Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Reinvention Game Revisited

So, I'm still pondering this idea of 'reinventing' oneself.  As I've discussed before, it is a term that gets bandied about a lot, but there is very little in the way of specifics out there as to how it is done, other than the usual bunch of online 'gurus' pouring out their usual management-speak and vague new age style platitudes.  In essence, all that 'reinventing' yourself means is jumping from one occupation, or lifestyle, to another, completely different and unconnected one.  Which is more difficult than it sounds.  As I said, I've been thinking about this a lot of late and have come to the conclusion that I'm clearly living in the wrong era as, back in the day, it seemed much easier to switch tracks in this way.  There seemed to be far more opportunities for average blokes like me, (I'm sounding like a bad seventies tabloid article there, aren't I?)  Talking of the seventies, back then I could just have started making adult films.  Everyone else did, it sometimes seems.  They were cheap to make - you needed only the most basic resources - and there was a ready market for them in seedy fleapit cinemas.  You could shoot them in your spare room with an 8mm camera  (if you didn't mind a grainy quality) - you could recruit your leading ladies from the local strip club, pay David McGillivray five quid to write a script (he was banging them out left, right and centre in those days, such was his eagerness to break into the movie business), and away you went.

In fact, you didn't even need a script.  Or sound.  You could try knocking out those short 'glamour films' that he likes of Harrison Marks specialised in and which usually ended up being shown on loops clubs or sold for home cinema viewings.  Nowadays, thanks to the web, viewers of this sort of stuff can see much of it for free, in the comfort of their own homes.  Even if they are inclined to pay for it, they can just stream it into their homes, with a lot of it being live webcam feeds from someone's bedroom.  The artistry inherent in even the crudest of those 'glamour films' has, sadly, gone from the adult sector.  At their peak, British sex movies weren't just about sex - most were ostensibly 'sex comedies', often featuring 'legitimate' actors and featuring half decent production values and witty scripts.  But those days have gone, unfortunately.  Obviously, I could still reinvent myself as some kind of purveyor of adult entertainment, but it would be of the current sleazy internet type.  Which doesn't really appeal to me.  Of course, back in the late sixties and seventies it was altogether easier to get into the film business altogether.  Particularly if you could scrape together some capital - there was always some kind of low budget movie production being put together somewhere, be it the likes of Lindsay Shonteff or Cliff Twemlow. looking for investors.  Those were the days when low budget film makers just went out onto the streets and shot films, without all the tortuous pre-production  'development' they seem to have to go through these days.

When all is said and done, I suspect that my own 'reinvention', if it ever happens, will be somewhat more modest.  I doubt that I'll be financing any films, adult or otherwise.  I say 'if', but it actually has to happen: my current employer clearly has no regard for my health.  Despite knowing that I'm under medical advice to reduce my stress levels, they've ensured that my workload has steadily increased, so that it is now higher than it was when the work stress finally pushed me over the edge health-wise earlier this year.  They are also still deliberately putting me into hazardous situations, which isn't helping my stress levels.  The key for any personal 'reinvention' is to find something I can earn money doing which is less stressful and completely unconnected with what I'm doing now.  In fact, it should be completely different to any of the many paid jobs I've had - I have no desire to go back to any of them.  Moreover, I'd like to do something more 'worthy' than my previous employment.  After all, my main reason for working these days is to ensure that I've accumulated enough credits for a full state pension, I have no ambitions regarding power, fame, wealth or social advancement.  So I might as well try to do something worthwhile, not to mention enjoyable while I pay for my pension.

Labels: ,

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Level Playing Field?

