Tuesday, May 31, 2005


'Changes, Times Making Changes In My Life. Rearranging, Always Changing, Can't Seem To Stop The Hands Of Time'*

So I moved back to my hometown for a few days, and one of my objectives was to get a haircut. Surprise! My local barbers, the only good one that I've ever been in, has shut. What to do? Barbers are so rare these days, these dark, dark days, and most of the ones left aren't very good. I thought about going to a hairdressers, but it seems a bit much when I just want my head shaved. A quick question, then - does anyone know a decent barbers in either the Midlands or Manchester?

A dying symbol.

*Tesla, 'Changes.'

Monday, May 30, 2005


Pulling For Preston

Playoff final featuring Preston and West Ham? Come on, you know what to do.


Come on, PNE!




Portraits Of War

There's been a bit of discussion recently about Channel 4's 'Top 100 War Films.' I just wanted to add my two cents' worth on some of the films commented upon:

1) Some of the films are really, really bad. How did 'Braveheart' get as high as it did? It's a genuinely rubbish film.
2) 'The Bridge On The River Kwai' is a superb film, one of my all-time favourites, and I can't begin to understand people's negativity towards it. It's a better film than almost all of those that cam above it, including:
3) 'Saving Private Ryan.' I watched the programme with one of my best mates, and we'd agreed all the way through that 'Apocalypse Now' was sure to win (and I was fine with this), but at about five in the countdown, he said "'Saving Private Ryan' will win." And bugger me, he was right. This is another film, the appeal of which is completely beyond me. The beach landing is, I will readily admit, magnificent, and a superbly written and directed piece of cinema. If only the rest of the film had been anywhere near as good. As it is, it's overwritten, implausible and mawkish.
4) Finally, 'The Deer Hunter.' Channel 4 put this on after the end of the programme, and since it had featured highly in the chart, and neither of us had seen it before, we decided to watch it. My God, what a bore! It's a three hour film, and we gave up after the first hour. I'm sure something eventually happens, but I was getting comatose. The interminable wedding scene in that film might be one of my least favourite scenes ever filmed. It's not awful or anything, and I've seen many, many worse. However, they're all over oh so much quicker. Brevity is a virtue.

Anyway, leave us a comment naming your favourite war film, if you have one.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


House Of Freaks

Well, congratulations to Channel Four for their selections for the new series of 'Big Brother.' It must have taken them quite a time to find that many weirdos. They're all loathsome. Let's take a look:

1) Anthony - can't wash, clean cook or take care of himself, and his favourite book is Roy Keane's biography.

2) Craig - I really hope for his sake I never meet this man, because I simply will kill him. I'd say that I'd nail him to the floor and piss on him, but I don't want it to be that pleasant. He believes in Egyptian Gods, and has never read a book. Fucking hell.

3) Derek - mentioned in John Major's autobiography. Need I say more?

4) Lesley - her favourite film is 'Ghost.' I'm standing on the window ledge, looking down.

5) Kemal - don't you just hate it when they pick stereotypes? And if a male, cross-dressing Islamic bellydancer isn't an obvious stereotype, then what is?

6) Makosi - she's a Christian who believes she was an elephant in a previous life. Seriously.

7) Mary - a white witch. Need I say more?

8) Maxwell - 'he has no time for any political opinions or vegetarians.' Sound fellow. The only one I like.

9) Roberto - favourite film? 'Cinema Paradiso.' Says it all really.

10) Sam - 'she once stripped naked on a podium on holiday in Tenerife.' 'She describes herself as "original, funny and fun."' Nothing says original like getting your tits out when drunk, does it? And I'm sure her parents must have been delighted to find out about her upstairs enhancement on live TV. Very classy.

11) Saskia - seems normal, if rotten, enough, but decided to go on an anti-immigrant rant during her acceptance video. Clearly a piece of shit then.

12) Science - the name says all you need to know, which is 'twat.'

13) Vanessa - the words 'pig ugly', spring, unbidden, to my mind. Boring.

So there you go. If you put them in a circus, the cash would come rolling in. Still, the real achievement of 'Big Brother' is to take ever-increasingly obnoxious and difficult people inside, still produce a show most notable for its endless tedium, and yet get the tabloid press to take an unending interest. I already wish it was over.

Friday, May 27, 2005


That Skeleton In Your Closet

As this article makes clear, we all have a film in our collection that we're really, really ashamed of liking.

The list in question contains film reviewers 'guilty pleasures', and they site 'There's Something About Mary' as one example.

My own is also from the Farrelly brothers, being as it is 'Me, Myself & Irene.' It is so, so sooooooo stupid, yet I love every single minute of it, from the daftness and crassness of the humour to the really wonderful soundtrack it has.

So, readers! What are your skeletons in the video drawer?


One In, One Out

Two pieces of interesting transfer news from the world of sport:

1) Jerry Rice has switched from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos (boo, hiss), after signing a one year contract. This will be the 42 year old wide receiver's fourth team, after the 49ers, the Raiders and the Seahawks. My question is this: at what age will Rice finally decide he has had enough? The man seems to be able to go on for ever. It's hard to see him getting too much action though, as aside from starting receivers Ashley Lelie and the magnificent veteran Rod Smith, they also have a very handy youngster in Darius Watts. Still, best wishes, even though he has joined one of the franchises I like least.

2) Over on this side of the canal, Roy Carroll has been released by Man Utd. This caught me completely by surprise. With only Tim Howard left as a first team goalkeeper, they look really weak, and I don't know if Fergie has the ability to spot a goalkeeper as good as Schmeichel anymore. Let's hope not, anyway. The other departure of note is Daniel Nardiello, who has been let go on a free too. This is a little sad because a friend of mine knows his sister. He'd actually been playing very well on loan in the last couple of seasons.

I can't think of a caption funnier than the picture. For those who don't know, Carroll saved a shot from a Tottenham player this season despite it being way over the line. Neither the ref nor the linesman saw it. Tottenham lost a point because of the wrong decision - Carroll, meanwhile, pretended nothing had happened.


