Thursday, January 31, 2008

Crazy Women

I see that Sean Young has booked into rehab after reportedly heckling some poor sod during his acceptance speech at an awards ceremony. Ah, how good it is to know that some things never change! Sadly, we just don't see enough of Sean Young either on or off of the screen these days. I remember the good old days when she was a guaranteed headline generating crazy woman. When she wasn't stalking James Woods (and let's face it, stalking him must take some nerve, after Christopher Walken he's the movie star most likely to turn out to be a psychopath), she always seemed to be getting sacked from some film or other. The only contemporary actress crazier than her was probably Margot Kidder - she ended up on a psychiatric ward after spending time living on the streets, that's really crazy. But I 've never had the same affection for Kidder that I've always had for Sean Young. She's my kind of woman. Crazy. But not quite in a psychiatric sort of way. Nevertheless, she always has that look about her, that she's just about to do something unpredictable and chaotic.

There's no denying it, I do have a thing for crazy women. Some guys are 'tit men', others 'arse men' or 'leg men', wheras, for me, the overriding characteristic I look for in a woman is mental instability. Obviously, I don't mean potential meat cleaver maniac lunacy, or self-harming mental disturbance. No, it's the Sean Young-type unpredictability I like. Such women are always interesting. The most mundane of activities can, with such a woman, become a wild adventure. With them, you are constantly living on the edge. Now, I know that some men might find this sort of relationsip a trifle wearing. But isn't that the point of entering into a relationship, to take you out of your boring everydat existence and instead share someone else's perception of the world? There surely isn't any point in sharing an identical perspective, is there? Getting back to the original point, the press may like to make fun of her, but the fact is that Sean Young is at least interesting, and you can guarantee that life's never dull when she's around. So there you are, let's hear it for the 'crazy' women of the world!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

World Wide Pub

With my local pub increasingly full of tossers who look at me as if I'm some kind of unwelcome interloper (I've only been going in there for sixteen years), and who appear to think that shouting inanities at each other constitutes some form of conversation, my thoughts have turned, once again, to setting up a private, by invitation only, bar in my front room. Now, I know what you are going to say - just go and drink in another pub. Unfortunately, the concept of a pub being a place where you go for a drink and a conversation, seems to be dying out. All of the pubs within reasonable walking distance of me seem to think that conversation should be drowned out by loud (and usually shit) recorded music blasting from speakers in every bar. Many of them also insist upon holding 'open mic' nights, where the same bunch of talentless would-be 'musicians' caterwaul to the same tone deaf audience who applaud them wildly. Quite why anyone would find this entertaining is beyond me.

Anyway, getting back to my bar, it occurred to me that my guests need not even be physically present. All it would need would be for us to set up webcams in our front rooms, and we could create a virtual pub. Think of the advantages - we'd all have the beers of our choice, no arguments over what flavoured crisps to buy, we'd all supply our own, no worries about last orders, if you want to smoke, you can do so in the privacy of your own home, no having to go outside for a fag. Best of all, if you get bored with someone, you can just switch them off! Brilliant! If we wanted to get sophisticated, we could even subdivide our pub into virtual rooms, where different conversations and activities could take place. Being virtual, there'd be no need to confine ourselves to having just a saloon bar and public bar, we could have a lounge bar, a sports bar, a gay bar, a coffee bar, a milk bar, whatever people wanted. Of course, as so much with and wisdom is spoken in pubs, be could record the best of our conversations, and release them to the web as 'pubcasts'. I really think this concept has legs - it's the perfect way to avoid all those undesirable elements currently dominating my local pub scene - and if they do creep in, they're easy to eject and, if necessary, ban permanently. There's no doubt in my mind, this the future of social drinking! Remember, you heard it here first!


Monday, January 28, 2008

Running Wild

Amid newspaper claims that a party of Boy Scouts on a camping trip in Wales had been attacked and eaten by a pack of hyenas, a top cryptozoologist has sensationally claimed that there is a government conspiracy to cover up the fact that Britain is becoming overrun with alien wild animals, including lions, tigers and other big cats. “The problem is getting completely out of hand, more and more people are being eaten every week, yet the government continues to deny the existence of these animals,” says Andy Gulpin, a leading expert in the identification of anomalous and unknown species. “Already this year at least sixty children have been devoured by wild animals, but the authorities still will not act! How many more people must die before something is done?” Controversially, Gulpin believes that the government has used the recent hysteria over paedophiles to cover up many of the deaths. “Every time a child goes missing in this country, the police immediately claim that it is the work of paedophiles and fit up some local kiddie fiddler, rather than admit the truth - that these poor children have most probably become the victims of some hungry wild beast,” he claims. “I don’t know why the press and public buy it - it beggars belief that there could possibly be that many child molesters at large in this country! When bodies are found, they always claim that they are too badly decomposed for visual identification, and the funerals are inevitably closed cask - the truth is that they don’t want anyone to see that these unfortunate kids have been mauled to death by lions and usually have at least a couple of arms or legs missing!” Gulpin also believes that the authorities have conspired to conceal physical evidence of these animals. “Back in January several drivers reported having to swerve to avoid hitting a rhino roaming along the M4 motorway near Swindon,” he claims. “After an articulated lorry jack-knifed - apparently after striking something on the road - a friend of mine saw two official looking men in an unmarked white van seal off a lane of the motorway and stealthily remove a large grey object from the road - obviously the rhino’s carcass!” Wiltshire County Council deny this allegation, saying the object was actually a tarpaulin blown loose from the crashed lorry.

