Friday, September 30, 2011

When Bare Breasted Cave Women Ruled The Box Office

I recorded When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth from BBC4 the other night. It's one of the best bad movies ever made, even the opening credits contain a glaring error. Incredibly, Hammer Films employed noted science fiction author J G Ballard to come up with a script. Not surprisingly, they hated it, and the film's director, Val Guest, came up with a new script. Ballard, however, was still credited with producing the original treatment. Sadly, adding insult to injury, the credits refer to him as 'J B Ballard'. Such a faux pas is, to be frank, even worse than having cavemen and dinosaurs co-existing, (the usual criticism levelled at this type of film by pedants). Getting back to the film, when I was a teenager there was much anticipation amongst myself and my friends when it was to have its first TV showing. We all knew from older brothers who had seen it on its original cinema release that the film didn't just have dinosaurs - it also had naked cave women. Leading lady Victoria Vetri took her fur bikini top off in a couple of scenes. Bare breasts and prehistoric reptiles - a heady combination for teenage boys in the 1970s!

So, you can imagine our disappointment when the version shown on TV turned out to be the US release print, with the naughty bits removed. Which isn't to say that Victoria Vetri's performance wasn't truly trouser straining for us - within the first few minutes she nearly falls out of her top. Plus, the film also boasts the lovely Imogen Hassel as a rival cave girl, (sadly, depressed by the fact that this was the only type of role she ever seemed to be offered, Hassel committed suicide in 1980). There have been subsequent TV screenings of the full UK release version of When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth, which I've caught. However, by the time I saw that version, it was impossible to recreate that sexual excitement I'd felt as a teenager in expectation of seeing Victoria Vetri's breasts. Nevertheless, for old time's sake, I decided to watch the film again when I saw it in the schedules for this week. Unfortunately, upon checking, I found that BBC4 had shown the edited version, depriving a new generation a glimpse of Miss Vetri's assets. Apparently, the unedited version was briefly released on DVD in the US a few years ago, but quickly withdrawn when it was realised that it included nudity. The DVD has subsequently become a collector's item and fetches ludicrous prices on Amazon these days.

To be frank, whilst - in 1970, at least - Victoria Vetri was very beautiful, I honestly don't think that I'd be prepared to pay upwards of fifty quid to see her knockers again. (Actually, if you're really desperate to see them, there's the slightly cheaper option of buying the Spanish DVD release, which is complete - as the cave people all speak some made-up dialect, there's no language problem - or, you can find the relevant scene on You Tube, for free). For what it's worth, the last I heard of Vetri, she was serving time for trying to kill her husband. Presumably with a flint axe or a mammoth tusk. Even without her bared breasts, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth still has a lot to recommend it, principally the fact that it is barking mad. The main criticism I'd make would be the fact that the producers felt it necessary to pad it out with some stock footage from Irwin Allen's awful 1960 version of The Lost World. The photographically enlarged lizards with stick-on fins and horns look very ropey in comparison with Jim Danforth's excellent stop-motion dinosaurs which grace the rest of the film. Still, what do I know? Despite its ludicrousness, the movie was a big money-maker back in 1970. Like I said; bared boobs and dinosaurs - a winning box office combination for young male audiences.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Was it Something I Said?

I have to ask, as it appears that my next door neighbours have done a runner by night. It isn't the first time. I've mentioned before the previous neighbours who ran off on Christmas Day one year, leaving most of the contents of the house discarded in the back alley. The current bunch were slightly more discreet - the main clue to their departure being the hired van parked across the road and the sound of furniture being moved in the early hours of the morning. Not that the latter is unusual - they did seem to keep some very odd hours. They also moved in at about three in the morning, now that I come to think about it. Anyway, the fact is that they seem to have scarpered without saying a word to anyone, especially me. It's enough to make a man paranoid. I wouldn't mind, but until a couple of months ago, they'd barely exchanged a word with me. Now I'm wondering if it was something I said in any of those brief exchanges.

