Saturday, August 31, 2013

Another Stolen Day

I've had a hectic day.  I had to, as I was trying to pack two days worth of holiday into one, after that bloody car accident that happened on the first day effectively stole another day of my leave yesterday.  After getting up far too early for a non-work day in order to meet the guy taking my damaged car to the insurer's approved garage, it then transpired that the rental car I was meant to be getting, courtesy of the insurers, wouldn't be ready until four o'clock.  Obviously, by the time all the paperwork was done, it was more like five o'clock.  Which meant that I had no car for all of yesterday, resulting in my having to shelve my plans.  I really am getting fed up with this continued disruption of my precious time off from work.  The weather's great at the moment, I'm not at work and just want to spend my time away from my usual life.  Not waste it kicking my heels waiting for a bloody rental car.

Anyway, I eventually made it to the beach today, (despite the rental car's best attempts to fight me every inch of the way), and, an irritating yapping dog aside, I had a nice relaxing time.  It's amazing the difference a few hours change of scenery can make.  Which is what holidays are all about for me: being somewhere different so that I can be someone different.  These few weeks off every year are a release for me - away from the strait-jacket of work for an extended period, I'm a different person.  I dress differently, I behave differently, keeping different hours and having a sunnier demeanour.  I say I'm a different person, the reality is that I'm myself, able to cast off the façade I have to put up to get through work these days.  So, here's hoping that I can enjoy next week - the last week of my break - without further serious disruption.  There's a lot I want to do and only a few days to do it all in.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Doctors' Wives

Here's one I know only by reputation.  And boy, is it a bad reputation!  A sleazy potboiler adapted from Frank G Slaughter's potboiler of a novel, Doctors' Wives represents another attempt by old Hollywood to answer the threat posed by television.  Throughout the fifties and sixties Hollywood had focused on a mixture of spectacle and gimmicks, such as 3-D, to try and lure audiences away from their TVs by giving them stuff the box just couldn't give them.  But it was all to no avail and cinema audiences continued to decline.  By the early seventies Hollywood was running out of novelties to tempt TV audiences with.  The trouble was that TV could also offer stuff viewers couldn't get anywhere else: quiz shows, variety programmes, sitcoms and, most significantly, soap operas.  These continuing dramas kept audiences glued to their sets, day in, day out. 

So Hollywood produced their own soap operas - bigger, glossier and more sensational than those on TV, often based on novels by the likes of Harold Robbins or Jacqueline Susann.  Obviously, one off films couldn't replicate the serial nature of TV soaps, but they could give audiences something seventies TV couldn't: sex.  Lots and lots of sex.  The raunchier, the better.  Doctors' Wives is an excellent example of the genre, making its intent clear from the off, with Dyan Cannon announcing that she 'feels horny'.  Also, not satisfied with sexing up soap operas, Doctors' Wives crosses genres to do the same thing to that other seventies TV staple: the medical drama.  Trust me, Dr Kildare was never like this.  Most reviewers are utterly dismissive of Doctors' Wives, condemning it for being trashy and inconsequential.  Which, I feel, is to miss the point completely.  It is surely meant to be all of those things - giving seventies TV audiences a slice of escapist sleaze they couldn't get at home.  As far as I'm aware, there's no DVD release of this one, so you'll just have to be satisfied with this suitably trashy trailer.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Speaking Ill of The Dead

Why is it that only good people are murdered or die in tragic accidents?  You know what I mean -every time such a death occurs, friends, relatives and neighbours seem to be falling over themselves to tell the press that the victim was, well, basically a saint.  By all accounts they are loving husbands/wives and fathers/mothers, upstanding pillars of their local communities, good Samaritans always willing to help out those in need and the life and soul of any party.  I don't expect people to say 'He was a complete bastard and deserved it', but I'd appreciate a degree of realism.  After all, the reality is that many murder victims know their killers, the murder often being the consequence of domestic abuse of some kind, or the result of some falling out between criminal confederates.  Which isn't to say that many victims aren't perfectly innocent.  But I bet they weren't angels, either.