I've been avoiding anything too overtly political here for a while because, for one thing, I'm tired of ranting and because, well, you know, it's like banging your head against a brick wall these days.  Politics today seems to have narrowed down to a handful of issues - Brexit, alleged anti-semitism, for instance - we we just keeping going round in circles over and never getting anywhere.  I'm tired of hearing the same old arguments, half truths and outright lies being rehearsed over and over again.  Particularly on social media.  Which brings us, rather neatly I think (to paraphrase the late Barry Norman) to the point.  I was reading the other day about hoe Jack Dorsey at Twitter believed that his organisation was just so chock full of lefties that staff members with conservative opinions were afraid to voice them in the workplace.  Really?  Really? Well, if that's the case then all those lefties aren't doing a very good job of subverting Twitter (which is Dorsey's clear implication) as it still seems just chock full of unbridled right wing bile.  Sure, every so often some extreme right-winger gets themselves banned because they've been posting race hate, religious hate, pure misogyny or inciting violence.  Bur hey, that isn't evidence of left wing bias on the part of Twitter admins, but rather a regard for simple human decency, shared community values which cut across ideological lines and a desire not to have Twitter's arse sued off.  If you post stuff that's illegal in most civilised societies then you must expect sanctions, regardless of your politics.

But this has nothing to do with actual facts, of course.  It's yet another example of the right's hypocrisy when it comes to the media.  I don't remember hearing any of them crying out about 'free speech' when the only available media was the mainstream media which, in the UK at least, is dominated by the right, promulgating their ideas and constantly denigrating and smearing left wing voices.  But now that they've found that this new fangled social media provides a more even playing field, where all sides have equal access, they cry foul.  Why else do you think that the Tory party has taken an increasing interest in censoring web content under the Trojan horse of 'protecting the children' from all that nasty pornography Tory MPs enjoy accessing in their offices?  But you know something, even if the right are being discriminated against on social media, with their postings and evil bile suppressed, I don't care.  It's tough shit - they had it their own way for decades with regard to controlling the media, now they are getting a taste of their own medicine.  Or would be if there really was some left-wing internet conspiracy against them.  Which there patently isn't.  Some of the claims made by self-identifying 'conservatives' (and since when did this term start including extremists and neo Nazis?) are astoundingly stupid.  I recall some time ago a self-styled 'conservative Christian' satire site complained that they were being censored on Facebook - one of the supporting comments agreed, stating that everyone knew that Mark Zuckerburg was some kind of leftist who used his social media platform to advance his political views.  Wow!  Last time I checked he was actually some kind of right wing libertarian.  But why bother with facts when you are mad that your offensive postings have been taken down because, well, people found them offensive?

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 14, 2018

Moon Zero Two (1969)

Having mentioned Hammer's 'Space Western' Moon Zero Two earlier in the week, I thought I'd take a quick look at its trailer this time.  If nothing else, it confirms my recollection that the special effects were actually pretty decent for a film of this budget, featuring some effective miniatures work and convincing space scenes.  I think what surprised me most when I saw it as a kid was the extent to which it was, quite literally, a 'Space Western', recycling all the tropes of that genre - claim jumpers, stage coach robberies, gun fights - with futuristic science fiction trappings.  This is confirmed by the trailer, which prominently features many of these sequences.  It really does come across as an old western script which has been dusted off and relocated from old Arizona to the moon.  Unfortunately, the low gravity environment of the moon means that everyone moves much more slowly than on earth, slowing down all of the action sequences which, in an actual western, would have played out at breakneck speed.

The reference to 'futuristic weapons' makes me smile as I recall that the characters mainly tote ordinary revolvers.  Which, of course, begs the question of whether firearms would actually operate in a vacuum - would the propellant charges in the cartridges ignite without the presence of air?  I actually have no idea.  Even if they did, the lower gravity would significantly effect the range and trajectory of any bullets fired, (even on earth, atmospheric conditions can seriously effect these things - there was a whole study conducted by the US Army into the way the trajectory of bullets fired from M16s were effected by Arctic conditions).  The presence of all these traditional western elements means that the film never really feels like a science fiction film.  The simplistic plot which unfolds against the background of all the futuristic elements doesn't help.  Neither does that jazz oriented score (actually quite typical of movies of this era), which sounds neither historical western nor futuristic science fiction, but rather entirely contemporary (to the late sixties, obviously).

Perhaps the most jarring element, though, is this bizarre animated title sequence, which seems as if it should belong to an entirely different film:

It gives audiences the impression that they are about to watch some sort of comedy film, a science fiction equivalent to the Pink Panther, perhaps.  It's an indication that the makers had no idea of how the film should be marketed.  Which is hardly surprising as Moon Zero Two lies somewhat outside even Hammer's varied output. 

