Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On The Picket Line

That's my picket line above, (obviously I'm behind the camera). Despite the apparently small numbers, the fact is that there are less than twenty members of staff (several part-time) at my place of work. S0 five of us represent 25% of the workforce. In addition to those on the picket line, many others stayed at home. Later on we joined the march through Crapchester, joining striking council and hospital workers, teachers, librarians and lecturers, amongst others. There was a surprising amount of public support for the march. Incredibly, we even had the support of the local Labour Party and councillors. If only Ed Miliband and the national party would have the courage to follow suit...

Inevitably, there are those who didn't support us, and I've heard all the jibes about how we should be glad we've even got jobs and so on. I'd just say this to them and their ilk, when, a few years down the line you suddenly wake up and find your civil rights eroded, your pay slashed and your state pensions worthless, perhaps you'll look back on today and wished that you'd joined us.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Making a Stand

We're all doomed! Another recession looms, economic growth is stalling, more and more people are going to lose their jobs. But of course, it has nothing to do with 'Gorgeous' George Osborne's disastrous economic policies. Oh no. It is all down to the economic problems of Greece. And Italy. And the rest of the Eurozone. Most of all, it is the fault of public sector workers and their unreasonable refusal to take the government's continued assaults upon their livelihoods and pensions lying down. After eighteen months of being told that we're useless, overpaid and workshy, the government now seems to be saying that the entire country will grind to a halt if we public sector workers go on strike tomorrow, so vital is our work. I was astounded to hear the Chancellor calling upon us to abandon tomorrow's strike to avoid damaging the economy, just after he has told the Commons that he's already driven it into the ground. Then we have other ministers warning that the stoppage could lead to job losses - this against the background of the government achieving record levels of youth unemployment. Clearly the government fears competition in the sphere of job destruction.

Let's get some things straight here. First off, public sector workers don't get 'gold plated' pensions, despite what the Daily Mail would have you believe. The reality is that those private sector workers still in work pension schemes with employer contributions will actually receive slightly more than us on retirement. Sadly, though, few of these schemes still exist in the private sector, as rapacious businesses, desperate to squeeze as much profit as possible from firms, have closed them down and raided the pension funds. Whilst this is highly regrettable, it is no reason to screw our pensions. Secondly, despite the government's claims that the unions are 'spoiling for a fight', it simply isn't true. Indeed, the only people looking for a confrontation, it seems, are the government, possibly believing that it will make them look strong and decisive in the arena of public opinion. They keep saying that we shouldn't be striking when negotiations are still going on - they aren't. We can't negotiate over pensions until the government actually starts negotiating itself, instead of dictating, trying to impose deals and engaging in PR exercises like the supposedly 'improved' offer.

Then there's the issue of whether there is actually a mandate for a strike amongst union members, with the government claiming the strike decision is illegitimate because, in some cases, the turnout for the ballot was low. This really is dangerous ground for the government - after all, where is their mandate? Let's not forget that the Tories failed to gain a majority at the last election and have only been able to seize power through a shady backroom deal with the Lib Dems. Let's not forget that the so-called 'coalition' government's main policies differ significantly from those its constituent parties put before the electorate in their General Election manifestos. Nobody has had the opportunity to debate or vote on them. I could quite reasonably call into question this government's legitimacy on the grounds that they seized power in a political coup, rather than by recognised electoral channels.

Of course, whilst this forthcoming strike is ostensibly about pensions, there are wider issues. Some of us still believe in the public service ethos and are sick and tired of its erosion - and the consequent decline in service provision to the public - under successive governments. Let's not forget the background against which this strike is occurring: libraries and courts are being close, care provision for the old, the disabled and the most vulnerable amongst us is being savagely cut back. The very fabric of our civil society is being torn asunder. Sometimes you just have to take a stand - even if it is futile - for the things that matter.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Ken Russell - The Old Devil

I knew it was going to be a shitty day when I found the milk had gone off overnight. Despite being kept refrigerated and well within its 'use by' date, the bloody stuff was sour. Of course, I didn't realise it was off until I started eating my breakfast Weetabix. Truly disgusting. Deciding that I didn't have time to buy more milk and have another Weetabix before I had to get to work, I decided to check the headlines on Ceefax. That's when my day really took a turn for the worse - Ken Russell was dead. I know he was eighty four, but it still came as a bit of a shock. I always thought he was somehow indestructible. But sadly not, it seems. At a time when public life seems to be getting ever blander and 'entertainment' ever safer, the world can ill-afford to lose a singular talent like Ken Russell.

Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm not an uncritical fan of Ken Russell's films. He made quite a bit of crap in his time and his films could often lean toward the puerile. That said, he also directed some genuine classics like Women in Love and The Devils. However, what I must admired about Ken Russell was the fact that he was a genuine eccentric and maverick. Throughout his career he doggedly followed his own vision - Ken Russell films are always immediately recognisable as his work. It didn't seem to bother him that, ultimately, this forced him away from the major studios and their lavish budgets, to the more financially restricted world of the independents. He just kept on making his films, his way. I salute him and note with regret that I can now never fulfil one of my teenage ambitions - to get a job with the British Board of Film Censors as the bloke who cuts the naughty bits out of Ken Russell films. The sights I would have seen!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Sleaze on the BBC (Almost)

Apparently I'm an expert on swearing. At least, that's what the BBC World Service seems to think. I received an e-mail, apparently from a World Service news producer, (I say 'apparently' because you can never be sure of anything or anyone online), inviting me to contact him with a view to participating in a discussion on the subject of swearing. It all had to do with a court case in which a judge ruled that the use of the 'fuck' in certain circumstances didn't constitute offensive language. Apparently the producer, clearly in a fit of panic, had searched the web in search of someone to defend swearing and had come upon one of my old editorials, The Art of Swearing. Now, whilst I might have waxed lyrical about the correct use of foul language in that article and, truth be told, I've been an enthusiastic user of certain Anglo Saxon terms in my time, (indeed, I was once even involved in an attempt to create a whole new sweary phrase), I don't really think that this makes me an expert. I can't help but feel that the BBC should have been approaching the swearing consultant for their own satirical TV serie The Thick of It, or perhaps a notably sweary performer like Ray Winstone, Keith Allen or Ian McShane, (the man who made 'fuck' sound positively Shakespearean in Deadwood). If only he'd found my story School for Swearing, he could have tried to contact Damien Ffook, swearing coach to the stars.

Once again, this demonstrates the perils of hasty and uncritical web 'research' - the editorial in question was clearly written as satire. Even if that wasn't obvious, the site's name and masthead make clear that we're not a serious factual publication. Whilst the idea of presenting myself as some kind of 'expert' to the entire world and, perhaps, getting to say 'fuck' over the hallowed airwaves of the BBC World Service, I obviously didn't take up the offer. For one thing, although the site might benefit from the publicity, I'm a actually a very private person and have good reasons for wanting to avoid the limelight. Moreover, certain aspects of my day job would mean that my employer would probably take a very dim view of my publicly commenting on judicial decisions. As that lousy job is my sole source of income, there's no way I'm going to risk jeopardizing it for thirty seconds of 'fame'. Most importantly, by the time I got the email, it was too late, anyway. It was sent whilst I was at work and the programme in question aired within an hour of its sending. Clearly, it doesn't occur to media-types that most websites are run by mere amateurs like me who have to work for a living and don't have fancy smart phones which receive emails! Still, I'm sure they did OK without me and found another 'swearing expert' for their item (if it aired at all, I can't be bothered to check). When all's said and done, it is nice to know that I can still fool even the BBC into believing I run a legitimate news source!

