The World According To Damien
in a World gone mad – one sane voice emerges…

Aug
21

Red Dwarf fridge - JPEG

[UPDATE!] Actually, no – I belatedly looked it up.

It turns out that “smeg” – the all-purpose profanity used on “Red Dwarf” (derived from “smegma” which means… YOU can look THAT up) – has no less than FIVE ACRONYMIC applications, one of which is Smalterie Metallurgiche Emiliane Guastalla (which translates as the Emiliane metallurgical enamel works of Guastalla) who have been around since 1948, making (among other things) up-market fridges.

These days, they have gone RETRO – and this example just HAPPENS to be RED!

So now you know!

Aug
16

It’s sport.

Jul
24

Henry Ford must have really HATED his son.

Firstly, the old bugger named him EDSEL. Does NO-ONE remember their childhood? You do NOT call a kid something that will get them BEATEN at school. Berk.

Of course, if the boy had any gumption, he would have told everyone his name was ED.

Then if pressed, he could have gone with the traditional Edward, or the more American Edwin – or even the classic Edmund.

Provided he had kept his driving license, passport and other official documents hidden, only his wife and a number of bureaucrats would ever have known his dark secret.

But even after the man prematurely DIED, his misfortune continued.

In 1957, with a HUGE blast of publicity, Ford named the company’s latest product after him – the FORD EDSEL…

Ford Edsel original

Now this COULD have been the man’s saving. After all, Enzo Ferrari named one of HIS models after HIS late son, Dino.

However, there were two major differences between Dino and Edsel.

Number one; Dino is a cool name. And two; the Dino Ferrari was a SWEETHEART of a car – a MAJOR popular and financial success.

While Edsel is a TOILET of a name – and the Ford model which bears it stands as The Greatest Automotive Disaster In History.

Even before it was launched, men claimed its radiator grill reminded them of a lady’s downstairs bits (although, having spent a lot of time down there myself, I don’t SEE it) and in matriarchal America, this scared the CRAP out of the vehicle’s potential customers…

Ford Edsel

Then came the launch itself. After the massive hype – which ANY car would have had trouble living up to – the design faults, unreliability and overpricing ensured that the car would forever be consigned to the CRAPPER.

“The Wrong Car At The Wrong Time” and “The Aim Was Right, But The Target Moved” were just two of the apologies offered up for its monumental failure.

But ironically, while that damn NAME is now a byword for commercial disaster, the remaining examples – both the cars themselves and the toys that accompanied it – can be worth a FORTUNE.

And it is not hard to see why…

Ford Edsel Pacer 1958

Oh yes, some of the sexier variants now fetch over a hundred GRAND.

And even the less glamorous examples are worth SOMETHING, given that less than ten thousand of them survive.

So maybe old Ed has had the last laugh after all.

Jul
12

If two girls are dancing together, they attract guys – but if two GUYS…

Jul
05

Right now, America’s Republican Party must be feeling even sicker than Boris Johnson.

Because in Britain, the Tories managed to get rid of Bozo in just a couple of DAYS – something which the GOP has FAILED to do to The Donald in over a YEAR!

And that sick feeling HAS to be compounded by the fact that while Johnson has been a professional politician for FIFTEEN YEARS – seven as MP for (US: Representative from) Henley, eight as Mayor of London and currently another as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip…

…Trump has merely served as a HOTELIER.

Jul
01

Satirical comedy. A PR puke rises through Britain’s political system to become its virtual dictator.

Much has been written and said about this film; it was devised (and ultimately funded) by David Frost – initially scripted by John Cleese and Graham Chapman (who wrote much of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”) – and starred Peter Cook, who added much to the writing.

It has also been said – both then and since – that Rimmer is a thinly disguised satire on Frost himself, created by Cook.

However, this writer disputes that. Certainly Cook later claimed it to be true. And it is also true that the two men had something of a love-hate relationship, with Frost loving Cook and Cook hating Frost (Frost always wanted to be a performer – but lacked the ability).

Nonetheless, while Cook may have intended his performance to ape Frost, it seems to have only succeeded in Cook’s own head.

The fact is, his acting was much as it always was, in films. The late comedy actor/director Mel Smith has described it as, “a sort of non-acting acting style – which isn’t really a style at all – he was always just slightly removed from it – detached.”

But this is not to belittle Cook’s performance. In those days, the man was gorgeous – and when he is onscreen, it is impossible to take your eyes off him.

No, the thing that did for this film was the very thing it was about – the British political system.

In those days, film and television companies were forced to lay off political satire during the run-up to a general election, for fear of Undue Influence. Ironically, this had killed Frost’s “That Was The Week That Was” in 1964, which had seen the beginning of Harold Wilson’s career.

And it killed “…Rimmer” at the end of that career.

This writer was a young man living in London, when the film was being made. He looked forward to it eagerly.

But in the event, it did not emerge until after the 1970 election, by which time it was irrelevant.

Imagine a film today (late June, 2016) starring John Goodman as a blustering showman – a property tycoon and reality show host, with designs on the US presidency… you get the idea.

Now imagine that same film released next March.

In the event, Wilson lost the election due to a “pirate” radio station called Radio Northsea International, which broadcast propaganda to SE England, despite the best efforts of a corrupt government minister called John Stonehouse (Wiki him).

However, it is unlikely that “…Rimmer” would have made a lot of difference to the result; Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 911” exposed the ineptitude and corruption of Bush, but failed to prevent his re-election, in 2004.

All the delay meant was that one of the best films of the late Sixties ended up being buried. And given the pace of that decade, when the film was finally released, it was little more than a curio.

Which is what it remains today – although now it is also something of a time-capsule.

But there is still much to enjoy here, including the aforementioned enigmatic performance of Peter Cook – and fine turns by a roster of Sixties comedy acting talent, including Ronnie Fraser, Denholm Elliot and Arthur Lowe.

Plus a cameo by playwright Harold Pinter who bizarrely, actually does play a character much like that of David Frost…

Jun
21

Much controversy has been generated by the Redskins’ logo. Many Native Americans find it offensive. Here it is…

Washington Redskins logo

Okay, so how about this British person with NO interest in British, let alone American sports, laying the matter to rest?

Here is MY suggestion for a new Redskins logo…

tomato

You’re welcome.

Jun
02

The two words “job creation” are now part of every political stump speech, but the two words you will NEVER hear from a politician are “full employment” – WHY? Buckle up…

To illustrate the answer, we need to invent a small town. Let us call it Anytown. It has 1,000 jobs and 990 workers, meaning when a worker needs a job, they have ten to choose from. This creates a situation where employers are vying for staff, producing high wages and good working conditions.

But then a company sheds twenty workers.

Overnight, the situation CHANGES. Now, when a job is advertised, TEN applicants turn up. This enables ALL companies to immediately LOWER wages – and working conditions.

And all it took was a 2% drop in the number of available positions.

Now as all grown-ups know, politicians and business-owners are inextricably linked – often, they are one and the same. Thus it can be seen why politicians DREAD the concept of full employment.

In Britain, the balance tipped in the early Seventies. Thanks to early automation and forays into “outsourcing” – suddenly there became fewer vacancies open than there were people to fill them. At which point, Britain began its slow descent into the huge steaming pile of crap it is neck-deep in today.

And while the British Party remains in power, nothing will change. A SECOND party is required.

Elsewhere in these columns I have described the phenomenon of the British Party, but since you are HERE – a recap.

For the last CENTURY, Britain has been ruled by a single party. It has two wings; Labour and Tory.

In theory they are TWO “opposing” parties, but over the last hundred years each have steadfastly refused to “out” each other’s sleaze and corruption (use “unparliamentary language”) and every time their wing was in power, moved the electoral boundaries to benefit them.

This last would be fine if the next ruling wing moved them BACK, but they merely move MORE boundaries to benefit THEM.

The net result of which has been to establish the “safe seat” system, where either wing of the British Party can rule with about 40% of the popular vote, but any second party would require a whopping SIXTY.

In this writer’s (sadly, long) lifetime, it has been tried twice. And both attempts crumbled to dust.

In the Eighties, the Gang Of Four got about 25% of the vote – barely less than Labour received – but while Labour ended up with hundreds of safe seats, the Alliance party received fewer than the fingers of a clumsy sawmill operator.

And as they always do, the British public bleated about this obvious corruption – but did nothing.

Then, some 25 years later, along came Sell-out Cleggy (“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so, so, sorry…”) – about whom I have ALSO written in these columns…

Perhaps, in another quarter-century, it will be third time lucky.

May
16

If Trump actually ends up as POTUS 45 – WHATEVER he does, at least he will never have to worry about becoming known as The Worst President America Ever Had.

That position is already irrevocably FILLED.

By one George Wan… sorry, WaLker Bush.

May
09

…There isn’t any. I thank you.

Oh – you want more? Okay. For centuries, psychiatrists and other quacks have made fortunes convincing people that interpretation of dreams can reveal important facts about their inner psyches.

All of which is bogus.

When we sleep, our higher brain – the “conscious” – shuts down, allowing our lower brain – the “subconscious” – to PLAY (if the lower brain shut down as well, we would stop BREATHING).

Now freed from its mundane duties, the lower brain goes walkabout.

And as it stumbles around our memory banks, it pulls out images, emotions and concepts in an entirely RANDOM manner, occasionally stringing them together into a vaguely narrative form.

And it is these ramblings that we call dreams. Of course, most of the jumble makes no sense, but when it does, we remember it when we wake (particularly if the dream occurred shortly before waking).

But it’s a bit like that infinite number of monkeys. If they bang away mindlessly on those typewriters for long enough, one will knock out something that might pass for a Hollywood screenplay – which would explain “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”.

So when you wake, having just committed an unspeakable act with your mother, don’t rush to the Yellow Pages looking for a shrink.

You don’t have a PROBLEM – it was just the random wanderings of your unfettered subconscious.

And if you allow this inane drivel from the Haunted Wing of your grey matter to worry you, you DESERVE the drivel said shrink will unload all over YOU.

Apr
15

Why-Is-There-Air

These days, Bill is in the news a LOT. But while I occasionally glance through what has been said, I find ZILCH about something that is CENTRAL to the issue – the way things WERE during the times his “offences” took place.

Of course, there are those who would say that wrongdoing is wrong, no matter WHEN it was done.

But this is horse-feathers. The list of deeds done by famous people in the past which would horrify today, but which were fine at the time, is INFINITE. Sex with teens, slave-trading, bootlegging and umpteen war-crimes for a start.

And Bill’s appear to be that he had sex with girls – and gave at least some of them Quaaludes.

However back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, the use of this relaxant (sold as Mandrax in the UK) was COMMONPLACE.

Indeed, the drug only started getting clamped down on in the middle Seventies, finally becoming illegal in the early Eighties – although its underground manufacture continued, until it faded from the scene in the early Nineties.

And when Bill was “in his prime” so was “Free Love” – man. Oh yes, “ludes” and “mandies” were a MAJOR part of the Hippie scene.

The reason WHY is easy to understand if you were THERE (as this writer was). You see, during those late Sixties and early Seventies, everywhere young girls looked, they were told they were part of the New/Now/Next/Me Generation – and the Sexual Revolution.

Movies and TV were PLASTERED with images of Free Love.

Thus the peer-pressure on these girls to dive into this new society was immense. The problem was, most of them had been brought up by parents who were part of the FIFTIES generation – easily the most REPRESSIVE period of the Twentieth Century.

And as a result, these late Sixties and early Seventies “chicks” found themselves ACHING to let go – but held back by their upbringing.

So at this time, many would ASK their dates if they had Quaaludes, which they then took EAGERLY. They did not have to be RUFIED.

Quaaludes were like condoms; all guys who considered themselves to be “players” HAD them.

Also, after more than a decade of “control” The Pill became far easier to obtain during this period – no questions, no age limit.

Plus AIDS was years away and the latest generation of antibiotics could take care of most other STDs.

And so it was that the late Sixties and early Seventies became for many a modern Sodom And Gomorrah, the only RULES imposed by the party-goers.

But all parties have to come to an end – and then come the regrets.

And with the passage of time – and a whole new set of STANDARDS in place – it is understandable how today, some of those now-grown-up WOMEN might view the things they did back then.

Of course, most would prefer to FORGET their drug-fuelled excesses and put those days behind them. A dodgy shag is just that – let it go.

But if your memories include an encounter with a CELEBRITY…

Which is where Bill comes in.

His alleged exploits began in 1965 – the year his TV career took off with “I Spy” – and apparently ran right through to 2008. But then, old habits and attitudes die hard.

He is clearly a product of an ERA.

Now although I was there during the period, I was obviously not there when Cosby was – or was not – partaking of the opportunities presented by the climate of that time. So I do not KNOW whether he is a VILLAIN – or just UNLUCKY to have been caught up in a mess.

I am merely trying to throw some light and texture onto a scene that young people today cannot possibly understand, attributing coeval standards to a period that passed by before they were even BORN.

And I am betting that MANY OTHER celebrities have packed go-bags for the time when THEIR past “misdeeds” catch up with them.

In the meantime, here IS Bill Cosby, doing standup – IN 1965…

…enjoy.

Apr
05

This KINDA follows on from the end of the piece on Pop and Dance…

https://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/damien-on-the-history-of-pop-and-dance/

… which bemoans the lack of MELODY in today’s music. So where does Morricone figure in this? Read on, reader…

You are probably familiar with Ennio Morricone as that guy who wrote the scores for those “spaghetti westerns” in the Sixties, right?

But he was much more.

In fact, Morricone had already established his spaghetti-western style when he’d done the backing for a cowboy-style country record a few years earlier and merely extended it, when he wrote the scores for “A Fistful Of Dollars”, “For A Few Dollars More”, “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” and “Once Upon A Time In The West”.

But these films are just four of around four HUNDRED films that were scored by Ennio, from 1962 right up to the present, which include ALL genres of movie, from romance and drama, through horror to farce.

And which, using his collaborators – Bruno Nicolai; arranger and conductor (who has a number of scores to HIS credit) – Alassandro; whistles – and the great Edda Dell’Orso, whose passionate, three-octave vocals enhanced almost all of Ennio’s scores from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies – run through all genres of MUSIC.

Back in the late Sixties, when the legal wrangles were settled (the makers of “Yojimbo” sued over “Fistful” and the producer of “Fistful” sued over “Dollars More”) and Leone’s first three movies opened outside Italy, Hollywood recognised Morricone’s genius and welcomed him into their number with awards and commissions (they even offered him a villa in Bel-Air, which he declined).

But what no-one outside of Italy (apart from a few film-nuts like this scribbler) knows, is that Morricone has a SLEW of music, that enhanced a plethora of (mostly unremarkable) films, to his credit. And they include some of the most beautiful melodies you will ever hear. Which brings us back to the point this writer made at the top. These pieces were written in the Sixties and Seventies.

And therein lies the problem. As stated in the piece on Pop and Dance, modern music first emerged immediately after WW1. And most of the great melodies – tunes that get inside your brain and which you find yourself humming or whistling – were written by the likes of Cole Porter and George Gershwin, during the Twenties and Thirties.

Still more was written after, but as you go through the Forties, Fifties, Sixties and Seventies – the flow of great MELODIES lessens. Until in the Eighties, it all but DRIES UP.

Oh sure, there were some great SOUNDS around in the Eighties, but most were based on complex CHORD-CHANGES – not melody.

How many GREAT TUNES can YOU think of, that were written after 1980?

The problem is with the format of Western music. It uses just twelve notes – seven white ones and five black. And any melody that is going to sound “right” has to have logical PROGRESSIONS – not just be random notes. Which is somewhat limiting.

As far back as 1964, when John Barry first played the opening three notes of “Goldfinger” to lyricists Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, they both simultaneously sang, “…wider than a mile!” This was because “Moon River” shares the same opening three notes – albethey phrased differently.

These days, to avoid charges of plagiarism, a composer has to make sure that no FOUR successive notes of their melodies coincide with another. And after NINETY YEARS of compositions, which have been greedily assimilated by movies, stage musicals, radio and television – not to mention the Pop record industry – that’s TOUGH.

ALL THE NOTES HAVE BEEN USED UP.

So if YOU want to hear great melodies you haven’t heard before – go to YouTube and punch in “Ennio Morricone Edda Dell’Orso”. Then listen to ALL of the FORTY-ODD entries listed. And enjoy them.

Because they may be the LAST NEW (to YOU) melodies – THAT YOU WILL EVER HEAR!!

Mar
18

It began with David Bowie – then, in ten weeks, it has included Keith Emerson, Paul Daniels, ​Alan Rickman, Lemmie, Sylvia Anderson, Terry Wogan, Ken Adam, Cliff Michelmore, Ed Stewart, Frank Sinatra Jr., Sir George Martin, Tom Mullica, Douglas Slocombe and Alan Haven.

In TEN WEEKS!

Now I’m OLD, is it going to be like this CONTINUOUSLY??

Mar
10

Evolution was invented over a hundred years ago, by Charles Dance.

He noted that some horses had grown tall, so they could reach the berries in tall trees.

This meant they got healthier – and they passed their jeans on to their young. They were called Giraffes.

Humans have done this as well. Supermarkets were first invented by Tess Coe and so that food would get cycled, new stocks were put at the back of the shelves.

However tall people could reach the fresher food, so also became healthier and more likely to pass their jeans on to their young.

This is why people have been getting taller since supermarkets opened.

Feb
26

Since almost ANY American can run for POTUS, the ballot forms have to have a “write name in” panel at the bottom of the list of “serious” candidates.

This is called Democracy.

Thus inevitably, Mickey Mouse, Alfred E. Neumann, Howard Stern and other sillies collect significant numbers of votes in every election.

This too is called Democracy.

However, the democratic process (usually) eliminates the possibility of fringe, extremist and outright looney candidates from actually gaining office, as they do not receive enough votes.

But this year, it is increasingly looking like that process may FAIL in the USA. There is now a very REAL possibility that Donald Trump could WIN.

Which HAS to be akin to Mr Mouse HIMSELF winning!

And if Trump IS nominated, voters will not even have to write a name on the ballot form – it will already be PRINTED there.

Furthermore, if elected, The Donald can take solace from the fact that no matter how badly he screws things up, he will NEVER be known as The Worst American President Ever. That boat has already sailed.

I give you Mr George Wan… sorry, WaLker Bush.

Feb
09

When your son asks you why he needs an education – show him this picture…

education rocks!

When your daughter asks you why she needs an education – show her this picture…

education rocks!

Feb
05

Incredibly, numerophile is not a recognised word, even though its antonym – numerophobe – IS (although you’ll be hard-stretched to find it in a dictionary). So its journey to recognition begins HERE…

Back in 2009, I purchased a nice digital clock (I even bought a second, to replace it when it conked out – which so far, it hasn’t).

In bright LED 7SDs (which dim between 22:00 and 07:00) it gives you the time (in 24-hour format) plus (with no unnecessary zeros) the day of the week (modern style, with Monday as day 1) then the day of the month and the month itself.

It even gives you the temperature (in degrees centigrade) accurately, thanks to its built-in thermocouple.

Meaning that once every seven years, it can show 22:22, 2, 2, 2, 22.

This is because, on average, the second of February only falls on a Tuesday that often (in fact; every six years, five years, six years and eleven years – the whole repeated every twenty-eight years).

And a few days ago, it did just that – although I had to crank up the aircon to make it happen.

The last time this occurred was shortly after I bought the clock, back in 2010. The previous time had been in 1999 – and the next will be in 2021. Then 2027. After which comes the eleven-year gap – so 2038.

But hopefully I’ll be DEAD by then (otherwise, I’ll be eighty-five – and no-one wants that – unless they’re eighty-four – and perhaps not even then).

Now this is actually a lot like those old cars, where the mileometer (another word only SOME dictionaries acknowledge) turns all of its digits from a row of nines to a row of zeros, every 100,000 miles (one wonders how many drivers have piled into the car in front whilst watching this phenomenon).

The thing is, when the long-awaited Magic Event takes place, the bonnet does not suddenly fly up and the wheels fall off (unless you’re driving a CLOWN car). While it may be fascinating for the driver, the vehicle is oblivious to it.

And likewise my clock; it did not issue smoke and rise majestically into the air, either this time or the last.

But it was still great to see 222222222 on the machine again – albeit for only a few seconds (at which point, the temperature drifted off).

However, I’m not a numerologist (the twits who believe numbers actually HAVE Magical Powers – THAT word is easy to find) so that was as far as it went.

Nevertheless, I’ll be there again in 2021!

Jan
16

I recall a TV show where a young person was talking with an elderly person and then they said something which assumed the elder was a racist. At which point, said elder stopped them and said, “Now hang on, you’re assuming because I’m old I must be a racist – that makes YOU an AGEIST.”

It was a great line (which is why I remember it) but the truth is that these days, for that to be true the person would have to be over 70.

I’m 63 and a Child Of The Sixties – and we INVENTED anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, etc.

Then came the Children Of The Seventies, who proceeded to mess everything up, with their Political Correctness – leaving everyone confused and paranoid.

But what has this to do with recordable DVDs?

Well, it occurred to me there is a parallel to be drawn; imagine DVD-players are white folks and recordable DVDs are immigrants – while OLD DVD-players CLAIM to play ALL disks, the fact is when it comes to recordable DVDs – they just don’t LIKE them!

All my MODERN players are FINE with recordable DVDs – but my old machines bicker, act irrationally and frequently REJECT them…

Jan
02

Ask any British school-child (who has been paying attention) when World Wars One and Two began and ended and they will say 1914-18 and 1939-45.

But put the same question to an American kid and you will get 1916-18 and 1941-45.

And in Spain, China or Japan – yet more alternative start dates.

While Peninsula Malaysia and South Korea will generate different END dates.

And of course, plenty of countries were sensible enough to stay OUT of the conflicts altogether.

Which is remarkably similar to World War Three.

Inevitably, America started it when they accidentally WON the Cold War. This theoretical conflict served both the American and Russian governments well, allowing them to justify maintaining gigantic militaries, both to the rest of the World – and their own taxpayers.

But it all came crashing down in 1991, when America overplayed its hand. They had invented a fictitious high-tech ICBM defence system called the Strategic Defence Initiative (“Star Wars”) and Russia, with its Communist system – which fails to reward initiative, resulting in technological stagnation – had no answer to it.

So the USSR GAVE UP – leaving Washington to invent a NEW Evil Empire.

And so they nominated the Middle East, who were sitting on the OIL that by now, America desperately needed – with their own oil barely covering a quarter of their consumption.

The Middle East was low-tech, splintered and disorganised, so what was the worst that could happen? They found out in 2001 (“9/11”).

But while that (reversed) date might be thought of by Americans as World War Three’s start date, like with the two previous major conflicts, other countries differ.

In Spain, it was 2004 (“11-M” – the Madrid Train Bombings).

In Britain, 2005 (“7/7” – either way round – the London Bombings).

And in France – ALL of last year.

Thanks America – here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten us into.

Naturally, Washington would claim that the above (and many more) events were merely isolated, uncoordinated terrorist atrocities – not a WAR.

But as usual, they would be WRONG. To understand why, we need to understand the NATURE of war.

In the Nineteen-Teens, it was low-tech, all-embracing, brutal trench warfare – culminating with the Great American Plague. And thanks to stupid, greedy politicians failing to tie things up properly, it was only around twenty years before World War Two kicked off.

But this time, thanks to better tech – long-range bombers, rockets, submarines, radar, code-breakers and ultimately, nuclear bombs – it was a very different experience.

And with the gap between that conflict and the current one having stretched to around HALF A CENTURY, it is inevitable that this war is a QUANTUM LEAP from the last.

Back in the Sixties, we imagined that World War Three would be all nuclear devices and laser weaponry. However, a nuclear war would eliminate every living creature larger than a cockroach. And laser weapons are impractical – their uses are limited and they require GIGANTIC power-supplies.

No, following the disastrous and bloody Vietnam War, America invented a whole range of high-tech “stealth” weaponry that could drop a bomb down an enemy’s chimney, without even disturbing the next door neighbours’ TV-watching.

But after having used a slew of these very EXPENSIVE toys, America has barely made a dent in the enemy’s “homeland” forces.

However, it is not them that WE have to fear.

Would-be President (it could happen) Donald Trump believes he can make America safe by firming up his nation’s borders. But he is kidding himself. The enemy is already IN America.

Back in 1941, America dragged all its people with Japanese heritage out of their homes and plonked them into internment camps. Some hundred and twenty thousand people in all – sixty percent of whom were registered US citizens.

If the Donald used Executive Power to do likewise, he would be looking at imprisoning THREE MILLION PEOPLE.

And they are only those who have declared their faith.

Imagine you are living in an urban cul-de-sac in San Bernardino.

In addition to your house, there are three others. A family of middle-eastern appearance lives in one, a black family in another and a white family in the last. Spot the terrorist.

It could be ANY OF THEM.

So as we wave goodbye to 2015, it is worth considering that we are Living In Interesting Times…

Dec
17

Is it not time this astronomical LIE was exposed?

A typical “shower” consists of about one every FIFTEEN SECONDS.

If I stood under my shower and received one drip of water every quarter of a minute – I would NOT consider it to be a SHOWER!

True, if you mount a camera on a tripod, then set it on a long time exposure (say, an HOUR) the resulting photo is quite spectacular.

But viewing it LIVE, standing out in the garden with your head craned back like an idiot, watching the occasional TINY streak of light cross over the sky – is definitely NOT.

Dec
10

When I was nine years old, I had an epiphany; I realised that Santa Claus, fairies, goblins and God were man-made MYTHS.

And in the fifty-four years since, I have seen nothing to dispossess me of that realisation.

However, while atheism is perfectly acceptable amongst thinking people today, half a century ago, you were looked upon with suspicion – even outright hostility.

I recall that at age eleven, our class (the “A” stream) was given a questionnaire which included the issue of our religion. I wrote down that I was “too intelligent to believe in such rubbish.”

Now you have to remember back in ’63, schools still had “Morning Assembly” – consisting of twenty minutes of hymns and prayers, followed by ten minutes of “announcements” – and the CANE.

Thus when my teacher called me out and stated that HE believed in “such rubbish” I figured I was in trouble – but in the event, he was refreshingly COOL about the whole matter and my arse remained inviolate (on THAT occasion).

Nevertheless, in those days, few people appearing in the witness-box of a court took the option of Affirming (a perfectly legal procedure, with the same penalties for those who are later proven to have LIED) for fear of alienating the judge and/or jury – particularly if they were the ACCUSED.

And again, in those days, couples checking into a hotel double-room had to have the same surnames – or be the same sex.

While doctors were only supposed to prescribe the newly-arrived Pill to married women over twenty-five, who had at least one kid.

However these days, society has moved FORWARD; the Pill is pretty much available on demand – two adults of any sex and/or name can check into a hotel double-room and the receptionist will only look up if their plastic is not in order – and “I wish to Affirm” is frequently heard in court.

And if some prat claims a “non-believer” has NO belief, the answer that they believe in MANY things – just not some clearly made-up DEITY – tends to shut them up.

So now that atheism has been generally accepted by modern society, I believe the time has come for us to move forward AGAIN.