However, Gulpin believes that he has finally obtained the physical evidence he needs to prove that various exotic species are living wild in Britain. “Last month in Gloucestershire four school children waiting at a village bus stop were trampled to death by stampeding wildebeest. Whilst the local police have claimed that they were struck by an out of control cattle truck, and that the wildebeest reports were the result of mass hysteria, triggered by several cows escaping from the back of the overturned lorry, I’ve obtained samples of dung left in the wake of the stampede. Scientific analysis has shown that it definitely not common or garden cow dung,” he gleefully told The Sleaze. “According to an expert in comparative dung studies, the faeces found in Gloucestershire is consistent with that left by certain species of Bison native only to Africa!” Gulpin is now hopeful of obtaining samples of other emissions left by alien animals. “A woman in Bromley recently had her car written off after an elephant leapt out of some bushes and apparently tried to shag it - the back end is completely crushed and covered with a sticky effusion. I’m very hopeful of retrieving some jism samples,” he confides. The woman, a Mrs Glenda Princod, is still stunned by her close encounter with an amourous pachyderm. “The first I knew of it was when there was this huge jolt as I was reversing off of the driveway, I thought I’d hit something in the road! Imagine my surprise when I looked in the rear view mirror to discover that an adult African bull elephant had mounted the back of the car and was proceeding to bounce up and down on it! His thrusting was so vigourous that both rear tyres burst and the suspension collapsed,” she recalls. “I can only imagine that he mistook my car for a female elephant - it is grey, and in a certain light a Fiat Brava does bear a passing resemblance to an elephant.” The forty-six year old housewife was not entirely surprised to see an elephant on a suburban street. “There have been reports of strange trumpeting sounds coming from the local park after dark,” she says. “And only the other night I thought I saw something big and greyish in my headlights as it ran across the road and vanished into a hedgerow. At first I thought it was just a stray dog, but now I’m sure it was an elephant - it definitely had a trunk.” Unfortunately, Mrs Princod was unable to get a photo of the beast, which vanished as suddenly as it appeared, nor was the incident witnessed by any of her neighbours. Consequently, her insurance company has cast doubt on her version of events. “They’re refusing to payout, saying that I reversed the car into my garage wall - its not true, the wall has been like that for months - ever since it was damaged by a rampaging hippo,” she claims angrily.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Not Unusual to Investigate a Sex Crime

I often wonder exactly what the successful pitch used by producers to get a particular TV programme on the air was. Take City of Vice on Channel Four - how in God's name did they ever get that one commissioned? I'm not saying that it is a bad programme, or anything. I just can't imagine how you could sell it to TV executives: "Henry Fielding takes time off from writing Tom Jones to investigate murders in eighteenth century Soho, assisted by his blind brother." Hardly the most scintillating of scenarios. Perhaps it was the title which sold it - it makes it sound like some sleazy Channel Four documentary series investigating sex slavery in London. Actually, I can't help but feel that the whole Soho setting and sex trade angle sold this series - the Fielding brothers do seem to spend a lot of time in brothels interviewing prostitutes: "Yes, my dear, I know that the murder took place in Greenwich, but we like to be thorough in our investigations. Now take your clothes off while I perform an intimate body search..."

Sadly, of course, many viewers won't have a clue who Henry Fielding was, and probably think that Tom Jones is a leather-trousered Welsh crooner. Indeed, I can't help but feel that an approach along such lines could have made for a more popular programme. Have Henry Fielding as Tom Jones' manager and then set the pair of them to investigating sex crimes. Set the whole thing in swinging sixties London and end each episode with Jones performing a song inspired by the preceding investigation ("Sex crime, sex crime. You're my sex crime..."). Now, if that doesn't get the viewers in, nothing will! I can also guarantee that if you did pitch a TV show along these lines to British TV executives, there's a fair chance it would get commissioned! Now, where did I put Michael Grade's phone number...


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Getting Technical

As a welcome change from my usual rantings ,(and I must apologise for the sketchiness of my previous post - it was written whilst listening to the commentary on the League Cup Semi Final Second Leg, the one where we didn't just stick it to the Arse, but stuck it right up the Arse), I'm going to take a brief interlude from the usual madness and get technical, instead. To be accurate, I'm going to moan about how I've failed to get technical over the past few days. As some of you might recall, I've been pondering the conversion of The Sleaze to a dynamic site (or, at the very least, the incorporation of some dynamic elements in order to make it more manageable), for some time. Indeed, I've finally made a start on producing new page templates with cleaner code. However, my search for a 'back end' to marry to these templates is still drawing a blank. I've looked at a plethora of open source Content Management Systems (CMS), including all the 'big' ones - Drupal, Joomla, Mambo, Xoops, etc - and a whole load of far more obscure ones, without finding anything remotely suitable.

The trouble is that all of these are wedded to the idea that CMS users can't produce their own CSS/HTML web pages, and instead impose their own (in my opinion) very rigid and uninspiring templates on any site you try to develop. Look, I feel like screaming, I already have a set of page templates I'm perfectly happy with - I just want some kind of article management system to put behind them! Many of these CMSs also seem to obsessed with how many bells and whistles they can incorporate, in the form of calenders, search facilities, forums, chat rooms and the like. Once again, most of us are more than capable of adding these ourselves, if we want them. The few CMSs I've found which allow greater page design flexibility have been poorly documented and not terribly user-friendly. For God's sake, surely there must be someone out there who can come up with a lightweight CMS which can be integrated with an existing web design?


