Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve 2008 at The Sleaze

Well, here we are again, into the last few hours of another year. Unless you live in Australia or New Zealand, in which case it is already 2009 for you. Gad, how exciting it must be to live in the future! All of which just underlines how arbitrary the concept of the 'New Year' is - it's only a matter of geography which dictates when we celebrate it. Indeed, if you go back only a couple of hundred years, they didn't even celebrate New Year in January - March was considered the beginning of the year. Anyway, ruminations on the calendar aside, having looked back at 2008 at The Sleaze yesterday, I suppose I really should be looking forward to 2009. However, the truth is that I haven't a bloody clue what's going to be on the site next year! Don't misunderstand me - I've got plenty of ideas for stories, I just don't know when they'll come to fruition or what form they'll take! That's just the way I work! I can tell you what I'm doing tonight to celebrate the New Year - not a lot. After much consultation with drinking cronies, the unanimous decision was that it is too bloody cold to go and and deal with the usual idiotic New Year revellers. Besides, it is getting increasingly difficult to find somewhere you can just go for a drink on New Year's Eve these days - most pubs and bars either charge at the door, have private parties or insist on having discos, karaoke or the like. Consequently, everyone has decided to be antisocial and stay at home. So it'll just be me, the beer, whisky, prawn crackers and sausage rolls seeing in the New Year.

The other thing we are all supposed to turn our attention to at this time of year are New Year resolutions. As I've made clear before, I don't usually have much time for these - if you are going to do something, just bloody do it, regardless of the time of year. The reality is that most people never manage to stick to them beyond January, anyway. However, regular readers (and I still live in hope that there are some), might recall that last year I did make a resolution - to avoid my usual romantic disappointments by refusing to fall for unsuitable and unattainable women who don't even notice I exist. I'm happy to say that I've actually stuck to this resolution. Consequently, I've enjoyed twelve months entirely free of unrequited love, which have left me feeling emotionally renewed. This is the happiest I've been in years! So, am I going to make another resolution, along similar lines, this year? I don't think so. I feel that I've learned from the experience of the past year and can now manage my emotional life much better than before. The only firm resolution I'm making this time is o give up 2008 for good! Happy New Year to you all!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best and Worst of 2008

It's that time of year when everyone is either producing retrospective lists of the best and worst bits of the year, or are looking forward to what 2009 might have in store. Now, those of us possessed of a cynical disposition might well suspect that this has a lot do with newspaper and TV journalists not wanting to actually do anything too strenuous over the holiday period. These 'best and worst' lists are a cheap and easy way of filling up space. Of course, here at Sleaze Diary we wouldn't stoop to such measures just to pad out a post. Nevertheless, it does seem an opportune time to look back over he last twelve months and pick out some of the highlights of 2008 at The Sleaze. The decline in traffic we experienced over the last six months notwithstanding, 2008 has seen some pretty decent stories published on the site. One or two of which I was really proud of, not to mention a few which generated some pretty good traffic. Of course, the most popular stories aren't necessarily the best stories. So, without further ado, let's take a look at what I think are the best five of the stories that were written and published by me during 2008.

First up is the most recently published story, A Ghost Story for Christmas, a cracking tale (even if I say so myself, which I do), of the supernatural, although it was all but ignored by readers. I feel I'm justifiably proud of a story which broke new ground for the site in terms of style and approach. An attempt to update the M R James tradition o the twenty first century, it's an experiment which, I think, will be well worth repeating. Next in this ego-stroking session is The Awards on Terror, a topical piece ripped from the headlines and simultaneously satirising fundamentalism and the Eurovision Song Contest. An innovative piece which was also completely ignored by readers. By contrast, Sex Dolls of the SS was (and still is) hugely popular. A long time in gestation, this one gave me a chance to do a World War Two story and indulge in the surrealistic satire I love. Similarly, The Beast That Ate Wall Street was another opportunity to combine up-to-the-minute satire with a heavy dose of surrealism. Once again, it proved very popular. Finally, we come to my favourite story of the year - A Life in Pictures. This one surprised me with its popularity, but that just goes to show that sometimes what's good can also be popular. A satire on the modern world, poking fun at the surveillance society and our obsession with fame and celebrity, amongst other things, this was easily the most subtle piece I've written in a long time. Of course, none of these was the most popular story of 2008,in terms of visitors. That honour goes to The Nude Hunters, which proved to be the most popular of the thirty six stories we published in 2008. Not my favourite story, obviously, but still an entertaining story which I enjoyed writing. So there you have it, my 'Best of 2008', at least as far as my own writings go; as for the worst, well, I think all of this year's stories have merit, I don't do worst!