Is There Any Cause For Concern? A Film Review Of 'Bumfights'

The video, 'Bumfights: A Cause For Concern' has become almost legendary in recent years. In Britain it is distinguished by being banned by the BBFC (a full list of banned videos can be found here.)

The film, which is an hour long video of street brawls, humiliation and a small amount of very soft-core pornography, was submitted in 2002 and rejected shortly after with the following justification:

'Bumfights - Cause for Concern consists substantially of camcorder footage of homeless people ('bums') being abused, assaulted, and humiliated. These scenes are intercut with footage of street brawls and soft pornography.'

'Under the Video Recordings Act 1984 the Board must have special regard to any harm to those likely to view a video and to any harm to society through the behaviour of those viewers afterwards. The Act singles out particular elements as being potentially harmful including criminal behaviour and violent behaviour or incidents. The BBFC guidelines for '18' rated works state that the Board may "cut or reject... any detailed portrayal of violent or dangerous acts which is likely to promote the activity" (page 16). The Board's guidelines for violence also state as particular concerns "callousness towards victims, encouraging aggressive attitudes [and] taking pleasure in pain and humiliation" (page 9). In the Board's view, the video breaches these guidelines by exploiting the physical and other vulnerabilities of homeless people.'

'The Board considered the possibility of cuts. However, given the extent of the unacceptable material, cuts were not considered a viable option on this occasion.'

I mention this as an introduction because it's important to consider the highly controversial nature of the video before declaring judgement on it. It is one of those films that truly divides people into two camps - broadly, those who feel it is a legitimate piece of guerilla cinema that flags an important social issue, and those who feel it is the most base, sick and exploitative rubbish that could be made by middle class white kids with too much money and time on their hands.

So what, exactly, does the film consist of? Well, it mostly contains footage of street brawls, a few segments of 'comedy' from a character called 'The Bumhunter,' who is supposed to be a rip off of Steve Irwin, but in reality sounds nothing like him at all (it really is the worst Australian accent I've ever heard), a 'stunt bum' called Rufus who is paid to run headlong into hard objects, a couple of crackheads, and a few brief glimpses of Angela Taylor, who is announced as a supermodel, something I find hard to believe given that she's in this.

In almost all important respects, the film isn't really any good at all. As a piece of guerilla cinema making, which it pretends to be, even if it isn't, it falls completely flat, mostly because the 'Bumfights' of the title are so very obviously staged. In the most laughable of all - remember, we are supposed to believe these are real - a fight takes place in a back garden, that contains a swimming pool, in front of about fifty spectators, which is, I think, a sufficiently unlikely place for a spontaneous brawl between homeless people that we can say with certainty that it, and indeed all the other fights, were staged.

Clearly, all the fighters were paid money for their involvement. Some of the characters, most notably Rufus, really does look as if he may be homeless, and there is something really quite astonishingly horrible about seeing him run headlong into brick walls, or punching signs, or being thrown off a building in a shopping trolley, that I could muster some intense dislike for the creators of the film for that.

Mostly, though, the film wasn't so much hateful as pointless. Allegedly, 'Bumfights 2', which I haven't seen, provides the movement, who can be found here, with some kind of a manifesto for social change, but I reserve judgement until I've seen it. It does strike me, though, as a real possibility that the manifesto was concocted in response to the inevitably negative reactions of the media to the film. The real trouble is, however, that the film may or may not be morally reprehensible, depending upon your standpoint, but it certainly isn't really worth your time. The attempts at humour, in particular, are just not funny, as much because of abysmal acting ability as distasteful content.

The film works best when it tries to frighten and not amuse. One of the few memorable images in the film is of a hooded bloke destroying a shopfront with a baseball bat, as part of a montage of pretty mindless crime committed under the cover of darkness, presumably by the video's creators (at least, that assumption is never challenged.) If more of the film had been like that, it could at least have claimed legitimate 'guerilla' status, but in fact it ends up playing like the moneyspinner that it is.

One thing does need to be said, however - even if, quite reasonably, you hate the morality of the piece, it is surely inarguable that it must put most viewers off of ever trying crack cocaine, because the people shown who have indulged in the habit are, without doubt, the most orthodontically unhealthy people walking the Earth today. I was reaching for my toothbrush several times while watching.

In my final verdict, I would have to say that there is a certain amount of concern that can be raised about this film - if it is all designed for helping the homeless and raising awareness of their plight, does it need to take quite so much delight in humiliating the homeless people portrayed? Certainly, everything about the film, from its weak attempts at humour all the way to the distinctly pointless interruptions of Angela Taylor in her lingerie, which really isn't as sexy as you might think, causes the viewer to see the whole film as entertainment, and not issuetainment. I think on balance, however, that it shouldn't be banned, mostly because I find it hard to believe that many people are going to attempt any of the actions they see any more than they would do after seeing 'Jackass.'

Still, if you're really concerned about homelessness, give to Shelter.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Sour Grapes

Alright, alright, all-frigging right, congratulations Liverpool for your victory. Very well done. Okay, I've said it now.

I hope you never win it again.

Obviously, living as I do in a tenement in the north of England, this is pretty big news, so the floors are quaking with Scouse buffoons jumping up and down and shouting.

Isn't it a delicious irony, though, that they won't even be in the competition they've just won next season?

Artist Sally Minker forsees Steve's snack.


Attention, Timewasters!

A couple of tidbits from Abum to keep you occupied:

1) A free version of Prince Of Persia! If anyone can work out how to get past the spikes, please leave a comment. I used to know, but it's been so long.

2) Ever wondered what your desktop icons get up to when you're not around? Me neither. Now, though, you don't have to.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


A Few Changes 'Round Here

I've rung the changes, though not too many. A few new places are going in the links list:

1) Ofwatch - Watching Ofcom to make sure they don't get up to any funny business.
2) Mediawatch Watch - 'Watching them watching them.'
and finally:
3) Abum - Yet another place on t'Internet for timewasters to gather.