The term Religious Tolerance has long been understood to mean tolerance of OTHER religions – but I believe it is high time to END tolerance of ALL religions.

Given RECENT EVENTS (with doubtless more to come) religion MUST be relegated to the PAST – atheism being replaced by ANTITHEISM.

Religious apologists claim only the EXTREMISTS create problems, but even the so-called “moderate” religions dictate to people what they may eat, drink and wear. And tell them how to live; interfering with their social behaviour, their family planning – and even convincing them to allow the genital mutilation of their babies.

And I have not even STARTED with the excesses of a certain OTHER group (nor will I – those lunatics KILL people).

But imagine a World WITHOUT religion, where women and gays would finally achieve EQUALITY, the REASON for half the wars and most terrorism would VANISH – and just think of all the time, effort and MONEY that would be saved.

In any case, we have now entered the Third Millennium – thus it is well PAST time that Man GREW UP.

By now, we should have had permanent bases on Mars – and more importantly, have ended disease and poverty. Not to mention have developed free, clean and renewable energy.

And had we sloughed off the SCOURGE of religion a thousand years ago, we WOULD have.

These retarded superstitions have slowed the Ascent Of Man for TOO long. Thus we HAVE to move BEYOND them – before they drag us all back to the Dark Ages.

So the next time someone asks you your religion, stand proud and declare yourself to be an ANTITHEIST.

And if they ask why, direct them to any newspaper…

Nov
27

…Began, as we know it today, around 1920. It emerged at the beginning of “The Jazz Age”. But although the term “Dance Music” was coined early on, the term “Pop” (short for popular) had to wait until the Fifties. In 1920, the New Sound was called – Syncopated Music.

This quickly sub-divided itself into what is now called Pop and Dance. Dance, by definition, is music made for dancing to – but you can also listen to it – while Pop is music made predominantly for listening to – but you can also dance to it. The main difference being – Pop has lyrics.

But in those days, ALL modern music was about BANDS. The vocalists were employed by the bandleader, and had no greater status than the lead trumpeter. However, upon the advent of electronic amplification at the end of the Twenties, that would CHANGE.

The CROONER was born. No longer were singers forced to bellow their lyrics through bull-horns – they could press their lips up to the huge, moving-coil mics and PURR their sounds into it – which would then BOOM through the dance-halls of the day. The POWER!

And with that power came the ability to get THEIR names onto the top of the label – instead of in brackets under the band’s name – often in the form of “with vocal refrain” – while the band’s name slid to the BOTTOM of said label. Bing Crosby, Al Bowlly, Peggy Lee – and of course, Frank Sinatra – became huge stars.

In those early days, labour was cheap. Thus the cost of keeping a 16-piece band – plus singers – and occasionally even a string section – On The Road, was manageable. But after WW2, this soon became impractical. And all but the biggest bands split up into combos. Rock ‘N’ Roll was born.

It was a merging of several styles – Boogie, Jump-Jive, Rock-A-Billy (up-tempo Country) and Rhythm-And-Blues (up-tempo Blues) – even Gospel. Elvis was the catalyst, turning R ‘N’ B WHITE.

But post-war repression gave Rock ‘N’ Roll a hard time. After the war, education had slowly lengthened the time kids were expected to remain in school – living with their PARENTS. Which inevitably caused friction – and REBELLION. Parents failed to understand this, and blamed their kids’ behaviour on the MUSIC the kids liked, not realising the music was an EFFECT of their behaviour – not its CAUSE.

Thus radio stations refused to play it and record companies refused to record it – they were run by Old Men – with the inevitable result that it was driven UNDERGROUND. While the Fifties charts were filled with middle-of-the-road pap, the kids were bopping to R ‘N’ R in juke joints.

This ended in the late Fifties, when managers realised their stars would never make MONEY from R ‘N’ R, and so began grooming them as “all-round-entertainers”. But around the corner – was THE SIXTIES!

In the Sixties, everything changed. Firstly, the people in charge of radio stations and record labels began to realize that the kids of today HAD money – and fashion designers came to the same conclusion. And those budding musicians who as kids had been part of the underground scene in the Fifties realised that R ‘N’ B and R ‘N’ R still had POWER – and could be MODERNISED. Enter the “Beat” scene, with its leaders – The Beatles.

The Beatles were given previously unheard-of room to develop, under the skilled auspices of George Martin – a gifted musician who had formerly been side-lined at Parlophone as a recorder of comedy records. And you hardly need THIS historian to tell you how THAT went.

And whilst even the Sixties had to end, the die had been cast. Now, YOUTH was what Pop and Dance were all about. And this movement continued through Prog Rock, Disco, Punk and eventually, Techno. Which brings us NEARLY to today. But at this point, to understand where we ARE today, it is necessary to detail the history of the medium without which NONE of the above would have HAPPENED. The Record Companies.

And at said point, this writer is forced to limit his description of events predominantly to the BRITISH scene, since it is THAT scene that he has experienced. But ALL record companies, World-wide, share the same paranoia, dealing as they do, with a product you cannot see, touch or in any real sense, consume. It can only be HEARD. Thus they have jealously guarded their “product”.

Sound recording started as a gimmick, long BEFORE the advent of Pop and Dance, merely FALLING INTO the commercial possibilities when the MUSIC emerged. Initially, the companies were run by the formats’ inventors – Edison and Berliner.

But as Pop and Dance began to achieve recognition, many small companies started up, eager to take advantage of the phenomenon. But as is the way of such things, it wasn’t long before the take-overs and mergers began. In Britain, there were two leaders – Columbia (no relation to America’s Columbia) who handled popular artists – and His Master’s Voice, with it’s famous trade-mark of the dog and gramophone, who went with more serious music.

During it’s rise, Columbia had acquired Regal Records and HMV, the Zonophone Co. In 1931, HMV effectively took over Columbia. And Parlophone was brought in as well. Thus the new company with its new Abbey Road studios, record pressing plants, record-player, radio (and later, television) manufacturing units, laboratories (where TV was developed – see elsewhere in these chronicles) and retail outlets (HMV Record Shops) controlled more than half the audio (later, audio-visual) industry of Great Britain. And Decca (similar story) controlled most of what was left.

And this situation continued – with outlets in The States – for the next FORTY YEARS.

The only major development came after WW2, when Philips – the European equivalent of EMI – began a record company in Britain. The success of which was based SOLELY on their having managed to wrest the license to distribute AMERICA’S Columbia records from EMI’s Columbia – giving them an immediate, ready-made catalogue of US-recorded MOR hits to flood Europe with.

And Pye – a small British manufacturer of A/V equipment – had some success when they signed the King of Skiffle, Lonnie Donegan. And Rank – a British film production and releasing organisation – gave it a go, but folded the division after a few years. Others came and went also, but EMI and Decca RULED until the end of the Sixties – then it all fell apart. The big two had price-fixed and strangled the market for so long – they forgot about the customers.

Who wanted DIVERSITY. And in the early Seventies, a whole lot of little companies began to GIVE them that. Let’s examine one of them. Virgin. A middle-class hooray called Richard Branson started the label with small facilities and would have gone the way of others who’d done similar – had it not been for another young man by the name of Mike Oldfield.

Mike Oldfield had made a record called “Tubular Bells”. Sort of Electric Folk, it caught the mood of The New Age – and was immediately popularised by having a piece of itself included in the hit film “The Exorcist”. “Bells” quickly became first an underground – then mainstream – HIT.

And Branson began selling SHED-FULLS of copies from his shop, above a shoe-shop in London’s Oxford Street. He also had a Man In New York who bought PILES of American rock titles he knew would sell in London and air-freighted them to Branson’s shop. This KILLED HMV Oxford Street, where you had to ORDER them one at a time – which meant they cost a fortune and you had to WAIT for delivery. At Virgin, they cost LESS than retail (records were always cheaper Stateside).

Furthermore, Branson would sell ANY records – at ANY price he felt to be fair. And since OODLES of small companies – many with just ONE signing – began following his lead, he had lots to choose from. Anarchy ensued! The price-fixing system where any company selling a record cheaply could NOT get distribution in the majors’ shops was OVER. The prices tumbled. By the beginning of the Eighties, records had never BEEN so cheap. But it wouldn’t last.

What was left of the big companies had a SECRET WEAPON. The last major record format change had happened at the end of the Fifties. The transfer from shellac (78s) to vinyl (45s and 33 1/3rds). It was time for ANOTHER one. Enter the CD. The Thing That Killed Pop.

The thing about pop is it’s SINGLE-BASED. You have an idea for a sound. You get some chums round and form a band. You rehearse. Get small gigs. Press a demo single at a small factory. Get your girlfriends to plug it to DJs. IF a radio station plays it, you MIGHT get a few orders. If you can fill them, your single enters the BOTTOM of the Hot 100.

At this point, radio stations prick up their antennae. They give it air-play. It builds. Eventually a scout from a major hears it and signs the band. They put ’em in the studio. Tracks are recorded – along with a better production of that single (or the original, if the quality is good enough). Tours are organised to sell the album – which people will BUY, having now HEARD it. Then you go back into the studio to record the follow-up. And so on. Rock And Roll!

But although the CD was INTENDED to be an album AND single format – it never happened. Single “mini-discs” WERE issued for a while, but the format died on its arse. It needed an ADAPTOR for some players’ “cup-holders”, so was issued with one. Trouble was, it cost MORE to make the mini-disc and adaptor than it did to simply make a full-size DISC. Thus CD singles merely became SHORT versions of the albums. The single was DEAD. And with it, entry-level Pop.

Of course, the record companies didn’t CARE about the lack of New Talent. They were too busy fleecing the public. Selling them new equipment (most record giants were then owned by, owned, or had SOME tie-in with the companies making the hardware) and encouraging them to RE-PURCHASE music they had ALREADY PAID FOR, in the new format. All it took was a cheap, back-room clean-up of the tapes they, the record company, already OWNED. Now, they could re-sell their entire back-catalogue. All of the classic albums – and ever-more-cheesy compilations.

And “in order to pay for the new equipment” – an argument that began losing credibility after TEN YEARS – the record companies charged SERIOUS money for the discs. Audio-cassettes of “singles” (three tracks off the album) and albums were issued as a stop-gap, but actually cost the record companies more to make than CDs – so they REALLY pushed those discs.

But eventually the public had purchased new hi-fis – and RE-purchased all the nostalgia they needed – and so the record companies were forced to re-think their strategies. Having developed NO New Sound (the CORE of Pop) their first move was to try and galvanise their producers. And those guys, not being creatives, fell back on the hits of the PAST.

Hiring groups of pretty boys and girls who would look good on posters (these guys knew MARKETING) they did a series of lame covers (shades of Woolworths’ “Embassy” records) knowing their demographic (gullible teens) would be too young to be able to remember the originals – and sold them this crap at FULL PRICE. A monstrous RIP-OFF.

But eventually, the young wised up (particularly when their parents played them the ORIGINALS of those lame covers!) and the companies needed ANOTHER trick. And right NOW, amongst the firings of their execs and tumbling balance sheets – they’re STILL looking for it! Which brings us back to the music.

We left things at the end of the Eighties. Pop’s Last Hurrah. New producers had revived Pop and it was on a high that ALMOST resembled that of the Sixties. But like the Sixties, there was a hangover due. The Nineties was The Decade Pop Died. Well, almost.

The thing was, Pop had always shared the stage with Dance (see above, right at the start of this reminiscence) and when Pop had been in the front seat, Dance had always taken a rest in the back. And vice-versa. But over the decades, Pop had mostly hogged that front seat – however, once more, change was around the corner.

You see, Pop has a CYCLE. And it lasts about ten years. It consists of (1) Birth. Someone comes up with a New Idea. Like Elvis with White R ‘N’ B. Then (2) Development. Others jump on the band-waggon. Then (3) Peak. The New Sound rules! Then (4) Decline. The New Sound becomes repetitive, with “variations”. And finally (5) Fallow Period. This is filled with “novelty records” – one-offs that do well but have no band-waggon – plus instrumentals and DANCE.

And in 1990, we fell into a VERY fallow period. However, Dance came to the rescue. Remember – “Dance; music made predominantly for dancing to – but you can also listen to it.” And in the Eighties, in addition to the European Techno-Pop sound of Duran Duran, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys, etc. – there was a thriving Techno Dance scene.

The same MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) computer tech that helped shape Eighties Pop had also been commandeered for the underground RAVE scene of that period. This developed into “House” – a back-beat STRIPPED of melody. But when, E-ed out of your gourd, you required rest, there was usually a “Chillout” tent where screens with digital cartoons would be accompanied by a sound then called “Ambient”.

This was a spacey techno-trip – with a gentle beat, so’s dancers could “come down” slowly. Aaa-ah. And as the Eighties gave way to the Nineties, this evolved into TRANCE. Trance began, essentially, as Ambient, but slowly developed into a more gentle form of Dance music in its own right. And it had LYRICS. Which by definition (see WAY above) made it POP.

And by the end of the Nineties, it had gone MAINSTREAM. But it differed from conventional Pop in several ways. Pop records mostly lasted three minutes and had an intro, a middle and an end (albeit sometimes faded). But Trance records had a LONG intro, usually TWO middles and a long OUTRO.

This was because they were not designed to stand ALONE. Trance records were designed to be MIXED into a SERIES of tracks, by skilled DJs. As single units, they didn’t WORK. But the industry had an answer for that too. Much to the DISGUST of clubbers and ravers, they HIRED these skilled DJs to do THEM professional 80-minute (the max length of a CD) mixes of the latest anthems that they could SELL to the general PUBLIC.

That way, those who could not attend clubs or raves could, by proxy, be a part of the ONLY innovative musical scene that EXISTED in the Nineties. And they LAPPED it up. Some even WENT to clubs and raves (although the older fans had trouble getting IN!) Thus, Trance was in many ways, The Pop Of The Nineties.

But following the Ten Year Rule detailed above, even Trance would not last forever. In the early “noughts” it obeyed that rule, fading into remixes, chillout versions of the anthems and finally – silence.

So where does this leave Pop today? Well of course, thanks to THIS medium, the record companies have had their day. Many bands now actually IGNORE those companies, preferring to release their music on the Interweb for FREE – whilst making their money from live gigs.

But in one way, this is a tragedy. Because for all their faults – and there were MANY – the one positive thing the record companies DID do – was CHANNEL New Talent. Whereas the Interweb is a free-for-all, unmanaged, undisciplined, uncoordinated MESS. If a band like the Beatles emerged today, no WAY would they reach the kind of numbers the Fab Four did.

And one last thing. And this is something no record company could do ANYTHING about. Melody. There are only twelve notes in an octave. And since 1920, ALL logical progressions of those notes have been DONE. When did you last hear a NEW tune you could whistle?

Since 1980, few. This is thanks to “copy ID” computer programmes developed by the music publishers to save them the expense of suing each other over plagiarism. They have made it virtually impossible for new melodies to be composed.

Music as we know it, was developed nearly a THOUSAND YEARS ago (plain-song, madrigals, etc.) In the West, it slowly established a whole bunch of RULES, regarding chords and tones. But those rules are not fixed. Other civilizations have DIFFERENT rules. To us, their music sounds atonal. But if MUSIC (not just Pop) is to PROGRESS, perhaps we need to re-define what music IS? Pause for thought.

At which point, I think I’ll go and stick some Miles Davis on my gramophone…

Nov
06

Like everyone else, I have seen those documentaries where guys try to approach this legendary place and get warned off by heavily armed militia, then show planes taking off from Las Vegas with blacked-out windows – and get told by officials that there is no such PLACE as Area 51. Plus the base’s borders have been pushed back now, so you cannot even see the place through long lenses.

All of which means “THEY” really want to keep the place SUPER hush-hush, right? Well, you would THINK so. However, just for the hell of it I decided to see what it looked like on Google Earth. But since I had heard Dead-eye Dick Cheney’s place was PIXELISED on the service (Dead-eye was probably sunbathing nude when the satellite went over – and NO-ONE wants to see THAT) I was not expecting much.

How wrong I was.

I input “groomlakenevada”, the ACTUAL name of the area (figuring Google Earth would hardly be likely to respond to “Area 51”) and after floating round the dried-up lake for a few seconds, I spotted an airstrip, with roads and buildings. It LOOKED like the right place. I zoomed down and as I approached the ground, a flag came up.

It said – “Area 51”!

WHAT???! Yes. In fact, I discovered you can just input “area51” and save yourself the chore of searching Groom Lake. And the satellite picture is as sharp and clear as DAY. With the airstrip, roads and buildings – even craters where they tested nukes in the Fifties – all clearly labelled as points of interest.

Of course, conspiracy theorists will say the pics have been doctored – but HOW? I mean, it is all THERE. Everything you would expect to see on a military base in the desert. What the hell did they EXPECT to see? Back-engineered flying saucers parked on the hanger aprons?

I suspect that all of that security on the ground is only there to stop a working military base being overrun by geeks, nerds, cranks, weirdos – and umpteen TV documentary crews making yet ANOTHER bloody programme about the “mysterious” goings-on at Area 51!

Oct
31

Elsewhere in these columns I have remarked upon how in England you can freely make love with a sixteen-year-old, have sex with a prostitute and do many other things that Stateside, would result in your incarceration (hell, UK girls may even overlook Americans’ lack of chest-hair and foreskin).

And do not even get me STARTED on the issue of SMOKING.

But here is another one – American BANKS.

Now we are all familiar with their monumental corruption – they nearly broke the World a few years back – but at a local level, they are even worse.

F’rinstance, let us say you are English and have just returned from a holiday in the US. You managed to avoid getting tased, arrested or shot – survived their LITTLE pints of acidic beer – and have twenty of their bucks left.

So you take it to the bank and change it for your larger Pounds. Then you pay the money into your account. But later that same day, you decide to buy some REAL beer, so you hit the ATM.

And if you withdraw that twenty bucks – it is STILL WORTH TWENTY BUCKS (minus about 20 cents).

However, if you are a YANK, things are a bit different; in addition to the usual one percent exchange differential, they’ll hit you with a FEE of SEVERAL DOLLARS – then the ATM will clip you ANOTHER THREE.

By the time the bastards are finished – you might owe THEM money!

Oct
15

This ex-pat British writer is lucky enough to have been born some eighteen months AFTER the date he will qualify for the new Flat Rate UK Pension – and about three years BEFORE the date when that qualification will be increased to 66.

But that ends the good news. The bad news is he resides in a “non-reciprocal” country.

You see, many moons ago, HMG dreamed up a stonking wheeze; FREEZE the pensions of those lucky enough to escape the cold, wet misery of the Uke at the amount they get when they first receive it.

But there was a catch; they had this agreement with a number of countries that pensions would be paid by the pensioners’ “host” country. Thus if a couple retired to southern Europe or Florida, their pension would be paid by that country’s government. And conversely, a couple from those countries would receive their pensions from HMG, if they retired in the UK.

Which was great for HMG, since only people with senile dementia would want to retire FROM those places TO Britain.

However, while those countries would pay annual pension hikes to the British ex-pats, they would naturally expect the same deal for THEIR people – so HMG could not get away with treating those pensioners the same as THEIR OWN. Boo-hoo.

Although while none of the various pressure groups set up to try to REVERSE this rip-off have so far gotten anywhere, things could CHANGE if Britain decides to LEAVE the EU, since the countries in southern Europe – where MOST ex-pat pensioners end up – would suddenly STOP paying the UK’s pensioners. Meaning HMG would take over – WITHOUT the annual hikes. Give it a few years and inflation would start to BITE – and so would those MANY ex-pat pensioners.

Sadly, too late to help THIS ex-pat pensioner – up to two years for the referendum – plus a few years for the dozy old buggers to realize their money is slowly buying less – then a couple more years for them to start DOING something about it. Your humble scribe will likely be ASH by then.

Of course, HMG’s Flat Rate pension is ONLY good news for us ex-pat Brits – predictably, it will DROP overall money for the vast majority of UK pensioners stuck in Blighty.

Which is as sick as HMG’s RAISING the age of qualification; by a year, every five is their goal.

Naturally, a CARING, INTELLIGENT government would be LOWERING it by a year – EVERY year – to reduce Britain’s number one problem; unemployment. But they would rather DISTORT the figures for life expectancy, by including those for infant deaths a hundred years ago – when they were CHRONIC – so as to artificially LOWER the overall number for that time.

Then they continue the APPARENT rise since then – into the future, making it LOOK as though today’s twenty-somethings are likely to live into their NINETIES.

Which is bollocks, of course. The TRUE life expectancy of Brits is 79 for men and 82 for women. And in the future, it is unlikely to rise more than a year or two (provided the UK’s smokers continue to be allowed to VAPE) – as in the past, it has only risen a year or two, mostly due to the Fifties inoculation programme (although if the scare-mongers manage to persuade parents to DENY their kids those inoculations, that situation could REVERSE).

But HMG are neither caring NOR intelligent – as they have spent the last seventy years clearly DEMONSTRATING…

Oct
07

Bag For Life = wife

I’ll add more as they occur to me…

Sep
25

So I am NOT the only Liberal Socialist in the World – it turns out Bernie “Feel The Bern” Sanders is one too.

However, I suspect his chances of becoming POTUS 2016 are about as good as MINE (I was born in England).

I mean, current incumbent Barry Obama is a LONG way to the right of Bernie and yet he has spent the last seven years butting heads with the most intransigent, knuckle-headed, bloody-minded, right-wing Congress in HISTORY – including those supposedly on HIS SIDE. So what makes Bernie think he can fare any better?

Plus there is his age to consider; if elected, he would be 75 when he assumed office. And 83 when he left it, if he stood for – and won – a second term.

NO WAY!

It is sad that both “liberal” and “socialist” are dirty words these days (the latter, thanks to Blair). Liberal means free and generous – and socialism is for The People. What the hell is wrong with THAT?

So I wish him all the best; he IS currently well ahead of Old Ma Clinton in the polls – and only Trump seems to be doing anything on the other side. But then, while merely A Week Is A Long Time In Politics (so said Harold Wilson) – a YEAR is a HELL of a long time…

Sep
14

I’ll let you into a secret; a small part of me (a very DARK part) hopes it DOES.

It would probably COST me, but it would almost be WORTH it – for the ENTERTAINMENT value!

And as for America; well, they say a country gets the police and government it deserves – and given the best US president in my lifetime (currently, 63 years) has spent his last seven years being blocked at every turn by the most intransigent Congress (BOTH sides) in history – and hated by at least half its citizens, just for trying to HELP them – they DESERVE TRUMP.

But what are his chances?

At the moment, they are looking spookily GOOD. He may regret signing that pledge not to stand as an independent (Trump is not too smart; he blew his last run at the White House, by handcuffing himself to a dead hooker called Bertha – make that Birther – and not laughing at Seth Meyers’ jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner) as the GOP fear and loathe him.

But then, who else have they got?

A bunch of no-hopers and losers, as Trump himself would doubtless call them – and as usual, he would be RIGHT.

They include yet another damn Bush, a closeted homosexual (YOU guess who) and a guy (Bobby Jindal) who looks like an Indian Alfred E. Neuman.

So if he DOES get nominated, who will he be facing? Old Ma Clinton may still be thought of as a slam-dunk for HER party – but many do not trust her. Plus she did come SECOND to Obama.

While Uncle Joe Biden is too OLD and did not support Obama’s main victory thus far – the Bin Liner Hit.

And Bernie Sanders is even older than Biden – plus he looks like the Doc, from the “Back To The Future” movies.

All of which means that in 18 months, the Oval Office could JUST be occupied by… no, REALLY? Come ON!

Aug
28

So a “disgruntled” local news reporter falls out with two of his former colleagues – a cameraman and a female reporter.

Now if this had happened anywhere else, the guy (who was at best short-tempered and more likely, totally psychotic) might have ventilated the guy’s car-tyres and posted the woman something brown, smelly and unpleasant.

But no, this happened in AMERICA – Land Of The Free, where any idiot can buy a gun – and many do. And so he shot and killed them both, live on air.

Furthermore, to publicize his actions to the max, he recorded the killing on his mobile phone (held the wrong way up – thus demonstrating why he had been a reporter, rather than a cameraman) and uploaded it onto the Social Network.

(It has since been blocked, but you can find it easily enough).

Then, while being chased by the cops, he blew HIMSELF away.

Nice one, NRA. Another winner.

Of course, those arseholes would doubtless claim that if EVERYONE in The States were tooled up, the incident would have ended differently.

Sure; give three hundred and twenty million self-obsessed, paranoid drama-queens guns and tell me how THAT works out…

Aug
16

Road Rage is generally thought to be committed by people with issues – damaged people – you know – arseholes.

And this is probably largely true.

However, there is another phenomenon which may be at least PARTIALLY responsible – work-related stress nervous breakdowns.

WAY down this column is a piece on the subject (https://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/damien-on-how-to-avoid-a-work-related-stress-nervous-breakdown/) in which this writer describes a scenario where an office worker who has been doing their job for a decade one day spills their coffee – then goes POSTAL.

But supposing that worker were a sales rep, area manager, surveyor, service engineer – or any one of a VAST number of occupations where they spend half their working day on the road?

This reporter used to BE a service engineer and can report that fixing machines (even difficult ones – he enjoyed a challenge) is a breeze, compared with the arduous task of DRIVING from gig to gig.

Thus if he had not walked AWAY before his W-RSNB, the chances are far more likely he would have had it while behind the WHEEL – than while fiddling around with wires and components.

The maniacal exploits of some road rage arseholes would seem to bear this theory out. However, it is impossible to PROVE, since said arseholes – if they end up in court – would rather take their lumps, than go through a psych evaluation.

So how many of them were having a MELTDOWN at the time of their offence will likely never be known.

But it HAS to be some; so the next time YOU are motoring – try not to piss anyone OFF!

Jul
30

Jules O'Dwyer with Chase

I hear over eight hundred people complained to Ofcom about Jules O’Dwyer using a “ringer” (a similar-looking pooch to Matisse) in the “Britain’s Got Talent” Final.

These people need to GET A LIFE!

The contestant was JULES – it was SHE that was being voted for, not her dogs.

She is a BRILLIANT animal trainer (able to quickly train her dogs to perform MULTIPLE tricks, in SEQUENCE – most trainers use many dogs, each of whom can only do ONE) and wholly deserved her win.

Matisse didn’t like tightrope walking, so she used Chase, who had already been on before, for the gag – swapping them over behind the set, for continuity.

This is SHOWBIZ, BABY! Things are not always as they seem.

When a stage magician climbs up a stair into a box – and the box rises and explodes – then said magician appears at the back of the auditorium – it is NOT magic.

In reality he slid down INTO the stair, which was wheeled off to the wings – where he popped out and ran through the myriad corridors that exist outside the auditorium of all theatres (how do you think they change all those bulbs?) to emerge at the back. Ta-daah!

And when a team of comedians delivers half-an-hour of sparkling, flawless “improvised” wit in a panel show – who do you think the dozen “programme associates” listed in the end credits are? GAG-writers, that’s who.