Anyway, I was set to thinking about this following a recent murder here in Crapchester.  As ever, the victim was eulogised by all and sundry.  Apparently he was a faultless individual.  The epitome of a perfect family man.  Except that I knew a bit about him - the bits about his criminal record.  OK, he was strictly small-time and hadn't been involved in anything which would ordinarily result in murder.  Nonetheless, it was at odds with the picture being painted by his friends and relatives.  I know that we're not meant to speak ill of the dead, but Hell, if we can't speak the truth about them without fear of being threatened with libel actions, then, when can we?  It's like all that business about how you shouldn't kick a man when he's down.  Why not?  It might be your only chance to stick one on some violent bullying bastard who has been making everyone's lives Hell.  But getting back to the victims of murders and such like - a little more honesty with regard to them would go a long way.  After all, you might not know this, but some real bastards and scumbags die as well as the saints.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Perfect Moments

Ah, August Bank Holiday!  Possibly my favourite public holiday of the year.  Not that it makes much difference to me in reality, as I'm usually on holiday anyway whenever it rolls around.  But bank holidays have a special feel to them - that sense of freedom and temporary release from everyday stresses.  Especially when it is a beautiful sunny day like today.  As with every other August Bank Holiday, I didn't go to the Notting Hill Carnival or do any of the things I always tell myself I'm going to do one of these August Bank Holidays. Instead, I broke with my golden rule that 'nothing ever happens the same way twice' and attempted to recreate the magic of an August Bank Holiday past.  Perhaps I should elaborate on this golden rule of mine.  It's actually quite simple: in our lives, we all experience those 'moments' which seem perfect, when we are at ease with ourselves and the world, perhaps, or of perfect elation, or those times when you feel that you've made some kind of connection - no matter how fleeting - with another human being, which leaves you brimming over with a sensation of warmth and happiness.  But these moments are unique, created by a set of circumstances which will probably never occur again.  Yet we try, in futility, to recreate them, by revisiting the places they occurred, seeking out the people they happened with, trying to go through the exact same motions again.  It never works.

Not only have I been guilty of this myself, but I've lost count of the number of times I've seen other people torture themselves by doing the same thing - ultimately driving themselves into depression.  I suppose it is like those people who have survived a war.  Many times I've been told by people who have seen battle that those moments when you realise that you are in the presence of death - when it is clear that, at any moment your life could be, quite arbitrarily, be ended by a stray shell or bullet - you experience exhilaration.  They say that in those moments when they face death, they feel more alive than at any other time.  And many of them spend the rest of their lives trying to recreate those moments.  Some drift around the world, looking for similar experiences, or just hoping that the sheer exoticism of foreign locales can rekindle that exhilaration.  Others engage in all manner of high-risk activities, like extreme sports, in order to try and feel that kick once more.  Of course, none of it works.  I've come to the conclusion that we just have to be thankful for those 'perfect moments' we've experienced and hope that, at some point in the future, all the right factors will come together again to create another one for us.  Until then, we just have to hold on to our memories of the previous ones.

But to return to today's misbegotten attempt, I decided to go back to a place where, a few years ago - on an August Bank Holiday, I had experienced a damn near perfect late Summer's day, which had taken me back to my childhood.  Obviously, it didn't work.  Too much had change: different crops in the fields so there were no rolls of hay and one of the landmarks - some ruined agricultural buildings - were now overgrown and inaccessible.  Nevertheless, I did have an enjoyable afternoon.  Just not in the same way it was the first time.  Oh, and I fell off a log.  And yes, it was easy.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Burke and Hare

That's right, a second random movie trailer for the week!  Hell, I'm on holiday and can't be arsed to come up with proper posts!  Give me a break!  Anyway, getting to the trailer: a hilarious black comedy about body snatchers, complete with a theme song by The Scaffold, (look them up or ask your Grannies kiddies) - it must be the early 1970s!  As the traditional British gothic horror movies began to lose ground at the box office to the more explicit, contemporary set, US and continental equivalents, producers began to experiment with the format: Hammer gave us lesbian vampires, Kung Fu vampires and curious hybrids like Dracula AD 1972, which tried to force their gothic characters into the modern world.  The independent producers of Burke and Hare decided to go for a combination of bawdy comedy and crumpet.

Fittingly, the film features a number of favourites (or soon-to-be favourites) from British TV sitcoms of the period: Yootha Joyce (Man About The House, George and Mildred), Francoise Pascal (Mind Your Language) and Yutte Stensgaard (not only Doctor in The House, but also cult movies Zeta One and Lust For a Vampire).  Burke and Hare themselves are played by Derren Nesbitt - a fixture in British movies of the time, usually playing a sneering hard man - and Glynn Edwards, now best remembered as Dave the barman in Minder.  Apart from its comedic approach, Burke and Hare is notable as being the first colour film of their exploits and also the first to actually use their names in the title, (apparently, as late as the 1950s the British censors wouldn't allow their names - in common with those of other real-life criminals - to be uttered in a film for fear of glamourising them and their crimes).  The director, Vernon Sewell, was a stalwart of the British film industry, directing numerous low budget movies over the decades (including the magnificently barmy Blood Beast Terror for Tigon).  I believe this was his last feature before retiring (he was nearly seventy) and sailing his yacht around the world.  He lived well into his nineties.  Whilst rarely given positive write-ups in critical histories of the horror film, Burke and Hare has nonetheless garnered a cult following and has been issued on VHS and DVD several times in recent years.  It was effectively remade by John Landis in 2010, with Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis in the title roles.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Not So Happy Holidays

