Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mad, Boring and Unconstitutional

As I've been preoccupied with getting a new story - True Blue Movies - up on The Sleaze this evening, I haven't had time to come up with a proper post. Nonetheless, I can't let Vince Cable's latest extraordinary political manoeuvrings pass without comment. In his latest desperate attempt to retain some shred of credibility, the Business Secretary is now saying that he might abstain during the vote on increasing university tuition fees - a measure which he himself proposed - so as to show 'solidarity' with his fellow Liberal Democrat MPs, (who had, Cable included, signed a pre-election pledge not to increase fees). This really is quite extraordinary, particularly as Cable has admitted that his natural inclination would be to vote for the measure. Sadly, far from restoring some of Cable's credibility, (which is in shreds after he has reneged on just about every economic policy he was advocating during the election, instead doing a complete volte face to embrace the policies of George Osborne, which he had previously vilified), this just reinforces the impression that he is simply a political opportunist.

All of this follows Cable's bizarre attempt to justify his party's abandonment of its manifesto promises on the grounds that it was not bound by them, only by the coalition agreement it had signed with the Tories. Whilst it has been established that governments can't be legally bound by their manifesto pledges, (obviously, changing circumstances can render these obsolete), the idea that a political agreement cooked up in private between two parties, (neither of which had obtained a parliamentary majority), which the electorate hadn't had the chance to debate during an election campaign, should take precedence over policy promises which had been put to the electorate, strikes me as being constitutionally dubious. But the fact is that Cable, like his Lib Dem compatriots, was so desperate to taste power, that he is prepared not just to abandon his long-held economic beliefs, but also reasoned argument, it seems. Mind you, some of us never found Cable that credible in the first place. I heard him speak once, and I can honestly say that he is one of the most boring public speakers I have ever heard, (an opinion shared by the BBC's Andrew Neill, who had Cable as a lecturer whilst at university). Believe me, you quickly lose track of anything he' said, he is so dull. Personally, I suspect that this is where his reputation for economic credibility comes from - many commentators confuse dullness with gravitas. Moreover, because they can't remember what he said, they assume it must have been important. After all, important stuff is always boring, isn't it?

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Festive Fear

My eye was caught the other day by a headline on Ceefax which ran something like: "Terror suspect held in Christmas tree bomb attack plot". I immediately had visions of some crazed Islamic fundamentalist planning to strike a blow against the evil Christian-capitalist festival of debauchery and decadence that is Christmas, by turning one of its most potent symbols against it. In my mind, I could see this terrorist converting Christmas trees into missiles, and firing them and their deadly payloads of explosive-packed decorative balls, into crowded shopping centres. Sadly, when I actually read the story, it was actually about some teenager in the US who had been arrested for allegedly plotting to blow up a local Christmas tree lighting event with a car bomb. I say sadly, but obviously it's good that he didn't blow anybody up - it's only sad in the sense that it is yet more evidence of the younger generation's lack of imagination. Really, if you must be a mass murderer, at least have the decency to commit your crimes with a degree of flair and originality.

Actually, I'm surprised that, with Christmas approaching, the authorities haven't issued their usual dire warnings of possible terror attacks. Quite apart from being a religious festival and guaranteeing that large numbers of people will be gathering for events like shopping, carol services and the like, the festive season affords so many opportunities for imaginative terror attacks. Take that Santa Claus, for instance - doesn't he provide the perfect cover for suicide bombers? I mean, a heavily disguised man with a huge beard obscuring his face and carrying a huge - possibly explosive-laden - sack, who everyone immediately trusts, and whose presence in crowded shopping centres and public places nobody questions? Not to mention the fact that he apparently has access to everyone's house, leaving suspect parcels under their trees. Indeed, I'd be very surprised if the police don't war everybody to report any unexpected presents they receive as possible bombs. But it isn't just Santa - what about carol singers? A perfect cover for gangs of roving assassins - just knock on your target's door and as they stand there entranced by the heavenly singing, let them have it in the heart with an icicle. Or just blow them to smithereens with a collective suicide bomb. Damn it, I'm going to contact the government right now and demand they cancel Christmas on security grounds!