While “…Got Talent” is FUELLED by illusion. Every year, World-wide, the format filters out several hundred middle-rate acts (plus some truly awful ones for laughs – and to make the others look good) from the many thousands who present, then builds BACK-STORIES around them – and POLISHES them.

Thus refined – with added music, lighting, sets, equipment, dancers, backing singers et al – the best of these acts SHINE.

Variety is RESTORED by the very medium that KILLED it! Hooray.

So, the eight hundred pencil-necked prats who whined to Ofcom – did you ENJOY Jules and her dogs’ performance? Yes? Then SHADDAP!

Jul
21

I cannot believe I am saying this – but Trump is RIGHT.

He was almost always right when deciding who to fire, on his TV show – and he is right about McCain.

A “war hero” is the guy who crawls across a mine-field to rescue a fallen comrade – or single-handedly captures a machine-gun nest.

But McCain got captured (shot down, while on a bombing mission) and spent years being tortured and confined, as a POW.

Which simple fact makes him a LOSER, not a hero.

He had no CHOICE about his predicament. Only if he suffered as a result of refusing to give up information that would have benefitted the enemy could he be deemed a hero. But given his treatment was meted out over YEARS, this seems unlikely. What useful information could he have possessed after all that time?

So whether he kept his upper lip stiff or cried himself to sleep during his ordeal is irrelevant.

And as for the predicament itself, no-one FORCED him to go to war in the first place. War Is Hell – everyone knows that – but he took his chances and LOST. A war LOSER, that was McCain.

Yet for years, America’s OBSESSION with the “service” of its military personnel BLINDED itself to that simple fact – and McCain milked it for all it was worth.

And for years this reporter has asked how long it would be before McCain’s cover would be blown. Now it has – although by the LAST person he would have guessed would do it.

Of course Trump is an arsehole – but on this occasion, he is RIGHT.

Jul
01

So there it was. Auntie had announced that following the removal of her errant nephew, she would screen the material made for the last three eps of Season 22 as a special – WITHOUT him.

This reporter pointed out that removing Jeremy from the footage would be like trying to excise the bride from a wedding video – and gave his commiserations to the editor upon whom the impossible task would fall.

Well, in the event, Clarkson’s fizzog remained on the footage itself, but with just The Hamster and Captain Slow giving uninspired intros (in an empty studio) to the two pieces it consisted of (the second was best, but neither contained much we had not seen before) followed by a brief goodbye and the end credits – with NO music.

Oh dear – gone with a whimper, not a bang.

I noted that said credits included the little producer – Poison – who more than anyone caused the programme’s sudden fall. Although the blame HAS to be shared by the suits who allowed the handbags to become public in the first place (they managed to keep the Savile affair quiet – and that was IMPORTANT).

There was also a credit that appeared to have been for the person who “handled” visiting celebs – but since there was no “Star In A Reasonably Priced Car” (understandably, given that it would have featured Jeremy prominently) one wonders if someone’s Lap will now never be aired. I wonder how quick it was…

Anyhoo, that it that. Of course, with Auntie being famed for her obsession with flogging successful series to DEATH, the series will return next year – but one suspects it will not last long.

Since she now owns the format, she has hired ’80s Ginger Twat, Chris Evans, to replace her troublesome nephew – and he in turn is to find his own co-hosts (surely not Danny Baker?)

This historian predicts his first show (TBB sometime next Spring) will bring in about ten million viewers – and the next, nine. Not nine million – just NINE.

Jun
22

People say Americans don’t understand IRONY.

And yet America is the country that invented the Cheerleader. But it is also the ONLY country in the World where in most states, it is ILLEGAL to BONK one.

Now if THAT isn’t ironic…

Jun
13

I understand that yesterday, the Foo Fighters’ front-man fell off stage in Sweden and broke a leg.

After having it splinted and bound, he went back out and FINISHED THE GIG.

DAMN, the man has bigger ones than me – if I had broken a TOE, I would still be in hospital!

Jun
01

Two days ago, I heard this nauseating song covered on BGT and was reminded of how far we have come since My Day – ALL DOWN.

This Anthem To Abstinence was written at the height of the AIDS scare and sung by a guy called Germaine who called himself an R&B artist (apparently, he had never heard of Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy or the recently departed BB King).

And here it was again.

Today, Pop Music is all covers – In My Day, we had the ORIGINALS.

Today, clothes are shades of black – In My Day they had COLOUR.

Today, the few movies made for grown-ups are all remakes – In My Day… …you get the point.

I PITY today’s generation. We Children Of The Sixties REJECTED sexual repression. We don’t have to take… BOLLOCKS!

We had our OWN Anthem. It was called If It Feels Good – DO IT!

ENJOY…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQrmF1Ihy4Q

May
20

For five minutes in the Eighties, this phenomenon was “trendy”.

However, in the Twenty-Teens, there are only two excuses for a man to sport it; one: he is in the transitional stage of growing a beard (in which case, he should AVOID public gaze as far as possible – like a man who recently got a nose job and now looks like he just pissed off Mike Tyson – until the process is complete) or two: he is a homeless person, a transient, a tramp – a BUM.

I understand some ladies actually LIKE their men to have stubble, their thinking (?) being it makes them look “rugged” – however, they have obviously never received oral pleasure from one, or they would think somewhat differently (those who have, know what I mean).

So if YOU are one of those idiots who think a few days not shaving will make you look butch – FORGET about travelling down-under. If you are planning THAT little trip – invest in a RAZOR, buddy-boy…

May
07

Like a battered wife whose abusive husband has promised yet again to behave himself, the British public returns to the Polls today.

But where they put their little crosses (or ticks – which are normally discounted) will matter little.

The current general election ALMOST marks (just ten days shy) the CENTENARY of what I like to call the British Party.

Most people acknowledge Britain is a Two-Party country – despite several tries, no third party has had significant power since the 17th of May, 1915 (WW2 saw a three-party coalition; but it was ruled by Tory leader, Winston Churchill. Anyone remember the other two leaders? Precisely).

However, I would go further.

Given that both sides always “play the game” and NEVER SERIOUSLY rubbish the other side, no matter WHAT excesses they may inflict on the British public, I believe the time has come to accept the obvious: they are ONE PARTY.

Therefore, whichever “half” the British public elect today, the British Party will STILL rule – probably for the NEXT hundred years…

Apr
24

On the occasion of his eightieth birthday, Big Chief Screaming Eagle is being interviewed by a young reporter from the local newspaper.

They are sitting by a tent on the edge of the reservation, smoking an unspecified substance. Suddenly the old Native American stiffens and stands, looking far into the distance.

“The Thunderbird approaches,” he says.

“You mean the legendary bird that presages storms?” asks the cub.

“Don’t be absurd,” answers the old man, “My mechanic is returning my car from its 20,000 mile service.”

Later that same day, the young reporter finds the chief out on the prairie, lying prone, his head to the ground. “What happened?” he asks.

“Twenty buffalo passed this way,” the old man whispers.

“How do you know?”

“They ran over me.”

Later still, the madam of the Silver Dollar Saloon is instructing her newest recruit, a delicate young girl from Back East.

“Now, your first customer will be Big Chief Screaming Eagle. He’s a regular here, so we give him a discount. The discount rates are – a blow job; twenty, full sex; fifty – and another twenty for foreplay.”

“I do not know what foreplay is.”

“Don’t worry – neither does Big Chief Screaming Eagle.”

In case you were wondering: this author, “Laugh-In” and… I can’t remember.

Apr
07

The latest episode in this saga has had its critics; the old trick of making an actioner fit the PG13 mould – and concentrating on young actors (everyone wants to watch the sexagenarian guys still kicking ass and taking names) – plus its containing less humour than the previous two outings – did not endear it to critics or audience.

Which is not to say it was a turkey. It still passes a couple of hours entertainingly, if you are not too demanding. But while it still scraped a profit (where the first two cleared a fifty percent boost) it suffered a BIG drop in the domestic gross. Why?

Well, the bit that dented it for THIS critic was where – around 56 minutes in – a “drone” is produced, which has four large wheels (clearly driven from the bottom) which are used to trundle it a relatively short distance – then it simply “levitates” without ANY visible means of vertical propulsion.

One can imagine that perhaps the original drawings had the wheels pivoting horizontally, then – the spokes shaped as propellers – up she goes. But somewhere along the line, this notion got LOST.

The director simply hiked up the model, using a fishing rod, figuring it would be sorted in post.

But aside from painting out the supporting wires – it WASN’T.

This is just not GOOD enough. Granted the stunts in these kinds of actioners stretch credibility to the max – but at least they do not employ MAGIC. Save that for Harry Potter. An Expendables fan does NOT expect to be treated like a KID.

Even if the wheels HAD doubled as propellers, it would have been hard to accept – given the machinery required for the transformation would have made the whole too heavy to get airborne.

In any case, given the distance it covered on the ground was not far, launching a conventional drone into the air from the starting point would have been a far simpler option.

This was just SLOPPY FILM-MAKING.

There is already talk of an Expendables 4; but if the franchise is not to go down the DUMPER – howlers like this one must NOT be allowed to damage its word-of-mouth.

Mar
26

It is a sad indictment on modern British society that this storm in a teacup was ALLOWED to expand into the PR sh*tstorm it became – eventually toppling the monster that was Top Gear.

And whose fault was it? Not Jeremy’s. He is just a big nob-head who had been doing Top Gear for too long – twenty-seven years. Even cops and soldiers are allowed to retire after twenty-five.

In any case, one could see his point. If you were a highly-paid celebrity with twenty-seven years seniority and you had been out filming all day, then returned to the hotel, miles from anywhere, to find you had no DINNER – and an oik with just SIX years under his belt failed to move Heaven and Earth to obtain you some – YOU would be pissed off too.

LITERALLY tired and emotional.

No, the fault lies with the MONUMENTAL IDIOT who permitted this handbags to grow into a gargantuan issue – instead of SQUASHING it at birth.

Celebrities have always behaved badly. They vibrate at a different frequency from us mortals.

The secret has been to COVER UP their indiscretions. A science which today, appears to have been LOST.

This latest fiasco SHOULD have been handled thusly; Clarkson and junior producer should have been led into the responsible BBC exec’s office, where said exec should have rounded on them with, “Are you chaps nuts? This is a f***ing disaster. Top Gear is one of our biggest money-spinners ever – half our foreign income depends on it. If this thing gets out, we’re ALL f***ed. Now this is what’s going to happen.

“Number one – this never occurred. If either of you are asked about it, deny, deny, deny.

“Number two – in the old days, I’d have given you both ten minutes in the BBC car park to sort it out the old fashioned way. However, in this case, I can see that would be unwise; to paraphrase the words of Sir Michael Caine, You’re a big man Clarkson, but you’re outa shape – Raisin would spifflicate you.”

“Oisin, sir.”

“Whatever – look, what exactly do you WANT out of this?”

“Well…”

“Okay, how about a million quid for your favourite charity?”

“Oh, well…”

“Done – Jeremy, get your cheque book out.”

And that would have been that. Following a quick transfer of the producer (with a guarantee his career would not suffer over the affair) the latest season of Top Gear would have been completed, ending (“on that bombshell”) with the announcement of Clarkson’s retirement from the show, stating longitude of service as the reason.

Then, if Yogi, Captain Slow and the Hamster had been amenable (all three of their contracts were/are due to come up for renewal in a few months) Top Gear could have continued, with a new leader.

Finally, if Jeremy had been amenable, there would have been an attempt to REBOOT him (in a “safer” format) as soon as possible (after all, he made a pretty good fist of a chat-show about fifteen years ago) before Digger could grab him.

And provided Clarkson’s replacement on Top Gear had not been a total disaster (like Stephen Fry or Steve Coogan – who would never do it anyway) then that programme and the new vehicle for Jeremy (did you see what I did there?) could between them have made even more money than just Top Gear was making, before – as Clarkson remarked earlier – the BBC f***ed it up.

But now, none of that can happen. Auntie’s PC dimwits DID f*** it up. And Digger probably WILL now step in and grab him.

Unless of course, Jeremy wants a BREAK – after all, he hardly needs the money. However, him being only 54, I suspect he will be back on our TV screens sooner rather than later. Let us just hope that THIS time – he is “handled” better.

So what IS the TRUTH regarding this affair?

Well, it is a fact all other writers appear to have totally OVERLOOKED; simply that you, my reader – and I, your humble scribe – SHOULD NEVER HAVE KNOWN ABOUT IT.

By all that is holy, it should have been TOTALLY SUPPRESSED.

After all, this was not a serious assault, sexual creepiness, fraud or corruption (and plenty of THAT goes unreported). It was just a barney between two grown men.

And for it to have been first permitted to jeopardise, then ultimately TORPEDO a multi-million-pound TV show, with the loss of hundreds of jobs – and further, create DEEP holes in the finances of a major public corporation – is utterly FARCICAL.

Mar
07

I notice one of the spokesmen said he was the “solo” occupant of the plane. He should have said “sole” – but maybe he was trying to make a joke – which would have worked better if he had just said Harry was flying solo.

He should leave the jokes to me – like, I wonder if his HAT came off THIS time?!

Mar
02

Circumcision is the genital mutilation of helpless babies by evil and/or ignorant people.

The reasons this barbaric act is permitted in our modern World are many. Let us examine them…

First, the Jewish nation. According to legend, a bloke called Abe was chatting to God one day, when the Almighty asked him for a favour. Apparently He had realised the beings He had created had a design flaw. And so asked Abe if he could correct this fault by ordering a Bris to be performed on all babies. And so it was and still is.

Of course, this story does raise a number of questions. Like, if God created Man in His image, what model did He use for the organs of reproduction? Did God HAVE them? And if not, how did He inseminate Mary? Did He use Joseph? (If so, that’s another slap in the face for the man who would go down in history as the World’s most famous cuckold).

And if God is perfect, how come He slipped up with such an important detail?  And if He is all-powerful, how come He couldn’t FIX it? Hell, if Ford made a goof like that, they would organise a product recall.

So that is the religious dimension. And in stating it, I THINK I’ve managed to piss off every major religion in the World – which is no bad thing.

But alas, circumcision is not limited to those who practice it for silly religious reasons. Oh no. Approximately 70% of American men have incomplete sex organs as well. Here, the cause appears to be the nature of their society. America is a matriarchy.

So since men cannot be trusted to WASH their junk when they have a shower, their women insist they have their penis’ protective covering REMOVED. They also claim it is aesthetically pleasing. But then again, they think having their chests cut open and getting plastic bags full of salt water stuffed behind their tits makes them look good as well.

Furthermore, American women care little for their men’s sexual satisfaction. Rather than go on the pill and risk getting FAT (or even FATTER) they demand their men continue to wear CONDOMS after marriage. This is pretty tough on said men, since – as we will see later – half of their stimulation disappears after circumcision. And most of the remaining half disappears when they don a condom.

Which means that while a man’s brain will ADAPT to varying degrees of stimulation (a vibrator delivers a FAR higher level than a hand – but either will do the trick, if you pause in between) if a circumcised man is using a condom, he has to make do with at best TEN PERCENT of the stimulation THIS reporter receives, every time HE makes love.

Now, having pissed off most AMERICANS, there are still a few MORE reasons why circumcision is supported, so let us examine THOSE…

Historically, after Abe, comes sexual repression. In days of yore, it was realised that a circumcised penis is much harder to masturbate with. You have to use a LUBRICANT – and the ejaculate goes all OVER the place. Thus it was believed removing the foreskin would remove boys’ temptation to “abuse” themselves (yeah, like THAT’D work).

Then there are the medical considerations. True, there are a couple of medical conditions where circumcision is advisable – however, these are very RARE. And far MORE problems, particularly in infants, are CAUSED by the practice.

And recently, came stories that a circumcised penis was more resistant to VENEREAL DISEASES. You know – STDs. Except there is NO medical evidence to support this. And again, a little attention to personal hygiene will soon level THAT playing field.

Again speaking personally, this reporter has had “unprotected” sex with over a hundred women and by observing basic hygiene, the worst thing he ever picked up was N.S.U. (The disease, not the car). A course of antibiotics later and he was back in the game.

Of course, this genital mutilation is not only practised on BOYS. In certain primitive countries – particularly ones where women are treated like sh*t – FEMALE “circumcision” is commonplace. This involves removal of the top of the clitoris, thus eliminating most of the women’s pleasure from the sex act. Which in turn means the women don’t enjoy sex – so they don’t make DEMANDS on their men.

But while many international organisations voice their disapproval of THIS practise, they remain far less vocal on the issue of MALE circumcision (Jewish groups have CLOUT).

However, BOTH of these practices are equally vile. But while the female version’s disadvantages are obvious, the male version’s are less so – so let us finally examine THOSE…

As with the female’s, the male’s sex organ is an INTERNAL one. The vital organ is the KNOB (women who masturbate a man’s SHAFT get NOWHERE). And this knob – the “glans penis” to give it its proper name – is covered by a thin, sensitive skin, in which the genital corpuscles are buried.

These are the nerves that give us sexual stimulation. They are present in both women’s clitorises and men’s glans penises. Without them, sex would be pointless and the human race would die out.

And removal of the foreskin causes the skin of the glans penis to become hard and coarse – DRASTICALLY reducing the stimulation the genital corpuscles receive. (Again, the brain compensates for this to SOME degree – but still).

Whereas, with an INTACT penis, the foreskin PROTECTS this skin, with its corpuscles – and only during intercourse does it roll back, allowing the sensitive knob to caress the inside of the woman’s vagina, creating the sensations for both that makes all the dating, fighting, heartaches – and expense – of relationships ultimately worthwhile.

Then when passion is spent, a clever little membrane on the underneath of the penis eases the foreskin back over the knob, once again consigning it to its hiding place.

So remember – if you MUST lean on the crutch of religion – your God knew what he was DOING when he designed the penis. And if you accept that it evolved, NATURAL SELECTION did a good job. So either way – DON’T MESS with it!

FOOTNOTE: GALATIANS 6, verse 15 – “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” So THERE!
 
SECOND FOOTNOTE: Lest any circumcised man be in any doubt he is disabled, consider the following; a sighted man (intact) can know what it is like to be blind – but a blind (circumcised) man…
Feb
22

While TV companies have long used this phrase just to trumpet their latest blockbuster show – THIS time, it is no exaggeration.

In Asia, the RTL/CBS network are currently using it to describe the “Watchathon” (their word – they mean marathon) of season three of “House Of Cards” next Saturday (the 28th of February, 2015).

Because what this represents, is no less than a SEA CHANGE in series broadcasting…

For over a century, the film business has always KINDA had series, in the form of “B” movies like the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce “Sherlock Holmes” and George Sanders “Saint” sagas – and in Britain, various productions from Merton Park Studios.

These were not WEEKLY outings – but SEVERAL tended to be made every year.

Plus of course, you had serials – although the episodes were only around seven minutes long.

No, it took the advent of TELEVISION to introduce the concept of the weekly series. Taking their lead from network radio dramas, the fact that TV had PICTURES – gave the TV companies far more SCOPE (The Lone Ranger does not really work on radio).

And now, sixty-five years later, the One Hour (actually, forty to fifty minutes) Filmed (more likely, recorded digitally) Drama still forms the CORE of television entertainment (with lots of cheap, talent-free “reality” dross effectively financing it).

But for most of that time, viewers have been forced to WAIT a week for the next installment – particularly irksome, if the episodes form a continuous story, with a “cliff-hanger” at the end of each.

However, around ten years ago, things began to change. A NEW player entered the entertainment arena – the HOME COMPUTER.

For decades, the TV industry had banged on about how in the future, viewers would get TV On Demand – but no practical way was ever found to deliver on that promise.

Then along came Netflix…

Beginning in 1997, the company supplied programming by posting DVDs to subscribers – however, within a decade, they were moving over to the now-more-familiar ONLINE STREAMING (back in 2000, Blockbuster could have bought Netflix for fifty million bucks, but declined – whatever happened to them?)

A few years on and Netflix began financing ORIGINAL programming – the first biggie was a new, American version of the British Nineties hit mini-series; the afore-mentioned – “House Of Cards”.

However, where network TV viewers had to wait a year – and then watch the show weekly – Netflix viewers were able not only to watch it a year earlier – but ALL AT ONCE.

The thing is; several years earlier, the “serial” format of shows like “24” had led to a new phenomenon – BINGE WATCHING.

And whilst viewers did not necessarily want to set a WEEKEND aside to watch ALL 24 eps of the actioner – they were more than happy to record the entire series – avoid talking about it with those who were watching it weekly – then, when they had the whole thing on their hard drive (or a series of recordable DVDs) – watch it at their OWN convenience.

TV On Demand had finally ARRIVED.

But this was still a viewer-created thing. Only Netflix, Hula and the like would STREAM an entire series into your “Smart” TV. If only NETWORK TV could do likewise – but then, why NOT?

They could broadcast the eps late night – or over the weekend – so that people with hard drives could record whole series and then watch them at whatever pace they desired.

Which is exactly what is HAPPENING the coming Saturday, but this time – EVERYWHERE.

You see, the problem with Netflix and their brethren is – they have their limitations.

Contractual obligations only allow their programmes to be streamed to Europe and N America. Too bad, if you happen to live in the Orient, like this writer.

But with RTL/CBS having been available on the local satellite/cable platform for about a year now, the World is opening UP.

Thanks to the mere THREAT of Smart TVs STREAMING programmes (despite Thailand MAKING most of the World’s hard drives, few Thais actually OWN one) network TV companies are now FIGHTING BACK against the Online TV Industry by JOINING them in “streaming” series to THEIR viewers, UP FRONT of the weekly showings.

Over the last decade, network TV has SUFFERED at the hands of this newcomer.

Initially, the audio-visual STANDARDS (THOSE again) of the film, TV and computer industries were utterly incompatible – with each industry showing total contempt for the others.

But change is afoot. While the three industries still HATE each other, they also recognise their DEPENDENCE on each other. And so, with digitally projected movies, the next generation of HD TVs and even YouTube adopting the “4K” standard, while currently using 1080/2K (which are virtually the same) the three have called a KINDA TRUCE.

All of which is good for US, the consumers – particularly those of us who reside outside of the “developed” World.

Just a few years ago, foreign network TV’s viewers had to wait months – sometimes YEARS – for the best US/UK series. But now, thanks to the competition from the online industry, many are shown “within 12/24 hours of US/UK transmission” – and NOW, it appears we may even be allowed to watch series On Demand AS WELL.

Hurrah!

Feb
07

Earlier in these columns, this writer has banged on a lot about the issues surrounding e-cigs and vaping.

Chiefly the benefits to vapers; it’s LITERALLY a thousand times safer than sticking burning leaves in your gob and costs a TINY fraction of the amount – versus the problem for governments; economies which rely on extortionate (up to 1,000%) tax being levied on tobacco are now being SABOTAGED by CHINA, who INVENTED, DEVELOPED and mostly MANUFACTURE the e-cig devices.

Well, the stats are now in – and some of the results are surprising.

As expected, a number of countries have BANNED them (although curiously, mainly in Scandinavia and central and south America).

And obtusely, most of their governments are using DRUG LAWS to ban only those containing NICOTINE, by treating e-cigs as Smoking Cessation Devices – despite the fact that NO-ONE has ever claimed them to be such.

Unlike with nicotine gum and patches, no-one is pretending they are for those who wish to GIVE UP NICOTINE – rather, merely bring its method of delivery into THIS millennium.

E-cigs are NADS (“Have you seen my NADS?”) It stands for Nicotine Alternative Delivery System.

But by deviously classifying e-cigs and juice as MEDICAL devices and MEDICINES, their SALE and USE can effectively be BLOCKED. This is reminiscent of how America banned alcohol, during Prohibition – by shifting the ISSUE (in that case, to taxation).

However, against ALL expectations, many countries’ governments have (at least, for the MOMENT) taken a PERMISSIVE line on vaping (the only main restriction being to limit it to over-18s) INCLUDING those with the most SWINGEING tobacco taxes.

This historian has a theory on the thinking behind this – could it be they realise that draconian laws to prevent what is obviously in the interests of health and safety will make them look ridiculous (even more so than usual) given how they have demonised cigarettes for decades – and believe that uptake will be SLOW anyway, allowing them to shift the tax burden elsewhere at a speed no-one’ll notice?

And might they have done some maths on how much they can SAVE on healthcare, decorating and other costs – and figure that will help LESSEN the financial pressure on their economies?

Or maybe the dumb bastards are just so far out of touch with what is going on out there in the Real World that they simply haven’t given the matter serious thought AT ALL?

If so, they will soon realise the matter is WORTH serious thought.

These days, many poor people in countries with high tobacco taxes have to consider whether to smoke OR EAT – so it won’t take long for THEM to switch.

Indeed, early indications are that Britain (which contains some VERY poor people, facing a 1,000% tobacco tax) has gone for vaping in a BIG WAY. 700,000 vapers in 2012 – TRIPLING to 2,100,000 by 2013.

If that trend continued – at the time of this typing, ALL of Britain’s smokers should have converted! (I wouldn’t know – I escaped to the Orient).

So what of Hong Kong?

Well, its government appears to have established the Gold Standard for monumental STUPIDITY on this issue. First, like other banners, they classified e-cigarettes and juices as MEDICINAL – theoretically lumping them in with drugs like CRACK COCAINE.

However, they claim they will NOT JAIL TOURISTS who bring them into Honkers for their own use.

Apparently, they are not THAT stupid.

Nevertheless, they DO have the MOST draconian anti-vaping laws in the World (up to two years in the slammer, just for possession) – the question is WHY?

The taxation issue MIGHT be the cause – in HK, cigarettes cost about three times what they cost in China and one can only bring nineteen (yes – NINETEEN!) of them in duty free, but given the VAST WEALTH of the former colony, that seems somewhat putrid.

China mostly permits full use of e-cigs (which is hardly surprising, given they MAKE nearly all of them) although as with everything else Chinese, there are regional variations.

And following its re-acquisition of HK, you would have expected the Honks to fall into line with the reinstated Mother Country. But no.

Of course, like in every other developed country in the World, HK’s anti-vaping laws are unenforcable. No country which possesses an interweb and small packet post can stop or even significantly slow the flow of vaping devices and juice.

But until the idiot Hong Kong government gets its collective head out of its arse, those nicotine addicts unfortunate enough to LIVE there had best take the same meticulous care HIDING their vaping devices and juice – as those crack cocaine users take, hiding their STASH.

Jan
27

Now that TV production companies are streaming programmes DIRECT to “smart” TVs, networks are fighting back, by screening syndicated programmes “within 12/24 hours of UK/US transmission” – which means that out here in the Orient, we are now getting “Top Gear” COMPLETE and QUICKLY.

And that resulted in my just having watched The Hamster go arse over tip in Russia – from the onboard cameras on his nine grand, seventeen ounce pushbike – a couple of hours ago, instead of some time next year. I have not laughed that much in a LONG time.

If you did not see it, try YouTube – someone MUST have posted it.

Furthermore, I’ll bet a number of people now have his moans of pain, as he removed himself and his busted bike from the mean streets of St Pete’s, as their new RINGTONE (after the team’s recent problems in Argentina, I’m guessing Auntie figured her errant nephews would have a harder time pissing off the Ruskies) although taken out of context, those moans COULD sound like he was being SHAGGED.