Well, I got twenty miles down the road yesterday, with the aim of kicking off my Summer holidays with a trip to the coast, when someone went into the side of my car at a junction, thereby bringing my leave to a grinding halt.  I spent the rest of the day trying to sort out a claim for repairs with my insurer.  Luckily, as the other party was co-operative, (not to mention very apologetic), I had their details and the claim will be made against their insurance, leaving my 'no claims' bonus intact.  Luckily, the damage is fairly minor, but the whole rear bumper will have to be replaced.  My insurers have arranged for the car to go to their body shop next Thursday, when I'll get a rental car for the duration.  In the meantime, they've cleared me to keep driving my car, despite the damage.  So, hopefully my holiday plans won't be disrupted too much.

Indeed, once they'd decided my car was still safe to drive this morning, I resumed my attempts to reach the coast and eventually spent a relaxing afternoon on the beach.  It's surprising how much even a minor accident like yesterday's can affect your confidence behind the wheel.  Even though the collision wasn't my fault, I found myself driving very hesitantly and over-cautiously on the journey down to the coast today (via a different route which avoided the offending junction).  I'm happy to say that the journey back was far better, not to mention quicker, as my confidence returned.  Nevertheless, the whole business shook me up enough that I couldn't be bothered to shoot any proper holiday film footage today.  So, the traditional holiday film season will have to wait until next week.  Although nobody was hurt in the accident and the damage was minor, the whole incident represented hassle I could well have done without at the start of my holidays.  Indeed, after spending a large proportion of yesterday on the phone to my insurers instead of being on the beach, I'm left feeling that I've somehow been cheated out of a day of my precious time off.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dycks and Dykes

I really need to pay more attention to those news headlines.  I mean, when I saw 'Van Dyke Rescued From Burning Car', I assumed that a valuable painting by the Flemish master had been pulled unscathed from the backseat of a blazing vehicle after an accident.  But no, it turned out that Dick Van Dyke had been pulled from his car after it caught fire.  I should have noted the spelling - 'Van Dyke' rather than 'Van Dyck'.  The cause of the fire in Van Dyke's car remains a mystery.  Did it spontaneously combust?  Was it already on fire when he got in it, but he didn't notice because he was too busy admiring that Van Dyck he was putting on the back seat?  Was it part of a revenge attack by someone he put away when he was solving murders in Diagnosis Murder?   If I was the LAPD, I'd be checking to see if any murderers convicted as a result of Dr Sloane's testimony had been recently released.  Then again, perhaps they should be looking at cockney chimney sweeps offended by his performance in Mary Poppins.

Confusing though that headline might have been, (to me, at least), it's at least good to know that Dick Van Dyke is safe and well.  If nothing else, it means we can still hope for that Diagnosis Murder reunion show.  Come on, you know you want it!  Perhaps it could be a crossover with Murder She Wrote, featuring Jessica Fletcher attending Community General Hospital for a hip replacement when the establishment is rocked by a series of horrible murders - for which her nephew Grady is arrested.  Confined to her hospital bed, she has to rely on sprightly 87 year old Dr Sloane to do the legwork and gather the evidence which will clear Grady.  The solution will undoubtedly have something to do with a stolen Van Dyck that ends up in Dr Sloane's blazing Jaguar... 


Monday, August 19, 2013

The Final Programme

The only cinematic outing for Michael Moorcock's 'James Bond of the Counter Culture', Jerry Cornelius, The Final Programme (known as The Last Days of Man on Earth for its US release), is an adaptation of Moorcock's first Cornelius novel, published in 1969, (although having previously been serialised in New Worlds science fiction magazine c1965-66).  Sadly, by the time it appeared in 1973, the counter culture party was effectively over.  That said, the visions of an apocalyptic world, slowly grinding to a halt presented in this trailer, must have struck a chord in 1973 Britain, with its power cuts, fuel rationing and industrial unrest.  Nevertheless, the film was a commercial failure and remains extremely difficult to see - as far as I am aware, there is currently no official DVD release and the only TV showing I can recall was late one Sunday night on BBC2 in the late seventies.  Consequently, my memories of the movie itself are extremely hazy.  However, if you want an in-depth analysis and critique of it, a pretty good one can be found here at Breakfast in The Ruins (an excellent blog you should read regardless).