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Friday, November 26, 2010

A Question of Breeding

Don't you just love it when some toff or other rich bastard makes an unguarded comment which is highly revealing as to their private thought processes. First of all we had Lord Young telling us that we'd "never had it so good", despite this "so-called recession". Now we've had another Tory Peer, Lord Flight, giving us the benefit of his thoughts on eugenics. In a nutshell, his lordship believes that his government's policy of stopping child allowance payments to high earners will discourage them from breeding, whilst those horrible lower classes living it up on benefits, will be at it like rabbits. Presumably he's a subscriber to the widely held (by morons mainly), belief that young working class women deliberately get pregnant so as to force their way to the front of the queue for social housing, and for the vast fortune that are child benefits. Trust me, if you'd ever seen some of those flats provided through social housing, you'd want to be sterilised in order to avoid the possibility of ever having to live in one as the result of having children.

Anyway, it's interesting, if not really that surprising, that the worst nightmare of a Tory peer should be the idea of the middle classes being overwhelmed by a growing horde of working class children. It is also hardly surprising that Flight and his ilk still have a very Victorian view of working class women being little more than baby factories. That said, his predecessors in that era would probably have welcomed the prospects of more and more working class kiddies being born in order to provide an inexhaustible supply of cheap labour for their factories. Mind you, we don't actually have any factories any more, which is part of the problem. Arguably, if the 'lower classes' who so worry Flight actually had jobs - jobs that paid a living wage - they might not produce so many children. But whatever the rights and wrongs of Flight's outburst, it's left me thinking that perhaps I've misjudged the coalition. I mean, if their policies on social benefits are going to result in the extinction of the Tory-voting rich bastards, then I'm all for them! Maybe this is all part of the Liberal Democrats cunning plan to destroy the Tory voter-base from within! Or maybe Lord Flight is simply as bonkers and out of touch as his colleague Lord Young?

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Benny Hill Close

Yes, indeed folks - Benny Hill Close, the place where sexual stereotypes and innuendo still live. At least, that's what I'd like to think. I was actually there the other day. Not by intention, you understand. I was on a course for work, and came upon Benny Hill Close on my way from the railway station to the venue. (If you know where Benny was born and lived, you'll know where the course was held). Sadly, I didn't have my camera with me, so I wasn't able to take a picture of this historic road sign. Instead, you'll have to make do with one I found on a BBC News story. I was quite disappointed that I couldn't hear that bloody saxophone music playing, whilst a fat bloke in glasses was chased all around the houses by a gang of scantily clad young women. Mind you, it was a cold day.

But why should we think that naming a street after a comedian is odd? After all, we have plenty of roads named after composers, politicians and military heroes. Not to mention monarchs. Of course, what they have in common is that, generally speaking, they've all been dead for quite a while before having these streets named in their honour. This somehow makes us feel as if they've 'earned' their right to a street name, that they've proven their 'worth' by still being remembered decades after their deaths. (Although that doesn't always work - despite Stalin having been dead for forty-odd years at the time, I remember being quite startled to find a road named after him in Essex some years ago). Which is why it is easy to feel that Benny Hill is somehow 'not worthy' of this accolade - it feels that he simply hasn't been dead long enough. Which is foolish. After all, love him or loath him, there's no doubt that he made a huge contribution to British popular culture. He certainly returned smut to its rightful place in prime time TV schedules. Mind you, I'm left wondering who amongst today's crop of comedians will make the grade to have roads named after them? Jimmy Carr Close, perhaps? Or Russell Brand Boulevard? Frankie Boyle Avenue even.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Never Had it So Good

At least, that's what Lord Young tried telling us shortly before he was forced to resign. But was he actually right in what he said? Not about the never having had it so good bit - unless you are a banker with a fat bonus, of course - but in another telling phase he used, when he described the current economic situation as "this so-called recession". Was he admitting what most us know already - that the supposedly dire economic situation the last Labour government allegedly left us in is nowhere near as severe as Cameron and Co. are claiming? Don't get me wrong here - I'm not denying that there has been a very severe global economic downturn, that can't be denied. But the important word here is global - it hasn't just been confined to the UK, therefore cannot be blamed upon the previous government. Unless, of course, Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling were going around the world wrecking the economies of countries as diverse as Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Japan, for instance. If they were, then they should be congratulated, as this would indicate that under New Labour the UK had colossal overseas influence - on a scale not seen since the days of Empire, in fact.

Getting back to the point, more or less, the reason why the Tory leadership got so upset about Young's remarks was precisely because he had let slip the truth: that the economic situation in the UK is nowhere near as severe as they are claiming. Certainly not severe enough to justify the massive cuts in public spending being implemented and the virtual dismantling of the NHS. No, it is just a convenient smokescreen for the Tories to implement their extreme right-wing economic policies. Not that any of these cuts are ideologically motivated, they claim. But if that's the case, how come the likes of 'Gorgeous' George Osborne were merrily talking about massive cuts to public expenditures when they were in opposition, long before the economic downturn? But we shouldn't be surprised - this whole coalition government has been built on lies. Most glaringly, the lie that the Liberal Democrats were only in it it to act as some kind of restraining influence on the Tories. Well, I'm still waiting for them to start restraining...

