Criminal Video – Britney Spears

Britney Spears Criminal Opening sceneCriminal is the latest song from Britney Spears, released last month. The most recent single from her seventh studio album Femme Fatale.

Britney Spears CriminalIn the video that accompanies it a one-couple crime-wave is unleashed by Britney Spears and her boyfriend – I have avoided making the Bonnie and Clyde comparison, damn!

Britney Spears CriminalIt seems another age now since she first burst onto the pop-scene with ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ proving to be more than just a one-hit wonder, more than just another passing pop fad. Like her other pop contemporaries of the time Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake they have all endured, continuing to make great pop music if Britney herself the more hit and miss of the three.

Justin Timberlake indeed has successfully made that usually doomed transition from the pop stage to the cinema screen (think Prince, think Madonna) with The Social Network and Friends with Benefits – nevertheless more of the music please Justin.

Criminal is an unusual popsong in that it has a flute – but please don’t think Jethro Tull! – providing a recurring theme to the persistent beat of the song itself. Lyrically it is in the tradition of the Shangri-Las – Britney running away with a bad-boy and pleading with her Mum not to disown her – remember I Can Never Go Home Anymore? – but musically it has none of the melodrama of those Shadow Morton produced epics.

Britney Spears CriminalThe video though does have pretensions of higher things.

The video director is New Yorker Chris Marrs Piliero, whose most famous pop video to date perhaps is the witty ‘Tighten Up’ by The Black Keys, who sees himself here it seems as a film director – and why not – with Criminal a stab towards his Hollywood CV.

The first clue of this being the inclusion of opening credits, the video later ending with a long credit role.

Add to that it is filmed in 16:9 aspect ratio.

Britney Spears CriminalThe video itself as Britney Spears living a double life – day-job as a lady of high society, off the clock a less than petty-criminal sticking up local convenience stores.

An early getaway scene sees the two partners in crime fleeing a party – Britney Spears having booted her be-floored assailant in the family jewels – on a motorbike in traffic which red Double Decker buses establishes that the City we are in is London. And not the Tourist spots of London either but Stoke Newington – I wonder how this Hackney area came to their attention? It was one of the riot-affected London areas so perhaps that is how?

Her villainous accomplice is her jobbing actor boyfriend Jason Trawick – what’s a little nepotism from your millionaire girlfriend?!

Later in a preposterous scene that might have made even Guy Ritchie blush the Metropolitan Police Armed Response Unit are seen letting rip a hail of bullets upon the couple’s hideout apartment as Britney and her beaux passionately embrace. We then discover that this symphonic salvo of shrapnel was all in vain as in fact the both of them have escaped and eluded the law’s grasp yet again.

Earlier in the video we have even more passionate scenes between them so much that YouTube has age-restricted the video. I do not know if there are many readers of the blog below 18 but I shall ensure I am circumspect with my choice of video-stills!

Inter-cutting the story line we have shots of Britney Spears glamorously dressed and made up wistfully eyeing the camera.Britney Spears Criminal - Gun still

The video was also criticized for Britney Spears sporting a gun – but I feel, a bit like the faux-controversy over Rihanna’s Man Down video, it is not clear why guns are an accepted staple of Television, Cinema and Computer Games but not Music Videos?

The local Hackney Council even criticized Britney Spears for promoting gun violence – a premise only credible if you consider depicting something as promoting something. Then the Member of Parliament for Hackney, Diane Abbot, got involved acknowledging it was only ‘a music video’ but then going on to say it ‘was glamorising gangs’ and perhaps most absurdly of all that ‘Britney should know better’ – why Britney Spears has a popstar should know better I am not sure!

Still on the basis that all publicity is good publicity then no doubt quietly Britney and her record company were pleased with this Yankee storm in an English tea-cup.

The Video Director Chris Marrs Piliero will have also been pleased with the video’s cinematic reception – Rolling Stone going as far to make Hitchcock comparisons. Music critics and their hyperbole hey!