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Last Hurrah for 2008

So, how was it for you? Christmas, that is. I've come through it more or less unscathed, although, as always, I'm left feeling that I should have enjoyed it more than I did. Nevertheless, here we are, on the other side of Christmas, in that peculiar no man's land that exists between it and New Year. For a while I thought that 2008 was as exhausted as I felt and wouldn't have the energy to come up with any unpleasant last minute surprises, as years tend to do during their dying days. But then Israel attacked the Gaza strip. I really don't know what the newspapers and TV would do to fill up their bulletins at this time of year without these things. They'd otherwise be left with the half-baked pronouncements that domestic politicians are prone to at this time, in a desperate attempt to stay in the headlines. Obviously, nobody is going to launch any major policy initiatives over the festive season, so instead politicians tend to make TV-friendly pronouncements they think will pander to the prejudices of middle England (who are all home watching the telly over Christmas). So it is that we have the Culture Secretary wittering on about the need to certificate websites in order to protect our children, the Tories pontificating about knife crime and the Prime Minister telling us that we need to rekindle that 'wartime spirit' in order to get through the recession.

Invoking the spirit of World War Two has become fashionable of late, despite the fact that it is clearly inappropriate with regard to the so-called 'War on Terror' or, even more absurdly, the economic downturn. If we were actually at war against an enemy which directly threatened our sovereignty and political, social and economic institutions,our very existence indeed, then such calls might be relevant. But, whilst the 'War on Terror' at least presents us a threat which can cause a nuisance on the home front, it is hardly on the scale of Nazi Germany. Trying to use the 'spirit of the blitz' to fight the recession is utterly ludicrous. The credit crunch isn't even a real, tangible threat. It was a lot easier for people to pull together during the 1940s when the Luftwaffe was bombing them nightly and the Wehrmacht gathering on the other side of the Channel, ready to invade. The bombs were also indiscriminate as to who they fell on - ordinary people could see that the well off were also having their houses destroyed by the Germans. Even Buckingham Palace was bombed. Such incidents make it much easier to instill a sense of 'togetherness' and to strengthen social cohesion in the face of adversity. Sadly, in the current recession, it isn't the wealthy bankers and financiers who will suffer - they've already misappropriated enough of other people's money to see them through any difficulties. It is the people at the bottom who are more likely to lose their jobs and consequently their homes, as they accumulate debt. Unless it turns out that the Queen has taken out a loan using one of her palaces as security, resulting in it being repossessed, I don't see there being much hope of people responding to the recession with that good old blitz spirit.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Welcome to the 'New' Sleaze

Well, I finally did it - switched The Sleaze over to the new-style templates, that is. It's been a long time coming - over a year since I first started looking at a new design, for what it is worth - but I feel that it has been worth the wait. The main advantages of the new-look templates is that they are a cleaner design, far less cluttered, and subsequently much easier to read. Hopefully, the simplified coding underlying them will, hopefully, also make them easier for search engines to index. Accompanying the new design is a modification to the navigation system. The stories have now been broken down into categories, which should make it easier to locate older stories. Again, it should also help the search engines in indexing the site.

The big question, of course, is whether this redesign will help revive traffic which is still pretty poor compared with six months ago? Frankly,I don't know. I'm hoping that improved navigation, more readable pages and a more 'modern' look will encourage visitors to explore the site more extensively than they do at present. If nothing else, it should provide a better experience for visitors. The redesign isn't finished yet, I'm still tinkering with various aspects of the site, but nothing major. Anyway,I hope the new look finds favour. when I've got the time (and inclination), I might even get around to tweaking Sleaze Diary's design to match the main site.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008 at the Sleaze

Well, here we are, another Christmas Eve. You know, it was all going so well today, but then disaster struck. First of all my sausage rolls don't come out right (they're all soggy, rather than crisp, despite following the instructions), then one of my cans of beer was punctured (don't ask how, it's just too complex), spraying me with warm beer (I hadn't had a chance to cool it in the fridge, even). Luckily, I rescued most of the beer, pouring it into a pint glass and drinking it. Still, if that's all that goes wrong today, I'll consider myself lucky. I'm consoling myself now with some minced pies and egg nog, (not Little Miss Strange's vile concoction from a couple of posts ago, but the real thing which I bought earlier today - it's bloody good! Actually, I don't think Little Miss Strange is speaking to me after that egg nog business - mainly on account of the fact that she's still paralytic and snoring loudly under the Christmas tree). Getting back to the point, if nothing else, at least the beer and sausage roll incidents have set me off on the first of my twelve days of debauchery. Have I mentioned that I intend spending the twelve days of Christmas this year thoroughly over-indulging? No? Well, that's the plan. The mince pies and egg nog (not forgetting that can of beer I was forced to consume), are just the start of it.