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Monday, November 22, 2010

To The Devil, an Underage Sexpot

For many, many years it was an article of faith amongst us aficionados of classic Hammer horror films that, amongst their late period (1970-76) output, To The Devil a Daughter stands out as their absolute worst. It was always agreed that it was little wonder that this was their last horror movie - despite the presence of Hammer icon Christopher Lee and Hollywood heavyweight Richard Widmark, it is a truly dismal affair, with an incomprehensible script, no proper climax, a complete lack of atmosphere and poorly staged set-pieces. Personally, I've always preferred The Satanic Rites of Dracula - another frequently reviled product of Hammer's closing years - at least it's reasonably good fun to watch, coming over like an especially demented episode of The Avengers. Anyway, of late I've noticed several attempts by various writers to rehabilitate To The Devil a Daughter, pointing out that it represented Hammer's last-gasp attempt to transcend its Gothic horror-style and make a 'modern' horror film in the vein of The Exorcist, or The Omen, making the resulting film's lack of the usual Hammer trappings and slickness forgivable. Indeed, they argue, it is, at least partially, successful in this aim, it's more visceral approach and 'realistic' look being cited as evidence for this.

Whilst I respect this view, (and agree that Hammer really did need to move away from the Gothic in order to compete with its rivals in the 1970s - simply plonking Dracula down in 1970s London, as they did in Dracula AD1972, their initial answer to the new wave of contemporary horror appearing at this time, was never going to cut it), I think that they are wrong. I'm not adverse to reassessing films myself - I don't think the aforementioned Dracula AD1972 is anywhere near as bad as people always made it out to be, (although it still isn't very good), for instance - but I'm afraid that To The Devil a Daughter is irredeemable. It might well be a bold attempt at a new direction, but there's no getting away from the fact that it is quite simply poorly made. If it had a coherent script or a better budget, it might have succeeded. But it didn't. For many years I thought the only pleasure to be derived from watching it came from the sight of Natassia Kinski stark bollocking naked for large parts of the film. But now I find that I probably shouldn't even have been enjoying that. It was always assumed that Natassia Kinski was at least eighteen when she shot those scenes. However, I've recently read that there is actually some confusion over her birth date, and that she might have been only fifteen when she made the film. Meaning, of course, that I'm a peado for watching it. So are you, if you've seen it, or are now planning to buy the DVD. It seems Hammer really were ahead of their time with this film, producing child pornography before anyone had ever heard of it. A film that turns viewers into unwitting nonces - now that really is diabolical!


Friday, November 19, 2010

A Royal Wedding, Hurrah!

Hooray, hooray! There's going to be a Royal Wedding! Prince What's-his-name is marrying that bint the tabloids like photographing. Isn't it just what we want to lift the doom and gloom of this recession, eh? There's nothing like a bit of pomp and circumstance to lift the spirits of the proles in the face of devastating public service cuts, redundancies, pay cuts and abject poverty. Oh yes, television screens showing lots of unfeasibly posh and rich pillocks arriving in their limos at Westminster Abbey in HD and widescreen will make the common man happy! At least, that's what those Tory toffs who have seized power hope. Yes indeed, folks, I feel another of those 'convenient conspiracies' coming on! I mean, after those students stormed Tory HQ during that protest over tuition fees the other week, the bastards must have been bricking it, worried that the backlash against their neo-Thatcherite policies was kicking in earlier than expected. With the whiff of revolution in the air, there was only one thing for it - a Royal Wedding.

