Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Honestly, Fellas, It May Be Time To Give Rugby A Try (Arf, Arf!)

Like Paul B, I have spent much of the last few days plonked in front of the telly watching the African Cup Of Nations. A few weeks ago, in my one of my World Cup previews, I stated that we would get a good chance to view some of the African teams during the course of this tournament, and assess whether or not they are remotely capable.

Well, I think we have our answer. Dear God, no. Togo, who I specifically wrote that about, were a shambles, and of the other teams to qualify, only Tunisia seem able to play at even a fair standard. Happily for the biased viewer, but unfortunately for the general quality of the matches this summer, Cameroon, easily the best of the sides lined up in Egypt right now, haven't qualified.

The matches have been dull and tedious. I suppose we're spoiled in Britain by the Premiership, but even so, I was shocked by the complete lack of inventiveness shown. Matches typically consist of passing around the midfield for about ten minutes, then one side breaking free, creating a chance, the forward receiving the ball on the edge of the area, not having the confidence to run forward, leaning back, and putting the shot out of the ground. Repeat.

I have a problem with the BBC's coverage, too. Fair enough, they've put it on BBC4, which is about right, given the poor quality of the product, but they have made some presentational errors. In the case of teams whose strips don't consist of the principle colour of their national flag, there is no guide to which team is which, a real problem in the earlier rounds when most of the names didn't mean anything to me. Far worse, they have also decided that most viewers don't need a clock, so anyone joining part of the way through a game doesn't know whether it's three minutes in or eighty seven. Come on people, these are the basics.

Anyway, I would be deeply, deeply stunned if any of these sides get past the group stages in the summer. Talk of the balance in world football slowly moving towards Africa may eventually prove more than so much hot air, but at the moment any such talk is incredibly precipitate.

Nigeria in the process of beating Ghana - yet another example of a team who failed to qualify impressing more than one who did.


This Film Has Now Been Nicked

Via Paul, an interesting (to me, anyway) story from America.

The American movie ratings board, the MPAA, has been accused of illegally copying a film submitted to it for a rating. The film, in fact called 'This Film Is Not Yet Rated', is an expose on how the MPAA works. It asks, amongst other things, why the MPAA board, which is usually described as 'an average group of parents', in fact consists of several members with 'children' in their twenties and thirties, whether independent films are treated more harshly than studio-produced ones, whether sex is treated more puritanically than violence, and other such miscellany.

In fact, the MPAA introduced the rule it has now broken, for it has indeed admitted copying the film. It claims it has done nothing wrong, and that the fuss is a publicity stunt.

It has to be said that, in fact, the MPAA have good reason to feel a bit hard done by. The film shows, amongst other things, a private detective going through the rater's rubbish, and following rater's as they take their kids to school (for those who actually do have kids). I was against the removing of anonymity from BBFC reviewers earlier this year, and I'm fairly against again here.

In true American style, both sides are threatening legal action. Apparently, the BBC have bought the rights to the film, so it will probably be on British telly at some point.

When it was eventually rated, by the way, it received the ghetto category of NC-17 for strong sexual content.

The film at the centre of the controversy.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Silence Is Golden

I'm without anything to say at the moment. I'm fine, by the way, thanks for asking. Life is too good for moaning at the moment - I had a superb night out last night, and then I've won at squash today and had a pleasant afternoon watching the footy. What's better, is that I have absolutely nothing to do all week, so I can mope about all I please.

I'll try and think of something to say soon. In the meantime, why not play 'Saved By Your Balls', which is really rather wonderful. You have to make $5000 whoring yourself around the 'Saved By The Bell' school, while avoiding health-destroying STD's. Obviously, not safe for work. It's also quite tricky. The best I've managed is a paltry $3195.

Enjoy, but wear a condom!

How much for a handjob?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


First We Had A Turnip, Now A Swede That's Turned Into A Turnip

I wasn't going to bother commenting on Mr Eriksson, and his startling ability to fit not just his foot, but in fact an entire leg into his oversized yapper, but the story seems to be unable to lie down like an old dog and die in the dust, so what the hell, it's not like I've got anything better to do.

So, Sven is to go after the World Cup. Well, no surprise there, I'll think you'll find some of us had confidently predicted that already.

The big objection I have to all this is not that Eriksson is to leave - I'd have happily seen him go last summer - but that they've waited until now, and in this way, to drop Damocles' stabber on his neck.

I'm not going to waste time feeling sorry for the Swede. He had his chance, and did pretty well all things considered, but at no point did it really look like we might win any silverware. However, in the battle of the Swede versus the tawdry tat-rag, I'm coming down on the managers side.

There's only one reason the News Of The World pulled off this 'stunt', and that was to increase circulation. All their high talk about it being to show the Swede's total lack of commitment is so much swampgas. Wow, big deal, you figured that Sven is a mercenary. Of course he is! He's a foreigner, he's not doing ot out of patriotism. Furthermore, since all of our press, including the tabloids, have been more than happy with this obvious arrangement in the past, including in our 2002 World Cup draw to Sweden, where they managed not a single allegation of impropriety, it seems a bit rich for them to be moaning and groaning about it now.

Oh, and what is it about tabloid journalists and the desire to dress up as sheiks? I reckon they're going commando underneath, and the whole thing is really just an excuse for them to feel the breeze around their cojones.

Sven's real crime has been to point out the bloody obvious:

1) Doug Ellis is 'sick.' That's such a controversial thing to say about an eighty year old man who has had a heart bypass operation and suffers from prostate cancer.