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Boogie Man Will Get You

Did you see that artist's impression of the 'mysterious man' wanted in connection with the disappearance of Madelaine McCann? Where did they get that artist - Weird Tales? You couldn't have come up with a more stereotyped 'evil child snatcher' if you'd tried! This guy's got every 'weird' characteristic there is - the dodgy moustache, for instance. Not just any slightly suspect 'tache mind you, but a full-fledged droopy job. Always the sign of a shady character. Or a Mexican bandit. Then there's that straggly hair coming down over his collar, the slight stoop and the thin face. Most of all, he has a swarthy, foreign-looking complexion. In fact, one might even say that he looks a bit like the popular image of a gypsy. Child-snatching gypsies, surely every middle class parent's nightmare?

Whilst in no way wishing to denigrate the seriousness of Madelaine McCann's disappearance or the trauma it has undoubtedly caused her family, I really have to ask, does this kind of 'development' actually help? As far as I can see, this 'suspect' is designed solely to prey upon the fears and prejudices of Daily Mail readers. Not only did the newspapers carry a general artist's impression of this fantasy paedophile, but they also included another drawing of him carrying off a child, much as Frankenstein's Monster or the Mummy would have done in 1940s horror films. Such an image is quite apt, as the media persist in reducing this story and, indeed, the whole issue of paedophilia, to the level of some B-movie melodrama. Everything is reduced to simplistic black and white stereotypes. The perpetrators must, literally, be monsters, the victims angels. If some of the dramatis personae don't conform to certain strict codes of behaviour, (like the McCanns) they suddenly become, again literally, suspect and cast in the role of potentially duplicitous supporting characters, or as femmes fatales. That's why the media just love cases where the victims are young children - they can always be cast as being totally innocent and without blame, they can never be complicit in their own tragedies. But enough ranting - I've just heard that Portuguese police have arrested the Wolfman in connection with the McCann case...


Monday, January 21, 2008

Seeing Double

Buckingham Palace is refusing to comment on newspaper reports that Prince Philip was recently arrested by police who had found him urinating in a dustbin in an alleyway behind Soho’s notorious 'Throbbing Cock' strip-club. The prince was allegedly held for over four hours at Charing Cross police station before being released with a caution. Police were called to the scene of the incident after complaints from late-night revellers of an elderly drunk in a dirty raincoat shouting abuse at traffic and exposing himself to female passers-by. According to some reports, the Prince was naked beneath his raincoat, save for a pair of plaid socks held up by suspenders. In another incident, the Countess of Wessex apparently told an undercover tabloid reporter that her husband, Prince Edward, had regularly attended gay masturbation orgies held by her coke-fiend business partner. Although she later claimed to have been misquoted, the resulting newspaper article caused considerable embarrassment. However, serious doubts are now being cast on the role of the Royals in this growing catalogue of bizarre behaviour, with some commentators suggesting that they are actually the work of mischievous Royal impersonators.

Former Royal butler Arliss Nobbs says that he first had his doubts when Prince Charles demanded to be tossed off after masturbating. “That simply isn’t the type of behaviour one expects from a gentleman, let alone the heir to the throne”, he told us. “For one thing, he was in the bath at the time - gentlemen only do it in bed with the sheets pulled back (so as not to stain the silk), and use their handkerchiefs. Moreover, he was looking at a topless picture of Geri Halliwell at the time and she’s simply not his type - her tits are too big and she isn’t horsey enough”. Nobbs’ suspicions were raised further when a tabloid newspaper published a ‘kiss and tell’ story by Soho prostitute Brenda Stropp, in which she claimed the Prince of Wales had paid her for kinky sex sessions. According to Stropp, the heir to the throne, naked save for a riding hat, would take her roughly from behind, alternately thrashing her bottom with a riding crop and blowing a hunting horn as he made vigourous love to her. “It was quite painful”, she said. “He’d usually shout ‘Tally Ho!’ as he climaxed”. Nobbs is convinced that the man riding Stropp’s shapely rump was an impostor. “Apart from the fact that a true gentleman always takes his hat off before sexual congress, his Highness has a far more traditional approach to love-making”, reveals Nobbs. “Secret video footage (taken for security purposes, of course) of his bedroom show him making love to both his late wife and Camilla Parker-Bowles (not at the same time, obviously), and clearly shows that he never varies from the missionary position with the lights off!”

