Friday, March 31, 2006

Phantom Lovers

What is it with men and masks? From The Phantom of The Opera to V For Vendetta, we have a long line of fictional 'heroes' who think that the best way to court women is to wear a mask and whisk them away to some underground lair. Their whole technique seems aimed to scare the bejasus out the objects of their affection - gifts mysteriously left by unseen hand, enigmatic and anonymous notes and love letters, rivals conveniently maimed or murdered, constant secret surveillance from behind paintings, etc. Maybe they think fear is an aphrodisiac? The ultimate test of course, is whether they still fancy the bloke once the mask is gone and the hideously ugly visage revealed.

Interestingly, whilst in certain types of fiction this is presented as somehow 'romantic', in the real world we'd call this sort of thing stalking. Even worse, the whisking away to dank subterranean catacombs seems suspiciously like the abduction fantasies you see on bondage websites (so I'm told). As for all that organ playing the Phantom of The Opera tries to impress Christine with - well, you don't have to be a Freudian to see the significance of that!

The question is, do men really think that being stalked and kidnapped by a masked lunatic is really what women want? Or are these simply the desperate fantasies of inadequate men who think it might be possible to brainwash women into loving them (or at least sleeping with them)? Is the unmasking bit an attempt to reassure themselves that women aren't really so shallow as to judge someone simply by their looks (of course, the woman involved is always stunningly beautiful)? I only ask because, off the top of my head, I can't think of any equivalent fiction where masked women stalk and kidnap men - who eventually fall in love with them despite their hideous facial scarring and baldness. Do women have similar sexual fantasies at all?

Of course, being a misunderstood masked genius who produces a brilliantly witty (but scandalously under-appreciated) satire site from a cellar deep beneath an opera house, my idea of a good date involves chloroform, kidnapping and shackles. Why waste money taking a women out somewhere (where she'll probably only flirt with other men and ignore you for half the evening), when you can chain them up and have their full undivided attention for a couple of hours whilst you show them your fascinating collection of medieval torture instruments?

Did I mention that I was still single?


Thursday, March 30, 2006

V For Quite Good, Actually

V For Vendetta has to be one of the most maligned film releases so far this year, sharply dividing critics who seem to either love it or loathe it. Having finall seen it, I can honestly say that I thought that it was OK, far better than I had expected, actually. OK, I know that the original graphic novel's author, Alan Moore, had his name removed from the credits, and that it doesn't faithfully follow every detail of the comic strip, but it still caputures the downbeat and oppressive feel of the original and retains the central character's essential ambiguity. Let's face it, literal translations of a work from one media to another are pretty much impossible. Whilst there's a school of thought which holds that the original text is sacred, the reality is that all texts, by their very nature, are interpreted differently by every reader anyway. It is inevitable when translated into a different media, it will be reinterpreted again, by both makers and audience. It's the nature of art, I'm afraid.

The fact is that the film V For Vendetta attempts to be faithful to the spirit and intent of the graphic novel V For Vendetta, whilst translating it into cinematic terms. Condensing the whole thing into a film with a running time of just over two hours means that, inevitably, plot details and some characters are streamlined, omitted or altered. However, the basic plot is the same, all the main dramatis personae are present and most of the comic's highlights are reproduced. The main changes evident have been forced on the makers of the film by history. The comic strip was, in part, a satire on the Thatcher years (when it was first published), portraying the possible results of the political policies and international climate taken in extreme. Clearly, this would mean little to the target audience of a film of this type, so the makers have sought to recast the source material in more contemporary terms, using the 'War on Terror' and the accompanying increased domestic repression as a background. The main faults of the film - a somewhat disjointed narrative (which becomes highly episodic as V pursues his personal vendetta during its middle part) and unevenness of tone - are also the faults of its source material.

Ultimately, the producers should be praised for retaining so much from the novel - it must have been tempting to ditch the British location (as in last year's Constantine), or have the hero remove his mask (as in Judge Dredd). But they didn't sucumb to such temptations. Perhaps most impressive is that they refused to turn V into a more conventional movie hero - he remains a violent, psychotic, even, killer, who is apparently happy to allow others, including children, to sacrifice themselves for his 'greater good'. In doing so, it retains the central dilemma of whether it ever is possible to use violence in the cause of good - at what point does it become legitimate to take arms against a government? A question even more relevant today, surely, than twenty-odd years ago. Let's face it, it is either incredibly courageos, or incredibly foolhardy, for amajor film studio like Warner Brothers, to release a big budget motion picture which portrays the terrorist as hero. Particularly in the present climate!

