Thursday, September 28, 2006

Satire of Distinction?

I know haven't been on exactly sparkling form this week blog-wise. I'm afraid that most of my energies over the past couple of weeks have been concentrated on completing two stories, updating the archive and trying to write a new editorial (which I'm still dragging my feet over). It isn't as if there hasn't been plenty going on in the real world for me to comment on: party conferences, Iraq, Richard Hammond the whole Labour leadership thing. But that's part of the problem - I find myself less and less interested in commenting upon such things. Now, I know that's a strange thing for a man who edits a satire site to say, but I've always tried to take the broader approach to satire, refusing to confine myself to just the usual political jibes. In truth, anybody can dash off a couple of paragraphs about Cherie Blair's latest gaffe, post it to the web and claim they're writing satire (and believe me, increasing numbers seem to be doing just that). I want to tackle the subjects and write the stories which nobody else is willing to. Indeed, writing stories is really what I'm more interested in doing now - I really don't have the time or the patience for the smart-arsed one-liners and clever punchlines any more. Again, anybody can do that sort of thing.

In the end, I suppose that's what it comes down to - distinctiveness. I'm proud of the fact that, amongst the morass of 'satire' sites floating about the web like so much flotsam and jetsum, The Sleaze remains distinctive. Not just in appearance (we're no php-script clone), but also in its style and subject matter. I remember that when I started publishing to the web, the received wisdom was that readers simply wouldn't look at stories more than a couple of short paragraphs long. I'm happy to say that we've disproved that! Not only has traffic to The Sleaze consistently grown since it was established, but visitors frequently come back for more, returning to read multiple stories. The upshot of all this is that I find that we have less and less in common with most of the other so-called 'satire' sites out there. Let's face it, I never did have much time for most of them and the feeling seemed to be mutual. Increasingly, I find myself ploughing my own furrow - and a very nice furrow it is too! Vive la difference, I say! Now, back to that bloody editorial...


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cryptozoology? Craptozoology, More Like!

Having mentioned cryptozoologists in the previous post, I feel I must elaborate on this bunch of nutters. These are the lunatics who think that ape men walk in parks on Tyneside, lions roam Surrey and probably believe that dinosaurs still thrive in obscure Welsh valleys (but only very small ones which look just like regular lizards to the likes of you and I). OK, I know I'm probably being unfair, and that many of these people are serious researchers pursuing genuine scientific studies, and I will concede that in recent years several entirely new species have been identified and several thought extinct rediscovered, but I still think most of them are demented obsessives. A bit like the 'Paul is Dead' brigade.

Perhaps I'd take them more seriously if they didn't keep on insisting that Britain's countryside is overrun with non-indigenous big cats living wild. Whilst I don't doubt that there have been cases of things like pumas being released into the wild by irresponsible owners, I imagine these have been relatively rare and the animals concerned probably died of starvation or disease pretty quickly. Ultimately, it's the complete lack of physical evidence which undermines their 'theory'. If there were large numbers of lions, panthers and the like wandering around Britain, surely farmers would be reporting cattle losses (believe me, they'll moan about anything, so we would have heard)? Why are no dead big cats found (they have to die sometime, if not of old age, then by being hit by cars as they cross roads)? Why has nobody ever taken a convincing picture of one? It just doesn't add up, does it?

Most of the 'evidence' offered by the craptozoologists is purely anecdotal - people reporting that they saw 'something' in their headlamps, that sort of thing. Eyes glowing in the dark when caught by car headlight beams feature a lot. After all, only cats have reflective eyes, don't they? And these eyes are always too far off the ground to be those of an ordinary cat, so it must be a tiger! Well, most animals eyes visibly reflect light to some degree. I remember once seeing such a set of eyes by the roadside ahead of me, quite high off the ground - turned out to be a deer. (Funnily enough, though, when I once hit a deer which ran out in front of me, I distinctly remember thinking 'Big cat!' as I saw it over the bonnet). But why is it only big cats which apparently roam free in Britain? Why not less glamourous and exciting animals? You don't hear about people glimpsing rhinos in their headlamps, do you? Or hear reports of mysterious trumpetings and torn up trees in the woods. When was the last time you heard of children being trampled to death in wildebeest stampedes in Somerset, eh? It just doesn't bloody happen, does it?


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Coming Up...