The idea that the recent spate of bad behaviour by the Royals is actually the work of impostors was given further credence when investigations revealed that the man recently apprehended in Soho was named in Police arrest reports as Harry Monk of Bolsover, a professional Duke of Edinburgh lookalike, rather than His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. But if a gang of Royal doppelgangers are on the loose causing havoc, who is employing them, what is their motivation, exactly who are they? Nobbs believes that they are part of a conspiracy by anti-Royalists, probably led by pinko-republican newspaper The Guardian, to discredit the Royal Family. However, top Royal reporter Hugh Ropley-Tossington has another theory, believing that the impostors were in fact originally hired by the Royal Family to double for them. “Having doubles fulfilling their official duties would allow the Royal Family to get away from the pressures of public life and pursue their leisure interests incognito”, he claims, pointing out that he recently saw an old couple looking remarkably like the queen and Prince Philip trying to get a pensioners discount on a garden shed at his local Homebase store. “However, whilst physically resembling the Windsors, it seems these doubles are having problems behaving in character”.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

The Twat in the Hat

Stupid hats - they really piss me off. Seriously. If there's one thing guaranteed to make my blood boil it is the sight of someone wearing a stupid hat. When I say stupid hat, I don't mean homburgs, trilbys, bowlers and the like, (although such 'proper' or sensible, hats can look stupid if worn inappropriately - an example being this arsehole who comes into my local pub wearing a flat cap, he's far too young for such headgear and seems to think it a trendy fashion accessory. Flat caps are never trendy and can never be an accessory to anything other than whippets or pigeons). No, I'm referring here to anything knitted, anything with tassles or pom-poms, anything with bells, anything 'ethnic' (particularly 'Peruvian') or anything incorporating Union Jacks, novelty features such as fake seagulls, or anything vaguely floppy. I think you get the picture. Anyway, as soon as I see anyone wearing headgear falling into any, or all, of these categories, I inevitably have to stop myself from saying "Fuck me, it's the 'Twat in the Hat'."

I feel justified in harbouring such sentiments as the proliferation of these hats just confirms to me the continued rise of the idiot in today's society. Surely the only sort of person who would wear such an abomination and seriously think that it either served any useful function, or was in any way 'fashionable' or (God forbid) amusing, must surely be a twat. Or mentally deficient. Indeed, only this afternoon I found my approach to the tinned fish in Tesco being blocked by a pair of truly gormless individuals wearing tassled 'Peruvian'-style stupid hats. Quite apart from the fact that the hats were utterly ridiculous looking, who, other than an idiot, would wear any bloody hat indoors? Really, if their intent was to keep their heads warm, why not just wear a standard woolen hat? Obviously, such headgear wouldn't be 'flamboyant' enough. As far as I can see, the main purpose of wearing stupid hats is to draw attention to oneself. It's all part of the idiot desire to somehow appear 'different' or 'interesting', despite the fact that they lack talent, intelligence or charisma. Instead, they substitute a stupid hat for these attributes, desperately hoping that it will draw attention to them. And frankly, if it is attention you want, you shouldn't get upset when people shout "Fuck me, it's the 'Twat in the Hat'!" at you.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Clowning Around

I keep reading about how people find clowns scary, how their painted faces terrify children and how some people find them so disturbing they've become clown-phobic, punching any red nosed bastard they see squarely in the face. Personally, I've never found clowns frightening. I mean, how on earth could someone with no dress sense, big shoes, poor miming abilities and who keeps falling over possibly be scary? It's not as if they could stalk you in those bloody shoes. And even if they did go psycho and try to stalk and murder people, what are they going to do - custard pie their victims to death? No, my problem with clowns is that I just don't find them funny. Their infantile antics - kicking each other in arse, throwing buckets of water, driving exploding cars - don't raise the slightest of titters from me. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I'm sure that nobody finds clowns funny. Oh, I know that at the circus the whole audience seems to roaring with laughter every time someone gets squirted by that water-spitting flower they all have on their lapels, but they're probably terrified that if they don't laugh, the clowns will cut their throats. Or kidnap their children. Or release the lions and tigers into the audience.

I've never found clowns funny, not even when I was a child. Especially when I was a child. Indeed, my dislike of the bastards can be traced back to a 1970s BBC children's programme called Right Charlie, a half hour format which 'showcased' the 'talents' of 'popular' clown Charlie Cairoli. Watching that programme was sheer hell. Thirty minutes of pratfalls, custard pies and just plain stupidity as Charlie and his clown pals went through the same tiresome routine, week in, week out. Their escapades were only relieved, as I recall, by the appearance of one Norman Barrett (dressed as a circus ringmaster) and his performing budgies. Yes, budgies. They did things like tightrope walking and riding bicycles. It really was agony to watch - both the budgies and the clowns, I mean. They just weren't remotely funny, not even to a child whose sense of humour one would expect to be less developed. The whole thing looked as if it had been made on a budget of £2.50. It probably had - those clowns were probably so glad of the work they did it for the free sandwiches and tea. Significantly, not only did these clowns not make me laugh, they didn't scare me either. If anything,I felt sorry for them, their act seemed so desperate, and they seemed so sad.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Organ Snatchers

So, Gordon Brown wants to change the way we donate organs - whereas currently organs can only be harvested if you carry a donor card, or with next of kin's permission, under these new proposals, it would be assumed that you do want to donate your organs unless you've 'opted out'. The reasoning behind this proposal is that it will increase the numbers of organs available for transplants and thereby allow the NHS to save the lives of thousands of gravely ill patients every year. Ha! As if we believe that! We all know what the truth is - Brown wants to get his hands on your organs! Yes indeed, he wants to ensure a steady supply of vital organs for his rejuvenation treatments. Damn it, he's waited a long time to be Prime Minister, and he intends going on as long as possible. Either that, or he's fed up with that shower of a cabinet he has and is planning to, quite literally, build a new cabinet. Even as we speak, he's toiling away in a secret laboratory deep beneath Ten Downing Street, stitching together a new Chancellor Exchequer from bits of offal. Let's face it, it can't be any worse than his last effort, Alistair Darling: he couldn't even get matching eyebrows and hair, let alone a decent brain - he had to use one from some down and out he found dossing in a Soho doorway. However, with a regular supply of high quality parts via organ donors, he's sure to do better this time around.