2) Michael Owen is at Newcastle for the money. Really? I kind of thought it might be for all those trophies they're winning. Oh, hold on, wait a minute . . .

3) Rio Ferdinand is 'lazy.' As Patrick Barclay points out, this was 'already made by Eriksson when he threatened to drop the Manchester United central defender earlier this season. The players are not foolish enough to believe that the blandly charitable observations he makes about them in public constitute his entire opinion.'

The whole affair is so shabby, it's a sad indictment on both the state of our national game, and the state of our gutter press.

I'll leave with a thought from Johnathan Pearce, made twice: 'Had that paper been a business conning trade secrets from a rival, criminal charges might now be on the cards.'

Personally, I can't see any difference. In both situations, when it comes down to it, it is deception for the purpose of monetary gain. Gah!

Sven's new tactics to avoid Arabic sheiks are to spend as much time with under-dressed women as possible. Sorry, did I say 'new tactics?'


The Life And Opinions Of Me!

Went to the cinema tonight, and caught 'A Cock And Bull Story.' I would be lying if I said I found it anything less than utterly hilarious. Genuinely, I should think it's a certainty to be one of the best ten films of the year. It's just so cleverly done - I can't pretend to have read the book, or even heard of it before this film, but I find the idea of a man trying to tell his life story but being totally unable to get past his birth absolutely frickin' great. It just works in a fantastic way - I hardly needed yet another excuse to think Steve Coogan is a legend, but here you are, I've got one anyway.

Go and see it, and ignore the total fools who appear to be upset because it's not two hours of slapstick. It's probably a safe bet to say that if you enjoyed '24 Hour Party People' - and if you didn't, just get the hell off my blog now - then you'll appreciate just how excellent this one is.

Oh, and here's a quick thought about how self-reflexive this all is. Coogan apparently based Alan Partridge in part on Tony Wilson, who he then played in 24 Hour Party People. In this, Wilson interviews him, and starts it by interviewing him as Alan Partridge, meaning that, in a sense, his first question is directed to himself. If you can get your head around that, you can get it around anything. Anyway, go see. I may do a full review some time soon.

What are you waiting for? GO!

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Could We Tone Down The Whaling?

It would be hard, I should think, to find a better example of what is wrong with the urbanites of today than the 'whale in the Thames' story. To read the fucking thing's obituary in the Observer, one might be tempted to conclude that far from being a just a whale, it was actually some kind of great spiritual and political leader, and that without its presence, London just sank into darkness.

The truth is, it is just an animal that made a mistake in its directions. We should feel just about as sorry for it as we feel sorry for a hedgehog run over by a lorry - brief feeling of pity, then move on.

Instead, it seems to have become a chance for people to find a purpose in their own life. The whale arrived on Friday morning - it spent two days banging helplessly into boats and bridges, and then it beached itself. At this point, every know-it-all fuckwit in the whole south-east, and probably from further besides, sprinted to the whale, "its would-be rescuers, up to their necks at times in the Thames, attempting to pat, push, calm, to somehow convey the feeling that there was goodwill from man, while that great tail began to flap so frantically." Now, I'm no expert, but I do know that whales breathe through their skin, so I should think this went a good distance towards suffocating the bloody thing.

If the people on the bankside really wanted to show goodwill, then they could have done the decent thing and shown a much less prurient interest in its death throes.

The writer of the Observer article, Euan Ferguson, ends it with possibly the most bathetic few lines it has ever been my displeasure to read in a national newspaper:

"In the last day or so lovers will have been taken, jobs will have been won and lost, novels begun, tears shed at funerals, new life conceived and, when asked can you remember when that happened, we can answer: I remember it well, because it was that day. The day a whale sailed through the middle of London; and the people of the city, rather than trying to hack it to death, came in their thousands and lifted it and tried their hardest to sail it back."

Oh dear lord. Give it a break! I'm sorry, but do any of those things need an identifying date? 'Yes, I know I buried Mom in January, but I can't for the life of me remember when - oh yes, it was the Day Of The Whale.' I'm sorry, but at the end of the day, it is just a whale. There are approximately 99,999 others who are living perfectly normal lives in the habitat they are designed to reside in.

Oh, and now it's dead, can we hack it up and sell the oil to the Japanese please?

Stiff Willy.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


The Scrooging Of The Shrew

As I've pointed out previously, the questions posed on Five Live's morning phone in programme are seldom of the highest quality. Therefore, I was somewhat unsurprised by them asking the other day:

What's your biggest secret?

'Five Live: Tackling the important issues, every day.'

Anyway, it was about as dull as a radio phone in could possibly get, and even in the my terrible, half-comatose early morning state, I was considering tying a brick to the alarm clock and throwing it in a canal, when suddenly this woman called Jane phoned in.

Jane did, indeed, have quite a big secret. She had won £1.5 million on the lottery, and hadn't told her husband.

Wow. Now, her husband is clearly a bit of a dolt, but I have to say I found this just appalling. According to her, she has started to work a three day week (hubby doesn't know this), and has let her husband carry on working a five day week. The reason she gave for not telling him was that 'I don't want things to change.'

Listen, fuckwits. If you don't want to win, don't play. I play the lottery loads, every three weeks roughly, and I really want to win. I also can't understand why she went on the radio with this. In fairness, one of her husbands mates has probably heard it, and the next time he's at his local, they're gonna say, 'Mate, I heard a woman with your wife's name who sounded an awful lot like her on the radio last week, saying she had won £1.5 million on the lottery and not told her husband. When was the last time she asked to borrow some cash?'