Finally, there's a new team member now, The Horse's Arse, who will be providing many a rumour. The accuracy of these seems likely to be dubious.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I Hate Fucking Blogger

I just spent the last three hours writing a mammoth review of the new 'Star Wars' film to mark my return, but Blogger has just deleted it. I am so fucking angry words can't do it justice. You'll just have to take my word that the film was pretty shit, but the review was fucking amazing. The best film review I've ever written. I'm not writing it all again, however, so just read this one instead.

Here are a few of the points I'd made:

1) Ewan McGregor tries hard to be the person Alec Guinness was to become, and nearly manages it. Kudos for that.

2) Has anyone else noticed that Nathalie Portman and Liv Tyler are morphing into one person?

3) Has anyone else noticed that Ewan McGregor and Sean Bean are morphing into one person?

4) The film has some of the worst dialogue ever written, including the worst film line ever, in my opinion, from Yoda: "Not if anything to say about it, I have." This line was so bad it gave me a headache.

5) The character of General Grievous was embarrasingly poor. Why did he wheeze asthmatically through the film?

6) The film is just way too cluttered. This was my main point, and dammit I made it well. You see, the thing is, Lucas fills his screens with CGI, and every shot is so busy that, given the size of the screen I saw it on, I literally couldn't take everything in. This is NOT a compliment. I prefer films with little or no CGI personally, because it forces the director to have focus to every shot of every scene, which Lucas doesn't come close to managing, however if you're going to have CGI, fine, but make it have a purpose. Why was the Battle Of Helm's Deep impressive? Because, despite the fact that there were a billion orcs moving around, Jackson kept all the scenes tightly focused and centered around characters we had already come to know, and thusfore cared about the fates of. Lucas should have taken note.

There was much, much more, including analysis of every scene, but since Blogger is the biggest pile of wank on the Internet, it's vanished into the ether forever. Thank you so much.

General Grievous was pissed that his service droid forgot to pack his inhaler.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Hiatus Announced

Sadly, I have some really serious work to do over the next few days, and so I shan't be blogging for a while. It may only take two or three days, or it may take a week. It should certainly take no more than that.

The blog will be back in service in no more than one week - please feel free to leave any comments that you like.

If anyone would like to post things here while I'm away, even if it is just linking to posts on your own blog, then I would be more than happy to let you do that. Please drop a comment on this post or email me.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Bad Taste Britain

There are two remarkable things about this story. The first is that British people pay £12.27 ($23 for American readers, $30 for Australian readers) for an average DVD. Where? Is this real? If so, I want in, please.

The other remarkable thing is how poor our taste is. The article contains a list of the ten DVDs Britons bought most of last year. Only three are even half-decent. A packet of gummy bears to the reader who gets it right first.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


A New Breed Of Tosser

I've known for ages that, if there is a God, he wants me to meet all the dickheads in the world. And, if there isn't one, man do I have bad luck.

I've just discovered a new type of person who infuraites me. I was watching the telly, and this bloke shortened the word 'video' to 'vid.' If anyone does that near me, I'll, I'll . . . I'll . . . . I'll . . . well, they'd better just watch out, that's what.

It could be inserted rectally, you know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Boo Bloody Hoo

So I was shopping in the supermarket this afternoon, and there was an enormous queue. I don't really mind this; there always is. The two women in front, however, were having what might have been the most boring conversation in Britain at that moment in time:

Woman 1: It's gonna be three degrees tonight.
Woman 2: Hmmm. Really?
1: Yep.
2: That's cold.
1: Yes.
2: How do you know?
1: It was on the telly
[Long pause]
2: What channel?
1: 1.
2. Oh.

This went on for about five minutes. Both women, bear in mind, were young and attractive, and looked like students. Yet they were talking about the fucking weather.

I consider myself British to my bootstraps, but if I live to be a thousand I won't understand my fellow countrymen's preoccupation with the weather. It's not like we have any, after all. The temperature varies at most between -5 and 30 degrees centigrade all year, and we have no real tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, flash floods or periods of permanent darkness, to name but some of the possible variations that almost never blight this most average of islands.

So do you reckon those ladies will survive tonight? I mean, with the temperature plunging to nearly freezing, I am oh so concerned. If the sheets come off, their toes might almost get chilly.

One thing I can get sad about, however, is the disappearance of weather symbols off the telly. That's right, those little cruddy plastic-looking suns have bitten the dust. As has Michael Fish, apparently. Oh well. I'll live.

In a typical broadcast, Fish falls asleep standing up.


Torturing Daleks

According to this story, the BBFC have given a 12 certificate to a video of the new series of 'Doctor Who', because one of the episodes contains a scene in which a Dalek is tortured. Shocking! The BBC originally wanted a PG certificate, pointing out that under-twelves are very likely to have already seen the episode when it was screened in its early evening time slot of seven PM, but according to a post here;

'. . . the Board said it sets a bad example to children because it suggests that using brute force and cruelty is the only way to resolve a problem.'

Far be it from me to agree with John Beyer, but he does have something of a point in a bit of his statement:

'This is a rather puzzling judgement by the BBFC because the programme has already been shown by the BBC at an early evening slot when many under-12s will have been watching. No doubt the whole series has been recorded by Dr Who fans and so any BBFC classification seems pointless however well meaning the Board’s judgement may be.'

It has to be said that this contains some common sense, but it's predictably ruined by the following sentence:

'It is a great pity that the Board does not apply the same rationale to other material, such as the ‘excessive cruelty’ in 'Natural Born Killers' or 'Reservoir Dogs.'

Give me a break.

However, this case has provided some excitement, meaning that not just the extremes at either side of the argument have been commenting, as this shows.

I have to say, while I agree with Gove's general point, I'm not sure about his rather hysterical tone. I don't, for one minute, believe that the censors 'are faceless dummies whose Achilles’ heel is an inability to hit the right target.' Gove's view seems to be that because the BBFC have given the video a 12 certificate, it shows how they feel British parents cannot bring up their own children.

I suppose you could view it that way. My own personal view is that, in this case, the rather rigid rules concerning 12 certification on video have surfaced yet again, just a few months after the 'I, Robot' business. I can fully appreciate that cinema classification and video classification are different arenas, but the issues of material being seen in the home patently unsuitable for children is an issue of the higher classifications, not the lower, and once those issues are taken out of the equation, you have to bear in mind the fact that images are more, not less, visceral on the big screen.