Of course, there could be another reason for this proposed change in organ donation policy. Maybe Brown intends selling the harvested organs to wealthy foreigners in order to raise some more funds. Ironically, it could be a way of financing the NHS. Mind you, cynics would probably suggest that the organs were destined for Labour Party donors - a donation for a donation, so to speak. It would make a change from cash for honours, I suppose - a hundred thousand would get you a liver, two hundred thousand a pair of kidneys, half a million, say, for a heart-lung transplant, whilst a million would get you the full set; a complete organ transplant, with the donor guaranteed to have been an under twenty five teetotaler. Getting back to the original point, and to be slightly serious, these proposals feel like yet another invasion of my privacy by a government seemingly obsessed with destroying the distinction between the public and the private (except where Ministers' indiscretions are concerned, of course). It seems that I'm not even going to be allowed any degree of control over my own body. OK, I know that in the event of organ donation I'd be dead and that it would supposedly save lives, but I still can't help but feel that a line is being crossed. Damn it, it's my body, dead or alive, and surely I should have a reasonable expectation of it staying in one piece? I don't want to spend my final moments worrying that that bunch of doctors lurking behind the screens, trying to look nonchalant, are going to descend on me like vultures and steal my vitals before I'm even cold. For God's sake, Mr Brown, you're already busy stripping me of my civil rights, now you want to strip me of my organs too! Allow me some dignity

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Monday, January 14, 2008

The Estate Within

In a bold new initiative Tory leader David Cameron has proposed that inner-city sink estates should be transformed into 'gated communities'. "Decades of neglect have allowed these communities to become ghettos," Cameron told a press conference during a recent visit to a Leeds housing estate. "They’ve become havens for drug dealers and miscreants, no go areas for decent people. I believe that by putting them behind gates, we can begin to regenerate these areas." According to the Old Etonian, erecting twenty foot tall barbed wire-topped walls around housing estates, with a single set of huge steel gates as the only way in or out, will make them safe places for decent people to live. "The walls and gates are there to keep the criminal elements out," he contends. "Obviously, we'll have to institute some system of identity passes for residents, so that we know who has a right to be there, and who is just there to sell drugs or rob people." Such identity passes would be used in conjunction with private security patrols around the estates' perimeters and manned checkpoints at their gates. Indeed, under Cameron's proposals, these patrols might even extend to areas adjoining the estates. "The patrols would be able to return youths found outside the perimeter without the appropriate passes after dark to their estates," he claimed. "Imagine how grateful their parents would be to know that their children were safe at home, not wandering dangerous and unfamiliar streets where they might come to harm."

Although welcomed in many quarters - particularly by Daily Mail readers - Cameron's proposals have been condemned by the left, who claim that they would simply turn Britain's housing estates into apartheid-era South African townships. "It's nothing more than segregation on the basis of social class, rather than race," says labour backbencher Tom Bulgobb. "They're only allowed off the estates to go to their low-paid jobs, the rest of the time they're safely behind bars, so that the middle classes can sleep safe at night!" The Conservative Party rejects such claims, arguing that it is simply trying to improve the quality of life for estate dwellers. "Once the criminal elements are locked out, these estates will become crime free paradises," comments Cameron. "Consequently, it will be much easier to attract inward investment to them - we'll be able to build schools, pawn shops, off licences and all the other facilities these kind of people find essential, all within their perimeter fences! They'll only have to leave to go to work." In the interests of economy and reducing the UK's carbon footprint, Cameron is proposing the establishment of a special bus service to take the residents to and from work. "Why unnecessarily increase the number of private vehicles on the road?" he asks. "Especially the older, more polluting kind, that estate dwellers typically drive." The Tory leader believes that this so-called 'segregation' will actually benefit those living on estates. "We're doing them a favour, keeping them on the estates - they're far happier mixing with their own kind," he muses. "Contact with superior social classes only upsets them, making them feel inferior and giving them unrealistic expectations with regard to lifestyle and income. It's that kind of envy which fuels crime, you know."

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Friday, January 11, 2008

How Not to Write Satire...

Now, as you know, I'm not one to knock other so-called 'satire' sites (OK, I'm lying. I love ripping the piss out of them), but sometimes I come across something on such a site which just screams out to be ridiculed. In this case its an incredibly pompous post by a 'writer' on the message board of a certain very well known 'satire' site which tries to lay out some guidelines for us hacks. It's too long to reproduce in full, but I'll share some of the 'highlights' with you (the publication's name has been removed).

"This is the new XXXXX assignment board, which anyone can open up. It is for assigning excellent comedy tasks or giving inspirational ideas.



I found a site with the funniest names in the world for you to use on your stories. The names secretly say an odd name. If your reader is intelligent they will get caught by surprise and throw out a laugh. These are a few funny names without surprises: Goofy, Maynard, Dufus, Bluto, Goobert, Fanny, Titsy "

God damn! That's where I've been going wrong all these years! Screw satire, I should have been using more fake names which are also double entendres!

Here's an example of this guy's suggested 'story assignments' for other writers:

"We need a story accusing Britney Speers of being disrespectful for trying to have sex with men. Demand from Britney that she have sex instead with lesbian women who are also a bunch of disrespectful opportunist. Use the picture of that demonic toy gremlin and under it put "Britney Speers" Put a statement in the story where a politician tells reporters, "Britney should sleep with a woman to know how it feels being an innocent man." We are news reporters and this is part of the job.