When he finds out, and he's presumably got to put two and two together eventually, he's going to want a divorce. In my opinion, this is probably pretty good grounds. To my mind, what she's done is morally no better than an affair - just instead of having an affair with a person, she's done it with a pile of cash. I don't think I've been so disgusted in my life.

If by any chance 'Jane' is reading this, burn in hell. First, however, take a look at the Balls Of Conscience. They'll follow you into the afterlife, where they will scorch and brand you for ETERNITY!

I feel a bit better now.

Friday, January 20, 2006


That Porno Jazz Thang, And That Hippy Rock Stuff: A Little Tellyblogging

Two notable TV programmes were aired tonight, one part of a series, and one a one-off, but they were both worthy of comment.

The first was 'Hotel Babylon', on BBC 1, which is the first in a series. I have never read the book upon which it is based, but if it's anything like as throwaway as the TV programme, I bet it's the sort of thing you'd leave on a train. Basically, it's about the inner workings of an expensive London hotel.

I'd tell you more than that, but that was as much as I could work out. For the life of me, I can't see what this programme is trying to do. The trailers and the first ten minutes seemed to augur an hour long dosage of very soft porn, but then it changed into a serious drama, but then there were weird bits of Carry On-like comedy interrupting that, and it was all over the shop.

Over the last few years, I've generally resented increases in the licence fee, and I still think it's too expensive, but in fairness, if it means that the Beeb can create some new sets for their original dramas, then all to the good. I'm not joking - almost every single set appeared borrowed from 'Hustle.' It was all lush, deep red furniture, and artful moodlighting, while people with ludicroudly sharp suits strode around purposefully, marking sardonic remarks to one another.

I'm also not sure what the point of the thing is. Ok, I realise it's throwaway entertainment, but shouldn't it have some sort of a message? All it really seemed to say was that hotel workers are poorly paid, unless they're in management, when they earn loads, and get to screw over the poorly paid ones. That's, you know, deep.

It's not awful, or, indeed, anything like. Tamzin Outhwaite appears hellbent on proving that she's the top actress at playing brassy women of the ball-busting kind, and though some of the lines were positively cringeworthy, some of them were pretty witty, in the sort of Wildean, this-would-never-happen-in-real-life-but-I'm-enjoying-suspending-my-disbelief-for-a-minute style.

Outhwaite is equally angry in her last big TV outing, 'Red Cap.'

The part of the programme that of most interest to me, however, was the music (hence the title of the post.) I don't know when it was that slutty jazz made it back into the mainstream, but I'm all for it. The music appeared to more or less entirely consist of elegant little riffs on the saxophone, suggesting, to me at least, a special sort of affluent misbehaviour, not least because it is exactly the sound that was used on the soundtrack for 'Elmore Leonard's Gold Coast', which I've covered before. More of the soundtrack for next week, then.

'Tony Blair: Rock Star' followed it on Channel 4. This was a documentary about his late teenage years, and that whole Jagger-wannabe thing he had going. It was enjoyable enough, but I couldn't help feeling it was an opportunity wasted. All of the interviewees were people who knew him at the time, which was alright for most of them, but there were clearly a few with an axe to grind. I also have to question the wisdom of how the re-enactments were shot. They were technically ok and everything, but if they were to be believed, Tony only ever wore one jacket for about six months.

I reckon if they'd had just two talking heads, that would have been better. You know what I mean - one could say he only bangs on about that stuff now because of the politicians' disconnect with the voters, all that sort of thing, and the other could have argued it was sincere, and affected his philosophy now. It didn't have to be that - just something a bit more than chatting to his old mates.

Still, the re-enacted session of 'strip spin the bottle' was classic embarrasment TV. Couldn't be faulted, that.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


'I Wish I Was A Person, With Unlimited Breath, I Wish I Was A Heartbeat, That Never Comes to Rest'*

I was watching Wossy's 'Asian Invasion' the other night, and it was the episode on Hong Kong. He interviewed Hong-Kongish director Derek Yee, auteur of such films as 'One Night In Mongkok' and '2 Young' - no, I haven't heard of them either - but what was really notable about him was that he is clearly very wealthy, yet he was wearing the most enormous Casio watch.

Something like this.

I mean, given the size of it, he might as well have strapped an alarm clock to his arm. What I wondered was this - Hong Kong is one of capitals of sales of fake Rolex's in the world, so is that why the wealthy don't wear them? Are they actually lower in status than the giant digi I threw out on my fourteenth birthday?

I once read in a book that the first two things a woman notices about a man's appearance are his watch and his shoes. If you'd got a face like mine, you'd see why that's good news. So I went out and bought a great pair of shoes. I also bought a reasonable watch. Well, I think it looks quite snazzy, but in fairness it did only cost £16.99 from Argos, so maybe it isn't that great.

I do have a really, really smart watch somewhere, that I was given on the occasion of my turning eighteen, but I've never been able to wear it because I'm paralytically frightened I'll scratch it. Such is the fruitlessness of life.

*from 'Run Lola Run.' Oh, fuck off, it's my favourite film, and I haven't had a reference to it for ages.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Halftime Thoughts On Manchester United v Burton Albion

Erm, instead of showing us the second half, because let's face it, who cares, can we see Gary Lineker and Ian Wright playing ping-pong? I want to see Wright cry when he loses. Thanks!

Wrighty blows.