That said, I don't think I ever said anything to the other lot who vanished without warning. So maybe it isn't me. But nonetheless, it gets you to thinking - am I a good neighbour? I try to be - I try to keep the noise levels down and not play Deep Purple or Hendrix at full volume in the early hours. I'm certainly quieter than some of the other neighbours I've had - particularly that lot who not only shagged loudly, but also played the same bloody Killers single over and over again at one in the morning. I retaliated with Deep Purple's Machine Head at full volume. Then there was the one whose boyfriend used to turn up drunk at three in the morning, hammering on the door and shouting abuse until taken away by the police. Lest you think that I don't get on with any of my neighbours, I've actually got on pretty well with many of them. The ones before the latest absconders, for instance, were really nice and I was very sorry to see them go. At the end of the day, the high turn over of tenants next door has more to do with their landlord than me - several of them have spoken of him in less than glowing terms. Still, I could be wrong about the latest lot - maybe they've just gone on holiday. Although, in my experience, going on holiday doesn't usually involve hiring a van and loading your furniture into the back. Ah well, I await new neighbours with trepidation!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

War and Peace

Apparently the world is too peaceful. That's the clear sub-text to the reporting of the jobs losses in the UK's arms industry which were announced today. The losses aren't just down to the Tories' slashing of the UK's defence spending, but also a decline in defence spending worldwide. Obviously, not enough wars are being fought, otherwise there would be greater demand for new tanks, planes, missiles and the like. At least, that's what it sounds like. Clearly, the thrust of British foreign policy should be to go around the world, stirring up conflicts. William Hague has already had a go at it in Libya, but that looks to be winding down, and has all been pretty low-tech. Indeed, the only 'High-Tech' weapons employed in Libya were used by the UK and its allies - at considerable expense to them, which rather defeats the object.

What we need are local conflicts which don't require international intervention, but will require both sides to expend large quantities of weapons and munitions, so as to stimulate demand. Perhaps there could be a whole new role for our intelligence services: spreading disinformation to the governments of target countries, so as to increase tension with their neighbours. Special Forces could get in on the act as well, creating acts of sabotage that can be attributed to rival states, in order to ramp up international tensions. Of course, the really radical alternative would be for the UK to restructure its manufacturing industry so as to be less dependant on arms exports. Damn it, we have a whole section of the Ministry Defence, the Defence Export Services Organisation, devoted to helping our manufacturers sell weapons to foreign countries. (I once refused a move there on the grounds that I thought it was completely immoral).

Consequently, my feelings over these job losses is mixed: whilst I'm always saddened by the news that people are losing their livelihoods, another part of me is quite happy that we're not helping to kill as many people as before. I don't think being a merchant of death is really something to be proud of. It's the same with the reduction in size of the armed forces. Whilst ex-Admiral Alan West (aka 'Captain Towpath'), might think that it is a bad thing to be reduced, militarily, to the level of 'bloody Denmark or Belgium', I quite welcome the idea that, as a nation, we might finally be shedding our delusions of international grandeur. Which isn't to say that I, in any way, support or approve of the Tories' spending cuts. Sadly, they aren't designed to transform us into a liberal-minded modern European state that respects civil liberties and lives within its means. Quite the opposite, in fact. The money saved from down-sizing the armed forces won't be redistributed to pay for schools and hospitals, and redundant munitions workers won't be found jobs where they can employ their skills peacefully. Bastards.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Another Castle (Part One)

Ok, here we go with another film from my holiday. We're at another castle , a few miles down the coast from the previous one. This fort is much smaller, but the are around it was, at one time, a seaplane base and, during the Second World War, a flying boat base. Nowadays, the old hangars used to service the flying boats are part of an outdoor activity centre. As with the previous castle visit, this one is in two parts, with this first episode covering the central keep.

Between the wars, the site was also the base for the Schieder Trophy seaplane races, hence the model of the Supermarine Trophy-winning seaplane on the second floor of the keep. Hopefully, I'll get around to editing part two, covering the rest of the castle, soon.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Pervos of Comedy

I seem to have watched a lot of those Heroes of Comedy programmes on TV lately. To be fair, they're difficult to avoid: More 4 tend to show them back-to-back late at night, you can then catch more of them being repeated on Yesterday in daytime at weekends. I'm sure they must turn up on other channels as well. Anyway, after watching a few of them, it occurred to me that they were pretty selective in the bits of their subject's lives they focused on. Take the one on Norman Wisdom, for instance. It skates over his career in the late 1960s, mentioning his successful appearance in the Hollywood movie The Night They Raided Minskys, but offered little explanation as to why his film career then abruptly ended, simply claiming that he had to return to the UK to look after his children. What it misses out, of course, is his notorious last starring role in a film, the 1969 sex comedy What's Good for the Goose. Yes, that's right, Norman Wisdom was in a sex comedy, playing a middle aged bank manager who has a mid-life crisis and runs off with a hippie chick. There are bared boobs, bedroom scenes and you even get a flash of Norman's bum. Really, I'm not making this up. The most incredible thing about the film was that Wisdom himself was one of the prime movers behind it. Apparently he thought it would bring him to a new audience.

