Friday, February 27, 2015

Most Illogical

I'm working on some more movie-related material for future posts and was hoping to have ready to roll for today.  However, not only do I not feel ready to go with it yet, but after another stressful week at work has left me too exhausted for anything other than a brief update. Obviously, I couldn't let today pass without noting the death of Leonard Nimoy who, as Mr Spock, was a huge part of my childhood and, indeed, a huge influence on me.  The older I get, the more I admire Spock's devotion to basing his decisions upon logic rather than emotion.  An admirable trait which many of the people I'm forced to interact with on a daily basis would do well to emulate.  In fact, a greater application of logic on the part of politicians, journalists, the police and others would benefit is all greatly - all too often they rely upon crude emotional appeals in order to influence people, instead of constructing good, logical, sound arguments.  Increasingly, I try to follow Spock's example and attempt to eliminate emotion and sentimentality when making important decisions, or assessing situations.  It's done me a power of good.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm glad to see that Google has backed down over its proposals to make any blogs on its Blogger platform which it considers to be 'pornographic' private and viewable by invitation only.  Whilst I doubt very much that this blog would have been affected, Google seemed pretty vague as to what constituted 'pornographic content'.  Although all their public statements focused on nudity in photos and videos posted on blogs, they wouldn't give a straight answer as to whether 'erotic' written content would be censored.   As sites with such allegedly 'explicit' and 'offensive' content were already labelled 'adult' and placed behind warning pages, it's difficult to see what Google were trying to achieve with this move.  If it had gone ahead then many sites which weren't pornographic but included images containing nudity - such as those reviewing classic exploitation films, for instance - would have effectively been banned.  Which would have been a travesty.  But, Google being Google, I wouldn't be surprised if they don't try to resurrect this idea in some form or other further down the line.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Discrediting the Past

Back in the old days, if you wanted to discredit a rival, you'd accuse them of witchcraft.  All sorts of investigations and trials would ensue.  Even if the victim was exonerated, the whole lengthy process would have left them tainted and probably broken, not just mentally, but physically as well, thereby removing them as a credible rival.  Nowadays, the way to cast doubt upon someone is to imply sexual impropriety - allegations of groping are enough to undermine someone, rape or peadophilia will destroy them - even if the claims are disproved, their reputations will never fully recover in the eyes of the media and public.  Now, many of these claims will turn out to be true, but even if they are, should they completely discredit the guilty party and all their works?  I only ask because the latest prominent figure to be accused sexual harassment is the head of the UN's climate change panel, the allegations forcing him to stand down from his position. 

It's clear that in some quarters, there's a feeling, hope even, that if this leading proponent of climate change is discredited, then, in some way, the whole idea of man made climate change is somehow compromised - even though the allegations against him are to do with his personal, not his professional, conduct.  You know the attitude: 'I'll be damned if I believe anything a sex criminal says - especially about global warming'.  Hell, I'm guilty of this sort of thinking myself: when Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the then head of the IMF, was accused of rape in New York a few years ago I tried to use this to discredit the IMF and its policies: 'I'll be damned if I'll be lectured to on economics by an organisation headed by an (alleged) rapist!'  Indeed, I did it again when Strauss-Kahn was recently on trial for  pimping: 'I'll be damned if I'll be lectured on economics by an organisation which used to be headed by a pimp!'  It's always tempting to think that something discreditable in someone's private life completely invalidates their entire life's work.  Look at the way all of Rolf Harris's paintings have been taken down from public display, (although that might just be because they are shit).  But just because it is revealed that, say, a singer was once guilty of domestic violence, should we boycott all of their albums?  Are the two things inextricably linked?  Does their entire canon, which you previously enjoyed, retrospectively become evil when their misdemeanour is revealed?  With increasing numbers of 1970s media figures being accused of various sex crimes, the question is becoming ever more pertinent - after all, if we reject all of their historical work because of their crimes, we'll be in danger of losing a huge chunk of our cultural past.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Storage Addict

My name is Doc Sleaze and I'm an addict.  That's right, I'm addicted - to those bloody storage auction shows on TV.  It's hard to explain how it happened, I'm not really sure myself.  All I know is that last Autumn I found myself watching four repeated episodes of Storage Wars on ITV4 when they were shown back-to-back early on a Saturday evening.  I'd been through all the channels, looking for something undemanding to watch while I first did my ironing, then ate - I alighted on Storage Wars. I'd been aware of the series and its various rivals and clones, but hadn't ever really paid much attention to any of them.  Yet here I was, watching four episodes in succession.  Worst of all, I came back the following Saturday for another dose.  Indeed, I found myself looking forward to my next multi-episode viewing of Storage Wars, as I found myself drawn increasingly into the world of California storage locker auctions, trying to second guess the bidders as to what was in the lockers, wondering what weird (and surprisingly valuable) shit Barry would fortuitously find this week at the back of the locker he'd clearly overpaid for. 