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Late November Musings

I've been taking a few days off of work - I find that taking time off at this time of year makes that final run-in to Christmas slightly easier to take - repairing the plaster on the front wall of my spare room and unsuccessfully trying to replace the kitchen taps (again). Despite having more time on my hands, I find myself with less to post about here. Part of the problem is that writing here is something of a safety valve for me with regard to work. However, with no work for a few days, I find myself mellowed out and apparently incapable of ranting. Not even Crapchester's lousy Christmas lights display in the town centre, (for the second year running), haven't outraged me sufficiently. Moreover, I'm saving my anger at the stream of shit issuing from the government with regard to the forthcoming public sector strikes until next week, when the stoppages actually occur.

The only thing which has been bothering me of late is the ongoing destruction of the non-commercial web by Google. Now, I'm not going to launch into another despairing rant, but the fact is that if you aren't a big brand site selling something and carrying lots of Google ads, then the traffic situation is just getting worse and worse. One thing that has become crystal clear is that Google's current algorithms simply don't 'get' or rate humour and satire, (unless linked to a big name celebrity's site), seeing it as 'not useful' to users and therefore 'poor quality' content. Consequently, humour and satire sites are being starved of traffic and seem to be dropping like flies: the revived Satire Wire, for instance, seems to have died again, whilst Glossynews (which has been around almost as long as The Sleaze) hasn't updated for over a month. This is also reflected in the decreasing number of headlines being carried by Humorfeed on a daily basis, (the traffic driven by this site is also a shadow of former glories). Some humour and satire sites continue, though. In the main, they are either labours of love like The Sleaze, or run by people with media contacts they can exploit to drive traffic from non-web sources. Nonetheless, whatever way you look at it, the future seems pretty bloody bleak.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

End of Season

Finally, the last of my holiday videos. This one uses footage I shot at the same time as the second castle visit and explores the site the castle stands in. It takes in the outdoor activity centre which occupies the former seaplane and flying boat hangers, as well as the lifeboat station and observation tower, before a short drive takes us down to the deserted, out of season, beach and beach huts:

Once again, the music is from This one turned out surprisingly well and succeeds in highlighting most of the distinctive features of the location. As it was shot in September, after the schools had gone back, the place was virtually deserted and, as can be seen, all the beach huts were locked up. It really was quite eerie, but satisfying, to walk down a completely empty beach.

So, there you have it - another set of films chronicling my holidays completed for another year. Will I do it again next year? Possibly, but I'll have to find some new locations - there's only so many angles you can film a beach from to make it seem novel!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Evil Electrical Empire?

I sometimes wonder why ad execs get paid so much. For every compelling and witty ad campaign, there seem to be a hundred utterly useless examples. You know, the sort of campaign which as TV ads which leave you asking 'WTF?' and leaving you none the wiser as to what they are actually trying to sell you. Bearing in mind that many campaigns are trying to sell the product indirectly, through selling a lifestyle or image associated with it, one has to wonder at the sheer inappropriateness of some the associations they between product and image that they make. The current TV campaign for Currys/PC World is one such example. You know the ads I'm talking about - the one where Darth Vader turns up to check on their preparations for Christmas. Darth Vader? Really? The ad always leaves me with the distinct impression that whoever thought it up clearly doesn't have a clue about popular culture. Clearly they thought it was just enough to link their client with a popular multimedia franchise. However, implying that one of the UK's biggest chains of electrical retailers is part of an evil galactic empire renowned for brutally repressing all dissent, to the extent of destroying entire planets, is surely not something any sane person would do, is it?

Quite apart from the evil aspect, why would you want Darth Vader as a figurehead for an ad campaign? After all, throughout the course of the Star Wars films he is singularly unsuccessful in achieving his - and the empire's - aims. Damn it, he loses not one, but two Death Stars in rebel attacks! Which brings us to the other big problem with this advert. Bearing in mind that it is for a chain supplying electrical products, is it really a good idea to associate them with an organisation which seems technically inept? I mean, the first Death Star is so poorly designed that it has a fatal flaw which can be exploited by the rebels to destroy it. Then there are those AT-ATs which can be defeated by simply tripping them up with a piece of string. Not to mention the fact that their TIE fighters seem hopelessly out-classed by the rebel alliance's numerically inferior X and Y-wing fighters. Then there's Vader himself - you'd have thought that they could have come up with a less cumbersome life-support system for him, wouldn't you? His breathing is so bloody laboured I always expect him to whip out an inhaler at any moment. Would you really want to buy hi-tech goods from that lot? Sadly, I suspect that the advert's origins lie in the easy availability of James Earl Jones, who is appearing in the West End at the moment, to provide the authentic voice of Darth Vader. Of course, there are undoubtedly those out there who think that the empire is an apt analogy for Currys/PC World. Well, I won't comment on that, (for fear of legal action), other than to note that I've always found PC World, at least, to be OK, if a bit pricey.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas Watch 2011