There, you didn't know you were going to get film reviews here, did you (at least, not of films which actually exist)? However, the V For Vendetta graphic novel has a special place in my heart and the film, whilst never quite capturing its power did, for a moment or two, take me back to the heady days of the early 1980s, when inner-city Britain was erupting into riots and, for one glorious moment, it looked like this country might be tumbling into a revolution! But times change, and so do we - the young left-wing would-be revolutionary of then is now a much more cautious middle-aged leftist, who has learned to be as suspicious of revolutionaries as of oppressive governments! If only it could be so simple as to simply go out into the steets and sove all our problems by mass defiance of authority...


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Onward Christian Soldiers...

Let's get back to Norman Kember, the Christian peace activist kidnapped in Iraq and subsequently freed by an SAS raid. Leaving aside this tiresome 'debate' as to whether he should be forced (under threat of a bloody a good horsewhipping)to publically thank his rescuers, the whole affair does raise the interesting question as to whether force should be used to save pacifists who find themselves in mortal danger? I could quite understand if Mr Kember, who doesn't believe that the use of force to resolve problems can be morally justified, didn't want to 'thank' the soldiers who saved him: clearly, by doing so he would be implicity acknowledging the legitimacy of using violence in certain situations.

But surely there must be a solution to situations of this kind which could satisfy the moral and political requirements of all parties? Couldn't the Salvation Army be used to intervene and rescue hostages? You can't tell me that they don't have some sort of 'Special Forces' contingent, trained in covert conversions and fund-raising. In the case of Mr Kember and his fellow hostages, they could have parachuted a Salvation Army brass band into Baghdad (clad in balaclavas and wearing bandoliers containing temperance leaflets). They could have subdued the kidnappers with rousing renditions of 'Abide With Me' and 'Come All Ye Faithful', made a collection on behalf of the homeless and ben out of there with the hostages within the hour.

There are, of course, precedents for this sort of thing. It is well known that the Pope's security is provided by a crack team of Jesuit priests, all highly trained and sporting their crucifixes in quick-draw shoulder holsters. At the first sign of evil they can whip them out and shout "Get thee behind me, Satan!", whilst hurling themselves protectively in front of his Holiness. Their special equipment also includes pens which squirt holy water, bibles with communion wafers hidden in the spine and rosary beads strung on wire for garotting sinners.

Overall, I think you'll agree that, once again, I've come up with a perfectly sensible and workable solution for a sensitive problem.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Back in Bondage

The publicity offensive for the next James bond film Casino Royale is really getting into gear now that filming has started. They're really pushing this 'back to basics Bond' angle (at least the fifth time in the series that they've claimed to be taking the character back to a more 'gritty', Flemingesque approach) to try and sell Daniel Craig in the role. However, one thing does puzzle me - if this new film is supposed to set the series back to the beginning and explain how Bond gets his licence to kill, how come 'M' is still being played by Judi Dench? I hate to sound like a Bond anorak here, but Goldeneye made it quite clear that she was the new broom in the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and that she considered Bond an anachronistic dinosaur. Shouldn't they have a male actor portraying the original M (as played by the late Bernard Lee from Dr No until Moonraker)? (Of course, to be completely pedantic, the film should then be set in the late 1950s).

I have a theory about this (and remember that you heard it here first folks). I predict that the new Casino Royale will feature a pre-title sequence in which Pierce Brosnan's age finally begins to take its toll - thanks to his arthritis, he fails to jump from a speeding golf cart onto a zeppelin in which the villain is escaping, then fails to redeem himself when he forgets his glasses and can't shoot straight enough to take out the lesbian assassin disguised as a horse, who is about to kill the Queen with a poisoned pineapple. Things just get worse for him that night, when he fails to pleasure the obligatory Bond totty due to erectile dysfunction, then wakes up the next morning to find that his excessive drinking has led to him wetting the bed. In a final humiliation, as he reports to M's office, he breaks wind and 'follows through' whilst flirting with Moneypenny. Naturally, the pre-titles end with M firing him and offering the job to SIS office boy Daniel Craig, instead. Maybe the title sequence could show a forlorn Brosnan handing in the keys to his Aston Martin, before catching the bus to sign on at the dole office. Rotoscoped naked women could cavort around him to the strains of John Barry...