Either way, the simple truth is that Hammond failed to cross the tracks with due care – and paid a heavy price.

Of course, it might not have been entirely his fault. While most mainland European cities retain their trollies and trams, Britain got rid of all hers DECADES ago (except for Blackpool’s – but they are an integral part of the famous illuminations).

Thus he had probably never encountered train tracks on the road (in Amsterdam, straight across the PAVEMENTS) before.

However, this writer has. Even before he drove around most of Europe, he recalls how his hometown of Ipswich has (or at least, HAD) a number of goods-train tracks in its docklands area.

Approaching them on two wheels, the secret is to veer away at the last split-second – then swing back ACROSS them, as close to ninety degrees as possible (remembering the rear wheel will cut closer).

By so doing, you can avoid the pains The Hamster suffered – but deny others a HUGE LAUGH!

Jan
10

The following is cut from Wikipedia…

“Midnight, 29 April 1945, Hitler married Eva Braun in a small civil ceremony in the Führerbunker. After a modest wedding breakfast with his new wife, he dictated his will.

“Then Braun bit into a cyanide capsule and Hitler shot himself.

“Their bodies were carried up the stairs and through the bunker’s emergency exit to the garden behind the Reich Chancellery.

“They were placed in a bomb crater and doused with petrol. The corpses were then set on fire.”

Worst honeymoon ever.

Jan
04

While I was away, I see the British government took yet another of their giant steps BACKWARDS (they have been doing little else, since 1973) by coming down (so to speak) on PORN – including trying to ban “face-sitting”.

I do not know who came up with this winner (they certainly need to get out more) but if I did – and I knew where they lived – and had the money – I would hire a forty-piece NAKED male choir and get them to assemble outside the person’s house and sing the following…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKV3GC0RERs

(If you cannot get any sense out of the above link, go to YouTube and search “Monty Python Sit On My Face live”).

Dec
27

Oh, this is not about white-lit tunnels and suchlike (which is just an optical effect the brain creates when it is in crisis) – this is about something REAL that affects us ALL, every day.

The thing is, as the below piece documents – death is always just a heartbeat away. Most of us will die in bed, some time during our seventies or eighties, however…

As stated below, a couple of months ago, my appendix blew up (obviously, if I had KNOWN this was the case, I would have sought IMMEDIATE medical help). After several days of agony (during which I hoped the pain would get bored and f*** off) my wife finally overrode my protests and called an ambulance.

I am now nearly recovered. But today, out of curiosity, I asked my medic how CLOSE I had been to DEATH when I first presented. He replied that septicemia would have taken me out in five more days.

So my wife saved me. However, back in ’57, it was my MUM who did the honours. She realised that her five-year-old was hallucinating – and that the “cold” the visiting doc had diagnosed a couple of days earlier had turned into something far worse.

She was right – it had become pneumonic.

In fact, had she not run off to the nearest payphone and LEANED on the doc to come out again IMMEDIATELY – it was a SUNDAY – my collapsing lungs would have polished me OFF by MONDAY.

And these are just TWO of the MANY bullets I have dodged In This Place.

As a professional driver for many years, covering nearly a million miles in every kind of vehicle, road and weather conditions – not to mention terrain and COUNTRY – I dodged a NUMBER then.

There was the time I was sitting at a red (urban) traffic light doing some paperwork. Since I constantly flick my eyes to the rear-view mirror, I was aware there was no traffic behind me – so when the light turned green, I remained where I was for the few seconds it took to finish said paperwork.

Then, with the light still green, I began to move forward, when – WHOOSH! A twenty-ton truck flew STRAIGHT across the junction in front of me.

He had to have crossed said junction at least TEN SECONDS after the light had turned red in his direction.

Since I was going the same way as him, we ended up having a CONVERSATION. However, he was contrite and explained that the road was unfamiliar to him and as he had rounded the bend on the approach to that junction, the SUN had hit him straight in the eyes and he had not SEEN the light. By the time he did, it was WAY too late to stop a twenty-tonner, so he had gritted his teeth and HOPED.

Myself being familiar with that approach, I knew he was telling the truth. So we shook hands and that was that.

However, had I NOT been doing that paperwork, I would have ended up as a BONNET ORNAMENT on his truck.

And this is one of a NUMBER of near-misses (an oxymoron) I could detail.

But getting away from traffic incidents – there are many other bullets I have dodged.

In just the last ten years: a fatal train crash where, had I chosen to travel first class (in the FRONT carriage) instead of second (back in coach 13) – you might well not be reading this now. Ditto had I been sitting in the same Hat Yai McDonalds I had sat in many times before – when it got BLOWN UP by terrorists. And then there is the resort I slept in that got WIPED OUT by the Boxing Day Tsunami (Indian Ocean: ten years and one day ago, as I type) just two weeks later.

But the REALLY creepy bit is those incidents I am UNAWARE of. Huh?

Okay, picture this: it is 1968 and I am walking down Oxford Street admiring the shop displays – and a girl with LONG legs and a SHORT miniskirt – when I bump into some bloke. “Hey, look where you’re going, you clot!” “Sorry, there was this chick…”

In short, this boor DELAYS me by five seconds – thus, by the time I reach the next intersection, the “don’t cross” sign is lit. And as I stand there, another errant motorist WHIZZES over the spot I would have OCCUPIED, but for that delay.

However I do not notice – since I am currently admiring ANOTHER Sixties babe.

Screw Kismet – the World is filled with ENDLESS possibilities. Right NOW, how many hospitals’ casualty departments – and MORGUES – are FILLED with people who would be having LUNCH, had they not stopped to talk to the postman – or have another coffee – before leaving their house?

ALL of our lives hang by a thread. And whether that thread SNAPS or not is often decided by the most INNOCUOUS thing.

So mind how you go.

Dec
22

Did you miss me?

The reason your humble scribe has posted nowt new for nearly TWO MONTHS is that he has been away. Doing what? Two months.

But seriously folks, the reality is no joke…

It all started about a year ago. Occasionally, when I turned over in bed, I noticed a TWINGE in the area of my appendix.

Now, associating – with some JUSTIFICATION, but that is another story – hospitals with major PAIN, I gave it a while. And said twinges STOPPED after a few months.

But then, about three months later, just as I was going to the fridge to get a nice cool glass of water – OOOOF! I doubled up in pain, which came from my appendical (?) area, then spread across my entire abdominal region.

After three days of SEVERE pain, my wife finally overrode my protests and sent for an ambulance (my surgeon says another five days and septicemia would have taken me OUT).

Long story short, it turned out my appendix had “ruptured” – (more like EXPLODED; see picture, below) – taking out half my internal organs (the kidneys, in particular) with it.

my appendix

There then followed…

An operation that led to my abdomen resembling John Hurt’s, after HR Giger’s “Alien” had emerged from it.

Followed by hour after hour after HOUR of excruciating PAIN.

Accompanied by a week on Morphine (NASTY stuff – you do not really sleep – just slip into alternate realities. Junkies would LOVE it – but I found it tedious, confusing and occasionally SCARY) and twelve hours of WITHDRAWAL from same.

With SERIOUS post-op depression. I went to deeply DARK places and now understand what poor old Stephen Fry went through, before he signed up for The Programme. If I had had the means… well, you would not be reading this now.

And all told, enough antibiotics to bring Hitler back to life – but they give you high blood pressure and the TROTS (don’t even ask).

Then after WEEKS of daily outpatient visits (in an ambulance – I was in no condition to DRIVE) – where they removed puss-filled swabs from my innards and inserted fresh ones – a SECOND operation to close me up. But at least this one had a shorter recovery time.

Plus – having washed six-and-a-half weeks of CRAP off of Mitzi (my classic Mitsubishi Galant Ultima) – I am now DRIVING again.

However, at the time of typing (46 days after my initial collapse – but it feels like YEARS) my tummy is still held together by four large rubber bands (sort of) – and it will be at least another month before THEY come out (again, sort of; in fact the inner parts will remain inside me after they seal the eight little holes – finally dissolving after about another eighteen months).

It is difficult to find a BRIGHT SIDE of this experience – nevertheless, here goes: (1) I had a caring, loving wife who got me THROUGH the thing (2) now retired to Thailand, I was able to pay for treatment in a local COMMERCIAL hospital, which has set me back over five grand Sterling – eight, American – but I have received care that was FAR superior to that which I would have had to endure in a UK NHS (government) hospital – and which has cost a FRACTION of the sum a commercial hospital in the West would have charged. And (3) all of this aggro has happened during the Thai WINTER, with its low humidity and moderate temperatures (a blessing for me and anyone close by, since I have not been able to have a proper shower in WEEKS – and will not for several MORE to come).

Oh, and having a PVR, I have not had to miss a single program(me) in one of the best Fall (Autumn) TV Schedules EVER. As I type, a few hours ago in America, Carrie has HOPEFULLY finally evened up the score for the 0-11 drubbing her side has suffered in Season Four of “Homeland” – I will find out TONIGHT.

So there it is. After the darkest period of my LIFE, I am BACK (well, almost).

And what lesson can be learned from all the above? (I RARELY write about PERSONAL stuff in these pieces – I am a COLUMNIST, not a blogger). Well, the message is CLEAR. If I had gone to the Palace Of Pain when I first got those twinges, a simple appendectomy would have cost me around a FIFTH of the time, PAIN and money.

So, esteemed reader; do as I SAY – not as I have done. If YOUR body starts giving you warnings of problems ahead – for f**k’s sake HEED them and go and get yourself CHECKED OUT!

Nov
03

This term has been bandied about for DECADES – usually concerning the Arab-Israeli conflicts. But is it not a gigantic OXYMORON? (For those who ain’t good at English like what I am – that means a contradiction in terms).

I mean, the definition of the word “process” is a course of action that changes one condition into another. In this case, obviously – war into peace.

But despite those decades of jaw-jaw, NOTHING has changed AT ALL.

The centuries – nay MILLENNIA – of wars between these middle-eastern tribes carry on and will doubtless continue forever.

So why not be HONEST and call it The Peace INITIATIVE – then we KNOW it’ll be an utter waste of time…

Oct
17

Sounds like the name of a Seventies Pop combo, doesn’t it? Oh, if only it were…

Britain used to be known as “Rip-off Britain” – but these days, it has a new monicker; BROKEN Britain.

This is because nothing WORKS there anymore. The Police, the Post Office, the Passport Office (HMPO) – and that is just the “P”s.

As one who ESCAPED the cold, wet, miserable place for the sunny climes of Thailand more than a decade ago, I only learned how BAD things have now become – when I applied for a renewed passport.

Even though these days I am half-way around the planet, Britain still finds ways to SCREW with me. And over the past four months, it has driven me to DISTRACTION.

You see, ten years ago if you needed a renewed passport, you simply went down to the local Brutish Embassy, filled in a single form and presented it – along with two pictures, your old passport and some money – and two weeks later, picked up the new one. The End.

But no longer. While the Brutish Embassies have long been pretty useless, the one thing they COULD handle was processing passports.

And so some empty suit in Whitehall decided to CHANGE all that.

Passports are now processed by HMPO (which stands for Her Majesty’s Passport Office – although I am sure if she knew what a monumental BOLLOCKS they have made of everything, Liz Windsor would DISOWN the whole rotten outfit).

Under the titular (or just TIT) Paul Pugh, in a mere three months, the backlog of passport applications had DOUBLED. The last I heard, the figure backed up stood at HALF A MILLION – with over fifty thousand family holidays RUINED.

On top of this, the beleaguered STAFF at HMPO are now reportedly LITERALLY SUICIDAL. Working twenty-seven hours a day, nine days a week, they gaze with dismay upon the ever-growing PILE of work lining the walls.

Paul Pugh volunteered to resign – but is still there. Then incredibly, a bunch of tosspots with a SICK sense of humour called “Investors In People” nominated him as “Leader Of The Year” – I kid you not.

Pugh (who MUST have been called “Stinker” at school) announced he would not attend (maybe the death-threats put him off).

Of course, there IS a precedent for this kind of lunacy; after President Woody Wilson signed off on sending a million troops infected with American Plague to all four corners of the World – and in doing so, signed the death-warrants of around FIFTY-FIVE MILLION PEOPLE (thus accounting for FAR more victims than Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Torquemada, Matthew Hopkins, Maggie Thatcher and Attila The Hun PUT TOGETHER) – they awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Anyway, so far this towering arsehole Pugh has not actually KILLED anyone (that I know of – but remember his suicidal staff; sooner or later, one of them will SNAP) but the abject MISERY he has caused is IMMEASURABLE.

Although in my case, it eventually WILL be – at least, in CASH terms – since, aside from giving me four months of MAJOR STRESS, he’ll end up COSTING ME THOUSANDS OF POUNDS (at least TEN, depending on how long I live).

This is because of the TIME of the year I have to make a large cash-transfer, in order to satisfy the annual visa-extension requirements (four hundred thousand Baht in a Thai bank, for a minimum of sixty days) which has now – thanks to HMPO taking FOUR MONTHS to renew my passport (which only had NINE MONTHS left on it) – been resultantly moved BACK from late June (when the Baht-Pound rate is historically at its BEST) to late MARCH (ditto – WORST).

I had foolishly assumed that applying for my renewed passport a full THREE MONTHS before my visa-extension fell due would be long ENOUGH – but NO.

So how, you may wonder, did the HMPO manage to take SO LONG, to do something SO SIMPLE?

Well, buckle up…

It all began when I hit their webshite (gov.uk) and downloaded all the relevent forms. The first thing I discovered was I needed the answers to four questions their forms failed to cover.

Not having a grand to spare to ring their helpline from a mobile in a foreign country, I sent them an e-mail – SEVERAL times. Eventually I received a reply which answered NONE of my questions, just giving me the URLs to the forms I already HAD – which had obviously GENERATED those questions in the first place.

The dickheads had equally obviously not even READ my e-mail.

So I sent them a NEW one, this time attaching the questions to the SUBJECT. Eventually, they answered TWO of the four questions. More e-mails and I FINALLY got the answers to the remainder. All of this had taken TWO WEEKS.

Then, since you have to pay by INTERNATIONAL BANK CARD (I no longer HAVE one, thanks to Broken RBS – but that is ANOTHER sad story) I got my son (who LIVES in England, poor sod) to pay the fee.

I sent him the money – these days, well over A HUNDRED QUID – in cash, by International Registered post. And since the UK Post Office was also Broken, it took more than ANOTHER week to receive his completed payment form.

But now I was finally set. I still had nearly TEN WEEKS to secure the ESSENTIAL renewed passport.

So, as required, I booked my appointment by e-mail for three days hence, at the “solutions agency” that now “handles” UK passports in Bangkok, who gave me the first appointment they had available – in three WEEKS.

Thus I turned up there with all the paperwork – now more than SIX weeks into the thirteen I had originally allowed for the task.

The agency turned out to be a bird in a box who just checks that you match your picture, fills in a form detailing your paperwork – then despatches the lot to Britain.

A week later, they debited my son’s bank card – the only thing they have EVER DONE QUICKLY.

ANOTHER six weeks on – with just a few DAYS to spare – I FINALLY received an e-mail which I ASSUMED would be the one telling me to pick up the passport from Bangkok. You can therefore imagine the language I used when I read that they had REJECTED MY PICTURES (meaning they had only just BEGUN to PROCESS the application) on the grounds that my glasses had caused “glare” (THEIR word).

Their e-mail stated “there is glare present from your glasses in your eyes” – and demanded NEW ones, before they would even PROCEED with my application.

At this point, a few words about passport pictures. Now traditionally, if you “normally” wear specs, you are supposed to wear them on your passport pictures, provided they are not tinted – or have those silly little frames that were “fashionable” some years back – or have light reflecting off the lenses – or anything else that hides your eyes.

Just for the record, here IS the picture I had sent them…

Now, if this is GENUINELY not good enough for facial recognition software – then said technology is obviously not as clever as they would have us BELIEVE – for as can clearly be seen, the picture was PERFECT.

LARGE frames, with NO tints, reflected light, shadows or ANY damn thing. My baby-blues POPPED right through them. But despite my e-mailed protestations, the HMPO still INSISTED the pictures had “glare” – which brings me to their latest form specifying passport picture requirements.

It clearly states the ORIGINAL rules, concerning glasses – detailing everything that might obscure the eyes.

BUT… it then shows some sample pictures, with dos and don’ts. And they include an old lady with no specs, but SMILING (“WRONG”) – then WEARING glasses, but with huge slabs of LIGHT reflecting off both lenses (“WRONG”) – and then with a vacant expression (like mine, in the above picture) and again, NO glasses (“RIGHT”). All of the other pictures feature specs-less faces.

But NOWHERE does it actually SAY “NO GLASSES” – the instructions merely state what they have ALWAYS stated – that glasses should not OBSCURE THE EYES.

Naturally, if they had SAID no glasses, I would have left them OFF.

One can always remove them if asked, when one presents oneself – as one would with a hat – or shades – or a GAS-MASK.

The HMPO blamed this massive cock-up on the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (a UN agency that sets the standards for all things aviational). But the latest version of THEIR guidelines I can find – states the following…

GLASSES
Even if applicants normally wear glasses, they do NOT need to wear them for a passport photograph. If they do:
(1) the photograph must show the eyes clearly
(2) there must be NO flash reflection off the glasses
(3) tinted lenses are NOT permitted
(4) the frames must NOT cover any part of the eyes
(5) heavy framed glasses are NOT permitted

…which is pretty-much what the HMPO’s form says. The word “glare” appears nowhere – nor does any instruction to REMOVE glasses.

So I sent them yet ANOTHER e-mail. This particular office was the THIRD my passport application appeared to have been through – in three different countries; England (Liverpool) Wales (Newport) and Northern Ireland (Belfast).

I agreed to send them NEW pictures. And added that THIS time, despite their forms not requiring it, ones WITHOUT specs – since IMPROVING on the previous pictures would be IMPOSSIBLE.

I never received a reply to it.

I tried leaving a “comment” on their passport pictures form, but their link did not WORK. So I tried an alternate link – but that did not work EITHER. I was not surprised; just another two entries in their LONG catalogue of FAILS (plus I suspected they had DISABLED the features – to SPARE themselves from a never-ending barrage of ABUSE).

And so, having sent off this second set of pictures – I waited.

The last possible date to apply for my visa-extension arrived. And I had no option but to use my OLD passport – which gave me TWO problems. As stated above, with only nine months left on it, my future visa-extending dates would SHIFT to ones that will likely result in my losing THOUSANDS in annual money-transfers.

But the second was potentially even WORSE – I COULD have ended up in JAIL (and Thai jails are NOT like the ones in NORWAY).

You see, once you APPLY for a new passport, your OLD one becomes VOID. HMPO says you can continue to use it for “ID purposes” – but not for travelling. But what about visa-extension applications? If the Thai bureaucraps REJECTED mine, I could not even use the passport to temporarily LEAVE the country.

Remember that bloke who ended up LIVING in a transit lounge for years?

In the event, the Thai bureacraps gave me a BREAK. They initially ACCEPTED my old, semi-void passport – but said they would only gave me the NINE months left on it. Meaning I would be “legal” for the MOMENT (even though when I croaked, my widow would likely be TEN GRAND – Sterling, not Baht – worse off).

And on top of everything else, I had to delay paying my quarterly RENT for TWO MONTHS, having decided to RETAIN my 400k Baht minimum bank-balance – just in case. My landlady ALSO gave me a break (Thais have HEARTS) and waited.

But this turned out to have been a SHREWD MOVE on my part, since when Paul Pugh and his Passport Pukes DID finally cough up the new passport (the form asking me to go and pick it up included a demand not to abuse their staff – clearly demonstrating this had HAPPENED) I had to return to the Thai bureaucraps to transfer the old passport’s stamps to it.

And shortly afterwards, they asked me to provide a new bank letter, showing my balance was STILL over 400k. This essentially meant I was making a “semi-new” application (the UK passport ID computer presumably having reported the old passport was now VOID). It had occurred to me earlier that this might happen – and SHOULD get me that all-important YEAR’S extension.

Indeed, the Thai consulate said it would be so – but then some prat in Bangkok goofed up and I eventually STILL only got those goddamned nine months. After several days of will-they/won’t-they, this was yet ANOTHER blow.

But then the FINAL insult came when I discovered that in addition to everything else, Pugh and his cronies had RIPPED ME OFF!!

After four months of giving me enough grief to make an archbishop kick in a stained-glass window, the new passport only had THIRTY-TWO pages, when I had specified – AND BEEN CHARGED FOR – FORTY-EIGHT pages.

As it happens, unless the Thai bureaucraps’ systems change radically, the thirty-two pages should be more than adequate for the next ten years. But given the already extortionate price of the document (a hundred quid plus, remember) I’d figured I might as well spend the extra THIRTEEN QUID for the “jumbo” version – again, just in case.

Which is what the bastards now OWE me. But after ALL they have put me through, I am NOT about to endure yet MORE of their CRAP.

No, they can KEEP my thirteen quid, spindle it up – and RAM it where the sun don’t shine.

So what have we learned from this farrago of f**kup? Well, YOU might want to do FOUR things…

(1) if you live in Britain – get OUT as soon as possible
(2) if you need a passport of ANY kind – give the HMPO at least SIX MONTHS
(3) if you wear glasses and have a passport picture, or ANY picture needed for ID purposes, taken – REMOVE your glasses
(4) if you encounter Paul Pugh – kick him up the arse as HARD as you can and tell him, “That’s with the compliments of Damien.”

EPILOGUE

Yesterday afternoon, as I lay on a sunlounger watching a dragonfly dipping lazily over an azure pool, a gentle breeze stirred the overhead palm-trees and it occurred to me that right about that moment, half-way around the World, having struggled through the October rain, the excrescent Paul Pugh and his desperate minions would just about now be filing into their offices to begin another day’s slog.

The thought gave me SOLACE…

UPDATE!

The following was issued as “Guidance for photographers” on the NINTH OF APRIL 2014 – which was BEFORE I began my passport application – and was NOT added to the guidelines for APPLICANTS.

And as of January 2016, it STILL has not been.

Here it is, verbatim…

“1.4 Glasses

“Customers who wear glasses should remove them to ensure that an accurate biometric can be obtained. Glasses can often show reflection or glare from flash, and the frames can obscure facial features. While this may mean that their passport photo does not show them as they usually appear, their photo will still be a good likeness.

“Customers with a visual impairment should also follow this guidance. Dark, tinted or mirrored glasses must be removed – otherwise a biometric cannot be captured.”

In other words – NO GLASSES!

Stinker Pugh needs beating up.

 

Oct
11

Oh, I haven’t got time right now – I’ll write this tomorrow.

Oct
03

First, let us be clear on one VERY important point; e-cigs are NOT a “smoking cessation” device. They are not promoted as such by any legitimate manufacturer or organisation. They are an ALTERNATE DELIVERY SYSTEM for nicotine.

E-cigs first emerged half a century ago. But serious examples only came on-line a DECADE ago, largely thanks to developments in battery technology.

And THOSE examples came from CHINA. Indeed, we MOSTLY have that country to thank for ten years R&D and manufacture of them.

Which raises a VITAL QUESTION which – as far as this writer knows – has NOT yet been ADDRESSED. But more of that later.

One thing that IS certain is that the L&B departments (lies and bullsh*t) of governments all over the World have gone into overdrive on the subject. Despite e-cigs clearly being FAR safer (1000 times, according to some research) than traditional tobacco cigarettes, governments have claimed they are as dangerous – or laughably, even MORE dangerous.

Now you do not need a triple-digit IQ to see why. Many governments RELY HEAVILY on the EXTORTIONATE TAX (1,000%+) which they levy on smokers of standard cigarettes – to RUN their countries.

And even those with double-digit IQs can see that since governments are happy to rake in that revenue, they would be unlikely to look kindly on a substitute that would BYPASS their collection of it.

Furthermore, since most people now have international bank cards and computers, if governments put massive taxes on e-cig “juice” – everyone would simply order it from countries that did not. Buying cigarettes online without involving customs is impractical, due to their SIZE – but little bottles of juice are another matter.

The cost of checking EVERY item of incoming small-packet mail would be prohibitive – and the TIME it would take would cause the international mail system to COLLAPSE.

So let us LOOK at those governments. They have long claimed to constantly increase (WELL above the rate of inflation) tobacco tax, in the interests of “health and safety” – so with e-cigs manifestly being FAR SAFER, WHY are they prepared to make themselves look ridiculous by coming down so heavily AGAINST them?

Well, only those with SINGLE-digit IQs could fail to see that the ALTERNATIVES to taxing tobacco would make governments even MORE unpopular than most already are. Hit beleaguered motorists for yet MORE taxes? Raise VAT? Income tax?

The population would revolt.

How about getting their fat-cat friends and big corporations to pay some REAL tax, eh? (Yeah, like THAT’S going to happen).

So, it’s just about the revenue then – or IS it? Here comes that vital question I spoke of earlier… 

Imagine THIS scenario. Tomorrow, all smokers – including Chinese ones – stop smoking tobacco and switch to e-cigs. What would happen?

Well, in China, about 50% of men – and 1% of women – smoke. But Chinese cigarettes only cost about a Pound (a buck sixty) a pack.

Thus in China, the loss of revenue from tobacco tax would EASILY be compensated for by (1) the HUGE SAVINGS in health-care, for those struck down by smoking-related diseases (2) the INCREASE IN JOBS, created by the manufacturing of e-cigs and juice and (3) the MAJOR BOOST in foreign trade from ALL OVER THE WORLD.

This last would be inevitable, given that while a number of Western tobacco giants have bought in HEAVILY to this new phenomenon – the Chinese are YEARS AHEAD of them.

While around the REST of the World, economies ALREADY reeling from the effects of the ’08/9 financial meltdown – caused by the Wall Street robber-barons, in concord with most of Congress – would be CRIPPLED.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? This thing has a SERIOUS POLITICAL dimension.

Major countries have ALWAYS been heavily invested in sabotaging each other’s economies in any way they can – without actually invoking WAR. And with China’s financial explosion having now begun to plateau, any measure which might create ANOTHER explosion there – would be MORE than welcome.

Now some might wonder whether the idiot governments around the World have THOUGHT of that. However, THIS writer is SURE of it – since it would EXPLAIN why they are prepared to look so absurd, by CONDEMNING and attempting to curtail e-cig use.

But I also believe that THIS time, they are doomed to FAILURE. Like King Canute, they cannot stem the inevitable. E-cigs WILL ultimately replace dirty, smelly, health-destroying, RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE tobacco-based cigarettes. And they WILL have to find alternative ways of raising revenue.

And tobacco companies will FALL – or at least, be forced to segue into the manufacture of e-cigs and juice.

It is not a question of IF – only WHEN.

Sep
27

In the six years (wow, really?) I have been writing these columns, I have touched several times on “-isms” – racism, sexism and others.

But I believe all of these issues can be SUMMED UP quite simply – so here goes…

The factors that go to make up a human fall into two distinct groups.