It's that time of year again, when here at Sleaze Diary we start to chronicle the creeping encroachment of Christmas, (or Winterval, as we like to call it here), into our lives. Whilst Christmas-related goods have been appearing on the shelves since September, they finally don't have to jostle for space with Halloween and Guy Fawkes related merchandising, and some retailers have taken this as a cue to put up their in store Christmas decorations. Yes, Tesco. Yes, Iceland. I'm talking about you. Would it have hurt to wait a few more weeks until December before putting up your tinsel or sticking your Christmas trees in your entrances? To be fair, they aren't the only offenders - municipal Christmas lights seem to be going up left, right and centre.

Indeed, only today Crapchester's lights were officially switched on - I must admit that I'd forgotten that it had been scheduled for this evening until my house was rocked by a series of explosions. Every bloody year they catch me out like that, letting off fireworks so powerful that I think the town is under attack. Anyway, somebody did tell me who they'd got to switch the lights on. However, they were a celebrity of such magnitude that I've completely forgotten. Some of us remember the good old days when we could muster the likes of Marti Caine to switch on the Crapchester Christmas lights. To be fair, she did have the ill grace to die before she could perform her duties, lumbering us with Ted Rogers instead. OK, I know what you are thinking - that I'm just sore that, yet again, they didn't ask me to turn on the lights. It's true, I am a little perplexed as to why I, the man who has put Crapchester on the map through this blog, never gets the call. Still, there's always next year, I suppose.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Forest of Fear

Another film from my holiday way back in August/September. This one came about by accident, in that when I started, I had no idea of the shape it was going to take. It was only when I stumbled across the carved totem halfway through my walk that the 'story line' became clear. But we're getting ahead of ourselves, watch the film:

I did think of taking the silent movie theme a stage further by putting it all into black and white, but decided to just stick the 'old film' filter and inter-titles instead. The inter-titles helped get around a piece of footage I thought I'd shot, but turned out I hadn't - the sighting of the hut. Part of the problem was that when I first saw the hut, (before I ever saw the totem), there were kids playing in it, so I didn't film or approach it. Once I had an idea of what the finished film would look like, I went back to the hut and filmed the scenes of me sneaking around it, (although the shot from inside the hut, watching me approach was filmed in an entirely different shelter elsewhere in the woods), but forgot to shoot an establishing shot of it.

I also have an HD version of this film, (without the 'old film' filter), which I might post at some point. I only have one more film from my holiday to go, made up from footage left over from my trip to the second castle. When I've got time I'll cobble it together.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Sleazecast 2: TV Shows They Should Make

So, here we are with the eagerly anticipated, (by me, at least), second instalment of our podcast. The theme this time, as stated in the title, are TV series the networks should make. From the comfort of my car I ramble through my ideas for game shows, soap opera spin-offs and detective shows. Although these first two shows have come in quick succession, I don't intend this being a weekly feature. The next Sleazecast will take a bit longer to appear as I try to incorporate lessons learned from the first two and look at implementing some tweaks to the format.

Anyway, enough talk, let's get on with the podcast, which you can listen to here (it runs 30' 22"):

The Sleazecast 2: TV Shows They Should Make

You can also download it here in MP3 format.

The Sleazecast 2 track listing:

1. Intro: In which the Doc muses on the mysteries of podcasting and TV shows they should make.

2. Harold and Madge Get The Willies: Australian soap spin-offs covering Alf Stewart and Harold Bishop's involvement in the My Lai massacre, and Harold's monster-hunting career with the aid of his dead wife, Madge.