All of which makes it surprising, to say the least, that a couple of months after the BBFC made the courageous, and correct, decision to grant 'Hotel Rwanda' a 12A certificate, meaning smaller children could see it on the big screen, they have made this decision. This means that an eight year old child could have seen rather distressing images of genocide this year, and yet have to wait another four to see Doctor Who knock a Dalek around a bit. A little more flexibility on the video classification front, of the kind shown on the cinema classification front, at the 12 level, would have spared blushes all around.

Innocent victims.


A Quick Shout

I'd like to draw attention to the fact that, recently appeared online, is a rather excellent blog by some friends of mine called 'Chronicles Of Drunkenness.' I love the tagline - 'It's a shitty blog thing.' They're well worth checking out.


A Few Links

I'd like to divert anyone's attention to some of the best posts that have been happening online in recent weeks, just for the enjoyment of the reader:

1) This is hilarious.

2) As is this.

3) As is the story here.

Well worth a few minutes of anyones time.


Final Visit

Having wittered on at great length here in the past about Emir Kusturica, and 'Life Is A Miracle', I'd like to finish the topic with a link to a superb review of his career to date at the New York Times, done in light of his being made the chief judge at the Cannes Film Festival.

Monday, May 16, 2005


The Brand New Naughty Days

According to this article, 'Deep Throat' has been passed at R18 for cinema screenings.

It's only the second film to be awarded this certificate, after a couple of years ago Michel Reilhac's French historical compendium 'The Good Old Naughty Days.' It will be screened alongside a documentary called 'Inside Deep Throat.'

So is this a good thing or a bad thing in censorship terms?

Well, it's good that it has a certificate for cinema, but it recalls the old arguments about the R18 category. Essentially, it's a ghetto category. Films have to be shown in cinemas with special licenses, in front of members who registered more than twenty-four hours in advance. A fairly large number of councils simply won't grant the licences, and in those councils that do, it's often not worth the bother of getting them because there are no financial rewards in doing so. Next to nobody goes to the cinema for sex any more, mostly because of the technological and social advantages of the home video. It's this reason, after all, that the BBFC passed '9 Songs' uncut for cinema release.

The lack of importance of the decision, and the financial irrelevance of it, can be seen in the press reaction to the decision. That most vehement of right-wing tabloids, 'The Evening Standard', mustered a pathetic 65 words on the news, here. This from the paper that published an article by Alexander Walker claiming that the decision to pass Gaspar Noe's 'Irreversible' uncut was basically the end of society as we know it:

'The fabric of daily life is already in a tattered condition. You don't have to be a victim of muggers, rapists or impulse killers to feel that not much more can be supported without a complete collapse of public decency and the law's protection.'

You know a decision is practically irrelevant when it totally fails to arouse the interest of someone quite so excitable. Incidentally, the Walker article contains the stunning sentence, 'All liberties are conditional; all freedoms are contingent.' It's when you read something like that that it becomes easier to remember that the Standard was one of the more enthusiastic supporters of fascism amongst the British press.

So what should be done about R18? It's hard to say. On the one hand, it hardly seems likely that much hardcore could come on to the 18 certificate, even with the forthcoming precedent of '9 Songs.' On the other, the situation at the moment is useless, as British sellers of hardcore have to have a sex-shop licence, while British puchasers can get the same videos cheaper from abroad and ship them into the country knowing Customs won't bother. If I really wanted to see 'Deep Throat' or 'The Good Old Naughty Days', why would I bother going to a sex shop or cinema, and dealing with the stigma, when I can pay a foreign person who I'll never meet to send it to me? Clearly, the situation is one of those peculiar British compromises that really please nobody, but only time will tell how it will resolve itself.

'Deep Throat' will be on at The Duke Of York's Picture House in Brighton soon.


It's just occurred to me that 'The Good Old Naughty Days' might well be the single best name for a film ever. It's not even it's formal name, which is 'Polissons et Galipettes', which I believe means 'Bad Boys and Somersaults.' 'The Good Old Naughty Days' is exponentially better. If anyone can think of a film close, just put it in the comments.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


He Made The Difference Today

Geoff Horsfield.

Also, kudos to the Birmingham City fans for cheering Albion's survival. Bitter rivals, but great to see some Midlands unity. I'm going out to get drunk.


Relegation Battle Liveblogging

5:03 - I called it wrong so many times today, but who cares? I got the result I wanted. I'm utterly delighted. I never used to really like Portsmouth or Charlton, but, hell, I love 'em to bits right now. The party is on at Albion!!

4:58 - A pitch invasion at Albion! Horsfield is being held up high, crowd-surfing if you like. I am so, so happy, it can't be described. Well done Bryan Robson! Horsfield and Richardson got the goals today, but it's been a team effort. Well done Albion! I am sooooooooo happy.

4:56 - West Brom have done it!!!!!!!! It's all over at Charlton! 2-2 isn't enough for Palace. Yes! Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!!!!!!!!!

4:55 - Full time at Southampton. 2-1 Man Utd win.

4:54 - Full time at Fulham. 6-0 the final score.

4:51 - Another goal for Fulham. 6-0 Norwich trail. Pathetic. I feel for the fans. West Brom are just a couple of minutes away. They're into added time at Charlton.

4:47 - Norwich have conceeded yet again. Five-nil down against a Fulham team who've been poor all year. The players have done the fans no credit today. Remember, everyone was saying before kick-off that they had the best position. They're down now, as are Southampton.

4:45 - Palace have seven minutes to save their season. They're throwing everything at the Charlton goal, no surprises there. It looks like desperate defending for Charlton now. Just seven minutes and extra-time. My blood pressure!

4:43 - Johnathan Fortune scores for Charlton! It's West Brom again! Well done Charlton - I love you so much.

4:38 - Kieran Richardson has scored another for Albion. They're going to win against a flat Portsmouth, so if they do go down, as looks likely, at least they've gone down with dignity. They're playing well in the second half.