Group One consists of – but is not limited to: age, race, nationality, colour, socio-economic background, IQ, sex, sexual orientation, height and disabilities.

While Group Two consists of – but is not limited to: creed, political orientation, values, tastes (music, clothes, food, etc.) lifestyle, goals, hobbies and habits.

And while it is DESPICABLE to criticise, belittle or attack someone over factors in Group One – it is ACCEPTABLE, over factors in Group Two.

The reason being that Group One’s factors are aspects of a person which they CANNOT CHANGE. They are BORN with them.

However, the factors in Group Two are all learned and developed, during a person’s lifetime. And they CAN CHANGE them.

Thus if you believe a person’s politics, values, religion or lifestyle is pants – by all means criticise, belittle or attack (verbally, of course) them.

But if you have issues with their race, colour, sexual orientation or IQ – KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF.

Sep
09

These days, Obama has accepted that no matter how much he tries to appease his government, they will continue to shit all over him and block – or at least dissipate – his every move.

His attempts at conciliation began even before he won office, during the debates with that little prat, McCain. And McCain’s reaction set the tone for what would follow.

So thus far – aside from nailing Bin Liner – Obama has been hog-tied by the most intransigent, lazy, BLOODY-minded Congress in history.

But now that he has become RESIGNED to the fact he is surrounded by right-wing arseholes – including that orange-faced prick, Boehner (who cannot even pronounce his own name properly) – he has finally realised that if he wants to get anything done, it is time to BECOME The Most Powerful Man In The World.

Which means using Presidential Privilege.

For my British readers, I should explain that unlike in your country, where the Speaker is non-partisan and the Prime Minister rules, the US President only has real power if he is a right-wing arsehole.

A Democratic one is about as much use as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking contest.

However he does have ONE weapon in his arsenal; Presidential (AKA Executive) Privilege. This is normally reserved for those times when a decision needs to be made that cannot be put through Channels (like the one he made, to nail the afore-mentioned Bin Liner).

But while its usage has always been more divergent – its definition has always been somewhat VAGUE. Thus in the past, Presidents have used it sparingly – like a fine wine.

Nevertheless, Obama has finally ripped the cork out and is preparing to drink straight from the bottle.

Of course, all of the right-wing arseholes are protesting at Barry’s cheek – spoiling their little game – and are talking of everything from impeachment to straight-up SUEING him. But he is unrepentant.

How far this long-overdue move will take him in his last two years in office – remains to be seen.

I for one wish him LUCK.

He will need it.

Sep
02

A while back, a swish New York shop called Barney’s hit the news when a black girl was roughed up by NYPD, after she had bought a handbag there, which cost two THOUSAND five hundred bucks.

The incident was similar to an earlier one, where a young black man had bought a belt for $349.

Apparently, neither of these people had done anything wrong. Both had paid for their purchases with legitimate debit cards.

Barney’s said THEY had not called the cops on either of the two customers – it appears the NYPD had a “fraud task force” operating independently, inside their shop.

But if that was true, why arrest the CUSTOMERS? Two-and-a-half GRAND for a HANDBAG? Three hundred and fifty for a BELT?

If anyone needed to be busted for FRAUD, it was BARNEY’S – for taking advantage of two SIMPLETONS – regardless of their colour.

More recently, a NINE-year-old girl was taken by her parents to an establishment in Arizona, called “Bullets And Burgers” (I swear I’m not making this up) where she was allowed to have a go with a gun (Arizona has no minimum age for this).

She was given an UZI by the instructor.

After letting her pop off a couple of rounds in single-shot mode – he switched it to full automatic. Understandably, the weapon got away from her and swung around in an arc, KILLING said instructor stone dead (the girl will likely still be in counselling when I’m pushing up the daisies).

No-one is being charged over the incident. The range’s owner said, “This was a very mature young lady… …what we’re kind of kicking around right now is like at Disneyland – you know; if you’re not this tall…” – and that appears to be that.

Of course, America is the place that brought the World to its knees during their Great Depression of 1929. And while measures were then brought in to prevent a repeat of that fiasco, they began REMOVING them twenty years ago – with predictable results.

Then in 1969, despite their thirteen-year Prohibition having showed them what would happen, Nixon’s America decided to go for a War On Drugs – AGAIN, with predictable results. Except this time, it has taken them nearly FIFTY years to BEGIN to acknowledge their error.

Thus today, they are AGONISINGLY slowly – state by state – starting to legalize marijuana.

Perhaps, once their entire population is STONED – Americans may FINALLY start to behave SENSIBLY…

–    –    –    –    –    –    –    –    –    –    –    –    –    –    –    –    –

A response to the above…

Well, I’m a little late to the party here, but I wanted to weigh in on your observations regarding the legalization, or more often, decriminalization of the devil’s weed.

The US is so completely fractured as a society that we are nearly non-functional at this juncture. The inane right wing tea baggers have taken over the GOP, waving their bibles and KKK flags and still endlessly trotting out their anti-Obama rhetoric (“He’s a Muzzlim!” – “He’s a forrinner!” – “He’s a commie!”)…and the more reasonable members of the party are too terrified to stand up to them so it looks like the psycho roadshow and traveling curiosity that is the current Republican party will continue bumbling along with idiots like Ghomert, Ruiz, Bush III, Batshit Crazy Bachmann, Huckabee, Jindal, Walker, Santorum, et al continuing their mission to turn the United States into a proper theocracy (I firmly believe that they secretly admire ISIS and harbor a good deal of jealousy over their success).

And yet right square under the big top we have hard line right wingers joining forces with the progressive enemy in order to push for federal legalization of pot! I mean, this has been their war, created by the most famously criminal president in history as a measured response to his raging paranoia towards anyone under the age of thirty, all of whom he was certain were out to get him (they were).

So now tea party members are standing on libertarian ideals of personal freedom, coupled with dreams of new business and tax revenues, along with us democrats who just like to A) get stoned, B) listen to music, and C) not get busted.

Man, I mean this juggernaut of states flipping the bird to the feds would seem like the perfect excuse to hand over more armored vehicles, stun grenades, and assault weapons to police forces around the country (we have quite a few that are doing nothing right about now) but instead the misty-eyed dreamers can smell the big bucks in the air now that Colorado’s experiment not only greatly increased the general fund, but failed to bring the second coming of Christ (so far, at least, of course the predictions have had a marked upturn in the past few days following the SCOTUS gay marriage decision, but I digress).

I find it hilarious that in the midst of an era in which the gears of government have nearly ground to a halt over every possible decision, be it the ACA, our endless mingling in world affairs, the ever widening income gap, immigration reform, secret trade assignments, etc., etc…the one area in which we can finally begin to find some common ground appears to be over smoking dope.

What a time to be alive.

Excellent comment. Better than the article that inspired it! Therefore, I am “elevating” it from Comments to the piece itself. Thanks.

Aug
23

Charisma Carpenter is a now-middle-aged actress, mostly famous for PLAYING A SERIES of bimbos (for non-Americans; a bimbo is a woman without a brain in her head, who floats along on her looks).

Of course, that NAME (Charisma – her actual given name – after an Avon perfume) might have HELPED.

These days, she is still working – in bit parts. But perhaps her time is yet to come, as she bears a STARTLING resemblance to three REAL LIFE women – said to be the World’s LEADING bimbos; Sarah Palin (she’d only need specs) Michele Bachmann and (with a blonde wig and a wild-eyed look) Gretchen Carlson.

This is Charisma….

Charisma Carpenter

…there are plenty more revealing pics of her on the Interweb – but for this piece, all we need is her FACE.

This is Sarah Palin…

Sarah Palin

 

…this is Michele Bachmann…

Michele Bachmann

 

…and this is “crazy eyes” Gretchen Carlson…

 

None of these three women would have cause for complaint; after all, Charisma is a few years younger than ALL of them – and she has had a boob job.

But of course, a producer would say that none of their stories are COMPLETE yet.

And tragically, that would be correct…

Footnote! See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpJOQ4ukVtA

Aug
14

Elsewhere in these columns, I have written of how the publishers’ copyright ID computer programmes brought an end to new musical compositions around 1980.

https://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/cornelius-on-musical-plagiarism/

But not only did this begin the descent of Pop, it also spelled the end for TV themes and jingles. And it is this last wot this piece is about.

For decades, the ad men had relied on catchy pieces of original music to move their employers’ products – but when that dried up, they began to look elsewhere.

Thus it was that in 1985, the creatives working on a Levi ad decided to use something evocative for their œuvre.

They came up with Marvin Gaye’s 1967 recording of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” – but when they approached Motown records for clearance, the latter got SNIFFY.

And so they came up with an alternative. They assembled a Marvin Gaye impressionist and a musician who had been THERE when the track had been recorded.

With his help, they acquired vintage mics and equipment from specialist museums – and recreated the original line-up.

After a few takes, they were pleased with what they had done – but something was not quite right. Suddenly, the ex-Motown musician had a ‘eureka’ moment – he leapt up and yelled “HISS!”

He told them that the track had originally been laid down in a studio that was notorious for hiss. The producer said, “Oh yeah; I’ve got a mint-original copy of Marvin’s ‘That’s The Way Love Is’ – the hiss is CHRONIC on that one.”

“Well,” the engineer replied, “if you all bugger off and get a coffee, I can soon fix THAT.”

And so they all duly trooped off – and returned fifteen minutes later, to find a now-smug-looking engineer waiting.

He explained what he had done; ramped up the volumes to 11 on several of the mics, recorded five minutes of hiss onto a spare track – and mixed it in.

“I had to clear the studio,” he explained, “as just breathing would have been picked up – and if anyone had coughed, these cans would have blown my ears out. And I need my ears – I’m a recording engineer. It’s all I know how to do.”

He then proceeded to play their track back, with added hiss.

And in due course, it accompanied the Levi ad and made a star of Nick Kamen (who was only a model then).

But when the ad came out, Motown was shocked to discover that the public was clamouring at the doors of record shops (they still existed then) asking for copies of the record.

At which point, they hastily re-issued it and nearly twenty years after its original release, it sailed back up into the Top Ten.

And so a new fashion began. Now ALL ad men sought out classic tracks to accompany their wares – and most record companies were understandably happy to oblige.

Meanwhile, other record companies who had similar material but had not been approached – decided to jump on the band-waggon and re-release gems in similar veins.

But there was a problem; it was the Eighties – and you needed a MODERN VIDEO to accompany ANY single you released – or the all-important MTV would not play it.

However, Marvin Gaye had been shot by his psychotic father, who frowned on Marvin’s life-style, Jackie Wilson had died on stage – thanks in no small measure to Dick “Head” Clark – and Nina Simone had never been photogenic, even when YOUNG.

But after the success of the Levi ad, “…Grapevine” had again been used for an ad. This time, California Raisins – which had used CLAYMATION.

Thus this old tech suddenly found itself reborn – along with another; stop-motion.

Here are a couple of examples from MY uploads: first, Jackie Wilson’s “I Get The Sweetest Feeling” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzp6Ry0_jt0 (that’s Jackie on the TV) and then Nina Simone – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2AHuRvvHR4

Enjoy.

Jul
26

“Lucky” Larry Searle had never known what it felt like to be a “loser” – if he pulled a cracker, he would ALWAYS get the middle section.

His friends – of whom he had many – never ceased to be amazed how everything ALWAYS seemed to go his way.

Thus his career in Texan oil futures had made him rich – so much so, that he could afford to take a day off whenever he pleased. And it pleased him that day.

Sitting in his favourite car – a classic open-top T-Bird – he was powering along a lonely desert road, without a care in the World.

And since the weather that day was HOT, he was glad to see some inviting hills ahead. Aside from providing better scenery, it would also be cooler up there.

Checking the sky above and flat sands around, he saw no cops – so leaned even harder on the loud pedal.

The first hill was now imminent, so he eased back on the throttle – but he was still doing nearly eighty when IT HAPPENED…

POW! went the tyre. But Larry was as skillful as he was lucky – so resisted the temptation to hit the brakes. Instead, he simply lifted his foot off the accelerator and GENTLY corrected the car’s weaving as it slowed.

Finally, when the speed had reduced to about ten miles an hour, he steered the vehicle off the road onto a convenient piece of hard, flat ground.

Walking around the car, Larry saw what he had expected to see – the right rear tyre was VERY flat at the bottom.

He checked his mobile phone and that too showed what he had expected – no bars. But then again, to have gotten a signal way out here would not just have been lucky – it would have been a frickin’ MIRACLE.

In any case, he knew his spare was good and his car was on solid, flat ground. Time to do some WORK.

He bowled out the spare and found the jack and nut spanner. But as he performed the mundane task, it gave him time to consider; was this IT? Had his legendary luck finally run OUT??

As one of the nuts proved difficult (there was always ONE) he barely noticed as a police cruiser WHIZZED down the road, travelling in the direction he had been heading.

But just as he was finishing changing the wheel, it returned – now travelling slower – and parked up next to him.

The cop got out and ambled over to him. “Having some trouble?”

“Well, I was – but I guess it’s fixed now,” answered Larry.

“Good,” replied the cop, then he added, “But you don’t seem too happy about it.”

“Hmm. Well, this is gonna sound silly, but this sort of thing doesn’t HAPPEN to me. I’m sorta, well… BLESSED.”

“Really?” said the cop. “I’ll tell you what; I came out here to… listen, why don’t you follow me and I’ll SHOW you what I just did.”

Puzzled, Larry agreed – the cop seemed friendly enough and Larry had nothing to hide. And so the cop drove off with Larry following.

After half a mile, the cop slowed and Larry saw a temporary sign on the road’s shoulder. It read “EMERGENCY SLOW” in large letters.

And as they approached the blind bend around the hill, there was another – this one read “NO THRU ROAD” and was accompanied by a temporary barrier positioned right across the road.

The cop stopped – as did Larry – and then got out of his cruiser and motioned Larry to join him. They walked past the barrier and continued around the bend.

Larry gasped as he saw the sight. The iron bridge that had once straddled the three-hundred-foot-deep gorge behind the hill – had collapsed into it.

“I received a call from a unit on the other side – that’s why I didn’t stop to help you the first time I passed you. I was hurrying to erect these signs and barrier – we always carry ’em in our trunks.”

Larry gaped at the tangle of metal at the bottom of the gorge, picturing himself and his T-Bird splattered all over it.

The cop laughed. “So it looks like you’re STILL blessed, old son.”

_    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _

One day, YOU were headed to the company car park at the end of a work day, when you tripped on a loose flagstone and fell headlong onto the ground.

You CURSED as you picked yourself up, dusted yourself down – and noticed the scuff on the right knee of your second-best suit.

Eventually you reached your car, your right knee throbbing – and drove home without further incident.

As you passed a junction on the way, you failed to notice the truck parked a few hundred yards down one of the side roads – and even if you had, it would have meant nothing to you.

You had no way of knowing that one minute earlier – RIGHT at the time you WOULD have been passing through it, had you not had your humiliating and painful moment – the trucker had had a moment of his own.

Approaching the junction from the side-road, his brake-pedal had STUCK – leaving him no option but to cruise right through the main road and hope for the best.

His luck – and YOURS – had been IN that day. The side-road on the other side had also been clear, allowing him to double-declutch his vehicle to a stop and park up.

And after he had made a mental note to change his underwear as soon as possible – he had called his company to arrange for a tow-in.

But you could have known NOTHING of this – so don’t think it didn’t happen.

_    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _    _

But what do these two stories tell us?

Well, it is a solid fact that given (unless we live on a desert island or in a hole in the ground) MILLIONS of things happen to us during our lifetimes – it would only be a statistical anomaly if a FEW of them did NOT wildly coincide.

And on the same principle, in is inevitable that we will have “runs” of good and bad luck.

However, it is human nature to IGNORE the many MUNDANE happenstances that fill our days, obsessing (that’s a VERB these days) about the handful of EXTRAORDINARY ones that occur. And attributing to them some special quality.

But only a FOOL believes in luck, fate, destiny, karma or “the lap of the gods” – or even a god. We make our OWN luck in this World.

And as for the rest; fact is, stuff just HAPPENS – what we MAKE of it is entirely SUBJECTIVE.

But thanks to the “butterfly” or “ripple” effect (events which trigger other events, which in turn trigger… etc.) happenings we might THINK OF as being BAD luck – might VERY WELL trigger ones that for us are major, even life-saving GOOD LUCK.

Some of which we might recognise – and others we have NO chance of even KNOWING about.

So the next time something BAD happens to you – provided it leaves you with your bodily bits and pieces pretty much INTACT – remember it might JUST have triggered something monumentally GOOD in your life. You might even have dodged a MASSIVE BULLET.

You see, as far as LUCK is concerned, there IS none. Just events. And more events. And yet MORE events. Their effects simply being what they are. And over our lifetimes – fortune-wise – they all tend to even out anyway.

Yin and Yang, baby.

Jul
14

This writer has mentioned before how Americans have changed the spellings, use and usage of as many words as they can, in order to try to convince themselves – if nobody else – that THEY invented the Language Of Shakespeare.

But a bizarre new example of this silliness has impinged itself on this historian’s ear; they now SWAP the words “like” and “love” AROUND.

This is just plain WEIRD; these two words have both been around for CENTURIES – with VERY specific definitions for each.

Do Americans REALLY imagine that the rest of the World is going to dutifully CHANGE these words’ meanings after all this time – simply because paranoid Yanks FEAR the word “love”?

If so, our ex-colonial friends – as they themselves would say – NEED TO GET REAL.

Jul
07

Having escaped cold, wet, miserable Britain twelve years ago, I have not seen too many of their TV ads during that time. But those which I have caught have featured a trend which is DEEPLY annoying; a line of qualifiers, links and disclaimers – in a compressed font – running across the bottom of the picture.

Now, given I have rarely watched LIVE television since obtaining my first VCR in 1982, ads are not a major problem for me – obviously, I skip over them. And since my current PVR allows me to progress in thirty-second hops, these days I am rarely even troubled by the brand-names.

However I have watched the few BRITISH ads that have come my way, just out of curiosity. And those ever-present lines of compressed print are a major DISTRACTION. It is like trying to look someone in the eyes when they are wearing an absurd wig – or have a disgusting wart – or big tits.

In fact my first thought when I saw “T&Cs apply” was that the letters STOOD for the naughty bits of a woman – but then I decided they must mean “Terms And Conditions” – right?

Anyhoo, I suppose at least SOME of this crap is forced upon the ad-makers by the Advertising Standards Authority (or whatever they are called today). It was those guys who were responsible for one of the LAMEST series of ads ever, back in the Nineties. I am referring to the Whiskas’ “Eight Out Of Ten Cats” campaign.

For those too young to remember; around 1988, an ad premiered that featured a “panel” of ten people whom we were told had taken part in a “test” where they had had to determine which cat food their pet preferred.

And like on some mediocre game-show, they pressed buttons and ten screens lit up – two of them displayed brand X, while the remaining eight came up Whiskas. Thus the slogan – “In tests, eight out of ten cat-owners said their cat preferred Whiskas” – was born.

This slogan was then used for YEARS – until someone blabbed to the ASA that during the tests, their cat had eaten anything put in front of it – at which point, the ASA acted.

But instead of finally DUMPING the whole dreary campaign, Whiskas’ ad-men simply CHANGED the slogan to “In tests, eight out of ten cat-owners – who expressed a preference – said their cat…(etc.)” – how lame was THAT?!

Eventually, the whole thing collapsed when a rival company began a far more MODERN and infinitely BETTER campaign simply featuring a cute girl feeding their product to an even cuter cat.

Which nowadays leaves “Eight Out Of Ten Cats” solely as the title of a comedy panel show – which it uses ironically.

Jun
21

This too is hardly topical – in fact the events I wish to consider happened almost twenty years ago.

But after my Zen brother Corny recently wrote a piece on racism – http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/cornelius-on-racism-from-the-liberal-standpoint/ – I was reminded of said event.

If you are over thirty, you probably recall it too. Eric got into a ruck with another player and was sent off. But as he passed through the tunnel, a “fan” shouted racist abuse at him – at which point Eric leapt into the crowd and launched a “kung fu” style attack on him.

The upshot of this attack was that Eric was heavily penalised by the FA and received a two-week prison sentence – reduced on appeal to community service – from the courts, for his actions.

Fair enough – after all, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words/names can never hurt me.”

And whilst the “fan” may have acted both foully and aggressively, he did not launch a PHYSICAL attack on Cantona. Thus Cantona’s actions could not have been countenanced in law.

However, while Eric was rightly ashamed of his part in the drama, it is a fact that the British public were DELIGHTED by his actions.

Indeed, said actions were at least in part responsible for RAISING his career profile – including in the eyes of people who had no interest in football whatsoever and who thus would never have heard of him, had it not been for the “kung fu” incident.

All of which goes to highlight what I see as a FAILING in the British character: next to pædophilia, nothing is guaranteed to inflame its passions more than racism.

Which is fine, provided one does not lose sight of everything else.

Granted that “fan” was an excrescence – but Eric’s actions were NOT justified.

Two wrongs do not make a right. Racism is an evil – but then so is the violence it often leads to. And the one does not justify the other.

Of course today, in Britain, the Cantana incident would be unlikely to recur. If a “fan” behaved like the one did on that day – the CROWD would give him a kicking…

Jun
06

Anthony Weiner

Okay, this is hardly TOPICAL – but I’ve been doing a SLOW BURN on this one.

After a rocky political career, MARRIED Anthony Weiner “sexted” pictures of his gentleman-sausage to a number of women.

The scandal broke, his wife stood beside him (why do they always DO that?) – and that SHOULD have been that.

But no. Two years on, he decides to run for MAYOR OF NEW YORK!!

WHAT PART OF HIS TINY MIND COULD POSSIBLY HAVE IMAGINED THIS WAS ANYTHING LIKE OKAY?

Had he done anything like that in my day, far from just quitting politics, he would have had to quit ANY public career (except possibly the “adult movie” industry) – and indeed, “decent society” in general.

As for today; had a French version of him run for Mayor of Paris, even the French – who are notoriously FORGIVING of politicians’ sexual indiscretions – would have said “NON!”

Every night, during his campaign, ALL the late night chat-shows’ monologues featured him as their main story – with a name like Weiner, he was tailor-made.

In fact, in my day, he would have had to change that NAME in order to have run for ANYTHING.

This could ONLY have happened in America – although to be fair to them, less than 5% of New York’s votors actually VOTED for him.

And I’m sure they were LAUGHING as they did so…

Jun
02

Ah, the Fifties. Life was SIMPLER then. You could jump on a bus at the traffic lights – and they ran FASTER, thanks to the driver not having to collect FARES at each stop.

And you could smoke just about ANYWHERE – except libraries, museums, churches, art galleries and theatres (but no-one went THERE). Even NON-smokers always kept ashtrays and cigarettes for GUESTS – instead of sending you into the garden, like they do now.

People were more RELAXED. In those days, if you could STAND, you could DRIVE – forget blood/alcohol limits. And if you interfered with a boy’s shorts, people didn’t make the FUSS they do now – “Oh, that’s just Uncle Norman’s WAY.”

Plus there was none of that pill nonsense – you used a rubber johnny when you had sex. So personal hygiene wasn’t an issue either. Which was just as well, given only the rich had indoor bathrooms.

And you didn’t have to worry about whether you could LAUGH at a joke, like you do now. Casual racism was only a bit of fun and darkies were good sports mostly. And women too.

Of course, you had to be TOUGH to survive to adulthood. None of that mamby-pamby synthetic clothing and bed-clothes. Again, only the RICH had central heating, while YOU had to make do with cotton and wool. Half a ton of which on your bed made breathing a CHALLENGE, as you watched the clouds of condensation rise upwards.

Then there was the MUSIC. Oh, not that Rock ‘N’ Roll stuff – that was just for the greasers who roared up and down the A1 on their motorbikes (there were no SPEED LIMITS then) and listened to it on transport cafe jukeboxes. No, the BBC played Miki and Griff, Alma Cogan and Mantovani – PROPER music. Not that RACE crap.

And you didn’t get LOONIES (you could CALL them that in those days) walking the streets. Weirdos, eccentrics, single mothers and the like were banged up where they BELONGED – in ASYLUMS. And poofs were JAILED – although locking up a shirt-lifter with six hundred men was perhaps not thinking it through.

Of course, there WAS always the risk of nuclear annihilation. But just duck under a table and you’d be fine – and avoid drinking milk for a couple of years.

Also, murderers got what they DESERVED – they got HUNG. And most of them were guilty, too.

Ah, yes – the Fabulous Fifties. They’re not coming back…

May
18

In America, the career of Bob Newhart is well known.

It began with two chart-topping albums: “The Button-Down Mind Of Bob Newhart” and “The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back” – then continued with more hit albums – his own show – Vegas headline runs – regular appearances on top shows (Carson, Dean Martin, Ed Sullivan, etc.) – then TWO successful sitcoms in the ’70s and ’80s – plus many film and television spots. At 84, he still occasionally works – he guested on “The Big Bang Theory” only months ago.

But in Britain, his profile is a bit different.

While his two sitcoms and The Big Bang Theory all aired, back in the Sixties (apart from a few clips) his US TV appearances were UNSEEN by British audiences. Then, it was all about his RECORDS.

But while records in America in the Sixties were reasonably priced, in Britain, thanks to PRICE-FIXING by the major record companies, they cost a FORTUNE. His first two albums, released in 1960-1, cost Brits A DAY’S WAGES – EACH.

This meant that those who could afford to buy them – played them through to the FELT.

But for the rest of us, Bob’s gems still got heard. With Pop records of the day rarely being longer than two minutes, when BBC DJs needed a “bathroom break” – they would stick on one of his tracks (Auntie COULD afford to buy albums). The favourite was “Driving Instructor” – which was just over eight minutes long – and later, “Introducing Tobacco Into Civilization” – which ran a little over six.

The result of all this was that when Bob came over to Britain in the early Seventies, when he performed these two masterpieces – HE COULD SEE PEOPLE LIPS MOVING ALONG TO THEM!

However, my personal favourite from those years is a lesser-known classic, “Defusing A Bomb”. It still cracks me up – FIFTY YEARS on. I put it up on YouTube three years ago. It currently has 165,000 hits.

If you want to add another, you can find it on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArMf6xbMsLI – ENJOY!

May
01

Take two guys: the first is Nigel Farage – the leader of UKIP (for the benefit of American readers: UKIP is like the Tea Party, but without the guns) and a “Man Of The People”…

Nigel Farage

And the second is another Man Of The People – Jay Leno, former host of The Tonight Show…

Jay Leno

Now clearly, something is WRONG here. While Mr Farage has a face that is WAY too BIG for his head – Mr Leno’s is way too SMALL.

Hence the title of this piece. BOTH of these men need HELP…

Apr
25

I rarely have time to read blogs – but searching for something on the above-named programme (which I only caught up with yesterday) I stumbled across the below piece, from “theresidentweeble”, here on THIS service…

“Well, all the build-up was worth it, ‘The Day of the Doctor’, a fabulous episode to celebrate 50 years of Dr Who was had. But they couldn’t let it lie. The BBC thought, let’s do an after show party, and let’s film it live. That may have sounded good at the time I’m sure, but it wasn’t.