But I quickly found that there just weren't enough episodes of Storage Wars to satisfy me - so I found myself watching the inferior rip-off Storage Hunters on Dave.  Damn it - I even watched Storage Hunters UK which exchanged sunny California for the exotic cloudy skies and drizzle of places like Reading and Leicester.  But even that wasn't enough - I discovered Baggage Battles repeats on Quest, then new episodes on the Travel Channel.  It isn't as good, but it fills a gap in my craving for more auction-based reality action.  Lately though, even the combination of all these shows hasn't been enough to sate my desires and I've found myself branching out and sampling non-auction based reality shows.  In particular, I've found myself watching episodes of Lizard Lick Towing.  Jesus!  I'm telling you, that series really is the hard stuff when it comes to these kind of shows - all rednecks, repos and aggression.  OK, I know that they're all, to one degree or another, faked, but that's not the point - they are entertainment shows and should be enjoyed as such.  Indeed, that's reason I favour Storage Wars over the others - there's less faked violent confrontations between rival bidders (as there are in Storage Hunters) and more focus on the actual contents of the lockers and their value and provenance.  Ultimately, despite the various rivalries, it's all pretty amiable and less obviously contrived than either Storage Hunters or Baggage Battles.  But neither of those shoes is as blatantly rigged than Lizard Lick Towing, with its fantastical situations (hillbillies in their red one piece long underwear and armed with shotguns and crossbows chasing the protagonists, for instance) and multiple camera angles apparently provided by a single camera crew. 

Perhaps its the challenge of spotting the artifice in these supposed reality shows which attracts me to them.  Or maybe its because, at a time when I seem to be increasingly stressed out and trying to deal with a seemingly never ending series of problems both at work and home, they represent a degree of formulaic certainty absent in my own life.  After all, we all know that none of the bidders on the auction shows are actually going to go bankrupt and lose their homes if they over pay for a storage bin which turns out to be full of worthless junk, (it's in their contacts), just as we know that nothing bad will really happen to the redneck repos guys at Lizard Lick.  It provides me with a form of reassurance that, somehow, everything will turn out OK.  Which is probably why I need ever bigger fixes of them as some aspects of my life (mainly work) get ever shittier and stressful.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Tomorrow's Headlines, Yesterday

"Malcolm Muggeridge - Malcolm Buggeridge!"  I opened a story over on The Sleaze last year with those words.  Written at the height of the celebrity sex offender media feeding frenzy, the story focused on the desperate attempts by newspapers to identify new targets for their salacious stories, preferably dead celebrities as they wouldn't be able to sue.  Muggeridge becomes such a target (in the story) simply because his name rhymes with 'buggeridge' which sounds a bit like 'buggering'.  However, the editor character in the story concludes that pursuing Muggeridge as a celebrity sex offender would be pointless as, these days, nobody remembers who he was.  Now, it turns out, Muggeridge might actually have been a sex offender, with new allegations that he and other BBC heavyweight 'intellectual' presenters, including Hugh Weldon, had spent the seventies groping female staff.  And those who didn't grope were bust being sexist: Robin Day allegedly asked Joan Bakewell whether the men she interviewed were looking at her breasts, (to be fair, bearing in mind that Bakewell was touted as the 'thinking man's crumpet' back then, that could have been a serious question - without knowing the context it is impossible to tell whether he was simply being a perv or not).