Every so often I remember that one of the original purposes of this blog was to keep readers updated on developments over at The Sleaze. So, in addition to have recently posted a new story on the site Changing Times, you might have noticed that I've also disinterred four older stories from the vaults (trust me, trying to access anything on the hard drive of my old PC is very much like venturing into some musty old mausoleum), and installed them in the archive. They're very much a mixed bunch - Burglar's Banquet is pretty much a companion piece to the recent I Buried Paul, a piece of swinging sixties frippery, this time concentrating on the Rolling Stones rather than The Beatles. Di Hard is a story I've kept locked away for several years, feeling it might be too offensive to revive. But then I thought, 'What the hell, you've insulted just about everybody else, and there are at least three other Princess Di stories on the site already, what difference will another one make?' Anecdotal diversion time here - a version of this story which appeared, many years ago, in a previous incarnation of The Sleaze was described as 'Grossly offensive' by a senior member of Britain's intelligence community. How's that for trivia?

The other two resurrected stories, Mad Scientists and Mad Doctors are in support of The Sleaze's traditional October celebration of Halloween. I've got into the habit of putting out vaguely supernatural or horror-related stories in this month every year. Often the link is pretty tenuous and I usually extend the 'theme' to include UFOs and other Forteana. The first of this year's themed stories is now written and will be posted at the weekend (probably). This is provisionally titled True Blue Voodoo and started life as a rewrite of an older story that I'd never archived. However, when I reread the story in question, I thought it was bloody awful and started again from scratch, writing a completely new story on the same theme. The other two stories for October are still very much at the planning stage. I've long wanted to do a story about mediums and spiritualism, so that could be the next story up, if I can find a suitable angle. For the other story I'm toying with the idea of something related to cryptozoology - big cats and ape men wandering around Britain, that sort of thing. Maybe I could do something about the 'Steve Irwin' of cryptozoology? Always wrestling with Yetis, that sort of thing. Hmm, it's an idea...

I also have tentative plans for a special Halloween version of the main page banner, incorporating images from 1960s and 1970s horror paperbacks, to run during the last week of October. Actually, whilst researching possible sources for such images, I came across a really superb site I'd recommend to anyone interested in that type of publication - The Groovy Age of Horror. Not only does the guy running this site have lots of great scans of 1960s and 1970s paperback covers, but he's actually read most of them and provides some very informative reviews. As I say, recommended reading! And, before I forget, I'll also be returning to editorial duty for Issue 43 (indeed, writing that is next up for me).


Monday, September 25, 2006

From the Inbox of Doc Sleaze...

You know, I'm seriously thinking of changing my e-mail address. Or, at the very least, setting up an auto-responder for The Sleaze's main addresses which simply says something like: "Thank you for your e-mail. If you are trying to sell me dodgy shares/penile enhancements/viagra and other treatments for erectile dysfunction/fake rolex watches/illegal pornography, informing that I need to change the password on my e-bay/ban/paypal account, or you are simply a weirdo - fuck off! If you don't fall into any of these categories, there is a slim chance I might be bothered to reply". Mind you, I doubt it will deter the spambots and fruitcakes. It was one of the latter who tipped me over the edge and into considering this drastic action vis a vis my e-mail accounts.

Today, in amongst the usual crud which had somehow slipped past the various spam-filters I use, was a missive from an individual who starts off by saying how much he liked my editorial in this issue of The Sleaze, and how he agreed so much with what I'd written, before going on about how much he liked porn and how he'd set up several (undoubtedly dubious) sites. As you can imagine, this left me somewhat perplexed as; a) Big Sleazy, not me, wrote the current editorial; and b) it was (mainly) about the state of online satire. The connection with porn wasn't immediately obvious (unless one finds discussion of Alexa rankings titillating). I finally realised that what he was actually referring to was the editorial for Issue 37 - Pornography - A Universal Language? Now, I know it might be a tad confusing that only the current issue number appears on pages, but the browser's title bar not only carries each page's title, but also its original issue number. Please pay attention! Where the two don't match, it means that you are reading an archived page! Clear, everybody?

Anyway, getting back to the issue at hand, a word of advice to potential correspondents: those editorials are generally no more 'factual' than the rest of the site and do not necessarily represent my actual views. Moreover, even if the affection for porn expressed in said editorial was true, this doesn't mean to say that I want to know about somebody else's porn adventures. I'm a great believer that whatever it is you jerk your gherkin to is a purely personal matter and should be kept private. If you really must share it with someone, I have no doubt that there are message boards and blogs out there which cater for that sort of thing (or any sort of thing, for that matter). Please, do not write to me about it. I'm really not interested.

OK, now we've sorted than one out, did I ever tell you about some of the requests for links I get? Jesus! You should see some of those sites...


