Thursday, October 31, 2013


It's Halloween, so here's an appropriate random movie trailer.  So not so random really.  Madhouse is a seventies British horror flick I have a soft spot for, although I always feel that it represents something of a missed opportunity.  It claims to be based on Angus Hall's novel Devilday, but beyond the basic idea of a washed up US horror star trying to revive his career with a TV series, but dogged by a series of murders, and some of the character names, it bears little resemblance to its supposed source.  Which is a pity, as I have a real fondness for the book, a paperback horror potboiler from the late sixties which conjures up a great deal of atmosphere and has some interesting ideas, including reincarnation, psychic detectives and even concludes with a modern version of the mob of villagers attacking Frankenstein's castle, which seemed to climax just about every Universal monster movie from the thirties and forties.  Best of all, it had cynical first person narration from a dislikeable 'hero' and a fascinating background of local independent television.   Indeed, 'South Coast TV', the company featured in the book was clearly based on the old Southern Television ITV franchise, which I grew up watching.  However, all of this is jettisoned by the film, which instead focuses on a pretty standard revenge plot, clearly designed to cash in on star Vincent Price's success in similarly revenge-themed horrors The Abominable Dr Phibes, Dr Phibes Rises Again and Theatre of Death.

Which isn't to say that the resulting film isn't fun.  Co-produced by Amicus and AIP, it features both Vincent Price and Peter Cushing, although the latter is somewhat wasted in what is essentially a supporting role.  Price is as flamboyant as ever in his role as Paul Toombes, alias Dr Death, desperately looking to resurrect his career on British TV.  A highlight is watching him putting the wind up TV interviewer Michael Parkinson, (playing himself, badly).  This sequence includes clips from several of Price's old AIP Edgar Allan Poe movies, purporting to be examples of Toombes' 'Dr Death' movies, featuring Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff.  But despite all of this, the film feels somewhat unsatisfactory and perfunctory.  It has no real depth of characterisation or plot and no strong  narrative drive.  One of a handful of films directed by Jim Clark, best known as one of the UK's top film editors, Madhouse reportedly suffered a high degree of interference from Amicus producer Milton Subotsky in post-production, which could explain its uneven tone and fractured story telling.  Despite its deficiencies, Madhouse is an entertaining enough picture while it is on and is notable for the fact that it was Price's last film for AIP.  It was also one of the last horror films produced by Amicus - its poor takings reportedly convinced AIP that the horror cycle was over.  As such, it represents the end of an era.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Irrational Dislike

The reasons we come to dislike particular things are many and frequently obscure.  Not to say irrational, often having nothing to do with the thing itself.  I was recently reminded of this whilst reading Mark Kermode's book The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex.  Early on, he recounts his tribulations whist trying to see The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud with his daughter at a local multiplex.  Now, whilst sympathising with Kermode over the fact that modern multiplexes combine ticket sales with popcorn sales, are all seemingly staged by pimply faced youths with no knowledge or love of cinema, and that they sometimes fail to project the film in the right ratio, I couldn't agree with his generous assessment of the film itself.  I fully accept Kermode's argument that films like Charlie St Cloud are aimed at teenage girls rather than cynical middle aged men like myself and I have to say that, as such movies go, it is decently made and acted.  I've seen a lot worse.  Now, you might ask exactly why I watched this film, bearing in mind that I'm not a teenage girl.  Well, it was, as I recall, a rainy Sunday afternoon, I had a bit of a cold and I was slumped on the sofa and it was on TV.  What the hell, I thought, it can't possibly be that bad.

To be fair, as I've said, by and large it wasn't.  Nonetheless, I still have a lingering dislike for it.  Upon reflection, I realised that this feeling had nothing whatsoever to do with the film, or the star, Zac Ephron, or the soft focus sentimental supernatural storyline.  No.  It all came down to the fact that the denouement of the latter part of the film - and I'll warn you now, I'm about to spoil the ending - in which, after the heroine apparently finds herself dead, yet her spectral form is still able to romance the hero, it turns out that she isn't dead, just in a coma on an island after being shipwrecked, (allowing the hero to rescue her), reminded me of the awful Bill Cosby movie Ghost Dad.  In fact, the plot device was identical.  Again, you might ask why I ever bothered sitting through Ghost Dad.  I'm afraid I have no rational explanation for this - it must have been a rainy bank holiday, or something.  I really don't recall the circumstances of my having seen this abomination and there really is no excuse for having sat through it.  But the fact remains that I did.  And promptly repressed the memory of having done so.  Which is why I have that lingering dislike of the Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud -  it dredged up all those repressed memories of that shameful episode in my film viewing history.


