Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Stephen Fry alarm clock. I mean, really . Who thought 'what this world needs is an alarm clock with the voice of Stephen Fry doing his best Jeeves'? I'm checking every link on that site to make sure it's not just a ploy by my friends and Stephen Fry to drive me mad. [via Warren Ellis]

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Dune recreated in Second Life.

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It's not just video games and films that are bad for your mental health...

Latest from the Stating the Bleeding Obvious Desk: Now it has been scientifically confirmed that the Good Book itself can incite people to go kill-crazy: New research sees correlation between violent bible passages and aggression. [via Fridgemagnet]. News that will not come as any surprise to the family members of doctors who were killed for performing abortions, or of servicemen buzzed by God Hates Fags morons.

It works in the same way as with violent games and movies. If a person is unhinged already then the Bible can encourage them to go on a rampage just as Fight Club or Half-Life could. So next time people want to ban anything that could warp their children's fragile little minds, let's just add the Bible to the bonfire.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hurrah! Apparently Mixing It is moving to Resonance FM. [via Doctor Vee] At the moment the only thing I take from Resonance is the weekly podcast of Hooting Yard. I suspect a podcast of MI will not be possible, what with music licensing headaches, so let's just hope there's some sort of 'Listen Again' feature.

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If you're feeling a bit blue this morning then here's something to cheer you up: The Daily Mail make a hilarious 'modern life is so shit even five year olds are trying to commit suicide' report. You really should read this, it's great stuff. It's a mangling of facts that one of our national papers can feel proud for promoting.

And, rather unsurprisingly, the Tate is being sued by someone who whacked her wrist on the slides at Tate Modern.

"I am claiming for the loss of facility of my right hand ... it's been a real problem," she said. "I couldn't type, write or drive for two months. I travel extensively with work but I couldn't even carry a suitcase. Only now, three months on, am I getting back to normal."

Presumably this means that two months ago she wasn't able to sign the writ. I'm not sure why she wasn't able to carry a suitcase with her unpranged hand.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

James Cameron claims to have found the tomb of Jesus. However, the BBC report is so badly written that I'm at a loss to understand why he believes this to be the case, seeing as, as is pointed out, Jesus was a fairly common name back then. Still, I'm sure we can rely on Fundamentalist Christians to give this a fair hearing, to not overreact and to make their counter arguments based on deductive reasoning and scientific fact.

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Heh. Turns out 'that guy' in the opening sketch on HHNH was Rush Limbaugh. Which shows how little his face is recognised in the UK.

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The Half-Hour News Hour

Well, that's a bit of an odd title isn't it? I mean, it's good to see show titles with more than two syllables in them, but did this edge out Some Amusing Comments About Democrats And Some Constructive Criticism (Also About Democrats) for the Betterment of American Society for the show title?

Whoops, it's started, I almost didn't notice, what with the previous report on Fox News being some humorous thing about the Oscars and about how Barbra Streisand is a dirty liberal, Clint Eastwood's great and how unfair it is that the two term law and death are being held up as reasons why Ronald Reagan can't be president any more. But anyway, eyes down, it's the Fair and Balanced, We Quip You Decide, Fox Comedy Show. It's based on the principle that when Conservatives controlled every branch of U.S. Government it wasn't fair for treacherous Commie pinko rats like The Daily Show not to spend equal time satirising people who lacked power and influence and who called themselves Democrats.

But anyway, here we go. Right, the first sketch involves some fat fella who is making a Presidential address in 2009. Being British I'm not sure who he is, but the applause does. I'm not sure if he's supposed to be playing someone, or if he's some right-wing commentator playing himself. He gives a short monologue about how the country is going to get back on track in 2009. Because, apparently, since the Democrats took over one branch of Government in 2006 the U.S. went to hell in a handcart, falling from it's place as a land of milk and honey beforehand. It's almost amusing. I don't think there's any reason why 'humour by Consrvatives' can't be funny, part of the problem with the first sketch I think is that it comes off just trying to crowbar all of the things Bush supporters hate right now, Speaker Pelosi, Cindy Sheehan and so on, into a sketch. Their names are used instead of punchlines. Oh well, it's only a short sketch and...

Gah! Fuck! It's Ann fucking Coulter! Shit! They really should have had one of those warnings up on screen before that one! Isn't she being investigated for tax fraud? She's playing the Vice-President to 'guy-I'don't-know' but her presence makes me think that he is some right-wing columnist guy. She appears to lack any ability to act but hey, they're still lining up and knocking down left-wing ideas (such as smoke-free zones) so she doesn't really need to do any more than stand straight and read the dialogue boards behind 'guy-I-don't-knows' head. Of course, in America you have that Dinner thing where the President performs a brief skit each year, we don't really have anything like that in the UK so the closest we got to this sort of behaviour was when Margaret Thatcher performed in a Yes Minister sketch in the 80s, when Tony Blair was interviewed by Alan Partridge in the mid-nineties or the last few years of Labour Government.

Don't look at her eyes! Her cold, dead eyes! Sorry...

President: Now stay tuned for the Half-Hour News Hour on the Fox News Channel.
Vice President Evil: If you don't, we'll invade your country, kill your leaders and convert you to Christianity.

Now that would be funny if it didn't appear to be Government policy already.