“Live TV rarely works out these days and to make it work best takes a lot of preparation and rehearsal. This appeared to have little or none of that. Hosted by an over caffeinated breathless Zoe ball and the most insincere man who’d I’d never heard of. Zoe interviewed some of the past cast and crew of Dr who, putting her head down to read the questions of her lap and not giving these people who were kind of the point of the show to fully answer.

“The questions asked to guests and fans were all so generic: Did you like the episode? What’s was your best memory of filming it? What was your favourite enemy that you fought (asked to a chap who only appeared in a handful of episodes). Then the answers were just as bad: Yes I loved the episode, I thought it was fantastic. Although one chap said it was like a dirty movie for him. That was funny.

“For some reason the BBC thought chatting to a couple of the One Direction members via satellite link up to LA was a good idea. Even if the delay of 5 seconds and feedback and all manner of f*ck ups hadn’t happened, what the flying f*ck have One Direction got to do with Dr Who anyway?

“At one point they made all the companions do a game that confused not only the viewing public, but also those involved. They all stood up and were told to “sit down if they hadn’t run down a corridor” and sometimes it would be “sit down if you have said ‘What’s this?’ to the Doctor”. Or “stay standing if you haven’t tripped and fell.” It was very odd and kind of demeaning.

“This was mostly awful telly. I like the facts spat out by K9 in a pre-recorded segment, but other than that it felt like it was stapled on the end of a big deal show at the last minute as a come down drug to counter the massive build-up. As come downs go, I’m betting Smack isn’t much worse.”

The responses were as follows…

SudoOne: I’m glad I chose to write with it on mute. You describe it very well. I hated Zoe “I’m on radio so I can look at my notes” Ball on the Capaldi reveal show so no surprise she’s shit here!

Shocked-Who-Fan: Multiple car crash television! I watched aghast!

http://theenglishprofessoratlarge.com: I agree with you that it was an insult to everyone’s intelligence. I wanted to screech, “EXTERMINATE!”

And finally, ME: I wholeheartedly agree with every word you wrote – you saved me the trouble. The one thing I’d add is the APPALLING treatment of Jean Marsh.

Jean Marsh

The woman is SHOWBIZ ROYALTY. And having shlepped down to this monumental waste of time (the woman is 79 and not in the best of health) all she got was, “and here’s Jean Marsh” – and after she’d nodded and smiled, that was IT.

F*CK! They could have done a whole programme just on HER – “The Twilight Zone”, “Upstairs Downstairs” and a SLEW of film and TV appearances – plus her writing and producing (she CO-CREATED “Upstairs Downstairs”) – not to mention her marriage to Jon Pertwee and her associations with other important showbiz figures.

It would certainly have been a more interesting programme than THIS tosh. I FEEL for her – she has earned little from the WEALTH of material she has starred in and created. And “Downton Abbey” is essentially a rip-off of her “Upstairs Downstairs”.

As she once said of that show, “If it had been made in America I’d be Mary Tyler Moore. As it is, I’m Mary Tyler Less.”

–         –         –         –         –         –         –         –         –         –         –

Actually, now I’m back in MY den, I’ll add something ELSE…

They had “the biggest collection of Companions ever assembled” in the studio – and all we got was Zoë Ball (vintage BBC presenter Johnny’s kid and wife of the agreeable Norman Cook – AKA “Fatboy Slim”) and some bloke whittering on and ON, occasionally asking inane questions to the assembled guests (who were clearly waiting for the whole sorry mess to conclude, so they could do something USEFUL) – interspersed with clip compilations.

The Whovian viewers must have been having fantasies – not about Zoë (now 43, but still quite cute) – but about taking the director of the show out onto the BBC car park… …and running the sod down with a BBC O.B. TRUCK!!!

Apr
19

I just heard that Britain (the land of my birth) is rated number 17 on the list of the World’s LEAST Corrupt countries.

So out of some 200-plus recognised nations, that means she is in pretty good shape, right?

Or IS she?

The thing is, casting aside the consideration that WELL-organised corruption goes undetected (and therefore logically would not be INCLUDED in the stats) exactly what PARAMETERS are they using?

I mean, there is your obvious, basic corruption: Brown Envelopes – then your more sophisticated corruption: Favours, Perks and the like – and finally, borderline stuff involving “Relationships”.

All of which rather goes against the British style of Fair Play (then again, these days…)

However one is left wondering whether consideration was given to the INSTITUTIONAL corruption with which Britain is riddled.

Like the fact that for almost a CENTURY now, the main two parties have systematically FIXED the electoral borders to virtually ENSURE no third party can ever take over from them.

For full details on THAT one, see a prophetic piece I wrote in these columns four years ago – just as Cleggy was trying to make what would eventually prove to be the WORST decision of his life…

http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/cornelius-on-britains-corrupt-electoral-system/

THIS kind of corruption is part of the FABRIC of Britain – but was it considered as such by the people who created their World Corruption list? One suspects not.

For if it had, Britain would most likely have charted as the 17th MOST Corrupt country in the World.

Apr
08

When one is a child, all sustenance, caring and wisdom comes from one’s parents. Therefore, as a child, one’s parents are effectively GODS. But when one grows up, one quickly comes to realize they actually have feet of clay – which leaves one feeling rather alone.

And thus it has been, ever since Man first gained the power of THOUGHT.  But once he BEGAN to think, he put enormous effort into trying to overcome the problem. Looking around, the first thing he noticed was the Sun. It gave him warmth, light – and plants didn’t seem to grow in the shade. Therefore in a triumph of logic, he surmised that the Sun was God.

But then, he realised that this could not be the entire story. Water seemed to be kind of important too. And without earth… So pretty soon, he became convinced that they too must be gods. And with that realization, since men were his only point of reference, he attributed to them man-like qualities. And so began to worship them. And give sacrifices to them.

Further on down the line, Man developed civilizations. And with those civilizations (the Greeks, the Romans) came development of those early ideas. They devised gods for EVERYTHING that seemed important. Wine, love, travel – you name it, they had a god for it. But this got ridiculous – enter mono-theism.

A single god was easier to handle, but Man needed some sort of connection with this deity, thus he came up with prophets, sons-of, holy men, witch-doctors – again, you name it.

But since civilizations had their differences, it was inevitable that their religions would vary also. And since religious devotion had become so powerful, that devotion would lead to “holy wars”. Thus much blood was spilled over whose gods were best.

But eventually, Man grew UP. He invented SCIENCE, which provided answers to the questions of the creation of the Universe, the way the World worked and the evolution of himself. At least, by now that’s what SHOULD have happened – but it hasn’t has it?

The absurdities of Man’s modern religions are mind-boggling.

The simplest question, which a five-year-old can ask, but which the most intelligent theologian in the World cannot answer, is, “If God made Man, who made God?”

Then there are the variations. Given that the major religions are markedly different in their beliefs, it stands to reason that they can’t ALL be right. Which means that anyone claiming THEIR religion is the only “true” one is, by inference, dismissing the followers of all other religions as a bunch of poor deluded saps.

In fact, religions are a bit like washing liquids and powders – they all do much the same job, but all of their manufacturers claim that only THEIRS washes RIGHT.

But what job DOES religion do? Well, they do many. Going back to that primitive Man, they answer the unanswerable questions – what is the purpose/meaning of life – sort of. And they give people a father-figure. Someone to ask for stuff. Help, comfort – a good crop.

And of course, they calm the fear which EVERYONE has of DEATH, by promising some sort of after-life – from the Happy Hunting Ground to Heaven. And they also enable men to CONTROL other men by offering up threats of the OPPOSITE, if they don’t behave.

But if that were true, where would the cut-off point be? We all live lives filled with good and bad deeds (see “Good And Evil”, elsewhere in these ramblings) so how much evil can you do and STILL make it to the good place? With some religions, seemingly plenty – provided you can get a “holy man” to give you absolution just before you die.

And if Man is born in God’s image, it follows that God looks like Man. But what would HE do with reproductive organs? And where do WOMEN come in all of that?

And if God is perfect, why do some religions make “alterations” to babies? “Lord, your work is ALMOST perfect, but we want to make just ONE little ‘improvement’…”

Okay, at this point I am forced to skip over the many, MANY other absurdities of individual religions for fear of bringing down a ton of CRAP upon myself – as I’ve said elsewhere, these are just words, people – and make just one more point…

A person’s religion – or belief system – is developed over their life- time, so why do God-Squads CONTINUE to believe they can CHANGE people’s beliefs, on a door-step, in half an hour? Don’t they realize the only “conversions” they will achieve will be amongst the lonely, the desperate, the vulnerable – and people whose soaps are about to start on TV?

[For more on this, check out… http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/cornelius-on-my-belief-system/ ]

Mar
23

It is now widely accepted that rabidly anti-gay men are mostly gay themselves – but being unable to come to terms with their sexuality, overcompensate by railing against those who have.

So is Vladimir Putin a fruit? Let us examine the evidence…

(1) His government has introduced anti-gay legislation (I wonder how THAT went down at the Bolshoi Ballet).

(2) He waxes.

(3) He has the name of a Russian porn star (put-in?)

(4) He wears his hair short.

(5) And he goes shirtless at every opportunity.

Should there remain any doubt, I offer the following…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMdMarSEK2o

Mar
16

Boeing 777-200ER Malaysia Airlines 9M-MRO

…which is (was?) in fact the above aeroplane.

I think it is a given that somewhere in Bel Air, the first two acts of the forthcoming film, “The [TBA] Of Flight 370”, are being written as I type. And I further suspect that casting is already in progress.

But whether or not the film actually gets green-lit – will depend largely on how the third act plays out.

Certainly, at this pre-production stage, the drama seems tailor-made for Hollywood…

First you have the mysterious disappearance of an airliner.

Then comes the red herring of the two Iranian men travelling on stolen passports – who merely turn out to be illegal immigrants.

After which all sorts of shenanigans occur, with a variety of countries holding back vital information, for fear of compromising their own technical capabilities.

But suddenly things take a dramatic turn when it emerges that after the aircraft’s transponder was switched off – in two stages, therefore likely by a person – its two Rolls Royce engine’s mini-transponders continued to function (ping) for four more hours.

Plus it then transpires that an assortment of military satellites were picking up other signals from her (but originating from where, they cannot – or will not say) for a further three.

Which, given that the plane’s electrics would have had to be working for this, means she had to have been in one piece for at least seven hours after contact was lost.

At which point attention turns to the pilots – who are straight out of Central Casting.

In the left seat is a grizzled veteran of 30-years-plus, while the right is occupied by a 27-year-old flying enthusiast, with a home-made simulator in his bedroom, from which he has uploaded a number of videos to YouTube.

Further, it is revealed that in the past, he has casually invited women up onto the flight deck for a look-see.

Thus both of these men are now under scrutiny – however it seems to me they are another red herring. They were not routinely paired, nor had they asked to be – which rather rules them out of any “plot”.

And while the younger man might be something of a free-wheeler, there is nothing to suggest that either he or his captain are evil.

But the same cannot be said for the various investigating teams. They claim no credible demands have been received from any group, but as we have seen in the past – their veracity is suspect.

It could very well be that as I type this, “high-level” negotiations are in progress for the release of the Boeing 777, along with its 239 passengers and crew.

Which brings us to that third act.

It surprises me that so far no-one (at least, not on CNN or the Beeb) has mentioned the obvious: the airliner could currently be parked in a hangar somewhere in a certain country ruled by a chubby man whose hair looks like he cut it himself, in the dark, with blunt scissors.

Why? Well, it was on its way to China.

Now that would make a third act.

Of course it is all too easy for me to sit here formulating this amusing theory. If the story does have a tragic outcome, I can simply delete the whole piece. Which is something a print journalist cannot do – if it ended in tears, he would be scarred for life.

And so we all wait…

Mar
10

…which is another 80 million bucks-worth of SFX-movie, for kids.

And provided it makes shedfulls of cash, the producers have promised it will spawn (that’s definitely the right word) SEQUELS. But what will they be called? Here are my suggestions…

First sequel: “Trivergent” – second sequel: “Quadravergent” – etc.

And if they do a “prequel” – how about “Monovergent”?

Then polish off the series with “Polyvergent”.

Mar
03

As I type this, the 2014 Oscars are in full flow (having PVRed it, I’ll skip through it later). And this represents the climax of the “awards season” – but there really should be another: The Bullsh*t Awards.

These would be conferred upon those in Western Big Business who have created the biggest pile (of bullsh*t, not just money) over the last year. And this has been a stellar year.

You have doubtless seen the re-appearance of ads trying to guilt people into avoiding “pirate” goods, by telling them they are funding terrorism.

But of course, they make no mention of the fact that if the goods being “pirated” were available at reasonable prices, said “pirating” would not exist.

So when people see copies of “name brand” goods being made at the factories next door and at the SAME QUALITY – but a tenth of the price – they figure why pay a fortune to Western ad-men and CEOs?

In any case, the terrorism argument is specious. If Big Business rips people off for goods they need, it is the same as when governments ban something desirable – like recreational drugs. The end result is they empower criminals. And organised crime often has links with terrorists.

The fault lies not with the consumer, but with Western Big Business and government.

And the fact they are one and the same does not help.

But thanks to the Interweb, this fact no longer controls the public’s spending habits.

Which has led to another recent development: the West’s persecution of Indian companies.

Manufacturing drugs like sildenafil citrate and selling them for one tenth of the rip-off price Pfizer arrogantly charges – has enraged the company that STUMBLED across this wonder-drug.

For fifteen years, this company – thanks to their control of Western governments – has managed to keep Viagra generics OUT of Western pharmacies.

But now that most people can obtain them direct, via the Interweb, Pfizer’s profits are DOWN. Oh boo-hoo.

And so these Big Businesses are trying to force the governments in their pockets to demonise those Indian companies.

However, it is a fact that for the most part, the Indian companies are only doing what they SHOULD – manufacture goods at fair prices which their Third World customers can afford.

The bottom line to this is that the World is DIVIDED. In the West, consumers can AFFORD to pay rip-off prices – but those in the Third World can NOT.

Here in Thailand – and neighbouring countries – cigarettes cost a tenth the price Westerners pay. And drugs and other goods likewise. If Western prices applied, they could not afford to buy ANYTHING.

For decades, this divide was contained by Customs, but following the 2008 Crash (caused by Western government giving Wall Street free rein – with predictable results) Western consumers have felt the PINCH. And so, thanks to the Interweb, the LEAKAGE between the two Worlds has become a FLOOD.

And it’s a flood no amount of bullsh*t from Western Big Business and government is going to STAUNCH.

Feb
21

The three stars of Ishtar

You could be forgiven for believing Elaine May’s “Ishtar” was one of the five biggest financial disasters in Hollywood – the others being Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate”, “Waterworld” with Kevin Costner, “Gigli” with Ben Affleck and “The Bonfire Of The Vanities” with Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and others.

But you would be WRONG. These five films are merely the most FAMOUS fiscal flops (alliteration!)

There are DOZENS that equal and even surpass them. Ever heard of “Mars Needs Moms”? Precisely.

Released (or more properly – escaped) just three years ago, THAT box-office bomb barely clawed back twenty of the one hundred and fifty big ones it cost to make.

And back in the days of the Studio System, the number of films that are considered to be classics today – is equalled by those that just DISAPPEARED.

The studios figured that releasing them would cost more in DAMAGE to their studio and stars than the bombs would net – so cut as much usable material (like battle scenes which could be used as stock footage) from them as possible and BURNED the rest.

However now that the Studio System is long gone, EVERYTHING gets SOME sort of release.

Thus “Ishtar”, which cost $55M to make (a big budget in 1987) was eventually released, netting just $7M at the US box office.

But this does not tell the whole story. The worldwide figures are unavailable – then you have to factor in video, TV and latterly, DVD rights. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that overall, the movie is still a long way short of covering its production costs.

These were worsened by the studio’s insistence on giving the film high production values. The reason being that having heavyweights like Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty (who had championed Elaine May in the first place) on board, they were not about to scrimp it.

Which is the film’s first problem. Elaine had envisioned it as a “Road To…” movie (although it comes across more like those Sixties Bond spoofs – like “Danger Route” and “Our Man In Marrakesh”) with a modest budget, shot locally – not an epic, part-made in Morocco.

Furthermore, the studio insisted on paying both its lead actors a fortune – while both would have been happy with far less.

To make things worse, the political situation in North Africa at the time was TENSE.

Then to cap it all, just as the film was nearing completion, David Puttnam (now LORD Puttnam) was brought in as the studio’s new head of production. He hated Beatty, Hoffman and production cost waste in equal measure – and publicly condemned the movie on the basis of all three.

And all along the way, there had been a plethora of problems and fallouts too numerous to mention here – all of which conspired to CAPSIZE the film before it had a chance.

So what is “Ishtar” actually LIKE? Well, most of those who decried it never even SAW it. It is actually not that bad.

Beatty and Hoffman’s chemistry is pretty good, Charles Grodin is as funny as ever – and the “blind” camel steals every scene he is in (the camel originally “signed” for the part got eaten instead).

Plus Paul Williams’ songs are realistically awful (Beatty and Hoffman play bad singer-songwriters) Dave Grusin’s score is fine, May’s script and direction is okay (although after “Ishtar”, she never got to direct another movie) and altogether the film lopes along agreeably, never becoming boring (which is more than can be said for the other four films listed above).

So if you find this piece in your DVD hire shop or it turns up on your TV schedules – give it a try.

It may not be in my All Time Top Ten Movie list – or even my top hundred – but it is NOT as bad as many would have you believe.

On its original release, it was well received at its three premieres, hit Number One at the box office during its opening week – and almost all of IMDb’s 121 reviews (written by actual PEOPLE) are POSITIVE.

And it is now available on Blu-Ray.

I finally saw it a few days ago on DiggerMovie HD and LOLed many times (particularly during the scenes involving that camel). And as Elaine herself once said, “If all of the people who hate “Ishtar” had SEEN it – I would be a rich woman today.”

Feb
09

A while back, the A-list star’s star slipped a bit – when he delivered a political speech to an empty chair. But in fairness, even HE laughs about it now. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.

But the points he lost then have now been recovered – he just saved a guy’s LIFE, by performing the Heimlich Manœuver on him.

Like Herpes, only Americans seem to suffer from getting food stuck in their throats – perhaps it is because they hold their forks incorrectly.

Anyhay, in this instance, Mr Eastwood was on hand – saw the man was in distress and with three heaves, dislodged the obstacle. He then got him a glass of water – and even added a twist of lemon.

What a prince. And Clint is 83 now, too…

Of course, the man he saved now has a story he can dine out on for LIFE – which it would NOT have been, had the man performing the manœuver been Lindsey Graham (see https://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/damien-on-lindsey-graham/).

Feb
01

I love Americans – they are emotional, creative and good fun.

But while I am happy to eat a McDonalds fishburger and chips, swilled down with Coke – and watch “Dexter”, “House”, “The Blacklist”, “Elementary”, “The Dome” (two of which star ENGLISH actors) and Jon Stewart, Dave Letterman et al on my TV – I still get pissed off how the British are happy to absorb their CULTURE as well.

An English friend sees American culture as being a PART of British culture – but I do NOT. And in an attempt to explain why, I am reproducing (so remember, this wasn’t originally written for this column) the end of an e-mail I recently sent him…

…regarding this business of Americanisms infecting the World – I think where we differ is that you consider Britain to be a PART of America and I don’t. Thus it is a case of one country sticking its nose up the arse of another – which is to be deplored and ridiculed.

I mean, we are ALL of us “related” – if you wanna go back far enough (religious [*****]s would claim back to Adam and Eve, about 10,000 years ago, somewhere around modern-day Croydon). But we have since EVOLVED into different cultures – and are right to be PROUD of our efforts.

Of course I’m not one of those prats who would take up ARMS to defend them. “My country, right or wrong” is bollocks – Schurz ACTUALLY said: “my country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right” – but many Americans have truncated and subverted his quote to justify their country’s APPALLING foreign policy record. And (false) patriotism is indeed the last refuge of a scoundrel (from Johnson).

But I get irked when people SURRENDER to attempts to subvert and dominate MY CULTURE – such as it is.

Patriotism? Nah – not really. Just a local identity. Like, I came over all unnecessary when I viewed the ACTUAL painting of Constable’s “Haywain”. It’s f[**]kin’ ENORMOUS – and postcards do it NO justice.

But the reason I teared up was because it reminded me of an identity that I didn’t even realise I HAD.

And all to the soundtrack of Vaughan Williams’ Greensleeves – or Elgar’s Nimrod. [******], hit THIS (and listen to the WHOLE 2’48”) to maybe FEEL what I’m banging on about…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IO53oeZ9kQ

John Constable's 'The Haywain'

Jan
31

As a Brit, I usually have little interest in US senators – particularly Republican ones. But the first time I saw Lindsey, I was fascinated.

His parents – who ran a booze shop (US: liquor store) called “The Sanitary Cafe” (really?) and were called Millie and Florence James Graham (again, REALLY?) – gave him the unisex name, Lindsey.

From this gender-confused beginning, he rose through academia and the military, eventually becoming a lawyer. According to The Hill, he styled himself a Gulf War Veteran, despite only having “served” as a legal eagle – who never left South Carolina.

Under George Wan… sorry, WaLker Bush, he rose to the rank of Colonel.

Col. Lindsey Grayham

Then for the next few years, he took a back seat in America’s foreign adventures.

But this “career” ran parallel to his political ambitions. I will not bore you with his rise through THOSE ranks – the SIDE DETAILS are far more interesting.

He was part of the movement that sought – unsuccessfully – to impeach Bill Clinton over his indiscretions with a certain chubby intern.

He described Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito – whom some claimed was sexist and racist – to be “a decent, honourable man”.

He stated that Free Speech was a “great idea” – except when you were at war.

He proposed a measure classifying the American-born children of illegal immigrants as illegal too.

He has been given an “A” rating by the NRA – meaning America’s gun-nuts consider him a friend.

Of course, he opposed “Obamacare”.

And he championed pre-emptive military action against Iran.

But it is his stance on Gay Marriage – and adoption – that flagged him on MY radar. He is against them.

Now up until I heard that, I had always ASSUMED he was GAY. I mean, just LOOK at him…

Lindsey Graham

Plus the fact he has never married or produced offspring.

However on reflection, this anomaly is not really surprising. It is a well-known fact that most rabidly homophobic guys are in fact gay themselves, but are unable – due to peer-pressure, upbringing, religion or a combination of those things – to accept their sexual orientation.

And so they “over-compensate” by adopting a strong anti-gay position – until the inevitable “expose” splashes all over the tabloids.

I suppose we will just have to wait for THAT…

Jan
25

I just finished repairing the underneath of an old pair of trousers I use mostly for gardening and suchlike – and it occurred that while Justin Beiber might appear a total DILDO in the trousers HE wears (the ones that look like he took a massive DUMP in them) at least their crotches never need stitching…

Once again, I am “promoting” a comment exchange to the piece itself…

I always wonder why pants began to be lowered by working class youths of today. Was it because belts were abandoned? But why?

You have me there. The gullible young got the PEE taken out of them by jeans manufacturers, who convinced them that “square” cut ones were “cool” – one size fitted NO-ONE. The result was they began to fall DOWN. About that time, some dick-head thought leaving the laces on trainers undone was “cool” too.

Well, there is certainly nothing funnier than watching a “cool” youth kicking a can – then smiling as his trainer goes sailing through the air – and falling about laughing as he runs to recover it and his JEANS FALL DOWN!!!

Jan
22

Elsewhere in these ramblings, I have ruminated on how America has attempted to RE-INVENT everything, to convince themselves (and any other gullible people) that it was THEY who invented language, dates, measures, standards, etc.

You can find the piece HERE… http://morpheusatloppers.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/morpheus-on-americas-obsession/

But there is ONE thing they FELL DOWN on – “Alfa-Bravo-Charlie”.

In 1927, the International Telecommunication Union had formally adopted the Alfa-Bravo-Charlie phonetic alphabet. Its history went back even further, it having been jointly developed by the British and French. However, there were others (during WW1, the British Navy had gone with Apples-Butter-Charlie) – so the ITU decided that to avoid confusion, standardisation was required. Fine.

But in WW2, along came America, with their “Able-Baker-Charlie” – and for a while, the RAF used it.

However, THIS time, their attempt to impress their system on the World FAILED. NATO adopted Alfa-Bravo-Charlie; thus it became the official International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet – and is now the WORLD STANDARD.

Outside of the USA, Able-Baker-Charlie is DEAD.

HOORAY!

Jan
12

…is erratic, inconsistent and HILARIOUSLY inept.

Case in point: In Asia, RTL/CBS have been promoting “Under The Dome” for the past two months. Adapted from a Stephen King book and co-produced by Spielberg, this epic finally premiered a few nights ago – and looks pretty good.

But I am sure I was not alone in noticing something was MISSING.

You see, in the PROMO (which has been shown every 15 minutes for those two months – about three THOUSAND times, in all) when a little Buddy Holly plane crashes into the dome, showering debris over the ground, said debris lands right next to two characters – and clearly includes a severed LEG.

The hero pushes this young guy out of the way, leaving them both sprawled on the ground – and the limb lands with a THUNK, right beside them.

However, when that bit came up on the premiere – the shot CUT to the next shot, just BEFORE the appearance of said LEG.

A MAJOR cock-up! A competent company would ensure that any cuts covered episodes AND promos.

But that is how it is, here in Thailand.

And do not get me started on the Pixies – the prats responsible for pixelising (not pixilating: that is a form of animation – or getting DRUNK) images deemed too daring for Thais.

Local channels pixelise guns/knives near heads, booze bottles, “intimate” human bits, homosexual kisses and cigarettes in mouths, among other things. While the Western channels that use the SAME platform – do NONE of those sillies.

Then again, while those same Western channels CUT all strong language, Western programmes shown on LOCAL channels have every F, MF, CS – and even C – left INTACT. (I will leave it to your sordid imagination to work out what the letters stand for).

It is a truism that in Thailand, bureaucraps do not DO anything – they just like to be SEEN to be doing something. And nowhere is that more evident than in their feeble efforts to CENSOR TV.

Dec
22

…is they missed a trick.

We’ve all seen them – two guys dressed in cheap plain black suits, with plain black ties and plain white shirts.

They knock on a door and when it opens, usually one of three things happens: if the occupant has them, he sets the dogs on them – or he slams the door in their faces – or gives one of them a sucker-punch and THEN slams the door in their faces.

Fair enough. But since the late Seventies, the JW boys have had a better option staring them in the face.

The thing is, their conventions require that they avoid ostentatious garb, etc. But that would hardly include plain, plastic-framed dark glasses – or black Trilby hats (do you see where I’m going with this?)

Yes indeed, we are talking about – THE BLUES BROTHERS!

The Blues Brothers

How cool would THAT be?

And while I’m on this, another thought occurs: maybe the Men In Black who allegedly turn up at incidents involving aliens – are just Jehovah’s Witnesses?

