoluted than you might expect.

Instead of boring said child with your own answer, why not sit the little cherub down in front of this wonderful animation.  It manages to take in around ten thousand years of musical history in a little over three minutes and should answer the first question rather well - although it may provoke even more.

This short animation was part of the Science Club series on the UK TV channel BBC2 hosted by Dara O Briain.  It was created by Asa Lucander.
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The Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis

In 1621 the French scientist Pierre Gassendi (left) decided to name the strange natural displays of light he had observed in the sky. He took the name of the Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora and combined it with the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas.

The world had a name, finally, for these mysterious light shows – aurora borealis.

For those who find Latin/Greek combination names something of a mouthful there is still the alternative name – the Northern Lights. The closer you are to the North Magnetic Pole the more likely you are to see the lights. Many confuse the magnetic pole with the geographic North Pole but they are not the same thing at all.

Epoch


A pair of demigods, Luna and Ram, alters the course of mankind through the selfish acts and desires of their timeless love affair. Directed by John Robson and starring Denise Xavier and Nick Denbeigh, Epoch is grandiose, epic and breath-takingly shot as it follows the trail of devastation left by the pair. Yet if not for our eyes, our hands, our dreams and our suffering they would cease to exist…
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The Bizarre Hammerhead Worm

Have you eaten recently? If so, then perhaps it’s not a wise idea to visit the Ark in Space today which has a feature on the bizarre hammerhead worm. It is an extraordinary predator which preys on mostly earthworms but the way that it attacks and feeds is, well, potentially quite disturbing if you are a gentle soul. For those of you brave enough to screw your courage to the sticking place (as Lady Macbeth said) then go take a look at this most bizarre of creatures. But expect carnage.

Image Credit Wikimedia
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Beerbug


Old Joe runs a struggling gas station and so he feels well within his rights to sink a few beers once the sun sets. Yet one evening his favorite beverage seems to be going down a little too quickly and he soon determines to grab his gun and hunt down the culprit. Yet when worlds collide there is, sometimes a solution as is shown in this very funny animated short written and directed by Ander Mendia and produced by Katue Studio.
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The Phantom Inventory


A bailiff visits the apartment of an old man who collects memories that people do not want.  As he takes his inventory of objects to be seized he discovers a giant attic which contains more than he had bargained for. 

If you love a good ghost story then I don’t think you will be disappointed by this  wonderfully done animated short by Franck Dion.
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