Not surprisingly, the film - which was produced by Tigon, the film company better known for its horror pictures like Witchfinder General - bombed at the box office and has only rarely been shown on TV. It is rarely mentioned in Wisdom's filmographies and most documentaries about him completely ignore its existence. History has, effectively, been rewritten. The image the entertainment industry now likes to paint of Norman Wisdom is as a wholesome family entertainer, a slapstick clown who never had to resort to the sort of crude humour and lewdness that modern comedians employ to get laughs. But Wisdom isn't the only popular old school comic to have had a brush with adult cinema airbrushed out of his life. 'Big hearted' Arthur Askey, another Heroes of Comedy subject, infamously appeared in the celebrated 1970s sex comedy Rosie Dixon, Night Nurse. Thankfully, unlike Norman Wisdom, Askey has no bedroom scenes and doesn't bare his bum or ogle any bared breasts. But he does pinch a few bottoms. Which is hardly surprising as his role is that of Arkright, the bottom-pinching patient. As with the Norman Wisdom episode, the edition of Heroes of Comedy devoted to Arthur Askey completely ignores this part of his career. Once again, it just wouldn't have fitted the image of Askey as the clean-humour purveying family favourite that it was pushing.

Now, to be fair, Askey wasn't the only popular comedian appearing in British sex comedies in the 1970s - they paid reasonably well and were semi-respectable: Chick Murray, for instance, seemed to make a career out of them in his later years. The difference with Murray, though, was that he loved making them and never tried to sweep them under the carpet. So, next time you are watching some old footage of Tommy Cooper, just remember him, wearing only a fez, chasing the Collinson twins around a magician's workshop, shouting 'Just like that' as he comes, in 1973's That Magic Touch. ( The scene where he uses his knob instead of a sword to thrust through a wicker basket containing his assistant is a classic). Or when you settle down to watch that repeat of the 1976 Morecambe and Wise Christmas special this year, try not to think about their thee-in-a-bed romp with David Warbeck in the 1971 gay porn opus Boulevard Boy. OK, I made those up, but believe me, Arthur Askey did appear in Rosie Dixon, Night Nurse!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Boys from the Back Room

So, now's not the time for 'the backroom boys', eh? The current crisis requires real leadership. At least, that's what Nick 'Calamity' Clegg told us at the Tory Lickspittles, sorry, Liberal Democrats, conference this week. The 'backroom' boys he was so dismissive of were the two Eds - Milliband and Balls - who, he claimed, had been two of Gordon Brown's 'backroom boys'. Whilst I'm sure that Clegg's intent was to emphasise how he and his pal 'Call me Dave' Cameron are real men of action when it comes to politics, rather than just theorists with no practical skills, for me, it instead just showed him up for the public school bully boy he really is. His sneering tone when he spoke the phrase 'backroom boys' just dripped with the kind of contempt that rugby-playing, good at sports but thick at everything else, prefects always reserve for the smart boys at those public schools. When he said 'backroom boys', he might as well have been saying 'speccy geek weaklings' and when he talked about real leaders, he might s well have been saying 'rugger buggerers'.

That's what this is all about really: Clegg despises the likes of Miliband and Balls not because of political ideology, but because they remind him of the 'clever kids' at his public school - the ones who weren't tolerated because they weren't good at sports, but who, infuriatingly, still make the 'rugger buggerers' feel slightly inadequate. The trouble is that now, out of school, they've risen to positions of authority, and can't be bullied quite so easily. Which is why, of course, Clegg is so desperate to take us back to the politics of the playground, especially as he thinks he is now in a position of power, and resort to name-calling and a primal appeal to Britain's innate anti-intellectualism. You can't trust these brainboxes, he's saying, but you know where you are with us public school prefects - we're good at sports, which means, by extension, we've probably got big cocks. Which means we're very masculine and definitely not gay. Unlike those brainy kids, who smell, as well. And if you are lucky, we'll give you a bloody good caning! You know you want it! God, what a cunt you are, Clegg.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nothing But The Truth?

