Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Sleazecast: Something For Nothing

At long last, the much delayed fourteenth Sleazecast!  I won't bore you with the details of why it has taken two months to complete.  I will tell you that I'm quite proud of the finished article.  It follows the same format as the previous one - a series of fabricated audio fragments.  The mix has been varied somewhat, with some new features.  Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman guest star. Oh, the title?  Unlike last time, it does get referenced in the show, in the first segment.  That said, it's still pretty arbitrary and really has no relation to anything that happens in any of the segments.  The same is true of the image I'm using for this Sleazecast - it just happened to be something I had to hand and hadn't used before.

But enough talk - on with the show.  With the demise of Yahoo Media Player, you'll now have to click on the 'Streampad' bar at the bottom of the page - it'll bring up a list of all the available podcasts.  This one should be at the top.  Alternatively, you can simply download it here as am mp3:

The Sleazecast: Something For Nothing

As ever, a brief track listing:

1. Intro

2. Night Caller (Midnight Radio, August 2011) - another unsuspecting listener gets a shock when the Night Caller calls for a chat.  Secrets will be exposed.

3.  Balls of St Mary's (Mutual Network, November 1946) - Father O'Malley's cassocks create quite a stir when he arrives at St Mary's Convent School!

4.  Talking Dirty (May 2013) - the frank-talking podcast about all things sexual meets Melvyn Gink and his Surbiton sex machines.

5. Suzie Sleaze brings us the latest news.

6.  Balls of St Mary's - Father O'Malley courts controversy as he comforts a distraught parent.

7. Sherlock Holmes and The Whips of Fear - episode two of the 78rpm Conan Doyle recording.

8. Talking Dirty - Melvyn demonstrates 'The Intruder' and the 'Jug Milker'.

9.  Balls of St Mary's - some one-on-one tuition with one of the girls puts Father O'Malley in a compromising position.

10. Talking Dirty - Melvyn takes us on a tour of his home made bondage dungeon.

11.  Night Caller - the Night Caller leaves a message for a listener.

Well, that's it for this time.  Hopefully the next Sleazecast won't take so long to produce, (I've already got parts of it recorded).


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cream Crackered

I'm utterly knackered today.  The reasons are down to lack of sleep and the causes of this are far too dull and involved to go into.  So I won't.  The long and short of it is that I've sleep walked my way through the working day and now it is all I can do to keep my eyes open as I crash out on my sofa.  Consequently, thanks to my current state of exhaustion, I've been forced to do some rescheduling.  As I remain determined to get the next Sleazecast out this week, I've made that my priority, (there's only one segment left to record before it is edited together), and I've decided to hold the story for The Sleaze I was going to write this week over until next week.  Doing that, of course, will take The Sleaze into August, traditionally my holiday month.  I've noticed that a lot of my favourite sites and blogs take the whole of August off, resuming the posting of new material until September.  I must admit that I was toying with the idea of doing the same thing myself this Summer, with regard to The Sleaze, at least.  It's traditionally a slow month for traffic.  However, having made the decision to delay the next planned story this now seems a non-starter.

While I'm here, knackered or not, I thought that I'd briefly follow-up yesterday's post about the ongoing Gareth Bale transfer speculation, with a couple of further observations.  Whilst today's crop of articles and reports on the subject still lack any direct quotes to support their claims, I can't help but notice a degree of back-peddling in some quarters.  Most notably, the BBC have changed their stance that Bale has indicated a desire to talk to Real Madrid, to 'it is believed' that Bale has indicated such a desire.  In another 'development', the press are now full of claims that Real have tabled a formal bid of £85 million for the player, possibly as long ago as last week.  In which case, one wonders, why have neither Spurs nor Real confirmed this?  At the same time, the Real mouthpiece Marca - from which most of the speculation regurgitated by the UK press has originated - is now claiming that Spurs have set a value of over £100 million on Bale, which they characterise as 'Crazy'.  Which could be interpreted as laying the groundwork for Real not to bid for Bale this Summer - 'he was too expensive', they could tell their disappointed fans.  But who knows?  Certainly not the UK media.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Bale Out

Whilst reiterating the fact that this is most definitely not a football blog, I feel obliged to revisit the whole Gareth Bale/Real Madrid 'story'.  Now, it is important to sate upfront that, as a Spurs fan (albeit an armchair one), I'm not unbiased in this whole business.  Clearly, I'd much rather he stayed at Spurs. That said, it isn't the footballing aspects of the 'story' which interests me so much as the way the whole thing has been handled by the media which, since the close of last season, have seemed determined to make a story out of Bale and Real Madrid, despite a complete lack of any actual facts.  The whole thing seems to have taken on a life of its own and has become self-sustaining, with story after story in the press of, first of all, Real Madrid's interest in Bale, then his interest in them, their alleged offers to Spurs for the player and, over the weekend and today, the claims that Bale is now actively lobbying for a move.  These stories have ranged from the usual sensational tabloid speculations to supposedly heavyweight and considered articles in the likes of the Observer, Guardian and Telegraph.