Of course, when you get to my age the debauchery only encompasses food and drink, I don't have the energy (or, to be honest, the opportunity), for anything else. Nevertheless, within these limitations, I'm going to do my best to be completely debauched. After all, it is Christmas. You may have noticed that I'm slightly less curmudgeonly than usual this Christmas. I'd like to say that it is because I've had a visitation from three ghosts who showed me the error of my ways. But I'm afraid nothing that dramatic (or exciting) has happened. It's just that I've had a mildly crappy few months - culminating in my car breaking down last week and landing me with an unwelcome garage bill - and the festive season just seemed the perfect opportunity to kick back and try to unwind and put all the bad shit behind me. Mind you, if anybody asks, I'm reviving the ancient pagan traditions of Yuletide - you know, all the feasting, and that shit. Anyway, once I've finished this egg nog, the festivities are scheduled to continue with a few drinks down at the pub. So, there you are - I declare Winterval officially open! I'll see you all on the other side of Christmas!


Goodwill to All Men - Except the Gays...

So, the Pope wants to see and to the blurring of the genders - this from a man who wears a dress. He's also declared war on those damned homosexuals. Apparently, creeping homosexuality is as big a threat to the world as global warming. If we all turn gay then the human race will die out. Impeccable logic, I'll grant you. However, this 'pink menace' business is wearing a bit thin isn't it? Isn't Pope Bennie essentially rehashing the same arguments which were being used to oppose the legalisation of homosexual relations between consenting adults in the UK back in the 1960s? The idea that just because it was legal, men would suddenly be turning gay for the hell of it. Even worse, emboldened by their newly conferred legal status, gangs of gay men would roam the streets converting unsuspecting young men to homosexuality.

Bearing in mind that his church must have more ordained child molesters than any other faith, I really don't think that the Holy Father is in any position to be branding other people's behaviour 'perverted'. Clearly, I have completely the wrong idea about Christian values - I thought they included tolerance. It makes me glad to be an atheist. Still, if nothing else, I suppose it's nice to see the head of the world's leading Christian denomination really getting into that spirit of Christmas and goodwill to all men stuff at this time of year. If only more people would do the same thing, we could all have a thoroughly miserable Christmas.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Noggin' the Egg Nog

In my quest to instill some festive spirit in myself, I decided to try a seasonal tradition I'd never previously indulged in - egg nog. To be absolutely correct, I suppose we should use its Dutch name of Advocaat (which is what most people in the UK mean when they talk about egg nog, although I find this a bit confusing - I thought Dick Advocaat was what you got when you whacked off into a glass of egg nog, but apparently he's the manager of Zenit St Petersburg football club). Anyway, getting back to the point, I decided that I'd denied myself the pleasures of this strange alcoholic beverage, which only ever seems to get drunk at Christmas, for long enough. The trouble was, that I didn't actually have access to any of the stuff and I was reluctant to fork out for a bottle, not knowing whether I'd actually like it or not. However, Little Miss Strange convinced me that it was possible to make our own egg nog with ingredients already present in the house. Now, I really don't know why I ever listen to her, she really is the most unreliable of my so-called 'friends', and that's saying something. She's also certifiably insane. No, really. She's actually got the certificate to prove it. Cutting to the chase, the alarm bells should have started ringing when she cracked a couple of eggs, pouring their yolks into a mixing bowl before adding half a bottle of vodka and vigourously beating them together. I was sure that things like milk, cream, sugar and flavourings were involved, but Little Miss Strange assured me that I was mistaken, as she poured a measure of her concoction from the bowl into a glass for me to sample.

To be fair, this 'egg nog' looked much the same coming back up as it did going down, so the mess didn't seem that bad. I can now appreciate why people only drink it at Christmas - it takes them the rest of the year to recover from it. Quite why anybody would want to pay to drink it is beyond me. Having said that, when I struggled to my feet, eyes watering and still coughing up yellow sputum, I was greeted by the sight of Little Miss Strange draining the rest of the bowl of its filthy contents, before wiping her mouth and ransacking the house for anything else alcoholic. She ended up on the roof, hurling her shoes at passing carol singers. All-in-all, it was a pretty traumatic experience, but par for the course this Christmas. I mean, when Big Sleazy asked me to come and help him collect his Christmas tree, I didn't expect to find myself in someone's garden at dead of night, cutting down some unsuspecting bastard's fir tree. It was bloody murder trying to drag it across the lawn and over the hedge without being seen - the security lights went off and the house owner came after us waving a garden fork. He nearly caught us after Big Sleazy stopped to nick some of his external Christmas lights as well. Why the bloody hell he can't just buy the whole lot at the garden centre like everyone else, I really don't know. But apparently the adrenalin rush of having an enraged householder chasing you down the street, hurling a garden fork through your rear window as the car strains to accelerate with the burden of a fifteen foot tall ornamental tree strapped to the roof, makes it all worthwhile. All it needs now is for Little Miss Strange to climb up the damn thing under the influence of her 'egg nog', and try to impersonate an angel. It really doesn't bear thinking about!