The first sketch after the titles is news headlines and whoomp! There it is! Straight in with the Hillary Clinton jokes. Although attacking her by bringing up Shrubya's penchant for cronyism is an intriguing way to go. Do Conservatives really not care that Bush won't appoint anyone to a Government post unless they used to be a drinking buddy of his from days long past? Again the 'jokes', she'd staff the White House with lesbians if she got in, she works on a telephone line like one of those dial-a-hookers, aren't funny per se, more kind of 'let's laugh at her because we don't like her'. It's a televisual equivelent of putting someone's face on a dart board. The Iran item, about the Holocaust Denial conference, is funny, though so old I'm sure I've heard it before. And a joke about Harry Potter being gay! Was this show originally filmed about three years ago?

Aah, faux adverts for the ACLU. A worthless organisation because they helped white supremacists get the freedom to march, apparently. Is there a similar sketch about how the US Government of the thirties didn't consider the rise of fascism to be something it should concern itself with? Nope.

Then it's the Obama jokes. I've just realised, they've not mentioned the Republicans or Shrubya once. They've only mentioned the White House in terms of the main two Democratic would-be Presidents. That first skit made it clear they were Republicans, but didn't mention the GOP at all.

An amusing sketch about Ed Begley's electric car not making it to the studio. Hot writing talent from the 1980s there.

Did Che Guevara really 'execute thousands of people without a fair trial'? Wasn't that more Castro's thing? I thought Che was too busy taking his inhalers and sulking in a Bolivian cave to do much of that. Never mind, you can add 'Cubans' and 'left-wing students' to the list of 'things mentioned more than the Republican Party on the HHNH '. The sketch is about a t-shirt salesman being asked about whether it's okay for kids to wear t-shirts honouring someone who set up forced labour camps where people were imprisoned without trial. Mr t-shirt says "Well, in that case they might want to wear one of these..." and reaches for another t-shirt. There is a genuine expectant hush in the studio and you know everyone is thinking: "Is Fox really going to make a joke that could be seen as critical of Government policy?" He holds up the t-shirt. The moment is gone. It's a t-shirt with Mao on the front. There is relieved laughter in the studio.

'Six Degrees of Global Warming'. A sketch to show global warming doesn't exist, by pretending it does and going for reductio ad absurdum . Then another ACLU 'ad'. Oh, now jokes about Ed Begley being raped in prison. Niiice!

So, that's that. HHNH isn't bad because it's conservative, but because it's not very funny. But that's the first episode ever, so it's bound to be rough. It needs to learn to make some jokes at Fox and Conservatives expense, it also needs to go more up to date, jokes about electric cars and Che Guevara? At the moment it seems too much like regular Fox News programming, just without the hyperactive graphics. It lacks the Daily Shows sycophantic guest interviews, which is a definite plus. But after watching it I don't think it achieves anything, it's like the humour of five year olds making fart noises after something they don't like.

Charlie Brooker has more to say here.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Here's a novel idea, stop buying comics you don't like.

Of course, I only managed to do this a few years ago the hard way, by running out of money, but this isn't about me...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

2012 Olympics cost now stand at four times the original estimate. Luckily, with five years to go, there's plenty of time for that to get much higher.

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Last chance to save the Feminist Library in London.

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Apparently that's Al Pacino on the right. I did check imdb but it didn't say anything about him preparing to take the lead role in 'Keith Richards: The Movie'...

Oxford University Press Pwn the Polish Language!

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Missing It (do you see what I did there?)

I was annoyed at the start of January to hear one of the presenters of Mixing It , the Radio 3 program dedicated to experimental music, mention in an off-hand manner that the show would be finishing a run of sixteen years championing the avant-garde in February. I was surprised on checking the playlist for the last show that it was mainly new items, not one of those retrospective jobbies that you normally get. I noticed, with some disdain, that it was being replaced in the schedules by another jazz show (I'm sorry, I have tried, but I honestly can't tell a difference between someone like Miles Davis and what you get in any comedy sketch that is trying t parody the genre like The Fast Show 's Jazz Club). But what really got my goat was to discover that the show wasn't ending because the presenters had had enough and wanted to move on to new things, but because the show was being axed by the controller of Radio 3. The show was recorded in the presence of a 'Senior Radio 3 Editor', presumably to make sure the presenters didn't make a fuss on air. An argument could be made that a station plays classical music for most of the day and then an experimental music show for an hour each week in the night is an anomaly, but as doctorvee says here, neither Radio 1 or 6 music play any experimental music or have done for a while. It was the only show I listened to Radio 3 for, I remember when they devoted a whole show to Radiohead in their Kid A / Amnesiac period to talk about the construction of the songs on their album, P J Harvey agreed to be interviewed by them only because she felt they were the only people who would want to talk about how she put together her last album. They got me into the Third Eye Foundation, Wilco, the whole Godspeed collective and others that I'm blanking on now because I'm not sitting in front of my music collection.

This is a real shame and yet another example of the BBC moving away from trying to give a little sample of everything to blanket coverage of the banal. No Rock and Roll Fun quotes People Like Us giving the eulogy.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

What's more telling is how unpopular the war is in Britain, and how an entire generation of Brits have now grown up thinking of the United States as a bullying, torturing force for instability in the world.

When Andrew Sullivan is right, he's right. In my case, part of the disappointment and anger comes on behalf of a little five year old boy that thought brilliant was practically a synonym for the United States, that assumed that all the best telly, toys and music had to come from the States. When, around ten years later, he discovered exactly what that country was up to, along with the country he grew up in, he was so appalled and I don't think he ever recovered.

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Westwood Ho?