As I wrote that post during half time, I apparently missed Wrighty make the hilarious connection between the surname Saha, and the word 'haha.' Brilliant, I'm sure, but unfortunate from a man whose surname rhymes with 'shite.'


Oh, Sir Alex, if you read this, don't play Saha, because I could play that badly and you'll only have to pay me a tenth of his wage. Maybe not. We'll settle on a fifth.

Saha sucks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Hobbits & Dolls

One the one hand, this that I'm about to bring you is just disturbing. On the other, it is a true testament to a level of dedication and fandom most of us - let's face it, all of us - will never know.

Have any of you ever built a model aeroplane? Or whittled a whistle with a penknife? Proud of yourself? Well, don't be, because you've been humiliated by 'Obelia medusa', who has built an absolutely enormous and incredibly detailed dollhouse version of Bilbo Baggins' dwelling, Bag End.

Now, on the one hand, I really want to criticise her for being so very, very sad, but I can't, because I'm too darn impressed. Just have a look:

The plan view.

That might have impressed you, but look at the detail:

If you were stunned by the tiny, tiny furniture, take a look at this:

That's right, miniature food!

Perhaps I'll let her get the last word in:

'I like making tiny pies far too much, and I had to exert some self-restraint to leave room on the shelves for other food items.'

Wow. (via Cinematical)

Sunday, January 15, 2006


The Deluxe Davids And The Ghastly Goliaths

There's nothing at all interesting happening in my life right now, consisting as it does pointless research about Supreme Court judgements like Yick Wo v Hopkins, and the news is equally boring, so instead I'm going to mine an old seam and do another film post. Other folks have been trying to name two films they like, or at least appreciate, that are widely hated, and two they dislike that are much loved. I thought I might join in, as I have absolutely nothing better post about.


1) 'Invisible Mom.'

I see that some people have chosen as their 'hated' films some that weren't really hated at all. One person even put 'Punch-Drunk Love' in, a film which (rightly) got a fantastic critical reception.

That certainly can't be said of 'Invisible Mom.' Indeed, it didn't get a critical reception, because it was a straight-to-video film. It came from infamous exploitation director Fred Olen Ray, the man behind such wonders as Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Bikini Hoe-Down and the formiddably named Attack Of The Sicty Foot Centrefolds. However, Invisible Mom is a kids film, a film that could really only appeal to children of the age of five or six, and probably not even them. The plot? A scientist is bullied by his boss at work, and cannot pursue his experiments. He continues them at home, however, developing an invisibility serum. Unfortunately, Junior's plans to use it to get revenge on the school bully go wrong, and Mom swallows the stuff. She then goes on to solve their problems in her invisible state, while Dad frantically tries to create an antidote.

On the one hand, it is undoubtedly abysmal. The plot is reductive and owes loads to 'Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.' It also boasts absolutely terrible bluescreen FX, which doesn't convince for a moment.

Still, this is a personal choice. I have only ever seen this film once, during a period when I had more or less constant insomnia, and it was buried at about four in the morning on the TV schedules. In my spaced out state, I found I rather liked its quaint, 1950s, family against the corporation morals, and I particularly liked the dresses that Dee Wallace Stone wears, sort of forties and fifties style, like the one Karin Viard wears in 'Delicatessen.' In short, I liked the kind of retro nature of it, and I also like how, unlike most films for kids produced in the last ten years, it didn't try to fill screen time with pop culture references or other devices that date films so quickly.

It's still crap though.

2) Senseless

'Senseless' is a dumb comedy, starring Marlon Wayans, about a black kid who is really intelligent, but is struggling in his law class because he just can't concentrate enough. He's also short of cash, so when he hears about the chance to be paid for taking an experimental drug, he leaps at the chance. The drug enhances his senses, and he becomes amazing at his course, wins over future employers, pulls the prettiest gal on campus, and gets one over the bully who torments his life.

The script is pretty lousy, but the film is saved by a couple of individual performances. First of all, nobody can play weird and demented like 'The Voice Of Chucky' Brad Dourif, and his short parts as the mad scientist are worth looking at alone. Meanwhile, as the course bully, David Spade absolutely oozes loathsome rich snobbishness. If you're in the mood for a really stupid comedy, you can do worse than this. It's certainly better than the next two:

Liked - But Why?

1) Wayne's World

Having just praised 'Senseless', I have to criticise one of director Penelope Spheeris's earlier works, 'Wayne's World.' This film is widely loved, oft quoted, and often considered a seminal moment in nineties comedy films. I seem to recall the whole 'Bohemian Rhapsody' scene was included in a list of the funniest moments in films on Channel 4, if my memory serves me correctly.

I just don't get it. Why do people find it funny? I just can't see the humour inherent in big cocktails and daft haircuts. In particular, I just can't see why people find the scene with them singing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' so funny. All that's happening is that a group of people sing a faintly irritating song very badly. I'm sorry, I just don't get the joke. Oh, and another thing - why does the plot get put on the back shelf for about the first forty minutes? A daft film, and a waste of time.

2) Sister Act

This film remains popular, or so I can only assume from ITV's decision to put both this and its sequel back-to-back on New Year's Day this year, but again, I have real trouble understanding why.

My problems with it are threefold. First of all, I think that - with the notable exception of Maggie Smith - it's particularly badly acted. I mean, how do you think Harvey Keitel looks back at this film now? His portrayal of a greasy Italian-American mobster is just terrible - it's not even comparable to those found in 'Married To The Mob.' Secondly, it has aged particularly badly. It looks about thirty years old now, not just over a decade.