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Holmes, Sweet Holmes

I'm more than a little annoyed. I recently read that the BBC is planning a new Sherlock Holmes series, the twist this time being that it has a contemporary setting. No doubt they feel it can follow in the footsteps of some of their other successful reinventions of classic characters, such as Doctor Who, Robin Hood, Merlin and Jekyll. Now, it isn't the fact that they intend ripping Homes out of his Victorian setting and plonking him down in the modern world that I object, although I'm sure that there are whole legions of hardcore Holmes fans shouting 'sacrilege', even as I type this. Oh no, I actually think it's an idea with considerable merit. After all, until the Basil Rathbone version of the Hound of the Baskervilles in the late 1930s, film adaptations had usually given the stories a contemporary setting and, after the series moved to Universal in the 1940s, so did the Rathbone pictures. Post-war, 'authentic' Victorian settings became the norm. So, it has already been established that a ,modernised' Holmes can work.

No, my problem lies with the fact that it is my bloody idea! I've been banging on about a present-day version of Sherlock Holmes for years now! I had some pretty radical ideas, and I'm telling you now, if in this proposed BBC version Mrs Hudson has her own TV cookery show, or Dr Watson drives a flashy sports car and trades on his association with Holmes o pull the birds, I'm going to be taking legal action! Oh, and let's not forget Watson's stint on Breakfast TV as a phone-in doctor, where he both dispenses medical advice and recruits prospective (female) clients for Holmes, or his attempts to sell his adventures with Holmes to producers as a TV format. And I want to make it quite clear that if they want to get smart and have Watson suffering from a war wound received during his stint as an army medic in Afghanistan, tough! I've just staked that territory out! Obviously, the key to any such treatment would be the portrayal of Holmes himself. Perhaps having him seen struggling with the superstar status Watson's accounts of his exploits have bestowed upon him would be the best approach. Basically, he wants to appear on obscure BBC4 programmes about criminology, but instead keeps getting booked on Jonathon Ross or Graham Norton. You culd also have a sub-plot where he keeps getting offered a job presenting a Time Team-type programme where a team of top detectives try and solve some notorious unsolved murder. But like I said earlier, if the beeb want to use any of these ideas, tough! Still, whatever they do go for would still have to be better than that bloody Holmes film Guy Ritchie is making - Moriarty as a geezer! What the fuck!

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Friday, December 19, 2008


First of all we learn that Peter 'Columbo' Falk has Alzheimer's, now we hear that former 'Carry On' stalwart Jack Douglas has died. You know Jack Douglas - he wasn't the effeminate one, the randy one, the short one, the one with nostrils or Joan Sims. He was the one who wore a flat cap and glasses and would suddenly have some kind of epileptic fit, shouting 'Geroff!' and twitching his arms wildly as he apparently shrugs off some invisible assailant, (usually hurling the contents of any mug or glass he is holding all over the place). As I recall, he was drafted into the 'Carry On' film series in the early 1970s, originally in relatively minor roles, but gradually working his way up to playing major characters. He was also in the dreadful Carry on Laughing TV series, which ITV3 used to try to ruin last Christmas by repeating every bloody episode.

I must admit that I never have quite figured out exactly what the point of Douglas' act was. However, it was fun waiting for him to randomly throw a fit at some arbitrary point in each film he appeared in. Sadly, I suspect that when he died he was having some kind of seizure, but nobody helped him because they just thought it was part of his act. The bastards probably gathered round, pointing and laughing at him. Who know, perhaps somebody did try to help him, but he just twitched violently and shouted 'Geroff!'. Still, it was probably how we wanted to go, with dignity, doing what he loved.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just One More Thing...

The other day I was reading that Peter Falk, of Columbo fame, was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Now, whilst this is obviously very sad news and no fit topic for humour, it has to be said that it throws a whole new light on some of his later performances as the detective. That dishevelled look, the unkempt hair, the lack of shoes, it all makes sense. Even that one where he turned up at the crime scene wearing only his underwear beneath his raincoat. Clearly the poor man was confused and distressed. No wonder his lines of questioning seemed so bizarre. I'd even venture that in his last few appearances, he wasn't even on the LAPD payroll anymore - they'd retired him on health grounds years ago, he just kept turning up the police station or at random crime scenes and taking charge. In fact, I'll bet that half the time they weren't even crime scenes he was turning up to - he'd just walk into restaurants or offices and start questioning people until the real police turn up to escort him home.

