Tuesday, October 31, 2006
MP vote against holding an inquiry into the Iraq War.
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett warned it was "not the time", as an inquiry could undermine troops' morale... Mrs Beckett warned that agreeing to either inquiry now would send the wrong signal "at the wrong time" to Iraq.
Because heaven knows the one thing that stops the British troops from despairing at the fact they are being killed every day is the fact that at least the Labour party supports them being there if no-one else does.
Meanwhile, in another faraway land, Michelle Malkin is doing her bit to try and prevent people from realising that the Republican Party is fucked by engineering a controversy over John Kerry.
She reports Kerry as saying: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq."
Now, that doesn't look to me as though he's saying the troops are stupid, more the current inhabitant of the White House. Of course, that doesn't stop a large number of people who are stupid and, co-incidentally Republican, bay and scream for John Kerry to apologise for insulting the troops. So, it seems that no-one has a problem with Shrubya being called dumb, not even those that would claim to support him.
It gets really funny when Malkin moves on to complaining about why isn't the media reporting something that wasn't said?
But most importantly, this week is British Sausage Week. Woot!
Monday, October 30, 2006
The album is created by taking apart electronic kids toys like speak'n'spells and circuit bending them until interesting sounds ensue. While 'A Grand Occasion' is at the cutesy end of the spectrum 'Caramel Accident' sounds like that scene in Robocop 2 where he gets taken apart, if it were performed using a Speak 'n' Spell. 'Where is my Sock?' is the revenge of the Toys'r'us toys. If you're looking for the Aphex Twin to STOP FECKING AROUND and produce another Come to Daddy (or indeed, any music that was worth a damn) then this isn't the album for you, but it's cheeryfungood. You buy, makehappysmilesjoyjoy!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Labels: The War Against Terror
Anyway, if you want an All Hallows Eve spookening, head over to Pseudopod. There have only been nine episodes so far, a couple of them were misfires but most of them are satisfyingly eeky.
5:00 pm and the Northern Line train emerges from the tunnel as it approaches Golders Green station. The sky is dark already. Welcome to winter.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Kosinski whizzes on Riker's leg a little bit to mark his territory, sniffs at Argyles butt, and goes to engineering to work his totally awesome brand of warp drive magic. When he leaves, Troi tells us that he's loud and arrogant. (Riker must be so happy he brought her along for that deep and difficult to observe insight.)
Trekkies who may have begun to dislike Kosinski immediately start a fan club for him when he stops mid-stream to ask "why is this child here?" in reference to Wesley Crusher, who is working on a school project and decked out in a really sweet burnt sienna sweater, straight out of famed Klingon designer K'Talh Ba'akQoth's fall collection.
The experiment begins, as the Enterprise goes to warp 1.5, accompanied by the classic tune, "TNG Theme (Enterprise Goes to Warp 1.5)"
At the urging of friends I've transfered from using Internet Explorer to Firefox and it was about 2.3 seconds after I started using it that I knew I wouldn't be switching back. Tis truly lovely, and this is coming from someone who's not got any real issues with Microsoft products on his machine, whose Windows XP has only crashed at most twice in a year, whose copy of IE wasn't noticeably unstable. Firefox is just better.
Friday, October 27, 2006
"Pole dancing is an increasing exercise craze."
Mrs Gallimore, 33, of Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, said yesterday: "I'm no prude, but any children can go on there and see it. It's just not on."
Dr Adrian Rogers, of family campaigning group Family Focus said yesterday that the kit would "destroy children's lives". He said: "Tesco is Britain's number one chain, this is extremely dangerous. It is an open invitation to turn the youngest children on to sexual behaviour. This will be sold to four, five and six-year olds. This is a most dangerous toy that will contribute towards destroying children's innocence." He added: "Children are being encouraged to dance round a pole which is interpreted in the adult world as a phallic symbol. It ought to be stopped, it really requires the intervention of members of Parliament. This should only be available to the most depraved people who want to corrupt their children."
Actually, I like kicking African children with AIDS...
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Actually, that's unfair. If I were feeling uncharitable I could rip the pilot of Torchwood, if I'd been visited by the ghosts of pilots past, present and future I might feel more inclined to the pseudo-medieval tosh that is 'Robin Hoodie and his Ineffective Men'. But I haven't been, so I'm not going to. And I did like Torchwood. It's supposedly a more adult version of Doctor Who but if DW is aimed at a bright twelve-year-old then T would appear to be aimed at their bored sixteen-year-old sibling, with stories that involve people who are their older brothers and sisters who are old enough to have just left university.
Cardiff beat cop Gwen Cooper comes across a mysterious group of people who can bring a murder victim back to life for a few minutes to question him about his attacker. Digging deeper she locates their secret HQ in the centre of town by the Millenium Centre. After unsuccessfully trying to wipe her memory of the experience she is instead offered a job by Captain Jack Harkness and their first job involves a discarnate alien energy being that lives off the energy human beings produce when doing the sex.