This will be a powerful story and it will lure thousands of people into your page producing amazement at the unusual perception. "

'Unusual perception' is one way of describing his fixation on Britney and lesbianism, I suppose (a large number of his story suggestions are along similar lines, and he even suggests a reference work on the subject of lesbianism for research purposes).

"Primatology is the study of primates. It is a diverse discipline and primatologists can be found in departments of biology, anthropology, psychology and many others. Physical anthropology is a branch of primatology, which is the primatology of the genus Homo, especially Homo sapiens. The fields cross over in the study of the hominids, which include all ape-like ancestors of man and the other great apes (for a list of common ancestors with other living species see The Ancestor's Tale)."

No shit? Fascinating, I'm sure, but utterly random. Here are some more random nuggets of wisdom:

"mel·o·dra·mat·ic adj1. behaving, speaking, done, or said in a way that is more dramatic, shocking, or highly emotional than the situation demands2. relating to or typical of melodrama

fur·lough n1. a period of leave granted to a prisoner, usually as a reward for good behavior and to reduce incarceration costs"

Thank God you clarified those definitions. How foolish I'd have felt if, in my ignorance, I'd used those terms wrongly!

"Random subject search:

cats and dogs living together

the end of the world

jokes on mistakes made by religion - religious hypocrisy is a hot topic now, build on it and ride the wave.

humiliating famous people

head hunters

sex - most popular

stupid things that happen

laws that authority violates

political promises

women's weaknesses

stupid looking animals - example: slow turtles, flamingos, ugly bats, snails, roaches, fleas, dodo birds and any animal that is really goofy to catch a laugh."

You've saved my life - just when my ideas were beginning to dry up, you've given me an inexhaustible source of humourous stories! I'll go off and write that satirical piece about head hunters humiliating famous people with stupid looking animals right now!

And finally:

" This is the only way to become a good comedy writer:

The best way to improve your comedy is to watch stand up comedians and take notes every time you hear the crowd laugh. Write down the joke that made the crowd laugh and then analyze the joke to discover the components that sparked the laughter."

Actually, I thought maybe being able to write, having an original take on events and, er, being funny, came into it somewhere. Obviously, I'm wrong. I should be following a strict formula for every story, ensuring they all include such surefire satirical elements as lesbianism, Britney Spears and cats and dogs living together.

Is it any wonder that 90% of online 'satire' sites publish utter shite, when their 'writers' think along these lines? The idea that analysing stand up comedy routines can somehow help improve one's attempts at written satire lies at the root of this malaise. The two things are entirely different beasts. A lot of stand up comedy is still based around banging out a series of 'gags', all self-contained, with neat punchlines. Writing stories requires the development of ideas and characters, leading to some kind of comic or ironic conclusion. Just stinging together a series of 'gags' (or even worse, just presenting a single 'gag' in written form), does not constitute a 'story'.

Depressingly, this particular forum post was followed by responses from the site's other 'writers' telling this guy that they really didn't need his advice because they were already successful satirists, having written and published literally hundreds of stories apiece. Hundreds. All of them utter shit. All of them too piss poor to be published anywhere other than on the site in question. A site which will publish stories submitted by anyone. Presumably on the basis that, by the law of averages, at least one of them must be good. Sadly, none are. In fact, the overwhelming majority aren't even stories as such, in my opinion. At best, they're just ideas which, in the hands of someone with talent, might form the basis of a story. As it is, they're just a couple of hundred words, often not arranged into any combination which constitutes intelligible English. In other words, they're just 'gags'. There's no development of ideas or themes, no clever reversals of reader expectation, nothing. Just simple (and usually not very funny) 'gags'.

Needless to say, the site in question isn't a member of Humorfeed. It just wouldn't make the grade. If you want to read real online satire, written by intelligent human beings who grasp the rudiments of written English, take a look at any of the sites on Humorfeed.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Addicted to Sex?

According to therapists there's been a huge rise in sex addiction in the UK. For fuck's sake! Am I the only person who thinks this so-called 'addiction' is just a load of old bollocks? I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if you're working class you'd simply be described as 'randy' or 'oversexed' and told to take a cold shower. However, if you are a middle class professional it has to be a syndrome: so-called sex addiction. It sounds more respectable. Just like being a 'cocaine user' sounds better than being a junkie if you are a professional. We really shouldn't be surprised that it is therapists who are making these claims - they've just about exhausted all the old established addictions and psychoses, so it is in their interests to promote a new one. Apparently, the rise in 'sex addiction' is down to the increased availability of porn via the internet. Really? Are these 'addicts' mainlining smut? Do they log onto a porn site and then shove the modem cable into their penis so as to download it directly? Terrible. Not like the good old days, when that hardcore stuff just wasn't freely available. Oh no. In my day we had to satisfy ourselves with smoking copies of mild stuff like Knave and Mayfair.