The New York Times wonders if the liberals are coming back. Is 'liberal' still used as a term of insult in the United States, or has it been replaced by 'Democrat'? I also question their claim that Senator McCain could be considered appealing to liberals.

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An exhaustive twenty seconds of looking at Google seems to suggest I'm not alone in my despisement (despisiminination?) of the Wrigley's Gum 'Mastication for the Nation' ads running on TV and in the cinema at the moment. A Rasta poet is performing his latest epic on tasteless chewing gum, someone gives him some Wrigley's and overcome with the flavour he abandons the gig, and spacetime, to float a boat down the Thames to announce the news to anyone in loudhailer range. As he's floating past the Houses of Parliament the ad comes to an end, presumably because as he's black and shouting the police assume he's a terrorist and blow the boat to pieces. It's impossible to point to one specific thing that sucks about this advert, it has an all-pervading whiff of evil about it, from the appalling gurning of the guy playing the poet to the annoying nudge-nudge of the slogan, "'Mastication' ay? Do you like to 'masticate' squire? I bet you do, I bet you do!"

If, for some reason, you wish to learn more, the official website is, unsurprisingly, at What's extra-specially annoying is that here's another ad campaign that's co-opted the vocabulary of 'revolution' to flog us goods.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Apologies to anyone who hasn't seen the mid-season three episode of Stargate: Atlantis that was shown on Sky One this evening but:

Oh my God, they killed Carson! You bastards!

I've just finished rereading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley for a reading group at work. I first read it around fourteen years ago whilst on a family holiday in Norway. I thought I remembered enjoying it, which would give a clue as to what a maudlin little goth I was back then as I now think it's the most badly-plotted piece of Romantic Luddite nonsense. Two hundred years ago it had an advantage that stories about the dangers of science weren't yet a genre in their own right and the birth of Michael Crichton was a good century and a half away, but now it's central message that the pursuit of knowledge is bad and any attempt to improve the lives of men is wrong, for a book subtitled The Modern Prometheus Shelley seems to prefer to concentrate on the character's punishment for stealing something that is the domain of the Gods and ignoring the positive effects it had for mankind.

And talk about a whiner! Frankenstein spends most of the book either passively bemoaning his wretched life or swooning when his monstrous creation has dispatched another of his hapless relations. As good little atheists the Shelleys would have had little truck with original sin, hence the monster learning to be monstrous only after severe mistreatment at the fists of humanity, but the fact that he is apparently so ugly that everyone who sees him automatically attacks him points to a rather unpleasant beauty fascism that dooms the creation as much as the lack of forethought on the part of his creator.

I've now just started on My Husband Betty by Helen Boyd. After purchasing it and reading the introduction I find out it's actually intended for the partners of trannies so I don't actually have anyone to pass it on to, but never mind, I'll persevere.

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Hot Fuzz is chuffing excellent . I went and saw it this afternoon and I've still got a silly grin on my face. It takes the buddy-cop movie and twists it around nicely to fit into a parochial village setting, as supercop Nick Angel is sent to a small village just before a series of murders occur. It improves on the mighty Shaun of the Dead as it's less Spaced with zombies and tries to spread it's wings a bit further. Simon Pegg is great as Angel and Nick Frost shows excellent comic timing as his sweet bumbling sidekick PC Butterman, while the great and good of British cinema (Timothy Dalton, Billie Whitelaw, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy) play a variety of small village characters. It has loads of little jokes and sight gags, before the inevitable "fuck yeah!" high-octane climax. Like Shaun of the Dead it's a humorous film that's not directly parodying it's genre but playing it relatively straight.

The only unfortunate thing about going to see the film was that first I had to sit through an advert for Norbit which, if there is any justice in the world, will continue the long line of stinkers that Eddie Murphy has spent the last decade or so producing. He plays both a nerdy black man and his fiance and all of the comedy in the film looks like it's going to come from the fact that she's a sexually assertive woman who is also fat. < gasp! > Norbet has to work out how to get rid of the monster so to be with the thin and beautiful woman instead. You have to wonder why, when obesity levels in the US and UK are rising, these fat-phobic films get made, and what appear to be openly misogynistic ones too. Obviously the film makers are disconnected from reality but where do the viewers come from, people in denial, or is it a nation of fatties able to completely disconnect what is said on screen from what it says about them?

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ahhh! My eyes!

Artist Paolo Schmidlin has made a sculpture depicting a naked Queen Elizabeth II being groped. That is so very Not Safe For Work. I'm surprised that the Sun and Daily Mail haven't picked up on this yet (I can see the Sun headline now, "We fought them in 1588, we can beat them again!").

There's more of Schmidlin's sculptures here. Again, NSFW.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bizarre. Ever since I upgraded from Blogger to Blogger On Crack! or whatever this new thing is supposed to be, YouTube refuses to post to it. Even though I've checked and the settings in YouTube are correct. I can only assume that it's some Google/YouTube turf-war as I've completely lost track of which company owns which these days. So, let's see if this works:

Hopefully you'll be seeing a couple of minutes from the Fox News attempt to do The Daily Show . I wonder what would happen if they tried to do a take off of The Colbert Report ?

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The Government will set up ID Card interview centres where everyone will have to visit to set up their ID Cards. And whereas passports are 'voluntary', in the sense you don't have to leave the country so therefore could be said to be choosing to stand outside an office all day to get your passport sorted, ID Cards will be mandatory. For a pointless and fairly unpopular 'security' measure the Government aren't making much of an effort to win hearts and minds over this, I wouldn't be surprised if they announce that everyone has to sign up for ID Cards at Christmas and at the centre closest to where they were born.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Just a note to people on the London Underground: You know those posters advertising Heroes ? Where it says It's this years Lost? Don't worry, it's not. It's so much better .