It really shouldn't work, especially the second episode which is really an excuse for a lot of jokes about shagging (at one point the woman who's been possessed by the sexy sexy sex alien of sex makes moves on Gwen and they start snogging in her cell. Rather than start worrying about alien contamination or mind control the rest of the team watch them go at it for several lo-o-o-ong seconds before deciding they should break them up, while another records it). But while Bob Hood aimed lower on Saturday night and failed, this manages to survive through two decent scripts. The first episode is exposition-heavy, both in explaining itself to viewers who've not seen the new Doctor Who but also to those who have as to what is different. Captain Jack apparently can't die and, although we don't know yet exactly how or why he's here and now, he's on the look-out for the Doctor. Although he's as smart-arse as he ever was John Barrowman also plays him with more of an edge, suggesting life hasn't been all fun since we last saw him. The other members of Team Torchwood haven't been particularly fleshed out, Burn Gorman is slightly creepy, not above using some alien technology to make him irresistible to women, but Ianto Jones, who seems to manage (as opposed to run) the team and Toshiko Sato have thus far been left as little more than sketches. Eve Myles role as everywoman Gwen, our way into the series, has a particularly thankless role in episode one, running around saying "what is..." and "who is..." every few seconds, but seems a lot happier in episode two, though things flag for a while about two-thirds of the way through. This has been a noticeable problem in Robin Hood, it seems no one involved has yet worked out how to write their episodes in the allotted time, so there's action at the beginning and the end and a boring middle.
In terms of problems there is the question of exactly how covert Torchwood is. It's an ultra top-secret organisation yet when people like the police or the army are told to pull back they're told it's because of Torchwood, which doesn't sound very stealthy. You can tell Russell T. Davies really wanted a cool 'entrance in plain site' moment, with a false step that descends into the Torchwood HQ, so he's really put a lot of effort into explaining how something so silly works without anyone noticing. The Torchwood set looks very good (except for one point which I shall get to in a moment), crammed full of stuff, and Cardiff is shot to look gorgeous. The prosthetics, such as the alien 'Weevils' masks look great, but some effects, like the CGI pterodactyl that flies around the ceiling of the Torchwood base just looked awful. Unless it has a key role to play at some point in the future I would suggest it's quietly forgotten about. If it does play a part them perhaps it should die in the playing. Some of the scenes are badly lit. Twenty years ago there was always a clear divide between stuff shot on film and stuff shot in the studio on video tape. The video material always looked tacky and nasty by comparison. Now that technology has improved there's no longer that clear divide (Remember Neverwhere which looked nasty throughout because the video made the sets look cheap even when they were real places?) but especially the Torchwood set looks like a set at the moment. There are any number of scenes, such as when they are examining the meteorite at the start of episode two, which just look nasty.
As I'm too old for DW I'm probably not placed to comment on Torchwood 's 'adultness'. When Virgin Books started putting out 'The New Doctor Who Adventures' in the nineties a lot of the writers took the opportunity to ramp up the ick factor of the violence and introduce sex and swearing. So far that's what we've got here, having characters occasionally shout "shit!" is hardly a great step forward for drama. It'll be interesting to see what Russell T. Davies has in mind for the emotional climax of the season, considering what he was able to do in the constraints of 'Doctor Who'. Although the second episode wasn't bad, I'm not convinced that just because it couldn't have been done if the show was made under the constraints of DW. When Angel spun out of Buffy it was intended for an older audience but there weren't that many changes beyond the weird ones where if someone in Buffy so much as were in the same room as something alcoholic their souls were damned to hell. To me this seems at the moment a cynical attempt to hook the kids who sneer at DW, no-one seriously thinks that by putting it on at 9:00 pm in this day and age the BBC are putting it beyond the reach of any kids that want to watch it, they're just trying to avoid the obvious complaints. For a supposedly adult show it's depressingly hetero and vanilla, two episodes in to Captain Jack's time on the TARDIS and the Doctor was already having to explain to Rose about how people from the 51st century danced better and Jack was chatting up sexually confused airmen. Now, while he does have some good lines, Jack's now all business and his team all assume that he's gay, presumably based on the fact he's an American who takes care of his appearance. Handled badly, alternative sexuality on screen can be as crass and as dull as straight sexuality and RTD surely wouldn't want to be pigeonholed as 'the big poof who puts big poofs on screen into everything he does' but BBC3 has also broadcast Two Pints of Lager and Casanova, and I hope that Torchwood leans towards the latter (I'm thinking of the scene where Casanova decides that if he loves someone it shouldn't matter what their sexual organs are) rather than the former (big laughs ensue whenever two guys end up looking even remotely gay).
It's won the BBC a big audience share for a tiny channel and is being repeated on BBC2 tomorrow. I'll be looking to it to improve and believe it can.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.
I forgot to buy booze this morning! I'm going to have to watch Torchwood sober!
John Reid, lest we forget, is NOT running for Deputy Prime Minister when John Prescott rides off next year. He must be mightily confident that Gordon Brown is going to lose the next General Election though.
