Monday, October 20, 2014

The Most Dangerous Hounds

Now it seems we're using classic suspense stories as the basis for game shows.  At least, that's what I inferred from the title of a new ITV2 gameshow: Release the Hounds.  From what I could gather it involves contestants having too evade packs of dogs hunting them in a forest.  Which, clearly, is inspired (as is the title) by the Richard Connell short story (and later film) The Hounds of Zaroff'/'The Most Dangerous Game', in which a Russian aristocrat hunts human beings for sport on his private island.  Sadly, being on ITV2, I very much doubt that the hounds used are at all dangerous.  Otherwise, I'd like to see a celebrity version in which various irritating non-personalities are hunted down by a pack of slavering and blood thirsty dogs, which have been starved and poked with sticks for a week before being released.  It would be an excellent way of keeping down the numbers of those micro-celebrities constantly created by reality TV and TV talent shows.

Of course, I'm presupposing that he 'Hounds' of the title are real hounds, of the canine variety.  The possibility exists, (as I've never actually bothered watching the show, I was just intrigued by the title),  that the 'Hounds' referred to are actually clones of self-styled comedian Rufus Hound.  I should imagine that being pursued by a pack of c-list comics - all telling identical bad jokes, simultaneously - would b a pretty harrowing experience.  Presumably, these Rufus Hound clones would be genetically modified to improve their sense of smell and night vision, for instance, in order to enhance their hunting abilities.  Somehow though, I suspect that this would be beyond the budget of an ITV2 show and that, in reality, the 'Hounds' are actually a bunch of mangy strays with no teeth and limps rounded up from the local dog pound.  But a man can dream,,,

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Friday, October 17, 2014

The Mole People

You wouldn't believe the week I've had.  So I won't even bother trying to tell you about it.  Suffice to say that it wasn't great.  It was a bloody trial, in fact.  So much so that it has left me exhausted and incapable of remembering what I was going to post about today.  Instead, we'll look at another random move trailer:

Kicking off with a bizarre 'educational' prologue featuring Dr Frank C Baxter, The Mole People is part Universal's attempts to establish a pantheon of new monsters in the fifties.  Whilst an interesting design and concept, the Mole People proved less successful than Universal's contemporaneous Creature From the Black Lagoon, who got two sequels and became a household name.  Unlike the Creature, the Mole People are ultimately secondary to the main lost civilisation plot, (it's notable that, such was the pace of exploration, by the mid-fifties you had to go underground, into the 'hollow earth' to find lost civilisations, whereas barely ten years before you had only to venture into the jungle to stumble over them), and are servile to the main villains.  Consequently, they lacked the Creature's menace.

Post war, Universal, once a prolific producer of B-movies, horror flicks and serials, turned its back on its heritage and tried to move upmarket with more prestigious A-list productions.  By the fifties, the balance sheet dictated a return to more populist, mass--market and modestly budgeted fare.  Noting the popularity on TV of their classic monster movies, (including Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy and their various sequels), their thoughts naturally turned to creating new monsters for a new generation of film goers.  As already noted, of the new creatures, only the one from the Black Lagoon really captured the public imagination and it is notable that the most successful and memorable of this new cycle of Universal horrors (such as Tarantula and It Came From Outer Space) were, like the first two Creature films, directed by Jack Arnold.   Sadly, The Mole People was directed by Virgil W Vogel, a more workmanlike director (also responsible for Universal's 'Lost World' picture The Land Unknown).  Consequently, it stands as a reasonably entertaining, but uninspiring B picture.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bad Alternatives

Apparently they now constitute the 'Alternative Media'.  At least that's what that bunch of conspiracy theory crackpots I frequently parody here and on The Sleaze have now taken to calling their rickety collection of blogs and social media pages.  Alternative to what, one is inclined to ask.  Their self-aggrandisement seems to derive from the idea that they are telling the stories the 'real' media - which is full of lies and half-truths and controlled by evil cartels - won't print, because they don't want us to know the 'truth'.  Whilst I'd agree that much of the mainstream media is biased and agenda driven, slanting its reporting to suit the interests of a relatively small clique of owners and their friends, they do at least maintain some semblance of journalistic standards and it is possible to get some kind of recourse against them through the legal system, (although, I'll grant you, this can be time-consuming and expensive).  By contrast, this 'Alternative Media' are a bunch of loons and crackpots, (a lot of them like to describe themselves as 'freelance journalists', despite having no journalistic training and exhibiting no concept of how to critically evaluate evidence or analyse data in their 'work'), against whom we have very little recourse when they make outlandish allegations based on rumours, innuendo and discredited 'facts'. 