These stories all have one thing in common: a complete lack of any direct quotes from the player, his representatives or anyone close to him.  It's all very well saying, as even the BBC was today, that Bale had indicated his desire to talk to Real Madrid, but how has expressed this desire?  None of these media outlets seem willing to tell us - they don't even resort to that hoary old cliché of 'according to sources close to the player/club/manager'.  Then there's the matter of Real's supposed offer of £80 million, (or £84 million, £86 million or £90million according to which reports you believe), to Spurs.  As has become clear today, Real haven't actually made any formal offers for the player so far.  So on what basis are the media coming up with these stories?  Where do they all originate?   Well, the reality is that they are all simply re-hashings of a 'story' published last week in the Spanish newspaper (and Real Madrid mouthpiece) Marca.  It was this report which attributed all manner of quotes to Bale.  Interestingly, they are all, word-for-word, identical to the quotes they attributed to another Spurs midfielder. Luka Modric, last Summer, when he and Real were trying to force Spurs into selling him, (which they eventually did).  The fact is that I haven't seen anything in any of the UK media reports so far - not even the ones The Guardian has been publishing this evening (re-hashing exactly the same claims as before, still without any supporting quotes or evidence) - which can't be traced back to the Marca 'story'.

Now, I have no idea whatsoever as to whether Bale wants to move to Real Madrid or not.  I have no insider knowledge and won't insult your intelligence by claiming otherwise.  However, the behaviour of the UK media over the story has been quite astonishing.  I'm well aware that most football transfer stories are largely conjecture, but in this case they are nothing but speculation.  You get the impression that, in the absence of any other big transfer stories to fill back pages and sell papers, the media have determined that they'll effectively make one up.  There have been times during this saga when it has seemed that the press are actively trying to unsettle Bale and engineer a move just to ensure that they have a big story.  Anyway, I'm bracing myself for another round of fact-free stories, all telling me hoe Bale is now demanding a move and threatening to punch out Daniel Levy, despite the lack of any supporting evidence, tomorrow. 

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Salt and Pepper

Enough with the blaxpoitation, kung fu and low budget science fiction movie trailers, I said to myself - lets give them something altogether classier this time around.  A movie with genuine mainstream stars, location shooting, good production values, a budget and a top director.  So, here we have the trailer for the swinging sixties comedy blockbuster Salt and Pepper.  What?  You've never heard of it?  Not many people have these days.  I suppose it falls into the category of 'Forgotten Films', in that it was clearly a major release in its day, (it must have enjoyed a degree of commercial success as it spawned a sequel, One More Time, a couple of years later), but is barely remembered now.  I can't recall a TV airing in at least twenty years and, although I believe there was a US DVD release, it doesn't appear to be available on DVD in the UK.

Clearly designed as a vehicle for two fifths of the 'Rat Pack', with a Soho club setting to try and exploit the whole 'swinging London' phenomena of the late sixties, judging by the trailer, it  hasn't aged well, which might explain its descent into obscurity.  I particularly liked the bad back projection, (worthy of an episode of The Saint), in the car chase sequence.  Maybe that's the problem, apart from its Hollywood stars, to modern audiences the film would probably seem little different from an episode of one of those ITV action series made in the sixties.  Even the 'whacky' humour, bizarre goings on in barber shops and plot concerning an attempted military coup in the UK wouldn't have been out of place in an episode of The Avengers.   Then there's the question of the stars - sadly Sammy Davis Jr and Peter Lawford just aren't the audience draws today they were back in the sixties.  Indeed, many contemporary viewers wouldn't even recognise their names.  Interestingly, the director - Richard Donner, now better known for films such as The Omen - nowadays doesn't even acknowledge that he directed this movie.  Surely it isn't that bad?


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blue Blooded Parasites

I suppose I'll have to comment on the 'event of the week'.  It's undoubtedly expected.  After all, everyone else has.  There's no doubt that this Royal birth was conveniently timed, to divert attention from the real news stories about the government's attempts to censor the internet and yet more allegations of political lobbying being aimed at Cameron's current top advisor.  Anyway, my reaction to production of another heir to the throne was simple: yet another bloody parasite we're going to be expected to bloody pay for.  I mean, really - this government is fond of going on about benefit spongers and 'strivers' and 'shirkers', so why don't they start their bloody crackdown on waste in public spending with these over-privileged bastards?  I'm sorry, but I fail to see any of the benefits the Royal Family's supporters claim they bring to the UK.