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Out of Gear

I was very sorry to hear about Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond's terrible accident the other day. I was even sorrier that it wasn't Jeremy Clarkson. Ahh, topical humour, eh! I must only be the millionth person to do some variation on that gag today. What I really like about the way this sort of thing is reported is how it allows other channels to pass comment on their rivals. Whilst BBC news reporting of Hammond's accident has, naturally, concentrated on his injuries, ITV news quickly promised us a report on 'the risks of dangerous TV stunts' (delivered in a suitably disapproving tone by the newsreader). Of course, what they actually mean is 'we're going to gloat about dangerous TV stunts on BBC programmes and completely ignore the number of times we've put people's lives at risk in the name of entertainment)'. What's the betting they dredge up that business from donkey's years ago when a viewer died whilst rehearsing a stunt on Noel Edmonds' Late Late Breakfast Show? Now, that really was tragic - that poor bloke's sacrifice was in vain as Noel quickly returned to our screens in another Saturday night programme which ran for years and gave us Mr Blobby. Is there no justice? How many people have to die before we can get Noel's latest programme, Deal, or No Deal, off of our screens?

Now there's an idea - rig some of the boxes on Deal, or No Deal with bombs so that contestants are blown to bits as they open them - surely that would get it taken off the air? Probably not - more likely this new element of risk would increase the ratings and get it recommissioned. It's the same with Top Gear. You can guarantee that presenter being maimed won't stop them. I daresay that as soon as he's sufficiently recovered, they'll have Hammond speed-testing electric wheelchairs and drag racing against Stephen Hawking. Trust me, there's some sick bastard of a programme executive out there planning something along these lines at this very minute! Remember, you heard it here first!

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fuck Folk

The other night, after stumbling home from the pub, I found myself watching some documentary about British folk music during the late 1960s and 1970s. This was the era when, apparently, Britain's folk groups discovered electric guitars and 'folk rock' was born. It reminded me of just why I hate folk music so much - this is the crap I had to grow up with. Trust me, you just couldn't escape it, this whiny hybrid of straggly bearded and long haired twats strumming stratocasters whilst moaning on about mother nature, lost loves and the like, kept invading the charts, nestling side by side with glam rockers, heavy rock and metal bands. I'd rather listen to any of the latter types of popular music than bloody folk rock. In fact, I'd rather listen to the average Eurovision Song Contest entry than a bunch of hippies who think they're Bob bloody Dylan just because they've plugged in their amps.

I'll take Ian Gillan blasting out "Speed King" or "Highway Star" for Deep Purple over some ethereal-voiced waif twittering on about the birds and flowers. At least Richie Blackmore knew how an electric guitar should be played - loud and fast! One of those folkie arseholes on the TV even said that going electric had taught him to play less - pity he didn't take that lesson to its logical conclusion and give up altogether! What really tipped me over the edge enough to reactivate my anti-folk hatred whilst watching this programme, though,was the inclusion of The Strawbs performing '"I'm a Union Man" on Top of the Pops circa 1973. Jesus, I'd forgotten just how objectionable this smug piece of anti-Union propaganda was! It also showed what a bunch of amoral cunts the folk movement really were - supposedly working class, anti-war, anti-capitalism, etc, and yet happy to put down the unions (and by extension the whole working class) with this piece of shit, right at the very moment the labour movement was engaged in an historic death struggle with a Tory government! Fuck Folk, the cunts!


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It's Gonna Taste Great..?

I see that TV commercial is running again - the one for Frosties with the kid rapping that 'they're gonna taste great'. Apparently it is Britain's most hated advert. Actually, it probably isn't, it's simply that it has irritated some people in the media and, as usual, they've abused their positions to start a bandwagon of hate rolling. Frankly, I can think of far more irritating and offensive ads on TV at the moment, this one is just mildly annoying. Anyway, the reason I've brought it up is simply because of an 'urban legend' which has sprung up concerning this particular commercial. There is a persistent rumour (mainly web-based) that the kid in the advert is actually dead. In some versions he committed suicide after being bullied as a result of his appearance in the advert, in others he was allegedly murdered and in some he was terminally ill and appearing the ad was a dying wish. Now, as far as anyone is aware, the young man is alive and well and still living in South Africa (where the commercial was shot). Despite this fact being confirmed by Kelloggs (and their official spokes-Tiger Tony), the rumours just won't go away. The obvious similarity to the whole 'Paul McCartney is dead' nonsense I discussed in an earlier post is fascinating: the lack of actual facts, multiple (and increasingly bizarre) versions of his demise, official denials, the lot.