Criminal is not of course anything close to classic cinema. No Oscar will be coming its director’s way – a VMA though most certainly could. Though Britney as leading actor will not I think be walking the MTV carpets should they have had an actors section, which they don’t! Damning with faint praise she acts better than Madonna but no match to her aforementioned ex, Justin…but the video provides a good enjoyable five-minute odd romp for all that.

Britney Spears Criminal

Britney Spears Criminal

Britney Spears Criminal

Britney Spears Criminal

University of the Arts London – Showtime for Cherica Toshiba Haye

Cherica Toshiba Haye JacquardThe University of the Arts London shares the works of their artists and designers on its Showtime website.

This is an effective way of demonstrating the skills and techniques of their students and providing a potentially global audience for their works at low cost.

It was disappointing though the lack of interaction offered on these showcases – no option to leave feedback let alone share with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

One of the many showcased is textile designer Cherica Toshiba Haye of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Her collection is called ‘Chimera‘ and she describes her inspiration for this collection as nature in the form of birds and flowers and an exhibition of Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Her textile work focusing on weave (inc Jacquard), embroidery and print.

Her work is very visual and tactile, the latter not ideally suited to experiencing on a computer screen – as the search for ever more realistic and immersive viewing only extends to the visual and audio senses with touch and smell neglected!

Nevertheless the showcase provides us the opportunity not just to see the outfits modelled but also to see the materials used – including silk and mohair – up close and in detail.

Please go see for yourself.

Cherica Toshiba Haye Silk Dress

Skating on Ice – once more with dignity…Tower of London Ice Rink

Whilst on vacation with my brother’s family in London over the New Year period looking for an activity for his children to do that they had not done before we decided to give Ice Skating a go – inspired to some extent by our visit to Winter Wonderland a few days before where among their attractions was an ice-rink which at the time of our visit was not available.

We decided to visit the rink at the Tower of London instead and following a tube journey from Sloane Square to Tower Hill arrived in good time despite this being New Year’s Eve.

I had booked the tickets the night before from their website and the tickets were with me in digital form on my iPhone – however at no point was I ever asked for my tickets – perhaps I have a Deja-vu face?!

Our group included my brother, his wife and their four children. The youngest a toddler would be looked after by her mother so leaving two adults to escort three children aged five to ten around the rink – though Ice Guides can be hired – the older two were naturally a bit wary of taking to the ice if the youngest a bit too oblivious of the dangers to mind either way!

We're still standing...

I had previously ice-skated if twenty odd years ago and had some memory of being natural at it and expectant to assist my young nieces about the ice with ease – how wrong I was! Instead we formed mutual support ensuring slow if sure progress around the rink with a sole goal to remain upright! I did in the main succeed in this other than one spectacular and undignified fall on my behind! By the end of the session’s allotted hour I had improved to the extent of being able to get some speed up around the rink. My brother proved to be most comfortable, my young nephew on the other hand fell repeatedly on his behind yet did not seem to mind!

One session is clearly not enough to expect to be gliding around the rink in balletic aplomb and further sessions would clearly lead to a more confident and enjoyable experience.

There are a number of ticket options including off peak and family & group bookings but one option not available which would be of interest to me is a season ticket – either for annual use of their rink or for any ice-rink across London or indeed the UK.

My only complaint were my skates – you are able to bring your own skates with you but otherwise they provide you with skates and various padding for protection. My skates were clearly ill-fitting which I put down to my own precarious skating technique but which on reflection were simply because they were too tight and left me hobbling about for a week or so afterwards.

I found ice-skating an enjoyable group activity – just ensure if you should decide to try it out that there is at least one in your group as novice as you!

Not quite a Winter Wonderland

I attended this event in London’s Hyde Park with my brother’s family who have four young children and as a fun fair type attraction thought it would be ideal.  Additional attractions included Ice Skating and a Big Observation Wheel – and this being the festive season Santa’s Grotto type attractions – though Christmas Day being 4 day’s over the appeal of this seemed a bit spent to me but that is no doubt the bah humbug adult in me.

The usual gamut of rides and attractions with plenty of food and drink stands thrown in were on offer.