On the contrary, the continued survival of this archaic institution - a relic of feudalism - has held us back for far too long.  Its very existence legitimises our dreadful class system and all the inequality and snobbery it brings with it.  Moreover, how can we ever claim a commitment to truly democratic values as long as we have a head of state who rules through divine right?  An institution that can only be attained through accident of birth rather than ability?  An institution which is unaccountable at the ballot box?  An institution which, nonetheless, we as taxpayers subsidise despite the fact that it already owns vast swathes of land in the UK, (obtained by highly questionable means).  But sadly, judging by the sheer obsequiousness of the media coverage and the hordes of idiots gathering outside that bloody private hospital (NHS not good enough for these idle work dodgers, obviously), there isn't going to be a revolution any time soon.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people are prepared to act against their own best interests by supporting relics like the monarchy or arseholes like the Tories. 

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cultural (Dis)Integration

Is this the society we've created, with all the anti-immigrant rhetoric and Cameron's claims that multiculturalism isn't working?  A society where some immigrants think the only way to be accepted and integrated in British culture is to murder other immigrants from less 'popular' cultures?  Because that's what today's arrest of a Ukrainian student on a work placement for the murder of an 82 year old  Muslim man and the bombing of several Mosques in the Midlands seems to indicate.  OK, I know Ukraine has its fair share of right-wing extremists, but you have to ask, why come to the UK to terrorise Muslims?   He could surely do that just as easily at home.  Probably with less risk of arrest.  One can't help but suspect that, upon learning he was to come to the UK and, having seen the hostility directed toward 'those East Europeans' by various sections of the media, not to mention the government's own campaign to discourage Bulgarians from coming to the UK, he asked himself, how best can I integrate myself with the average British bigot?

Presumably he then asked himself, according to the British media, which immigrant population do they hate even more than people from Eastern Europe?  Obviously: Muslims.  They worship some whacky pagan god, have some travesty of the Bible as their Holy text - which, incidentally, tells them to hate all white people and murder off-duty soldiers in the street - groom white girls for vice rings and wipe their arses with pictures of the Queen, (but only when a Union Jack is unavailable).  At least, that's what the press and various right-wing organisations would have you believe.  Is it any wonder some recently-arrived student from the former Soviet Union might think that by attacking Muslims he might ingratiate himself with the inhabitants of these increasingly shitty isles?  Once again, welcome to Cameron's Britain!

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Beginning of The End?

And so it came to pass: government censorship of the internet.  David Cameron - at his most pompous - announced today that apparently we'll all be forced to have our web access filtered by our ISPs and will have to ask them permission to have the filters removed so that we can look at porn.  Really, if people can't see what is wrong with this, then I despair.  Would you accept being told that your telephone provider will block you from ringing certain numbers because they might be porn-related unless you specifically tell them not to block these numbers?  Or having certain TV channels automatically blocked if they showed material of an allegedly adult nature?  Of course not. And the web should be no different.  Obviously, what the government are relying on here is the 'embarrassment factor' - by opting out of the filter you are admitting you want to look at pornography on the internet.  At least that's the way they're trying to present it - asking for full access stigmatises you as a sad pervert.  Except that it isn't exclusively perverts who look at porn.  Moreover, we wouldn't be asking for permission to look at porn, merely to have the choice of looking at perfectly legal material if we want to.   Not only that, but some of us want to check it isn't just porn they're preventing us from seeing.

Because that's the real problem with this 'plan' - how do you define a 'porn site'?  Sure, we all think we know what such a site is: typically it would be an image gallery featuring naked bodies, possibly engaging in simulated (or maybe real) sexual acts.  But what about medical sites about sexual health?  They might also include images of naked people.  In such a context these images wouldn't be considered pornographic, would they?  But how would the proposed mandatory 'adult filter' know?  Software of this kind just isn't sophisticated enough to judge context.  The same might apply to some art sites, or even news sites containing such images.  Another key indicator might be the domain name of a site - these are usually pretty explicit and inevitably include the term 'sex' or 'girls' somewhere.  But the filter could be set wider - how about 'sleaze'?  Would the presence of that word alone in a domain name trigger a block on the site?  If so, The Sleaze will be dead in the water, even though it isn't a porn site.  Or perhaps the actual text of a site might be scanned for 'adult' keywords.  Like 'pornography' or 'sex', for instance, which would end up blocking a large proportion of the web. 