3. Watching The Detectives: The Doc ponders the possibilities of creating a new TV sleuth - snooker playing detective or porn addicted dick?

4. Feel, or No Feel?: A new gameshow for sex offenders out on licence - can 'The Wanker' help them win the prize?

5. Noel's Late, Late Viewer Show: Can the Whirly Wheel of Death and the Ted Moult Double Glazing Challenge create a new career opportunity for Noel Edmonds?

6. Final Thoughts: Big noses, the One Ronnie and dead Irish stand-ups - the search for a suitable sign off continues.

I think I sound a lot more laid back in this one than I did the first time around. I also avoid too many bad impressions (apart from an Australian accent, Ray Winstone and Jimmy 'Schnozzle' Durante, that is).

As a footnote to the first Sleazecast, the estate of Jimmy Savile were obviously listening, as they've encased his coffin in concrete, ostensibly to deter the kind of grave robbers I discussed. Personally, I think I was right about him coming back as a zombie, hence the concrete to keep him safely in his grave...

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Give Peace a Chance

Political indoctrination: something we generally associate with authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, yes? The phrase conjures up images of schoolchildren in Nazi Germany being taught about the evils of Zion, or their counterparts in Soviet Russia being lectured about the decadence of the capitalist West and the superiority of Marxist-Leninism. But the truth is that we're all subjected to it, regardless of where or when we live, from the day we're born. It's just that in normal, democratic, societies, the indoctrination is less direct. Here in the capitalist West, for instance, we're constantly bombarded with adverts from manufacturers telling us that the key to happiness is the acquisition of more and more material goods. The message is reinforced through the media and popular culture, which constantly holds up as role models beautiful people who are deemed 'successful' through their acquisition of wealth and fame. Their lifestyles are held up as some kind of 'ideal' for the rest of us to aspire toward. Just look at the most popular 'reality' shows on TV, things like X Factor or Dragon's Den, even - their message is all the same: material gain is good and the key to fulfilment.

Now, this may all seem obvious and this analysis certainly isn't original - Gramsci got there first back in the 1930s - but you'd be surprised as to how many people just don't see it. The other week, for instance, I had an argument in the pub with a bloke who was insistent that socialism could never work because people were inherently greedy and always 'wanted more'. He just couldn't grasp my argument that this simply wasn't so. Human nature isn't basically so self-centered. Man is a social animal. We are simply made to believe that what we want are material goods above all else by the capitalistic society we live in - it's how capitalism sustains itself. But he just couldn't see past his own indoctrination. Anyway, over the past week or so I've watched, with fascination, the annual indoctrination of the young which occurs around every Remembrance Day these days. In recent years it has become clear that, here in the UK, only one interpretation of the event is allowed - the glorification of our war dead and, by extension, the glorification of the notion of sacrifice in war and, ultimately, of war itself. As an interesting article in The Guardian last week pointed out, Armistice Day hasn't always been seen as a solemn occasion - in the immediate aftermath of World War One, many saw it as cause for celebration, in recognition of the peace it brought. Indeed, I've always thought that if we are to perpetuate observance of Armistice Day, surely it should be a condemnation of war and the senseless loss of life it engenders? But instead, what we get is this reverence of all things martial. Frankly, I think it is about time we started indoctrinating schoolchildren as to the virtues of peace and pacifism every 11 November.


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Pipes are Calling

It's been a strange day. Even by the standards of Crapchester. This morning I found myself subjected to bagpipes. I won't say bagpipe music, as I won't dignify the cacophony which issues from this hellish alleged musical instrument with the term. I didn't ask to hear this noise, I didn't choose to listen to it. No, it was inflicted on me, without warning, in a public place. Perhaps I need to rewind a bit to explain my ordeal more fully. This morning I was minding my own business - I'd just parked my car back in its space in the car park I rent a space in after doing my morning work-related calls, and was sitting behind the wheel, listening to the radio, prior to going into the office. I suddenly noticed a man in full Scottish regalia - kilt, sporran, frilly shirt, the whole shebang - coming across the car park. Now, that in itself is pretty unusual - we don't see many kilts in Crapchester. However, not wishing to encourage such ostentatious dressing, I did my best to ignore him as he walked in front of my car, although I did notice that he went to a car parked at the far end of the row and open its boot. Next thing I knew, he'd taken his infernal device out of the boot and, to my horror, started playing it!