It all makes his catch phrase all the more poignant. You know, when he's about to leave, but turns to the main suspect and says "Just one more thing", before asking some devastatingly profound question which exposes the suspect's guilt. These days he probably says "Just one more thing - where do I live?", or "what's my name?", or even "what the hell am I doing here?". The LAPD probably has to spend half its time trying to dissuade 'suspects' from suing Columbo for harassment, after he's spent weeks turning up unannounced at their homes or places of work, accusing them of committing murders that had, in reality, been solved years ago. Ironically, the character was originally written (in the play Prescription Murder) as an older man, nearing retirement, who people assumed was senile and harmless, but in reality had a razor sharp mind. However, when the play was filmed as a TV movie the then much younger Peter Falk was cast in the role. SAdly, time has now rendered him perfect for the part as originally written.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Delta Fatwah 2: Pilgrims of Hate

Another delve into my personal DVD collection - this time an Islamic action epic:

A sequel to last year’s Delta Fatwah (a blockbuster tale of Arab special forces commandos defending the Islamic world from the evil West by slaughtering thousands of innocent citizens), Delta Fatwah 2: Pilgrims of Hate was likewise a smash hit in the Arabic-speaking world upon its initial release, and is now finally available on video with English subtitles. The movie gets off to a brisk start with several apparently Arabic passengers casting off their traditional robes and pulling off false beards to reveal that they are actually a group of redneck US terrorists intent on seizing control of the Iranian Air Lines jumbo jet they are travelling on. It quickly becomes apparent that they are planning to crash the airliner - carrying pilgrims back to the Us from Mecca - into Washington’s largest mosque in revenge for the Twin Towers. However, little do they know that amongst the passengers is Abdul Queefa (played by Farouk al Drek - the Iranian Chuck Norris), one of the surviving commandos from the first movie.

Interestingly, despite its origins, the film closely follows the conventions of the airline disaster genre, with the passengers being the usual mix of clichés - the traditional folk-singing Mullah in danger of losing his faith, the child needing a heart transplant, the politically ambitious Ayatollah, etc. - whilst the action follows the usual pattern of lone hero taking on and defeating the hijackers, but ultimately having to take the controls of the plane after the crew are killed. Nonetheless, there are some novel twists. At least one villain is dispatched through the power of prayer - struck by a thunderbolt after the Mullah regains his faith and prays on the Koran. Another falls victim to a novice suicide bomber who had been planning to attack targets in the US but decides instead to sacrifice herself by blowing up the toilets whilst pretending to initiate a hijacker into the ‘Mile High Club’. The final, highly ingenious, twist comes when Queefa takes the controls of the aircraft as they approach the US capital - it is revealed that the reason he is able to fly a civil airliner is because he was trained as one of the reserve pilots for the September 11 suicide missions! Will he safely land the plane or ill he succumb to his training and crash the airliner into the White House?

This is one of a number of movies which give the lie to the idea that all Arab made films are art house pieces about the travails of peasant farm workers who have unwittingly bought a lame donkey from their local Mullah. Indeed, prior to the Delta Fatwah movies Farouk al Drek had appeared in a number of popular comedies, most famously Ramadan-a-Ding-Dong!, in which he travels to the North Pole and converts Santa Claus to Islam. The hilarious scenes of uncomprehending Western children opening their Christmas stockings to find copies of the Koran instead of Gameboys and Buzz Lightyear toys helped make this one of Iran’s top-grossing films ever. Al Drek also reprises his Delta Fatwah role in a cameo appearance in the summer’s smash-hit Iraqi teen comedy Bomb Them, They’re American!, in which a US exchange student causes chaos at Baghdad High School. After his hilarious high jinks and pranks leave his classmates aghast (most infamously, the American succeeds in getting the head of his host family - a respected local Mullah - drunk, shaving the hapless cleric’s beard off and dressing him in women’s clothes as he lies incapacitated. The Mullah is consequently stoned to death by shocked neighbours), the US teen finds himself imprisoned and tortured. Released after the UN threatens carpet bombing of Baghdad, he finally thinks he can relax as his airliner approaches New York - the camera then cuts to the cockpit to reveal al Drek at the controls, laughing and winking to camera as he steers the plane toward the Empire State Building!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Feeling a Lot Like Christmas...?