In conjunction with this announcement was another, even more sinister, development.  Namely that the government wants search engines to block entire search terms which are supposedly used to find child pornography.  Such search terms would return a blank results page.  The mind really boggles at this - whenever you get a 'no results matched your search' return for a perfectly reasonable request, you'll now be wondering whether it has been censored.  Because that's the question: where does it all end?  Who decides what are 'legitimate' searches?  That said, as most search engines aren't UK based, or have non-UK versions, then circumventing this wouldn't be too difficult.  Indeed, some inventive rewording of the 'offending' search terms would also probably circumvent it.  As would the people who produce child porn simply relabeling it, say, 'fluffy kitten pictures' - are the search engines going to be asked to block searches for fluffy kittens?  But this isn't about protecting children from pornography - if the government wanted to do that, it should start by tackling the increasingly sexualised images of women pumped out by the 'legitimate' media in advertising and on magazine covers - it's about Cameron looking as if he's doing something.  'It's the internet,  It can't be done, they said' was his mantra today, which tells us exactly what he's after - being seen as the man who took on the web and won, taming the wild frontier of the internet.  Except he isn't.  He's just further infringing our liberties for an opportunistic bit of political capital.  And the worst thing about all of this?  The lack ok of opposition from our so-called opposition, who just meekly go along with it.  Another nail in the coffin of free speech and freedom of expression, and nobody lifts a finger to object in case they upset the Daily Mail.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Day The Earth Caught Fire

An apt random movie trailer for the current weather.  I'll be honest here: I actually wanted to post a trailer for Night of The Big Heat, but apparently nobody has ever uploaded one to either YouTube or any other video sharing site.  So this is my second choice.  That said, The Day The Earth Caught Fire is a pretty entertaining movie and also pretty typical of British science fiction movies of the period - clearly heavily influenced by Nigel Kneale's BBC Quatermass serials.  Indeed, this one even shares a director - Val Guest - with the film adaptations of the first two Quatermass stories.   It's also typical in being quite talky and incorporating a fair amount of stock footage (as I recall) of forest fires and the like.  British science fiction films of this period often seemed to involve people sitting in pubs or newsrooms discussing what was going on outside, rather than showing it (for obvious budgetary reasons).   This time it's a newsroom, in Night of The Big Heat is was a pub.  It also feature Edward Judd, a leading man whose appeal has always eluded me.  But to balance that it has the ever watchable Leo 'Rumpole' McKern in support.  If that doesn't make it worth watching, I don't know what does.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Under The Weather

It's the British disease, isn't it?  Complaining about the weather, that is.  Having spent the better part of six months moaning about that bone-chillingly freezing and seemingly never-ending Winter, we're now complaining that it is too hot.  We've gone from the Met Office issuing snow warnings to them putting out heatwave alerts.  Weather forecasters are beginning to use the same apologetic tones to tell us of the continuing high temperatures as they did when they were having to forecast snow day after day earlier this year.  Anyone would think that people are eager for this heat to go away.  Personally, I'm trying to enjoy it while it lasts - and I'm earnestly hoping that it continues until late August when I take my Summer holidays.  I'll concede that the sweltering hot days can be uncomfortable at times when I'm working.  People always think that if you spend a lot of your work time out of the office, then you must be out 'enjoying the weather' whenever it is sunny.  The reality is that modern cars are like greenhouses and every time you pull up somewhere and  turn of the engine (and consequently the air conditioning and/or fans) the heat quickly becomes stifling. 

But it is the sweltering nights which can be really difficult.  Sleep doesn't come easily in these temperatures.  The other night I ended up watching The Guns of Navarone (with Arabic sub-titles) on YouTube when I couldn't sleep.  Believe me, you haven't lived until you've seen The Guns of Navarone with Arabic sub-titles.  I figured that if anything could send me to sleep it was watching this one-time bank holiday TV favourite -  nearly two and a half hours of various well known actors wandering around various Greek locations and talking a lot, interspersed with the odd scene of them mowing down a few German soldiers with machine guns.  Unfortunately, no sooner does any action start, than it halts again for two or more of the characters to engage in an earnest debate about the morality of war.  Usually its Gregory Peck and David Niven, but occasionally it is Niven and Anthony Quinn.  Either way, it kills the film's momentum dead.  Anyway, it did the trick.  I had to sit through the whole bloody film, but I got off to sleep.  I think that's my main complaint about this weather - it is forcing me to re-watch these pedestrian old movies.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We Must Fight Them in the Boardrooms...

Back to political rantings today, after yesterday's ode to the joys of eclecticism in blogging.  Well, I say 'rant' but, surprisingly, I'm going to try and be constructive today.  My uncharacteristic bout of rationality was brought on by the government's announcement of its plans to privatise the Post Office by floating it on the stock market.  Now, I know that you'd usually expect me to be foaming at the mouth at such an idiotic move, but part of the proposed sell-off set me to thinking.  In a fairly pathetic attempt to buy off the work force, the government is proposing to give them all shares in the privatised Post Office.  Obviously, their combined shareholdings would be pathetically small - there's no way that our ruling fascists, (yes, I called them fascists, I'm not being that constructive), are going to allow any nasty working class types to have a controlling stake in their employer.  However, it struck me that a strategy for the communications workers union might be to try buying as many shares as they can.  Now, I don't know if trade unions can actually own shares, but maybe they could form some kind of trust or holding company to do it.  Anyway, if they could purchase sufficient shares (not necessarily a majority share holding) then they could conceivably exert considerable influence over the new company, ensuring that profits were invested in the company, for instance, rather than being paid out as dividends to rapacious capitalist shareholders.