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is, in part, as another example of just how prescient The Sleaze can be.  We aren't just smut peddlers and we don't just parody the news which has already happened - we also predict the headlines of tomorrow!  I'm also bringing it up to put down a marker reminding people that I was the one who came up with the 'Muggeridge - Buggeridge' thing before someone more famous and media-connected than me tries to claim it as their idea.  After all, there is a sitcom currently running on BBC4 which shamelessly rips off our Assange Exposed story from a while ago.  Indeed, not only did we describe a sitcom based on Assange's enforced stay at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, but I'd also floated the idea in a post here at Sleaze Diary some time before that.  It's pointless me trying to claim that Asylum plagiarises my story - I'm just a nobody and the BBC would doubtless claim that any similarities were merely coincidence.  I take solace in the fact that Asylum is on BBC4, which means that it will be seen by fewer people than have read the story on The Sleaze. Whilst I'm prepared to let that one slide, I'm giving fair warning: I'm drawing the line at 'Muggeridge - Buggeridge'  - plagiarise that at your peril!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Away From the Daily Grind

I hadn't realised how much work has been stressing me out of late until I took today off.  Since going back to work after Christmas I've been feeling worse and worse: aches, pains, poor sleeping patterns and just a general feeling of uneasiness.  Every day I found it more difficult to find any motivation for getting out of bed and going into work.  Obviously, all of my recent problems with the leaking hot water cylinder pouring water through my kitchen ceiling and causing all sorts of damp problems at the back of my house didn't help either.  But despite resolving the cylinder problems last week, my feeling of being generally unwell and unhappy continued.  However, when I woke up this morning, knowing that I didn't have to go into work again until Monday, I found that all of my aches and pains had vanished and I actually felt happy and optimistic.  Which just reinforces my belief that work lies at the root of my current malaise.  After all, when you look back at the working week and realise that the highlight was talking to a cat I encountered, it should be obvious that something is wrong.

But I didn't just take today off to get away from work.  For one thing, it's my birthday tomorrow and, whilst I don't actually plan to do anything, I thought it might be nice if I didn't spend the day still feeling stressed out after a week of work - a day off would provide some insulation from the daily grind.  I also needed to do some cleaning up in my kitchen after all that water had poured into it from the ceiling - it all looks a bit cleaner and a lot tidier now.  That said, until the walls and ceiling dry out completely (which will take a few weeks) it's pointless attempting any redecoration (the whole room needs a thorough repaint, both walls and ceiling).  Changing the subject completely, as an addendum to yesterday's Eastenders-related post,  I was hoping that tonight's live episode would see Ian Beale have Bobby secretly committed to a private mental hospital in order to cover up the fact that he murdered his sister.  Then, in ten years time, on the soap's fortieth anniversary, Bobby could have broken out and returned to Walford, pursued by a gun-toting psychiatrist who looks like Donald Pleasance.  Masked figures lurking around Albert Square threatening a spate of serial killings would be just the cheery way to celebrate another milestone anniversary on the show's history. 

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Soaped Up

So now we know who killed Lucy in Eastenders - and didn't they take their time getting there?  Having recently re-watched Cutter's Way (as my DVD is titled, although I believe it was originally released in the UK under its original title of Cutter and Bone), I can't help but feel that they should have had the investigation conducted by some horribly maimed Afghan vet pal of Lee Carter.  He could have limped around Albert Square in a permanent alcoholic stupor, badgering Lee into admitting that he had seen the murderer on Good Friday and that they needed to blackmail them into a confession.  It could all have climaxed with him crashing through the window of the Vic during Ian's wedding reception and trying to shoot the killer.  But then I also thought that when Pat was on her death bed she should have seen a spectral Frank, clad only in that spinning bow tie and sporting angel's wings, saying "Pat, Paaat, move towards the light!", and that Dirty Den should have been revealed to be a Cyberman in a Doctor Who crossover.  I'm afraid that my ideas for soap opera plots are just too advanced for the current crop of TV producers.

They cling to the idea that soap operas should be realistic and reflect real life.  Except that in tonight's episode of Eastenders we had, for the second time (third if you count Nick Cotton's faking his own death) a character returning from the dead.  How many times has that happened in your street?  Then there's the fact that yet another murderer has just been unmasked - how many is that now?  Homicide rates in the UK simply aren't that high - if there had been that many murders over a thirty year period in a real residential street then I'm sure there would have been a government enquiry, for God's sake.  Let's not forget all the arson attacks, car crashes and accidental deaths - I've lived on the same street for more than twenty years and, apart from the odd bit of scraped paint in a parking incident - there have been no car accidents, or fires.  The only two deaths I can recall were of natural causes and neither was unexpected, (one was in her eighties and the other had long-standing health problems).  So Eastenders - in common with other soaps - certainly isn't portraying real real life.  Obviously, if they did, it would be bloody boring - you might as well watch a feed from a camera set up on a real street: hour after hour of nothing dramatic happening.  Instead, they try to give the impression of realism, relying upon the fact that, as long as they don't go too far - the avenging ghost of Lucy Beale turning up to shout 'Murderer!' at her killer, for instance - our suspension of disbelief won't be broken.  In common with all dramatic genres, soap operas have rules and conventions and as long as producers stick to them, then they can get away with murder, plotwise.  But introduce the supernatural (which belongs in a horror film) or Alex Cutter (who belongs in a crime drama) and the audience's suspension of disbelief will well and truly be broken.  So any number of soap murders are acceptable, just so long as they don't involve the supernatural or one-armed, one-legged , one-eyed war veteran detectives.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Time Express