Now there's a Bond movie I'd like to see!


Monday, March 27, 2006

Vinnie Jones' Dog

I read the other day that Vinnie Jones' greyhound was being investigated on suspicion of taking drugs. It left me pondering, with a nose that lomg, would a greyhound have to sniff more cocaine than a regular user for it to be effective? Or would that long schnozz merely act as a substitute for the rolled up five pound note? I was also left wondering where the alleged incident had taken place - was the mtt indiscreet enough to snort it in public, around the base of a lamppost? Or was he caught by paparazzi at some exclusive kennels, indulging in a sex and drugs party - rolling around his basket with some bitches whilst under the influence? Does he only give into these base urges when in heat, or is always to be found hanging around Battersea Dogs Home hoping to pick up stray bitches?

Still, they do say that pets take after their owners - and this one seems to a 'bad boy' just like Vinnie himself (not that I'm implying that Mr Jones takes drugs or sleeps with prostitutes, obviously - he'd break my legs for saying that sort of thing). I do wonder if this greyhound likes a 'physical' race - biting the nads of the dog ahead of him on the track, that sort of thing. Maybe once he's retired from racing he'll follow his master's example again, and pursue a career in acting. Perhaps he could take over from Lassie, give the old franchise an all action makeover, with him as a dog rescued from death row (after being accused of attacking a child), reedeming himself by tearing the throats out of the evil villains intimidating his new master's young son...

Or, maybe Guy Ritchie could star him in a film version of that painting of the dogs playing poker. You know, he could get cheated out of his pot and forced to carry out a heist to pay off his gambling debts...


Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Walk Down Sleazy Lane

Writing the next editorial for The Sleaze (due for publication on 1st April), has had me taking a stroll down memory lane and revisiting some of my earliest attempts at writing sleaze. Perhaps the greatest triumph of my early period was Trumpton Behind Closed Doors, an 'adult' version of the popular children's TV programme. It was a clear signpost to the future, combining smut and sexual innuendo with satire. It was also scarily prescient, with Trumpton's mayor dispatching local policeman PC McGarry to fight the terrorist threat being posed to the community by the Chigley Liberation Front (CLF). Indeed, the story opens with the CLF blowing up the town clock, which, as every child of the 1970s knows, was 'telling the time, never too quickly, never too slowly. Telling the time for Trumpton' - clearly a symbol of the oppressive time-managed society we live in!

As I recall, the main thrust of the plot involved the CLF plotting to blow up Lord Belborough (he was a local factory owner), by secreting 'Windy' Miller in the smokebox of his steam locomotive (which he liked to drive), after stoking him up on baked beans, and letting nature take its course. Looking back, it is clear that my politics were still somewhat confused at the time (I was still in my teens), as the CLF was being led by Farmer Bell - surely a capitalist lackey? Perhaps his Lordship was charging too high a rent on his land, or something. Anyway, I somehow worked a fair amount of sexual perversion into the story. McGarry, for instance, goes to the local army fort for assistance, only to find Sergeant Major Grout sticking a cucumber up the Captain's arse. The Trumpton fire brigade are also caught using their extendable ladders to spy on women in their bathrooms, I seem to remember. The whole thing ended with the CLF triumphant and Lord Belborough blown to bits!

Looking back on such classics always brings up the question as to just what is it about sleazy subject matter which attracts me? I just can't resist the lure of the seedy and unwholesome: given the choice between watching, say, Bergman's Seventh Seal or The Erotic Experiences of Frankenstein, I'll always choose the latter. Even though I know that it was directed by Jesus Franco and will be composed almost entirely of nausea inducing zoom shots.

But why? Well, there's little doubt that sleaze always seems to hold out to me the promise of revealing some fundamental truth about human nature and the world in general - even when it takes the form of a trashy European horror film. Sleaze panders to our basest desires and lays them bare. It reveals people's true motivations - which are more often than not driven by lust, greed and just good old plain sex, rather than altruism. That's why sordid sex scandals involving public figures are so fascinating - the carefully constructed public persona is suddenly stripped away and we're able to glimpse the real person behind it. Take the Frank Bough scandal of many, many years ago - who would have suspected that avuncular cardigan-wearing BBC TV sports and news anchor, 'Uncle' Frank Bough, would turn out to have a private life involving prostitutes, wild sex parties and snorting cocaine off of the nipples of teenage 'models', (I might have imagined that last bit, but the rest is true).