4:36 - At three thirty-five I said it looked a mountain for Palace. How wrong I was. It now looks a mountain for everyone else. I just can't see Charlton getting back in it. Their season has petered out desperately, as always, and they've got nothing to play for. What do they owe Albion, after all?

4:34 - Norwich have conceeded yet again. Looks like they're going out with a whimper. Albion supporters are cheering for Charlton now - it's their only hope. Come on you Addicks!

4:31 - Scores!! Bollocks. Palace look good. Can you see Charlton coming back? I'm afraid I can't.

4:31 - A penalty for Palace - Andrew Johnson is stepping up:

4:25 - A temporary table:

17 West Brom 37 -26 34
18 Crystal Palace 37 -21 33
19 Norwich 37 -32 33
20 Southampton 37 -21 32

4:22 - Southampton have conceeded - a goal for van Nistelrooy! It looks better for Albion every minute. Apparently, the away Portsmouth fans are supporting Albion too, because they so want Southampton to go down. Southampton look bad. I think they could be gone.

4:21 - YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!!!!!!!! West Brom take the lead!!!! Horsfield has just come on, and has taken the lead! Albion are in the driving seat. Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

4:20 - Crystal Palace appear back in it. Freedman has scored for them at Charlton, thanks to El-Karkouri's doziness. They've moved up one position in our temporary table.

4:18 - I've got a feeling Southampton are in an even better position than it looks. With Man Utd having half an eye on the FA Cup Final next Saturday, I think they'll be happy to accept a draw today, which is probably going to be enough for Southampton.

4:14 - Knight has scored for Fulham. Norwich have lost the game now - they won't score three away at Fulham today. They're not out of it yet - if Southampton concede, Norwich will be back in the driving seat despite their poor performance. Norwich have been their own worst enemies this season; if they hadn't conceeded so many needless goals, they'd be in a better position today. Remember those 4-0 losses to Arsenal and Chelsea, when they gave up during the games? Could come home to roost today.

4:05 - As the second half starts, I would like to point something out. I stated here that I wanted Albion to stay up. The chance now really is theirs: Palace are a goal down, and look out of it, Norwich aren't going to get back level, and Southampton are up against Man Utd. They've got to take it in the next forty-five minutes or so. Come on Albion!

3:55 - Half-time has arrived at all the grounds. Let's have a look at a temporary table:

17 Southampton 37 -20 33
18 Norwich 37 -31 33
19 Crystal Palace 37 -22 32
20 West Brom 37 -27 32

3:36 - Papa Bouba Diop has scored for Fulham from a magnificent free kick. How Norwich have thrown away the best position, against a team with nothing to play for in Fulham, I'm not quite sure. Albion, to survive, need to score against Pompey, and hope the score stays the same at St. Mary's.

3:35 - Bryan Hughes has scored for Charlton at home to Crystal Palace, which leaves them currently second from bottom. It looks a mountain for them from here.

3:22 - Fletcher has equalised for Man Utd. Good good. Southampton still staying up as it stands though, courtesy of goal difference.

3:13 - Quashie has scored for Southampton. It's beginning to look good for them. Perhaps the fallout off the whole Glazer business has been to lower team morale a load. Anyway, Man Utd aren't doing the business at the moment.

3:12 - McBride has scored for Fulham! As it stands, Southampton will survive.

3:00 - Kickoff.

2:50 - Ten minutes before kickoff. The team news is in - the surprises are that WBA are up against a really piss-poor Portsmouth side, with no Yakubu, a full time debutante, and several other less-than-stellar personnel. Also, Southampton have dropped Kevin Phillips and brought in Brett Ormerod. This makes so little sense, I don't know where to start. Just a reminder, this is how the table looks at the start of the afternoon, with Norwich in pole position:

17 Norwich 37 -29 33
18 Southampton 37 -20 32
19 Crystal Palace 37 -21 32
20 West Brom 37 -27 31

Saturday, May 14, 2005


An Ode To Channel 4's Property Programmes

'For us jobless 'tis a hard drag,
Back from the setting of the sun
To the cocking of the crow,
Yet you help.

Days filled with tedium,
And the boredom of the truly mindless,
And you provide sustenance,
And you help.

The glass-roofed atrium,
The chintz armchair and the en-suite,
The glory of the art deco,
Shows you help.

Beeny and Allsop both,
Helping the rich with housing,
Earning them even more,
You see, you help.

Truly a public service,
Helping the rich make still more,
Out of property they don't need,
Oh, how you help.

I like you for this.

But mostly it's cos you're fit.'

Hot Property.

Friday, May 13, 2005


A Peculiar Game

I've spent a decent part of the afternoon watching 'Aussie Rules' football on the telly. How very decadent. I have no idea about this sport. I watched the 'Grand Final' this year/last year/whenever the last one was, and I had absolutley no idea what was going on. I know Port Adelaide won, because they had more points, and punched the other team harder.

You've got to love a sport in which the final match summaries contain a 'serious injury' list - the top this week was five - and in which commentators can frequently be heard to drop phrases like "looks like Clarke's in a lot of trouble - he's clutching his bleedin' leg" into the middle of a sentence, and just carry on regardless.

One of the problems with the game is the kits. One team, a different species of Adelaide if I recall correctly, had a strip which entailed blue, red and yellow horizontal bands. It looked like the worlds worst acid trip. My main problem with the sport is this, however - such good-looking men shouldn't wear such tight shorts, because it really does make them look like porn stars having the weekend off. One fellow, who looked about seven foot nine, and about three hundred pounds, looked as if his photo could be put next to 'sex' in the encyclopaedia. It was frightening.

Still, it's better than baseball.

Better than baseball.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Good On Them

According to the Melon Farmers, the Italian television station RAI are going to show the Theo Van Gogh film Submission at eleven o'clock Italian time tonight. This was, of course, the film that got Van Gogh assassinated.

Good on them - debate about the murder has been hampered across Europe simply because so few people have seen the film. I, myself, haven't seen it, but I would love to do so. To quote the link:

'As always, the most aggressive and intolerant threats are generated by those proclaiming a tolerant religion.'