The masterstroke, of course, lies in having a Prince marrying a commoner - that's bound to keep the masses happy. After all, it gives them hope, doesn't it? Next time it could be them marrying into a life of unimaginable wealth. Such dreams are invaluable in keeping people's minds off of the dreary reality of their lives. That said, the bride-to-be isn't your average commoner, now is she? Her parents - described by the media as 'self-made millionaires' - are almost as well-off as the Royal Family. But of course, with Britain entering a 'New Age of Austerity', (a phrase currently being registered as a trademark by David Cameron), there are calls for the Royal couple to set an example and have a lower-key, low-budget wedding. Somehow, though, I can't see the entire Royal Family turning up at the Windsor Registry Office before retiring to the back room of a local pub for beer and crab sandwiches, followed by a quick dance to the pulsating eighties soundtrack of Big Barry's Mobile Disco. My money's still on Westminster Abbey and a knees up at the Palace - but with a modest guest list restricted to only the five hundred richest toffs in Europe.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Bloody North

The North. Of England, I mean. Obviously. A few weeks ago BBC Four devoted a whole season to The North, celebrating the way, since the 1960s, both how it has been depicted in popular culture, and how it has contributed to this culture. You see, prior to the 1960s, we in the South had culturally oppressed the North. As if it wasn't bad enough that we had all the money, whilst they just had dark satanic mills and down trodden workers, we also dominated popular culture: books and plays were all written by Southerners and set in the South. Likewise films. As for radio and television - well, what can I say? All those posh accents and received pronunciation. There wasn't any respite in the Music Halls - all dominated by cheeky London chappies like Max Miller. Even when the North was the subject of popular culture, it was depicted as a caricature - all flat caps and whippets - through the eyes of Southern writers, performers and directors. Even since the North's cultural rediscovery in the 1960s, it's been an uphill struggle for them to get their programmes on the telly and voices on the radio in the face of those hostile Southern media elites.

Of course, the only flaw in this argument is that, for as long as I can remember, popular culture has actually been dominated by Northerners. If I and my fellow Southerners are culturally oppressing the North, how come is it that I rarely, if ever, hear anybody on TV or the radio speaking with an accent like mine? Even during regional opt-outs on TV, I usually only hear received pronunciation, not my local accent. And there you have part of the problem - the confusion of 'The South' with 'London'. They are two different things. Most of the alleged 'Southerners' dominating the media and popular culture are actually from London and the Home Counties. Those of us in the real South - West of Surrey, South of the Thames - have been as 'culturally oppressed' as the North. In fact, we've suffered far worse. As I've already mentioned, there is a distinct lack of our accents in evidence in the media, and virtually every 'gritty' TV drama, soap opera or sitcom I see is set in some grim Northern industrial city, with which I don't identify. The best we can hope for is the odd Thomas Hardy adaptation or repeats of Wycliffe on ITV 3. Things like Eastenders and Only Fools and Horses don't count - they're set in London.

To be honest, I thank God that Ian Holloway is currently managing Blackpool in the Premier League - it at least means that I get to hear someone with an accent similar to mine speaking on primetime TV. Even if he is a bit of a nutter. Apart from him, who else have we got? Bill Bailey, Russell Howard and Justin Lee bloody Collins are the only other names that spring to mind.
But, of course, it's all our own fault for being so affluent and middle class. Which are the usual reasons given for the howls of protest you get emanating from the North whenever the South is featured in TV drama, or the weather forecast starts by telling us how much it rained in Cornwall today. "If it happened in the North, it would never had made the national news", is the usual Northern lament I hear. Really? All I ever bloody seem to see on the TV are stories from the North! You know, we do have poverty and low wages in the South, you don't have a monopoly on misery up North - the rural working classes get shafted just as much as the flat cap brigade. OK. we don't have the heavy industry down here, but we do have low paid agricultural workers living in tied cottages. It's just as bad. Don't get me wrong - I actually like the North, I've often been on holiday there. They're generally pretty nice people. I'm just sick and tired of being inundated with their popular culture, then being told that I'm the one culturally oppressing them! Oh, and their beer is like piss.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finding Happiness

So, the ongoing shambles which constitutes our government now wants to measure our 'happiness'. After all, according to Dave, '"money isn't everything", (which is something which only rich people ever say, usually to placate their poor, underpaid, servants), meaning that we need something other than Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to tell us how well we're doing. When I first read about this, I had to check the date, in case I'd somehow overslept by several months, and it was now April Fool's Day. Of course, in the wake of this announcement, there were plenty of beardy-weirdies coming out the woodwork and prattling on about what a great idea this was, how general 'happiness' levels were a better measurement of the country's well-being than GDP. However, none of them have managed to enlighten me to exactly how we quantify this elusive thing called 'happiness'. Are there degrees of happiness? Is it a constant, as in the same things make everyone happy?