Moon Zero Two stands as a fascinating oddity in terms of the Hammer catalogue and is very much of its era - I mean, where else can you find a science fiction movie which mixes western tropes with psychedelia, all to the accompaniment of a jazz score?  Perhaps it would have helped if Hammer had employed a director better know for visual flair, rather than the stolid, reliable, veteran Roy Ward Baker, a highly professional director skilled at managing large scale, complex productions, but not noted for a sense of pace or cinematic innovation.  A a less bland leading man might have helped as well.  But the end result is a decently made, if somewhat uninspiring space adventure, a clear descendant of those historical adventure films like Devil Ship Pirates, The Crimson Blade and Pirates of Blood River that Hammer had previously made.  Like them, it is reasonably enjoyable while its on, but not hugely memorable afterwards.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Magazine Memories

As I've mentioned before, I've lately been mildly obsessed with the long defunct Meccano Magazine, scans of the entire run of which has now been posted online.  It's fascinating to see the content of the publication change over time as the popularity of the various hobbies its predominantly young male readership was interested in waxed and waned.  Obviously, as the title implies, Meccano Magazine was primarily interested in promoting the products of Meccano Ltd, which included the eponymous engineering kits, the Dinky Toys range of diecast metal miniature vehicles and Hornby Railways (and later the Hornby Dublo system).  But it also covered all manner of other hobbies, including balsa wood model planes and boats, fishing, air rifles, bicycles and, post war, plastic model kits and slot car racing.  In addition to these hobbies, it was packed full of articles about real life railways, ships, planes and major engineering projects.  Later on, of course, there were lots of articles about space travel.  There's no doubt that, in the pre world war two years Meccano and Hornby's tinplate O gauge railways which dominated the modelling side of the magazine, but post war, the emphasis began to shift toward other hobbies, with lots more on those balsa wood planes, for instance. 

Model railways being my primary reason for looking at these magazines in the first place, it is interesting to note how, as far as Meccano Magazine was concerned, for much of the immediate post war era there was only one 00 gauge model railway system available in the UK: Hornby Dublo.  Rivals such as Trix and Playcraft are never featured and rarely have any adverts in the magazine.  The existence of Triang Railways, Dublo's biggest rival from the mid fifties onwards, is never acknowledged.  Indeed, although Lines Brothers, the owners of the Triang brand, were allowed to advertise their other products - most notable Scalextric - in the magazine, you would never have known that they also produced a hugely popular 00 gauge model railway system.  Reading the model railway related articles from the fifties to the early sixties is to witness the Dublo systems attempts to adapt to the challenges being posed by the unmentioned Triang system, from the new, more detailed locomotives and rolling stock, to the gradual move from three rail to three rail.  But, of course, it was all in vain, with the Meccano empire faltering in the mid sixties, to be bought out by Lines Brothers.  The Dublo system was nominally combined the Triang system under the Triang-Hornby banner. 

Interestingly, there was a long period when model railway coverage was entirely absent from the magazine, reflecting the uncertainty over the future of the Hornby brand.  As soon as the merger was confirmed, though, a whole new slew of articles started appearing, all focusing on the Triang-Hornby range, (which was primarily the Triang range, of course).  To be fair, other brands were now acknowledged, with articles on building white metal locomotive kits and Superquick card building kits, for instance.  As the sixties gave way to the seventies, the model railway articles began to dry up again, presumably reflecting the fact there were now several well established magazines devoted solely to the subject.  Which, increasingly, was the problem for Meccano Magazine - it was too generalised and there were now magazines dedicated in their entirety to individual hobbies, be they model railways, remote control planes or model boats.  Despite attempts to find new hobbies to fill its pages - military modelling and miniature wargames started to feature prominently from the late sixties - Meccano Magazine began to falter and turned back to a focus on Meccano itself before finally folding.