OK, I'll admit I have no idea as to whether the communications workers union, or any other union, has the financial means to buy shares on a sufficient scale to be able to influence companies, but it's surely worth exploring the possibility.  (Of course if, as they've threatened, the union held industrial action to coincide with the stock market flotation, they could force the value of the shares down, making it easier for them to buy).  As I've noted here before, the UK's trade unions seem to be stuck in a time warp with regard to how to combat this government's policies - strikes and demonstrations are patently having no effect whatsoever.  I've banged on about how a new strategy was needed but was at a loss to come up with one.  Well, now I have - fight the capitalist bastards at their own game.  The fact is that we can't fight them in the workplace anymore.  They've seen to that with all the anti-union legislation Thatcher brought in and Labour failed to repeal.  NO, we need to take the battle to them, confront them on their own turf: the boardroom!  Apparent 'Mad Max' Kaiser was banging on about something similar on the Kaiser Report the other day, so I'm clearly not completely insane.   His suggestion was that organisations like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace should set up their own hedge funds to influence the share prices of the big energy companies to try and force them into adopting greener policies.  Which actually could work for my version.  The hedge funds, I mean,  The unions, via the TUC, could perhaps set up such a thing.  Like I said, we've clearly got to start using the capitalists' own weapons against them.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Hideously Diverse?

So, am I being too diverse?  In terms of this blog, obviously.  I'm not talking here about that awful term 'diversity', as in 'diversity awareness training', that they like to bandy about the workplace these days, when what they really mean is 'multiracial' or, probably even better, 'multicultural' and 'anti-racism training', respectively.  I so hate this management speak which, whilst trying to tackle the fact that we are all living in a multicultural society, doesn't want to actually acknowledge that fact, whilst at the same time assuming that we're all ignorant racists in need of 'attitude adjustment'.  Frankly, most of us have been well aware of the multicultural nature of our modern society since childhood: we grew up with it and take it for granted.  Just because we don't all go around acknowledging each other's cultural ancestry every time we meet, doesn't mean we're bigots - we just accept it as normal, something barely worth commenting on.  We're well aware that we're all different and respect those differences.

Ok, having already gone on a massive digression, let's get this post back on track.  My original question concerns the subject matter of this blog.  If you are a regular reader (or even a casual visitor) you will probably have noticed that this isn't a single-topic blog, dedicated to collecting light bulbs, for instance.  This is an example of that increasingly rare breed: the old-fashioned personal blog where I write about anything that takes my fancy.  Anyway, the other day I was perusing the now almost defunct personal blog of someone else and they were actually apologising for the diversity, speculating that it put visitors off as they wouldn't always be able to find what they were interested in.  Now, leaving aside the fact that the fact he was a boring bastard that was probably putting reasers off, I found this an extraordinary statement.  I don't expect a personal blog to be about anything other than the author and whatever interests them.  I like the idea that people visiting this blog never know what they are going to encounter: it could be moaning about Google one day, a political rant the next, one of my films on another day, or a review of some Italian exploitation movie.  Even a podcast, (On the subject of which, the next edition of 'The Sleazecast' is now well advanced and I'm hoping to release it somewhen in the next fortnight).  So, long-live diversity in blogging!  We here at Sleaze Diary embrace multi-subject blogging wholeheartedly!  


Friday, July 12, 2013

Farewell to Whicker and His World

And so we bid farewell to Alan Whicker, who died today.  Whicker's World was a big part of my childhood.  Not only was Whicker's distinctive voice and delivery easy to imitate in the playground, but the programmes themselves provided a window on a world which, in those far off days when international travel was largely the preserve of the 'jet set', seemed incredibly far off and exotic.  Of course, as international travel increasingly came within the reach of the average person, so the raison d'etre of Whicker's World disappeared -  we didn't have to watch Whicker meeting eccentrics in California, for instance, when we could do it ourselves.  Just thinking about Alan Whicker makes me smile, as it takes me back to those great years of TV, when everything seemed so novel and exciting - there still seemed to be parts of the world that were unexplored and promised excitement and novelty.  Nowadays the world seems a much smaller place that we all know too well.