The vagueness surrounding the concept of 'happiness' and what causes it, is underlined by a supposedly scientific study I read about today, which found that people frequently go off into day dreams, regardless of what they're actually doing. However, the study found, they often reported being 'unhappy' when drifting off into day dreams, although the study couldn't decide whether the day dreaming state was the cause or result of the 'unhappiness'. Here's a clue guys, people rarely day dream about things which make them unhappy, but they frequently find distractions from 'unhappy' situations. Even if we can measure 'happiness', what does the government propose doing with the results? The whole thing sounds suspiciously like a variation of the 'focus groups' that Tony Blair allegedly set so much store by when it came to policy formulation. Only worse. I fear that we face the nightmarish prospect of the government trying to introduce policies which they believe will make the greatest number of voters 'happy', according to some vague utilitarian calculation. They probably also hope that if people are poor but 'happy', they won't notice the fact that the government has completely wrecked the economy and the country's social infrastructure and services in the name of making the rich richer. The bottom line is that this wild and woolly idea is yet another desperate attempt by the Tory bastards and their Illiberal Democrat friends to convince us that they are kind and caring. Fat Chance.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

The Great News Swindle

I'm quite disappointed that the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have called off their threatened strike at BBC News, which was scheduled for later this week. Not because of any ideological considerations. It's just that I enjoyed their last forty-eight hour strike so much. It really was fun watching the BBC's management desperately scrabbling around, trying to fill up the schedule on the BBC News Channel. It got to the stage on the second day, that I was sure that they were just making it up as they went along. It was all reminiscent of the situation you usually get between Christmas and New Year, when there's absolutely nothing to report on and all the 'A-list' presenters and journalists are on holiday. Consequently, you get newspapers and TV news bulletins full of trivia, retrospectives and top ten-type lists, all presented or written by unfamiliar faces. By early evening of the second day, they were giving the distinct impression that their news agenda, such as it was, was being driven by what they could find on line. Certainly, that's the only explanation I could think of for poor Lily Allen's health problems suddenly being promoted to being the second lead item in the evening news bulletin - it really did seem like something they'd found on a tabloid website.

I was also fascinated by the newsreaders they managed to find - sourced, it seemed, from local television and cable channels. (I've been told that the guy who ended up anchoring the BBC News Channel for most of Saturday used to be married to my favourite local TV weather girl. All I can say is, it's no wonder she's been smiling a lot more since she divorced him earlier this year). The only foreign correspondent the BBC seemed to have filing reports normally was in Haiti, (which consequently became the lead story all day), whilst other overseas reports seemed be being filed by local journalists. Not only was the whole thing entertainingly different, (not to mention desperate), it emphasised how relatively easy it is for news channels to find non-news stories to fill up their schedules. The difference, of course, is that normally they're able to give the whole thing a more polished and professional veneer, to disguise the vacuity.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yet Another Overheard Conversation

Another slice of uninformed opinion overheard at a bus stop:

Bloke with pierced eyebrow: "I reckon they should ban those shoes which curl up at the toes - the type bloody Arab terrorists wear. I mean, that bloke on the plane, the 'shoe bomber', he was wearing them - the curled up bit means they can carry 25% more explosives than normal shoes."

Man in corduroy jacket: "Isn't that a bit racist? You could argue that platform shoes have more space for Semtex, but you don't see many Muslims wearing them under their burkas, do you?"

Woman with moustache: "That's just stupid - platform soles aren't hollow!"

Youth with raging acne: "Yeah, the Arabs have got form for it, anyway. Look at those baggy trousers they like wearing - lots of space for suicide bombers to conceal explosives. They should ban them as well!"

Man reading Daily Mail: "That's where Blair and Bush went wrong in the Gulf War, they should have made out sure they destroyed all the boot and clothing factories in Iraq - it's the only way we'll ever win the war on terror."

Fellow in trilby: "Excuse me, I think you are all wrong - it isn't Arabs who wear that sort of clobber -it's the Turks. They're on our side!"

Man reading Daily Mail: "Then they should of bombed Turkey's factories - they're obviously supporting terrorism by exporting their exploding shoes and trousers."

Bloke with pierced eyebrow: "Bloody true, mate! I've heard that Iran is building a new shoe factory - we should bloody take them out in a pre-emptive strike!"

At which point, thankfully, the bus arrived.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Christmas Watch 2010

Well, we've managed to reach November this year before I've felt compelled to mention the stealthy arrival of Christmas into our High Streets. Last year you couldn't help but notice its arrival as early as September. Perhaps the recession has held it up this year. That said, as in 2009, the tins of sweets and biscuits could be seen on sale in September, but the supermarkets were going to great lengths to reassure us that this had nothing to do with Christmas. At least the mince pies and Christmas puddings were kept off the shelves until late October. What moved me to make this post was the sudden appearance of a fully decorated Christmas tree in a branch of Tesco today. Not only was it the first of the season, as far as I can see, but it simply appeared, unheralded and without warning. I mean, did anybody actually see it being put up and decorated? I'm beginning to suspect that the bloody things just materialise, possibly from some other dimension, where it is forever Christmas.