Monday, October 28, 2013

More From the Banana Republic

So, why aren't you out on the streets protesting?  Over the past couple of days we've had first the Tory Party chairman Grant 'Michael Green' Shapps threatening the BBC with cuts in the licence fee if it doesn't report news the way the Tories want it reported, followed today by self styled Prime Minister David 'Call me Dave' Cameron effectively threatening to gag the UK press (ie The Guardian) if it persists on reporting on Edward Snowden's NSA/GCHQ revelations.  This really is outrageous - the sort of thing you'd expect in a military dictatorship or the former Soviet bloc, rather than a supposed democracy - and surely represents another step on the road of the UK's descent into being a banana republic.  In Cameron's case, he is, as ever, playing the fatuous 'national security ' card.  Yes folks, apparently knowing that our security and intelligence services are engaged in the mass surveillance of the UK's population, regardless of whether they are suspected of anything or not, without any apparent parliamentary or judicial oversight, will threaten our national security and hamper the work of our intelligence services.  Well, obviously it will - now that we know for sure that the bastards are listening in on everything we do, we can begin to frustrate them.  Worse still, from their point of view, they might be forced to justify their illegal actions and explain how they are compatible with the notion of a free society where state institutions should be democratically accountable.

Learning that the US had been eavesdropping on its allies, including, allegedly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, is, it seems, another threat to our security.  Cameron's justification for the bugging of Merkel?  'There are people out there trying to blow up our families'.  You are aware that World War Two is over, aren't you Dave?  The Luftwaffe aren't awaiting Merkel's phone call to launch their fleet of Heinkel 111 bombers to blitz London.  Aside from The Guardian, does the UK press actually make a fuss about any of these things?  Of course not.  Instead, we have the likes of the Daily Mail decrying The Guardian for giving succour to Britain's enemies!   Part of the problem (aside from the fact that most of the UK's press is owned by mega-rich right wing bastards) is that the bulk of the print press can hardly criticise the security and intelligence services for illegal bugging and phone-tapping, as most of them have indulged in the same tactics themselves over the past few years.  And, as we've seen, the government is busy trying to crush what's left of our free press with crude threats and bullying.  Which brings us back to Grant Shapps, who says the BBC must be 'more transparent'.  Like Shapps himself, presumably.  As we've noted here before, Mr Shapps has a history as some kind of dodgy internet 'guru', masquerading under the name 'Michael Green', whose company seemed to be encouraging customers to scrape (or, as I lake to say, 'steal') other people's online content.  Perhaps, in the interests of transparency, the BBC should make a documentary about that....


Friday, October 25, 2013

Another Week, Another Rant

Another week to rant about.  And once again the root cause of my ranting is automotive.  You'd think that having spent what felt like half of the previous week being serviced and receiving a new MoT certificate, my car would be in the prime of health.  But apparently not.  The alternator packed up midweek, taking the battery with it - a cataclysm that cost me an arm and a leg to have sorted out, not to mention the massive disruption to my working week.  But that wasn't the worst of it.  Being a Ford, if the car's radio is disconnected from its power source, (when, for instance, you change the battery), when it is reconnected, it demands a security code before you can use it again.  The bloody thing won't even let you reset the clock to the correct time.  Of course, like most people who buy a car second hand, I don't have that four digit code.  To obtain it, you have to remove the radio from the dashboard and get the serial number on its side.  With this number it is possible to get the four digit code through a variety of means: some people will charge you for it, for some types of Ford radio you can use the serial number to get the code for free from some websites.

Now, a Ford main dealer can do all this business for you.  However, they also (in the case of my local Ford dealer at least) charge you fifteen quid for the privilege.  Which left me feeling as if I was being held to ransom by Ford, being forced to pay for privilege of being able to fully use the car that I already own.  Unfortunately, finding it impossible to get the radio out of the dashboard myself, I ended up being forced to pay out yet more money on top of the cost of replacing the alternator and battery, in order to get my car back to normal.  So, by the end of today I was fuming.  To put it mildly.  I wouldn't mind so much if the 'security' code required by the radio actually was a security measure.  But it patently isn't.  For one thing, nobody steals car radios anymore.  Particularly generic manufacturer's own brand radios.  But if they did, then all they would have to do to reactivate it would be to read the serial number from the side once they'd removed it from the car and use one of those free web-based decoding services to get the security code...


Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Little Bit Nazi...

You know, I can't help but feel that recent unpleasantness which saw a child removed from her parents in Ireland because she was blonde and blue eyed and they were travellers, was a bit, well, Nazi.  Thankfully, the child has now been returned after tests showed that she was definitely the daughter of the parents in question.  Nevertheless, the whole thing leaves a bad taste in the mouth.  What sort of world are we living in where people's suitability as parents is apparently judged on the 'ethnic appearance' of their children?  How dare these horrible swarthy gypsy-types have a fine Aryan-looking child?  They must be child abductors!  I know this particular incident took place in Ireland, it is easy to imagine something similar happening here in the UK.  It would be a natural extension of the government's continuing demonization of the poor, infirm and disadvantaged.  You could just imagine some high achieving working class child having their parentage questioned: how can awful layabout working class oafs claiming benefit possibly have sired a child destined for university? 