I actually find it quite offensive that these pseudo-experts are trying to put some middle manager with overactive hormones who can't get enough on a par with poor bastards who are wrecking their lives because they're hooked on drugs, drink or gambling. Are they really trying to tell us that 'sex addicts' will turn to crime to fuel their habit? Are we to expect an increase in smash and grab raids on the top shelves of newsagents? A sharp rise in muggings to provide funds for visits to prostitutes? What makes this so-called addiction so laughable is, unlike drink, drugs or gambling, it can be easily relieved. By hand. On you own. Feeling horny? Craving sex? Well, just knock a quick one off the wrist and you'll be OK. But hey, why should such facts worry the 'sexperts'? Sadly, the media will keep on reporting their demented ravings about 'sex addiction' because it makes for good copy and spectacular headlines. Believe me, it's only a matter of time before we start seeing headlines about 'sex addicts' suffering ODs - shagging themselves to death or rupturing their balls as they get overexcited by online porn. Actually, speaking from personal experience, far from creating 'sex addicts' the surfeit of internet porn is more likely to have the opposite effect - making people utterly indifferent to it. Let's be honest, a lot of porn's allure for teenage boys comes from the fact that, at that age, it is so difficult to obtain. When it's freely available from the net, it loses all its mystique and power.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"I Was Groped by a Virtual Pervert!"

The internet is evil! Burn your modems! Destroy your routers! If continue allowing this electronic bastard free access to your house your children will be molested in the privacy of their own bedrooms! You might just as well put a fluorescent sign in your window saying 'Fresh Young Arses Here' and have keys cut for every passing sex offender! Yes folks, it's another internet peadophile scare instigated by the traditional media. This time it was an edition of the BBC's Panorama, in which Jeremy Vine took time off from inciting riots on Radio Two to show us how social networking sites like MySpace are infested with kiddie fiddlers just waiting to electronically grope your kids. Now, I don't want to make light of this issue (OK, I do. Not the abuse part, but the way in which the media trivialises it), but the whole tone of the programme bordered on hysteria. I half expected it to end with Vine exhorting Britain's parents to take an axe to their childrens' laptops.

The programme employed that hoary old ploy of setting up a fake profile for a teenage girl and then monitoring the amount of harassment 'she' suffered. Fine, but it would have been a lot more useful if they'd also used a 'control' profile of an older 'woman' to see if it is merely the fact of being female which attracts the pervs. Actually, there have been so many of these 'experiments' done that I'm beginning to suspect that there aren't any real teenage girls out there on the net - they're all really hard-bitten middle aged male reporters (who probably get a kick out of all those lewd suggestions aimed at them). Maybe the perverts are reporters, too. Who knows. Anyway, based on this exercise, the programme concluded that young girls who include their ages and pictures in their online profiles tend to get harassed a lot by pervy blokes making lewd suggestions.

No shit! I think you'll find that something similar happens in the real world schoolgirls walking past building sites, for instance, are frequently subjected to similar comments. Indeed, bearing in mind the physical proximity of those making the comments, surely such a situation is far more dangerous than online harassment. However, I don't see Panorama devoting thirty minutes of prime time TV to exposing 'high street peados'. The fact is that the programme could only come up with one case of schoolgirls being harassed by an online pervert who was able to track them down through MySpace, and even that was a fluke, made possible simply because one of the girls had mentioned online the date and venue of a school trip.

The fact is that most sexual abuse actually occurs within the family. However, this is so unpalatable to the average person that TV and press investigations of child abuse always seek, instead, to focus on the lone, predatory, peadophiles who allegedly stalk our streets, despite the reality being that they are the exception, rather than the rule. The internet is frequently invoked as this is a convenient stick with which the traditional media can beat a feared rival. And it won't stop. A few years ago they were scaremongering about the dangers of chat rooms, with social networking sites gaining in popularity they were the obvious next target. Maybe virtual communities will be next - "I was virtually buggered in Second Life!" Trust me, it's only a matter of time...

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Virgin on the Ridiculous?

At long last, that bearded arsehole Richard Branson (sorry, Sir Richard Branson), has come out in his trues colours, openly threatening the workforce at Virgin Atlantic. According to Dickie, cabin staff currently balloting for possible strike action should "consider working elsewhere" if they don't like the current pay offer. A very constructive approach to industrial relations. Whilst some might be surprised to find 'cuddly' Sir Dickie, that champion of the little person, taking such a nineteenth century approach to his workers, I'm not. For years now I've been trying to tell people not to be fooled by his public image. The reality is that Branson is simply an opportunist, looking for the next high profile bandwagon he can jump onto in order to make yet more money. This whole customer-friendly schtick is just a marketing ploy. He doesn't give a toss, in my opinion. It doesn't matter to Branson whether he actually knows anything about the businesses he enters into, just so long as he can turn a profit. Just look at Virgin Trains - what a fucking fiasco. Just ask Virgin Trains passengers whether Branson cares about them. I guess if they don't like he service, they should consider using another one...