Once things like that are brought into the open, then, just for a while, the public begins to wonder what else might just be a fabrication, and what the real truth actually is. That's the power of sleaze - slowly but surely, like the sea relentlessly crashing against the shore, wears away the layers of so-called 'reality', to reveal the real workings of the world. It is also why it is such a good foundation for creating satirical stories. After all, isn't that what satire is meant to be about - cutting through the crap and ridiculing the pretentions of the powerful?

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Prisoners of Porn: Freed!


In a daring operation, British Special Forces soldiers yesterday raided a back street film studio in Baghdad, freeing three western hostages, including Briton Dan Cheeser, who had been missing for three months.

"One of the hostages was strapped to some sort of rack, and was being flagellated - presumably in an attempt to extract information - by a naked woman," explained British Army spokesperson Major Peter Nubbins at a press conference. "Two other hostages were found being beaten and trampled by another group of female fundamentalist, also naked, save for PVC underpants and black stiletto shoes."

Sadly, the SAS raid was too late save a fourth hostage, who was found dead in an adjoining room. "At first we though he had been suffocated - he was found tied up in a rubber suit, blindfolded and gagged in a black leather mask," says Nubbins. "However, an autopsy showed that he had actually expired from heart failure - the result of strenuous physical activity, to which he was obviously unaccustomed, judging by his girth."

According to the Major, the ordeals of the captives were being filmed by the insurgents. "Presumably, this was for propaganda purposes," he speculates. "We assume that the videos would eventually have been released to TV stations along with the their demands."

Whilst few details of the operation have been released to the press, it is understood that half a dozen SAS troopers, clad only in gimp masks, boots and tool belts, crashed through the skylight of the impromptu film studio, and neutralised the female insurgents with specially silenced vibrators.

"Obviously, the troopers had to blend in with their surroundings, so as not to arouse suspicion," Nubbins claims. "The only hitch was when an insurgent wearing a strap on was able to resist the silenced vibrator. Although she nearly took the trooper involved from the rear, after a fierce bout of hand to hand combat, he was able to subdue her with a large dildo." Videotapes seized at the scene are currently undergoing intense analysis in a dingy back room of a British Army barracks in Basra.

When asked for his reaction to the rescue, former hostage Dan Cheeser would only say: "Bloody interfering bastards!" He later twice tried to escape from a military hospital and is currently under heavy sedation. Army medics fear he may have been brainwashed as part of his ordeal. "Why else would anyone want to return to that chamber of horrors?" Mused Major Nubbins.

Reuters, London.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Getting a Grip On Things...

An e-mail exchange with a (female) friend the other day brought up that old chestnut as to whether or not men are capable of multi-tasking. Personally, I always find it highly insulting when people (mainly women), claim that the average bloke is incapable of performing more than one task at a time. Whilst there are many examples I could cite to disprove this slur against my sex, I feel that I only need to use a single one to illustrate my point: geeks. Computer geeks to be accurate. The way they manage to operate their PCs, surfing the net through multiple browser windows in search of ever more exotic erotica, as they simulataneously jerk off at the teen porn site displayed in their main window.

Now, I know what you are going to say: "Hey, that's still only doing two things at once, and neither moving and clicking a mouse, nor fiddling with your bits is particularly complicated!" But it isn't that simple, though! Quite apart from the surfing and the wanking (which actions utilise both hands), they still have to wipe the screen clean, (get a good, hot site and that jism can spray everywhere...) and keep a lookout in case their mother walks in. And let's not forget all the firewalls and proxy servers they have to navigate to avoid detection whilst looking at certain types of porn site, not to mention all the hacking to get round passwords and credit card requests!

And let's not forget the actual act of masturbation itself - I find that women always underestimate its complexity. It simply isn't as simple as just manually manipulating old Comrade Wobbly. Oh no. There's a technique, a skill, to getting the best out of it - the grip, the speed, everything has to be precise. Perhaps most important of all is the fantasy accompanying it - choose the wrong fantasy sex object and it could deflate before your eyes. She has to be someone who really fires your imagination to come up with a truly satisfying sexual fantasy. Indeed, so important is this aspect of whacking off, that I've never understood why telling a woman that she is an object of your masturbatory fantasies isn't considered a compliment. Surely being told that you are the most vital ingredient to a successful hitchhike under the big top is just about the most flattering thing any woman can be told by a sex-starved perv?

I guess I'll never understand women...


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

But Is It Art?