How do we differentiate fact from fiction? More specifically, how do we decide what we are prepared to accept as being factual in terms of popular media? Do we simply take, say, newspaper stories at face value, assuming that the people who write them are honest and informed? It's quite surprising he extent to which we actually do take media reports at face value. The problem, of course, is that none of us are experts on everything. Indeed, few of us are experts on anything in particular. If we're lucky, we might be well informed on three or four areas of expertise, which might allow us to critically evaluate newspaper stories or TV programmes on these subjects, thereby enabling us to make an informed judgement as to their veracity. However, the media relies upon the fact that most of the time, most of us won't be able to make such a judgement, instead simply presenting their theories as if they actually are fact, secure in the knowledge that they are unlikely to be challenged.

But when they do cover a subject I actually know something about, I'm frequently disturbed by how inaccurate the media can be, with an attitude towards facts and logic that is best described as cavalier. For them, the theory definitely comes first, with the facts selected to fit it. The other day, for instance, I started watching a supposed documentary about the last days of steam traction on British Railways. Except that it wasn't really. It opened with the thesis that, in the post-war period, Britain was flying in the face of conventional wisdom by continuing to build steam locomotives. The rest of the railway world, it claimed were focusing on diesel and electric traction, and phasing out steam as rapidly as possible. An interesting thesis, but one which is completely at odds with the facts. Other countries' railways also continued to build new steam locomotives in the post war period. Indeed, despite a rapid electrification programme, France's SNCF didn't phase out steam traction until 1971. British Railway's last steam hauled services ceased in 1968, despite our alleged 'backwardness'.

The reality is that in the UK there had been large scale modernisation programmes since at least the 1930s - the Southern Railway's scheme to electrify its commuter routes out of London, for instance. Nevertheless, there was nothing Quixotic about the adherence to steam in the UK in the 1950s - it was a tried and tested technology with a huge support infrastructure already in place, not to mention abundant supplies of coal to fuel it. Britain's railways had also survived the war more or less intact. Those in countries like Germany had been badly damaged, the need to rebuild them quickly made diesel traction an attractive option - diesel locomotives are quicker to build and less labour-intensive to run than steam. But none of that made as good a story as the programme makers were trying to peddle. Indeed, I'm sure their thesis seemed quite plausible to casual viewers who didn't have any knowledge of transport history. But to me, it was another case of theory being presented as fact.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Bloody Hooligans!

Some things never change, it seems. I knew that the public demonisation of those involved in the August riots as workshy criminals reminded me of something. Reading The Football Factory by John King has brought it all back to me - pretty much the same treatment was meted out to so called football hooligans back in the 1980s and 1990s by politicians and the media. Then, as now, there was no attempt to try and analyse the underlying causes of the unrest, or to put it into a wider social context. Instead, the hooligans were just dismissed as a bunch of violent thugs. I was always put off of reading The Football Factory because of the bad film made of it with Danny Dyer. (Actually, any film with Danny Dyer is pretty much guaranteed to be bad, not that it stops him making the bloody things - last Christmas I even saw a Danny Dyer box set of DVDs. I mean, who would buy such a thing, apart from his mother, of course?) However, the novel, published in 1996, is excellent, portraying the hooligan phenomena as an expression of the increasing disenfranchisement of the traditional working classes - feeling marginalised by the 'gentrification' of their traditional habitats by the newly monied middle classes, and abandoned by the major political parties.

Like I said at the beginning, some things never change. Arguably, pretty much the same factors lay behind the recent riots - like football hooliganism, largely an urban, inner city phenomena. Even the dramatis personae are similar - mainly young men working in meaningless unskilled jobs, if they had employment, or unemployed youths with little or no prospect of gaining paid employment. Just like the hooligans, they found themselves part of a society which, whilst on the one hand failing to provide them with basic human commodities such as work, housing or hope, on the other hand still expected to be able to control their lives through increasingly stringent and petty seeming laws and restrictions on their behaviour. Significantly, in The Football Factory, the narrator explains at one point the attraction of seeking out violent encounters with rival 'firms': for the 'hooligans' it is one of the few choices they feel that they can freely make any more, and that it represents a brief moment of 'freedom' from society's strait-jacket. Whilst they are running amok, he explains, they are in control, the authorities aren't. Not surprisingly, similar sentiments were expressed by some of those involved in the riots. But hell, what do I know, though? Bloody hooligans! Bloody rioters! We don't need to understand anything about them beyond the fact that they're criminal scumbags! Shoot the lot of 'em! That'll solve the problem!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Circular Walk