Director Robert Fuest is probably best remembered for the Dr Phibes films with Vincent Price and various episodes of The Avengers, although he also directed an odd early 1970s film adaptation of Wuthering Heights for AIP, as part of the drive-in specialists attempts to seem more 'legit'. His bold visual style undoubtedly made him seem like an ideal choice for this project, but, judging by this trailer, it never seems to get to grips with Moorcock's literary ideas.  The film's lead, Jon Finch, died earlier this year and should, arguably, have been a much bigger star, but, by his own admission, just couldn't be arsed.  A man after my own heart.  So there you have it, another obscure random movie trailer.

[I've subsequently discovered that there is to be a UK DVD release in October this year].


Friday, August 16, 2013

Beardy Weirdy

It must be silly season - Jeremy Paxman's beard became a news story earlier this week.  The usual excuse for making mountains out of such molehills of trivia at this time of year is the lack of news in August.  Because, as we all know, the whole world packs up and goes on holiday during August, meaning that nothing at all happens all month long.  Well, that's the received wisdom, anyway.  In reality, you'd think that with the ongoing crisis in Egypt, rising tensions between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar, the Bradley Manning trial and the whole Prism business, you'd think that this August the media wouldn't have time to comment on the fact that a BBC 2 news anchor had grown a beard while he was on holiday.  But apparently they do.  At length.  To be honest, this preoccupation with the trivia of someone's personal appearance reminds me of an office I once worked in, where the fact someone had had a haircut would be the topic of conversation for weeks.  It was truly dire. I despaired of the fact that, with all the things we could have discussed, the topic of conversation was always forced back to this kind of meaningless trivia.

As a silly season story, Paxman's beard really is a non-starter.  I mean, it's just a bloody beard.  I could grow one too, if I wanted to - it's hardly an achievement or, indeed, especially unusual.  Silly season stories should involve aliens, crop circles, poltergeists or Nazi war criminals found living in a garden shed.  Or some combination of these elements.  Of course, the classic British silly season story would involve the Loch Ness Monster, (a phenomena which has, sadly, all but vanished from our media),  usually being spotted taking tea at a local vicarage or some such.  Now, if Nessie were to be found hiding in Paxo's face lace, or if crop circles suddenly appeared in his facial hair, that would be a true silly season story.  Or, if it turned out that the beard is to disguise the fact that he isn't Paxman any more - he's been replaced by a Nazi war criminal.  Or Nessie.  Whilst the real Paxman has been abducted by aliens.  But sadly, the days of great silly season stories of this ilk seem to be ever.  Reporters these days seem to prefer expending their creative energies on making up football transfer stories. 

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Forgotten Films: Legend of the Lone Ranger

With all the furore over the new Lone Ranger movie, I thought this might be a good time to take a look back at the last time they tried to bring the 'Masked Man of the Plains' to the big screen.  Legend of the Lone Ranger, when released in 1981, probably received an even bigger critical slating than the current film and effectively killed the franchise stone dead for next thirty years.  But is it really that bad?  The reality is that Legend of the Lone Ranger is, on a technical level, a perfectly well crafted film, although director William A Fraker does overdo the soft-focus, apparently smearing the camera lenses with grease, in an attempt to recapture the 'mythic' look of his directorial debut, Monte Walsh.  The film's problems are largely structural.  Like the aforementioned Monte Walsh, this film seeks to mythologise the Old West in general and the Lone Ranger specifically.  However, this aim is fatally undermined by the fact that the Ranger himself only appears in the last third of the film, engaged in a pretty perfunctory and mundane adventure. The movie spends the better part of an hour establishing the character's origins in laborious detail.  Which isn't to say that there isn't any plot development going on in this section, just that it doesn't move the film significantly forward.

Once John Reid has finally become the Lone Ranger, the plot he's involved in is pretty dull and doesn't actually require him to deploy any special skills beyond those the average cowboy hero would demonstrate in the course of a B-picture.  Sure, all the elements are there: the kidnapping of the US President from his train by Butch Cavendish, who is attempting to set up a separatist Texas state, the infiltration of the villain's fortress-like HQ, lots of explosions and the US cavalry arriving just in the nick of time.  Unfortunately, none it ever gels into a satisfying story.  The pace is too slow, the Lone Ranger and Tonto find Cavendish's hideout without even trying, they infiltrate it too easily and, worst of all, there is never any sense that they (or the President) are in any real peril.  The film doesn't even make anything of the real life Western heroes travelling with the President - Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickock and General Custer - they barely get a line of dialogue between them and contribute nothing to the plot.  They're just so much window dressing.