I have never really understood performance art. As far as I can see, it simply involves doing something outrageous in public, which would usually get you either arrested or sectioned under the Mental Health Act, then declaring that it is 'art' and represents a protest against something - which apparently protects you from either of the aforementioned sanctions. All of a sudden, all the middle-class bystanders who were previously condemining you for being 'a bloody nuisance' are instead standing back, rubbing their chins, saying 'Ahhh, I see...', whilst nodding sagely and exchanging knowing looks.

This opinion has been reinforced by the antics of so-called performance artist Mark McGowan, who was recently back in the headlines when he was forced to shelve his plans to leave six taps running for several months as a protest against the privatisation of water, following threats from Thames Water. Some of Mr McGowan's previous pieces of performance art have included a pushing a peanut with his nose through lOndon as a protest at student debt, and walking backwards with a turkey on his head to highlight the issue of child obesity (I'm not making this up). All of which led me to wonder, if I was to publically shit in a bucket, could I claim that it was actually a piece of performance art aimed at highlighting the lack of proper sanitation in the third world? Perhaps I could get the bucket and its contents displayed at the Tate Gallery, where, with luck, someone might offer me a few thousand quid for it!

Personally, I think Mr McGowan is taking the piss. I know that his 'performance art' isn't his main occupation. Apparently, he is a builder by trade. I think his real masterpiece of performance art, is the way in which he, an ordinary working class bloke, has hoodwinked a bunch of pretentious middle-class pseudo-intellectuals into believing that these stunts constitute 'art'. In which case, I salute him!

If nothing else, Mark McGowan has provided every drunk with an instant defence for pissing against some alley wall on a Friday night - all you have to do is tell the magistrates that it was a piece of performance art protesting at the lack of public conveniences due to their sale to private developers! The middle class pillocks will swallow it hook, line and sinker - and they'll probably offer you fifty quid a bottle for your piss as a permanent record of your artistic endeavour!


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

As If By Magic...

Apparently, self-styled comedian Joe Pasquale is currently producing a stage version of 1970s kids TV series Rentaghost in Aldershot. The question is - why? Not, 'why Joe Pasquale', or 'why Aldershot?' (although both are very good questions), but why Rentaghost? That series represents a childhood trauma for me, it was so bad - excruciatingly poor performances of threadbare scripts, accompanied by production values and 'special' effects that make most school plays look like Gone With the Wind. Not only that, but the bloody cast kept changing - with the exceptions of Mr Claypole (perhaps the most irritating children's TV 'personality' until the advent of Dick and Dom) and Mr Meeker (played by another non-actor whose only other employment seemed to be in adverts). I recently mentioned to someone that, thankfully, I hadn't seen the actor who played Mr Claypole since the demise of Rentaghost. He informed that was because the poor bastard had died shortly after the show's cancellation. There was me thinking it was because he was such a shitty actor he'd found it impossible to get another role.

Anyway, the worst thing about this stage revival of Rentaghost is likely to be that it is simply that, a straightforward revival. I've often thought that Rentaghost is one of those 1970s TV series ripe for a radical and 'ironic' re-imagining as a feature film. As I recall, the initial set-up was that Mr Mumford had drowned after falling overboard from a cross-channel ferry, but hadn't told his parents he was a ghost, (which is pretty macabre for a kids TV series, come to think of it). Now, they never really explored the full comic potential of this - in our hypothetical film version, we could have the police recovering the body and attempting to tell his parents the bad news! Just imagine the hilarious consequences as Mumford's ghost finds himself investigated for suspected identity theft, and desperately attempts to stop his parents from visiting the mortuary to identify his body!

As for his partners in the 'Rentaghost' business he sets up, Victorian gentleman Mr Davenport could now be the ghost of a child molestor hanged for buggering little boys, ("He's perfect for scaring kiddies at Hallowe'en parties", you can imagine Mumford explaining to a potential client. "He puts the willies up 'em every time!" - this stuff just writes itself!). Mr Claypole, irritating medieval court jester, could, this time around be the ghost of a gay medieval alternative court jester, beheaded for telling the King to suck his cock. Perhaps Graham Norton could be cast in the part, materialising in men's toilets at inopportune moments, shouting his catchphrase of "Oooh, penis!" You could get a lot of mileage out of a revisionist version of this character - using his supernatural powers (in the original, I seem to recall, he was characterised as a poltergeist) to create all sorts of gay-innuendo fuelled sexual mayhem, including phantom buggerings and facials, ("Look -ectoplasm has dripped on my face!").