As promised, or threatened, depending upon how you look at it, I've finished cutting together my latest holiday film. This one chronicles me tackling the 'Circular Walk' at the same location as the hill fort I've used a location previously. To be honest, I've made a film of this before, a fourteen minute epic, all of which remains is the low quality version I uploaded to this blog a couple of years ago under the title 'A Walk in the Hills'. This latest version is far better (not to mention shorter). Anyway, without further ado, here we go:

It's called the 'Circular Walk', by the way, because the full route traces a circle from the car park and back. The film only shows the main part of the walk, omitting the return journey to the car park and implying that time and space fold back on themselves to bring me back to the beginning. As a matter of interest, when I reach the summit of the sloped near the end, you'll see a rout marker - if I'd turned right here, instead of continuing to the gate, I would have ended up on the narrow hillside path leading to the hill fort, as seen in 'On The Trail'.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Slave Labour?

So, those naughty travellers have been picking up vulnerable people from dole queues and the like and, on the promise of providing them with paid work, force them into modern day slavery. Actually, I thought that was government policy. Oh sorry, they only force the long-term unemployed into performing unpaid 'work experience' with big firms under threat of losing their benefits. Not surprisingly, there's no shortage of employers, (including many big High Street names like Primark), queuing up to take advantage of this supply of government subsidised indentured labour - what capitalist could possibly pass up the chance of having a workforce they don't have to pay? Anyway, getting back to the travellers, they're one of the popular press's favourite objects of hate, with right wing politicians also jumping on the bandwagon when they need a few reactionary votes.

Which is why I can't help but feel that the timing of the police operation against the alleged slavery is significant. Right now the threatened mass eviction of travellers from the Dale Hill site (which they own) by Basildon Council is threatening to engender some sympathy for them. Then, on the eve of the evictions, the headlines are conveniently dominated for a couple of days by a story which casts travellers in general in the worst possible light. It's like when they want to cull badgers - the hunting and shooting brigade always engage in a campaign to discredit the cuddly kids favourites, saying that they spread TB, mug old ladies, sell drugs and rape hedgehogs. In one fell swoop they're transformed from 'Old Brock' into Britain's Most Wanted. Getting back to the travellers, I don't claim to be an expert on their culture, and I'm well ware of the less salubrious side to their activities, but I've had enough dealings with them to know that, ultimately, they're just people. I really don't understand the level of hatred directed toward them by many sections of the media, simply because they choose to pursue a different lifestyle to the middle class tossers who condemn them. I'm just waiting now for Basildon Council to announce that they're going to relocate the travellers in a nice new 'camp', with security guards in towers on the perimeter fence - to keep them safe, obviously, and that they're laying on special trains to take them there...

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An Interlude

I wish I could say that things have improved since yesterday, but they haven't. Traffic to The Sleaze took another nosedive today. Most worryingly, visitor numbers are now plummeting, not just page views. Moreover, we're back in the situation where google is serving us up nothing but 'junk' traffic - people looking for porn, mainly. These are utterly useless as they won't stay beyond landing on a page and finding that it isn't porn. They're also highly unlikely ever to revisit the site. I really wish I knew how to reverse this situation, but I've done everything humanly possible, and it just isn't working. I find it bizarre that, barely two weeks after switching the site over to a new format, I find myself seriously considering admitting defeat and pulling the plug. It would be an ignominious end to over a decade on line, but I can't ignore the fact that the revamp which was supposed to revive the site's fortunes appears to have had the opposite effect.

But, as the title says, this post is meant to be a brief interlude from the doom and gloom, where I tell you what I will be doing in the near future. As I have no stomach for anything satire-related, I'm going to focus on editing all that footage I shot during my holidays to produce some more films. Look out for these over the next few weeks. I also want to get around to looking at a subject which fascinates me - the whole concept of 'suspension of disbelief' when we watch films and TV, or read books. I've been meaning to post about it here for some time, but other things, most notably the August riots, blew me off course. I'm also planning to start over with my model railway in the next few months - it is currently in pieces while I do some repairs to the plaster in my spare room. As it isn't something I've ever discussed much here, I'd quite like to blog a little about the railway. So, regardless of the situation with The Sleaze, rest assured that I'll be continuing to write this blog for the foreseeable future, even if I do pull the plug on The Sleaze.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Sick and Tired