Worst of all is the fact that this whole incident was the result of some busybody, (who had doubtless seen the news reports about the blonde child taken away from a Roma family in Greece because she didn't look like them), posting something on social media.  I'd really hope that police anywhere would need a little more than that to go on before they started taking children away from their parents.  Sadly, we live in a society where the authorities actively encourage people to report their neighbours because they think they are illegal immigrants, terrorists or they just don't like the look of them.  Worse still, the supine acceptance of the security services' wholesale surveillance of the entire population, whether they are suspected of criminal activity or not, by the political classes and media in the UK, further legitimises the idea that it is OK to denounce people you don't like to the authorities on the slightest pretext.  Which isn't just reminiscent of Nazi-occupied Europe, but also the witch hunting crazes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, where a sure way to get rid of a rival was to accuse them of witchcraft, based on the flimsiest anecdotal evidence.  If the victims o such allegations were poor, as they usually were, then they had no way of defending themselves against the full force of the authorities.  A bit like travellers accused of child abduction... 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rule of Law?

Right now the media is full of stories about lowlife scumbags who think the law doesn't apply to them, be they shoplifters, so called benefits cheats or disabled people with too many rooms in their houses.  Of course, it is all part of the ruling classes' ongoing demonization of the poor, but these programmes and articles fail to address the key issue of motivation.  Sure, they'll all imply that it is down to greed, laziness, a sense of entitlement engendered by the evil welfare state or just pure wickedness, another major factor for these kinds of anti-social behaviour remains unspoken: that the 'lower orders' are merely following the example set for them by their 'masters'.  Let's face facts, it is far easier to flaunt laws you don't like if you are a wealthy individual or, even better, a huge multi-national corporation.  Just look at the deft way the likes of Google and Amazon avoid paying corporate taxes in the UK.  Indeed, this extremist government we suffer under spends a lot of its time making out sure that the rich pay less tax and that businesses are freed from the restrictions of 'red tape', in other words such impediments to profiteering as health and safety legislation and employment laws.

Then in the US they have the 'Tea Party', which appeals to the ordinary voter by trying to convince them that they can only be freed from the tyranny of Washington, by freeing the rich and powerful from all those evil restrictions placed on them by the Federal government, thereby allowing them to do whatsoever they please.  (And don't get me started on those idiots who like to style themselves 'libertarians'.  In truth, they are just selfish bastards who don't see why they should be required to abide by the normal rules of society.  They have no regard for others or their rights.  Sociopaths might be a better description of them).  With all these rich and powerful people and corporations simply ignoring those laws which inconvenience them, is it any wonder that people at the opposite end of the economic spectrum think that it OK for them to do the same thing?  Add to that the extent to which various aspects of law enforcement have been privatised, is it any wonder that increasing numbers of people seem to have little or no regard for the law?  After all, if the government can't be bothered to enforce some laws directly, instead out-sourcing to profit-hungry corporate chancers, why should we be bothered to observe them?     

Labels: ,

Monday, October 21, 2013

Beyond the Door

With Halloween looming I thought it might be appropriate to run some horror-themed random movie trailers. So, here we have Beyond the Door (to give its US title, it was known as Chi Sei? in its native Italy and The Devil Within Her in the UK), a 1974 Italian shocker which rips off both The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby.  Like many Italian productions of the era it tries to hide its origins by non-Italian stars, in this case Brits Richard Johnson and Juliet Mills slumming it in a film they probably thought would never be released in the English-speaking world, and director Ovidio G Assonitis hiding behind the Anglicised pseudonym Oliver Hellman.  To complete the illusion that it is a US production, Beyond the Door also features genuine San Francisco exterior locations, (the interiors were all filmed in studios in Rome).

As the trailer indicates, the plot concerns a pregnant woman who is apparently carrying the Anti-Christ.  In addition to this Rosemary's Baby vibe, it also throws in Exorcist-style demonic possession, to boot.  Clearly, this was a winning combination, as the movie did pretty well on its US-release and grossed some $40 million worldwide.  Doubtless spurred on by this success, Assonitis came up with the bizarre Jaws rip-off Tentacles (or Tentacoli in Italy) a few years later, concerning a giant octopus menacing a Californian coastal community.  Like Beyond the Door, it featured several US actors, (including, incredibly, Henry Fonda) and genuine US locations.  Unfortunately, it has been so long since I last saw this movie I can't recall enough of it to say whether it was frightening or laughable.  However, it was released on DVD back in 2008. so I really should catch up with it again.   