Short-lived TV series fascinate me.  Having some idea of what is involved in just getting a TV series commissioned, let alone actually getting it on air, it must be crushing for those involved when it doesn't get recommissioned after a single series.  But at least, under those circumstances, the makers would have seen a reasonable number of episodes air.  Far worse must be those instances where a series is pulled only a few episodes into a run.  Sometimes this results in unaired episodes being rescheduled to a graveyard slot, shunted to another. lesser, network or, worst of all, shelved indefinitely.  Even worse are those situations where networks executives must have made a decision to cancel a series more or less as soon as it has started its run. 

Such a scenario seems to have befallen the 1979 US TV series Time Express, of which only four episodes, including the pilot, were ever made.  The format was very similar to the much more successful Fantasy Island, with Vincent Price using his time-travelling train to take the various guest stars back to key moments in their lives in order to set right wrongs, repair relationships and all the other things people used to do on 1970s network television. Quite why Fantasy Island was a long-running success whilst Time Express was axed before it ever really started is a mystery.  I can only assume that it had disastrously poor ratings from the off.  Maybe Vincent Price was the problem - audiences tended to associate him with camp horror which might have given them false expectations for Time Express.  Whatever the reason, and despite the star power of Vincent Price and Coral Brown (although they only tended to appear at the beginning and end of the episodes), the series ground to a halt after four episodes.  But that didn't stop it turning up on UK TV, with the BBC showing all four episodes, of which I recall seeing at least one.  I can only assume that they acquired the episodes as part of a package deal for other, more popular, series from the same producers and decided that they might as well screen them.  If I remember rightly, they showed them late in the evening, after the news.  I don't recall them ever being repeated.

Despite being used as a short-term schedule-filler by the BBC, something about Time Express lingered in my memory.  Over the years I forgot any of the details of the series, even the title - I misremembered it as 'Time Train' - but the image of Price and his train remained somewhere in the back of my mind.  These memories were stirred last year when PQ Ribber started talking about Supertrain, a contemporaneous US TV series which lasted a bit longer, (US TV networks clearly had trains on the brain in the late seventies), on his Quequaversal Satellite podcast.  Then, quite by chance, earlier this year the title sequence turned up in the 'suggested videos' column on You Tube when I was watching something completely unconnected.  Watching said title sequence was itself like travelling back in time with its typically seventies TV theme music and roster of guest stars (not to mention special guest stars) who were familiar TV faces in 1979 but are mostly forgotten now.  So there you have it, another TV memory.  Maybe Time Express isn't worth remembering, bearing in mind its meagre run.  Certainly nobody has tried to hail it as a lost TV classic or proposed 'reimagining' it for cable TV.   But somebody thought it a good enough idea to pitch to a network and some executive there clearly thought it could be a hit as they commissioned it for a series.  Who knows, there might be a parallel universe where it was a ten season success whereas Fantasy Island didn't get past a pilot. 


Monday, February 16, 2015

Video Blasphemies

Something has been bothering me about all those execution videos that ISIS and their ilk keep posting.  Apart from the fact they are unspeakably barbaric and utterly repellent, obviously.  The thing is - and I'm prepared to be corrected here - as I understand it, the Islamic faith doesn't approve of representative art, as by producing an image of an actual thing is to mimic God's own act of creation.  Which would be blasphemous.  (Islam also forbids the worship of graven images, which is another reason why representations of Mohammed are considered offensive).  So, where does that leave all these Jihadists and their predilection for producing real-life video nasties?  What, after all, is a film or video other than a series of images which give the illusion of movement?  Aren't they, under a strict interpretation of Islam (and these groups, by their own admission, are supposedly flying the flag for the 'stricter' end of Islam), committing blasphemy?  Aren't they, therefore, bad Muslims?  Shouldn't they be beheading themselves (but not filming it, obviously)?