I'm pretty much at the end of my tether. Maybe it's because I went back to work today after three weeks off, but I really don't feel that I can deal with this shit from Google regarding traffic any more. I know that it's early days with the revamped version of The Sleaze, but we have to face facts here, despite an initial boost in traffic after the relaunch, things have declined again. Indeed, Friday saw disastrously low traffic, lower than anything seen pre-revamp. Despite picking up over the weekend, things have crashed again today. The final straw, for me, is the fact that the story I posted yesterday - Spy News - has been completely ignored. It really is frustrating to see this happen to what you know to be a good story, based on an original idea and addressing topical issues. Of course, it doesn't help that Google News seems to have stopped indexing any of our stories. Why, I don't know. The Great God Google doesn't see fit to condescend to tell mere mortals why it is fucking up their endeavours.

I really don't know where to go from here. If Google (which is the only game in town as far as search is concerned), isn't going to treat sites fairly any more and base its search results on relevance, then I just don't see the point in continuing to write and publish original material. In the past, when you lost traffic as a result of an algo change at Google, it was possible to take remedial action - improving your tags, keywords. descriptions and other on page factors - but now, once you've been demoted, there's no coming back, it seems. I'm running out of alternative sources of traffic - social media just don't deliver consistently, other search engines just don't have the market share to deliver significant traffic and link exchanges and the like just don't seem to work any more. So, losing access to Google News could be the death knell for The Sleaze. It really is a bitter blow after putting so much effort into the revamp, but the reality is that, whilst I know there's an audience for it out there, as long as Google in its present incarnation dominates web search, they're unlikely to find The Sleaze. And I just don't have the energy any longer to keep rebuilding the site's traffic, particularly as I know that, as soon as it starts growing again, Google will simply stamp all over my page rankings to push it back down again. I'm afraid that until national governments and regulatory authorities find the balls to take on Google over its search monopoly, then we're going to see more and more small webmasters trying to publish original material on non-commercial sites just give up, leaving the web a far duller place.

So, where now for The Sleaze? For the first time in more than ten years, I really don't know. Right now, after seeing the way Spy News has been treated, I certainly don't feel like wasting my time writing anything else.

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Breaking Waves

Time for another film. This one keeps things simple - it's just a montage of sequences showing waves breaking on one of my favourite beaches. It was filmed at high tide on a very windy day, when the sea was crashing onto the shore quite violently. It opens and closes with a shot from inside my car. Anyway, enough preamble, here's the film:

As I've mentioned a few times, of late I've been unhappy with the quality of the video after I've converted the mp4 files it was shot in, into .avi or .wmv files so that I can edit it in Windows Movie Maker (WMM). So this time I edited the original files in Windows Live Movie Maker (WLMM), which can handle unconverted mp4 files. In the past, I've avoided using WLMM, having been left unimpressed by its lack of functionality compared with the older WMM. However, the most recent update has addressed this, adding a wider range of effects, dissolves and titles. I still don't like the interface and its lack of a proper timeline, (which can make editing and sequencing of clips confusing), but the outputted files do retain their high definition characteristics. Consequently, this is the first true HD movie I've been able to publish here. So, I'm inclined to make assemble the next film - which will require somewhat more complex editing - in WLMM, rather than WMM.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

An Education

One of the persistent myths surrounding our education system is that private schools, and most specifically public schools, turn out pupils imbued with a world-beating 'confidence', which allows them to succeed in life, where their sate school educated counterparts fail. I see it repeated on TV and in newspaper columns, by parents, pundits and politicians. Just lately, we've had that bald headed buffoon Toby Young telling us how the 'free school' he has set up will embrace the 'values' which produce this supposed confidence and, worst of all, we've been subjected to an entirely self-serving piece in The Guardian by the head master of one of those academies for sexual deviance they call public schools, telling the left that they just had to get used to the fact that such institutions are superior at turning out 'confident' and therefore successful students. These apologists will tell you how it is all down to the standards and teaching methods employed in the private education sector.