Friday, October 18, 2013

The Week in a Rant

After going on about how undignified online ranting can be yesterday, I'm going to risk appearing a hypocrite today by telling you what a lousy week I've had.  I'll try not to let it turn into a rant - I certainly don't think that it is all a conspiracy by members of a comedy discussion forum to ruin my life.  It has just been one of those weeks where problem after problem have piled up on top of each other - every time it looked like I'd surmounted the latest problem, another appeared from left field.  For starters, my car seems to have spent half the week in the garage being variously serviced and MoT'd.  All of which has been highly disruptive to my work patterns.  Not to mention expensive.  Then my electric razor died.  Or rather it required a single spare, a new foil to prevent it hacking my face to bits on the old one which had worn through.  Except that it turns out you can no longer get spare foils for my ten year old razor.  Consequently, I had to buy a new one.  Unfortunately, most of those available seemed to cost three figures - bloody ridiculous!  Having eventually found a shaver at a more reasonable price, actually buying it then became a problem.  Having to do my shaver shopping after work, I found myself in Boots, five minutes before closing time, with both open tills clogged up by these two women who, not satisfied with buying half the shop, also wanted to query aspects of every item with the cashiers.  When I finally managed to pay for the bloody razor, I found the security guard had locked everyone in, as it was past closing time!  For fuck's sake, show some common sense!

Anyway, having started using the shaver, I'm not convinced that it shaves any closer than its predecessor.  However, it doesn't hack my face to pieces.  This problem sorted - and the car issues ongoing - completely out of the blue I get a letter from my car insurers saying that they are still waiting for me to send them a photocopy of my driving licence.  Really?  They've never asked for any such thing.  Indeed, to quote their renewal letter "you don't need to take any further action, your policy will be renewed automatically".  Pretty clear cut, I'd say.  But in their latest missive they even threaten that my policy could be cancelled if I don't provide the documentation they never asked for when it was renewed (and when they took the first payment).  So far I've ignored the letter.  When I have the energy I'll ring them and point out that cancelling the policy because of my failure to provide documents its renewal wasn't dependent upon and I wasn't asked for would be a clear breach of contract on their part.  I'm really not sure why they think threatening their customers in this way will guarantee them repeat business.  Then, yesterday, I came home to find my bathroom infested by ladybirds.  Hordes of the little bastards.  Most I caught and threw out of the window, but those which refused to cooperate vanished up the nozzle of my vacuum cleaner.  What's going on?  Where did they come from?  I seem to recall a friend having a similar experience.  She seemed to think it had something to do with the Curse of King Tutankhamen - she'd seen something about him on TV before the infestation.  I'm not so sure.

Today the car was finally MoT'd, leaving only the road tax renewal to deal with beore the end of the month.  However, my ongoing IT problems continue to waste so much of my time.  The failing hard drive on my main laptop is severely restricting its functionality, whilst my back up laptop (my old IBM Thinkpad) seems incredibly slow.  It also really doesn't like multi-tasking.  Oh, and the 'N' key keeps falling off of the keyboard.  Clearly, a new laptop is needed, but I'm reluctant to splash the cast after all the other spending I've had to do this week.  That said, I've identified a source for a reasonably priced Lenovo laptop with a more modern and powerful processor than either of my current machines.  The only problem is that it is only available in blue.  To misquote former England manager Graham Taylor: 'Do I not like blue'.  Well, there you have it, my lousy week.  Can next week top it?  Is it all a middle class conspiracy to keep me down?  Probably not.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sad and Furious

There are times when you see something on the web and think, 'there but the grace of god...'.  My latest such moment came when I watched a video on You Tube of some middle aged guy ranting about the 'injustices' he had suffered at the hands of other members of a forum he used to be a member of.  Amongst other things.  It just went on, and on.  I had to stop a short way in, it was all too painful.  Now, I'm not saying he didn't have a point.  I'm familiar with the forum in question, it's supposedly a discussion group about comedy, and it is indeed populated by a bunch of pretentious knob ends who are in imminent danger of disappearing up their own arseholes.  Like all such 'communities', if someone disagrees with the consensus or has the audacity to offer a different opinion, mob mentality sets in and they all descend on the 'offender' like a pack of rabid dogs, bullying them off of the forum.  Which is, sort of, what had happened to this guy.

However, I'm also familiar with this guy's blog, where, unfortunately, he has a tendency to come over as an embittered old reactionary with a big, big chip on his shoulder over the way that his life hasn't turned out the way he clearly feels it should have.  He seems to blame middle class pillocks of the kind that ran him off of the forum for this.  Unfortunately, his definition of 'middle class' seems to encompass anybody who went to university and earned a degree.  Apparently we working class people don't do that sort of thing.  I also believe that this guy was also involved with that now defunct forum which hit the headlines for its abusive and misogynistic posts about female public figures.  All of which makes it difficult to feel that sympathetic toward him.  Moreover, his response to his brush with bullying, public rants on You Tube and on his blog, throwing abuse around, is just so undignified.  I've always found it easier to walk away from such situations and ignore the perpetrators - if they're that big a bunch of wankers, why would I want to be part of their 'community'?  Anyway, the long and the short of it is, whilst I do a lot of ranting here, I just hope that I don't come over as sad and embittered as this guy does.   