Well, the festive spirit has finally hit The Sleaze, with our first seasonal story - The Twelve Lays of Christmas - finally up on the site. I was hoping that posting the story might make me feel a bit more festive. With every passing year I find it increasingly difficult to get excited about Christmas. Nothing seems to do it any more, not the appearance of lights and decorations as December progresses, not the appearance of seasonal adverts on television, not even the domination of local supermarket shelves by festive goods. I even seem to have become immune to repeated radio play of Slade and Wizzard's traditional Christmas hits. OK, I know that I'm a jaded and cynical old bastard, who resents the way Christmas has increasingly become simply a marketing strategy for retailers to shift more crap, and despises the false bonhomie which permeates both the media and workplace at this time of year. But I really want to like Christmas. Really, I do. I know that I can never recapture the joyfulness of childhood Christmases, that vanished forever with my youth. But it would be nice to just feel some genuine seasonal warmth at this time of year.

In an attempt to feel Christmassy (is that really a word?), I even bought a Christmas tree this year, reversing a policy of some sixteen years standing of not having Christmas decorations of any kind in the house. Many people have misinterpreted this lack of decorations as evidence of my curmudgeonly attitude toward the season. The reality is that I've always found it profoundly depressing when the decorations come down on twelfth night, and I try and avoid anything which might trigger a depressive episode. Anyway, getting back to this tree, it cost me all of £1.96 from Asda and must be scruffiest looking artificial tree I've ever seen. However, it is a bloody tree. I've even put lights on it (96p from Asda). What more do people want me to do to prove that I'm not anti-Christmas? More to the point, when is having the damn thing sitting in my front room going to make it feel like Christmas? Clearly, I need to try different tactics. I'll just have to write some more seasonal sleaze for the main site. Perhaps a traditional Christmas ghost story featuring spectral sex offenders. That should the trick...

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Carry on Dying

If your idea of heaven is chortling at the merry toilet pranks of Carry On At Your Convenience or marvelling at the cutting critique of British Imperialism that is Carry On Up The Khyber, then prepare to enter paradise! British film production company HandJob Films has announced that it is negotiating to acquire the rights to make a new series of Carry On films. However, the company aims to avoid the mistakes made the last time an attempt was made to revive the franchise - the limp Carry On Columbus. “The mistake that time was to cast new actors in the roles”, says HandJob executive Jod Bank, “the public wanted the old stars and that’s what we’re going to give them!”

HandJob plans to use new technology to virtually recreate dead comic favourites such as Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques and put them into brand new productions. HandJob producer JR Rank promises that it won’t just be the now sadly departed Carry On stars that will get the virtual treatment. “We will also be featuring the surviving performers, but virtually enhanced to take them back to their prime - Barbara Windsor, well we’ll be doing some restoration work on her bust, It is sagging a bit these days, isn’t it? Punters today will want to see something a bit more pert!”

The company’s head writer, Sherm Tank, assured us that the new films would be true to the spirit of the classic series, but would feature up-to-date plots, ripped straight from the headlines. The first production planned is a hard-hitting satire of funding crises in the National Health Service - Carry On Dying. Sid James will feature prominently as hard-drinking and womanising surgeon Dr Grope (“I like a quick stiffener in the morning!”), who expires from a fatal heart attack whilst fondling Nurse Rosy Cheeks (Barbara Windsor) during a vital heart operation. Inexperienced and incompetent Dr Fumble (Terry Scott) is forced to take over, but inadvertently removes the patient’s knob instead. Consequently, the patient (Charles Hawtrey) sues the hospital, resulting in a major funding crisis. Much hilarity ensues. Meanwhile, Matron Mona Loudly (Hattie Jacques) also expires suddenly - whilst coming to orgasm with senior hospital administrator Henry Smallpiece (Kenneth Williams) - “Ooooooh Matron!” - crushing him in the process. Smallpiece is rushed to the plaster room to set his broken bones (“I don’t think we’ve got a splint small enough....”). Much hilarity ensues. In a hectic comic climax, Smallpiece receives the accidentally removed penis in an emergency transplant before solving the hospital’s funding problems. He arranges to have Matron Loudly cremated in the hospital furnace - providing heating for the entire building for the next year and thereby saving half a million pounds, exactly the amount of the maimed patient’s out of court settlement. Smallpiece starts to be influenced by his new member, mincing around the hospital and groping handsome porter Johnny Biggun (Jim Dale). Much hilarity ensues as the end credits roll.

If Carry On Dying proves popular, the HandJob team has other productions planned. “We were thinking of doing an updated version of Carry On Teacher , set in a modern inner-city school,” Jod Bank told us. “It could feature Frankie Howerd as a hypocritical schools inspector who once slept with a pupil - the twist being that it was a male pupil who is now a teacher at the school he is inspecting! The film could climax with the persecuted teaching staff giving him a bloody good caning in the gym, before the ex-lover gives him one up the arse!” Rank, Bank and Tank also believe that the virtual recreation of the Carry On stars will allow them to “cast” against type. “Kenneth Williams, for instance, could be portrayed as a virile bisexual shag machine, rather than a wimpy homosexual mummy’s boy,” Tank enthused. “The possibilities are endless!” Much hilarity, no doubt, will ensue.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Funny Old Game...