But this isn't the only example of the confused thinking of terrorists, who frequently, it seems, don't practice what they preach.  Take Boko Haram, for instance.  As I understand it, not only are they opposed to what they see as the corrupting influence of westernised education in Nigeria, but they want to take society back to the Seventh Century, an era before we were all corrupted by things like science, democracy and secular values.  The question, of course, id that if they are so enamoured with the Seventh Century and hate the present so much, why do they use modern firearms and other weapons to terrorise their victims?  Surely they should be using the technology of the era they want to go back to?  In which case they should be armed with swords, lances, spears and the like.  Then they'd be able to test whether the values of the Seventh Century are superior to those of the present when they came up against soldiers armed with modern assault rifles.  Sword or Kalashnikov - which do you think would prove superior?

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Bad Weatherman

It's now official: former ITV This Morning weatherman Fred Talbot is a cockicidal maniac, (as my brother likes to refer to such people), who abused teenage boys whilst working as a teacher.  Now that he's been found guilty it's safe to comment on the case without fear of being sued.  So I'm just going to put this out there and note that we should perhaps think ourselves lucky that when he was leaping about that giant map of the UK floating in that dock in Liverpool, giving his weather forecast, he wasn't pointing at the various locales with his cock.  Worse still, he could have manipulated his scrotum into shapes representing the weather forecast symbols for clouds.  I suppose that by pushing his penis down over his ball bag and kinking it a bit he could have given us the thunder and lightning symbol.  I guess that if he held it straight and urinated, that would be the rain symbol and if he whacked off, that could be snow.  I have no idea how he'd have done the 'wintry showers' one though.

One of the witnesses at Talbot's trial was Stone Roses singer Ian Brown, who, as a school boy, had been taught by Talbot.  He claimed that he and the rest of his class had once been shown a gay porn film by Talbot.  I have to say here that when I was at school watching a gay porn film would have been a welcome relief from the usual tedious educational films we were shown.  A straight porn film would have been even more welcome to a bunch of hormonal teenage boys, but gay porn would have had novelty value and given us something to jeer at and accuse the teacher of having participated in.  Mind you, Brown's description of the film - three minutes of a bloke sitting on a bed masturbating - sounds less like an actual gay porn movie that a 'solo sex' loop of the kind shown to punters in various dubious Soho hang outs in the seventies.  But to get back to the point, I suppose that glimpsing a porn movie at such a tender age traumatised Brown for life and eventually resulted in the Stone Roses dismal musical output.  (I'm not a fan, as you might guess).  Jesus, that Fred Talbot has a lot to answer for, the bastard!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Rich Man's World

There weren't that many orgies, apparently.  Well, according to former IMF chief Dominique Strauss Kahn, that is.  He recently claimed, in evidence to the French court where he is on trial for pimping, that he only attended twelve sex parties in three years.  Well, that's all right then. I mean, an average of four orgies a year isn't in any way excessive is it?  The stuff coming out of this trial is yet more evidence, if any were needed, that the excessively wealthy of this world live on another planet to the rest of us.  It also indicates that isn't just a disproportionate share of the world's wealth they've accumulated, but also a disproportionate amount of the globe's sexual activity.  I mean, it's clear that Strauss Kahn hasn't just had his share of sex, but mine too - along with the population of a small country's share on top of that. 

Of course, Strauss Kahn first hit the world's headlines a few years ago when he was accused of raping a maid in a New York hotel, whilst he was still with the IMF.  Whilst, ultimately, all charges against him were dropped, the concerted smear campaign mounted against the maid in the press was astounding, clearly designed to discredit her before any possible trial.  Although the maid apparently admitted lying in her evidence to the Grand Jury (she actually claimed that she had been mistranslated whilst giving evidence), it is notable that Strauss Kahn subsequently came to an out of court settlement with her in order to head off her civil action against him.  Not that doing so is evidence of his guilt.  But it is worth noting the number of subsequent claims of rape made against him - I can't help but feel that if was a 1970s British TV personality rather than a vastly wealthy businessman, he'd be the subject of a major police investigation by now.  That said, he is now on trial for pimping.  Anyway, the fact remains that he was accused of rape whilst in charge of the IMF, which surely completely undermines the 'austerity' economic policies it advocates and imposes on nations borrowing from it.  I mean, I'm damned if I'll be lectured to on economic policy by an organisation once headed by an alleged sex offender.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Business of Evil