* I'm struggling to remember a time when the British Government won the battle of ideas with anyone over anything. It failed to convince people that the Millenium Dome wasn't going to be a load of crap, that the War in Iraq was a good idea for the region or that David Blunkett wasn't an evil-minded shower of shit. Way back in the late nineties Tony Blair said that the Government were going to persuade the British people of the wisdom of joining the single European currency, then never spoke of it again. The only arguments the Labour party wins are those that Tony Blair has with the rest of the party, by frightening them with the bogeyman of losing power.
The American mid-term elections don't seem to have come up much in the UK News, except for the whole thing with Foley talking dirty to teens thing. But when I look at American media the common refrain from Republicans is that whether some guy fiddled with kids or whether that Republican was a crook that embezzled tons of money or whatever, the only crime is that the Democrats are trying to take advantage of it. Puh-lease! I think, when it comes down to it, the guy that committed the crime is probably worse than the guy who talked about the guy who committed the crime. I don't think anyone suggested that Moses was worse than Pharoah for writing how he persecuted the Jews. And I suppose that whole thing of Shrubya standing on the boat in front of the 'Mission Accomplished!' was a genuine excited declaration and not about PR at all? Look at Patrick, who will probably end up voting for a party he doesn't like, because the only thing going for them is that they aren't called 'The Democratic Party', despite okaying massive increases in spending, on the military, and increasing the power of the Government to spy on and harass it's citizens. Rolling Stone has a pretty damning report on the corrupt crooks of both parties who run the United States.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
For that special Creationist in your life
Enough is enough.
We're now into that three week period that starts with Diwali and runs to Bonfire Night where every halfwit in the area lets off fireworks after dark. It's one of those areas of human life that I just don't understand like Amateur Wrestling or trying to produce an intelligent show for Channel 5.
A Professional Whinge
Anyway, on reading the latest dead tree publications from my professional association, CILIP I see they have rebranded their membership department as 'CILIP membership: an investment in your professional future'. Which is handy as it allows them to abrogate any responsibility for doing anything today.
How it was developed.
Step 1. Creation of a market research brief.
Step 2. Appointment of a professional market research company - Grimwood Associates.
Step 3. 30 in-depth interviews with members and non-members - testing reaction to various propositions; results analysed.
Step 4. Shortlist of propositions promoted in Gazette and feedback encouraged via web survey - 60 responses.
Step 5. Results analysed.
Step 6. Creative development of new concept based on the results.
(Reported in Library and Information Gazette, 20/10/2006)
Earlier this year, due to a shortage of cash, CILIP HQ had to lay off staff. It's good to see that they are using what they have left to good effect. 'CILIP membership: an investment in the school fees of the children of Grimwood Associates children'.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Line Rider. Not quite a game, draw a slope and watch a guy sled down it.
Doctor McNinja. He's a doctor, who's also a ninja.
How to Die.
Oh what a day. There are few things as enjoyable as finding out someone hasn't come to work ten minutes before you open the doors to the public than perhaps ten minutes after. And when my manager said that we had enough staff to cover, then not realising two of the members of the staff we had only started working for us last week... Still, I didn't mind working four hours without a break. No, really. And why is it the lady I helped that's going to make a complaint about me and not the guy I couldn't give an answer to? You'd think that after thirty years of hanging round I'd start to understand them just a little bit?
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
It is worth remembering that David Blunkett has admitted to being clinically depressed while in office. As has Alistair Campbell. Yet it was not considered worrying that they should continue in two senior posts in the British Government at this time? Did no-one around Campbell who knew about this think it might have had an effect in the events leading up to the Hutton Whitewash?
The Times is claiming that the Government intends to punish sick people for voting against the Government. Well, what is the point of having the power if you don't misuse it?
Monday, October 16, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Death of a President
The biggest problem is that the focus of the 'documentary' is all wrong. If someone like an American President is killed that's going to have a transformative effect on American society and the way it interacts with the outside world. For someone like Bush, who has done so much to drag down the outside world's opinion of his country whilst simultaneously pumping up the US's feelings of injured aggrievance, that's going to be multiplied. Therefore, a fake history story needs to look at the wider scale, not at a bunch of fictional people talking about the FBI investigating. DoaP mentions in an off-hand manner how President Cheney brings in the Patriot Act III to further restrict the freedoms of Americans and allow the authorities to further invade their privacy, we get no discussion of this and instead it proves to be useful to the FBI to help them find the guy they decide to convict with the killing. Similarly, a Muslim character fairly early on says something along the lines of "When I heard this has happened my first thought was: 'I hope it's not a Muslim that did this'." No mention is made on how Bush's death impacts on 'the War on Terror'. Does it allow the US to blame and invade another Islamic country? Does it allow President Cheney to withdraw from the conflicts the US is currently fighting? We don't find out.
The most satisfying part of the film is the pre-assassination sequence. The first fifteen/twenty minutes have people talking about a Presidential visit to Chicago, anti-war demonstrations that surprise the police with their ferocity, Bush's speechwriter and bodyguard sharing their perspectives of the day. After the bang (and here the drama departs from reality as, if it were really a Channel 4 documentary we'd get endless replays of the moment with a computer-enhanced view of the bullet burying itself in Bush's gut), which is not clearly shown on screen anyway, and the actors start trying to fight down their tears it all becomes a bit like pantomime.