Looking back on these old magazines has been a revelation - not just the articles, but the adverts too.  It really was a different world.  A pre computer and electronic gamers era, when even TV was in its infancy, and craft-based hobbies still reigned supreme.  It was all about creativity and imagination.  I'm not saying that it was better back then, just that it was fascinatingly different.  It seems unthinkable now that young people could get their kicks from building their own radios, for instance, or constructing models of the Eiffel Tower from Meccano.  But, of course, they had few alternatives.  Even model railways have moved on: back then,if you wanted detail, you had to add it yourself.  Nowadays, the models are incredibly detailed straight out of the box.  Mind you, they aren't as robust as those old Dublo and Triang models, nor as cheap.  But that's progress, I suppose.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Double Bill and Some Movies That Might Have Been

This turned up on Twitter a while ago.  I suspect that it is a double page spread from a trade magazine rather than a poster.  A suspicion reinforced by the fact that it is publicising Hammer's latest releases for 1969 and there seems to be staple holes in the centre fold. The double bill it is advertising represented another attempt by Hammer to diversify away from Gothic horror pictures, with prehistoric epic When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth looking to capitalise on the success of  Hammer's earlier One Million Years BC and Moon Zero Two an attempt to cash in on the then recent first moon landing. The latter, billed as a 'space western' boasts some pretty decent special effects, but a pretty pedestrian plot.  To be fair, the last time I saw it was when I was a kid, I suspect that I might enjoy it more as an adult.  When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth likewise boasted good special effects, with Jim Danforth supplying the stop motion dinosaurs.  It also boasts lots of cave girls in tight fitting bikinis (and some topless scenes in the European release versions).

While this is certainly the sort of double bill where most people would have left the cinema feeling they'd had their money's worth, perhaps more intriguing are the 'coming attractions' listed at the bottom of the ad.  Some of these films were produced and released by Hammer, with Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed and Taste the Blood of Dracula being released a few months later.  Creatures the World Forgot, another prehistoric epic, but without the dinosaurs, followed in 1970, along with The Horror FrankensteinThe Claw, I suspect, eventually became the 1972 Les Diaboliques inspired psychological thriller, Fear in the Night, which feature Peter Cushing as a headmaster with an artificial arm.  Of the others mentioned, I have no idea what In the Sun might have been about, likewise The Reluctant Virgin, (although there was a 1971 Italian film with this as its English language title), the other two, I do have some knowledge of.

The Haunting of Toby Jugg was a long in gestation Dennis Wheatley adaptation Hammer had originally intended as a follow up to The Devil Rides Out.  In the late sixties Hammer had high hopes for its proposed series of adaptations of Wheatley's best selling occult novels, seeing them as potential successors to their existing Dracula and Frankenstein franchises, which were clearly running out of steam.  Despite nowadays being one of Hammer's most admired productions, The Devil Rides Out didn't turn out to be a big money spinner on its original release.  Consequently, despite a script being commissioned from Richard Matheson, the proposed Toby Jugg adaptation was eventually shelved.  (The BBC finally adapted it under the title The Haunted Airman a few years ago).  As far as I'm aware When the World Cracked Open never made it to the script stage, but at least two promotional posters for this project were prepared  Interestingly, one appeared to give the story a futuristic setting (space helmeted figures and ray guns), while the other gave it an historical setting, (all sailing ships and pirate types).  Both, as I recall, showed the oceans draining away as the result of the titular cracked earth.  Clearly, Hammer had a concept for the film, but were undecided as how best to execute it.  Either approach - science fiction or historical - could have drawn upon the experience of previous Hammer productions like Moon Zero Two, or Devil Ship Pirates, for instance.  Foe whatever reasons, the film seemingly never progressed beyond this promotional poster stage.  It remains, along with The Haunting of Toby Jugg, an intriguing might-have-been in Hammer's history.