The View From Primrose Hill

View From Primrose Hill
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.
Tired but happy after an afternoon walking round Regent's Park. And after several weeks of gloomy weather it was nice to see a little sun and a mild almost-Spring day.

I had intended to go over to East London to look at that LGBT exhibition I linked to a fortnight ago but most of the DLR is down for maintenance this weekend and I didn't care deeply enough to risk the replacement bus service. So I did the Regents Park walk from the London Walks podcast. I'd forgotten how steep the walk up to the top of Primrose Hill actually is, or maybe I'm just in bad shape, though I made it one go and got the blood circulating a bit.

I've only been to Regent's Park once or twice in the almost ten years I've lived in London, maybe because if you're not going to the zoo there isn't actually much to do there, but it is a lovely park. Still, it's only today that I learnt the Regent in question was George, not Albert.

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I've been listening to Radio 4's Archive Hour on gay and lesbian radio. No surprises that the 'B' word isn't ever mentioned. But in it's coverage of BBC queer programming amidst the work by other radio stations it does bring back memories, most strongly of 'Out This Week', a sometimes rather po-faced half-hour news and current-affairs programme on Radio 5 that I came across while coming out in the mid-nineties. It apparently ran for five years and I probably listened to it for about the last three. By the time they had finished they'd already been transferred to a late slot on Sunday evenings and the BBC announced it was cancelling the show because 'gay issues were now mainstream' so we didn't need our little show any more. And ten years on you realise what bollocks that was. True, back then I couldn't believe they bring back Doctor Who let alone have him snog a dashing fifty-first century guy, that openly queer people wouldn't get typecast as 'the gay' on TV and in films. But it's still a hetero, hetero, hetero world out there and all the gay marriages in Ambridge are going to change that. The fact that an hour long programme can cover the last ten years of queer radio in the last five minutes of the show would suggest a marginalisation of the LGB voice on radio, not that it's conquered the mainstream. So, when do we get rid of Women's Hour , on the grounds that surely women's issues are mainstream? When do we get rid of all the Radio 4 shows about books and reading as that has been proved to be a fairly mainstream activity? When do we get rid of Quote, Unquote , because it's shit?

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Terror! Terror! Terrified yet?

The news media are finally reporting on a BNP man who stockpiled explosives in his house and fantasised about killing Tony Blair and John Prescott. Hey, we can relate... However, this has been 'news' for several months, as this man was arrested last autumn but, other than a regional newspaper's report which then got distributed liberally amongst British bloggers, there has been something of a self-imposed media blackout over this story. When the BBC were asked why they weren't reporting on what was a bona case of British men who were apparently prepared to take part in acts of terrorism they replied they didn't want to prejudice any future court case.

I'm sure Mohammed Abdulkahar and Abul Koyair could relate. They were, after all, two Muslim men arrested in a highly publicised raid by the police on a house in Forest Gate that they thought was the nerve centre of possible terrorist activity. The media devoted considerable time to this over the next few days, until the police quietly admitted that it was all a mistake and let the two men go. By this time their names and photos had been liberally printed and shown on screen, while Robert Cottage and David Jackson, the BNP men, were ignored.

Detective Superintendent Mick Gradwell holds up photographs of David Jackson and Robert Cottage

Anyway, the two men complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the people that decided the police were justified in shooting Jean Charles de Menezes in the head. Luckily the IPCC had stocked up on whitewash in preparation and announced that the police were fully justified in doing whatever they want because they're the police. They threw the two men two small bones, upholding piddling complaints about their food and pain killers (due to the fact the police shot one of them in the arm) and suggesting the police should consider apologising. Apparently the police training manual doesn't cover being magnanimous in victory, as according to the Daily Mail, the police are refusing to apologise to the two men. The police are claiming they've apologised three times already but none of their apologies are to the two men for arresting them as terrorism suspects and allowing their pictures to be circulated to the media.

Robert who? David what?

The Sun are reporting on the BNP plotters story but notably describes neither of these men as terrorists or would-be terrorists. Unlike some of their other news stories they aren't offering readers the chance to discuss the story either. The t-word does get used, though only once, in their report on the IPCC story, which shows how half-hearted their momentary concern about racism actually was.

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We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Bestow upon Humphrey Lyttelton an honour for the contribution he has made to British entertainment.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to call for the cancellation of the London Olympics.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The politics of Twenty-Four . It interests me that even the military have approached the producers and asked them to tone the torture down. And the producer of this show is the guy trying to get the Conservative Daily Show off the ground. [via Fridgemagnet]

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Thank you to Comic Book Queers for introducing me to a new concept: Growing the Beard, the point when a TV show takes a sudden upswing in quality, named for the second season of Star Trek TNG where the stories got better and Jonathan Frakes had grown the face fur. It's the opposite of 'Jumping the Shark' basically.


Spymum has asked me to fisk this article from Nirpal Dhaliwal in last months Sunday Times where he moans bitterly about yummy mummys. I can't really in all good conscience do so, partly because I agree with some of his points, those ones about the overpopulation of the planet and it's resources, not those ones where he shares his sexism and misogyny towards women.