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pleasuring Palace?

"It's a bloody outrage - I was invited there!  Her Maj loves a bit of rough on the side!" declares Archie Cronk, the man recently arrested whilst allegedly trying to break into Buckingham Palace, in an interview with The Shite.  "Obviously, I didn't have a written invite or a text, or anything, Her Majesty has to be discreet, hasn't she?  What happened was this Royal footman came knocking on my door over in Canning Town, and gave me the time of the meet!"  The 61 year old retired milkman claims that the Queen first took a fancy to him when her Daimler drove past him at speed whilst he was walking down Canning Town High Street.  "She'd been opening a new community centre, there," he wheezes.  "Our eyes definitely met as her car sped past, splashing me with water from a pot hole.  How she found out my name and address, I don't know, but she's the bloody Queen, isn't she?  She's got the whole of bloody GCHQ and MI5 at her disposal!"  Sceptics have questioned Cronk's story, querying why he was breaking into the palace - dressed in black and wearing a balaclava - if he had been invited by the monarch.  "It was role play, wasn't it?" he told the tabloid.  "Liz doesn't just like a bit of rough, she likes the sense of danger, as well.  She wanted me to pretend to be a burglar, come in through her bedroom window and ravish her.  Apparently it's a fetish which started when that bloke broke into Buck House back in the eighties!"

Although Cronk's claims have been dismissed by the police and royal family, top royal watcher Hugh Ropley-Tossington has pointed out the alarming number of men who have been caught supposedly breaking into Buckingham Palace in recent years.  "You'd think that the security there would be so tight that they wouldn't be able to get anywhere near the place, let alone get into the grounds," he muses.  "There have long been rumours about the Queen's insatiable sexual appetites, which are apparently remain unabated in old age.  I mean, just look at the decrepit state of Prince Philip, she's clearly sucked him dry!  Is it any wonder he sleeps in a separate room and is always being admitted to hospital?"  Ropley-Tossington even suspects that the controversial decision to open Buckingham Palace to the public was part of a devious plan by the monarch to try and slake her thirst for young male flesh.  "One family claimed that their 73 year old grandfather had gone missing for several hours during a tour of the palace," he explains.  "When he finally turned up, found by servants wandering the corridors usually barred to the public, he told them a wild story about being snatched by some wild woman, tied to a bed and subjected to an exhausting sexual ordeal.  Of course, the authorities said he was suffering from dementia and covered it all up!"  Police are now so worried that Her Majesty's sexual escapades will culminate in a scandal, they are challenging anyone they see in the palace grounds, sometimes with unfortunate results.  "That's what that Prince Andrew business was about," Ropley-Tossington confides.  "They saw him lurking around the shrubbery and jumped to the wrong conclusion!"  Meanwhile, Archie Cronk - who has two previous convictions for burglary - is due to appear before Southwark Magistrates Court, charged with breaking and entering, next month.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Sugar Hill

Blaxploitation had already given its spin on most of the popular horror movie tropes - Blacula, Blackenstein and Dr Black and Mr Hyde - so it was only natural that zombies should follow.  After all, with their connection to the voodoo religion, Haiti, African slaves and the like, it could be claimed that they were the only truly 'black' monster; a creation of the popular culture of the slave population forcibly transported to the Americas.  But, being an AIP production, Sugar Hill couldn't rip off just one genre.  Oh no, as well as being a voodoo/zombie horror film, it is also a gangster movie, as the white Italian mob find themselves facing off against the black power of voodoo.  To be honest, I'm amazed that this gangster/zombie sub-genre hasn't been explored more by exploitation film makers - it has everything, guns, murder, guys in suits and the walking dead.  Who wouldn't want to see the likes of Tony Soprano or Michael Corleone having to deal with the undead threat?

Sadly, I've never managed to track down Sugar Hill on either VHS or DVD and I don't ever recall it showing on UK television.  I'd dearly love to see it - crazy crossover genre bending movies are a guilty pleasure of mine.  That said, many reviewers who have seen it claim it to be somewhat disappointing.  However, on the basis of this trailer, it's a must see for us lovers of the obscure and bizarre.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Critical Errors

A day late, but here we are at last.  I'm afraid the IT problems are getting worse, with my laptop now reporting a 'critical hard drive error' and telling me in doom laden terms that a fatal crash is imminent.  Apparently I have to back up my data and consult my vendor as to whether the hard drive should be replaced or repaired.  Which rather contradicts other parts of the warning systems, which tell me there is nothing that can be done to repair this particular problem - all I can do is back up and await the inevitable.  Not that I necessarily believe any of it - after wasting my Friday evening trying to address tis problem, it seems that the 'critical error' in question might not be that critical and that the hard drive could continue to function (albeit with lots of annoying warnings) for some time yet.  So, my 'solution' for now is to carry on using this laptop until it drops, but at the same time saving everything new to external flash drives, (where I already have all my existing files backed up), and putting it into 'hibernate' mode rather than shutting it down altogether to reduce the stresses on the hard drive caused by repeated booting of the operating system.  I've also ensured that my back-up laptop - my old IBM Thinkpad with a reconditioned hard drive running Linux - is fully functional and updated.  It could be forced to step in at any moment!