Football, that is. Only a few weeks ago Juande Ramos was being sacked as Spurs' head coach after presiding over the club's worst start to a season since 1723 (or 1910, depending upon which newspaper you were reading), which had seen them secure only two points from eight league matches. Today he was appointed manager of Real Madrid, Spain's biggest club and one of the biggest clubs in the world. I can't think of many other professions where ignominious failure followed by dismissal would be seen as a recommendation for a similar post at an even bigger employer,where the stakes are even higher. But the role of manager seems to be viewed rather differently in La Liga, where many clubs seem to get through them at a fantastic rate. The Director of Football is king there, with the coach (rather than manager) seen simply as another employee. A stark contrast with the Premier League, where having the right manager is seen as vital to a club's success.

But back to the point - why do Real Madrid think Ramos can succeed there after failing at Spurs (barring the League Cup victory, which was achieved with what was essentially his predecessor Martin Jol's team)? Well, for one thing, he shouldn't have the linguistic difficulties he had in North London. Moreover, his approach and methods might be less of a culture shock to La Liga players than they seemed to be at Spurs. Ultimately, though, it has to be asked why any manager who has failed at one club is thought to be suitable for employment at another? As I said before, in any other walk of life such public failure would spell the death knell for any career. At the very least, you'd be expected to start all over again and work your way back up. But do failed Premiership managers go back to basics and seek jobs lower down the league? No, they usually end up managing another Premiership club. At the very least, they get a job in the Championship. Of course, this is a tacit admission on the part of club owners that the factors influencing a club's relative success or failure frequently lie outside of a manager's control - injuries, the sale of key players to raise funds, for instance. Like I said, it's a funny old game...


Monday, December 08, 2008

Doc Sleaze's Seasonal Shed

With those bloody awful external Christmas lights going up on houses all over the place, I've decided that if I can't beat 'em, then I'll just have to join them. However, rather than set up an illuminated nativity scene utilising my extensive collection of blow-up sex dolls, (Raunchy Rachel, with her removable pubic wig and self-hardening nipples, was lined up to be the Virgin Mary), I've instead decided to put up a shed in my garden, cover it in artificial snow (probably shredded polystyrene ceiling tiles), and charge visitors twenty quid a time to come and see my collection of festive garden tools stored inside. It'll be worth every penny - trust me, it won't just be a couple of rakes with tinsel on. Oh no. Visitors will also be able to view the nativity scene featuring the Virgin Fork, the Baby Trowel and the Three Wise Shovels. Children will be able to have their photo taken with Santa, who'll be represented by three hoes. (Hoe, hoe, hoe - geddit?)

Obviously, I can't guarantee that my seasonal shed will be anywhere near as exciting an experience as , say, Lapland New Forest. But I sincerely hope that it can o some way toward filling the gap in the market left by the demise of that fine institution. Personally, I was appalled at the treatment received by Lapland New Forest at the hands of the media. So a few paying customers got a bit arsey when they decided that they'd been ripped off, but that was no excuse for attacking Santa and, even worse, beating up elves. Typical bloody bullies - afraid to pick on someone their own size! Frankly, I think they were missing the point of the Lapland New Forest experience - it was meant to be a rip off, just like Christmas itself! It truly was a Christmas theme park - promising much from behind its glitzy exterior, but once unwrapped proving to be nothing more than a pair of old socks and a Cliff Richard album.


Friday, December 05, 2008

The Wonder of Woolies

What's the world coming to, eh? I make an attempt to save one of the stalwarts of the British High Street and the bastards refuse to take me seriously! Perhaps I should elaborate - the other day I went into my local Woolworths, slapped a two pound coin down on the counter and told them I was making a serious offer for the whole chain. The assistant just gave me a befuddled look and told me she didn't know what I meant. "OK," I said, "if you don't have the authority to deal with this matter, then get someone down here who does." Needless to say they couldn't, and instead got security down to ask me to leave. "Look, this is a serious offer," I told them as they manhandled me to the door. "This is double what anyone else is offering - I'm prepared to go as high as five quid if anyone else comes in for the chain." Then, with my head held high, and my legs held higher, I was thrown out.

So now you know - if Woolworths go under, it's all their fault for refusing to take my offer seriously. As it is, they're apparently in receivership,which basically means that you can just walk into any of their stores take stuff off of the shelves and walk out with it. After all, the parent company is effectively down the tubes so nobody really owns the stock, do they? At least, that's what I keep telling everyone. Actually, don't try that - just because they're in receivership doesn't you can shoplift from Woolies with impunity. For purely legal reasons I must point out that this is a humourous post and I'm not encouraging anyone to commit criminal acts. Even if the chain is in receivership and none of the staff give a toss what the customers do, as they're all going to be sacked...