Of course, what will really seal this one as an urban legend which can run and run is if Kelloggs come up with another Frosties ad featuring this kid. Inevitably the conspiracy theorists will start running frame-by-frame comparisons with the original to 'prove' that the kid in the second ad is an imposter. Undoubtedly they'll show that whilst in the first ad he was shorter than Tony the Tiger, in the second he is marginally taller, whilst voice analysis will inevitably show subtle differences in his rapping performance between the two commercials. Mind you, the really big question will be whether the ads actually contain subtle 'clues' alluding to their star's demise. In fact, I'm going to set the ball rolling on this aspect right now - have you noticed how at the end of the ad the kid appears to rise into the air? An obvious allusion to his ascent to heaven, with Tony the Tiger cast as an angel (perhaps indicating his responsibility for the kid's death - maybe he mauled him to death?). You see, it's all there - you just have to juggle it all around a bit...

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Killer Pope?

I was confronted by another of those surreal headlines the other day, this time on CNN's teletext service: "Possible Pope Connection to Nun Killing". Just for a moment there I thought that perhaps His Holiness was about to be arrested on suspicion of murdering nuns. I had visions of rooftop chases across the Vatican, with Pope Benedict being pursued by FBI agents, hurling Hail Marys at them as he tried to escape justice, before being cornered in the Basilica of St Peter's for a desperate last stand. In this scenario he would die in a hail of bullets, probably falling from a great height and being ironically impaled on a conveniently placed giant crucifix.

But imagine that, a serial killer Pope. Well, he was in the Hitler Youth, so I suppose anything is possible - but why would the head of the Roman Catholic Church go around killing nuns? Was he doing it before he became Pope, and his trail of murder and mayhem (across several continents, no doubt), has only just been uncovered by police? Did he strangle them with rosary beads or suffocate them with his mitre? Did he just pick his victims off individually, or did he leave whole convents massacred in his murderous wake?

Still, I suppose being Pope made it easier to get close to his victims - maybe that's why he picked on nuns - after all, who wouldn't trust a pontiff (apart from protestants, Muslims, atheists and just about everyone except Roman Catholics)? Yes, I can see it all now - his position of power and having the ear of God undoubtedly deluded him into believing he could get away with it. I'm sure the Vatican will have conspired to cover it all up - the greatest conspiracy since the Da Vinci Code. They probably have the Pope under constant watch to ensure that he's never left alone with a nun...

Sadly, of course, the story behind the headline was much more mundane, speculating whether the Pope's recent speech which apparently offended Muslims was connected to the murder of an unfortunate nun in Africa. I still prefer my version.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Mockney Tosser

Apparently the Jamie Oliver backlash is upon us, with parents rushing emergency portions of chips to children at schools serving only the mockney Tosser's 'healthy' school dinners. Hell, the Jamie Oliver backlash has been going on here since the bastard started doing those unbearably smug supermarket commercials. I think he's beginning to realise himself that he might not be universally popular. The trailers for his latest TV series show him in a fat suit moaning about people not taking enough notice of his preachings on food and saying 'let them eat what they want.' Yes Jamie, that's what we bloody well want! We're sick and tired of your evangelical zeal when it comes to supposed healthy eating - you're only a fucking cook for God's sake! We're tired of you trying to foist your poncey expensive food on us in the guise of improving our health! We just want to enjoy food again! If we want to die of heart attacks brought on by fatty deposits, that's our choice - I thought we were supposed to be living in an age of consumer choice, for Christ's sake!

Of course, what makes the Mockney Tosser's preachings even more offensive is the fact that he acts as a corporate mouthpiece for a vast corporation. Whilst Sainsbury's has undoubtedly made an effort to be 'greener' and introduce 'healthier' products, it also quite happily continues to sell plenty of traditional 'unhealthy' foodstuffs and products. And does Mr Oliver care about this? Not as long as he's getting his pay cheques, I suspect.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Genius of Jess Franco

As I mentioned earlier, I spent part of my holiday last month catching up with some old films. The most bizarre of these was a double-bill of early 1970s weirdness from prolific Spanish hack Jesus Franco. Variously described as both a 'genius' and 'the world's worst film director', sometimes in the same breath, Franco spent most of the sixties and seventies grinding out ultra low-budget international co-productions, many of them 'erotic' horror flicks, released in different versions (and under different titles) in various markets. In the past the English-language versions would sometimes turn up in the all-night TV schedules of ITV and Channel Four, and I'd caught up with the likes of The Nude Vampire (aka The Bare Breasted Countess), Vampiros Lesbos and Blood of Fu Manchu (truly one of the most hilariously inept films I have ever seen). Now, I'm the first to admit that these encounters did nothing to endear Franco to me - indeed, The Nude Vampire was so boring it forced me to do something hitherto unthinkable: fast-forward through a film featuring a naked woman writhing about on a bed and doing suggestive things with the bolster. However, there was always one title in the Franco ouevre which intrigued me: The Erotic Experiences of Frankenstein. For many years I had only synopses and the odd still in books and on websites to whet my appetite for this bizarre Franco-Spanish concoction. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that this sleaze 'classic' had been released (under its alternative title Curse of Frankenstein) on DVD on a double bill with the slightly earlier Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein.