In the longer term, I'm left contemplating having to buy a new laptop for the second time in three and a half years.  Not a very appealing prospect.  To e honest, I never bloody know what to buy.  This accursed Packard Bell was only bought because my first, second and third choices of laptop in my price range were out of stock everywhere I tried and I desperately needed a working computer, (I didn't have a back up laptop then, in fact it was my current back up, then my only working laptop which had died).  On paper it seemed OK, but I've never particularly liked it, in the way that I liked the old IBM - it just doesn't feel solid enough.  I think I made the mistake of buying a mid-range, mid-priced laptop which was neither one thing nor another.  I should either have just gone for a cheap, general purpose, machine, which wouldn't have bothered me if it had died after a couple of years, or spent the money on a high spec machine which would do everything and anything, (and whose full capabilities I'd probably never use).   I'm inclined to go the cheap route this time, like I say, I won't feel so bad about a budget laptop dying on me.  The trouble is, trying to discern the merits of various makes and models online id made next to impossible by the idiots who insist on giving bad reviews because of problems they had with the vendor or operating system rather than the laptop itself.  Either that, or they assume that their individual poor experience can be applied universally to a particular type of machine.  Sometimes they just don't like the brand because of a previous, entirely irrelevant, bad experience.   I guess it's just the idiocy of the crowd at work...

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Apparently those pesky badgers have 'moved the goalposts' in order to frustrate the government approved cull.  You really can't make this stuff up, can you?  A government Minister apparently admitting that his government's policies have been defeated by wild animals.  It's such a humiliation that the government is now planning to gas badgers en masse.  After loading them onto trains and transporting them to special camps, no doubt.  Now, there's something the Daily Mail could get behind.  I'm still none the wiser as to exactly how the badgers have moved the goalposts with regard to the cull.  Have they been shooting back?  Or maybe they've been outwitting the blackshirts, sorry, pest controllers, sent after them by deploying fake badgers for them to shoot.  Perhaps they've even set up complete fake setts, full of stuffed toy badgers. 

More years ago than I care to remember I wrote a story for The Sleaze about how the Countryside Alliance was trying to blacken the name of badgers in order to lessen public sympathy for them in the event of a cull.  It was inspired by actual events which, as we've seen, failed completely to undermine public sympathy for badgers.  I can guarantee that if those badgers really were to take the fight to the pest controllers, by going round to their houses and gassing them and their families, for instance, the public would be cheering them on.  Cute furry black and white beasts will always win out over kill crazy hill billies with telescopic sights in the sympathy stakes.  It doesn't matter that badgers are, in reality, bloody vicious little predators, (or drug dealers and pornographers, as I claimed in that story of yesteryear), they will always be more appealing than some thug with a gun.  Or a Tory minister, for that matter.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Dangers of Right Wing Idiocy

A man founds a group dedicated to fighting that amorphous threat to English values, 'radical Islam', organises marches against Muslims which inevitably turn violent and generally engages in rabble-rousing of the worst kind, then after making a colossal cock of himself once too often, resigns from said organisation saying that he fears 'the dangers of right wing extremism'.  I mean, you just couldn't make this stuff up, could you?  Tommy Robinson resigning from the English Defence League (EDL) in this way, effectively denouncing the membership he recruited and encouraged as mindless thugs, just about sums up the farce that is the extreme right in this country.  I can only assume the 'dangers of right wing extremism' he refers to is its utter incompetence.  Just take Robinson's recent attempts to intimidate the editor of an anti-EDL website by posting pictures online of one of his thugs outside the editor's home address.  Except it was the wrong address.  In fact, it was the wrong person completely.  Robinson and his cronies, having apparently found that the site in question was hosted on a server in the Reading area, seem to have gone through the local phonebook until they found someone with a name similar to their victim.  (If anyone wants to try and similarly intimidate me, I'll warn you now, I don't live anywhere near the server The Sleaze is hosted on, plus I'm ex-directory, so it isn't any good going through everyone with the surname 'Sleaze' in the Oxfordshire phone directories).