They're right - about all religions. Tolerance amongst the very religious seems to me to mostly extend to those who share the same opinions.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the brave woman who wrote the film, has a weblog here. The film itself is online here. Watch it.


Did You Call For A Glazer?

Apparently, Malcolm Glazer has secured a majority share of Manchester United. Haha! Excellent! The sight of whinging Manchester United fans truly is a sight for sore eyes.

'If Glazer does get control, we will up sticks and form a new club.'
Jules Spencer, Independent Manchester United Supporters Association

Presumably with fewer prawn sandwiches.


You Player

So I was watching TV the other night, and it was some ghastly reality television twaddle that involved James Hewitt having to decide which one of a group of women was single. He could do this by, basically, plying them with alcohol, schmoozing with them, and plying them with a bit more alcohol. To make the whole thing rather more erotic, it was set in some remote location with palms, and the sea, and such things.

I merely mention this because Hewitt had clearly attracted one woman, who had basically fallen in love with him, even though she had a boyfriend. She proceeded to climb into bed with him, strip off, and apparently give him a blowjob. This man was nearly royalty. How times change, eh?

Hewitt stops another gullible idiot with big breasts in the middle distance


Tattooed Twit

There's something about the possibilty of being tattooed that turns some people into complete idiots. Take this story, for example:

'A student is taking his Star Wars obsession into hyperdrive by covering his body in tattoos of characters from the films.

Clarke Reynolds, from Rochester in Kent, started getting the tattoos three years ago and now intends to turn every inch of skin into a tribute to George Lucas's epic series.

So far the 24-year-old has a huge image of the Millennium Falcon - complete with pilots Han Solo and Wookie Chewbacca - etched across his back. Down his arms are light-sabre motifs featuring many other famous characters from the original trilogy, including droids R2-D2 and C3-PO.

Mr Reynolds said: "I've still got more to go. I want it to look like a movie poster for one of the films. I've always been a big fan of Star Wars and this is my way of showing how much I love it."'

I'm sorry, but that takes pathetic to a whole new level. He's not the only one; I was listening to the radio the other day, and a man came on who has collected every piece of Star Wars memorabilia he can get his hands on. Asked if he had a significant other, he replied:

"No - I haven't enough room in my house."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I Should Bloody Well Hope So

According to this, Ofcom have finally decided (inevitably) that 'Jerry Springer: The Opera', pile of rubbish though it undoubtedly was, did not break any rules on television standards.

I should hope so too. The show received some complaints - well, quite a few in fairness, but so what? For all the complaints, many more people enjoyed the programme, and anyway censorship is something we should all fight against, not for. A bit of a surprise to see Ofcom make the right decision for a change, though.

I still don't like them.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Good News Indeed

He's back. Go read.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Planet Of The Apes

According to this article, the old issue of evolution has come up again in the USA. Religious conservatives are looking for a change to state guidelines on how evolution should be taught (barely, if at all.)

Sigh. Why is this happening again? Do people in Kansas like being backwards, or can they just not help it? I wouldn't worry at all about the obsession with fighting evolution that drives so many religious fanatics, of more than one religion, but if these people want to influence my life, directly or indirectly, then it becomes my business. For people like myself, it so obviously goes without saying that evolution is correct, that it hardly seems worthwhile reiterating the arguments one mo' time, particularly given the selective deafness of the creationist proponents. However, this is a foolish way to debate, and so a perfectly adequate rebuttal of the creationist arguments can be found here.

I'd be somewhat less concerned about this nonsense, but given that Kansas is the state where these foul, stinking pieces of shite reside, you have to wonder. Clearly, those sick wretches are at the far, far end of the scale, but those seeking to make creationism the only theory are suffering from symptoms of the same disease.

Perhaps Bill Bryson put it best. Commenting on the Tennessee state legislature passing a law banning schools from teaching evolution, he claims this "prov[ed] conclusively that the danger for Tennesseans isn't so much that they may be descended from apes as that they may be overtaken by them."*


A citizen of Kansas ponders creationism.

*Bill Bryson, 'A Walk In The Woods'

(via Semiskimmed)

UPDATE: Clearly, this story is fairly big news on the American left: Sadly, No! has fantastic coverage here, here, here, and here.


Good Luck, Albion

Of all the four teams (Norwich, Crystal Palace, Southampton & WBA) who could go down on the last day of the season, it is West Bromwich Albion that I would really like to see survive. Here's why:

1. I'm from the Midlands, and so are they.
2. Several of my best friends support them.
3. No team has survived who were bottom of Christmas - Albion were, and it would be nice if they could beat the trend, just so I don't have to listen to commentators and pundits repeat it all next season too.
4. It is a friendly club with a great fan base,
and 5. I don't really like any of the others.

Keep your fingers crossed for the final day of the season.

Oh, and well done for drawing at Man Utd, by the way. Tomasz Kuszczak, the substitute goalkeeper, was truly outstanding. A great performance. My fingers will be crossed.


Dear Djibril

Djibril, you know I love you mate. I was really sad when you broke your leg, really I was. Wouldn't wish that on anyone. And you're a great footballer - real skill there, I know. However, I've got to say something about your hair. I mean, please help me. Is there a good reason? It looks like a rejected carpet pattern. And it's not the first time, is it? You did this to me before:


I was upset then. How have you topped that? What did you say to your hairdresser to make him do that to you? I mean, please.


Censor Alert!

Following on from this post, which links to this article, I should like to make a few points.

1. "Hard-core sex tapes involving bestiality, sadomasochism and simulated rape." Doubtless the material is distasteful in the extreme, but what of it? The issue censors bring up in Britain nowadays, though of course it may be different in the US, is one of repetitive behaviour - namely, if Man (it's nearly always a man) A watches a video of bestiality, is he then going to go and give it to a chicken up its cloaca? This approach is flawed, but it does have some merit - some people are clearly adversely affected by images of violence, and particularly sexual violence. The more worrying argument from the censors is based on morality, and that appears to be the motivation in these cases. Morality is subjective, not objective, and shouldn't be used, no matter how disturbing tenderfeet find the material.