They are also just as agenda-driven and biased as the mainstream media they hate so much.  As I've previously noted here, a closer examination of their sites usually reveals that, whatever conspiracy they are ostensibly dedicated to exposing, in reality they always come back to the same tired old anti-Semitism and tales of Jewish conspiracies peddled by the Nazis.  Usually with a big dose of homophobia (another Nazi favourite) thrown in for good measure.  But to get back to the point, the reason, of course, that the mainstream media won't report their 'truths' is because they are simply lies with no factual basis.  Even the likes of the Daily Mail make out sure that there is some factual basis for their scare stories about immigrants, benefit claimants and natural disasters, no matter how tiny it might be.  Most of their readers realise this - very few people actually believe everything they read in the papers or see on TV.  Yet the 'Alternative Media' clearly think that people actually are stupid enough to believe what they read.  Stupid enough, in fact, to believe their concoction of warmed over half-truths, outright lies, urban myths, Nazi propaganda and poorly fabricated 'evidence'.  Not so 'alternative' after all...   

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bad Business

OK, I've had an idea for one of those charity themed-month fundraising campaigns like bloody 'Movember' and 'Stoptober':  how about 'Nudecember'?  Instead of growing moustaches or stopping drinking, people could be urged to become naturists for a month and wander around stark bollocking naked for charirty.  Not only would it be more of a challenge than the others - it's generally bloody cold in December - but 'Nudecember' actually contains the whole of the real name of the month it is supposed to take place in, unlike the others.  Quite what charity it would raise funds for, I haven't a clue.  But that doesn't matter, because it's an idea, and it's ideas which matter in business.  If you've got an idea, then you can use it to impress some toss pots, sorry, investors, into giving you the money to turn it into actuality and thereby found your multi-billion dollar business empire.  At least, that's the impression the likes of The Apprentice and Dragon's Den give.

Now, I'd never pretend to be an expert on business, but on the basis of the trailers for the latest series of The Apprentice, I have to say that is it any wonder the UK's commercial sector is so shit if the collection of utter bell ends featured really represent the best of Britain's thrusting young business talent.  They seem to perpetuate the myth that successful management is all about shouting at people and mouthing aggressive clich├ęs about one's supposed rivals.  Equally depressing is the way in which the series presents Alan Sugar as the epitome of British business success.  As a Spurs supporter, I still have nightmares about his atrocious stewardship of the club when he was Chairman and majority shareholder.  Very little business sense was on display in those dark days.  I also knew someone who worked for Amstrad as a programmer back in the days when Sugar still owned the firm and it was banging out cheap and crappy home computers - trust me, anyone who could employ that particular individual couldn't possibly be possessed of any business acumen, in my biased opinion.  Anyway, getting back to the point, anyone out there interested in investing in my brilliant new business idea, 'Nudecember'?


Monday, October 13, 2014

Trick or Terror?

With Halloween fast approaching, the burning question is what will this year's favourite costume for trick or treaters be?  The last few years have seen much manufactured controversy on the part of the media about various 'sick' costumes sold by supermarkets and other retail outlets.  These have included such things as the 'mental patient' outfit and various serial killer costumes (including plastic knives, meat cleavers and axes).  Bearing in mind the amount of highly sensationalised stories the tabloids happily print about gruesome murders and mass killers - and the amount of circulation they get from such stories - I find their self-righteousness on the subject of such Halloween costumes more than a little hypocritical.  Besides, does anyone really think that children's perceptions of mental health issues are really going to be affected by some cheap supermarket Halloween costume? 

As long-term readers will recall, I've always favoured the Jihadi suicide bomber (complete with plastic sticks of dynamite and fake detonator) as a contemporary Halloween costume.  To be honest, I'm surprised that the press hasn't already latched onto the possibilities for linking terrorists to Halloween.  I'm amazed that they've been able to resist the temptation to run stories about Muslim extremists dressing as suicide bombers, mingling with  trick or treating youngsters and blowing up householders who refuse to give them sweets.  Or Islamic terrorists smearing door knobs with ricin so that trick or treating children are poisoned.  It doesn't matter that none of it is true - it could happen and that's usually enough for the tabloids to justify running stuff like this.  But to get back to the original point, I'd like to think that this year's 'must have' Halloween costume will be the 'Jimmy Saville' (complete with blonde wig, plastic cigars and jangly gold jewellery).  After all, he's fast becoming the nation's number one bogey man, considered so dangerous that, despite being dead, his image apparently has to be removed from every archived edition of Top of the Pops and his name expunged from broadcasting history.  Perhaps some enterprising supermarket could come up with a themed set of such costumes - 'Showbiz Peados of the Twenty First Century - including Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris (complete with plastic stick on beard and didgereedoo).  