Finally, and more seriously, I have a real moral problem with it. The idea that it's possible to 'save' people simply by crooning at them is absurd, and the scenes in the church when all those people wander in off the street - people clearly meant to look like prostitutes and thieves and the like, but who's appearance is actually laughably parodic - reek of an awful sentimentality. It also contains a constant tone of religious moralising about what is and isn't accpetable, and frankly I found it faintly offensive. Just not worth wasting your time with.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Nation Building Gone Wrong

No, no, no, no, not in the desert, I'm talking about Britain. Specifically, the 'Icons Of England' project.

Sigh. We've been here before. Mind you, then it was foreigners trying to define England, and so their laughable convictions and vague prejudices were at least understandable. Now our own government are in on the act, presumably trying to find something to unite us other than hatred of them. So, we have 'Icons Of England', in which they take nominations for the symbols and objects that define us.


John Major did this a decade ago, and everyone laughed at him. Here's what he said:

"The country of long shadows on county grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers and old maids bicycling to Holy Communion through the morning mist."

Ghastly claptrap, of course, but is it really much worse than 'Jerusalem', the King James' Bible or a cup of tea?

I said here that I loved the comment someone made that:

'Probably what it means to be British is not to be wondering what it means to be British all the time.'

How insecure have we become? This whole project is one great red herring - the website cost £1 million to create, for fucks' sake - but even if it weren't, it would point to something faintly sick about us as a society. How often do the French, or the Americans, or the Japanese waste their time on such pointless lists? Well, they don't, because they are all looking towards the future - coming up with ideas for tomorrow, not sentimentalising over ones from hundreds of years ago.

Holbein's portrait of Henry VIII has made the list. Just remember though, 'Henry VIII - he was a shit.'

Fortunately, however, people have decided to try to subvert the wretched thing, which is, by the way, a far better indication of Englishness than anything else. The best so far can be found here, where Perry de Havilland sends off a nomination for CCTV cameras, saying:

'It is almost impossible to avoid their gaze for an entire day and sitting like steel crows on their perches above us, truly they are emblematic of modern Britain.'

We should all send one in of CCTV cameras, for truly nothing better demonstrates the watchful contempt of our government towards its citizens.

The 'steel crows' gather, silently, observing, monitoring.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


When Chavs Attack! Revisited

Genial, flop-haired buffoon Boris Johnson's latest column gave me an odd feeling of deja-vu this afternoon. In it, he attacks Tony Blair's awful new 'respect agenda' - yes, the government are trying to force us to like each other through legislation - and in doing so, he points out the rather wimpish lyrics of certain musical artistes. Like James Blunt. And the Kaizer (sic) Chiefs.

Remember this? Yes, Boris has more or less exactly copied Brendan O'Neill's article for the Spectator (of which Boris was the editor) and put it in the Telegraph! For comparative purposes, let's look at the words of three writers, in the chronological order they entered the public domain:

O'Neill: "The Kaiser Chiefs — five young men from Leeds who sound a bit like Madness (though not nearly as good) — recently had a big hit with ‘I Predict A Riot’. Its lyrics could have been written by Tessa Jowell or one of the other New Labour apparatchiks who have been banging on for months about the problem of working-class youth getting drunk and disorderly . . . Those pesky ‘men in tracksuits’ (read drunken chavs), they’re always ruining nights out for nice middle-class kids. The Kaiser Chiefs’ view of city centres as a riot waiting to happen is pure New Labour."

Feelgood: "Did I slip, fall, and crack my head? I must have done, because I appear to have missed the time when it became cool to admit being too frightened to walk through an average town centre after dark . . . First off, insulting chavs is always the occupation of the professionally middle class, anyone who hates smoking and drinking and seeing people have a good time. Second of all, does anyone actually wear a tracksuit to go out drinking in? I have to say, no chav that I know has ever been seen out without a brand-name shirt. Thirdly, you deserve a battering for queue-jumping, one crime for which I would definitely welcome the return of capital punishment. Finally, if a bloke starts on you, and you can't fight back, for whatever reason, don't admit it afterwards, you pansy."

Johnson: "These are the weeds from Leeds whose hit single was I predict a riot, a tale about the bourgeois apprehension of a chap who tries to get a taxi on a Saturday night in the centre of town.

"Watching the people get lairy/It's not very pretty I tell thee./ Walking through town is quite scary/And not very sensible either," sing these epic softies. Then the chap meets another chap in a tracksuit, who looks as though he might offer violence, but doesn't, and that's about it. It's pathetic!

When I was a nipper it was standard practice for a rock star to start the evening by biting the head off a pigeon and throwing the television out of the window before electrocuting his girlfriend in the bath and almost drowning in a cocktail of whisky, heroin and his own vomit. The self-respecting British punk rockers didn't get up on stage and start whimpering about how they predicted a riot. They incited riots."

Well, they do say great minds think alike. I'm available for articles, by the way.

(via Matty G)


'Hysteria? Yes, Please!'

This - I swear this is true - was the question for the audience to respond to on Victoria Derbyshire's phone-in programme on Five Live this morning:

'Do you think the mass hysteria about child sex offenders is justified?'

Tricky, eh?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Stars Of CCTV

So, I was really looking forward to Celebrity Big Brother. People who've read this blog for a while will remember I got very into the last series at one stage, that was, the enjoyably bitchy stage, but CBB has proved impossible. I mean, I've got to like somebody, so who is there to like? All the contestants are various shades of shit, and watching it this weekend for about ten minutes made me want to shoot myself to end the pain.