Although my previous experiences of Franco had taught me to fear the worst, I actually found these two films - watched back-to-back over a Bank Holiday weekend with several cans of beer and a packet of prawn crackers - surprisingly enjoyable, in a perverse sort of way. In fact, I was left feeling that Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein is a neglected surrealist classic. In what appears to be a deconstruction of those old Universal monster movies of the 1930s and 1940s, Franco cunningly deploys various apparently familiar elements - Dracula (Howard Vernon), the Frankenstein Monster (Fernando Bilbao), a werewolf, gypsies and a spooky old castle - in a delirious 'narrative' which confounds expectations and defies all logic. Dracula - the all powerful supernatural villain of Bram Stoker's novel is ironically reduced to a mere puppet in the hands of Baron Frankenstein (Dennis Price), enslaved by the latter's science. The pagan gypsies - usually portrayed as sinister figures - heroically storm the castle with Seward to deploy Christian iconography against the vampires. The sense of dislocation is heightened by various anachronistic elements: whilst the hero Dr Seward (Alberto D'Albes) rides around in a horse-drawn buggy, Frankenstein prefers a late 1960s Mercedes saloon. Dialogue is kept to a minimum. In fact, Frankenstein never utters a word - his thoughts instead being conveyed via voice over (with a jarring American accent in the English language version). Just to spice things up, a touch of necrophilia is added to the mix when Frankenstein's grotesque assistant (Luis Barboo) gives the body of club singer, drained of her blood to revive Dracula, a bloody good groping before cremating her. The ending, with Frankenstein escaping after destroying Dracula, leaves you with the reaction: "What the hell was that?" As I said before, a neglected surrealist classic. Or maybe its just a shoddily made low budget horror/sex flick and I'm just spouting bollocks!

I must admit, that some aspects of the film still have me baffled. Where did that werewolf come from and why did it attack the monster? Who was that blonde vampire woman who killed Frankenstein's assistant? And, most crucially, why did Frankenstein stake Dracula, his voice over intoning something about the Count betraying him (he hadn't)? These nagging details aside, I cannot deny that I found Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein's surreal lunacy quite exhilarating. Indeed, after watching it, I found the film I had actually bought the DVD to watch - Erotic Experiences - far less satisfying. Not that it isn't surreal. Frankenstein (Price again) is murdered in the first reel by a naked bird woman and his monster (Bilbao again - this time covered in silver paint) kidnapped. Mind you, that isn't the last we see of Frankenstein - various people keep reviving him to try and get him to tell them who killed him. It transpires that the evil Cagliostro (Vernon in a strange beard) wants the monster as a mate for his 'perfect woman' he is building out of bits of kidnapped girls. Frankenstein's daughter gets co-opted into his scheme whilst trying to avenge her father's death, and is subjected to naked whipping, administered by the monster. Alberto D'Albes is also back as Dr Seward and, assisted by Inspector Tanner (who seems to be close relative of Dennis Hoey's cretinous Inspector Lestrade from the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films), saves the day again. Sadly, the film never achieves the heights of delirium achieved by its predecessor - perhaps Franco was just trying too hard. Perhaps because it is shot in a more conventional style, maybe because there is more dialogue than before (much of it highly repetitive), or even because the plot almost makes sense, Erotic Experiences just wasn't quite as enjoyable as Dracula. That's not to say that it isn't perversely entertaining - it certainly is, but just not weird enough.

Curiously, whilst the fact that Frankenstein escaped at the end of the first film and he is played by the same actor in the second implies that Erotic Experiences is a sequel, this doesn't seem to be the case. Whilst the Frankenstein of the first film is Baron Ranier von Frankenstein, in the second he is Dr Albert Frankenstein. Also, Dr Seward doesn't appear to be the same character, the second time around he's a friend of Frankenstein's, rather than his foe. Also, Erotic Experiences is clearly set in Victorian times - no Mercedes limos, sadly - another factor which prevents it from taking full lunatic flight. Nevertheless, this double bill has forced me to revise my opinion of Jess Franco, the lost genius of surrealism!