Graphically the program looks good. There have been a few sniffs here and there about the quality of the audio and visual insertions but, apart from altering Cheney's address at Ronald Reagan's funeral to now be about George W. Bush, any others didn't stand out to me as obviously fake. The key scene where Bush is shot and the scene descends in to chaos, I couldn't be sure what exactly was real and what was faked. Despite what I said above the actors all play their parts well, such as they are. There is a certain naturalism to this, trying to act how we think real people would act, not how people in drama react.
In the end this is a fairly pedestrian piece that shouldn't be judged on Channel 4's pre-presentation hyperbole. It certainly shouldn't give any problems except to those who have difficulty distinguishing between fiction and reality. I suppose that's why conservatives have been complaining about it.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Watching the first episode of the third season of Battlestar Galactica and it seems they've gone one better, they're basing it on the US/UK invasion of Iraq. BG lost a lot of fans with the decision to have the 'rag-tag fleet' settle down on a new planet and then jump forward a year, but after a Cylon invasion in the last minutes of the second season this looks like it'll be a great story-telling idea. We're now three or four months into the Cylon invasion and, while Adama and son spin their wheels in deep space, Colonel Tigh has gone all Al Zarqawi on us, a one-eyed, white-bearded Resistance leader, sending men to suicide-bomb Cylons in the hopes that this will drive them away.
It would be easy, because we know the Cylons are evil, to whitewash the humans actions. But the Cylons have themselves been humanised, they're bringing 'the word of God' to the humans and we also know they can't be killed while humans can, for a show that tends to look at the consequences of people's actions I suspect Tigh is going to be in some deep shit later on.
This is excellent.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Nirpal Dhaliwal- Watch Part Eight Keeping Up With the Jones
I'm only doing this because in looking for something else I've become aware of the full ghastly car-crash that is the Liz'n'Nirpal show...
Liz Jones's diary ; In which I tell him we must talk about the future
The Mail on Sunday (London); Sep 17, 2006; LIZ JONES; p. 82
I have never dumped anyone before. It has always taken so long years, decades for me to persuade someone, anyone, to go out with me that once I am in a 'relationship' (I use the term lightly), I hang on grimly, undeterred by mobile phones that are mysteriously switched off. Who knows when I might get another chance to be one half of a couple? But this time, although I have been wavering about telling him it is never going to work, a few incidents in the past week have spurred me on and made me extra brave
1 When going to my friend Meena's 35th birthday party, although I gave my husband plenty of warning that we had to leave at 8pm, he kept me waiting for 40 minutes, and then neither apologised nor told me I looked nice. Also, walking to the restaurant, when I reached for his hand, he stuffed it firmly in his pocket, saying he was 'cold', even though it was still warm.
2 When we were both brushing our teeth the other night, I said, 'We're running out of mouthwash,' and he said, 'What do you want me to do about it?'
in a really horrid tone and then spat on my hand.
3 When I was about to ring my sister in Australia, I asked him what time it would be in Sydney (he recently went there, after all) and he did his wet-nappy face and shouted, 'How the hell should I know?' I realise I shouldn't want to end my marriage over non- existent mouthwash. I realise now I should have ended it when I found out he had been unfaithful, a sure sign if ever there was one that I wasn't enough for him, and vice versa. I honestly thought that taking him back would mean he would try harder to be more loving, but in fact the opposite has been true. He thinks he has got away with something.
He no longer respects me. I don't even think he fancies me that much. The other night, making 'love' (again, I use the term lightly), I had to ask him, 'Are you aware that I am even here?' But, to be honest, infidelity wasn't the final nail in the coffin. The real reason I know we can never work, and the reason why I have been so lenient regarding his chronic laziness and disinterest in me, is that I am far too old for him. He once told me he felt cheated by me because I had lied about my age (in my defence, it was only by four years), and I don't blame him at all. Me being too old is a far bigger hurdle than him seeing some trollop with her top off.
I am sick to death not only of being the older woman, but of apologising for who I am. And, above all, I am tired of going to pilates and his babyish moods and looking after everything and dashing to the hairdresser every two weeks to have my roots retouched. I dread my birthday, not just because he usually gets me a plant in a horrid pot on my credit card, but because with each passing year I get closer to 50. He cannot be in his 30s and be married to someone who is 50. I cannot allow that to happen.
And so I tell him that we have to talk about the future.
I have had the conversation in my head. I would tell him that I am tired of the way he talks to me (he has started, infuriatingly, to mimic my nagging with a horrid hand gesture, like a naked glove puppet jabbering away), that there have to be some advantages to being in a relationship, that I need someone I can trust, that he doesn't even feel like my friend any more. But in the end, all I say out loud is, 'You need to be with someone younger.'
He sat there, gobsmacked. But he didn't offer to change, or apologise. 'Why haven't you kicked me out, then?' he asked ; Liz Jones's diary: In which he tries to hug my muffin
Daily Mail (London); Sep 24, 2006; LIZ JONES; p. 130
Well. I sat him down, and he looked all expectant and wide-eyed. I told him that when we first started going out, my weird and eccentric behaviour, from the moment we met, really, stemmed from an attempt to put him off me, to repel him, basically, as I knew it could never ever work out. Not with an age gap of more than a decade. That I lied about my age from the outset because I never dreamed we would end up going to Hackney Town Hall with our birth certificates. I then told him that I am tired of making it up to him for being so old (only relatively speaking: I wouldn't be considered old at all if I was married to Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Prince), that I can't do this any more.