But why stop at re-imagining Rentaghost? How about some of the other children's TV 'classics' of the time? Most obviously, you could have a gay version of Mr Benn, entitled Mr Bent, in which, every episode he dresses up in a costume to fulfil some bizarre homoerotic fantasy. Every episode could end with that shopkeeper (who always looked pretty camp in that fez anyway), appearing behind him 'as if by magic', bending him across a table and rogering him senseless. Why just confine ourselves to kids TV in this 'thought experiment'? How about some of those other 'timeless' 1970s TV classics?

I had the misfortune to catch the end of the film version of On The Buses at Christmas, and it occurred to me that this another of those old shows which could be reworked for contemporary audiences. Instead of the buses, you could have a present day version set on the London Underground - called Down The Tubes, perhaps. Instead of bus inspector Blake attempting to catch out layabout bus drivers and conductors, it could feature London mayor Kan Livingstone ranting and railing at the local tube drivers' union rep, who keeps thwarting his plans for public-private partnerships and modernisation. "I'm going to 'ave you, Butler", he could rant, waving his fist at a departing Jubilee LIne train, as the safety doors on the platform close and comically decapitate him. Or, how about a modern day version of It Ain't Half Hot Mum, set in occupied Iraq, and featuring a blustering sergeant major urging the "bunch of puffs" in the concert party he's attached to, to prove their manhood by beating up Iraqi civilians (played, of course, by white actors blacked up). In an hilarious twist, a video of him cavorting naked with a group of Royal Marines ("Real men, not nancy boys like you!"), in a muddy field, could come to light.

The possibilities are endless. But, sadly, I really don't expect to see any of these wonderful revisionist ideas featuring in Aldershot, when Joe Pasquale stages his version of Rentaghost. Pity.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Dream Number Nine...

After that last ill-tempered post, let's get away from ranting impotently about this government, and get back to the subject of my dreams. Specifically, let's talk about that dream (nightmare, really) that I had about John Lennon. I dreamt that he hadn't died back in 1980, but had survived to become a grey-haired pensioner, wearing a turtle-neck sweater, presenting 'Songs of Praise' for the BBC on Sunday evenings. There he was, in a high-backed leather armchair introducing the likes of 'Onward Christian Soldiers' and 'Morning has Broken', whilst a blue-rinsed Yoko interviews various worthies from whichever local church the programme is coming from. It all climaxed with John getting his guitar out and strumming along to 'Abide With Me' sung by the local school choir to the tune of 'Working Class Hero', whilst Yoko shouts "Number Nine!" in the background...

Scary stuff, but it does raise the question of what Lennon would be doing now, if he were still alive. Would he, in his sixties, still be leading anti-war protests? Would he be denouncing the warmongering of Tony Blair and decrying his education 'reforms'? Or would he have sold out and accepted that knighthood, or even peerage, from Blair? Would he be appearing on 'Grumpy Old Men' moaning about modern pop music, or would he still be at the cutting edge of youth culture, dabbling in dance music or rap (maybe providing guest vocals on 'The Streets' next album, duetting with Eminem, a la Elton John, or remixing 'Imagine' with a dance beat) ?

Perhaps we'll get some clues if that US TV programme ever manages to contact his spirit. But somehow, I doubt it!


Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Marching Morons

So the Defence Secretary John Reid is frustrated by Anti War Protestors saying that Iraq is on the brink of civil war, and believes that they should be getting behind the Iraqi people and supporting the drive for democracy. No doubt he's afraid that yet another of their predictions (such as 'there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq') will come true. The Anti War lobby certainly has a better record on Iraq than the government in that respect. It speaks volumes for the mindset of this government that it seems to think that it can get away with peddling this kind of doublethink - exercising democratic freedoms makes you an enemy of democracy. Sometimes they seem to really believe this strange thesis that it is enough simply to have rights under a democratic system, but you shouldn't actually exercise them to express criticism of the status quo - you should just think yourself damn lucky that you have the rights in the first place!

Still, this is the same cabinet minister who tried to defend British troops filmed beating up Iraqi teenagers by arguing that we had to understand that the insurgents they were defending 'democratic' Iraq against weren't constrained by the same rules and laws as the soldiers, so it was understandable if they reacted by meteing out illegal beatings. Is it just me, or is that a complete no-brainer of an argument? By following the same logic, we can justify the police fitting people up for crimes they didn't commit on the grounds that as they are criminals who probably have committed other offences, this proves they don't play by the rules so they shouldn't expect the law to play fair either. So, according to John Reid, the rule of law can only be maintained by its guardians selectively bending it to punish people who break it?