The treat was on me and I loaded up at the entrance with £50’s worth of tickets thinking this would be more than enough. How wrong I was. Perhaps this was the naivety of an uncle with no children – and had I been a parent and one who lived in London at that I would have had a different expectation of how much this event would likely cost.

In fact hundreds of pounds are needed to be spent to take advantage of most of the attractions on offer. We went on a few of them such as The Ghost Train and Snow Slide but quickly made our way back to the exit and onto a restaurant in Victoria. This was not to say the children did not enjoy themselves just that there was a disappointment of not being able to take part in most of what was on offer.

As I am not one of those who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing I shall not be returning to this event which is open November to January each year.

Of best laid plans…part 2

Do I feel lucky?!

In a previous post I detailed my nearly coming unstuck in getting to an airport on time, today another fiasco, this time not from me trying to save a few pennies but from our inclement – very inclement! – weather.

For the holidays I was planning heading south to visit my brother and his family in London. Usually I do this in my car enjoying as I do the journey as much as the destination and a journey travelled in a car I find hard to beat – my own route on my own time with the radio and my iPhone collection of music for company pumping through my car stereo.

It had started snowing though back in late November and had not relented.  My neighbours had all got their shovels out – they had to work and unlike me did not do this from their homes – I though decided not to join in – I would let nature take its course.  But nature’s course in this case was to keep on snowing so come yesterday I had to invest in a shovel myself and start the laborious process of rescuing my car from the snow – and by this stage as you can see the snow had been snowing on the snow – it was a long job. After an hour or so I had cleared a way for my car to reverse but my car doors would not open – I tried de-icing the seals with boiling hot water but to no avail – my only entry to my car was an undignified one through the hatch. But then as it was cold I had the reasonable idea of then closing the hatch whilst I tried to get my engine started. The engine would not start and you may have guessed just as I could not get into my car I could not now get out of my car. Fortunately I had only to wait ten or so minutes for a neighbour returning home and to open my boot for me – however being locked in your own car, that is embarrassing!

Eventually I gave up on my car – it clearly needed rescuing but I wanted to be with my nieces and nephew for Christmas Day and the TLC my car needed would have to wait.  I needed alternative transport – I would have to take the train.

My journey alas was not going to improve with my transition from private to public transport – the train was severely delayed so a coach was laid on to take me to Edinburgh.  Then once in Edinburgh the planned journey to London’s King Cross was halted only several minutes out of Waverley station – the joining doors apparently were not disconnecting and we would not be going anywhere.  Eventually the train returned to the station and we were shunted onto another train.  This train though was not going anywhere either – another train was broken down on the track outside of Berwick and we would have to wait for its removal before going anywhere.  Four hours later this train too was cancelled and those of us heading to London were transferred to a Caledonian Sleeper.

I did therefore belatedly make it into London in time to open presents on Christmas Day with my brother’s family.  But next time it snows like this I won’t be letting Scottish nature take its course, I will most definitely be out with a shovel!

Science and Natural History on a Sunday Morning!

It is well-established that London is expensive – to live and work in and to visit.  My brother fits the first two categories and his married with four children so multiplying the expense, I fit the last category.

Nevertheless it not that difficult to find inexpensive and free ways to spend your time in London.


Museums are one obvious area – and there are many museums in London. Yesterday I had made a visit to the Design Museum near London Bridge to have a look at the Super Contemporary Exhibition and today my brother and I along with his young son paid a trip to a couple of museums in South Kensington – you may have heard of them The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum!

There were queues inevitably – it was Sunday and Summer and the sun was out – but we did not have to wait too long to get in.  There is so much to see, more indeed than can possibly be taken in in just one visit – clearly places to be seen not once but many many times.

Add to that what two adults want to spend their time looking at and what a three year old boy wants to spend his time looking at and the exhibits are seen even more briefly than is ideal!

Nevertheless there is always something to enjoy and take away from such visits – even with as in The Science Museum one floor out of bounds due to refurbishment.  I enjoyed an exhibit it had of historical fashion items but it would seem churlish to pick any one exhibition or item out with so much being outstanding. So much to learn, so much to enjoy.

Now, which museum next?!