'Do you try to make it up to me?' he asked with a quizzical look.
'Yes!' I yelled. 'Every bloody day!
Nobody else would have put up with you and your awful habits and downright treacherous behaviour!' His behaviour, in ascending order of annoyance
He leaves the sliding mirror cupboard doors in the bathroom halfway open, exposing his horrid supermarket-brand shaving paraphernalia.
He picks up Sweetie and cradles her on her back like a baby, which she hates, making her scratchy.
When he gets up in the morning, he doesn't feed the cats or open windows or put the kettle on, but merely sits at his computer to read his emails.
He makes me drive because of his fear of motorways and roundabouts.
He never notices things around the house, and has never bought anything for it (bar a potato peeler).
He never uses the Daily Shower Spray.
He never empties the dishwasher/washing machine/tumble dryer/ swing bin.
He is very windy in the bottom area, and never opens his post.
He shows no interest in my work.
He rarely initiates sex, preferring to download porn.
He calls me variously 'Mummy', 'Old Lady' and 'Chubby', all of which I hate.
He often tells me to shut up, doing his naked glove puppet talking-hand gesture, showing me no respect.
He never asks my plans. Don't most normal people in a relationship, come Saturday morning, say, 'What would you like to do this weekend?'
He is obsessed with his three gay best friends, always texting them and meeting them for coffee. If not for the fact he slept with five women last year, I would seriously think he is homosexual.
One of his non-gay friends recently said to my husband that he thinks he must be 'bi-curious'.
He is incredibly harsh, blunt and unromantic. Even when I was in hospital recently, he failed to buy me any flowers. I don't think we have ever indulged in foreplay.
He sat there, gobsmacked. But he didn't offer to change, or apologise. 'Why haven't you kicked me out, then?' he asked me arrogantly.
'I've tried!' I told him. 'When I was having that oily bath I said you should move out, and you never did!' 'I think you're mad about me,' he said, attempting to hug my muffin.
'I am not,' I said, trying to keep a straight face. 'I have gone off you.
Consider yourself chucked.' 'Come on,' he said. 'Why don't I take you out for dinner tonight. It will be like a proper first date' Arrgghhhh!!!!!!
Liz Jones's diary
The Mail on Sunday (London); Oct 1, 2006; LIZ JONES; p. 130
In which he says he loves me too much to leave
I have given up trying to make things work. He can take me or leave me. It is all too exhausting and dispiriting. For example, last night I 1 Drank a cup of instant decaff coffee. Instant! Who knows, next thing I will be drinking water that came out of a tap! Or feeding my fur children cat food.
2 Although I removed my eye makeup, I didn't take off my Chantecaille Real Skin Foundation or YSL Touche Eclat concealer, despite potential pillow-spoiling. That is the first time since birth that I have gone to bed without cleansing, toning and moisturising. But what is the point?
We went out to dinner last night before going to see Volver, the new Pedro AlmodUvar film, and I have to report that the experience was excruciatingly painful. Over dinner, I kept initiating conversation, asking about his favourite topic namely, himself and he just responded with monosyllabic answers or merely pretended he hadn't heard me, before looking at me with big, sad eyes.
'Why are you staring at me?' I asked him. 'Why can't you just be normal at the table?' You would think that after six years together we would feel comfortable in each other's presence, enjoy some sort of easy banter, but no.
In the end, becoming so bored that I had rummaged in my Prada handbag to reread a shopping list, I said, exasperated, 'My God, this is hard work.'
'What is?' he said, surprised.
'This. Having dinner. With you.' When we got to the cinema, I broke the habit of a lifetime and just stood at the box office until he, reluctantly, finally, reached for his wallet. Because he had not chosen to see this particular movie, and was ostensibly coming along to keep me happy, he then proceeded to yawn all the way through the film and kept looking at his watch.
Back home, furious and upset, I started to watch Sex and the City Night and immediately cheered up.
'You were much happier before you met me, when you were single, weren't you?' he said.
'Yes. I was. You are extremely annoying. I loved being single.' And then I asked him if he had been happier before we met, but he refused to answer, giving an enigmatic shrug. We went to bed, where he proceeded to put his cold feet on me. Then, trying to snuggle, he said, 'I love you too much to ever leave you.' What is that supposed to mean?
To be honest, I think he has become very weird. He now wears his hair in a tight ponytail, perhaps imagining he is Antonio Banderas. Over our dinner from hell, the only thing he said to me was, 'I'm thinking of wearing my hair in a bun on top of my head.' How interesting. He is obsessed with how much he weighs, the contours of his stomach (in repose, he can usually be seen with his T-shirt up, as he rubs his torso lovingly), whether or not he is losing his looks, and how attractive he is to other women. And then, this morning, he told me he found being in a marriage boring. 'The reason we don't talk is that there is nothing left to find out about each other,' he said.