Frankly, I really shouldn't be surprised. This is the same addled logic which was used to justify the invason of Iraq in the first place: that flouting international law is OK if you can 'prove' that your target has already broken it themselves and therefore poses a 'threat' to the international community. The end justifies the means. Having got away with the invasion of Iraq, it really shouldn't be any surprise that the government is now trying to apply the same logic to domestic law, both here and in Iraq.

Ultimately, this is just another example of the 'rise of the idiot' I discussed in a recent editorial. I don't which is worse, though; that a senior cabinet minister is stupid enough to spout such nonsense, or that he thinks that we're so stupid that we'll believe it!

Don't worry Steve Crichton of Canada, who wrote to me about the aformentioned editorial; I fully intend to, as you put it, 'Preach on', on the subject of the rise of idiocy in modern society! Watch this space!


Prisoners of Porn (Slight Return)

Well here it is, the finished product: Prisoners of Porn.

It isn't perfect, and certainly isn't the best thing I've ever written, but I'm reasonably happy with it. Particularly as it was a story conceived and written 'on the hoof', so to speak - most stories have a much longer gestation period (years in the case of Skid Marks of The Gods? , for instance).


Friday, March 17, 2006

Begorrah and Bejasus!

I've come to hate St Patrick's day with a vengeance. As someone of Irish ancestory I suppose I should be out there, shamrock in lapel, wearing a silly green hat, knocking back pints of Guiness. But the trouble is, no matter how many forebears I might have from the Emerald Isle, I'm still a Briton, not an Irishman, and, like it or not, St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.

I just find it bizarre the way, in recent years at least, Britons seem to have adopted this saint's day as another excuse to go and drink themselves stupid? Why use an Irish saint's day as the excuse? You can get slaughtered any day of the week! But what's even worse are the outbreaks of faux Irishness one finds around bars and other public venues every March 17th. All of a sudden drunken English people are staggering around shouting 'begorrah' and 'bejasus' in the perpetuation of the very worst Irish stereotypes!

But why don't the English misappropriate the saints' days of other nations besides the Irish? Is it just that imitating the stereotypical drunken Mick offers more opportunities to get legless and start fights? Let's look at the alternatives: St Andrew's day - whilst the Scots are also renowned for being drunk and violent, they are also dour and tightfisted and don't seem to actually enjoy their inebriated punch ups. Besides their violence is far more vicious than the Irish variety, involving knives, broken bottles and the likes, whereas (as anyone who has seen The Quiet Man knows), Irish violence consists merely of comical, good-natured fist fights, punctuated by the odd shilelagh to the head. As for St David's day, well, what can I say? The Welsh are no fun at all - all leeks and close harmony singing.

The burning question, of course, is why don't we English celebrate our own patron saint's day the same way as the Irish do theirs? Personally, I think it is because St George is just too boring a saint - always out slaying dragons and the like. Plus, we have to share him with the likes of the Russians and Germans - killjoys to a man! What we really need is a new patron saint. One more associated with fun and debauchery. St John Thomas the Priapic, perhaps (although I probably just made him up), the patron saint of sex offenders.

Ah, to hell with it all, I say! Just go out and get drunk -you really don't need the spurious excuse of a saint's day!


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mad Scientists

I know I really shouldn't make light of the plight of those poor buggers who have been involved in that drug trial which has gone horribly wrong...

But, for God's sake, haven't these people seen the same films that I have? Don't they remember The Manster, where someone gets injected with an experimental drug grows another head and turns into a homicidal maniac before finally splitting in two? Or Blue Sunshine, where people who took an experimental form of LSD lose their hair and turn into homicidal maniacs ten years later (I think you can see a theme developing here)? Or just about any picture Monogram Films made between 1939 and 1946? Surely everybody knows that the only outcome of subjecting oneself to experimental medical treatments is turning into an ape/werewolf/tentacled horror.

Its the scientists conducting these experiments who are at fault, of course. All readers of the popular press will know that when not conducting cruel experiments on animals, the average scientist is usually attempting to construct weapons of mass destruction, snatch the organs of dead infants and contact body snatching aliens.