I'm not buying into any of this propaganda. I never have and never will. The truth is that what many, including many on the left, perceive as 'confidence', I call 'arrogance'. The reality is that the kind of pupils who attend these institutions are already from highly privileged backgrounds, (oh, I know they let in the odd token oik on a scholarship, but that's just to pay lip service to their bogus 'charitable' status), and have never known the kind of deprivation or poverty that a not insignificant attendees at state schools will have. Most significantly, they, or rather their parents, have money. Money to pay the fees charged by these schools, which enable them to provide their students with a level of resources few state schools can provide. However, the real secret to the supposed 'success' that public school pupils subsequently enjoy in life has less to do with the standard of education they receive, and more to do with their privileged backgrounds.

Their parents and families already occupy senior positions in the city, industry or politics and have influence and contacts in other spheres, making it much easier for their offspring to make careers in these same institutions. Moreover, by being at school with other children from similar backgrounds increases their ability to network their way into high paying jobs. Consequently, they needn't fear failure - they know that they can walk into a highly remunerative career. And even if they do 'fail', their families' money means that it really won't be that painful - the dole queue and a damp-ridden council flat won't beckon them. So, enough of this corrosive myth - public school graduates are no better than us oiks from the state sector, just more arrogant.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

In The Castle (Part Two)

Inevitably enough, today I give you Part Two of my recent trip to a coastal fort. I employed a slightly different technique on Part Two than I did on Part One - this time I've made use of montages of still photos for some sequences. In part this was dictated by the nature of the footage I had of this part of the castle. I was a bit pushed for time, so it was quicker to shoot stills than video footage. As I mentioned yesterday, the parts of the castle in this part of the film are focused on its twentieth century career, mainly as an anti-aircraft battery in World War Two. Anyway, without further ado, here's 'In The Castle (Part Two)':

If you are wondering, the rumbling noise on the soundtrack toward the end is the sound of the diesel generator they use for power at the castle, (there's no mains electricity out there). I actually have a fair amount of footage left over from these films, which I might yet try to edit into something coherent.


Monday, September 05, 2011

In The Castle (Part One)

I finally found time over the weekend to edit the footage I shot last week at the castle into two films. As I mentioned at the time, I had to resort to hand-held shooting as setting up the tripod was simply unfeasible at the location. I've been pleasantly surprised by the results - far less shaky than I expected! Anyway, the castle, (parts of which date back to at least the reign of Henry VIII), is effectively divided into two public areas: one, around the keep, concentrates on the Tudor heritage, whilst the other area, around the main courtyard and southern bastion, focuses on World Wars One and Two. Without further ado, here's Part One, which concentrates on the Tudor part of the castle:

You might recognise the castle from last year's film 'To The Lighthouse', where I walked around the exterior walls, (indeed, you can see the titular lighthouse from the earlier film several times in this film). I should point out that, in the interests of brevity, I've combined footage of the first and second floors of the keep, (if you were left wondering why, in one shot the room appears bare, whilst in others it has a display set up in it).

If you liked this film, don't worry, Part Two will be along soon!


Friday, September 02, 2011

Sex Drive?

So, there I was yesterday, driving back from the coast when, on an uphill stretch of dual carriageway, when I had an encounter with a BMW driver. To cut a short story even shorter, I succeeded in outpacing the BMW on the uphill section. I wasn't intending to, and I wasn't racing him, but for whatever reason, despite being in the overtaking lane, the BMW guy's car just seemed to run out breath and, instead of coming past me, fell further behind. But the point of the story isn't the fact that my nine year old Mondeo out ran a Beamer. No, it was the expression on the BMW driver's face as I glanced in my rear view mirror which was the real story. "My God, you've made my cock look small," it said. "I've been emasculated - there's only one way to restore my manhood! I must overtake him!" Which he did, but only on the downhill section, and even then with a lot of effort, considering that I didn't vary my speed at all. As he finally passed me, it was clear that he'd succeeded in his aim - he obviously had an erection and was now ejaculating into his foot well. His manhood restored, he drove on happy.