I did notice however that he has a resolve to abstain from parenthood and considers mothers to be idle heifers [with] their conceited, boring lives. Which makes it odd that Liz Jones reported in the Mail on Sunday on the 5th of November last year that he even said he was ready to have a baby with me (I've got a feeling there was another article about this but I can't put my hand on it right now). Of course, there are any number of explanations, he's lying now, she was lying then, Nirpal made the offer because he knew the neurotic and anorexic Jones couldn't bear to bear children, he's quiet happy to have kids if it means he can moan about his wife the mummy in the same way he snarks at those involved in fashion such as his wife.

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"The cost of the 2012 Olympics? Why are you looking at me as though you expect me to know the answer? Or even care?" Lord 'Seb' Coe appears to have invested in some fiddles which he intends to play while the meter ticks.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

I did use to think that I was fated only to start watching from episode one shows that never made it out of their first season, Babylon 5: Crusade, Jeremiah (actually, I think this did make it to season two but it was never shown in the UK), Earth: Final Conflict (again, never shown after season one over here but I understand that was no loss), Firefly...

Now instead it seems that fate has cast me in the role of being excited about series that turn out to be utter crap, see Torchwood and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Seeing the amount of talent involved there is absolutely no reason why this show sucks as badly as it does, unless it's a deliebrate act on the part of all involved. At it's core it's the story of two rather unpleasant men (Brad Whitford and Matthew Perry) who are both obsessed by two women (Amanda Peet and Sarah Paulson) they work with and go to various lengths to fuck them around for not going out with them. Rather than reach for the restraining orders and thereby cause the show to finish about five episodes in the two women either fall for them or tell them repeatedly to back off. In the case of the Matt Albie (Perry)- Harriet Hayes (Paulson) relationship, this involves Perry presumably saying all the things that writer Aaron Sorkin said or wish he said, when he found out that his then girlfriend was a Christian, like Hayes. Meanwhile Danny Tripp (Whitford), on being rebuffed by Jordan McDeere (Peet), flips straight into scary mode, bombarding her with phone calls, getting all his showbiz mates to send her faxes telling her what a wonderful guy he is and then, when she tells him to his face that she isn't interested, that he's unprofessional and asks him to stop because he's freaking her out, he replies 'no' and walks away. Two weeks later and she appears to have fallen for his 'charm', though the show is on hiatus now, so who knows if it'll ever come back.

But this show had an electrifying season premiere after which it seemed to completely loose the plot. Part of the problem is that the large cast have been split into groups, you have the writers, who get to have some interaction with the cast. There's the directors, who have some interaction with the cast and the management, and then there's the management, who have some interaction with the directors. The West Wing had a smaller unit of speaking cast who could mostly all talk to one another, here they are all spread out. In The West Wing, personal relationships were played out against the gallery of larger national or international events, in Studio 60 they are not really played out against the gallery of making the show, but when they are, that works. The last episode I watched or intended to watch was the first part of a two parter in which the crew all go to a gala dinner in honour of Hayes. A cast member, Tom Jeter (Nathan Corddry), was intending to go with scriptwriter Lucy (Lucy Davis) who he wants to date, but is forced by internal politics to take the daughter of a media mogul the network is trying to schmooze. Does he tell Lucy the truth. No, of course not, he lies, she turns up at the dinner, sees him there with the other woman and goes off in a huff. Similarly Danny takes Jordan up to the roof of the studio for a quiet chat and, wouldn't you know it, the door locks behind them and they are stuck up there, the roof being the one place in the city where their mobile phones can't get coverage. It's a painful and unfunny farce.

What I didn't think was going to be any good at the start of the season was Heroes. But despite a ropey pilot this has actually turned out to be a good show. Featuring a large ensemble cast, a la Lost, Heroes is the story of about a dozen, to date, men and women, who have a variety of super-powers, a cheerleader can regenerate from an injury, a would-be politician can fly, a Japanese man can teleport in space and time. They largely follow their own plot-lines, occasionally bumping into one another. Because of the large cast it takes a few episodes to really get going but is quite fun, especially time-traveling cutey Hiro Nakamura. Well worth a watch.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

If you've not visited the Cave Story website and downloaded the game yet then do so now and we shall talk of my reward for directing you there later. A kidney perhaps. You can never go wrong with kidneys.

Ignore all the guff about translating, the Cave Story Deluxe Package will put it all in English for you.

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Peter Hain suggests that city fat-cats should have two-thirds of their bonuses taken away and given to 'the poor'. Of course, Mr Hain would like to be Deputy leader of the Labour Party, for which he needs a majority of the votes of the Party, so blatant gallery plays like this should be expected. Should he be successful then expect this plan to either 'go in to committee for a feasibility study' or for Hain to have some unusually specific amnesia. The prudent ex-chancellor would be unlikely to have any truck with a plan to annoy big business when there's a resurgent Tory party sniffing around.