Which could also be said of the Lone Ranger himself.  Part of the film's problem is the leading man, Klinton Spilsbury.  Don't worry if you've never heard of him.  This was his only acting credit.  Last heard of, he was working as a photographer.  Whilst being very handsome, he has no charisma or presence as either John Reid or the Lone Ranger, a problem exacerbated by the fact that he was dubbed post-production by James Keach.  Still, he does have nice hair.  This, combined with the poor structure and slack storytelling  - which leaves the viewer with the feeling that it is all over before it has even started -and a sub-par musical score from John Barry, meant that the film never stood a chance at the box office in 1981.  Especially after the bad publicity it suffered pre-release, when the producer obtained a court order to prevent former Lone Ranger Clayton Moore from wearing the mask during public appearances, which just looked mean-spirited. 

But perhaps the film's biggest problem was that, 1981, it just seemed too old fashioned.  Despite the bold promises of its producers, it didn't radically reinvent the character and felt like a throwback to the 1950s TV series.  It had the misfortune to be released only weeks ahead of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a movie which took similar source material - 1930s and 40s cinema serials - but reworked them radically into an exciting and contemporary feeling entertainment.  Beyond making Tonto into more of an equal partner to the Lone Ranger - and why does only the Ranger have to wear a mask to protect his identity, are they saying that all Indians look alike so nobody will ever recognise Tonto - Legend does little to update the characters or scenario.  I don't know - maybe the problem is that the Lone Ranger himself is just too boring to make into an exciting contemporary character.  My first encounter with the character was in those cartoons which ran on TV in the late sixties and early seventies.  They were incredibly bizarre, with the Lone Ranger and Tonto fighting things like giant robots.  Only later did I see episodes of the Clayton Moore TV series - and they seemed deadly dull by comparison, with our hero coming off as just a bland do-gooder, no different (other than the mask) to a thousand other cowboy heroes.  Perhaps that's why, since the fifties, big screen attempts at the Lone Ranger have been such spectacular failures.        


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Glorious August

It's August again.  Usually by now I'd have posted my usual paean to the joys of this magnificent month.  Indeed, yesterday was the 'Glorious Twelfth', (the beginning of the season for upper class twits to shoot slow-moving birds), although I'd say that the whole of August is glorious, not just one day, (not that the grouse shooting season is particularly glorious for the grouse).  However, I've been too busy ranting of late to address this vital issue.  So, to make amends, let me say how great it is to be in August!  Not least because my annual Summer leave is shortly to begin - a wonderful extended period of escape from work.  Oh yes, the August Bank Holiday - possibly my favourite public holiday - is also imminent.  Those weeks away from work can't come too soon.  It seems as if the entire world is on holiday already: empty offices, empty streets and a general sense of inertia gripping those of us still here.  I know some people are complaining that the heat of July has gone, leaving us with a muted end to the Summer, but frankly I prefer the current levels of heat: pleasantly warm with a slight cooling breeze.  Perfect August weather.

 August also means that it is the time of year when I tell people that I'm taking my one man show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  Not that I ever do, of course.  Not that I actually have a one man show.  But I find it an easy way to deflect the inevitable questions people persist in asking me about where I'm going for my holidays.  I've never understood this obsession some people have with how others spend their time off.  I've also grown tired of people clearly thinking that I'm abnormal because I don't choose to spend my time off in the Summer being bored to death in some Mediterranean resort.  So I eventually concocted the lie about Edinburgh - and now I'm stuck with it.  Actually, it is good fun thinking up a new fake one man show every August and inventing false venues.  So, what's it to be this year?  'I Was a Sex Pest From Outer Space' performed at the Ruptured Badger pub?  Or maybe 'Holy Shit, Holy Grail?' performed in the municipal public toilets on the corner of Sporran Street? 


Monday, August 12, 2013

A National Disgrace

This country is rapidly turning into a fucking disgrace.  As if it isn't bad enough that, in the face of continued cuts to public services, more and more of the poor are being forced to rely on food banks and charities in order to survive, that we have huge multinational corporations making vast profits here, yet paying no tax, apparently with impunity, that wages are falling for workers whilst the wealthy get tax cuts, our ruling classes now seem to think that racism is OK.  First of all we have those mobile billboards driving around London basically saying 'Darkies Go Home' - a piece of blatant racism justified by the government on the grounds that it is part of a crackdown on illegal immigrants, then we have professional 'posh boy' and Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg having to distance himself from a Tory-affiliated group he'd addressed when it became clear that they were a bunch of racists.  I say 'became clear' - a look at their Facebook page would apparently have been enough to tell him that well in advance.  These are the clowns calling for Doreen Lawrence - recently made a Labour peer - to be repatriated to her 'country of origin'.  But, because he went to public school and is therefore a 'good chap', it seems that we must give Rees-Mogg the benefit of the doubt.