 Not only are these clowns incompetent and thick, but they aren't even well dressed.  If there is only one thing one can say in favour of the far-right in Europe, it is that they are at least well turned-out.  Just look at the black shirts so beloved of the Daily Mail back in the day, or the SS, for that matter.  (Although I should point out that the black uniforms SS troops are often shown wearing in war movies were actually dress uniforms.  They tended to wear standard field grey, Wehrmacht-style, uniforms with SS flashes when out in the field committing atrocities).  But do the EDL dress up for their displays of thuggery?  No, they just can't be bothered, it seems, swaggering around in cheap jeans and T-shirts that barely cover their beer bellies.  They really are a disgrace on so many levels.  Perhaps even more depressing than the EDL's slovenly appearance is the number of morons leaving cretinous comments on the BBC news story covering the Robinson debacle.  Judging by the poor spelling and grammar, not to mention the general levels of ignorance displayed, I can only assume that their membership has been out in force trying to defend the EDL.  Despite all their ill-informed babble, I'm still none the wiser as to exactly what radical Islam actually is, or how it threatens the British, sorry, English, way of life.  But then, neither do they.  All they want is some excuse to go out and shout abuse at people who are identifiably different, engage in some thuggish behaviour and pretend they are 'hard'.  No wonder even their idiot of a leader seems ashamed of them. 

Labels: ,

Monday, October 07, 2013

Another Tedious Celebrity Spat

My decision to focus on the Tory Party Conference last week meant that I missed the really important news story of last week: Sinead O'Connor and Miley Cyrus.  It must have been important as it seemed to be unavoidable, splashed across every newspaper and news web site.  Now, a cynic like me might try to dismiss it all as another tedious celebrity spat between two equally obnoxious individuals, one a has-been whose brief fame was based on being 'shocking', desperate for the limelight and jealous of the other, a young upstart stealing her reputation for 'shocking' behaviour, but apparently there's more to it than that.  Oh yes.  It raises all kinds of issues about attitudes to mental health, the sexualisation and objectification of young women and the exploitation of young performers in today's entertainment industry.  Being an old cynic, I think that's all bollocks dreamed up by journalists to justify their reporting of the 'issue' and publication of semi-naked former child stars.

Take the 'mental health' angle: Cyrus' apparent mocking of O'Connor's former mental health problems was clearly opportunistically seized upon by the media as the way the mentally ill are portrayed in popular culture was in the headlines due to the 'outrage' over those supermarket 'loony bin'-type Hallowe'en costumes.  One over paid, over rated celebrity waste of space calling another a 'looney' tells us nothing about mental health or public attitudes toward it.  Celebrities are not 'normal' people - just because they are famous doesn't mean that their 'opinions' have more weight than those of 'normal' people.  As for the sexualisation and objectification of women, if the tabloids really are worried about that, then they should take a long hard look at their page threes, not to mention a large proportion of the adverts they carry.  Exploitation?  The only people being 'exploited' are those foolish enough to be fans of the likes of Miley Cyrus.  I would ask the question as to why they persist in printing stories about these tedious people and their boring antics, but the answer to that seems obvious: the media clearly thinks that it sells papers.  There are enough 'fans' out there, it seems, who await every celebrity 'development' with baited breath.  And, even if, like me, you find it all tedious beyond belief, you still end up wasting time denouncing it all...

Labels: ,

Friday, October 04, 2013


No, not another sordid tale from the Tory Party Conference, this Corruption is an incredibly hard to see British horror movie from the late sixties.  From the trailer, you might think it was some type of slasher movie with Peter Cushing as a Jack the Ripper-type serial murderer of women.  It's actually a bit more complex than that - Cushing is a top surgeon whose girlfriend's face is disfigured in an accident he is responsible for, all of his attempts at reconstructive surgery fail, leaving her looking worse than before.  Naturally, he then decides to try some kind of hormone treatment on her, which works.  Unfortunately, the effects are temporary and new doses of the hormone can only be obtained from the glands of freshly murdered women.  The rest of the plot is obvious.

Now, as I've already said that the film is extremely difficult to get to see (no UK TV showings I can recall and no VHS or DVD release in the UK that I'm aware of), then you are probably wondering how come I know so much about it.  Well, many years ago I obtained an original copy of the paperback novelisation of the film, published in 1968.  It confirms what the trailer indicates, that Corruption is a crude shocker, unworthy of the talents of Peter Cushing, who engages in much undignified molesting and murdering of women.  (Apparently there was a 'continental' cut of the film involving some bare breast groping of a victim on his part).  I have no idea why the film is so difficult to see in the UK.  I've often suspected that it might have something to do with the financial collapse of the production company, Titan Films, part way through the making of Incense For the Damned (aka Bloodsuckers), which could have left the ownership of their films in limbo.  However, the awful Norman Wisdom comedy they made, Press For Time, appears regularly on TV, implying that there is no rights issue regarding Titan's movies.  Maybe Corruption is simply so terrible nobody wants to claim ownership.