It says something about how far to the right the political narrative has been pushed in the UK that the press can try to characterise Ed Miliband as being 'anti business', because he dares to criticise multinationals which evade paying tax in the UK, despite making huge profits here.   Apparently we're now living in a society where suggesting such outrageous things as workplace rights for employees, including the right to strike, job security, sick pay, or even a decent wage is to be 'anti business'.  Indeed, not just 'anti business', but positively treasonous because to demand such things, Cameron and Osborne tell us, is to threaten that economic recovery they keep telling us is underway, but which no one actually feels the benefit of.  But to turn things around - why would it be so bad to be 'anti business'?  Why is it assumed that what's good for business is automatically good for the community?  After all, by their very nature, businesses are interested in pursuing their own private profits rather than the wider interests of society as a whole.  In fact, they are quite willing to subvert the interests of the community where those interests threaten their profits.  Believe me, if they could get away with it, they would have no qualms about using slave labour, as wages for employees eat into their profits.  (Arguably, through their use of South East Asian sweatshops to produce their goods, many multinationals are already doing this).

To argue that privatisation or the out sourcing of public services to private providers is bad is to be 'anti business' as, apparently, it is wrong to try and restrict private businesses from getting their hands on tax payers' money and running public services for profit.  One only has to look at the decline in quality of those services out sourced to realise what poor value to the public that such policies represent.  What these private businesses call 'greater efficiency', I call 'cutting corners'.  The truth is that we're lucky if all they do is 'cut corners' in their pursuit of profit - in reality they'd like to be able to take the money and not fulfil the contract at all.  I mean, just look at G4S's failure to provide the security guards they were contracted to furnish for the 2012 Olympics.  Or the Ministry of Justice being billed by private providers for the tagging of prisoners who didn't exist.   But the idea that calling for corporations to pay their taxes or upholding employees' rights is 'anti business' is just another fabrication that the government, with the assistance of the right wing press, has succeeded in perpetrating.  Another is that there is no alternative to 'austerity'.  Or that 'austerity' is actually working - this Tory government is now borrowing more than the last Labour government and has failed to eliminate the deficit, as it pledged to do by the end of this parliament.   Really, why are you all putting up with it?  Why aren't you all out on the streets rioting?

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Monday, February 09, 2015

Raining in My Kitchen

It was monsoon season in my kitchen last night.  I came home yesterday evening to find that the supposed 'fix' to my leaking hot water cylinder had failed spectacularly and it was now raining warm water from the kitchen ceiling.  When I say 'rain', I mean 'torrential rain'.  I quickly ran out of buckets and towels with which to contain the mess. The plumber who had 'fixed' the cylinder wasn't answering his phone, so I was forced to call another plumber. luckily he was prepared to come out on a Sunday evening and safely drain the cylinder for me.  He also came back to me this morning with a quote for replacing the cylinder - it was actually very reasonable and he's coming back on Wednesday morning to carry out the work. Meanwhile, I'm without hot water again.  On a more positive note, in the cold light of day the kitchen didn't look anywhere near as bad as I feared it would.  It will still require a massive clean up and, when it has dried out, a complete redecoration (which I was planning on doing anyway, but now it will have to be sooner rather than later).

To be fair, I don't blame the original plumber for last night's disaster.  I was the one who authorised the work, although I should have known better.  I should just have told him to replace the cylinder from the outset instead of letting him try to patch it with sealant.  The fact is that you simply can't repair hot water cylinders once they've started leaking - there is no sealant which withstand the pressure which builds up once hot water is pumped into them.  So there's a lesson for you - if your hot water cylinder springs a leak, swallow the cost and replace it immediately if you want to avoid having water running down your walls.  As you might have guessed by now, I'm growing weary with the constant domestic disasters which seem to have been engulfing my life for the past few months.  Hopefully, if I can just get this one sorted out, then I can get back to clearing up the messes caused by them all - and then I can get back on with my life, I have all manner of plans which have had to be put on hold while I try to deal with these crises.  Anyway, I'm well aware that this blog is in danger of turning into a chronicle of my domestic sagas, so I'm going to try to get things back on track here as well - I have numerous planned posts postponed because of my domestic dramas.  I'm also thinking of trying podcasting again.  Not 'The Sleazecast', but a new title and format, probably based around posts made here, which should be less time consuming to produce than 'The Sleazecast'.  Well, that's the plan, anyway.