Which is more than can be said for that cock end of a UKIP MEP, with his barely coherent tirade about British aid being sent to 'Bongo Bongo Land' where the natives use it to buy designer sunglasses.  This sort of thing would be offensive if you heard it being said by some oaf in the saloon bar of your local pub, but what makes it worse is that, in this case, it is coming from the lips of an elected representative - one who represents this country in the European parliament.  Is this really the kind of image we want to be projecting to our European partners?  As if it isn't bad enough that we send them our lager louts every Summer, now we're sending out-and-out bigots as our official representatives.  Actually, is it any wonder that our youth behave so badly when on their Mediterranean holidays when this is the sort of example being set by their representatives?  But, getting back to the point, this ignorant UKIP bastard then compounded his sins by trying to justify himself.  He ludicrously claimed that because there was no real country called 'Bong Bongo Land', then he couldn't possibly have offended anyone.

I find this sort of thing depressing, when someone is so stupid that they think they are being clever by employing smart arsery of this kind.  Of course there isn't a real country called 'Bongo Bongo Land'.  However, it is well established derogatory term for any country from the developing world, (not the 'Third World', somewhere else he denies exists), but particularly Africa, populated by people who aren't white.  It is especially insulting as it represents a refusal to differentiate a multitude of different cultures and races, instead just lumping them together as 'Bongo Bongo Land'.  Rather than showing this pillock's intelligence (as he clearly thinks that it does), his 'justification' of his words simply serves to further underline his arrogance and ignorance.  But the most depressing aspect of this whole business is that he was allowed to spout this bollocks, on TV, virtually unchallenged by presenters.  Is this what we've come to in Britain - the passive acceptance of casual racism?  Really, we're a fucking disgrace, whichever way you look at it.  These days I'm, quite frankly, ashamed to be British.  I'm ashamed to live in such a society.  The likes of Norway and Denmark look more appealing by the day!

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Friday, August 09, 2013

More Monkey Business

I mentioned those bloody monkeys that live in Gibraltar and throw their shit at people and generally terrorise the population.  Which reminded me of how much I dislike monkeys.  Really.  They are complete bastards.  Always acting so bloody smart, while all the while doing horrendous shit, but getting away with it because they turn on the 'cuteness'.  You just can't trust them - the evil little bastards will steal anything that isn't nailed down, then act the injured party when you try and retrieve it, all that chattering and gesticulating.  Horrible little bastards.  Don't misunderstand me - it's only the monkeys I hate.  The great apes I don't mind: gorillas and Orangutans are reasonably civilised.  Certainly, they don't throw shit or steal things.  The jury is still out on chimps though - they can be irritating little bastards too, but not as much as monkeys.  Of course, it isn't just Gibraltar where monkeys behave like arseholes and get away with it - in India they plague many cities.  There the bastards play on their status as 'sacred' animals to avoid retribution for their violent antics - breaking into buildings, terrorising the occupants, wrecking rooms and causing mayhem.

If you need more proof of the basic untrustworthiness of monkeys, you need look no further than Raiders of the Lost Ark and that monkey which befriends Indiana Jones and acts all cute with him, whilst all the time spying for the Nazis.  Clearly Lucas and Spielberg share my feelings about simians, as the monkey finally gets his just desserts after eating a poisoned date. As far as I'm concerned, the only good monkey is a dead monkey.  If I had my way, they'd employ snipers in New Delhi to shoot the evil little bastards out of the trees,  Likewise on the rock.  But apparently the mass execution of primates is frowned upon.  Instead, perhaps we could simply single out one of the bastards and make an example of them - give it a bloody good beating with an iron bar, maybe.  Making out sure his mates witness it, obviously.  I mean, if they are so bloody clever, then they'll surely get the message - acting like an arse has serious consequences.  I know this all seems a bit harsh, but these evil little hooligans have to learn that they can't keep trading on the fact they are distantly related to us in order to get away with blue murder.  Look upon it as tough love - it is for their own good.