But Whicker had a more direct effect on me - he once gave some fashion advice when appearing as a guest on a chat show which has stood me in good stead ever since.  Eschewing the formal suit, he instead advocated the navy blue blazer, which could be worn casually with an open-necked shirt or, more formally, with a collar and tie.  Matched with similar coloured trousers, it could also pass muster for a suit, but was far more comfortable.  For many years, when I worked on Whitehall, such an ensemble was my standard dress.   But it wasn't just this impeccable sense of sartorial elegance that I liked about Whicker.  Back when I was a child and he was in his prime, Alan Whicker represented the image of Britishness  we liked to project to the world: dapper, courteous, apparently unflappable and an all round decent chap.  He was a gentleman at a time when such things as politeness and decency still seemed to matter.  He may have come from a typically middle class home counties background - the son of an army officer - which most people would assume that I loathed, but he seemed to embody those British values I still admire so much.  Values which seem to be in short supply these days.  Then again, maybe I'm just getting old. 

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

In Denial...

It seems that I can't even sit in my car, in a lay-by, minding my own business, without being accosted by climate change deniers.  I say climate change deniers, but that's just an assumption on my part.  A logical deduction, if you will, based upon our brief exchange.  But to get back to the beginning of the story, there I was the other afternoon, pulled up in my favourite lay-by, sipping my coffee, listening to the radio and trying to keep cool in the sweltering heat by having the driver's side door open, when this black BMW pulls up behind me.  Nothing unusual in that.  Sadly, there are a lot of BMWs about in this neck of the woods.  Anyway, being naturally suspicious and having watched too many spy movies, I surreptitiously watched the vehicle and its occupants in my rear-view mirror.  I saw the driver get out and, to my surprise, start walking toward the open door of my car.  Now, as I'm a naturally paranoid person, (the job I do doesn't help), I seriously considered slamming the door, activating the central locking, starting up and driving off, leaving this character choking on my exhaust gases.  But I didn't.

So, this fellow, who I can see in my mirrors is your typical middle class BMW driver, trying desperately to look casual, suddenly says 'You're here quite a lot, aren't you?'  To which my unspoken reaction was 'What the fuck's it got to do with you, knob head?'.  However, what I actually said was 'Not really, why?'  (See how careful I was not to be confrontational - these BMW driving types think that they are in the ascendancy these days, so you have to tread carefully with them, especially when they think that they're speaking to a peasant).  He then starts going on about how there are plans to turn the field running alongside the lay-by into a solar farm by erecting arrays of solar cells.  This is something that BMW man clearly disapproves of and is obviously hoping I'll object to as well, presumably because the arrays will dazzle me as I try to drink my coffee every Tuesday.  Unfortunately, as I told him, he'd picked the wrong man as, you see, I'm very much in favour of renewable energy sources. 

I really don't understand these mooks who spend their time campaigning against wind farms and the like because they'll spoil the view from their mansion.  Will they still be objecting when the lights start to go out?  With older power stations closing down and 'the market' still failing to build replacements at the same rate, we're in danger of losing generating capacity.  And what about the afore-mentioned climate change?  We can't keep pumping pollutants into the atmosphere indefinitely.  Hell, I'm not naive, wind farms and solar arrays can't possibly meet all of our energy needs, but they're a start.  They are also a clean renewable energy technology that is available right now.  If nothing else, they'll buy us some time.  But, climbing down from my soapbox and getting back to the point, what really surprised me about the climate change denier - who had to return to his Beamer disappointed not have made a new recruit for his campaign - was that he had a child in the car.  Does he really not care about the kind of world he's bequeathing his off-spring?  Surely the 'blemish' of a solar farm is preferable to an unbreathable atmosphere, global warming and the like?  Actually, I take that back - the thing that surprised me most was that the climate change deniers are apparently now reduced to driving around country lanes in their BMWs randomly accosting people in the hope that they might be like-minded.  Talk about desperate!

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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The Black Gestapo

I can honestly say that I know nothing of this movie, other than the fact that not just the title, but also just about everything in the trailer, is just so wrong on so many levels.  But it was the seventies, I suppose, when exploitation movies started crossing every genre imaginable. 

According to Trash City, "The People's Army is a group dedicated to cleaning up the streets of Watts, and throwing out the gangsters; except, when they succeed, they end up behaving worse."  So there you have it, an everyday tale of well-intentioned vigilantism gone Nazi.  Actually, Trash City has a much better write up of it than I can do here - mainly because their reviewer has actually seen it.  So go over there and look up the review.