David Cameron admits to smoking dope, precisely at the point where no-one would really care any more. Yet another news story that gets his face in the papers without any of that tedious discussion of actual Conservative policies that so turn people off these days. However, no-one really knows who the Tory front bench are beyond Cameron, Osborne, Davis and Hague if they're lucky, so before they can talk credibly about policy they've got to make sure people are aware they exist. So, no-one knows who Peter Ainsworth is. I had to look at the page twice while typing his name he was so forgettable. So he should apply for Big Brother in the summer. He doesn't get to go in the celeb version because he quite patently isn't. As long as he sticks it out until the first week of voting then people might actually pay attention when he talks about climate change. Chris Grayling could have a sex change. It'll get the Tories into the women's mags area who must have run out of stories on Cameron and his wife's bravery in bringing up their disabled tot, but it'll also play well with the octogenarian Tory supporters because they'll think Maggie Thatcher is back. Then when Ms. Grayling brings up transport issues, the media will take heed. And perhaps Philip Hammond MP should pretend he's TV's Doctor Phil Hammond for a bit. Dr Phil is nicer, more trusted and more deliberately funny than the Tories so not-Dr Phil will have a hard time pulling it off but when it all crashes down they could make a film about it which would give them crucial silver screen exposure. If Tory Central Office are interested, my consultation rates are very reasonable and I'd only want a teeny-tiny honour for my trouble.

News of the World have shocking proof of a paedophile smiling. The NotW are 'outraged' that he's not being worked to death, after all, what's the point of him being imprisoned in a country with a crap human rights record if he's not tortured and beaten to death by prison guards? Write to your MP now!

Meanwhile the Sunday Mirror decide the most important news is that of the Nation's sweetheart (this week)'s ex-boyfriend. It seems that when someone called Olivier Martinez dumped Kylie Minogue he didn't have the decency to drop dead on the spot but go out with another woman. Tcch! The French eh? We should invade them again to wipe out this affront to the titchy songstresses honour. Once more unto the breach dear friends!

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Oh for cock's sake! Cambridge uni student forced into hiding for republishing one of the 'Motoons'. It has to be pointed out that the cartoons aren't very funny in themselves and anyone that claims that this student didn't expect a reaction from bringing this up again is lying. At the moment local opinion seems to be of the moderate 'let's have an apology and leave it at that' but as Mo himself says, "Islam is a race, a race to see who can get the most outraged the fastest".

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Oh fan-fucking -tastic, Blogogle are forcing me to 'upgrade'. Oh well, if this doesn't work, I enjoyed blogging for several years, think well of me...

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A house full of beautiful women.

Go here, scroll down to the bottom then watch the video for Make a Move by Hanifah Walidah.

There's an interview with her here.

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Michael Portillo Ain't No Hollaback Girl.

The Flickr First Goatse Group. A Flickr community for photo's taken of your friends and colleagues when you show them Goatse for the first time. (Both links Safe For Work). [via BoingBoing]

The Flickr Vanishing Beauty Group. A group for old, beautifully made things that are now falling apart or disappearing from the world.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Ian Richardson has died. Bum-clamps. I saw him on stage last Autumn in The Alchemist as Sir Epicure Mammon. His delivery of Mammon's lengthy flight of fantasy about what he would do when he'd used the Alchemist's Stone to make himself immeasurably wealthy and immortal was a joy.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

I really don't like snow and ice that much. I tend to like water in it's varied forms (hey, it's certainly the cutest sixty percent of my body mass) but I'm not too keen on it when it's solid because if there's one thing I like more than water it's notfreezingmyfuckingarseoff and the presence of snow tends to point towards the buttock-clenchingly chilly. After that "Squeeeeee! Snow!" moment you get on waking in the morning and looking out the window it's a vale of fucking tears my friend and let no-one tell you any different.

It's partly the fact that the United Kingdom is so shit at dealing with snow. All essential services grind to a halt as though the white stuff were some foreign concept. "'Snow' you say? Never heard of it. Sounds like some beastly trick of the European Union to make us abandon the pound. God save the Queen!" In fact, Londoner's learnt to live with the Blitz and Irish bombs so you would have thought we could have learnt to adapt to the snow. But no, first the train network breaks down because, being only a mere century or so old, they haven't had the time yet to R&D something to deal with the problem of snow on the line.

Roads generally don't have the same problems they did in the past. These days metropolitan areas have snow ploughs and gritters. In villages like the one where my parents live and I grew up (it's a fairly suburban village, it is surrounded by farms but the farmers are related only by marriage, not by birth as well) you are taking more chances when you go out driving. For many years we did have a big yellow bin at our end of the village on which was written 'SALT' but then we also had teenagers, so now when we have snow it's like Winter in Narnia. We did have Anne Widdicombe as our local MP but she never rode around on a sleigh or offered kids sweets.

Then there is the ritual of listening to local radio in the hopes it will be announced that your school was shut. This rarely happened to me as most of my schools were on main roads and I suspect the snow ploughs and gritters were in the pay of the headmaster. So instead we had the ritual of the mass snowball fights on the school fields. First break was always the best time as we ran out in to that snow that was as pure and virginal as the first form boys who would soon be covered in most of it. Mine was a school of traditions: prefects, the Combined Cadet Force and PE Teachers with drink problems and the belief that kids were given to them to help ease the frustrations of their unhappy marriages (Hel-lo Mr Diamond if you're out there!) and the tradition of the snow was that on the field race didn't matter, religion was unimportant, your father's conviction for embezzlement was forgotten, you were a band of brothers (I went to a single sex school, does it show?) with everyone in your year and your aim was simple: To find how fast snow had to travel to pierce the skin of someone younger than you. Once that was ascertained the next ritual was to sit shivering through lessons for the rest of the day because your clothes were all wetter than if they'd been put in the washing machine. You know that film Final Destination where the kids don't die in the plane crash and Death comes after them because he's pissed off with being cheated? We had buses with bad breaks and hills that tended not to be gritted. I cheated Death enough times going to school that I got invited to his sister's wedding and met his parents.