2. "The Justice Department's child exploitation and obscenity section." Why is it sadly not surprising at all that these completely separate things have been run together? Are any of the videos in question exploiting children? Only if they have child participants, in which case they are illegal under different laws. Obscenity, in the cases we are talking about, is nearly always something different - all the article's cases appear to consist of acts between adults, or acts visited upon animals by adults. Presumably, there are clear statutes in the US that deal with bestiality, and so this can be separated.

3. "Enforcement is absolutely necessary if we are going to protect citizens from unwanted exposure to obscene materials," Gonzales recently told federal prosecutors. This too, is one of the oldest tricks in the book. However, it is an unfaithful deceit - I sincerely doubt that anyone at all received unwanted exposure to these materials. In my experience, people tend not to advertise wares like this too closely, and when they do, the customers know precisely what they are buying. How can you possibly mistake it?

4. "Oosterbaan said the government has won convictions in high-profile cases. He cited a guilty plea last year from John Coil of Highland Village, Texas, who owned and operated 27 adult-oriented businesses in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Coil forfeited an estimated $8.1 million in property to the government and was sentenced to more than five years in prison." According to this article, Coil was guilty of fraud, racketeering and income tax evasion too, which hardly makes it a typical obscenity trial. Also, the article alleges that some of the material was paedophilic in nature, and separate statutes exist for dealing with these cases, as noted above.

5. "In addition, there is the 23-count indictment against Edward Wedelstedt of Littleton, Colo., and his Goalie Entertainment Holdings Inc. Wedelstedt owns pornographic bookstores in 18 states; the indictment lists six allegedly obscene videos and DVDs." Why have twenty three counts when there's only six obscene items? The answer is here, where allegations are made that Wedelstedt and his co-defendants were guilty once again of tax fraud and racketeering. Once again, a proper debate about obscenity is being damaged by the Department of Justice's selective prosecutions.

6. "The Justice Department's approach has been to identify videos that even some in the pornography business find unappealing and to bring charges in more socially conservatives places, where possible." This approach, which seems objectionable at first, actually stems from a Supreme Court ruling, Miller v California, which effectively allowed that what is considered obscene can vary from community to community. So, folks, if you get the need to watch hardcore, travel to a blue state to do it.

7. In the Montana case, Lambert distributed videos that even his lawyer said were "frankly, disgusting." The point is irrelevant. I'm sure I'd find them disgusting too, but that should have no bearing on their legality or otherwise.

I'd be somewhat concerned if I was an American about where this is heading. It is clearly a sop from the Administration to its Christian base, but it would be very damaging to First, Ninth and Tenth Amendment rights if a significant body of case law were built up. We should support hardcore sellers on the obscenity front, even as we disdain them.


Woe Is Me

Slept badly last night. For the third night in a row. And I had the strangest dream, yet again. I'm not going to go into the full details, lest I seem more batshit crazy than I feel, but suffice to say it involved a woodcutting instrument, a melon, a microphone, a photo album full of smiling, but deeply unhappy people, and Nick Cohen from The Observer. I'm not joking. It's not the first time either: just two nights ago, I had a deeply troubling dream which involved my dismembered body trailing behind the head of a man who made a living by robbing pigeon carcasses from pet cemeteries. Again, I wish I was joking, but sadly not.

I could keep mentalists in employment for months. If anyone can explain these dreams, I'd be interested.

Personally, I blame the British worker. Let me explain. It is Saturday morning, so why the haemorraging fuck is it necessary for the builders on the construction site opposite to be hammering on things? I thought British workers were totally lazy, and a challenge to get out of bed, not a challenge to keep them away from work. Oh for the days of frequent strikes! They appear to have been given a new toy today, because I haven't been woken up by this one before. It goes, very loudly indeed, Ker-flap, Ker-flap, Ker-flap, Ker-flap, Ker-flap, Ker-flap! It sounds like the world's noisiest hole punch.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Methinks Perhaps Not

Allegedly, according to this, the new 'Star Wars' film is a 'bloodbath.' Yeah, yeah, whatever. As a result of violence so horrific as to earn the film a PG-13 rating in the States, fewer people may be able to see it. Oh good.

The film, according to the article, contains "relentless" action. Better hide the kids then, folks.

The film has yet to receive a cinema rating for Britain. I shall watch the BBFC website closely. To be perfectly honest, however, I don't really know why anyone would care. I'm going to try and avoid it if I can.

The Emperor was unhappy with results of his plastic surgery.


The BBC actually has a blog written by one of those sad gits who've been waiting in a queue for however many weeks. I'd take the piss, but it defies parody.


The BBC article is complete bollocks. If you actually care, in fact the BBFC gave Revenge Of The Sith a 12A rating on the 27th April. More journalist lackeys who don't do any research, then. The decision is on the website, but I can't link to it because the BBFC website, very useful though it is, doesn't contain individual page links. I predict that it will certainly turn out not to be a 'bloodbath' if it has a 12A certificate.


Politics For Beginners

This is written just for those people who have claimed that tomorrow's general election is a 'referendum' on Iraq. Or on the Health Service. Or on education, or the police, or immigration, or anything else. There were people, for example, saying this on the radio earlier today.

Get this into your heads.

An election is not a referendum. That's it. No questions. An election is about choosing representatives, who will then form a government, and enact pledges written in a manifesto. A referendum is a single issue question put to the electorate. If you can't tell the difference between them, please stop commenting on politics.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Film Review: 'Life Is A Miracle'

This post contains a fairly extensive film review. There may well be spoilers contained within it. If you are considering watching 'Life Is A Miracle', let me simply advise you to do so. It's definitely worth it.

When I saw that 'Life Is A Miracle' was on at a cinema up the road from where I live, I was utterly delighted, not becuase I knew a huge amount about the film, but simply because I had heard that it was worth seeing and had thought I'd missed it.