A man in a kilt playing bagpipes in public is unusual enough in Crapchester - but in the corner of a public car park it is unheard of, not to mention uncalled for. (Moreover, he was illegally parked, as he was in the permit holder's section, despite not having a permit - but we'll put that to one side for now). It soon became apparent that he had no intention of stopping, and I was forced to get out of my car to go to the office in the face of his appalling racket. Cats being scalded came to mind. To be frank, I was surprised that nobody came out of the houses opposite and threw a bucket of water over him. I could hear the evil sound of his devilish contraption all the way down the street. It was most distressing. Now, I know you probably think that I'm overreacting a bit to some mildly eccentric behaviour but I'm afraid I find this sort of thing a gross invasion of my right to walk through my own town in peace! Normal buskers are bad enough, but Scotsmen playing the pipes for no fathomable reason - it couldn't have had anything to do with Armistice Day, as it was twenty past eleven when he started, and Crapchester isn't noted for its Scottish regiments - are just beyond the pale. At least there's a chance that the average busker might hit the right notes occasionally so that you might vaguely recognise the tune. But with bagpipes it is impossible to know what the right notes might actually be in the first place. Besides, as a matter of principle I maintain that only an Irishman can play the pipes properly.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Low Budget Heaven

The other day I read the sad news that Richard Gordon had died. Not the guy who wrote the 'Doctor' novels that the films and TV series were based on, but rather the low-budget British film producer. He was active from the 1950s until the early 1980s. None of his films, (many of which he produced uncredited), which ranged from Old Mother Riley Meets the Vampire to Inseminoid, could ever be mistaken for art house classics, but they were, on the whole enjoyable. At times they touched on nightmarish surrealism, most notably in Fiend Without a Face, which features a climactic siege in which a group of characters are attacked by a horde of disembodied brains, complete with spinal cords, which slither down chimneys and smash through windows to strangle and suffocate their victims. Then there's the delirious Tower of Evil, in which Robin Askwith is impaled with a Phoenician spear, people get menaced by a family of monstrously inbred lighthouse keepers and Candace Glendenning performs most of her role stark naked. In between such low-budget horror flicks, Gordon would also find time to produce some really off-beat stuff, like Anthony Balch's two weird and wonderful exploitation films Secrets of Sex and Horror Hospital.

Gordon worked with many of the 'big names' of the horror movie industry, both in front of the cameras, (he produced movies starring both Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, not to mention Christopher Lee), and behind them, (directors on his films included Norman J Warren and John Gilling). Nevertheless, in truth, his films never reached the level of, say, Hammer in terms of production values and even critical acclaim. They were strictly cheap double-bill fodder. So why do I hold him such esteem? Well, he was a reminder of an earlier age of film-making, when it seemed much easier to actually get movies made. He was from a time when the business wasn't dominated by corporate finance, focus groups and audience surveys. A time when projects didn't spend years in development hell, when they didn't suffer the slow death of being passed from ego to ego as various 'name' directors, producers and actors try to impose their 'vision' on them. Gordon came from an era when, if you had a script, you could get finance, hire a commercial director and actors and just go out and make a film. There was no angst over what it was 'about', how it should 'look' and so on, you just went out and tried to shoot something that looked reasonably professional and had some kind of entertainment value. Funnily enough, some of them even had some artistic merit as well. But sadly, those days seem to have gone forever. And now one of our dwindling links with them - Richard Gordon - has as well.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Sleazecast

Years ago, I floated the idea of creating a podcast for The Sleaze. Well, I've finally gotten around to attempting it! You can listen to it here (it runs 14' 10"):

The Sleazecast

You can also download it here in MP3 format.