Monday, July 08, 2013

Making My Blood Boil

Apparently it makes David Cameron's 'blood boil' to know that 'this man is still in our country' and he also knows that he speaks for every other Briton.  Really?  You don't speak for me Dave.  Personally, it makes my blood boil to know that David Cameron is still walking freely around the UK and, worse, is apparently Prime Minister.  Unfortunately, I'm told that we can't get him deported as he is a UK citizen and isn't an alleged terrorist.  Unlike Abu Qatada, the object of Cameron's ire, who was deported to Jordan over the weekend, amid much rejoicing from the right-wing tabloids and various Tory rent-a-quotes.  At last we're rid of this living, breathing risk to the UK's security, despite the best efforts of those pinko lefty Judges who kept putting his so-called human rights ahead of our safety, is the gist of their rantings.  The trouble is that nobody can actually say what it is that Abu Qatada is supposed to have done, or be accused of.  Can you?  I bet you can't!  The fact is that this so-called 'radical preacher' has broken no laws and faced no charges of terrorism or anything else in the UK.  This whole shoddy business relates to things he is alleged to have done in his native Jordan.  But exactly what these things are remains unclear.  Certainly nobody is saying that he is an actual terrorist.  The closest to a specific charge we've got is that he allegedly 'incited terror', which could mean anything.  Probably just writing something critical of the Jordanian government.

But here in the UK, the ain concern of the right-wing nut jobs, sorry, Tories, was that court after court, both in the UK and EU, had the audacity to keep telling successive Home Secretaries that they couldn't legally deport Qatada.  Forget all the hot air the right are blowing about how this proves we need to scrap the human rights act, the reason these courts blocked his deportation was simple: the evidence of his alleged 'crimes' provided by the Jordanian government wouldn't have been acceptable in any court in the UK or EU as it was obtained under duress.  Which is a polite way of saying obtained through torture.  Such 'evidence' is never reliable, (for reasons I've set out elsewhere on this blog and have no intention of rehashing here).  Indeed, the deportation only took place after Qatada himself agreed that he would return to Jordan without further objections if the Jordanian government finally ratified an agreement with the UK that such evidence wouldn't be used in any trial.  Clearly, he is confident that there is no 'real' evidence the Jordanian government can muster to ensure a conviction.  Quite frankly, this whole shabby business has been a sorry episode in British history, of which we should be thoroughly ashamed.  The fact is that Qatada has been demonised by successive governments, (but particularly the current one), in order to legitimise their attacks on human rights legislation.  Really people, what with this and the recent Prism revelations, the various police misconduct and corruption allegations, how can you not see that we aren't just sleep-walking into a repressive reactionary regime in which our civil liberties are severely curtailed, but that we're practically there already?

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Friday, July 05, 2013

Not a Coup, Apparently

The whole military coup-that-we mustn't-call-a-coup in Egypt this week has left me feeling distinctly uneasy.  When all is said and done, regardless of his unpopularity, his partisanship to certain groups and failure to really get to grips with the task of creating a new civil society in Egypt, President Morsi was a democratically elected leader.  OK. he won the presidency in a run-off against a pro-Mubarak candidate, which was basically a no-contest, but the fact is that if the rest of the opposition had gotten its act together and come up with a single candidate themselves, then the Muslim Brotherhood wouldn't have been left fielding the only non-establishment candidate.  Frankly, the opposition, whose protests have triggered the 'non-coup' really have only themselves to blame.  The fact that they have now entered into some kind of unholy pact with the military - their former nemesis whose post-Mubarak rule they also opposed - to unseat an elected President seems bizarre, to say the least.  Don't misunderstand me, it was increasingly obvious that Morsi was failing - if he had been unseated as a result of mass civil demonstrations and disobedience, then I wouldn't be so uneasy.  It's the involvement of the military I don't like.  It's all disturbingly reminiscent of the bad old days f the Roman Empire, when the military used to despatch emperors they didn't like, often with alarming rapidity, and replace them with their own choices, instead.

There's another parallel with the Roman Empire, of course.  Under both systems the military is as much a business as a fighting force.  In Rome, legions were more often than not privately financed, with their commanders expecting to make a profit from the spoils of conquest.  Consequently, the loyalty of soldiers was toward their commanders - who ensured they were paid - rather than the Emperor directly.  Likewise, in Egypt, the army is also a business, owning such highly profitable enterprises as olive oil factories and holiday resorts.  Again, their loyalty is toward maintaining their profits - they'll back whichever regime offers the most stable economic and social conditions for them to continue doing business.  If a regime looks like it is creating instability, they'll remove it.  Which is what the current situation is about - profits.  Believe me, the Egyptian military have no commitment to democracy.  Not that Egypt has the only economically active military.  There's a similar situation in Iran, where the Revolutionary Guard own and operate numerous large commercial enterprises, a situation which enhances their power greatly, as the government is economically, as well as militarily, reliant upon them.  All of which, as far as I'm concerned, are yet more good reasons never to trust the military. 