It seems that pretty much the only interesting thing about it all is the controversy surrounding Hideous George and the questions of whether he should be in the place at all, and a controversy surrounding his chosen charity.

To put my cards on the table - I can't stand the man, and his horrible posturing, as if anyone cared anyway. He is clearly a man who has far too much time for the dictators of the world, and who is quite possibly just a complete crook. His presence is another reason I can't watch the programme - a handful of seconds of his smug countenance and I want to hit things very hard indeed.

So, should he be in there? The consensus seems to be that he shouldn't - after all, doesn't he have a job to do? Well, apparently not, since the man has only deigned to actually represent his constituents on a total of eight occasions since his election. To be fair, I should point out that one former constituent doesn't mind his decision, and Mark Holland quite excellently enagages in a some proper, old-fashioned cynicism in this post, suggesting it's actually an excellent idea getting him out of the way for a while.

Me? I've signed this pledge, which will obviously have no impact anyway, not because I think he should be representing the people of Bethnal Green (Mark has won me over - if you think about it, they're probably much better off without him), but because his chosen charity appears to be a Hamas front organisation.

Fortunately, the whole situation is not beyond the realms of piss-taking, and upon learning that RESPECT were angry about the larger amount of coverage (pardon the pun) given to Jodie Marsh's breasts than to Galloway's political views, one blogger noted:

'It's not a spat that concerns your humble scribe overmuch. Either way, we're pretty much guaranteed an hour of overexposed suntanned tits every night.'



Monday, January 09, 2006


World Cup Fever Is Here! Part 2

Stage 1

Group 5

Czech Republic

The Italians are the most obvious pick at first glance, but a more detailed look reveals problems. They have a mass of talent up front - they'll play Totti, and can then choose from Toni, Iaquinta, Cassano and Vieri, to name but a few. It's at the back that the problems lie - if Nesta or Cannavaro get injured, Everton reject Marco Materazzi is the next best option.

The Czechs are a different kettle of fish. The time for them to be considered a surprise team is over, and while they did still slightly over-achieve in Euro 2004, they have far too good a squad to be considered a pushover. In fact, they are now Europe's leading nation according to the somewhat misleading FIFA rankings. Although they haven't proved themsleves yet on the world stage, they have one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Petr Cech, and Milan Baros and Jan Koller managed 35 between them in the qualifiers. I reckon they're the team to beat.

The USA are no joke, but have they got what it takes at this level? Manager Bruce Arena (another great name) has been in charge for a long time now in international terms, and will be hoping for a continuation of the steady improvement that they've managed so far under his leadership, but in a really tough group, they could well be catching an early flight home.

Ghana, meanwhile, are an unknown quantity, at least to me. They have an outstanding midfield, and knocked South Africa out, but beyond that I'm clueless. They'll have to be pretty darn amazing to beat the Czechs or the Italians though.

Team to watch:

I've seen the future, and it's wearing Czech.

Group 6


What to say about Brazil? It's tricky. Were I a betting man, and I am, I would put money on Brazil to win the tournament, and I have. On Radio Five Live's 'Fighting Talk' last year, Danny Kelly did something interesting - he read out a list of names, about a score in length. These names were Brazilian footballers who were regulars in sides that had got to the last sixteen of the Champions League, yet couldn't even get in the Brazilian squad, let alone the first team. No other side on the planet has even half of that strength in depth, and identifying weak points in their side is near impossible. The only problem player is Roque Junior, who showed during his loan spell at Leeds that his age has caught up with him to the point that he simply can't keep up with fast-paced football. Nonetheless, they are an absolutely formiddable outfit.

The other three sides in the group are minnows by comparison. Japan are probably the best of the rest, and could give Brazil a good fight, given that Zico will want to motivate his men to highest level. With the substantial Brazilian population in Japan, this one could be a hard-fought tussle.

The other two sides in the group have their own cultural war - three of the probable Croatian squad are Australian born, and at least two of the Australian squad are of Croatian descent. This match should be a real cracker, but unfortunately for the sides concerned, I don't think they'll trouble the later stages.

Team to watch:

The probable champions.

Group 7

South Korea

This is a group that only a mother could love. The French are the seeded side, and should proceed through, but it is completely clear now, if it wasn't four years ago, that their 1998 victory was based far more on home advantage than the quality of the side. The same is also true of the South Koreans, who arrive at the tournament somewhat of an unknown quantity, given that they are currently on their third manager since Hiddink left after 2002. At least with Togo, we will get a chance to look at their qualities and frailties in the forthcoming African Cup Of Nations. Frankly, if the wartorn West Africans are ever going to have a good shot at progressing, it's this year, and this group. That only leaves the Swiss, the perennial first-hurdle fallers, whose weak qualifying performances show little sign of breaking that trend. This was one of the hardest groups to pick a team to watch, but:

Togo could well be the side who catch everyone by surprise, particularly given the relative weakness of the group.

Group 8

Saudi Arabia

If Group 7 was the group that only a mother could love, Group 8 is the group that the mother would leave in a dustbin wrapped in newspaper. Spain are the seeded side, despite their cackhanded attempts at qualifying, which saw them limp home behind the unmighty Serbia & Montenegro. The ultimate tournament underachievers in the past, this is the best ever chance they have of correcting that, even though Raul is a fitness doubt and their other options are surprisingly weak. They'll get through, in all likelihood, but they won't go far.