Thursday, August 08, 2013

Real Rocky Relations

They always have to take things too far, don't they?  Not satisfied with spending the better part of the Summer attempting to unsettle the player with endless reports in their tame media talking up the prospects of a transfer, Real Madrid's pursuit of Spurs winger Gareth Bale has now reached ludicrous levels.  I mean, all this nonsense over Gibraltar is clearly just another extreme negotiating tactic.  Real are clearly getting desperate - I mean, over the weekend, Bale's failure to land the Dr Who role, (he lost out to Peter Capaldi),  must have given them hope that, having missed out on his dream job, Bale might consider Real Madrid instead.  However, with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy unreasonably standing firm in demanding the Spanish outfit actually pay Tottenham money for their player, Real Madrid have realised that desperate measures are called for - hence the lengthy delays at the border between Gibraltar and Spain.

But we Brits are made of sterner stuff.  We won't be intimidated by these football bullies!  Take your alleged £600 million pounds of losses, Real Madrid, and shove 'em!  You still haven't finished paying us for Luka Modric, who you signed last year.  Do you really think we believe that you'll actually pony up for Bale?  As for those queues at the border with Gibraltar?  Well, guess what?  We're British (and Gibraltarian) - we enjoy queuing!  Oh yeah, while we're talking about Gibraltar - take your fucking monkeys back!  Do you really think we're going to give you Gibraltar (or Gareth Bale) just because you keep sending your hooligan Macaques to throw their shit at our people there?  Oh, I know that you claim they come from Africa originally, not Spain, but you would bloody say that, wouldn't you?  Blame the Africans, eh?  We know all about the state of race relations in Spain - we haven't forgotten the abuse your racists directed at Lewis Hamilton, then tried to pretend it was a 'joke'.  Ha, bloody, ha!  Maybe we should get Bale to black up - wouldn't be so keen on him then, eh?

Well, that's clarified that issue, I'm sure.


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Who's Who

Well, the new Dr Who obviously isn't me - I think the big clue was when I realised that I was sat in my mother's living room watching him being unveiled live on TV, rather than being in the studio in London.  Oh, that and the fact that I'm not an actor and didn't apply for the job.  It's interesting that this time around there hasn't been the large negative backlash from some quarters that had accompanied Matt Smith's casting.  But, unlike Smith, Peter Capaldi isn't a relative unknown.  As one of the UK's most respected and versatile actors, most of us have a pretty good idea of what he can do and most fans have no doubt that he'll gives us an interesting new take on the Doctor.  In many ways, he represents a 'safe pair of hands' for the series - he's a performer who never disappoints or gives bad performances.  The producers clearly feel they know what they're getting with Capaldi and that he'll deliver the goods.

The intriguing thing about Peter Capaldi's casting was the way his name only came into the frame around a week before the announcement and rapidly became the bookies' favourite.  Intriguing, because it coincided with a conversation I'd had with one of my brothers about prospective Twelfth Doctors, where we had concluded that if they were going to go for an older, more established actor, then Capaldi would be their man. Coincidence?  Well, only a couple of weeks prior to that, we'd been having a similar discussion, this time about what if they wanted to cast an established, but young(ish) actor, whee we concluded that Julian Rhind-Tutt could be a good choice.  Guess what?  The following week, Rhind-Tutt became the bookies' favourite.  What was going on?  Does the NSA's 'Prism' snooping programme extend to listening in on Dr Who fans on behalf of bookmakers?  To be frank, these days nothing would surprise me.   


Monday, August 05, 2013

Part Time Terror

You know, as soon as I saw that 'terror alert' last week which led to various UK and US embassies being temporarily closed in places like Yemen, I thought: I bet that sooner or later this will be used to try and justify the NSA's 'Prism' web and phone snooping programme.  And lo!  It has come to pass.  I was reading today of various Republican Senators telling the world how, once again, lives had been saved as a result of intelligence gathered covertly by the NSA.  The trouble with such claims is that they are impossible either to prove or disprove.  Anyone can claim the existence of a 'threat' or 'terror plot', based on 'evidence' that can't be shared for security reasons, then claim their alert was justified when nothing happens as it proves that their actions had defused or deflected the 'threat'.  In the absence of any hard facts, it is impossible to know whether such a claim is true or that nothing happened because there was no threat in the first place.  (Obviously, being a cynic and having worked on 'the other side' and seen how flimsy intelligence is often hyped up for political reasons to justify establishment policies, I tend to suspect the latter).

The other thing which struck me about this recent alert was that, in the case of UK embassies at least, the closures were only for a couple of days over the weekend.  What are our leaders trying to tell us?  That we're now dealing with territorial wing of al Qaeada?  Is the terror organisation, like the UK's own armed forces, now so thin on the ground due to budget cuts, that they are being forced to rely upon their reservists, the part-time terrorists who are only active three or four weekends every year?  Are we now under threat from guys who hold down regular jobs the rest of the year and have to get their employers' consent to take time off to go and blow a few infidels up?  Is this why al Qaeada's terror campaigns have been so patchy in recent years - the lack of availability of key personnel due to work commitments?  "I'm sorry, but I can't make the meat cleaver attack on the US Embassy this weekend - I''ve got a full-time job with Hezbollah as a suicide bomber.  They just can't spare me - I'm on call and could have to blow myself and a bus load of Israeli school children at a moment's notice!"