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Moron's Guide to British Politics

The sheer ignorance of the British people never ceases to astound me. During all this recent furore about Tony Blair's future, I was dismayed to hear that old refrain from the vox pops on radio and TV news to the effect "shouldn't us voters have a say in who succeeds Blair as PM?" Well, actually no. As you would know if you took any interest whatsoever in our electoral system. When you vote at a general election, you are voting to elect a parliament not a government, and certainly not a Prime Minister. In fact, to be entirely accurate, when you cast your vote, you are voting to elect an individual member of parliament to represent your constituency for the term of said parliament. The Prime Minister is selected by parliament, in that they are the person who can command the support of the majority of MPs, (which, in practice, usually means the leader of the largest party in the Commons).

So, clearly, when a Prime Minister steps down before a parliament's normal five year term has ended, there is no need for another general election, so long as a successor can be found who also commands a majority of support in the commons. Again, in practice this is usually whoever replaces the out-going PM as leader of the majority party. The sad thing is, that much of what I've just written will come as a surprise to a hell of a lot of average Britons. Quite appallingly, they have absolutely no idea of what they are voting for come general elections. I find this situation shameful! However, I don't find it that surprising, having taught politics to 16-18 year olds. It is quite disturbing how many of these kids have made it to the verge of voting age in complete ignorance of our system of parliamentary democracy.

Enough lessons for today! Maybe tomorrow we'll move on to the Middle East and how to solve its political problems...


Monday, September 11, 2006

Come the Revolution...

There's nothing like a statement from some twat at the CBI to put me back in touch with my Marxist roots! Today I was reading in The Guardian that the CBI was calling on Gordon Brown not to extend workers rights when he becomes Prime Minister (a bit presumptuous as he isn't even leader of the Labour party yet). Apparently to do so would be to erode Britain's 'competitive edge' and would inevitably send the economy into a deep depression. When they say 'competitive edge', what they actually mean is a 'low wages, long hours' culture which sees people providing unpaid labour for their capitalist masters, and workplaces where workers can be hired and fired at will with little or no legal protection and have their basic rights flagrantly ignored. When these bastards talk about 'Britain', what they actually mean is 'our bank accounts'. This is what it is all about, them maximising their profits off of workers' backs, patriotism is just a cover. Trust me, if it was cheaper to carry out their business abroad, they'd have no compunction in sticking two fingers up to Old Blighty and buggering off overseas.

These are the buggers who care so much about the welfare of British workers they'll quite happily employ illegal immigrants - they don't have to pay National Insurance and they have no clue as to health and safety, employment law or the minimum wage. Speaking of the minimum wage, I seem to recall that the CBI claimed that was going to send the economy into a downward spiral and herald the return of mass unemployment. In fact, the complete opposite happened. Now there's a surprise. As far as I'm concerned the CBI are a shower of shit who are completely out of touch with reality. I remember some months ago, some CBI dickhead prattling away on the radio about how disgraceful it was that public sector workers were demanding their pension rights be preserved as it was poor chaps in the private sector who were "only earning £20,000 a year who had to subsidise these pensions through higher taxes". Only £20,000 a year? This guy clearly had no idea what the level of wages is in the public sector. Very few workers earn even as much as £20,000. Most earn less that £15,000. Our pensions are about the only bloody things we have which are worth working for! I'm looking forward to the revolution when we can put these slimy shits up against a wall and mow them down en masse with a machine gun.

You know, I really shouldn't write this stuff. One day I'll apply for a job only to find that my potential employer has traced this blog back to me. I can imagine the interview: "So, you think bosses are slimy shits who should all be shot..."


Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Walrus Was Paul?

Sometimes you have to leave lots of material out of stories, usually to keep the down to length, often for legal reasons and occasionally for reasons of credibility. I Buried Paul falls into the last category. When I researched that story it was if I'd fallen through a hole in the space-time continuum and found myself in a bizarre parallel universe. It really is scary just how many people seem to subscribe to this 'Paul McCartney is Dead' nonsense. I got a lot of the inspiration for the story from a particularly lunatic message board calling itself The King is Naked, which seems to take its inspiration from an especially deluded document which can be found here. I stumbled across this latter item via the Fortean Times message boards, where a poster had described reading it as being akin to experiencing someone's descent into madness. He wasn't exaggerating.