Whatever the reason, I found that tree's sudden appearance today somewhat sinister. It wouldn't have been so bad if it had been accompanied by other festive decorations in the store, or if other shops had put up trees and decorations. But no, there it was, just lurking there in the corner of the entrance, like some malignant creature, sizing up unsuspecting shoppers with a view to ensnaring them into the festive season. OK, I know I should have expected it - Christmas lights are already being switched on up and down the country and the seasonal adverts are back on the telly - but it was just the sheer stealthiness with which it arrived. Like the vanguard of an invasion. Perhaps that's what is happening - everyone just assumes that these trees have been put up by somebody, whereas, in reality, they're an alien army, biding their time and lulling us into a false sense of security before they strike. You won't know anything about it until you suddenly hear that tinkling of decorative balls and the rustle of pine needles behind you, but by then it will be too late, as you spin round to find one of the green bastards about to strangle you with a string of tinsel...

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Stumbling Along

I had the tedious experience of having a story from The Sleaze posted on Stumbleupon by someone this weekend. I say tedious, because it followed the usual pattern - lots of traffic to a single page for a twenty-four hour period before everything crashed back down to normal. Now, I know what you are saying: he complains that traffic is down, but when he gets a whole shed load of the stuff, he still bloody complains! The problem, of course, comes down to the type of traffic the site is getting, as much as its volume. The Stumbleupon incident demonstrates this perfectly - sure, like all social bookmarking sites, it can produce huge amounts of traffic, the trouble is that it is entirely transitory and doesn't benefit the site as a whole. In this case, it resulted in a story I wrote some eight years ago, Burglars' Banquet, suddenly going through the roof traffic wise, whilst newer, more relevant and better written stories were ignored. Moreover, only a tiny fraction of those visitors bothered clicking on any other pages and even fewer (if any), will ever return. In a nutshell, they're 'low quality' visitors, who aren't really interested in the site or its content.

The same goes for most of the traffic generated by social networking services like Facebook and Twitter. Despite what many internet 'gurus' will try and tell you, these services are utterly useless for building meaningful traffic for sites like The Sleaze. (That said, I have found that once a story is posted on Twitter, Google will generally index it far quicker than it normally would). So, the quest for every webmaster's 'Holy Grail' of quality traffic continues. But what exactly constitutes 'quality' traffic? For commercial sites it means visitors who actually buy the products or services they are selling, of course. For the likes of me, it means visitors who are actually looking for the kind of material I'm publishing - these are usually characterised by the fact that they read multiple pages in a visit and return at regular intervals. Interestingly, over the past few weeks, I've had quite a few more of this type of visitor than usual, but whether this is developing into a trend, it's too early to tell. But why should I care what type of traffic I'm getting, a hit is a hit, isn't it? Well, over the years of publishing The Sleaze, I've found that there's nothing more disheartening than realising that large numbers of your visitors clearly aren't remotely interested in anything you've written. There really is no point in writing and publishing stuff if nobody appreciates it. As I've said before, it is far better to have fewer, but more appreciative readers. Now, it could be that there aren't significant numbers of web users out there interested in my stuff, but I remain convinced that the quality traffic is out there somewhere. Finding it is another matter.

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Monday, November 08, 2010

More Lunacy From the Inbox of Doc Sleaze

I was beginning to fear that I was losing my ability to attract the nutters. In my capacity as editor of The Sleaze, I used to get all manner of strange e-mails from weirdos all over the web - vampire hunters, psychics, occultists, neo-Nazis, TV researchers and religious freaks. But over the past few years all that traffic seems to have dried up. Perhaps my mail service's spam filters have improved, or maybe word got around the fruit cake community that e-mailing me does them no good - I'll just ridicule them more. Whatever the reason, I'd pretty much given up hope of ever receiving another wonderful piece of lunacy, so you can imagine my delight at receiving a missive entitled 'Second Coming' yesterday. It gets off to a cracking start:

Agnus Dei is representative of Magnus Deity. The bible says Christ knew
their thoughts because he was telepathic, like how I am too, and you will
experience it if you get close to me. What the bible doesn’t say is that
people knew the thoughts of Jesus, due to him being omnipresent, like how I
am too and you will also experience that if you get close to me.