Of the rest, there's little to cheer. The Ukraine were the first qualifiers in Europe, and from a theoretically difficult group, but in reality they rely far too much on Shevchenko, and their brand of militantly defensive football isn't enough to get them far against the top attacks that are congregating in Germany. Tunisia have come a long way since being the afterthought in England's 1998 group, when we beat them 3-0. They have a decent coach in Roger Lemerre, and some fair attacking options, but they concede too many to threaten the top sides. The Saudis, meanwhile, are going to be looking to atone for that 8-0 thrashing Germany gave them four years ago, a game which was an embarassing lesson for the 'Sons Of The Desert.' They have a few decent players, but can be expected to finish bottom of the group, maybe with no points.

Team to watch:

Ideally none of them, but if you must, then watch Tunisia, because I reckon they could be a quality outfit in four years time.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


World Cup Fever Is Here! Part 1

I promised to do this ages ago, but I'm a man of my word, so here it is - the 'Dr Feelgood' 2006 World Cup predictor!

Stage 1

Group 1

Costa Rica

Germany, of course, have the double-edged sword of being hosts. Let's get it right - the pressure on the team to perform is massive, not least due to the fact that coach Klinsmann has upset most of the native press with his Californian commute. Still, home advantage counts no end in World Cup games - look how far it got the average at best South Korea and Japan sides in 2002. As long as Khan isn't a liability in goal, and with the input of rising stars like Bastian Schweinsteiger (boy, do I want that name!), the Germans will comfortably reach the semi's.

Poland are a curate's egg, and usually perform much better in qualifying than in tournaments. They failed to get to Euro 2004, and were a bit of a joke in 2002 when they crashed and burned. They have quality, but will it be enough? Probably. Costa Rica shouldn't be a problem - they play attractive football, and have comparatively good records in international tournaments when they qualify, but at some point, you have to accept that you're not going to go far when Paulo Wanchope is your best player.

Ecuador, meanwhile, are interesting. They have the same problem that dogs the Denver Broncos NFL franchise - namely, they perform brilliantly at home because they play at such high altitude, and their records are over-inflated because of it. However, German stadiums are a little less close in proximity to God's doormat, and they'll struggle.

Team to watch:

"Deutschland, deutschland uber alles, uber alles in der Welt!"

Group 2

Trinidad & Tobago

Ah, the controversial one. Well, the pundits said on the day of the draw that England couldn't have done much better, and they're right. It's time to face facts - if we can't progress through this group, we have no reason to continually tout ourselves as amongst the world's elite. Still, if Rooney gets injured, we'll probably make it unnecessarily nail-biting as always. Hopefully, the wunderkind will remain fit and healthy, because he genuinely is amongst the world's top five at the moment. I reckon Ericksson will go whatever, but particularly unless we get to the semis. Oh, and for God's sake Sven, please don't put Crouch up front. Please.

Trinidad were delighted to draw England, and declared a national holiday to celebrate. Unfortunately, the Carribbean partymen won't put in a Jamaican Bobsled Team performance. They'll be colourful, fun, noisy, and very, very out.

Sweden and Paraguay are both potential upsets for England, who may well be relying on a 0-0 draw between these two perennially underperforming nations. Both have great strength up front, with Roque Santa Cruz for Paraguay and Henrik Larsson and Freddie Ljungberg linking up brilliantly for Sweden. Still, both lack the strength in depth to go a long way.

Team to watch:

Come on, I couldn't really pick anyone else, could I?

Group 3

Ivory Coast
Serbia & Montenegro

On the face of it, this group splits fairly easily into two. Argentina and Holland have huge footballing traditions, loud and constant support, and more World Cup history than they can shake a stick at. Meanwhile, the Ivory Coast is a relatively new footballing nation, while Serbia & Montenegro certainly has lots and lots of history, but not really football related.

However. Things won't end like this. One or other of the old guard will fall at this hurdle. The stubborn and determined Serbs will be no pushover, and the Ivory Coast are blessed with players like Drogba and Bakayoko who always play a hundred times better for their country than their club.

Team to watch:

The Albiceleste have too much quality not to make it through in my opinion, so the genial Dutchmen could be in for a very, very bumpy ride.

Group 4


Mexico are consistent under-performers in tournaments, and it has to be said that being in the very weak CONCACAF section makes them a little complacent. In a weak group, they look good to go through, but don't expect them to get far.

Portugal, similar to their Iberian neighbours, have a tendency to struggle in tournaments. They've never reached the final, their best being third in 1966, and now is a real opportunity to change that. A lot of the side consists of players who are, by international standards, the equivalent of journeymen pros, particularly in defence. Nonetheless, they have a good, flairy midfield, and with the guidance of Big Phil, who won the cup with Brazil in 2002, they could well go far.

Angola aren't a great side, but they knocked out the Super Eagles to get this far, and don't underestimate the motivation there'll be in playing old colonial masters Portugal. Iran, meanwhile, are likely to be an afterthought.

Team to watch:

Under the pressure of international competition, they're probably better than Mexico.

The second half of the draw will come later today.


Defending The Creek

I heard about this story pretty much as it happened, around Christmas Day, but owing to how busy I have been, I haven't gotten around to it until now.

A couple of months back, I had occasion to write about and review 'Wolf Creek', which I was impressed with, being a strong genre horror film which really did its best to terrorise the audience. On Christmas Day, presumably out of irony, it was released Stateside, to almost total critical dismay. One critic walked out, and Roger Ebert gave it a zero star review. I didn't think too much of it at the time - people have different tastes. For instance, around the same time, Ebert, who is perhaps the best film reviewer that there is, nonetheless gave 'Cheaper By The Dozen 2' a three star review, despite the fact it's a total clunk.