'Well, don't be married to me then,' I told him, adding that I had thought marriage would be about finally finding someone who is on your side, who you can share your problems with. I didn't realise it would mean inviting a weird enemy into your home, who creeps around the house and criticises your every move, and doesn't even look up when you enter a room. 'Is that what you really feel?' he said, and I nodded, sadly.
So basically she hates him. I wonder how Nirpal's magic cock is going to get him out of this one?
Peaches- Impeach My Bush
Saturday, October 07, 2006
The first two episodes at least will be spent establishing the basic premise of the show. I know that children aren't actually taught anything in schools today but I can't believe that there's that many of them that don't know the basic story of Robin Hood, so I can only assume this is BBC Nottingham being concerned about selling this show to foreign markets, such as the United States where the kids are too doped up to remember Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
So Robin, along with annoying comic relief Much (played by Patrick Doctor Two Troughton's grandson, Sam) have returned from a Crusade in the Holy Land which is more than a little unpopular at home. That's pretty much all there is for parents to enjoy, though there is a cleavage shot for Dads later on. On returning to his ancestral home Bob discovers that there's something of an authoritarian streak abroad in the land, people lose limbs if they are caught stealing. It seems the Sheriff of Nottingham is a bad 'un and that forces Bobby to take the law into his own hands when some of his serfs are condemned to hang for crimes they didn't commit. They all escape and become soldiers of fortune. If you've no-one else to turn to, if you can find them, if you live in the fourteenth century, maybe you can hire 'The H Team'.
Pretty much the entire blame for this anaemic show can be placed on the script. It's amusing in places, but even if you hated David Tennant's gurning as the Doctor that'll seem like Shakespeare compared to this. It fails to define the heroes as truly heroic, and I don't think that's because it's aiming for a complex morality that forces us to ask 'who's good? who's evil?'. Worse, while Sir Guy of Gisbourne is not the public-school buffoon with the room-temperature IQ from Robin of Sherwood, Keith Allen hams it up so badly as the Sherriff of Nottingham that the show cannot be watched by any observant Jews, his decision to make the Sherrif a clown rather than a menace and a threat is a real error. Now, only a few hours later, I can't remember anything memorable or funny that anyone said.
The action scenes are few and extremely badly plotted. There seems to be no-one involved at any stage of the production process that can point out that these are supposed to be exciting. The script can't decide how good a fighter Robin is. At the start he shoots four arrows into an extremely narrow target from several hundred feet away, faster than it would actually take a real person to fire those arrows. When charged by eight men on horseback he runs away, because although they are at least twice that distance away from him he couldn't just shoot them as well? A bowman would have an advantage against someone on horseback. Still, he has his superpowers back by the end of the show when he shoots arrows through several ropes holding hanging men, then throws his sword about fifty meters to hit first one then another guard who are menacing Much. Yet he needs help to stop a guard from shooting him with an arrow, a guard he's close enough to duck under and grab the legs of.
The set design is nice, and Budapest does a good job of doubling for the winter-time forests of the English collective imagination. I'm holding out the unreasonable hope that things may improve once we get past the unnecessary origin story. I don't think Robin Hood needs one beyond 'good group of people, one of whom is handy with a bow and arrow, against a bad group, lead by the Sherrif of Nottingham' and if it takes more than one episode to set up then you're doing something badly wrong. But I'm going to give it a chance to get beyond the origin story and see if it develops legs.
Nirpal Dhaliwal- Watch Part Seven
It's been three weeks since the last NDW. Not because Nirpal hasn't said anything stupid in the meantime, on the 20th of September he wrote about how nobody can manage their money and asking whether gay Asians really exist or are an urban myth. On the 27th we were given:
Forget pretty boys, women want real men ; CITY LIVES
Evening Standard (London); Sep 27, 2006; NIRPAL DHALIWAL; p. 37
CITY highfliers are, we are told, increasingly spending their massive bonuses on cosmetic treatments. Once renowned as buccaneering financial conquistadors, these former "masters of the universe" are now just preening divas - no longer proud to wear the battle scars of long hours and intense pressure on their faces, and desperate to have their wrinkles and eye-bags surgically removed.
The death-knell of modern manhood sounded several years ago, when the press printed shots of the septuagenarian Clint Eastwood in swimming trunks, his calves ropey with varicose veins. The last real man in the Western hemisphere was on his way out, leaving the way clear for bland and pretty, preppie clones to rule in his wake. The likes of George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon now dominate a landscape previously owned by the hard-bitten likes of Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman.
A lot of men are incredibly neurotic about their looks. They spend heaps of money on clothes, and increasing numbers use anabolic steroids to bulk up their physiques. The glorification of David Beckham was an expression of this cultural phenomenon and it did him no favours. Now that his talent is fading, the world will only pay attention to the details of his private life and his extravagant clown outfits. His looks will fade too, but he never cultivated the charisma that would transcend his appearance.
In the absence of football, he'll be famous for being a ludicrously attired, squeaky voiced narcissist, married to a fashion addicted hat-stand. I shiver thinking of how he'll look in a decade, having quite possibly submitted to surgery in the misguided hope of staying beautiful.