However, being paid £2000 a time apparently removes any suspicions the average citizen has about these guys. Even if the scientist conducting the drug trial looks like Boris Karloff and his assistant is Bela Lugosi (usually caught mid-transformation into the Ape Man). It never occurs to these poor saps that this duo is actually aiming to tap their spinal fluid so as to crack the secret of eternal youth/ turning into an ape/breeding giant bats.

Mind you, with media reports claiming that the victims of this latest tragedy found their heads swelling to three times their normal size, I'm left wooried that Boris and Bela are trying to produce a race of super-intelligent huge-brained supermen. They'll probably have to eat the brains of us regular humans to maintain their intellectual superiority. I'm afraid! Very afraid! We're all doomed!


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Danny Baker's Life in Porn...

Male porn stars. Have you ever noticed how ugly they are? UK ones certainly. They all seem to be balding, pot-bellied middle-aged blokes who probably couldn't get it any other way. OK, I know that my knowledge of the subject is mainly derived from that ten-minute porn channel teaser you get around midnight on cable, but I'm sure that it is pretty representative. About the most normal looking guy on it was some curly-haired 'sex God' who was the spitting image of DJ and football pundit Danny Baker (although, for legal reasons, I'd like to emphasise that I have no reason to believe that MR Baker has ever appeared in an adult film). If Ron Jeremy is anything to go by, US male porn stars aren't much better - they just have bigger moustaches.

Now, I know that right now there are people out there who know me who are probably saying 'Why are you knocking British porn - you should be auditioning, surely?', but it does raise some serious questions. Do women really go for guys who look like Danny Baker, or is this more proof (if any were really needed), that porn is primarily made by men, for men. Whilst we demand that the women all be attractive and sexually desirable, we don't want to feel threatened by the presence of similar looking guys reminding us of our own inadequacies. Moreover, we like to think that 'ordinary' guys like us really could get to bonk beautiful women if we really wanted to. Hmmm.

However, I could be wrong. There could be a vast market out there for pornography featuring guys who look like overweight, scruffy cab-drivers. Perhaps it isn't just Danny Baker who has a porn look-a-like? Maybe there's a John Prescott or Gordon Brown clone out there? Or even a Terry Wogan and (God forbid) Chris Evans doubles out there wagging their lardy, hairy arses up and down, ginning to camera as they simulate sex with some blonde dressed as a schoolgirl. I sincerely hope not!


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Prisoners of Porn

OK, so after a couple of test posts, this is where we finally start for real...

Every so often I get asked that hoary old question of where I get my story ideas from. Well, the great curse of having a mind warped by years of exposure to sleaze is that you can bring an off-centre perspective to just about anything you see on TV, hear on the radio or read in the newspapers.

Last week, for instance, I heard a newsreader saying that an Iraqi hostage had been seen apparently alive and well in a recently released video. Now, the immediate thought which sprang into my head was that the video in question was a porn video. I had this sudden vision of some poor relative of thee hostage in question sticking on a video they'd got 'under the counter' (in brown paper wrappings, of course), from their local 'Blockbuster', hoping for a couple of hours relief from worrying about the fate of their loved one, only to be confronted with the sight of them stark bollocking naked, ejaculating all over the ample breasts of some blonde nympho schoolgirl. Or taking it up the Gary Glitter from some bull-dyke with a strap-on.

Imagine the shock of some poor git who has been worried sick about an abducted friend or relative for months, confronted with that sort of thing! All that time they'd spent losing their hair with stress, suffering heart attacks and nervous breakdowns, and the cause of it has been indulging in unbridled shag-fests (for money) for the entire duration!

In story terms, several possibilities immediately sprang to mind. Are alleged hostages faking their own abductions in order to pursue new careers in adult entertainment? Alternatively, is this all part of a new money-making strategy on the part of Iraqi insurgents - kidnapping Westerners to forcibly star in porn films which can be sold for profit to finance their cause? This latter idea would tie-in with the news story from a few weeks ago about the stolen British diplomatic satellite phones in Baghdad being used to call sex lines - the underlying thrust of any story being the irony of anti-Western insurgents adopting the capitalist model to harness our lust for pornography as a means of financing their guerilla war against the US. Of course, another take could be people hearing about the hostage porno flicks and actually going to Baghdad to try and get abducted and forced to have sex on camera!

So there you are - one headline provides the basis for a whole story (which I'm now going to go off and attempt to write). All it took was a smutty turn of mind!