The Sleazecast track listing:

1. Intro: The Doc introduces us to his tortured mental processes.

2. Jim Fixed It For Me: In which the Doc indulges in a bad Jimmy Saville impression as he explores the urban myths surrounding the late DJ, weirdo and alleged necrophiliac.

3. Gaddafi Duck: Ruminations on the death of the Libyan dictator.

4. Benny Hill's Penis: Doc Sleaze explores the world of posthumous celebrity penis thefts.

5. Celebrity Zombies: Just how far will obsessive fans go to be with their idols?

6. Final Thoughts: Another bad impression from the Doc as he rounds things up with unfounded allegations about Papal sex acts.

It's all a bit rough and ready, but it is a start. To be absolutely honest with you, this started life as a non-broadcast pilot for a podcast I was attempting to produce for another site, under another name, (you'll note that I never refer to myself as 'Doc Sleaze' within the actual tracks). However, I went a bit off-topic, (it was meant to be more serious), and I ended up combining what I could salvage with some additional material to produce The Sleazecast. I'll probably give it at least one more try, (I'm recording some new stuff now), so stand by for The Sleazecast 2 some time in the foreseeable future.

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Dangerous Driving?

I know this government likes to style itself as being 'driver friendly', but I didn't think that we would so quickly reach the extreme position where drivers are no longer considered responsible for accidents, and the police instead waste time and resources looking for external causes for road accidents. I'm sorry, but the suggestion that the horrendous fatal pile-up on the M5 over the weekend was the result of smoke from a firework display drifting across the carriageway, is, to be frank, utterly ludicrous. The reality is that any such smoke would have presented far less of a hazard than the existing road conditions, namely fog patches and a wet road surface. The usual cause of such accidents is drivers failing to follow warnings and not reducing speed and increasing distances between vehicles. Even if there was thick smoke drifting across the carriageway, why didn't the drivers involved slow down?

Despite initial reports highlighting the adverse weather, by Saturday afternoon the 'smoke' theory began to turn up on the news reports, with witnesses suddenly 'remembering' that they might have seen smoke at the scene, (no doubt after much prompting from the press). By Sunday the dogs had been released and every report was pointing the finger at the Taunton Rugby Club firework display. So self-righteous was the tone of some reports, that I was amazed we didn't have scenes of reporters chasing down people suspected of being at the party, door-stepping them and demanding: "Do you realise that while you were enjoying yourself, people were dying as a consequence? Your fireworks might have killed innocent people, how do you feel about that? How do you sleep at night, you bastards, eh?" Instead, by Monday, we had the almost as bizarre sight of a senior police officer talking about 'criminal proceedings', and the media launching investigations into the licensing arrangements for firework displays.

Nowhere, in all of this, is there any suggestion that this accident, like most others, might be down to driver error. Because of course, under this government, the motorist can never be at fault. We really shouldn't be surprised, after all, we have a Prime Minister in posh boy Cameron who seems to be in thrall to that other overgrown public schoolboy Jeremy Clarkson - the man who believes that motorists are 'an endangered species'. What a cock. Besides, if this accident is put down to driver error, then the government's insane plans to increase the speed limit could be called into question. So, instead, for now at least, it looks like it is going to be blamed on people with no connection to the accident enjoying themselves. The bastards.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Bad for Business?

Good to see Europe's commitment to the democratic process in action this week - bullying Greece into abandoning its plans to hold a referendum on whether or not to accept the terms of the latest proposed economic bail out. Honestly, you'd have thought that the Greek PM had just announced that he was a peadophile and was planning to feel up their kids, such was the fury of other EU leaders when he had the audacity to propose allowing the Greek people to have a say in a decision which will have far-reaching repercussions for their daily lives. I mean, what was he thinking of, eh? Letting the great unwashed decide whether or not they should lose their livelihoods and see their country asset-stripped, all in the name of protecting the obscene profits of international financiers and multinational corporations.