Some blame the mainstreaming of gay culture for the present situation. But the biggest reaction against the over-feminised male is among gay men, who've always fancied straight guys more than bent ones - hence their lust for builders, cops and firemen.
Soho is full of chunky, bearded "bears" wanting nothing to do with sissy, diet-obsessed queens. Gays have always loved the traditional, unaffected masculinity of straight men, and never wanted to change them.
What modern men have forgotten is that attitude is much more attractive than looks.
Watching The Shield with a girlfriend of mine, she couldn't stop drooling over the ugly, bald and pug-faced lead character, a tough- guy cop whose whole persona is one big middle finger to the rest of the world. My friend's a dyke and secure enough in her feminism to admit that guys who don't care what women think of them are a turn- on.
Men need to remember that their looks don't matter. The chronic neediness of most women means they'll forgive a hell of a lot in a man. Even the multimillionaire Kate Moss finds herself besotted with a ghostly, sexless, walking corpse like Pete Doherty.
A man's character, however flawed and wayward, is what ultimately captures a woman's imagination. Unlike the City boys opting for facelifts, Doherty at least knows that vanity isn't the way to a girl's heart.
Thank God for Nirpal to keep me up to date with gay culture. I especially like the bit about the Village People.
But the real 'money article' is this one from last Sunday's Sunday Times.
Man about it
The Sunday Times (London); Oct 1, 2006; Nirpal Dhaliwal; p. 19
Father figure, egomaniac, confused Superman - what does modern manhood mean to you?
A good look in the mirror, says Nirpal Dhaliwal
Well, at least he's honest and upfront about it...
The hardest thing for a man to do is look in the mirror. We're so egomaniacal and thin-skinned, we can't do it with any honesty in case we glimpse our flaws, vulnerabilities and basic ridiculousness. We tend to exaggerate the bits of ourselves we like best,
Like our cocks, eh Nirpal?
and end up seeing a range of fragmented and warped reflections that never add up to a complete picture.
Men simply cannot admit to feeling vulnerable or imperfect, though it's the most ordinary and universal human experience. This makes us do a lot of stupid things.
Such as write generalising articles about 'the male condition' for national newspapers. See NDWs 1-6.
My dad recently had four angina attacks in one day, but didn't go into hospital until the fourth one. He didn't want to admit there was anything wrong with him and kept shrugging them off. So he ended up suffering four times the damage to his heart than he should have and left himself open to a heart attack that could have killed him.
Compare and contrast with the last article. One minute men are too fey and queeney, the next Nirpal wants them to own their emotions. This is much the same as how he likes his women, strong, dynamic, but completely subservient to him.
Men rebel against their vulnerability. I think that a lot of my jerk behaviour since I got married -my boorishness, infidelity and emotional aloofness -has been a reaction to how much I need my wife.
Well, I suppose it's a different tack to take to those that blame their wives for making them have affairs. "Uhh... uhh... uhhh... I love my wife! I love my wife!" "That's nice sir but I'm your secretary."
She's my greatest ally, a rock who has supported my career and helped me deal with the loss of my best friend. But I've never been able to admit it. So I've behaved with selfish recklessness in a dumb attempt to prove that I'm some stand-alone maverick who can get by on his own. It's pathetic.
I presume an 'It's/I'm' typo was missed here by the ST editor? Still, if he's getting close to admitting responsibility for treating his wife badly then we can all cheer his personal growth.
My dad's the same. He can't admit to his failings or any kind of debt to anyone else. That's why I think my attitude is learnt behaviour.
OK, he's switched blame from his wife to his Dad. So close...
I had therapy a while back, which helped me to talk more openly, but it didn't cure me. I think I should have some more.
Oh puh-leaze! You're in therapy right now and you know it.
It's amazing how difficult it is for men to talk freely and honestly. We never want to reveal anything of ourselves -and, consequently, we don't figure ourselves out. We invented football because talking about football would provide us with a great way of talking about nothing. When I had a season ticket, I'd watch guys who'd sat next to each other for two hours every week for months, but didn't even know each other's name. The only conversation they made was the odd comment about the match.
So... That's surely not that good a way of talking about nothing then?
If they were women, they would've known every detail about each other after a couple of matches. Football matches look like explosions of male bonding, but they're full of isolated blokes who sing in unison, but barely know each other.
The older I get, the more suspicious I am of strong, silent types.
Odd. That's not the impression you give here. And let's not forget how this all started.
I don't like gossipy men one bit, but guys who are reticent give me the creeps.
'I don't like men who talk. I don't like men who don't talk. Now do you understand why it's difficult being me?'
Guys who can't talk are the ones who will lose it in a big way when all the unprocessed junk in their heads finally boils over. They're the ones who'll walk into the office one day with a shotgun and start blowing people away. Afterwards, their surviving co-workers will say: "We didn't know he was nuts. He was just really quiet."
On the other hand, Tony Blair just won't shut up, and you're claiming he's sane?