Labels: ,

Monday, September 10, 2018

Doctor on the Grope

I was back in the seventies again yesterday. I decided to round off my day by watching an episode of Doctor in Charge from around 1973.  Interestingly, it only featured two of the usual four doctors - Robin Nedwell's Dr Waring and George Layton as Dr Collier.  This was undoubtedly due to the length of runs of some popular ITV comedy series in the seventies.  Doctor in Charge, for instance, ran for forty three episodes split over two series.  Consequently, not all of the main cast would appear in every episode, so as to give actors time off during the run.  To return to the point, the episode I watched - 'In Place of Strife' - included some extraordinary, to contemporary eyes, scenes, which most definitely wouldn't be allowed in any modern sitcom.  Most bizarrely, Dr Waring mistakes a group of stereotypically seventies horny decorators who have arrived to repaint the hospital, for a group of medical students he is meant to be taking on his rounds.  Inevitably these rounds include a ward full of attractive young women, one of whom (played by the lovely Valerie Leon) is a patient of Waring's who is awaiting an operation to remove a benign cyst from one of her breasts.  You can see where this is going, can't you?   That's right, Waring gets his 'students' to 'examine' Valerie Leon's breasts, (after warming their hands, of course). 

Now, while it might, in retrospect, seem more than slightly disturbing that what is, after all, sexual assault, mass sexual assault at that, should be considered a source of comedy, what I found more incredible is that, when the mistaken identities of the 'students' is revealed, the patient doesn't sue the hospital, Waring isn't struck off and the painters arrested.  But hey, it was the seventies and things were different back then, apparently.  To be fair, later in the episode Waring does face the prospect of suspension.  But not because, due to his negligence, a group of sex mad painters were able to grope Valerie Leon's breasts en masse.  Rather, it is because he has unwittingly brought the hospital to a halt by provoking strike action on the part of painters, porters and nurses after he and Collier have shifted furniture, emptied bed pans and painted a bit of wall the decorators had missed.  Because, this being the seventies, the main thrust of the episode was to try and satirise the then state of British industrial relations, where unions insisted upon clear demarcations as to type of work their respective members were entitled to do. It's very mild satire, though and it is notable that Waring's superior, Professor Loftus has no sympathy for hin.  As he points out, Waring wasn't put through six years of medical school just for him to shift office furniture about - that's what the porters are paid for.

But, to modern eyes, the satire seems like a side show and the groping is the elephant in the room.  The lack of repercussions just seems incredible.  Whilst it is tempting to think that this is just another example of the lack of 'realism' in seventies TV, particularly sitcoms, the reality is that we still see this sort of thing in contemporary medical dramas.  Jut look at the BBC's Holby City and Casualty, for instance - how many times have regular characters in these soaps committed what, in real life, would constitute gross professional misconduct, yet face only the most minor of sanctions, returning to duty in the next episode as if nothing had happened.  That said, I can't actually recall any multiple breast gropings going on in Holby City.  The odd mass shooting, yes, but no knocker grabbings.  Obviously, I should be shocked and offended by what I saw in that episode of Doctor in Charge and should be calling for it to be banned.  But, I'm ashamed to say, it amused me in a perverse sort of way.  When you think about it, it is a remarkably dark slice of black humour to find in a seventies sitcom: the idea of some individuals happily exploiting their position as supposed 'medical professionals' in order to feel up strangers.  It also says something about the way in which we blithely accept the 'right' of certain authority figures to abuse their positions - until the patient realises the mistake, she is happy to be intimately groped by a group of strange men simply because they are wearing white coats and therfore 'must' be doctors and trustworthy.  Deep stuff for a seventies sitcom.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 07, 2018

End of Another Summer

I was going to post something about the model railway locomotive I've been putting together from bits I bought on eBay several years ago and have had in storage ever since.  Unfortunately, other things came up unexpectedly, halting, temporarily, progress on this particular project.  Which is frustrating but typical of the way things go in my life these days.  Besides, as I mentioned yesterday, my mood is becoming increasingly melancholic.  I'm nearing the end of my extended Summer break and, to be frank, I really have no desire to return to work next week.  Even after three weeks of leisure time, I still feel like I'm only just getting back into my stride after all the crap I've endured this year.  There's no doubt that being away from my horrendous work place has helped my recovery from illness immeasurably:  not only is my stomach far more settled, but I don't fatigue as easily as before my holiday, nor have I experienced any light-headedness since taking this time off.  The only conclusion can be that work isn't good for my health. Which, let's face it, I already knew, following my three month illness which kicked off the year and was largely the result of work related stress.