Basically, this document contained stuff about the alleged replacement of Paul McCartney which was just so bizarre I didn't dare use it even in a satire story - people would have said I'd just gone too far! According to the document, not just McCartney, but also The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein had been murdered (probably by the KKK, or maybe the Rolling Stones) and secretly replaced by doubles. Now, the best bit was the claim that Epstein had been replaced by Don Knotts! Yes, that Don Knotts! The late comic actor who appeared in such classic movies as The Reluctant Astronaut and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (which, according to a thread on the aforementioned message board, contains all manner of 'clues' about Paul's 'death'), not to mention the Andy Griffiths Show on TV (which he mysteriously left in 1966, right about the time Paul supposedly died...). I was left reeling - you just can't make this stuff up! I read on, hoping to find that Paul had been replaced by Norman Wisdom, but sadly no, it just went into some incomprehensible explanation about a Canadian Military Police sergeant called Billy Sheppard aka Billy Shears aka Billy Pepper. Mind you, it ended on the bombshell that John Lennon had been murdered to keep him quiet after he uncovered the truth behind Paul's 'death'. Apparently Yoko works for MI6. All of this is accompanied by lots of pictures of Paul and 'Faul' (the post 1966 fake McCartney), allegedly showing how they can't be the same person. Oh, and 'Faul' was also Vivian Stanshall from the Bonzo Dog Doo Da Band, although I'm not clear why.

Now, if I'd included any of that, I Buried Paul would have been dismissed as too over the top. It would have been just too bizarre to be funny. I have no doubt that my main piece of invention, about the sexual assault on the walrus, was far more credible. Of course, all of the above lunacy is backed up with 'evidence' in the form of highly dubious (mis) interpretations of many Beatles' lyrics. This is actually what I really hate about this whole conspiracy; the way it reduces the whole of a great group's post-1966 musical output to an elaborate puzzle. Apparently we can't simply enjoy 'Strawberry Fields Forever'/'Penny Lane' as one of the greatest pop singles ever released, or 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' as a revolutionary album which defined an era. Oh no, they are merely artifacts in some spurious quest for 'the truth'. And that's what this, like most other conspiracy theories and cults is really about - allowing its adherents to believe that they are somehow 'special' because they are the guardians of some great hidden secret'. Only they have been enlightened; only they can see the 'truth'!

Cranberry Sauce!

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Saints Preserve Us From Martyrs (Part Two)

One of the many things I did whilst on holiday was catch up with some old films. Amongst them was The Americanization of Emily, a largely forgotten anti-war movie from the 1960s, starring James Garner, who plays a devout coward. What struck me about the film was how it crystallised my own feelings about the way war and conflict is presented by politicians and the media. A pivotal moment in the film comes when Garner explains his philosophy to a grieving war widow. The crux of his argument is that if cowardice wasn't seen as shameful behaviour, and that if all men were cowards, fearing for their lives, then war would no longer be possible. It is only through glorifying the notions of sacrifice and 'heroism' that people can be motivated to go to war - would men so readily volunteer for the front if they hadn't been convinced that laying down their lives in battle for their country is the noblest sacrifice they could make?

But of course, this is one of the great paradoxes that our society is based on - we decry violence when it occurs in the street, or the home, but encourage and glorify it on the battlefield. Suddenly the thug becomes a hero and, instead of a jail sentence, is given a medal. The press (particularly in the UK and US) seems happily to collude with governments in glorifying the military, putting soldiers on some kind of pedestal - because they've risked life and limb to defend their country, they must be somehow superior to us mere civilians. I've never understood this khaki worship, particularly in view of the fact that most western armed forces are entirely professional, made up of people who have chosen to expose themselves to such risks - it's their job for God's sake, not something special!

Mind you, this glorification of sacrifice doesn't just apply to western society - all those Islamic suicide bombers have also been indoctrinated into believing that it is truly glorious and heroic to blow yourself and several innocent bystanders up in the name of your faith. Again, cowardice is seen as sinful, undoubtedly condemning you to purgatory! Actually, religion generally is one of the worst offenders for encouraging these dangerous notions of martyrdom - instant paradise if you just die for the faith! In all honesty, I'd rather people lived for their beliefs! Frankly, the sooner all these Bishops, Imams, Presidents, Prime Ministers, armchair generals, right wing rags, TV pundits and the like stop eulogising so-called 'heroism', the sooner the world can attain some semblance of sanity. Up with cowardice, down with martyrdom!