Telepathic, eh? Maybe that's how they knew I was hoping for an e-mail from a certifiable maniac to take the piss out of. But all that business about getting 'close to me' is a bit worrying - is he propositioning me, or something? But let's get back to the e-mail:

The bible predicts a red moon which I saw in Wales on Trinity Sunday
evening, it looked like ‘the sun rising in dark times’.
The bible also predicts the sun and moon will be darkened, which will be
perfect circles of cloud covering each so to prove to the public I am Agnus
Dei, God will let these signs occur only if I am Agnus Dei. The moon being
covered this year, the sun next year.

Red Moon? I think you'll find that's down to moisture in the atmosphere, or something. Actually, the moon often seems to have a reddish tint during the early months of the year. Can't say I've noticed the moon being obscured by circular clouds though. But wait, there are more predictions:

There are also predictions of the
sign of the son of man, that was probably the eye in the sky sign I
predicted to UK authorities would occur only to prove to them I am the man
religions have been waiting.
Prophecies also predict he will return like a thief in the night, yep
fulfilled that prophecy too.
The great harlot and their lot were/are people in UK royalty and
authorities of the UK, ‘they marvelled at her jewels’ says the bible.

Wow! Heavy shit man! Eye in the sky, eh? That 'surveillance society' is just getting out of hand, isn't it? So the UK's royalty and authorities are 'harlots', if I'm reading this right? No shit. Not sure about marvelling 'at her jewels', though. Sounds a bit like he means the government are a bunch of peeping Toms - we're back to that surveillance society again.

Well, that's about all there is to this message, aside from a web link I've not bothered clicking on and have no intention of printing here. It probably leads either to malware or more lunacy. But I'm still mystified as to why this joker is telling me all this? Don't get me wrong - I'm glad to receive this as it has provided me with much amusement, but really, I don't give a damn, even if I could understand exactly what it's all about! Perhaps it's satire and the author thinks he's submitting a story. Who knows. Who cares. Long live the lunatics - they make life worthwhile!


Friday, November 05, 2010

On The Road

Another one of my films - obviously not holiday related this time. This one is pieced together from various bits of footage I've shot over recent weeks from my car. Basically, I liked the intros I filmed for the last couple of holiday films so much, I decided to do a whole film in the same style:

The most difficult part of the editing process was cutting down all the stuff I'd filmed to just over three minutes, (in the end the length was dictated by the running time of the music track I'd decided to use). I suppose I should point out that the house you see at the beginning and end isn't my house. As is apparent from the film, because of parking problems on my street, I rent a space in an adjacent council car park. The house just happens to be opposite the space I usually park in. My actual house is at the other end of the street. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the film. I did.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Horrific Viewing

I feel I must mention how much I enjoyed Mark Gatiss' recent BBC Four series, A History of Horror. (And not just because I couldn't help but notice that I have a shirt identical to the one Mark Gatiss was wearing in Part Two - clearly I wasn't the only one who went to that sale at BHS). I usually approach programmes about genres, be it science fiction or - as in this case - horror films, with some trepidation. Particularly when they are fronted by a 'personality'. All too often they prove to be entirely superficial, with some semi-celebrity trotting out the usual received wisdom about the subject, and always focusing on the same old 'classics' from the genre in question. However, A History of Horror proved to be quite different. Gatiss demonstrated his knowledge, and love, of the subject matter, looking at lesser-known classics like The Blood on Satan's Claw, as well as the usual suspects. He brought real insight, not mention enthusiasm to the series. Of course, I should have been reassured by Gatiss' track record - he wrote and appeared in the excellent Crooked House for BBC Four a couple of Christmases ago, for instance - and by the fact that he had Johnathon Rigby, author of English Gothic, as the series' advisor.