Despite all the distorted images we present to ourselves -that we're way smarter, stronger, more confident and independent than we really are -somehow women tend to figure us out. They can see through the bluster and silences to something more real and rounded. I don't know how they do it. It must be telepathy or intuition.
Or maybe it's just that you're a crap liar?
But it gives women the patience to stick with us -and gives us an opportunity to finally get a handle on ourselves.
And so we're back to where we started, Nirpal getting a grip on himself...
Make the lights flash faster
Only, the two guys are white. The extreme group is the BNP. So the news barely gets picked up by local papers whilst the national news concentrates on Jack Straw wanting to see Muslim women's faces. The Sun, that bastion of support for anti-terrorism legislation (remember their huffing and puffing about the Bill to allow police to hold suspects without charges longer?), hasn't touched this story. Why?
On the Jack Straw story, it does seem as though everyone is arguing about what they think they've heard rather than what he's said. It seems to me that it's perfectly reasonable for Straw to ask a woman wearing the Niqab or a Burqa if they would mind removing it when they speak with him. I've not seen anything anywhere that says that he refuses to speak to or help his constituents if they decline. What is wrong is the attempts by him and others to turn this into a larger issue of being a stick with which to beat the Muslim community for not integrating into British society. Watching Newsnight last night I saw a white woman, who looked to be in her mid-fifties, indignantly saying something along the lines of "They've come to our country, we've accepted them, so why shouldn't they integrate with us?" (emphasis mine) Where do you start? The fact that British-born Muslims wear these clothes too? The fact that if 'we' had truly accepted 'them' then 'we' wouldn't care what 'they' wore? You could spend hours unpacking the wrongness in that one bigotted statement of belief.
In the end it seems people are more willing to read about two Asian lads who had the temerity to want to fly home by plane than two white men who were prepared to cause some genuine harm.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
A Conservative councillor who sparked a row when he joked that Noah would have to let gay animals on board if he built his ark today has refused to apologise.
This seems to be one of those stories where everything is head over heels. People are complaining about his 'gay animals' comment which, in the content of the joke is, if not rip-roaringly funny, then not completely offensive.
What seems to go unremarked, and which I think is worse, is when he says "As long as they do it behind closed doors, I don't mind, but now they [homosexuals] control the media, the television. They have much stronger control over this country than they should have."
Now, surely that is the more offensive remark?
Which brings me round to my point. Who would win the next general election if it were between David Cameron and Tony Blair? Better still, what if Tony Blair didn't have the disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq turning him into electoral poison? Who would win between Tony Blair at the height of his powers and Tony Blair II: It Came From the Tory Party?
Watching the Conservative Party leader in action this week he seems to have made a firm decision that the country isn't tired of Tony Blair the politician, they're just tired of Tony Blair the man. So Cameron calls himself the heir to Blair and tries to portray himself as the Blair you can vote for without spoiling your morality. No matter when the next election is called, short of Cameron declaring himself the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, this year will be the key one in determing what happens then. Tony Blair holds on to the seat of power while not running the country, working to destabilise Gordon Brown and working hand-in-hand with... Gordon Brown. It's hard to find any real support for Brown, he's one of nature's sergeants, ideal as an ally and a number two, but lacking the charisma for the top spot. The reason Blair is drawing out his leaving is to ensure that if Brown were to take over, he'll end up leading a weak party to almost certain defeat at the hands of a re-energised Conservative party that has finally realised there are more votes to be had in charming the gay-friendly middle ground than chasing the vote of Europhobic pensioners who will be dead in a few years anyway.
And is WebCameron just the equivelent of Tony Blair going on This Morning ten years ago?
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Albert Pierrepoint was a Yorkshireman who, in the first half of the twentieth century, was regarded as the most efficient of the executioners. He was held in such esteem that he was entrusted with the execution of some of the war criminals of WWII. The film covers the period in time between his taking the job of hangman and his resignation in 1956.
This film hangs on the terrific central performances of Tomothy Spall as Pierrepoint and Juliet Stevenson as his wife. Spall maintains a marvelous hangdog, dead-eyed expression that gives nothing away, adding weight to the few times when he lets loose. If not for their work the film would fall apart, as it gives no information about Pierrepoint's life before or after the period of the film. The film struggles to get inside the head of a man who killed people for a living and never quite succeeds, events are altered to suggest that Pierrepoint develops feelings of guilt after executing a friend of his, it leads to the best scene in the film, but it just doesn't convince.
For it's serious script flaws it's beautifully crafted and shot. It's worth a glance if you have the chance.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Tory chairman Francis Maude apologises for something unimportant.
"My secretary was told on Friday that I still hadn't been positively vetted. I find that amazing. I'm an ex-colonel in the army and I have been to Tory party conferences before."
WebCameron. Wooo! 'Behind the scenes access' eh? What does that mean? Are there extras too? An alternate ending to the Tory party's leadership election where David Davis (who, let's not forget, supports the return of the death penalty) wins? A Dave the Chameleon screensaver? They better do something, their lead over Labour is starting to slip.
The Daily Torygraph and it's readers seem unimpressed.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Oh, will no-one rid me of this turbulent Lauren Laverne?
I Suck Young Blood
End of an Eara.