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bloody Kids

It's back to the bile after yesterday's unplanned interlude. Whilst I was generally pretty relaxed and laid back on my recent holiday, there was one thing which kept irritating me - other people's children.. Wherever I went, I seemed to get followed by hordes of screaming, ill behaved children and their smug parents. As someone who is childless (through choice), I really do get pissed off at being exposed to the antics of other people's snotty nosed brats - running around, screeching, howling and generally ruining any area of natural beauty or historic interest. A visit to the coast last week was disrupted by groups of children hurling not just pebbles, but rocks, at the sea (with most of them missing and crashing into other rocks instead), whilst their parents proudly looked on. Later, I thought I'd finally escaped all this madness when I pulled up in a deserted New Forest car park and got out of the car to spend an hour or so enjoying the rural solitude. But no, after a few minutes standing on a bridge admiring the clear water of the stream trickling underneath, a horde of the little bastards, on bicycles, suddenly arrived and proceeded to drive me out of my idyll with their shouting and general rowdiness. However, the thing which really pissed me off about this incident was the attitude displayed toward me by these kids' parents. From the looks they gave me, it was clear that they considered me - a single man in his early middle years - as a potential peadophile. Excuse me! I was fucking well there first! They didn't have to take their little brats through that enclosure! We single child free people have as much right as anyone else to visit National Parks!

Really, that's what I hate most - those smug parents. You can feel the by the way they look at you that they consider you akin to something they scrape off the bottoms of their shoes because you don't have kids in tow. Oh look, they're saying, we're just so fertile and sexually potent we can produce all these children, unlike you! They really do seem to consider themselves superior, just because they have children - no matter how lousy they are as parents. I find they frequently demonstrate their superiority in shops, by maneuvering their offspring's push chairs right in front of any shelves you are trying to get to, and daring you to complain, or by accidentally-on-purpose running those same pushchairs into your ankles. Another popular ploy is to let the obnoxious fruit of their loins run riot either in public places or shops. Woe betide anyone foolish enough to complain about any of these things - they will simply be met by the usual tirade of 'how dare you speak to my child like that', 'they're only children, you bully' or simply 'get away from my kids you fucking bastard'. Ultimately, what they're trying to convey as they scream obscenities in your face is that they are superior to you because they've produced children and are therefore ensuring the survival of the species, whereas you are simply some kind of parasitic pond life who isn't contributing any thing to society. Well, I'm sick and tired of this 'Cult of the Child'. Quite frankly, I think that the kind of people who produce the most children are amongst those least fit to be parents. Indeed anyone who actually wants to be a parent should be sterilised before they can put this ambition into action. Children should only be produced through artificial insemination using the sperm and ovaries of those of us who don't want to inflict children on the world. Any children produced this way should be given up immediately after birth and brought up collectively in communes where they can have some proper values and respect for others instilled in them. Trust me, the results would be much better - less delinquency and hooliganism and fewer ant-social morons.

However, as I'm rapidly beginning to believe that the human race simply isn't worth perpetuating, I'm beginning to incline toward the view that we should all be sterilised - men, women, children, the lot. The sooner we die out, the sooner some other species can have a go. Isn't it the scorpions' turn by now, anyway? They surely can't do any worse than us!

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Croc Hunter Felled by Fish

Well, I was all ready to come blasting back from holiday with a bucketful of misanthropic bile when I found myself blown off course by a bizarre headline: 'Crocodile Hunter Killed by Fish'. This immediately conjured up visions of Steve Irwin being felled a fatal blow by a fish wielding maniac. At last, I thought, vindication for my campaign to have fish sales restricted and a fish amnesty introduced (see Battered). It is a sad fact that the media and authorities only get behind safety campaigns like this when somebody high profile dies. Of course, I was somewhat surprised when I learned that the fish involved in this antipodean fatality was a stingray - frankly, I 'd have thought something like a Congor eel would have been a more likely weapon. The eel's length means that the assailant can keep their distance, whilst ensuring that a large area of the victim's body is exposed to the fish slapping, whereas a ray of any type, due to its width and relative thinness, is unlikely to be able to produce a 'killer' blow, no matter how strongly it is swung. Mind you, I suppose that's why everyone is saying how unusual it is for anyone to be killed by a stingray. Mind you, I still haven't seen any news on the identity of the fish slapper - was it a disgruntled ex-employee, or an animal lover sick of seeing Irwin cruelly man handle and poke dumb creatures for the benefit of TV, his ego and bank balance (but not necessarily in that order)?

OK, I know I'm a sick bastard. But the fact is, whilst agreeing that the demise of Steve Irwin is a terrible tragedy (particularly for his wife and children), I still think that he was a twat. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy into all this crap about what a great naturalist he was and the great contribution he made to conservation. He was a great self-publicist who used the conservation angle to indulge in a load of Australian macho bullshit. Neither David Attenborough or David Bellamy ever found it necessary to wrestle with crocodiles or poke deadly snakes with a stick so as to get their message across (which they did far more effectively than Irwin). At the end of the day, if you go around doing this kind of thing, you've got to accept there's astrong chance you'll end up dead. For my own part, I make it a point never to provoke anything which might kill me. Irwin should have followed suit.

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