Friday, February 06, 2015

Lotsa Luck On The Buses

Many UK TV sitcom formats have made a successful transition to US network television, most notably Til Death Us Do Part, which became All in The Family, Steptoe and Son, which became Sandford and Son and, of course, Man About the House, which became Three's Company.  Others, like The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, which became Reggie and One Foot in the Grave, which became a Bill Cosby vehicle, for instance, were less successful, barely lasting a season.  Then there were some, like Rising Damp. which, under the title Steam Heat, didn't get past the pilot stage.  I was vaguely aware that there had also been attempt to transfer On The Buses to the US, but had always thought that it hadn't got past a pilot either.  However, the other day I discovered that a US On The Buses derivative had actually run for an entire season in the mid seventies.  I stumbled across Lotsa Luck, as it was retitled, whilst watching a You Tube compilation of the title sequences of various one season US sitcoms.  The title sequence gives no indication that the series has any connection to On The Buses.  Indeed, no buses or bus depots are in evidence, the theme song instead bemoans how 'things aren't what they used to be' and that to get on in today's world you need 'Lotsa luck', a phrase repeated by each cast member as the appear in the titles.

Intrigued by the fact that the lead was played by Dom deLuise and that, despite his star power, hadn't lasted more than a season, I did some more research and was astounded to find the link to the UK series.  Incredibly, deLuise plays the Reg Varney role of Stan, but he's no longer a bus driver, but a clerk who works in the lost property office of a bus company.  Like the British Stan, he has an overly protective mother, a plain sister called Olive, who is married to the perpetually unemployed Arthur.  British Stan's best fried, his conductor Jack, has transmogrified into a character with the unfortunate name of 'Bummy'. Of Inspector Blake, there is no sign. By all accounts, unlike the UK series, Lotsa Luck doesn't focus on Stan and Jack/Bummy's womanising/sexual harassment of female staff, drinking and attempts to shirk work.  Without the Blake character, another key element - the duo's attempts to put one over on their supervisor and his attempts, in return, to get them sacked, is also missing.  Instead, the focus became the conflict between Stan and his freeloading Brother-in-Law.  Whilst this was one of the recurrent themes in the UK series, it wasn't the predominant one - UK Arthur wasn't always unemployed.  Moreover, unlike US Arthur who, judging by is appearance in the opening titles, is a real slob, UK Arthur was always well turned out and considered himself both intellectually and socially superior to Stan, which was, in fact, the main basis of their conflict.

Having changed so many elements of what had been a highly successful series in the UK, you can't help but wonder why the US producers had bought the format in the first place.  Stripped of its smut and crudity and shorn of its central character conflicts, there really wouldn't have been any point to On The Buses.  Indeed, its sheer political incorrectness (by today's standards) is one of the main reasons it remains popular and is regularly repeated on TV.  I'm not a fan, but I can still recognise its strengths  and all of those were removed for the US version, turning it into just another working class family sitcom.  No wonder it failed.


Thursday, February 05, 2015

Hot and Cold Non Running Water

My stress levels have gone through the roof this week.  On top of some work-related nonsense which saw me making a ninety mile round trip to an address that didn't exist on Monday evening, Tuesday saw water start dripping through my kitchen ceiling.  A frantic search for the source of the leak saw me tearing off the side of the bath to check the pipework which runs underneath it, before I finally had to reluctantly concede that it was my hot water cylinder which was leaking.  Again.  Less than ten years ago I had to replace the cylinder when the old one (which was in the house when I'd bought it - and it was nowhere new then) started leaking through the kitchen ceiling.  Clearly, the new cylinder, which is less than ten years old, shouldn't have sprung a leak so soon.  According to the plumber I finally got round today, the problem most likely stems from the guy who fitted the new cylinder over tightening the immersion heater housing - this stressed the copper around it, weakening the metal and making a leak inevitable. 