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Building a Better Sleaze

Right now I'm in the middle of reassembling an off-line version of The Sleaze using the new page templates I've been promising for an age now. Whilst most of the code could be altered by using and extended 'find and replace' on my HTML editor, poor design on my part when I wrote the existing templates means that some items can only be altered manually. Consequently, I'm having to go through every story page using the old template individually, altering these elements. Whilst mind-numbingly repetitive, this process is reasonably quick, meaning that I'm progressing through them quite quickly. The main delays come from the necessity to break off every so often to work on a new story. Nevertheless, I'm hoping that it will be a case of 'New Year, New Sleaze'. Hopefully, the effort will be worth it, with improved navigation, easier to read text and a better indexing of old stories.

Of course, I could eschew any ideas of style altogether, as many web sites seem to do these days. Sadly, it doesn't seem to affect their traffic. The problem these days is that many people seem so obsessed with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and making their code search engine friendly (or what received wisdom tells them is search engine friendly), that they seem to forget that, ultimately, web pages are intended to be read by human beings, and therefore should be designed to make this as easy as possible. These ideas should extend beyond the HTML code to the content - writing articles to make them supposedly search engine friendly, can render them unreadable for human visitors. Stuffing the opening lines with 'key words' has a tendency to make an article incoherent. But that doesn't seem to matter to many site owners, as to them a site is merely somewhere to host lots of adverts which will hopefully earn them revenue. It doesn't matter if any of their visitors actually read anything on the site, just so long as enough of them click on those ads. But enough of my whingeing and back to the grindstone!

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

False Assumptions?

The other day someone asked if I'd had a good weekend, I gave my usual non-committal response of "It was fine", to which they replied, "I'll take that for a no, then." Why? Just because I say my weekend was "fine", meaning that it was, well, fine, in other words normal, not out of the ordinary and the same as usual, why should that mean that it wasn't? I'm really sorry if I don't do really exciting things every weekend, like para-gliding or having wild sex and cocaine orgies. Usually,I do much the same things, and I have no intention, when asked how my weekend was, chronicling every cup of tea I made and every bit of vacuuming and ironing I did. I always assume that everyone else has similar weekends, so I don't bother asking anyone else what they did at the weekend.

Of course, another reason I never enquire after other people's weekends is because, quite frankly, I don't care what they do. No, really, I don't give a toss. Other people's lives do not interest me one iota. I learned a long time ago that the overwhelming majority of people lead lives every bit as mundane as my own. I've spent too much of my working life being paid to pry into other peoples' affairs to have any interest in them on my own time. So, next time I tell you my weekend was "fine", please don't assume that it wasn't. The fact is that it really isn't any of your business how it was, so don't bloody ask.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas Watch

When does Christmas (or Winterval, as we like to call it here at Sleaze Towers), actually start? It's a question which perplexes me every year. Is the old cliche that it seems to start earlier every year actually true? Or was it always this way, and we just like to think that it was different when we were children? Certainly it feels as if the municipal decorations go up earlier than they used to, usually in mid-November these days. I can't help but feel that the Americans have an advantage over us here - having Thanksgiving at the end of November means that Christmas can't start until after this holiday, thereby giving it a clear starting point. Here, it just starts sneaking in throughout November. It insidiously appears in dribs and drabs - one day you might notice that your local supermarket has started stocking Christmas puddings, a few days later you might catch a snatch of John and Yoko singing 'This is Christmas' being piped over the tannoy in the newsagents, then odd bits of tinsel start creeping into shop window displays. Before you know it, Christmas has bloody arrived and everybody is in a blind panic about it.

Clearly, we need a definite starting date for the festive season in order to avoid being ambushed by it. Now, if I had my way, it would be the 18th of December, thereby cutting down the period of Christmas shopping mania to just under a week. Realistically, though, this just isn't going to happen - retailers obviously want the shopping season to last as long as possible in order to maximise their profits. A more realistic start date would be the 1st of December. We need legislation to prohibit the putting up of Christmas decorations, the playing of Christmas-related music or the sale of seasonal goods before this date. Throughout November there'd be a 'Christmas Watch' by council officials, in order to stamp out any non-compliance. Now, I know there'll be some people out there who brand me as being 'anti-Christmas' for having the temerity to float these proposals. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, I just want Christmas to feel special again. With the festive season starting earlier and earlier, it is difficult to see it as special any more - when the decorations are up for that long, they become over-familiar and Christmas becomes a routine event. I miss the 'good old days', when Christmas only seemed to last a few days - it seemed a bloody sight more enjoyable then!

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