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Late One Summer's Afternoon

It's the end of the week, so I thought I'd post another holiday video.  Like the title says, this one was shot late on a Summer afternoon, with that golden, hazy late afternoon sunlight filtering through the trees. Consequently the whole thing has a slightly ethereal feel, particularly the opening sequence at the woodland bridge, with the sunlight reflecting from the water.  However, as it turned out, the day this filmed, a murder had taken place a few miles away, although I didn't know this at the time.  Consequently, watching this footage retrospectively with the knowledge of this brutal slaying, the whole Summery scene seems to have a slightly dark and sinister undertow.  Hence the music, (as ever courtesy of Kevin MacLeod), which combines a deceptively upbeat and ethereal sound with hints of something darker lurking underneath.

As is often the case with these films, the location - King's Hat - looks remote but, in reality there are fairly busy country rounds nearby in three directions.  This was actually one of the driest and sunniest days of my holiday - I'd spent the earlier part of the day on the coast - but as it was September by then, most of the schools had gone back, so I didn't have to put up with too many families with children in tow, making it a very pleasant day.  Until the news of that murder broke, which cast something of a pall over my memories of the day.   Nevertheless, it was a good day for me - relaxing and exhilarating.


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Still Feeling Uncharitable

...And that's another thing I bloody hate about charity campaigns - they're always trying to get you to give up something.  Right now, for instance, we're in the midst of 'Stoptober', where I'm being urged to give up drinking for the month of October.  For charity, of course.  For God's sake, drinking is one of the few pleasures I have left, I don't care if it is for charity, I'm not giving it up even for a month.  But it will be good for you, they say in their adverts, chronicling all the hangovers and damage to your liver you'll avoid by not drinking during October.  Thereby making you feel guilty for abusing your body, before telling you how you can help them raise money by abstaining.  A neat trick there to convince you that you can restore your self-esteem by joining their campaign.  But it isn't just 'Stoptober' we have to endure.  Oh no, once that's over, we'll be into 'Movember' during which people are encouraged to grow moustaches for charity and we have to put up with various celebrities showing us how they can't grow one, ending up with what looks like a smudge of boot polish beneath their noses. As I've note before in theses pages, in my opinion moustaches are for life and should be left to the professionals.  Amateur moustaches which last only a month are an offence against nature.

I know that by now everyone is screaming about how I've got no sense of fun, to lighten up - it's all for a good cause after all.  But that's the point - I'm sick to death of charities trying to make fundraising 'fun'.  It isn't.  Getting people to part with money isn't fun.  Paying it out certainly isn't.  No matter how 'good' the cause.  Besides, the causes charities usually collect for - famine, natural disasters, terminal illness, horrendous diseases, maimed animals and abused children, to name but a few - are anything but 'fun'.  Trying to make their campaigns 'fun filled' and 'entertaining' rather demeans the seriousness of these causes, I can't help but feel.  But then, I'm a curmudgeonly old git, aren't I?  The bottom line here is that if they want my money, then just bloody ask for it, don't try and get me to stop drinking or grow facial hair.  Sure, I'll probably still say 'no', but at least we'll both know where we stand, won't we?  So, for the record, I'm going to keep on drinking throughout October and have no intention of growing a moustache in November, (my moustachioed days are long gone, I'm afraid - I just can't be arsed to properly maintain a neat 'tache these days and there's nothing worse than a ragged unkempt moustache).


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

That Uncharitable Feeling

Autumn has definitely arrived.  All the signs are there - the nights drawing in, the leaves falling from the trees, evening temperatures dropping sufficiently to trigger the thermostat controlling my central heating.  Oh, and the trailers for bloody Children in Need.  The BBC's annual telethon just keeps rolling around with the inevitability of an unloved season, (to paraphrase Bond villain Hugo Drax in Moonraker - the 1979 film rather than the novel, obviously).  At least Comic Relief is only every other year, although it makes up for that by being even more self-important overblown than Children in Need.  Anyway, to return to the point, Children in Need kicked off this evening with a suitably over the top video for this year's Children in Need charity single - an unnecessary cover of 'God Only Knows'.  Still, I suppose it is better than an awful cover by the boy band (or girl band) of the day, which is what we usually get.  It's also better than the Comic Relief equivalent: an 'hilarious' 'comedy' version of some song or other performed by various self-styled comedians.

Which brings me to the crux of why I dislike these celebrity-driven TV charity things: whilst they seem to exist primarily for celebrities to salve their consciences about earning all that money and not paying their taxes, they still seem reluctant to commit their best efforts, performance-wise, to them.  Just look at Comic Relief - a collection of pretty lame routines and sketches from various celebrities, punctuated by 'heart-rending' films of them 'helping' poor people in Africa.  None of it is their best material.  Obviously - they want to reserve that for paying audiences, (paying their box-office, not charity, that is).  To be fair, I have to admit that it is years since I've seen Comic Relief, so it could have improved since then, but I doubt it.  Children in Need is, if anything, even worse, with its dire regional opt-outs to show us what the local micro-celebrities in our regions are doing to encourage us to give money.  It's this shoddiness which offends me - the idea that just because something is for charity, you can get away with serving up any old shit.  If nothing else, it displays an incredibly patronising attitude on the part of the participating celebrities with regard to the public.  If you want us to donate money, then at least have the decency to put some effort into entertaining us.  Or, even better, why not try making some sizeable donations from your own sizeable bank accounts?  It's tax deductible, after all.