But have no fear, rapacious capitalism has triumphed. For now. The Greeks have been forced to accept that the only way to save their economy is by destroying their country as an independent sovereign state. The reality is that the current situation is unsustainable. Whilst desperate deals like this one might stave off the inevitable, the reality is that, sooner or later, one of these debtor nations will default. Which could prove a disaster for the current global financial and political elites. Not because of the international economic chaos which would result, but because the defaulters might not experience any long term adverse effects, thereby calling into question conventional economic wisdom. Indeed, the IMF's own data shows that countries which have, in the past, defaulted on debt, rarely suffer long-term economic consequences - Iceland being the most recent example. In the meantime, the capitalists have sent a clear message this week: democracy is bad for (their) business.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Hot Stuff

With November 5th rapidly approaching, I feel I have to finally say something about Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli and his fabulous fireworks escapades. As you've no doubt seen on the TV news or read in the papers, Balotelli succeeded in setting fire to his bathroom after letting off fireworks in it. Quite why he was letting them off still hasn't been satisfactorily explained. I mean, I can understand if you were to let off fireworks in someone else's bathroom and burned it down, or were to fire a rocket through your neighbour's open bathroom window whilst they were on the crapper - but your own bathroom? One report seemed to indicate that he was trying to fire rockets out of his bathroom window, (presumably because he saw Sir Alex Ferguson walking past), when the mishap occurred. Personally, I think that he took a dump so rank that he knew that simply striking a match wouldn't be enough to mask the lingering stench, so he set off his stash of fireworks instead.

Still, it could have been worse, he could have been conducting horrendous experiments on his own shit, like that bloke in Northern Ireland, who had problems with the council after neighbours complained of the stench when he tried to transmute his own feces into gold. Clearly, he'd misunderstood the work of the alchemists, who aimed to transform base metals into gold. Then again, perhaps he was shitting lead - which would at least explain why his toilet bowl kept cracking every time he took a dump. Many years ago I seem to remember reading in some crackpot book, (probably by Colin Wilson), that the transmutation business actually had something to do with sex. I really can't remember all the ins and outs of it, but it does beg the question, did alchemists end up with gold plated cocks after sexual intercourse? Or am I misremembering the whole thing?

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Extra Hour

Every Autumn I look forward to the weekend when we put the clocks back by an hour and consequently get an extra hour in bed. Last year I'm afraid that I rather squandered my extra hour, staying up too late for no good reason. This year, by contrast, I was determined to to enjoy it - and I did, luxuriating in that extra hour of rest. I felt a bloody sight better for it. Now, I know that the 'extra hour' is an illusion created by the switch to daylight saving time for half the year, but I'm afraid I'm one of those people whose body clock seems to work better when it is on GMT. Before we switched last weekend I was perpetually tired and weary and not sleeping well. Since then, I've had more energy and have been enjoying better sleep patterns. But it seems that I'm not going to be allowed the simple pleasure of the extra hour for much longer and, even worse, I could be condemned to having my body clock perpetually out of sync.

This awful excuse for a government has resurrected the hoary old chestnut of keeping us on BST all year round. Worse still, they want us to be on Central European Time (CET). Apparently it would be 'more convenient'. For who? We've been here before - back in the 1970s they tried to do the same thing and experimentally kept us on BST for a few years. Not surprisingly, people didn't like it and we reverted to the old arrangement. All the arguments marshaled in favour of permanent BST are bollocks - all that fanny about 'longer days' and 'more daylight'. The fact is that, at any given time of year, there is a finite amount of daylight each day, determined by the tilt of the Earth's axis. If you want 'longer days' then get up earlier. It's that simple. As for the government's claim that it would give us lighter evenings in the Autumn - for God's sake, they're meant to be dark at this time of year! What I really can't understand is why someone as anti-European as Cameron is proposing to effectively abolish good old British GMT and replace it with Central European Time? As far as I'm concerned, they should be enforcing GMT all year round. After all BST was only meant to be a temporary measure introduced in the First World War - it's about time it was abolished, isn't it?

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