–     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –

I decide to “elevate” the following exchange from Comments…

You shouldn’t make light of these bastards. A friend of mine died because his Jehovah’s Witness wife wouldn’t let the medics give him a blood transfusion.

David Wright – December 23, 2013 at 8:59 am

 

Ah yes. The JWs’ famous misinterpretation of Leviticus 17:12 (or in America, probably 12:17) which was written WAY before the technology of blood transfusion existed and was clearly intended to cover cannibalism. I’m sure many others have died because of that.

Then again, the cancer of religion has been the cause of COUNTLESS deaths over the millennia – think of 9:11 (or more properly, 11:9) for a start. 3,000 died there. Plus umpteen terrorist bombings. And it’s not new – the Spanish Inquisition (which NO-ONE expected) did for at least ANOTHER 3,000. And who KNOWS how many perished during The Crusades?

But as Eric Idle reminds us in “The Life Of Brian” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJUhlRoBL8M

Vincent – December 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Dec
21

…which is probably the longest title in these columns.

But it IS possible. Oh sure, many of the rip-offs are unavoidable, without breaking the law – and prison beckons those who do not appreciate this.

However, for those in the know, there are alternatives – and what is life without alternatives, eh?

So let us start with something that affects ALL of us, every week – the provisions shop.

All name-brand supermarkets have “loyalty” cards. And some offer credit. Needless to say, credit cards are an abomination that must be avoided at all cost. They are like mafia loan-sharks: all they want is for you to max out your credit – then they will collect their high-interest minimum payments from you for LIFE.

But even the ones that just offer “points” are to be avoided – said points amount to a saving of just one or two percent, while allowing the store to track your purchasing habits, for free.

Furthermore, the name-brand goods they sell will ensure you not only pay for the products – but their ADVERTISING costs as well.

Better by far to use one of the growing number of “no-frills” supermarkets – then experiment with their NON-name-brand lines, which typically retail for THIRTY percent less than those sold by the name-brand stores.

You will find most products to be comparable to the name-brand ones (ALL products are covered by the SAME manufacturing regs) and a few are often SUPERIOR.

Those which are INferior – do not purchase again. Simple.

Then if you are a smoker, there are ways to avoid the (literally) ONE THOUSAND PERCENT TAX imposed by many governments. If you live in New York – buy your cigarettes in bulk, in Virginia, where they are MUCH cheaper.

Being British, I know of no reason you cannot do this – I cannot imagine there are customs points at STATE borders.

And as far as Brits are concerned, FORGET hopping over the channel for cheap ciggies. Customs will be all OVER you on your return – and they are not much cheaper in France anyway.

No, go further afield – to the Algarve (Portugal). There, they retail for about ONE THIRD the price of British ciggies.

And under the Single European Agreement, you are entitled to bring back a CASE (that is 50 cartons, containing 500 packs – which is 10,000 cigarettes, 27 a day over a year) provided it is for your OWN USE. You will save about TWO GRAND a year per person – AND get a free holiday to boot.

The method is this: take a package “mid-week break” – then hire a car at the airport (remember – Portuguese drive on the WRONG side of the road) and on Day One, test-smoke some ciggies from a sample batch of their local brands – then order a case of the ones you like best.

Any decent tobacconist (they still have them in Portugal) will provide one within 48 hours (they will probably want a deposit – just make sure you get a receipt).

There is however one catch: while Customs rarely hassle those returning from Portugal, if you ARE stopped, in theory you are required to PROVE purchases are for your consumption.

In which case you could tell them they are welcome to have one of their officers follow you about for a year, while you SMOKE all 10,000 of your cigarettes – preferably an attractive one.

But probably better is to point out they are a FOREIGN brand which could only be sold on the black-market – and according to newspaper reports you have read, the selling price would be less than you PAID for them.

A tip for getting through Customs without HASSLE is hang around the baggage area, fiddling with your wallet or something – then when you see a BUNCH of people heading for the Customs hall, blend into the BACK of the bunch, keeping your eyes fixed on the back of the person in front.

Customs officers tend to look for those at the FRONT of a bunch who are unwise enough to make EYE-CONTACT with them. Of course, it goes without saying that this advice is intended for those who do NOT have contraband on them – I am not about to go into print with advice on how to SMUGGLE.

And while we are looking at the advantages of being European, CARS are often much cheaper when bought in EU countries. Thus Brits can often find the hassles of buying a full-RHD-UK-spec-and-warranty automobile (which can be lessened by working with an agency that specialises in such purchases) are more than compensated for by the massive SAVINGS involved.

This one is more obscure – but these days, more and more people are buying copier-scanners to link to their computers. These are VERY CHEAP – but you discover WHY, when you go to buy INK refills (and photographic paper) for them. The cartridges cost a FORTUNE and run out QUICKLY.

But again there is an alternative. From Korea comes “Only One” – a kit consisting of four bottles of ink (black, red, yellow and blue) with four syringes. Just drill small holes in the top of your cartridges and squirt away. The kit will cost you around a tenner ($16) – less than the cost of a single cartridge – and save you up to FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS (eight hundred bucks).

Oh, and to avoid paying a fortune for their shiny paper – use A4 and then encapsulate (laminate) your pictures. They will be more durable as well.

Next: if you can stand leaving the rest behind – obtain your dog or cat from a dog’s or cat’s home (animal shelter). Breeders charge a mint for “pedigree” animals (and do not even ASK what happens to their “rejects”) while muts are generally stronger and healthier (not to mention more grateful).

And then, a PLETHORA of cheap goodies can be had from Customs, government and military auctions. Cop-cars are RARELY driven like they are on TV. Mostly, cops just sit parked – or bumble around, pestering motorists. And to retain credibility, their cars HAVE to be well-maintained – and are thus good buys.

Anecdotally, a friend once bought two brand-new HUGE amplifiers at a Royal Navy surplus sale, that had been designed for ships’ PA’s. He then wired his record deck to them. The boxes they came in were so well built, he used them to house his speakers.

One time, during a party, the police arrived saying the neighbours had complained about the noise. Unremarkable, until you consider he lived on a FARM – and his neighbours were THREE MILES AWAY.

Finally, while supermarket chains often sell stuff for LESS than wholesalers (look particularly for “two-for-one” deals, which will eventually rotate past items YOU buy – then buy as many as you can consume before their use-by date) good deals can be found at cash-and-carries (wholesalers for convenience stores).

Now in Britain, these establishments will usually only sell to SHOP-KEEPERS or BUSINESSES, who have cards and accounts with them (here in Thailand, they don’t care). But this can be side-stepped if you get a rubber stamp for a ficticious business made up – then write your order in a duplicate book (both obtainable from any good stationers) stamp it and pay CASH.

Since you will have to include a ficticious VAT number, this may be illegal – but it WORKS (I understand).

The above are just a FEW of the ways a consumer can avoid doing what most do – GRUMBLE – then bend over and brace themselves.

Look around and you will doubtless find others.

And if they are LEGAL – please leave the details in the “comments” for this article…

Dec
15

…which started in November 1970 and became complete around a decade ago.

Its demise began when George Harrison released “My Sweet Lord” and an ailing music publisher who owned the rights to “He’s So Fine” SUED him for PLAGIARISM.

In fact, George’s composition had been inspired by his friend Edwin Hawkins’ “Oh Happy Day” – which in turn was based on an C18th hymn and was thus public domain.

However, after five years, the case finally got settled – AGAINST Harrison. The ironically-named “Bright Music” was awarded MASSIVE damages.

The result of this industry-rocking decision was that computer programmes were developed that would identify potential copyright problems before they arose.

At which point, composers discovered that with popular songs having been churned out at a dizzying rate since the immediate post-WW1 period, to satisfy the demand from music radio, stage musicals, the cinema, television and dance halls (and the recording industry that fed off them) plus countless hours of themes and incidental music for shows, films and programmes – ALL of the logical progressions of notes in the standard musical octave had now been USED.

Thus around 1980, new memorable melodies became reduced from a torrent to a dribble.

So while the Eighties experienced a stream (if you will forgive yet another liquid analogy) of popular hits, they were driven, for the first time, not by melodies – but by complex chord-changes and new high-tech production equipment which produced sounds that rivalled those of the Sixties.

And then came the CD.

Its convenience and durability were undeniable, but the big record companies – who had had a tough time during the Seventies, thanks to the independent record companies who had stepped in when they had lost the plot – used the new medium to wreak HAVOC on popular music.

Keeping prices artificially high, they re-released their entire back-catalogues on the format, IGNORING new music. Then they squeezed out vinyl, which FINISHED the process.

After which the only innovative music was Vocal Trance. It SHOULD have dominated Nineties Pop, but with vinyl now the domain of the specialist Dance market, it became a niche genre. But it WAS the Pop of the Nineties and while its melodies were short and repeated, they represented the LAST ever composed.

And following that period, the last ten years have featured material totally DEVOID of melody, with no identifiable style or content, which has resulted in the collapse of the record industry – along with the music radio industry which fed on that. Even TOTP has folded.

So today’s musicians perform LIVE, eschewing record contracts – their music being uploaded to THIS medium.

But said music rarely rises above the mediocre, since those DAMNED computer programmes are still waiting for any composer who DARES to attempt writing something MEMORABLE…

Dec
13

Yesterday was 12/12 – so at 12:12, I put $12 on horse number 12, in the 12th race.

It came in 12th.

Dec
03

In late 1920s Mississippi, a man called Billy-Bob McWhirter got a Great Idea. He took his canoe out into the Okefenokee Swamp and returned with a hundred alligator eggs. These he placed in tanks with powerful lightbulbs overhead and in due course, found himself with a lot of little alligators.

He then packed them into cases and boarded a train to New York.

Once there, he began touring the pet shops of Manhattan, selling them to the vendors as “exotic pets”. His pitch was that posh people liked exotic animals and all they would need would be a half-filled fish-tank, a few rocks and then they could feed the little snappers with scraps from the dinner-table.

Some pet-shop owners agreed that while small – with their big eyes and feet – the alligators were certainly cute, but asked what would happen when they started GROWING. Billy-Bob laughed and told them not to worry. “Alligators don’t grow in captivity,” he assured them.

Soon, no up-market Manhattan apartment was complete without one or two of these little reptiles in a tank in the corner. Trendy New Yorkers loved them. While Billy-Bob – and those who followed him – made their fortune. Then they all moved on. This proved to be a wise move as slowly, the pet-owners discovered that actually ‘gators DID grow in captivity…

Initially, the Bronx Zoo took the now-lethal monsters off their owners hands – but eventually, they had all they could use and began turning away new donors. And since Okefenokee was an expensive and time-consuming distance away, some owners, hearing of the problems being encountered by other ‘gater-fanciers, decided on a quick method of ridding themselves of their impending burdens.

They flushed them down the toilet.

Some kidded themselves that the beasts would eventually make it out of the sewers and head South, returning to the land of their births – but most were just glad to be done with the problem.

It wasn’t until some time later that the first New York sewer-worker disappeared. Then another and another. Finally, an inspector went to investigate. A scream was heard – then silence. He also was never seen again. A detachment from the U.S. Army were sent down, armed to the teeth. After a while, guns were heard blazing. Only half the men made it out alive. But after a debriefing, at least the authorities now knew what they were up against.

It took two years before the sewers were declared safe again, but even today, workers are issued with shotguns – just in case.

A fascinating story, eh? The only trouble is… it is utter BOLLOCKS! It never happened – the story was MADE UP by a bored newspaper reporter on a slow news day. It was then picked up by the wire services and spread across the World. And for decades, every time a hack was short of a story, this twaddle would be dusted off and regurgitated.

It’s like the one about The Great Wall Of China being the only man-made structure visible from space. Think about it – sure, it’s over two thousand miles LONG, but it’s only TEN FEET WIDE.

If it were true, what about the Empire State Building, Red Square – even Wembley Stadium? Fact is, THIS one came from an astronaut who was in low orbit and as he was passing over China, remarked that he could see The Wall.

But for DECADES, like most people, I BELIEVED the New York sewers were infested with blind, shit-eating, albino alligators (although I couldn’t see the sense in the G.W.O.C. yarn). M’point is, these urban myths are all OVER the place, thanks to newspaper and magazine hacks who couldn’t be bothered to fact-check their damn STORIES!

And now that print journalism is on its way out and computers rule, the problem has multiplied a thousand-fold. Capture the e-public’s imagination and a totally bogus story can go global in DAYS, rather than years.

So let me just say that these days, I take NOTHING I hear – and sometimes repeat in these scribblings – at face value. And whilst I cannot guarantee EVERYTHING contained here is and always will be gospel, I CAN promise to do my BEST to make it so.

After all, while pro writers get PAID – I do this for ZILCH!

Nov
16

Less than one percent of Japanese people are Christian (most, if they ARE religious, are Buddhist or Shinto) and Christmas has only been acknowledged there since the American occupation, in 1945.

This has led to some bizarre events – like KFC putting up posters featuring their cross-eyed Colonel in Coca-Cola Santa garb.

And the TV company who screened “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence” as the Christmas movie.

But the best HAS to be the entrepreneur who decided to “mash-up” TWO myths – by nailing Santa Claus to a cross!

Nov
04

So a couple of days ago, some nut-job walks into LAX and kills a TSA official, wounds two others – and wings a bystander.

In gun-happy America, such incidents are almost a daily occurrence and normally, those hearing the news items would mourn.

But given who THESE particular targets were, one cannot help but wonder – how many Americans GENUINELY mourned THIS time?

HARSH? Maybe.

But it is a fact that America is a LARGE, RICH country – which means that every year MILLIONS of their citizens have little practical choice but to FLY – requiring them to be touched up, abused and humiliated by TSA officials.

And said officials are but one example of a whole BUNCH of people in this world whose sole purpose in life appears to be to make life as DIFFICULT as possible for everyone else.

Of course, the TSA are peculiar to America, born as a reaction to their “9/11” – but many other organisations are UNIVERSAL: bureaucrats, traffic wardens, cops, immigration officials, security pukes, prison warders – the list is seemingly endless.

But then, many would respond with, “…but if those people did not exist, society would crumble into anarchy. We NEED them.”

Which is sadly true. While most people would behave themselves without them, there will always be those few who screw it up for the rest of us.

Then again, if those officials were reasonable, behaved with good humour – or hell, just showed a little HUMANITY now and then – they would be more popular.

However, the reality is that certain kinds of jobs attract certain kinds of people. And the above-mentioned ones tend to attract SCUM.

You see, all these jobs have one thing in common: they allow their employees to HIDE behind BADGES and UNIFORMS, while PUSHING PEOPLE AROUND.

Sanctioned by the system, they are free to HASSLE us with virtual impunity. And should you dare to complain, they can pepper-spray, Taze (NOT a completely non-lethal device) and even SHOOT you, claiming you were threatening SECURITY – rather than THEM.

And the system will almost ALWAYS back them up. Having sanctioned them in the first place – it has little choice.

So who ARE these people? Well, mostly they are the now-grown-up kids you BEAT UP at school: the control-freaks, the ugly, the misfits, the dour and humourless nerks you gave a hard time to.

And having endured your crap throughout their formative years, now they are out for REVENGE.

In other words – YOU created them.

[For a specific EXAMPLE of what this article is about – go to… http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/cornelius-on-the-geek-of-chelmsford/]

UPDATE! I have “elevated” the following exchange from “comments” – as it’s kind of important…

……this was done to get the almighty tsa agents armed…wait and see….still love that last name of CIAnCIA…..quite a coincidence, isn’t it?       alexis michelleNovember 4, 2013 at 11:32 am  

  WOW! I hadn’t noticed that. I went back to the story to check – and you’re RIGHT!

Nov
03

Pripyat today.

When English horror writer Clive Barker wrote the short story “The Forbidden” in the mid-Eighties, he set it in Britain – but when it begat a movie, its location was understandably switched to America.

This actually made it MORE ghastly, since much of it was set in an abandoned public housing block. In Britain, “tower blocks” are merely depressing – but American “projects” are DISTURBING.

Add to that a minimalist score by Philip Glass and you have a movie many called the most frightening of all time.

It certainly scared the shit out of me. If you HAVE seen it – I defy you to go into your bathroom alone afterwards, look into the mirror and say “Candyman” five times.

But when you think about it, what really SOLD the piece was its LOCATION.

Now “Candyman” was made in 1992 – and as is usual with these things, it took Hollywood several years to realise its potential.

In fact it took the 2008 crash to galvanise the location scouts into action.

You see, there are traditionally three places to shoot a movie…

In the studio. In the old days, pretty much ALL movies were shot in studios – with exterior scenes shot by Second Units (using doubles for the actors) and static ten-minute film-loops made for back-projection in the studio.

On the backlot. These were tacked on to the backs of studio lots and featured anonymous, neutral city blocks – which could be decked out with props to look like most anywhere.

And on location.

However, now that money is tight, all three of these places are problematical. Studio time – particularly in the West – does not come cheap. Hence the number of studio-bound movies that are shot in Second-World countries (Eastern Europe, Mexico, etc.)

And while backlots have enjoyed a revival of late – film-fans are no longer fooled by the flat, trackless roads, sharp-edged kerbs, featureless upper windows and obvious “planted” street furniture.

Meanwhile, thanks to bureaucracy, Health & Safety and sheer GREED, filming on location is simply out of the question for all but the biggest-budgeted extravaganzas. And thanks to ever-falling attendances, THEY are becoming as rare as unicorn poop.

Enter the “ghost town”.

The thing is, over the last couple of centuries – particularly the last ONE – natural disasters, man-made disasters, ecological disasters, financial disasters and even NUCLEAR disasters have caused not only towns, but a number of CITIES to be abandoned. These days, there are a whole SLEW of them.

And they contain some of the most bizarre, creepy and unsettling backdrops imaginable.

For instance, the picture at the top of this piece shows Pripyat, Ukraine – abandoned after nearby Chernobyl blew its stack. Only built in 1970, it has been deserted since 1986.

After being flooded with lethal levels of radiation, the population cleared out in two days flat. They even left the Ferris wheel behind (it still stands today).

But with radiation levels now reduced to a safe level (provided your shoot is reasonably short) a number of films have been shot there.

Then there is Hashima Island. Developed in 1887 for coal mining, it was abandoned in the Seventies, when oil began to replace coal.

“Skyfall” was intending to shoot there, but problems arose and in the end, most of the shots used CGI and mock-ups of the place. But then again, the Bond budget could afford it.

However, the original intent was there. The fact is, many people are FASCINATED by these places. There are even tourist companies who specialise in organising trips to them.

And for film-makers who can get unfettered access, the possibilities are extensive – you can even DESTROY some of them.

Of course, those possibilities are not unlimited – you could not shoot “The Sound Of Music” in one. But for a certain kind of movie they are tailor-made.

Then again, like all new Hollywood trends – these locations will have a limited shelf-life. In short order, people will tire of post-apocalyptic movies shot in obviously real, abandoned cities. Then Hollywood will have to think of something else.

But over the next few years, expect to see MORE of these derelict places finding their way into your movie fare.

Oct
28

Now let me see if I have this straight…

God exists – but Santa Claus does not.

The Devil exists – but Dracula does not.

Angels exist – but fairies do not.

Demons exist – but goblins do not.

And Jesus was divine – but Elvis was not.

Wow. Sixty-one and still so much to learn.

Oct
14

I was born in September, 1952 – which makes me a “Baby Boomer”.

The post-WW2 baby-boom started (obviously) in 1946. However, when it ended is harder to say. Since the eventual decline in births was gradual, some estimates put it as late as the early Sixties.

Either way, during the Fifties, I was only a child – and by the time I was sexually active, the late Sixties had arrived.

But the generation BEFORE mine were not so lucky…

First, their pets were put down (despite the RSPCA’s protestations, about 750,000 pet dogs and cats were euthanized at the outbreak of war, following a War Office directive – in those days, people obeyed their government, the fools) then they were posted to Norfolk where, separated from their parents for most of their formative years, they were routinely buggered.

And when the war was over, they were returned to society – and entered the Fifties. Far from being Fabulous, the decade was a GRIM time. There was no money. Everything was in black and white. And while today we imagine Rock ‘N’ Roll ruled, the truth was – the charts were dominated by M.O.R. music.

As for sex, after the go-for-it Forties – where people did not know if they would SEE tomorrow – REPRESSION had set in. You could wank to “Health And Efficiency” (in America, “National Geographic”) but that was it. And women who got pregnant out-of-wedlock could end up incarcerated in mental institutions, classed as a “moral danger to themselves and others”.

Even the early Sixties was not much better. The Birth Pill was only available to married women over 25, who had had at least one child.

Only when I left school, in 1969, did the pendulum swing – along with everything else.

And today, the results of that swinging – preceded by two decades of repression – are finally being uncovered.

Jimmy Savile – born 1926.

Rolf Harris – born 1930.

William Roache – born 1932.

Jimmy Tarbuck – born 1940.

Freddie Starr – born 1943.

Max Clifford – born 1943.

Gary Glitter – born 1944.

Dave Lee Travis – born 1945.

Paul Gambaccini – born 1949.

Oct
07

Once again, Uncle Sam is in the crapper. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. And this time, the whole GOVERNMENT has gone shopping.

So what happened to Obama’s pledge that he would use Presidential Privilege to nail anyone who got in his way, during his last term?

It seems John Boehner (which CLEARLY should be pronounced boner – not BAINER) is calling the shots once more.

John Boehner

Despite the fact the orange twit is a REPUBLICAN – he is also the House Speaker and thus, the third most powerful man (well, cry-baby) in the States.

Say what you like about British politics (and I’ve said PLENTY in these columns – little of it complimentary) at least when you are Prime Minister, you RULE.

In America, the President only rules if he is a REPUBLICAN – regardless of what party he heads.

What a STUPID system. And every time America circles the drain, WE – the rest of the Western World – get pulled down WITH her. Damn.

Sep
27

Norman Lamont was a Tory politician – so it is hard to defend him of anything.

And yet, there must be a BOOK waiting to be written of the machinations that took place to SCREW him.

For many years, he was Chancellor Of The Exchequer – and when Britain pulled out of the ERM, Lamont got the flack.

Then, on a comedy awards show, Julian Clary made a joke about the set, saying it looked like Hampstead Heath – and adding that he had just fisted Norman Lamont.

The remark would have been forgotten by the next day, had the Tory gutter press not reacted in mock-outrage, endlessly repeating the remark, while demanding Clary’s castigation – the result of which was humiliation for Lamont and positive publicity for Mr Clary.

Of course, the papers MUST have known this would happen – they were not THAT out of touch. They were just taking the opportunity to NAIL him.

Then again, during the previous months, they had printed story after story about Lamont – most of which were entirely baseless. It was pure character assassination and eventually, the man fell.

But while the Fleet Street hacks were (are and doubtless always will be) morally bankrupt, it is curious that Lamont was a TORY – and when it comes to falls, they are usually more than capable of engineering their own.

So why WERE they so set against him. F***ed if I know. Like I said, there is a book to be written here…

Sep
06

Back in the Good Old Days, flying was only for the intrepid RICH.

Then, after WW2, it became a serious means of getting places that were far away – but it was still only affordable by the well-heeled.

However, in the Seventies – thanks to people like Freddie Laker and Richard Branson (now both Sir) – flight finally became available to the MASSES. Which is where it all went horribly WRONG.

The reasons are many.

(1) Back In The Day, since passengers were paying a FORTUNE to fly on (for security reasons) mostly STATE airlines – they were treated like ROYALTY by ground and cabin staff alike.

But now – being PLEBS, flying on planes designed like freighters (there has even been talk of future air-travellers having to STAND on flights) passengers are treated like MORONS – BY morons.

(2) Since “9/11”, said morons have been given carte blanche to use Security as a cover-all reason for abusing and humiliating passengers at will.

(3) Anti-smoking hysteria has resulted in the 25% of passengers who indulge – being BANNED from smoking on planes. And when they finally land, being herded into Smoking Rooms the size of a garden shed – in air terminals the size of aircraft HANGERS.

And (4) When planes got BIG, it was decided that airports no longer needed multiple runways, to enable safe landings and takeoffs in ANY wind conditions – these bigger aircraft could handle CROSS-WINDS.

In the early days, planes either landed on water or grass fields. Thus all the pilot had to do was get a report from the tower on wind speed and direction – or if same did not exist, fly over the field or stretch of water and use his Mark One Eyeball to see what the WIND-SOCK was doing.

Then, with this information, he could land directly INTO the wind.

Not so today. While airport authorities are happy to spend gazillions on big, flashy airport terminals – when it comes to RUNWAYS, they scrimp.

The thing is – those flashy terminals are a measure of STATUS.

Runways are only about SAFETY.

Case in point: London Heathrow USED to have a NETWORK of runways – facing ALL directions.

But when planes started getting bigger, it would have COST them to EXTEND all of those runways – plus, people had built factories and homes on the LAND that would have been required.

And so they merely extended The Tens (runways One-Zero-Left and Right) and reassigned the remainder as taxi-ways to them.

Which, given the winds at Heathrow tend to be light and generally from the East – is fine.

Except occasionally, even Heathrow gets hit by a STORM. These feature powerful CIRCULAR wind patterns which, within moments, can be coming from ANY direction.

Of course, if a crosswind is designated as SEVERE, flights can be diverted to another airport – or STACKED, until the storm passes.

But these options cause PROBLEMS for the airlines. Having your passengers at the WRONG airport – not to mention your PLANE – is a logistical and EXPENSIVE nightmare. And flying around in circles burns FUEL.

Therefore, pilots are NOT encouraged to take these options – which results in some HAIRY landings (see YouTube).

Naturally, this is all about MONEY. If you ban smoking on planes and in terminals, you save a fortune on redecorating, air conditioning – even insurance.

And allow ground and cabin staff to abuse and humiliate passengers and you will have thousands of ARSEHOLES queuing up to take the jobs – for WAY less money than is paid to personnel in companies where they are required to be CIVIL to the customers.

And by forcing people to take their lives in their hands, landing on inadequate runway systems – you save yet MORE money.

So what of the future? Well, as we have seen, planes are still getting BIGGER. Which has been fine – SO FAR.

But what will happen when – as it eventually must – one of these behemoths tries to put down in a storm even IT cannot handle. And FIVE HUNDRED PASSENGERS GET SPLASHED ALL OVER THE RUNWAY?

It will be the Titanic Of The Air. And the cause will be the same as with THAT disaster – Man’s GREED AND STUPIDITY.

Aug
27

Capital punishment simply does not WORK – for four reasons.

One. It is NOT a deterrent. In olden times you could be hung for picking pockets. And hangings were public. And while the public watched – pickpockets worked the crowd.

Most murders are by definition, crimes of passion. People lose their tempers and go too far. The LAST thing on their minds is what will happen to them if they get caught.

The classic, PLANNED murder (a la Columbo and Poirot) is extremely RARE in The Real World. And professionals seldom get caught, since there is nothing to directly connect them with their victim.

Two. Justice is not an exact science. And during the days, weeks, even MONTHS of a murder trial, any lawyer worth anything will be able to plant SOME doubt into the minds of the jury.