The new plumber has carried out some remedial work, applying a metallic sealant to the damaged area on the cylinder. There's no guarantee it will work, but he reckons that he's had positive results on similarly damaged cylinders in the past.  In order to apply it, he's had to drain the cylinder (which had the immediate effect of stopping the dripping in the kitchen), which means, until the sealant sets overnight, I've no hot water.  (I do have central heating as my hot water system is set up to allow the central heating circuit to be isolated from the cylinder).  He's coming back tomorrow to see whether the repair has worked.  If it has, great.  If it hasn't, then I'm looking at the expense of another new cylinder.  It's only February and already the year is throwing curve balls at me.  Coming on top of the damage to the roof and the damp problems in the front bedroom caused by that ivy blocking my guttering, this is really testing my resolve.  I still haven't got anywhere close to repairing all the damage caused by the earlier incidents and now I have yet more water damage to deal with in the kitchen.  Consequently, my house is looking even more shambolic than usual and I'm feeling pretty down, as I face the seemingly Herculean task of setting everything right.  I could do without all this shit.


Tuesday, February 03, 2015


So, it seems that Mrs Thatcher attempted to prevent the diplomat Peter Hayman's paedophile links from becoming publicly known, despite the fact that he was a potential security threat, due to his being potentially open to blackmail.  Ha!  I say.  Ha!  This would seem to vindicate my long held belief that Thatcher was at the centre of covering up that fabled high-level Westminster paedophile ring which supposedly included half the parliamentary Tory Party.  After all, she didn't just cover up for Hayman - she gave Jimmy Savile a knighthood!  Indeed, on the latter point she was apparently most insistent, despite attempts by advisors to dissuade her from awarding honours to the DJ due to the widespread rumours and allegations concerning his sex offending activities.  As I've mentioned before, Thatcher is the elephant in the room when it comes to these paedophile ring allegations - despite more and more evidence that she at least knew something about what was going on, not least that there were officials with paedophile interests in positions of authority, both the mainstream press and the crackpot conspiracy theorists seem reluctant to include her in their stories and theories.

They all skirt around the issue, happy to name and shame various Thatcher minions, such as Lord McAlpine or Leon Brittan, for alleged involvement either in actual abuse or the covering up of such abuse on the flimsiest of 'evidence', but they just don't seem to want to believe that dear old Maggie was involved.  Not even now that she's safely dead, so they can say what they like about her, without fear of litigation.  What spell does she hold over the right wing press and conspiracy nut jobs?  Apart from the fact that she's still the patron saint of the right wing (which includes the larger part of the conspiracy cranks), that is, and anything which called into question her immaculate holiness would bring their entire belief system tumbling down.  However, surely even they can't deny that her continued relationship with Savile is strange, to say the least.  OK, I know that Savile cosied up to many of the great and the good, including Prince Charles - but surely that should make the conspiracy cranks suspicious, as they've spent years alleging that most of Savile's famous friends are also part of the establishment paedophile ring.  But not Maggie, apparently.  She was blissfully ignorant of his true nature.  Except that it now transpires that she did know about Peter Hayman, but turned a blind eye.  Who's to say she didn't do the same for Savile.

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Monday, February 02, 2015

The Sexecutioner

Following another round of hostage beheadings by ISIS, the question raises itself as how best to respond to such executions.  One thought raised in discussion of the issue this weekend was that the Jordanian government should have responded to the execution of one of its pilots held captive by ISIS by executing any ISIS prisoners it held.  However, responding to barbarism with more barbarism is surely not the answer.  Perhaps instead of executing ISIS prisoners, the Jordanian (and other governments) should consider 'sexecuting' them?  Bearing in mind the fundamentalists' aversion to homosexuality, maybe the best response to ISIS beheadings would be bugger all ISIS prisoners senseless.  Such an act would be so humiliating for them that it would be safe to release them afterwards, as their felloe fundamentalists would never accept them again, seeing them as 'tainted' by homosexuality.

Of course, all of this assumes that the Jordanians (who aren't keen on homosexuality themselves), would be able to find sufficient 'sexecutioners' prepared to carry out the deed.  After all, they wouldn't actually have to be gay to be giving another bloke one from behind.  Besides, it wouldn't actually be a sexual act - the perpetrator wouldn't be expected to gain any pleasure from their buggering.  Other than the pleasure of knowing that they were fighting terrorism, of course.  Maybe the Jordanians could just bring in someone outside for the job - a 'sexecutioner' wearing a black hangman's mask who has the stamina to single handedly bugger every ISIS prisoner.   The more I think about it, the more this sounds like one of those 1970s men's adventure paperback series like 'The Destroyer' or 'Nick Carter' - over hundred plus volumes the black masked and trouserless 'Sexecutioner' could travel around the world buggering terrorists, mafia gangsters, commies and Nazis...