Of course, it helps that Mr Gatiss and myself are both gentlemen of a certain age, who can recall being enthralled by BBC Two's horror double bills which often ran on Saturday nights during the Summer. These would sometimes yoke together an old black and white Universal shocker with a Hammer horror, or maybe a pair of Amicus anthology films. As well as the well-known entries in the various studios' series, they'd also turn up rarer stuff, like Doctor X, Mystery of the Wax Museum or The Man Who Could Cheat Death. Those double-bills were a real education for me. Gatiss also mentioned that an early inspiration for him had been a book on horror movies by Alan Frank, which he'd received as a Christmas present - it became his 'bible' for a while. Interestingly, I too was inspired by an Alan Frank book - a different one to Gatiss' Christmas present - which I borrowed from the local public library. It became my 'bible' on horror movies for some time, (I renewed the loan from the library so many times that the book was in danger of becoming a permanent fixture in my bedroom). Eventually I managed to buy a copy from one of those remaindered bookshops. I still own it. Getting back to the TV series, my only criticism was that it ran for just three parts.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Convenient Conspiracies

Now, I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but recent events are enough to make a man think. This business about the alleged explosive devices on cargo planes - was that convenient, or what? I mean, only the week before we'd had various major players in the airline industry complaining about the overly restrictive security measures passengers flying to the US were having to endure, and demanding they be relaxed, along comes this new airport-related terror scare. What chance now of those security restrictions on passenger flights being relaxed now, eh? Not that I'm saying that the authorities colluded in allowing these devices to fly, initially undetected, on international cargo flights, then release details at the most opportune moment. Obviously. Mind you, it's not the first time this sort of thing has happened, is it? What about the London suicide bombers? There was the government, facing increasing pressure over its anti-terror legislation, with critics claiming it was an overreaction, and completely unnecessary, when, right on cue, a bunch of Islamic fundamentalists blow themselves and half the tube system up.

Let's not forget 9/11 while we're on the subject. Those attacks were a Godsend for the Bush administration, which had been looking for an excuse to move against Iraq since it was elected. Once again, right on cue, the terrorists struck, ensuring a boost in popularity for a reactionary government which enabled them to implement their highly dangerous foreign policy. Then again, of course, it could all be coincidence, in every one of those cases. Which is what the conspiracy theorists can never seem to accept - that sometimes things just happen in isolation and that events which seem to be related in hindsight, are actually quite separate. It's easy to see 'patterns' and make spurious connections between unrelated events when you view them from a distance. The reality is that coincidence plays a bigger part in life than most of us are prepared to admit. The truth is that there is no great plan - things just happen without any particular purpose. But, like all good obsessives, the conspiracy theorists need to be able to make everything fit neatly into a plan. Personally, I've never really liked plans. I prefer to play it by ear. Like the universe.

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Out With a Bang

We're in that strange week between Halloween and Guy Fawkes night once again. The pumpkins and costumes are vanishing, but we're not officially meant to be letting off fireworks yet. Unofficially, of course, the bloody things are going off all the time. Which isn't surprising - everyone has got themselves psyched up over Halloween, only for it to be over almost as soon as it has started, so naturally they're looking for another outlet for their enthusiasm. There are other solutions of course - like combining the two events. At least, that's what Big Sleazy managed to convince me to do this past weekend. Encouraged by my cousin Suzie Sleaze - she's from the US, where Halloween is much bigger than it is here - Big Sleazy donned a Michael Myers mask and set off trick or treating with a box of fireworks. Actually, it has to be said that, contrary to first impressions, Suzie was something of a moderating influence here - Big Sleazy's original concept for combining Halloween with Guy Fawkes Night involved firing rockets through the windows of the local Catholic church before burning the priest at the stake.

Anyway, getting back to what Big Sleazy actually did, I'm afraid it was all too predictable. Of course, most people being confronted with a grown man on their doorstep shouting 'trick or treat', simply told him to bugger off and slammed the door in his face. With dire consequences, Roman candles were shoved through their letterboxes and Catherine wheels nailed to their front doors. One poor bugger had his green house destroyed by a fusillade of rockets - he really shouldn't have told Big Sleazy to grow up and act his age. However, Big Sleazy's piece de resistance was to shove a bundle of bangers into any jack o'laterns he came across outside houses - there were bits of pumpkin spattered all over the fronts of houses up and down local streets.

Eventually, though, Big Sleazy found himself hoist by his own petard, so to speak. Drunk with the success of his destructive spree, (not to mention half a bottle of vodka), he forgot where he was and knocked on my front door. Unfortunately for Big Sleazy, I'd taken his advice about combining Halloween with Guy Fawkes night, and was prepared for trick or treaters - on the first knock, my door flew open and I fired the battery of rockets I had set up in the hallway. He was bloody lucky that I'd been expecting someone considerably younger to come trick or treating, so they were angled too low to hit his head, although one singed his scrotum as it passed between his legs. Not to worry - the hospital say that his pubic hair should grow back eventually, and that the third degree burns to his arm and chest aren't too serious. He should be fully recovered for next Halloween.

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