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Monday, October 06, 2014

More Monday Musings

Another glorious chapter in Britain's military history was written the other day when RAF Tornados finally struck at ISIS targets - and succeeded in destroying a pick-up truck.  How the nation rejoiced at the news that a motor vehicle probably worth at least five hundred quid had been blown to bits by munitions costing tens of thousands of pounds, dropped from an aircraft costing millions,  Fuck me, I thought when I heard the news, it's like the 'Dambusters' all over again - our brave boys succeed in taking out a high value target in the face of overwhelming odds.  I had visions of some angry Jihadist stood next to the smouldering wreckage of his vehicle, furiously shaking his fist at the departing fighter plane, shouting: 'Damn you English Devils, I only had three more payments to go and that pick-up would have been mine!'  Fired by this success, Cameron has announced that the UK is going to double the number of combat aircraft dedicated to the anti-ISIS operation.  Which sounds impressive, until you realise that still only amounts to four aircraft.  Still, if we're lucky, that might mean that next time they destroy two pick-up trucks.

Mind you, our dear Prime Minister hasn't been satisfied with merely denuding ISIS' fighting capabilities by destroying its motor pool.  Oh no.  He's turned detective, too.  Not satisfied with the progress of the police's investigation into the murder of a teenage girl in London, Cameron vowed that he'd look into the case personally.  And it worked! Within a couple of days the body of the prime suspect in the case was found.  Is there no end to Dave's talents?  More importantly, have the government's spending cuts gone so deep that the police now have to rely on the Prime Minister to solve crimes?  I know that it has been claimed that some police forces are effectively telling victims of minor offences that they have to solve their own crimes, but this is bloody ridiculous.  The danger is that, with this success under his belt, Cameron will be encouraged to set up a private detective agency on the side and we'll see a stream of dodgy clients going through the side door of number ten.  Still, it would give him a legitimate excuse to hang round sleazy bars sporting a fedora, fake moustache and long rain coat. 

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Friday, October 03, 2014

A Cock and Balls Story

Before Theresa May decides that she has a 'reasonable belief' that I might 'disrupt democracy' and thereby prevent me from posting online anything other than government propaganda, I thought I'd take a look at yet another Tory sex scandal and the accompanying hypocrisy from the press.  The burning question here, of course, is whether it is in the public interest to publish a story about a government minister sending a picture of his cock and balls to a young woman he hasn't met, simply because an online exchange has indicated that she might be 'up for it'.  'No' screams the Tory press, claiming the fact that Brooks Newmark, the minister in question, was entrapped as the 'young woman' he assailed with a photo of his junk was in fact an undercover reporter, which apparently means that he wasn't really sexually harassing anyone. Except that he thought that the recipient of his picture was a woman, from which we can only conclude that Mr Newmark thinks that this represents acceptable sexual etiquette regarding virtual strangers of the opposite sex.  Now, I don't know about you, but I find that pretty shocking and I think that it absolutely is in the public interest that we should know that a government minister - the Minister for Civil Society, in this case - not only has such an attitude toward women, but also thinks it OK to engage in behaviour you would normally associate with a sex offender.

Let's face it, if it was some TV celebrity working for the BBC who had been caught out sending photos of his knob to young women, then the likes of the Daily Mail would be branding him a 'filthy sex pervert' and would have been screaming for the BBC to be shut down.  Just as they did with Jimmy Savile (who, let us not forget, was never actually convicted of anything). According to the right-wing press and their Tory back bencher pals, the BBC should be held entirely responsible for Savile's alleged sex crimes as they allegedly took place when he was in their employ and allegedly sometimes happened on BBC property.  So, surely the same criteria should apply in this case: Brooks Newmark was a member of the Conservative Party, a Tory MP and a minister in Cameron's Tory government when he was flashing his cock and balls around the ether, so surely the Conservative Party should be held responsible for his behaviour?  In fact, shouldn't they just be disbanded?  After all, they don't seem to have done anything about his unacceptable sexual shenanigans.  Oh sure, he's resigned as a minister, but he's still an MP representing the Tories in parliament, drawing a sizeable salary paid for by us taxpayers.  That's right, us taxpayers are subsidising a sex monster!  Let's face it, if he'd been caught waving his whanger at women on Clapham Common, he'd be labelled a flasher, charged with indecent assault and put on the sex offenders register,  But instead, he's still in parliament, paid for by Joe Taxpayer.

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