You know the best thing about these past three weeks?  The fact that I've managed to avoid having to deal with people.  I've kept my human interactions down to a bare minimum.  There have been days when, barring exchanging pleasantries with check out operators in shops, I've not had a single conversation. They were brilliant days!  As I get older, I find that I increasingly prefer my own company.  There are no arguments, no colleagues trying to belittle me because I won't break the rules for them, or endanger myself for the job.  No tiresome small talk and meaningless enquiries about one's health, (the fact that the questioner never waits for a reply is always indicative that they don't actually care).   I've been left alone with my own thoughts.  Which has been wonderful.  Best of all, I haven't had other people's problems constantly being my problem, as is the case at work.  I realised early on during my break that I actually didn't miss anything or anyone from my workplace.  If I never saw any of them again, it really wouldn't bother me.  There are certainly no conversations I'd miss as I find it impossible to actually have a conversation on any subject I'm interested in with anyone there.  But, the fact is that, at least temporarily I'm going to have to go back there next week.  That, and the fact that Summer is clearly slipping away now, leaving me with a feeling of unfinished business, are the clear causes of my melancholy.  But at least I'm beginning to feel more like my old self. 


Thursday, September 06, 2018

Burt Reynolds RIP

I returned from an overcast and rainy day at the coast to find that Burt Reynolds had died, news which simply added to the feeling of melancholy which always afflicts me as I near the end of my Summer break.  The fact that he was eighty two was shocking enough - it seems only yesterday that he was in his hey day and the fact that this was actually forty odd years ago now is yet another reminder of my own encroaching years - let alone the news that he had died.  But that's the thing about celluloid - our heroes are forever preserved in their prime.  Our constant exposure, via TV and DVDs, to their greatest hits helps create the idea that they are somehow unchanging, their celluloid image preserving them from the ravages of time.  Sadly, though, unlike Dorian Grey's portrait, it is the image which stays young and the real thing which ages away. 

But to get back to Burt Reynolds, he was just one of the coolest of movie stars when I was growing up: tough, handsome but never taking himself too seriously, both on and off camera.  Indeed, it was his adoption of a less serious screen persona which proved the key to his success, marking him out from his contemporaries.  Some of his earlier films, made mainly in the late sixties, are somewhat odd to watch now, with Reynolds playing it relatively straight as a more or less conventional leading man.  Sure, a lot of his best known films are pretty lightweight, but they were hugely popular, providing solid entertainment to cinema audiences in the seventies and eighties.  The fact is that there is nothing wrong in turning out movies intended to be entertaining - it's more difficult than it looks and Reynolds was remarkably consistent during the seventies and early eighties when it came turning out such hits.

But Reynolds also turned out some more 'serious' pictures, always acquitting himself well.  Hustle, in particular, stands out for me. What initially looks to be a Dirty Harry inspired 'maverick cop' movie quickly turns into something very different, taking a detour into noir territory.  It's well worth a look.  While a lot of Burt Reynolds' later output was of hugely variable quality, he leaves behind a solid body of work which continues to entertain.  Like I said earlier, he was something of a hero to the younger me.  Damn it, he drove a Trans Am (the coolest car I've never owned) when he was'The Bandit' and he made moustaches cool for good guys (pre Burt, only villains sported them - only Errol Flynn or Ronald Coleman could get away with a pencil 'tache when playing heroes).  Above all, he always embodied the values of liberalism and tolerance, something relatively unusual in a Hollywood action star of his era.


Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Cannibal Capers

I had another of those moments today, where I completely misconstrued a newspaper headline that I had glanced at.  It was along the lines of a former patient suing a hospital after contracting a flesh eating bug there.  At first glance I thought that it was a story about how someone had been exposed to some virus which had turned them into a flesh eating fiend, chewing their way through the wards.  Perhaps, I thought, the virus was the result of some kind of shady research being carried out at the hospital.  Probably by a mad doctor.  I had visions of a crazed cannibal, stalking the hospital corridors, clad in a blood soaked hospital gown, tearing the throats out of stray porters with his teeth.  Maybe, I thought, the people he bit, but didn't eat, would also turn into cannibals, resulting in gangs of them overrunning the hospital and the military having to be called in to try and control the situation - by shooting anyone who looked like a cannibal.  Perhaps the whole thing culminated with the whole hospital being burned to the ground in an attempt to contain the cannibal holocaust.  It would make one Hell of an episode of Holby City.