Not that I'm saying that cars are penis substitutes, but it is quite obvious that for many men they represent an extension of their masculinity. Just look at those tossers who can't bear to have any vehicle infront of them and osessively overtake, regardless of how reckless it might be - they're obviously trying to establish themselves as some kind of alpha male. Unfortunately, they just come off as some kind of cock end to everybody else. Then there are van drivers - always desperate to demonstrate the fact they are 'professional' drivers who have no time for us 'amateurs' who clutter up the roads and obstruct them. When I was driving through the New Forest the other day, one became very impatient at the fact that we car drivers were taking our time to get past a cyclist. I'm afraid that I'm one of those pedants who take the law seriously and tries to give cyclists the full car's width you are meant to when overtaking them. Anyway, the knuckle dragging moron in the van a couple of cars back got so angry that he attempted to overtake the car behind me as that car was itself overtaking the cyclist I'd finally got past. Not that it did him any good - once he was behind me, the oncoming traffic got heavier, stopping him from overtaking again. Moreover, we then entered a built up area and I took great delight in reducing my speed to just below the new speed limits. Finally, in flash of petulance he switched into a lane for buses and taxis and proceeded to drive past the now queued traffic at sixty miles an hour in a thirty zone. Doubtless that re-established his 'professionalim' to his satisfaction.

Now, don't let my treatment of that cyclist in the previous anecdote fool you - I don't like them either. Really, they're the scourge of the road system, huffing and puffing their way along main roads at two miles an hour, causing horrendous tail backs. Have you noticed how you only ever find yourself behind them on blind bends or approaching the brow of a hill, or where there's heavy oncoming traffic preventing you from getting past them? Worst of all is their air of smug superiority - look at me, I'm environmentally friendy, I'm not destroying the planet with my noxious emissions, they always seem to be saying. In their world, anybody driving a car is Satan and is clearly trying to intimidate them. What I especially object to is they way some of them dress - it isn't just those 'knob head' helmets they favour, but those bloody tight lycra bodysuits. Quite frankly, I really don't want some sanctimonius vegan bike rider waggling his barely lycra-clad arse in my my face when I'm trapped behind him. It's quite deliberate on their part - ever noticed how they always raise their buttocks off of the seat and jiggle their cheeks at you as you approach them from behind? How would they like it if I exposed myself to them as I overtook them, eh?

Nevertheless, despite my dislike of them, I don't feel that I have to maim and kill cyclists in order to prove that I'm not gay. Unlike many other drivers, mainly of BMWs. Not that I'm claiming to be immune from the macho aspects of motoring, Many years ago - on the day of Princess Diana's funeral, to be precise, which meant there were no police or other traffic about - I did the ton on that same stretch of dual carriageway I emasculated the BMW on, albeit in the opposite direction. I was driving a 1978 Chevrolet Camaro with a 5.7 litre V-8 at the time - a phallic looking car if ever there was and a red neck macho icon in the US. I won't deny that it made me feel good. Of course, my rationale for doing it was that it was a tribute to the late Princess - after all, she'd died in a speeding car and I'd just driven past Broadlands where she'd spent part of her honeymoon.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

No Laughing Matter

Now, where were we before I was distracted by switching The Sleaze over to its new format? I was probably ranting about the current state of satire - it has become something of an obsession of mine lately. I was reminded of it the other day when I found myself agreeing with something written by Martin Kettle in The Guardian. Well, I suppose that even patronising, faux-liberal, closet Tory, middle class journalists have to be right some of the time. Anyway, he was on about the fact that what passes for satire in the public mind - Have I Got News For You and Private Eye - inevitably has a corrosive effect on political culture. Their relentless cynicism and portrayal of all politicians as venal, corrupt and/or stupid, ultimately undermines public confidence in the political system and discourages anyone with noble intentions from engaging in politics at any level. Whilst Kettle might be attributing more influence to these 'satire' outlets than their viewing figures and circulation, respectively, would indicate. Nevertheless, they are seen as the 'satire' institutions which set the agenda for the wider satire and political humour community.

That's certainly true as far the UK's online 'satire' 'community' goes - the subject matter, the tone, everything about their stories is clearly inspired by Have I Got News For You and Private Eye. Which is depressing. As Kettle points out in his article, the focus of those two 'institutions' is very narrow: corrupt, stupid politicians. It's getting tiresome, not to mentioned tired out. Even when they do foray into areas outside of politics the formula is the same: corrupt, stupid sportsmen/celebrities/journalists/fat people/poor people etc (delete as applicable). Consequently, there are whole areas of public life and current affairs which they simply aren't addressing properly. But, as I've argued before, we shouldn't be surprised as the dominant form of 'satire' these days is effectively 'establishment satire', behind its pretence of 'balance' and political impartiality' lurks a deeply conservative agenda. Which, again, shouldn't surprise us, as its main purveyors are middle class, privately educated men - part of the establishment, in other words.

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