However, Paul then linked to this piece by Cinematical, which asks an interesting question: why is it that a lot of American critics like commercial, jokey slasher flicks of the sort released every Halloween, yet dislike, and question morally, films in which the possiblity of death is most certainly not one played for laughs? The piece was so good, I want to quote extensively from it:

'. . .my question is this: why does it cause less dismay for these critics to sit through comedies like the Friday the 13th and Scream films, which make sight gags of slashed-up bodies, heads crushed like walnuts and popped-out eyeballs? Consider this tidbit from Ebert's review of a recent Michael Myers film: "There is a scene in the movie where a kid drops a corkscrew down a garbage disposal.....I am thinking, if this kid doesn't lose his hand, I want my money back." No dismay there. The key stylistic change between that film and Wolf Creek is that in Wolf Creek, death is not played for laughs. The characters are not glaring stereotypes, and the audience is primed to take their potential torture and death seriously. The director wants you to be legitimately scared or to cry, as some people around me in the theater were doing, when the carnage begins. So, why is that no longer a legitimate aim of horror cinema? Why is writer/director Greg McLean being castigated for doing his job effectively?'

'Victims in a typical American slasher film will stumble around in the dark for a while, opening closets and backing into darkened rooms until they finally get a knife in the back. Then it's on to the next one. There are always at least four or five characters lined up to be butchered in such films, probably to avoid a fixation on one particular victim and the natural discomfort that crops up when we are asked to focus on one character's suffering. American slasher victims are also aggressively devoid of any personality, so much so that their eventual retirement from the story is a non-event. They didn't exist before and they don't exist after. Wolf Creek, probably by being foreign-made, is refreshingly free of these studio-enforced conventions. Its characters are very slight, but they don't actively fight our attempts to see them as plausible human beings. They don't speak in one-liners. What you get is a film that is ninety percent chase-and-escape and ten percent vomit-inducing violence. It makes an honest attempt to scare us, which is no more morally reprehensible than a comedy that tries to make us laugh. I wish the critics who have been so quick to upbraid the makers of this film would do a better job of explaining what makes it so much more unpalatable to them than the typical plate of slasher piffle dished out every summer.'

I'm actually genuinely interested now - why?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


What Durst Thou Say, Fred?

Fred Durst, comedy legend.

'Did somebody say let's rock?'

Here are some extracts from an interview with the former frontman of dyslexic joke band Limp Bizkit (which I always pronounce Bizzzzz-kit out of principle) in which he reveals, oh my aching sides, his belief he will become one of the all-time great film directors:

"I created and directed a film for The Unquestionable Truth," Durst revealed, referring to the EP Limp Bizkit released in May with virtually no promotion. "It's a 30-minute short film, and Wes [Borland] and I both act in it. I play an evangelist named Evan Gelis, and that's something that I think is gonna find its way out there on the Internet or through somewhere."

An evangelist named Evan Gelis. With clunkingly obvious crap like that in it, no wonder it hasn't 'found it's way out there' yet. I mean, come on, that makes the name Aviva in 'Palindromes' look subtle.

"Directing a movie is serious, it's not a joke," Durst said, explaining the many years it's taken to develop his films. "I thought [directing videos] was serious, and it's not. Directing a film is a lot of work. It's characters, it's arcs, it's beats, it's just a lot of things, and I've been blessed to have been mentored by some really great people like ["Fight Club" director] David Fincher and just really have absorbed it. I think I'm a storyteller, and I'm gonna apply it."

Beats? What's he on about? Sadly, No! give us an example of his undoubted storytelling ability:

"I know ya'll be lovin' this shit right here
L-I-M-P Bizkit right here!
People in the house with them hands in the air
Cause if you don't care then we don't care
One two three time zoom to the 6
Jonesin for you picks of the Limp Bizkit mix"


Byron? Eat your heart out!

"I want to make timeless movies. I want to be beside Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson and Francis Ford Coppola. I'm a real director."

That's a real director, who has never directed anything more than a 30 minute short. Pull the other one. Let's look at the exalted company he believes he can keep:

Scorsese: 'Taxi Driver', 'Raging Bull', 'The Last Temptation Of Christ', 'Goodfellas', 'The Aviator.'

Anderson, W: 'Rushmore', 'The Royal Tenenbaums', 'The Life Aquatic.'

Anderson, P T: 'Boogie Nights', 'Magnolia', 'Punch Drunk Love.'

Coppola: 'The Godfather (I and II - we'll forget about III)', 'Apocalypse Now.'

I reckon it could be worth going to your bookie and putting a fiver on Freddie for the Best Director Oscar in 2008. After all, it is the season of miracles, and that's what's required. Then, if the impossible were to happen, you'd win an absolute fortune, because I'd put the odds at about 100,000,000 - 1.


New Year's Report

I never used to bother with New Year's Eve, preferring to sit at home and watch 'The Wicker Man', which seemed to always be on, but the last two years I've made a go of it.

I know this is stating the obvious, but goodness me, the expense! I've gone through £165 in two nights revels, which is quite a lot when you've no regular source of income. There's whole gaps that I can't remember very well, and the last thing I do remember was wandering down the road at 8 yesterday morning, in my boxer shorts, trying to find an alley I could wee in because I was finding the bathroom intimidating. Rather superbly, one bloke obviously on his way to work crossed the road to avoid me, clearly thinking I was going to flash him.

No. That's a gift I only bestow on the very lucky.

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