To briefly outline the plot: Luka is a man who has been employed to help in the construction of a rural railroad which is being built in order to attract tourism to the area (the Bosnian/Serbian border). He moves his family there - his family consisting of his son, Milos, a promising young football talent, and his dust-allergic, opera-singing wife Jadranka. The first segment of the film deals with the construction of the railroad, and the highs and lows of Milos's brief footballing career. The second section of the film occurs as Luka meets Sabaha, an attractive young Muslim from Bosnia, who arrives shortly after the departures of his wife and son. It eventually transpires that Luka will have to choose between his love for his family and his love for Sabaha.

The film is, in the most wonderful sense, an absolute delight. I could barely stop smiling all the way through. The film attacks every emotion and sense, and somehow brings them all to life. In many of the best films, we see small diversions away from the main story, that have little to do with the basic plot, but are delightful embellishments - witness here, for example, a magnificently chaotic bear hunt, with some of the films typically marvellous music accompanying it, or the suicidal mule, or any other wonderful, if slightly bizarre, diversions and distractions. I tapped my feet to the music, guffawed at the comedy, and generally had the best time I've had in a cinema since 'Oldboy.'

I was an Emir Kusturica novice going into this film, but I certainly hope not to be for much longer. Kusturica seems a real master of physical comedy - the football match scene, involving Jadranka singing opera on the sidelines, before a brawl in the goal, is genuinely hilarious, and so is the face-to-face meeting, and subsequent fight, between Jadranka and Sabaha, in which the former ends up wearing a portrait of herself around her neck, sort of like a ruff.

I know that for some Kusturica is a problematic director. I can't comment on his earlier work, having not seen it, but I'm well aware that, in particular, 'Underground' is considered to be rather too similar in tone to the propoganda of Slobodan Milosevic for comfort. It is certainly true that he defended Milosevic in some interviews early in his career. I'm not going to condone that, obviously, but how many people in this country can criticise? If you cast your mind back a few years, a substantial portion of Britain's media, most notably The Guardian, were rather obviously fellow-travellers of Serbian nationalisms early years.

Kusturica's subsequent film after 'Underground', 'Black Cat, White Cat' got around the problem by simply not referring to the war at all, and is apparently somewhat the better for it. It's this film of his that I'm most looking forward to seeing next. In 'Life Is A Miracle,' Kusturica potentially opens a can of worms for himself by returning to the war as a theme, but at no point does the work seem particularly jingoistic or tubthumping. Milos is called to service; his family do not wish to see him go. Some of his friends are in the Serbian army, but Sabaha is a Bosnian Muslim, and she is quickly befriended by many of the soldiers, due to an important skill she has (I'm not going to give it away, but it's nothing rude). All in all, the war is seen only as a tiresome and saddening event organised by politicos far away, that simply sweeps all before it.

At the end of the day, and with my final judgement withheld for the reasons above, I suspect that the following is probably closest to the truth (found via the Bosnian Institute, no less):

"Kusturica commentators have plenty to chew on and the debate over his career - and especially Podzemlje [Underground] - is far from finished. To my mind, Kusturica is likely to be written into the history books as a politically naive film-maker who has chosen his company foolishly, rather than being an ardent nationalist, and as a man whose ego outstrips his understanding of his actions."

This, I suspect, is probably pretty accurate - consider the comment about his ego in response to the article linked below.

To sum up: I really can't recommend 'Life Is A Miracle' highly enough. Yes, it does have a couple of flaws - an awful lot goes on, and Luka's obvious love for his son just tinges his realtionship with Sabaha with a faintly unrealistic edge, but who cares? It is wonderful for all reasons I listed earlier, and perhaps most importantly, despite the problems the characters face, and the damage that the war brings, as the title suggests, there is always hope, and Kusturica shows that better than most in this film.

A genuine delight.

[Interesting further reading on the film, and on censorship.]


Bloody Blogger

I just wrote a long and detailed post about a matter deep and personal to me, and bloody Blogger has made it vanish, the wretched pile of junk. And the 'recover post' thing doesn't work either. Bah!

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Methinks The Man Needs Help With His Brain

A senior representative of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) might, quite possibly, be more stupid than the thickest of his pupils. He believes that parents should have to undergo compulsory lessons on how to bring up children. Great idea! Only, however, if I'm allowed to give Mr Gray training in how to do his job. I will, for example, teach him the merits of capital punishment, which I will do by means of demonstrations. Obviously, for him to truly understand, I shall have to demonstrate on him. I hope he appreciates the effort I'm going to to help him at his job.

Being serious for a moment - is this what life in Britain has come to? Where parents can't be trusted to bring up their own children without supervision from an agent of the state? My question to Mr Gray would be this: do you think you're parents should have been forced to attend compulsory parenting classes when you were born? And if not, why inflict it on me?

I am my parents first, and indeed last, child. They had all the usual troubles bringing me up that every parent has. I wouldn't go to sleep at the right times, wouldn't eat the food I was given, and all the myriad other little traumas that a new addition to the family causes. However, they certainly did not need help from 'experts' (and what a gloriously misleading term that is) to tell them what to do. Why? Because if they had problems, they had family and friends who they could turn to when they needed to. Yes, they were lucky. No, not everyone does have that luxury. Conceivably, therefore, it might be fair to say that better information could be available to those who need it. What is emphatically not needed, however, is the insistence upon attending classes with self-appointed 'experts', on the pain of having ones child benefit allowance removed.

However, don't waste all your anger on Mr Gray. Clearly, the man is a pillock of the first order, and I hope every day is a shit day for the rest of his career, and he is booed when walking down the street, but he's not the only one responsible for this. BBC Radio Five Live interviewed him yesterday, and in the midst of the interview, they played a clip which was a reporter asking people in the street if this was a good idea. The majority of those that were asked seemed to agree. Bloody hell. Well, all I can say is, if the British have become so useless that they can't bring up their own children without nanny checking over their shoulder, they deserve it. And don't expect any common sense from the NAHT - they voted unanimously to approve the proposal. So people who hate Labour should think twice before cheering the NAHT for booing and catcalling the Schools Minister today. They're equally loathsome.

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