Except, of course, that if something like that had actually happened, then I'm sure that I would have read about it in the papers.  At which point, I came back to reality and realised that the headline was, obviously, referring to the fact that the patient in question had contracted a bug that ate his flesh, whilst in hospital.  I blame those Italian cannibal movies for my initial confusion.  Most specifically Antonio Margheriti's Cannibal Apocalypse, which boldly mixes the Vietnam war movie with the cannibal sub-genre and introduces the fascinating idea that cannibalism might actually be a contagious disease, transmitted by bite, rather than a cultural phenomena.  If not exactly a great movie, Cannibal Apocalypse is certainly audacious, if not outrageous.  It throws absolutely everything into the mix: disturbed Vietnam vets, cannibals, gore, biker gangs, medical horror, the whole damn lot.  Plus, it stars the legendary John Saxon, an actor whose career has been as long as it has been varied, with the quality of the stuff he's appeared in varying wildly.  But, to return to the point, whatever its deficiencies, the imagery and concepts articulated by Cannibal Apocalypse are clearly sufficiently powerful to have made a lasting impression on me.


Monday, September 03, 2018

New Season

All the signs are there that we are slipping into Autumn.  (In meteorological terms, we're already there, as the start of September is the official start of the season).  For one thing, we've seen the start of all those campaigns to get us to give up anything we enjoy for a month.  I've never seen the point of these campaigns.  If you want to give something up, just do it.  Don't stop, say drinking alcohol for just a month - you won't give it up for good, you'll just spend the following month binge drinking. Then there are the campaigns to get you to grow facial hair for a month for charity.  Oh do fuck off!  If you want to give money to charity, just do it.  Moustaches are for life (or maybe holiday romances, like mine at the moment), not just whimsical charity campaigns.  In days gone by, the surest sign that the season was changing were the TV schedules - each new actual season was accompanied by a new TV season.  The most of important of these was the Autumn TV season, with its run up to Christmas, which was always the TV event of the year.  As the nights drew in, people inevitably turned increasingly to their TVs for entertainment.  Consequently, Autumn was when the TV stations debuted the new series of all their top shows.  By contrast, Summer was the least important TV season, with stations assuming that everyone was out enjoying the good weather and not watching TV, so they filled their schedules with repeats, shows they had no faith in and sport.

Nowadays, it is often difficult to tell the difference between TV seasons.  Sure, stuff like X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing still run their new series in the Autumn, but the good old days of the big 'New Season' announcements by the main TV channels seem to be long gone.  New programming seems to spread more evenly across the year: even Summer now seems blessed with its fair share of new series.  The main thing which seems to have denoted the start of a new TV season are the adverts.  Not that there has been a wholesale change in what we're seeing in the commercial breaks, but several long-running series of ads have been showing new 'instalments', while several others have switched formats completely.  Most notably, Confused.com seems to have dropped James Corden, although that Mercedes he drove in their ads is still there.  Now, however, it is being driven by some weiro who is probably a serial killer and has Corden's body in the boot.  I'm not quite sure why they  have decided that a psychopath is the best spokesperson for a comparison site, but I guess that when the alternative is James Corden... Well, personally, I'd have brought back Brian the Robot.  I wonder whatever happened to him, who is he doing ads for now?   More shockingly, it seems that Oak Furnitureland have finally sacked the two guys who have been in their ads for what seems like decades.  You know the ones I mean: the hapless store manager and his even more hapless assistant, who spend their time 'knocking on wood' and vising customers that 'there's no veneer in here'.  What are they going to do mow?  It was apparently the only work they could get (apart from guest appearances in Holby City as' patients of the week').  But that, it appears, is what the new TV season has come to: a few news commercials.  Ah, for the good old days!

Labels: ,