When you go out to work it's still the same. Will your business open and, if it does, will you get to go home early? For some reason, probably related to the way they automatically close for Christmas fortnight, most council departments decide not to bother opening when the white stuff is one the ground but libraries are expected to keep going regardless, as though people think they half-remember some old report about how the reading brain generates enough power to heat a small flat. We were due to stay open until 8:00 pm and had to wait until after lunch for the important decision from the management about whether we would shut and go home early. And it's one of those classic double binds, on the one hand we might get to finish early and go home, but on the other hand the library is better heated than my flat. Seeing as the management will go home early anyway it's never easy to guess how much they will care about the plight of their staff but in this case they let us close early. So I came home and had a warm bath.

I've wandered away from my point, whatever it was. Something to do with the sucking of snow and ice. But really, snow isn't that bad I suppose, it's when it melts and refreezes, that's the unpleasant time. I'm not looking forward to tomorrow, when the one mile gentle slope between my house and my place of work is transformed into a fiendish death-trap. I tend to end up having to take my chances walking in the road rather than on the sheet-ice pavements. Never mind these shoes for kids with wheels in the heels so as to allow the child to bend backwards, fall over and hilariously crack their skull on something sharp, the person who invents a successful shoe with a furnace underneath to allow us to burn holes in ice and so be guaranteed firm footing in snow will make a fortune.

Roll on the summer, I've already prepared my essay complaining about excessive heat and how ice cubes melt so quickly.

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Noooooooo! Keep snowing or we won't get to go home from work early!

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Hmmm, it's snowing a fair bit here. If we're lucky we may get the evening off work. It's nice to work in freshly fallen snow. It's less nice when it's started to melt and refrozen as ice...

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fingers are being pointed at 'militant motorists' after a series of parcel-bombs have been sent to various car related places over the last few days. Why them and not gung-ho greens I don't know. John Reid has urged calm and for people not to take part in ill-conceived speculation, presumably because the terrorists in this case aren't thought to be Muslim, in which case it would have been okay.

I presume the police will be scouring the newspaper columns, books and TV appearances of Jeremy Clarkson to see if he's been urging his followers to jihad against the infidels that say that driving at over a hundred miles an hour on the motorway and contributing to the destruction of the environment are not noble past-times.

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Tony Blair continues to insist that the US-UK 'special relationship' exists and is a two-way street. No-one is found to agree with him. Until this year the special relationship has always been that we are nice to the Americans because we owe them money for helping our economy survive after the Second World War. We've always had to act nice in case they call in the remaining money of the loans in one go. If you think you have a special relationship with the bank manager, just try defaulting on paying him and see how far it goes.

But now that's done with. If Blair had any sense he'd make an announcement on how we've finished paying back the money so now more money can be spent on hospitals, schools, ASBOs, muzzles for dangerous children. They don't seem to want that though. So where is the money going? The lawyers fees for the Cash for Peerages row?

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pornsaints. Sanctity through pornography. (NSFW) [via Sexblogs]

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This looks interesting...

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Prominent single man describes marriage as a boon to society, though only if it's between a man and a woman of course, because any other combination would be yucky . Oh dear. I do actually have some time for Rowan Williams, when I heard him in conversation with John Humphrey's he did an admirable, if not entirely successful, defence of why bad things happen in the Christian God's universe (if only Humphrey's would shut up a bit more, as his interruptions allowed Williams to avoid answering some difficult questions fully).

Tories warn any companies still interested in being involved in the Government's ridiculous ID Card scheme that they'll scrap it if they get in at the next election. More a statement of their exiting policy than anything new, I think it worth pointing out as a rare example of a Conservative party having a conservative policy. It does unfortunately allow John Reid the chance to talk about something other than the Government's ridiculous plan to lock everyone up and sort out the mess later:

"The Tories' ill-considered opposition highlights their lack of leadership on security issues - they can't be trusted with Britain's safety. David Davis has shown that he and David Cameron talk tough while acting soft. They are more interested in political point-scoring than backing Labour's tough and necessary measures to keep the country safe."

Yes, yes, we've heard it all before and it was bollocks the first time. The Tories have the same problem as Labour, in that they seem to think the danger to this country is from outsiders attacking inwards and ignoring the evidence of most terrorism in the last decade, but as Labour's stated reasons for why the ID Card will be great don't stand up to the mildest scrutiny it's ridiculous to claim that Labour's ineffective policies are better than the Tories for keeping people safe from a mostly illusory danger.

And I saw that Hazel Blears on Saturday. She was standing outside the TUC Congress. I almost wanted to ask her to move on the grounds of 'loitering around the TUC might give people the false idea that New Labour give a shit about the opinions of people in trade unions'. I didn't of course, I just walked past and wished I had some condoms filled with purple powder and a good throwing arm...

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Linky Sperlinky

God Hates Goths.

Nasa say: "Hyperion is a weird place" and "The Sun is feeling a little depressed".

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Terror! Terror! TERROR!

Hoax Devices. [via Violet Blue]

Terrified by this, I head over to MI-5's webpage to find out what the situation is in this country. On the front page they say it's severe, when I try clicking for more information I get this. So it's a general, non-specific severe danger then. Better demand the Government take away more of my rights then. That should sort things out.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to scrap plans to allow the banks to share bank account details with others, without getting permission from individual account holders first.

The Government proposes to allow the banks to share details of 33 million bank accounts with others, without the need for the banks to get the permission of individual account holders first. We believe this to be fundamentally wrong, and breaches the privacy of consumers. It goes against the common law principles of banking confidentiality, data protection laws, and article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

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Nirpal Dhaliwal - Watch Part Ten.