Titan themselves, whilst a cut above most of the tinpot exploitation film producers which seemed to proliferate in the UK in the sixties, knocking out horror and sex movies to provide the lower halves of double bills, was still several steps below Cushing's usual home at this time: Hammer.  Indeed, they were several steps below even Tigon, their nearest equivalent, which produced and distributed many cheap and cheerful horror and sex films (including the notorious Norman Wisdom sex comedy Sauce For the Goose), as well as a couple of genuine classics in the sixties and early seventies.  Corruption's script, which took in murderous beach bum gangs, swinging sixties parties and fashion shoots and a laser massacre, in addition to several brutal murders, was provided by Derek and Donald Ford, two of the era's most experienced low-budget exploitation film makers.  Robert Hartford-Davis, who directed Corruption, was something of a 'house director' for Titan and was also behind a number of other sixties exploitation movies in various capacities as writer, director or producer.  His son directs episodes of Home and Away.  I'm still waiting for the episode where Alf Stewart starts murdering the female residents of Summer Bay and keeping their severed heads in his fridge...

(Apparently the film is due a US Blu Ray release, via Grindhouse, later this year).


Thursday, October 03, 2013

And Hip Hop Hamlet is Evil...

Hip Hop Hamlet is evil.  At least, that's what bonkers Education Secretary Michael Gove and his cronies have been telling us at the Tory Party Conference this week.  I can't say that I'm familiar with Hip Hop Hamlet - I thought he might be some kind of rapper, until I realised that what Gove and company were going on about was the use by some teachers of hip hop idiom to teach the Shakespeare play to students.  Why is this evil?  I'm still not entirely sure, beyond the fact that, according to this bunch, it is insulting to black students.  Although one could argue that assuming hip hop is a culture confined entirely to black people is even more insulting.  I think what the Gove-ites really object to is that such an approach doesn't adhere to 'traditional' teaching methods - the learning of the play by rote without any real insight into how the text might still be relevant to modern times.  Unfortunately, such 'traditional' methods have probably been responsible for turning more students off of Shakespeare, by turning his work into a barely comprehensible chore, than anything else.

If Gove and his acolytes actually knew anything about teaching, then they would know that it is all about finding some way to engage the students, to make the subject matter relevant to their lives.  Hence Hip Hop Hamlet a perfectly legitimate way to reinterpret the play in order to make it more accessible so some groups of students.  But, in truth, Gove and his friends aren't really interested in learning.  Well, not for the masses who can't afford private education.  For Gove and his ilk, learning and the pleasure of education is only for the elite.  Schooling for the lower orders should just be about teaching them the basics that zero-hours employers will require.  Nothing more.  Which is why 'traditional' teaching methods are about putting them off of the whole concept of learning.  Besides, if the lower orders were educated, they'd know better than to vote Tory.  As if destroying the state education system isn't enough for Gove, this week he also felt compelled to wade into the controversy over the Daily Mail's decision to print scurrilous nonsense about Ed Miliband's father which would be libellous he hadn't been dead for more than fifteen years, defending the paper's right to print such stuff.  Ah, Mr Gove, what a truly unpleasant little man you are.  To paraphrase Henry II, who will rid us of this turbulent cunt?  (Bearing in mind that the NSA and GCHQ are monitoring everything,  I feel compelled to add that this is not an incitement to murder Michael Gove).   


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Penis is Still Bad...

Continuing our coverage of this week's Tory Party conference, I'd like to return to their conference slogan, as discussed yesterday, 'The Gun is Good, The Penis is Bad'.  Whilst the reasons behind the 'Gun is Good' bit are obvious - they're all a bunch of right-wing homicidal bastards - as we established last time, the origins of the 'Penis is Bad' bit are less clear.  Expressed most recently through their anti-internet porn crusade, the Tories' hatred of their own sexuality is clearly rampant.  The more I think about it, the more I suspect that it is all down to their predominantly public school educations.  Just imagine the temptations they were subjected to as hormonal teenagers in a single sex environment - with their penises reacting to the 'wrong' stimuli.  Is it any wonder they feel that 'The Penis is Bad'?  It is clearly a literal statement.  They are disgusted by their own genitalias' inappropriate behaviour, so they attempt to punish their penises by depriving them of any sexual stimulation.

Perhaps it goes beyond this - perhaps the Tories actively 'punish' their bad genitalia.  Maybe they regularly have them caned, or stick needles into them, strangle them, even.  You know what those public school sorts are like.  To be fair, they probably don't spend all day wandering around in chain mail Y-fronts so as to chastise their bollocks on a permanent basis - they probably only slap their junk around when they feel it getting aroused, jamming their knobs into a mains socket at the first hint of an erection, possibly.  Whilst I have no actual evidence to back this speculation up, it would explain quite a bit if true.  I mean, is it any wonder that the Tories, to a man, are all such evil, mean spirited, bastards?  No wonder Ian Duncan Smith, for instance, is always trying to punish and stigmatise the poor when, every time he feels his old man so much as twitch over a picture of, say, One Direction, he has to nail his knackers to his desk?  That's enough to make anyone re-introduce the Poor Laws.