But people still fall for his bollocks, despite the growing catalogue of failures. Just look at Virgin Media. This is a typical example of the Branson hype and its utter lack of substance. If we're to believe Dickie, he's the new force in British mass media, offering phones, TV and broadband via his new company. Well, the truth's a little bit different. For a start, he doesn't actually own the company. He isn't even the majority shareholder. In reality, Virgin Media is simply a trading name used by NTL-Telewest Ltd. Branson is simply the largest single shareholder, and licences NTL-Telewest to use the Virgin brand for trading purposes. As anybody who has had the misfortune to deal with 'Virgin Media' will know, their customer service seems to have got worse since Branson's involvement. Far from being a media tycoon, Branson is simply a pygmy trying to ride someone else's coat tails. Getting back to the Virgin Atlantic pay dispute - this just underlines the ugly truth about Branson. If his businesses are as successful and profitable as he likes to make out, why is he so reluctant to allow those who have been instrunental in their success - his staff - share in that success with improved wages? Or is the truth that those profits are largely due to keeping his costs (eg wages) unrealistically low? Obviously, increasing pay would eat into the shareholders profits. Trust me, they're the only one's Dickie cares about. He clearly doesn't give a shit about his employees or customers. Sadly though, he's a great self-publicist who has succeeded in maintaining this benevolent public persona. Hopefully, his recent outburst will help lift the scales from the public's eyes.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Murder Most Showbiz

What a start to the year! Former Radio One DJ found dead (complete with alleged drug dealing gay lover angle perfect for the likes of the Daily Mail to tut-tut over); Britney Spears stretchered out of her ex's house (even Amy Winehouse has never been that drunk); and children's BBC presenter arrested for murder and supplying class A drugs! Wow! A real festive bonus for the tabloids! I must admit that when I saw the last headline, my first thought was that a rabid Basil Brush had gone on a homicidal rampage, tearing the throats out of young fans. My next thought was that perhaps Dick had finally snapped and decapitated Dom, or even that Dom had strangled his Dick. But sadly, none of those scenarios turned out to be true. Instead it transpired that SMart presenter Mark Speight had been arrested on suspicion of murder after his girlfriend was found dead in the bath.

Despite the police admitting that they didn't know her cause of death and that it was currently being treated as 'unexplained', rather than definite murder, Speight is bound to be a popular suspect for the tabloids. I mean, he's artistic, has bleached blonde hair and is still presenting kids programmes in his forties - clearly a weirdo in their books. No doubt they'll be analysing everything he ever did on SMart, making lurid claims that he painted some of the pictures in human blood. Hell, I'm surprised that they haven't linked him to Kevin Greening's death. Maybe he's had a busy week. Perhaps he'd run out of red paint for his TV show...

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What Goes On in Your Kitchen?

Another thing I hate about this time of year - the way all those cheery Christmas adverts give way to really dull TV ads trying to sell you home furnishings and the like. Do people really think, 'Thank God Christmas is over - but instead of resting my wallet, I'll go out and buy a new three piece suite"? I can't say that I ever have. But then again, I'm notoriously tight fisted. The one which annoys me the most is the one for Magnet Kitchens. You know - the one with the slogan 'What's Going on in Your Kitchen?', where some actors pretending to be customers tell us how Magnet designed the ideal kitchen for them. Apparently the key to perfection lies in telling the advisers what happens in your kitchen. Personally, I'd have thought that it should be pretty straightforward as surely the only answer you are going to get is 'cooking'. But it seems I'm wrong. I've obviously been living a very sheltered life, as I can't say I've ever danced, strangled clowns or clubbed seals in my kitchen.

So, I'm thinking of going down to my local Magnet Showroom (which, as it happens, is only a couple of streets away) and enquiring about a new kitchen. When they ask 'What Goes on in Your Kitchen', I'm considering telling them that I regularly take that girl who does the local TV weather from behind at the sink, whilst she does the washing up, except on Tuesdays, when I bend her across the gas stove for similar purposes. Oh, and on alternate Saturdays I make mad passionate love to all of 'Girls Aloud' (including the one with the face like a slapped arse and the one with a conviction for assault) on the kitchen floor. I'd like to see what they'll come up with in response to that. Maybe a fridge with a condom dispenser? Or a handy vibrator rack under the kitchen cupboards? Extra storage for jazz mags, perhaps? A whipping block instead of a chopping block? Of course, if I had all that in my kitchen, I probably wouldn't have any space for cooking utensils, so it is just as well that these days you apparently aren't meant to cook there.


Unhappy New Year?

Another New Year is upon us. They really do come around with monotonous regularity, don't they? Right now we're in probably the worst part of any year - the bit where we're all desperately trying to adjust to real life again after the festive season. I always think it's a bit premature to be getting back to normal on only the second day of the year. After all there are twelve days to Christmas - we've still got a few to go yet. Nevertheless, a surprising number of people have already taken down their Christmas decorations, clearly believing that New Year's Day marks the abrupt end to the festivities. That's another aspect of our modern Christmas I don't like - the fact that we're being short-changed out of four days of celebration. Back in pre-Cromwellian times, all twelve days were celebrated in an orgy of debauchery. Damn it, that's what we want now!

Of course, it would help if the media didn't cut Christmas off at New Year's Day. After spending weeks building it up, they always seem in an indecent haste to sweep it under the carpet come 2 January. The TV companies can't seem to wait to revert their schedules to normal (although, to be fair, the BBC does try to maintain a semi-special schedule for a few days after New Year). Even New Year's Day seems to be downgraded in status these days. I've noticed that for a second year running, the BBC has stopped running its special Christmas idents on new Year's Eve, reverting to the regular ones on New Year's Day. The message is clear - New Year may be a Bank Holiday, but it isn't really part of Christmas, so you'd better all get back to work tomorrow. (Mind you, ITV didn't bother at all with seasonal idents this year). So what's to do? Personally, I think we need to launch a campaign, starting now, for the twelve days of Christmas to be reinstated in full. We need to demand that festivities be extended right the way through to 5 January. God knows, we need some cheer in these dark days! If nothing else, it'll help ease the pain of going back to work.

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