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine.

Sometimes the differing lead times for articles makes you wonder about in which order they were written. In The Mail on Sunday Liz Jones writes about how she's in New York and prepared to confront the latest woman Nirpal has been seeing behind her back. She has a long speech listing Nirp's various deficiencies as a husband and partner:

Then, of course, I might be tempted to tell her that she is welcome to him. That I hope she is looking forward to, ooh, five or six years of supporting him while he writes his second novel. And not to expect him to pay any bills, or buy anything useful, like a bath towel, although he might lose your best ones when he decides to take up swimming. Do not ever expect him to take the rubbish out, or to make you coffee in the morning, or to talk to you while you drink it. I so hope, Daphne, you are looking forward to him overheating your sitting room for his yoga sessions (he did, in order to perform headstands in tropical heat, finally, after six years, learn how to operate the central heating system), during which time you will not be allowed to speak to him, or call goodbye as you leave for your 14-hour day in an office. Oh, and Daphne, you will have to say goodbye to ever reading again in bed (he has to be up early for yoga).

And don't expect any sex, ever. Or support, should you ever be sacked from your job as a travel agent. (When I was ousted as editor of Marie Claire, a job I had worked 20 years to get, my future husband said, 'You were always moaning about it anyway,' and I spent my redundancy money not on paying off my mortgage but supporting him.) Oh, and if you have major gynaecological surgery, expect him to shout at you down the phone while you come round from the anaesthetic, and be late to pick you up.

Don't expect any flowers.

Only to find that Daphne isn't in the office. So it's time to fly home. She texts him on the way to the airport.

'I have had enough. I tell you I am unhappy and you say nothing. You are stony, impenetrable, like a wall. I want you to move out.' As I am boarding my plane, he still hasn't called me back.

So this was published on The Sunday, about events that presumably happened in the last week or maybe fortnight.

The previous Wednesday, the 10th, Nirpal writes this for the Standard.

Had a charisma bypass? Then you must be a fashionista.

FASHION is rubbish. Watch Ugly Betty and you' l l realise that fashion is so rubbish, that even programmes that lampoon the fashion industry can be nothing but rubbish. Fashion is the most mainstream preoccupation on earth, and no one is more middle-of-the-road and less original than those who give a toss about it.

The most amusing thing about London is observing the carnival of fashion-addicted clowns who abound in the capital. Neurotic and pretentious berks from across the country - indeed the world - make their way here, hoping they'll finally live the stupid glossy-mag dream they've always hankered for. Every type of narcissistic sap is here, from haughty Hoxton hussies in their trashy Eighties retro outfits to effete snake-hipped fops who'll starve themselves to fit into a suit by Richard James.

Despite their desperation to seem otherwise, the fashion- conscious are conspicuously lame. They are the antithesis of cool. Coolness is about nonchalance and indifference to what people think of you. But this is the exact opposite of how the fashionistas live, being obsessed with their appearance and what people think of them.

Hang out with the fashion-conscious and you realise they think they're being watched and appraised all the time. Talk to one at a party and you'll see their eyes flit across the room comparing their look to everyone else's, trying to see if there's anyone hipper they should be speaking to. They consider themselves to be highly refined aesthetes, but are, in fact, just self-regarding aesholes.

For many people, trendiness has come to replace sexiness as their most desired quality. Empty-eyed Kate Moss might be the most styled woman in Britain, but she's nowhere near the sexiest. The vacant, near-dead look in her face suggests she's the most boring lay on earth. Give me a Plain Jane with a twinkle in her eye any day. But most women would rather look like her than cultivate the self- assured sauciness that really turns guys on.

Fashion has become a substitute for charisma, and its rise in popular culture has coincided with the death of cool. Blase icons of cool like Marlon Brando just don't exist any more. When a Brylcreemed, squeaky-voiced ditz like David Beckham is regarded as a role model, you know that society no longer has any idea of what to look up to.

It's cheesy and unmanly for a guy to be concerned with his looks. All the guff about "metrosexuality" was just a smokescreen for selfloathing straight-acting homos who wanted to keep their wives but enjoy their facials without being forced out of the closet.

Fashion is the pits. It's a tapestry of lies that's a camouflage for those who lack innate charm and personality. And it's time we all wised up to this.

Hah hah! Which came first?

Other than Big Brother and the death of his gran Nirpal has had a quiet January. Liz has spent the rest of her time writing about fashion so we'll have to wait and see whether she stuck to her guns when she returned to London or whether Nirpal managed to play on her pathological fear of ageing and being alone to keep his feet under the table.

This is fun. I'd feel some guilt about reading these articles if someone was ever able to convince me that Liz and Nirps were real people.

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Talking Points Memo seem inclined to believe that Bush is going to Wag The Dog -esque lengths to improve his standing at home by opening a third front in The War Against Terror and is ready to invade Iran. If the United States government won't support an unpopular war that Bush hastily reported as over a few years ago, will they rush back to support him in another war that has the advantage of being new? After fucking it up the first two times I suppose Shrubya is desperately hoping the third time is the charm.


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Thursday, February 01, 2007

The BBC are trailing a new TV series, The Verdict, in which it seems a jury made of Z-level celebs are presented with a case and have to decide whether the person is guilty or innocent. One of those celebrities is Jeffrey Archer. I suppose he'll be able to give some insight into what goes through someone's mind when they lie in the dock...

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