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Thursday, July 04, 2013

All Streamed Up

You may have noticed that there have been some changes around here.  Namely the 'Streampad' bar which now appears at the bottom of the page.  Until Sunday I was using Yahoo's Web Player application to stream all the episodes of 'The Sleazecast' currently posted on this blog.  This was a really neat and unobtrusive way of streaming media (it manifested itself as that grey tab which appeared on the left edge of the page).  Unfortunately, with virtually no warning, Yahoo decided to discontinue it.  So, as of Monday, there was no easy way for visitors to listen to our podcasts.   As I quickly found, there simply isn't anything out there which performs the same tasks in the way as Yahoo's Web Player.  Most media players require their code to be embedded individually for each post that includes audio.  Which is cumbersome and tedious beyond words.  However, I eventually stumbled across Streampad  which does almost the same thing.  It's more obtrusive and far less versatile than Yahoo Web Player, but right now it is all I've got!  That said, as it doesn't appear to have been updated since 2009 and seems to be affiliated with AOL, I have grave doubts that it will last much longer than Yahoo Web Player.  But hopefully it will be around long enough for me to find a more permanent solution.

All of which brings us to the thorny issue of the much delayed next instalment of 'The Sleazecast', which was promised for May, but somehow never materialised.  I had every intention of putting together this missing episode, but somehow it never happened.  In part this was down to the fact that the new-style 'Sleazecast', which debuted with episode thirteen, is just so time-consuming to produce - I'm afraid that there have simply been too many other things competing for my time for to justify devoting large chunks of it to an audio project.  Coupled to that has been a complete lack of inspiration.  I thought that I had ideas for a new episode but, upon closer examination, I ended up rejecting most of them.  However, I've recently started recording segments for the next episode and I've had some more, better, ideas.  I've also made a decision to drop out of another ongoing project I thought that I was contributing to, but recent events have made it clear that I'm basically a spare wheel there.  Instead, I've decided to focus on my own projects for the foreseeable future.  tarting with that delayed episode of 'The Sleazecast'.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Why Are You Still Single?

Don't you just love those TV documentaries which pose a question in the title?  You know the sort - the question has to do with some aspect of human nature, anatomy, social interaction or whatever and clearly implies that doing whatever is being questioned is abnormal, and if you are doing it, then you are a weirdo.  The other implication of using such titles is that the answer to the question posed is not only vital to know, but also somehow mysterious and arcane, requiring in depth investigation.  Anyway, as you've undoubtedly already guessed, one such documentary has caught my attention and riled me.  The programme in question was part of Channel Four's 'Dating Season' and was entitled Why Are You Still Single?, in which two people who have been unattached for a while swap lives to try and find out why the other is still single.  Now, as a habitually single person, I can answer the question 'Why are you still single?' quite simply, without the need for a documentary:  because I choose to be.

It never ceases to amaze me that large sections of our media seem to find it so difficult to accept that some of us like being single.  Being alone doesn't scare us - we aren't lonely.  We enjoy our own company.  Mainly because we are at ease with ourselves.  The fact is that I don't actually need anyone else in my life.  It is that simple.  Perhaps we loners make those media types feel inadequate?  Who knows.  But I do object to the clear implication in the documentary title that you re somehow abnormal if you aren't in a relationship.  Mind you, it isn't just the media.  Politicians are just as bad, forever giving tax breaks to married couples.  Indeed, 'Call me Dave' Cameron allegedly spends a lot of his time telling single female aides how they should get married as it is so wonderful.  Fuck off Dave.  No, really, just fuck off.  Getting back to the point, is it any wonder the divorce rate is so high if single people are constantly being harassed into believing that they are sad bastards if they don't marry someone.  Anyone.  Regardless of compatibility. All that matters is that you enter that superior state of matrimony. 

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Monday, July 01, 2013

One Down, Two to Go

As a tribute to Jim Kelly, whose untimely death was announced yesterday, I give you another in our series of obscure movie trailers - One Down, Two to Go (1982).  Not only does this picture feature Jim Kelly, but also Fred Williamson, Jim Brown and Richard Roundtree.  Four of the greatest ever blaxpoitation stars in one move!  Does it get better than that?  Probably.  By 1982 all four had their best movies behind them. Even Richard 'Shaft' Roundtree, even though he continues to be a screen presence to this day, it is rarely in starring roles. (Actually, some of his appearances have been downright bizarre - I remember him turning up as the new next door neighbour in the original Beverly Hills 90210. Sadly, he didn't don a long leather coat and shoot all the objectionable young characters).

Jim Kelly had most certainly seen his film career peak early, with Enter The Dragon.  Which isn't to say that he didn't have other hits, certainly the likes of Black Belt Jones and Three The Hard Way were popular in their day, but none have been the mainstream hit that Enter The Dragon was.  To be sure, none are remembered by mainstream audiences and still shown on TV the way the Bruce Lee movie was.  Nevertheless, his films are amongst the highlights of that curious period in the mid-1970s when crossover Blaxploitation/kung fu films were popular, (twice the minority audiences to exploit).  You know, I like Jim Kelly so much, I'm going to present a second trailer, this time for 1978's Tattoo Connection.  Apparently, Jim Kelly is 'violent as hell' in it...