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Friday, August 02, 2013

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World


Another random movie trailer to round off the week.  For some reason I've found myself thinking about It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World lately.  I'm not sure why - perhaps it is the weather.  I always associate this lengthy would be comedy with Summer holidays, when TV companies would use it to fill up entire an afternoon.  Moreover, I actually saw it at the cinema one Summer's day during the late 1970s.  It wasn't on rerelease, or anything, it had already shown on TV a few times by then.  It was a school outing.  Every Summer, toward the end of the school year, when the term was running down, exams done and normal lessons suspended, my school used to organise a trip to the local Odeon to fill up a morning.  The film shown couldn't be more than an 'A' certificate, it had to be long and had to be old enough that it was no longer on general release and was therefore cheap to rent.  I recall in other years I saw The Alamo and Young Winston on the big screen on these outings.

Of course, the version we saw wasn't the 'complete' version originally released - nobody has seen that since the sixties, I believe.  It was shot on 70mm format and went out on a limited 'roadshow' release..  Running 192 minutes (the preview version ran 210 minutes), the distributors quickly cut it to 161 minutes, (to allow an extra screening a day at most venues).   For its general release, a 35mm print cut to 154 minutes was used.  This is the version which usually shows on TV and I'm sure is the version I saw that day.   In any version, its a loud and raucous picture.  Whether it is actually funny, I'm not so sure.  I've always had mixed feelings about it: I admire its sheer scale and superb photography, its amazingly well co-ordinated stunts and special effects, (Willis O'Brien of King Kong fame worked on them, in his last job).  I also have a soft spot for any film with Spencer Tracy. Oh, and it has a great animated title sequence designed by Saul Bass.  But I can't help but feel that most of the funny gets lost in the frenetic action.  Sure, parts of it make me smile, but I always feel it should be funnier  than it actually is.  It somehow feels less than the sum of its parts.  But what do I know?  As this trailer makes clear, back in 1963 it was clearly seen as a massive event.  And, to be fair, it still is that and, yes, next time it is on TV, I'll probably end up watching it again. 


Thursday, August 01, 2013

Pity the Fools

See - I did finally post another episode of The Sleazecast!  All you doubters should be ashamed of yourselves!  But to business.  Not everywhere on the net is as genteel as this blog, it seems.  Oh no, there are places where people hide behind the anonymity the web uniquely gives them to be rude to people, bully, even threaten them.  Who'd have thought it, eh?  Whilst I don't want to downplay the sheer unpleasantness of the misogynistic attacks made on various prominent women via Twitter of late, I feel that the idea perpetuated by the mainstream media that this is a problem unique to the net, needs challenging.  Whilst the web and social media undoubtedly makes it easier for the average cretin to abuse directly the rich and famous, the fact is that even in pre-web days victims could still be subjected to campaigns of anonymous abuse.  Poison pen letters, abusive phone calls, obscene graffiti, to name but three traditional methods of terrorising people - all very difficult to trace to a specific perpetrator. 

These methods of abuse were also arguably more difficult to block than web abuse.  You can always opt out of social media altogether, if blocking individual abusers doesn't work.   I also find it somewhat disingenuous of the 'old media' to try and give the impression that this sort of abuse exists only on social media sites.  Have they never read the comments section under the articles on their own websites?  These are invariably full of the most rabidly misogynistic, racist and reactionary bile masquerading as comment, often with little or no relation to the actual article.  All, apparently, unmoderated.  Personally, I find it bizarre that large news organisations can't moderate their own comments whereas an individual like me can.  I moderate every comment on this blog.  It doesn't get published if I think it is offensive.  Trust me, once people realise moderation is in place, the abusers soon stop visiting.  Ultimately, of course, we should simply feel pity for these scumbags.  Whilst their vitriol is upsetting, especially when directed at you, we shouldn't lose track of the fact that these are individuals so socially dysfunctional they are incapable of relating to women in anything other than the crudest sexual terms.  Moreover, they are so inadequate that the only way they can make themselves heard is by posting this poison anonymously on the web, as they know that no reasonable person in the real world would ever listen to them.  Most of all, the last thing they want is our pity, as they just wouldn't know how to handle such an emotional response to their abuse.  So pity them.  The sad bastards.

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