So when the judge uses those famous words, “…beyond reasonable doubt”, how many jurors will be prepared to say they are ONE HUNDRED PERCENT sure?

Because anything less and they COULD be killing an innocent person.

Thus, faced with a choice of guilty or not guilty, many jurors will go for the latter, just in case. Which means that far from REDUCING the number of murderers in our midst, capital punishment actually INCREASES them.

On the other hand, if a juror knows a judgement of guilty will result in a life sentence, they will convict if ALMOST sure, in the knowledge that if they are later proved wrong, the convict can be set free and given compensation – and the chance to rebuild their life.

As opposed to just being RE-BURIED in consecrated ground.

And how would YOU feel, sitting on Death Row, knowing YOU were innocent? Would the notion that you were “taking one for the team” by DYING to help preserve a system of justice – make you feel any better about it? This scribe doubts it.

Or put another way, how many INNOCENT people would YOU be prepared to see KILLED in the name of justice – one a year? Two?

Make no mistake, history shows that there would ALWAYS be SOME.

Three. Killing is a brutal, primitive act – no matter HOW or WHY it’s done. Therefore Society lowers itself to the level of the SAVAGE by countenancing the act – even in the name of justice.

And four. Society does not have the RIGHT to take life. Sure, it has the right to protect itself from its evil elements. That is why we have prisons. Not an ideal solution, but they are the best we have.

And by employing those, Society has the ability AND right to deprive its unsociable citizens of their FREEDOM – just not their lives.

Of course there will be those reading this who will DISMISS all of the above arguments with “But what if someone killed your wife?” Well, certainly I would like to kill THEM – if I was sure of my facts – VERY SLOWLY. But that would be REVENGE, not justice.

Or “But what about the COST of locking someone up for life?” Well, that is the cost of a civilised system of justice.

So no matter how you look at it, Europe’s decision many years ago to REMOVE once and for ALL the obscenity of capital punishment, is why Europe today …is the most civilised society in the World.

America take note.

Aug
04

The story you are about to read is true – only the names have been changed to protect the writer.

A few months back, here in Thailand, Pipsqueek’s bottling franchise ran out. And during their transitional period, a local non-name-brand producer of coloured, flavoured, fizzy water called Eskimo tried to horn in. You see, they had a lock on distribution.

However, their plans were thwarted by Pipsqueek, who went direct to Tasko, Cancer, Micro and Sven Elephant and arranged for direct transportation to their warehouses.

Then again, Eskimo never really had a chance – because here, fizzy drinks only sell for what they are WORTH. Thus Eskimo’s cola and Fantastica equivalents were only able to undercut Pipsqueek and Kooky’s prices by a tiny margin.

But over in the UK, things are different. There, 1.5 litre bottles of Pipsqueek, Kooky, Fantastica, et al – cost a FORTUNE.

In The Old Country, supermarket prices are currently between £1.50 and £2 a pop, according to one of their websites.

Whereas here in The Land Of Smiles, you will pay – LESS THAN FIFTY PENCE.

And that is with the Baht currently riding high, while the Pound is in the dumper. Pre-2008, the price was little more than THIRTY pence for a 1.5 litre bottle of name-brand fizz.

All of which gives non-name-brand fizzy drinks manufacturers a LOT of room for manoeuver, back in Blighty.

So – given there is little in the way of labour costs involved in the production of these goods, while manufacturing costs are much the same – how do these name-brand crooks in Britain get away with charging at least THREE TIMES OVER THE ODDS for their coloured, flavoured, fizzy water?

Because they CAN.

Jul
22

I promise you the punchline to this one isn’t “Why the long face?” – it actually happened.

Apparently, you cannot go through a drive-through (or even “drive-thru”) on roller-skates, a bicycle or a horse – it has to be a car.

And when a Mancunian horse-woman was told this, she decided to go into the restaurant on foot – with her horse.

Unfortunately, the horse must have been nervous – Britain recently had problems when horse-meat was found in some of its burgers (not in McDonalds, this writer wishes to make clear – Ronald’s notoriously litigious) – because it did what any nervous animal does. All over the restaurant floor.

The whole thing ended up in court and according to the report I read, the woman received a “fixed penalty” – which was what freaked me out. I mean, fixed penalties are applied to COMMON misdeeds – like illegal parking, speeding and the like.

So how often DO people take horses into junk-food joints in Britain these days?

Horse

Jul
12

The Shard

I escaped cold, wet, miserable, over-priced Britain over a decade ago.

And today, I was reminded of just why. I learned that a new London attraction is the observation gallery of The Shard – a thousand foot glass spike, in The City.

Said gallery is on the 72nd floor, at only around eight hundred feet up – but the rest of the building is just architectural whimsy anyway.

However, what blew my mind was the PRICE being asked for going up there. A quid? Two? Surely not five? No – they want TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS PER PERSON!!!

Now I don’t mind paying a few quid to get high, but are they freakin’ KIDDING?

I wonder how many potential sightseers, on learning how much it would cost – told them where they could STICK their Shard?

Jul
11

Once again we have a bunch of passengers sitting in a crashed aircraft (for a whole minute and a half) waiting to be told what to do.

Only when the back of the plane started filling with smoke did the pilots decide to order an evacuation (then again, they were the morons who flew the bird in WAY too low and slow, apparently causing the disaster in the first place).

The legend goes: a pilot needs three things: height, airspeed and brains – he can only run out of ONE and stay alive. It would appear THESE ones ran out of ALL THREE.

As luck would have it, almost all of said passengers survived. But a number were injured and two young girls DIED.

How many MORE people could have avoided injury – and perhaps those girls have lived – if they had done what I would have done?

I direct your attention to a piece I penned two years ago…

https://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/damien-on-killer-trolley-dollies/

UPDATE. I have MORE on this story now – the flight was from one of Korea’s two main airlines – and the “incident” was a FIASCO.

It turns out the guy in the Left Seat was a TRAINEE.

And two of the inflatable escape chutes opened INSIDE the plane, nearly KILLING two trolley-dollies – a knife and a hatchet had to be used to deflate them (the chutes, not the trolley-dollies – keep up).

This resulted in many of the passengers (after the afore-mentioned DELAY) having to jump out through a hole in the fuselage.

And when all was over, THREE Chinese girls had died: one had been dragged from the aircraft ALIVE and was laid on the ground – where she was promptly RUN OVER by an airport crash tender.

Oh, and given the pilots were foreign, they did not have to submit to alcohol/drug tests.

Happy landings.

Jun
23

I can find no references on the Interweb to “bucket list” beyond the 2007 movie of that name, but the phenomenon has grown to epic proportions of late. Just this weekend, another venerable thrillseeker went out in a blaze of glory (quite literally) strapped to the top of a biplane which – if the footage is anything to go by – appears to have suffered a failure of one of its control lines.

However, the story does not mention the age of the PILOT who went out WITH her.

Anyhay, this new idiom is defined as “a list of things to do before you kick the bucket” – which description contains ANOTHER phrase (kick the bucket) that has already been dealt with in these columns (and I can tell you it has nowt to do with behandled containers for liquids).

And while these lists often contain peaceful pursuits like a balmy cruise down the Nile, they increasingly include assorted dangerous practices like bungee jumping and bull-running – and this latest incident is by no means the only one that ended in disaster.

The whole thing seems to be associated with MY group – the Baby Boomers. Aged between fifty and eighty (TRUE Boomers SHOULD be in the BACK HALF of that age range, but some articles on the subject include people born up to ’63) we are apparently intent on living life to the full – or die trying.

Well, not ME, my friend. As far as I am concerned, getting up from a chair quickly is about as exhilarating as I wish to get.

Then again, I have already ACHIEVED most of the things any bucket list could come up with. I have done physical, reckless and outlandish things all of my life. Some of the more REPEATABLE ones are listed in a piece I buried, way down this very column. They are as follows…

“I have made love with over one hundred women – and dallied with a couple of men. Their ages ranged from good-morning-judge to pass-the-formaldehyde and they hailed from every continent on the planet – except North America and Antarctica. The quantity, quality and variety of my sex-life would have made Casanova wet himself.

“I have traveled all over Britain, Europe and the Far East (the New World has managed to EVADE my voyages of discovery – and now, will probably continue to do so).

“I have been to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Funkturm Berlin, the GPO Tower (as it was then) and the Eiffel Tower – I like to get high.

“I have driven around the F1 circuit at Monte Carlo (the wrong way) through the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, from Marseilles to Pisa on the Old Road – and along the narrow, precipitous coastal route in the Scottish Highlands.

“I have driven every kind of vehicle, from scooters to trucks, in every kind of weather, under every kind of road conditions – including OFF-road.

“I have driven a Suzuki Caribbean over “Samui Everest”.

“I have driven boats and jet-skis.

“I have handbrake-turned a TRUCK on a wet afternoon, in Croydon High Street.

“I have exceeded all of Britain’s speed limits by at LEAST forty miles per hour.

“I have escaped police pursuit TWICE – by out-driving them.

“I have scuba-dived sixty feet below Phi-Phi Island (where they filmed “the Beach”).

“I have para-glided (without being dragged along the beach on my arse).

“I have bested a number of Thai bar-girls at Jenga (they always slaughtered me at all the other bar games).

“I have flown in many aircraft – from a Bell JetRanger III to a Boeing 747-400.

“I have ridden on the footplate of a steam locomotive.

“I have ridden the Wiener Riesenrad (Vienna’s Giant Wheel – as featured in “The Third Man”).

“I have experienced The Big One in Blackpool, The Rotor and The Water Chute at Battersea (now long gone) and The Big Dipper at Felixstowe (likewise).

“I have walked unhurt from a fatal train wreck – six others did NOT.

“I have met many celebrities – Johnny Ray, Kenneth More, John Hurt, Frankie Howerd and Henry Cooper – to name but a few.

“I have met and seen the World’s finest musicians – Buddy Rich, Jimmy Smith, Tony Lee, Chai and many others – play live. I once lit a cigarette for Buddy.

“I have collected and played most of the finest music, comedy and drama ever created.

“I have seen most of the very best that TV has had to offer.

“I have seen pretty much all of the finest movies ever made – some in 70mm, a few in Imax and several in 3D.

“I have seen “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in Cinerama.

“I have seen the uncut Russian version of “War And Peace” – all seven hours, eleven minutes of it.

“I have seen “It’s A Hard Day’s Night” in a packed cinema – in 1964. Even with the sound cranked up to full, I barely HEARD it. So I watched the screaming girls instead – magnificent.

“I have done ALL of “Futurascope”, in Poitiers, France – in one day.

“I have visited Radio Caroline (when it was a SHIP).

“I have done ten minutes at an “open mike” night (I didn’t kill – but I didn’t die on my arse either).

“I have read all of the fictional works of Ian Fleming, Arthur Hailey, Donald E. Westlake, Leslie Charteris and Enid Blyton (including the now-banned ones).

“I have read a full set of encyclopædias (a damn waste of TIME – we have WIKI, now).

“I have swum, alone and naked, across a Scottish Loch at six o’ clock in the morning. And I have seen the Sun rise through the mist over it.

“I have communed with stags.

“I have been spelunking – caving, to you.

“I have seen the Sun rise on a New Millennium, seated beneath a palm tree on the beach – with someone I loved.

“I have seen a solar eclipse, several lunar eclipses, a quadruple rainbow and witnessed a shooting star silently explode.

“I have bottle-fed a baby tiger.

“I have handled (in alphabetical order) bats, baby hedgehogs (they are not so prickly) birds, geckos, snails, snakes and squirrels – only earwigs, termites and cockroaches gross me out.

“I have seen a baby gecko battle a giant moth (the moth got away).

“I have eaten everything from (French) snails to (Scottish) venison-burgers.

“I have held my breath underwater for over three minutes, without first hyper-ventilating (and if you think that’s easy – try it).

“I have danced all night to Trance, on a dancers’ ledge, high above the dance-floor on the opening night of a disco (my being forty-eight at the time – the manager gave me a free t-shirt, for my efforts).

“I have attended many Full Moon Parties.

“I have tried my hand at most trades – including driving, sales, servicing and promotion. I worked for six months as a DJ.

“I have passed the entry exam for Mensa and was an active member for nearly a decade.

“I have nailed a Mensan.

“I have fallen in love several times – and am in love right NOW.

“I have married three times (it took me three goes to get it RIGHT) and produced a son – who is a damn good chap.

“I have had many wonderful friends. Although since I retired to the Orient – most are on the other end of THIS medium.

“I have (to date) written and posted around seven hundred of these monographs – some rewritten from my Mensa days – plus a book and several short stories. Currently, they have received over one hundred and twenty thousand hits – about one hundred a day.

“I have uploaded over one thousand, seven hundred pieces onto YouTube and so far, they have received over seventy-five MILLION hits (around one hundred THOUSAND a day).

“I should hit my first hundred million by the end of this year – and in theory, around seven hundred and fifty million by the time I pass.

“I have made a “movie” of my life – only a hundred-odd people have ever seen it in its entirety – but a number of snippets exist among my YouTube uploads.

“I have also restored all of my best pictures and posted them as photosets on that medium.

“My life has been quite a ride and all in all, the quantity of debris left in my wake appears to have been small. While some might have had reason to regret my existence, I humbly believe most were left richer for having known me.”

And despite some decidedly HAIRY moments – and several dodged bullets – I am still here, with all my bits and most of my sanity intact.

Thus these days, I am CONTENT. I do not have to risk dying to feel alive.

At forty-two, I started creative writing – this is an example – but I no longer tire myself with reading.

In amongst the cheap, talent-free dross that TV would foist upon me are examples of great writing. Series, “panel” shows and movies for grown-ups (that manage to filter into the remakes, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, cartoons, no-brain actioners and FX movies that constitute Hollywood’s output today) are all there – if you know where to look.

Thus I enjoy several hours a day of REAL “smart TV” – and movies which are only a year old. And at my time of life, a year FLIES by.

Plus – thanks to a 50″ screen, with 16:9, stereo HD – the quality is better than at most cinemas.

And as for risking dying – the weekly shopping expedition is as close as I care to come. I have RESPONSIBILITIES. Two rescued dogs and two rescued cats – and another stray cat, a squadron of Little Brown Birds and several passing squirrels rely on ME for their survival. Not to mention a wife.

Also, I continue to “service” those 1,700 YouTube uploads. I answer as many of the hundred or so items of fan-mail (okay – feedback) I get every day, as I can.

Whilst still occasionally putting digit to keyboard HERE (over 1,700 words, this one).

So not for ME the need to go jumping off high places – and I have done all the travelling I require. I will be happy just to finish this piece without WordPress’s spell-checker highlighting more than a dozen words. And then a shower…

Jun
09

royal coach

During the recent state visit of Barack Obama to Great Britain, it was decided to pull out all the stops.

Thus it was that in due course, Barry found himself seated by QE2 in the royal coach, pulled by a pair of white horses.

As the procession made its way down The Mall, one of the horses let rip with a sustained and stentorian fart.

“Whoops!” said Her Majesty, making a hurried fanning motion under her nose.

“That’s perfectly okay, Ma’am,” replied POTUS, “If you hadn’t said anything, I’d have assumed it was the horse.”

I’m here all week…

Jun
01

Me and the wife were entertaining Charlie Sheen in our apartment.

Charlie was charming and friendly. We had the lights turned down low and the evening was going well.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. We excused ourselves and went to answer it. It was Kirsten Dunst and some guy. We invited them in.

After a while, it turned out Kirsten and her friend (who was quite handsome) were swingers. They asked us if we swung – we turned to each other, shrugged and said sure.

Then Kirsten became aware someone else was in the room. I had forgotten about Charlie, who was sitting in the shadows behind her.

“Yes, that IS Charlie Sheen,” I said, in introduction. Then we went off to the kitchen to get some drinks for our new guests.

“Do you think Charlie will get off with Kirsten?” asked my wife. “I think it’s pretty much a given,” I replied.

“Then again,” I added, “I can live with that. If some schlub steals a woman from you, it’s vexing – if it’s Charlie Sheen, it’s an anecdote.”

“Maybe you can do her after Charlie?” my wife ventured.

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “Once Charlie Sheen’s done her – she’ll be done.”

“In any case,” I added, “Charlie probably has STDs medical science hasn’t identified yet.”

*                   *                    *                    *                    *                    *

…then I woke up.

Analyse THAT…

May
17

Born in Wisconsin in 1941 – six weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor – Richard Trickle shortened his first name, regardless of the humorous result.

He went on to become one of the most successful “short track” racers of all time – eventually progressing to NASCAR.

NASCAR

But at 71, he decided the time had finally come to wave his OWN checkered flag.

He drove his pickup down to Forest Lawns Cemetery, phoned the authorities and told them they’d find a body at the cemetery.

Their answer is unrecorded.

He added – HIS.

Dick Trickle then blew his brains out.

The cops found him there, minutes later.

He was an American.

May
03

The following is largely speculative. But as Benny cannot sue (being dead) here goes…

Having been born a little less than thirty years after Benny, I watched his rise, plateau and eventual fall – as it happened.

But the one thing that has always interested me – and which appears to have been overlooked by everyone else – is the fact he spent a lot of time GLOBETROTTING.

When interviewed (rarely) he claimed he travelled incognito, for the opportunity to “people-watch” – to get material for his shows.

However, I believe the TRUTH was somewhat different…

Benny’s formative years were spent in a period – only interrupted by WW2 – of great repression, in Britain.

And it was this period that shaped him. It gave him a FEAR of actual CONTACT with the fairer sex, from which he developed his “nudge-nudge” McGill style of humour.

After a grounding in live performing – which he hated – he started on radio. But the new medium of television was made for him. And so, during the Fifties, he slowly mastered its possibilities.

By the Sixties, he was a major star. But whilst that era is assumed, by those who were not there, to have been the height of sexual freedom – said freedom was in fact a long time coming.

Yes, The Pill came on line in 1960 – but at that time, it was only available to married women over 25, who had had at least one child.

And the miniskirt did not catch on until 1968.

Plus, relaxation of film censorship did not arrive until ’69.

Thus Benny’s early successes – at a time when British society was still pretty up-tight – were achieved using a style of sketch-humour that was actually fairly SOPHISTICATED. But now, you would have to be in your DOTAGE to remember those series.

For most people today, Benny Hill is that old geezer being chased around by scantily-clad girls, in time-lapse, to the tune of “Yakety Sax” – however, those pieces did not begin until the Seventies.

And it was at this time, freed from the necessity of live performing (he was now RICH) that multi-lingual Benny began filling the time between series with his world-wanderings.

People-watching, to get material for his shows – hmm.

The thing is, being myself a big-time comedy fan, I soon became aware that Benny was PLAGIARISING a lot of his material.

It was understandable – the voracious demands of TV were forcing him to come up with ever more stuff – and in those days, gags were pretty much public domain. Only in the Eighties, did British comics start writing their own “custom-made” material.

Therefore, I suspect that most of his people-watching took place in the rooms of small hotels in foreign countries – where, in those days, he would have been free to register under an assumed name. And the people he watched there – were comics on local TV.

I recall how a lot of his stolen material that I recognised was taken from obscure, foreign shows – that would have been unknown to most of the mainstream British TV audiences of that time.

So who knows how much MORE material came from foreign sources that no-one – not even ME – would be familiar with?

The fact is, much of his comedy is essentially SILENT – meaning that material could have come from ANYWHERE.

This would have enabled him to insert the plethora of SIGHT-GAGS in the scripted sketches supplied by the various series’ scriptwriters – which DEFINED his later style.

Foreign TV comedy is generally FILLED with such material – and it TRAVELS. It is ironic that Chaplin was one of his biggest fans, given that he too created VISUAL comedy, which sold world-wide (then again, Chaplin’s material was NOT PINCHED).

All of which means that Benny’s comedy series, so successful around the World, were largely created from material OBTAINED there – he was selling snow to the eskimos.

And then there was his sex-life.

Little is known about Benny’s actual relationships with women. It seems they were few in number and ended badly. He is on record as having proposed to three women – being turned down by all of them.

And so he reverted to those available to him, in The Business.

Former dancers on his shows have now come forward with stories of their encounters with him. But not for Benny the blissful simplicity of a roll in the hay.

No, he preferred just being “pleasured” – or pleasuring himself, while they turned him on. Again, that ball-crushing mid-twentieth-century British repression – the man might actually have died a VIRGIN.

But I believe those dancers were merely the tip of the iceberg.

In those small, foreign hotels, Benny would only have had to pass miniscule quantities of his considerable fortune to porters and they would have provided girls of any age, for his entertainment.

Although his fear of actual sex meant that the entertainment would likely have been limited to hand-jobs and the like. But how OLD might those girls have been?

In his last series, a young girl was featured heavily – whom Benny obviously ADORED.

Doubtless, she was chaperoned. But in the Sixties and Seventies, many foreign countries were WIDE OPEN for those with money to obtain discrete encounters with SERIOUSLY under-aged girls.

Apparently, Thailand was one of Benny’s favourite haunts.

Of course today, said girls would be unlikely to recall him in those far off days. Even though Benny’s shows continue to be screened around the World, if a few DID recognise him – being now probably settled down, they would have nothing to gain by telling their stories.

So it seems that “Operation Yewtree” will have to FOREGO the pleasure of adding Benny to its roster, that currently includes Gary Glitter (inevitably) Freddie Starr, Dave Lee Travis, Max Clifford, Jim Davidson, Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall and the execrable Jimmy Savile.

[for another take on Benny – checkout my Zen brother’s piece – http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/cornelius-on-benny-hill/]

Apr
06

Sometimes you see a programme entry in a “minimalist” listings magazine that just looks WRONG.

One such is on Animal Planet this month – “Untamed China With Nigel Marven”.

Now I’m sorry if you, reading this, are called Nigel – but even YOU have to admit it’s a WANKY name. At best it’s a little boy’s name, not a man’s.

I mean, his parents certainly missed a trick. Why didn’t they call him MARVIN? Marvin Marven – now that’s COOL. Marvelous Marvin Marven (okay, maybe that’s overdo).

But on the same day, The Discovery Channel goes with “A Day In The Life Of Bear Grylls” – BEAR – now THAT’S a name.

I had to LOOK UP Nigel Marven (he has a SMALL entry in Wiki) – but Bear Grylls I’m FAMILIAR with.

He’s a sort of nature survivor. A while back, I saw him drag some British celebs – and a small film crew – through hell and high water.

He’s BUTCH. And his name is BEAR. Names don’t GET much butcher than Bear.

While – Nigel. Would I face “Untamed China” with a guy called Nigel?

I think not.

Mar
29

I recently had a comment on one of my YouTube uploads – Parky, interviewing Diana Rigg in the Seventies – which I thought would bear repeating here, along with my response.

It read…

“OMG if I could speak English like her. I think she has the most classy, perfect and sophisticated accent. WOW.”

To which I replied…

“In her formative years, Dame Diana lived in India.

“The only place you will hear English spoken proper today is by the royals, Etonians – and those who are expats from the old pink bits on the map (the British Empire).

“Actors who grew up in these regions – isolated from Britain, as its accent went down the dumper – returned to their roots to find work.

“They include Sir Cliff Richard, Felicity Kendal CBE and Joanna Lumley OBE (India) plus Richard E. Grant and Nigel Green (Africa) and newcomer Adhir Kalyan (who is ASSUMED to be English, in the American sitcom ‘Rules Of Engagement’ – India VIA Africa)”

You can find the Parky/Diana upload at… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHHTywbZi_A

Mar
18

…have always ABOUNDED in the American Injustice System. But the latest is a doozy.

It will be brought against IMDb (the Internet Movie Database) by actress, Huang Huong – who intends to take a bunch of other actors and actresses along with her, for the ride.

They will include Jason Cermak, Camille Solari, Stacey Newsome, Joan McCall, Jill Virnig, Mark Anthony Nacarato, Mitchell Fink, Micah Ballinger and Scott Cohen.

Ever heard of ANY of them? Me neither.

So what terrible thing did IMDb DO to these people, to incur their displeasure? Well – it included their AGES in their bios.

Huang claims IMDb’s revelation of her age (she currently has NO listing in IMDb – or Wiki – but going by her picture in “The Hollywood Reporter” she appears to be in her early twenties) has caused her to see a therapist.

She further claims to have suffered from anxiety and sleep loss as a result of IMDb’s persecution.

Apparently, one judge has already dismissed her claims as absurd, but this has not stopped what is now becoming a media circus.

THIS reporter would like to see her fall on her exquisite ARSE over this one.

Of COURSE she would be entitled to sue if IMDb had revealed her sexual orientation, medical records, psychiatric history or similar PERSONAL details – even celebrities are entitled to their privacy.

But those rights do NOT extend to a person’s HEIGHT, WEIGHT or AGE. These are just basic FACTS.

If America’s legendary legal insanity allows this bimbo (along with her fellow unknowns) to WIN her case, it will set a LUDICROUS precedent.

Sure, one can ATTEMPT to hide one’s basic details if one prefers – like Hollywood’s publicity departments did for ALL of their stars, back in the days of the Studio System. But to back that up with LEGISLATION is ridiculous.

Doris Day’s real name is Kappelhoff, her ancestors were German and I am sure she would not mind ANYONE reporting those facts.

But then again – she is FAMOUS.

Mar
16

The idea that guys who like women sans pubes are paedophiles is NONSENSE. And guys who prefer women with no pubes who think THEY THEMSELVES must be perves need not worry.

The fact is, men and women have hormones – testosterone and oestrogen. Men have high levels of testosterone: this creates hair that is thin on top – and plentiful over the body. While women have high levels of oestrogen, which gives them a full head of hair on top – with little on their bodies.

Thus the ULTIMATE man is bald, with body hair like Robin Williams – and the ultimate woman has a MANE of hair on her head and NONE on her body.

However, both of these creatures are RARE. While male and female hormone levels are BIASED towards their gender, both sexes MUST have SOME of the others’ hormones to exist.

But in a World where people CRAVE the ultimate, men find ANY pubic hair – or other body hair – on a woman to be a MALE trait. Therefore, they like it GONE. It’s as simple as that.

 

Mar
12

Elsewhere in these ramblings* I have discussed my enthusiasm for sport (it is on a par with my feelings towards hip-hop “music”) and thus my knowledge of it is in the same league (lame pun intended).

But a thought occurred to me and so I went stat-hunting (STAT, not stag – keep up) and it is worse than I thought.

The “Wonderful Game” – football – was invented in England. And yet, since the World Cup began (1930) England has only won it ONCE (1966, of course).

Then there is rugby. Again, a game born in England (unsurprisingly, Rugby) but in most internationals, she has had her arse handed to her by men from the Antipodes (Australia and New Zealand).

What about tennis? Well, the modern game is once again English – and yet no male Brit has won Wimbers since Fred Perry, in the Thirties.

And the women have fared little better – three wins since (again) the Thirties.

Finally, what could be more English than The Summer Game – cricket? You can almost hear Elgar’s “Nimrod” playing. And yet since its inception, England has NEVER won the World Cup, having been trounced four times by Australia, twice by both India and the Windies – and once by both Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Ouch.

Whilst north of the border, the Scots – who can certainly lay claim to the modern game of golf (a nice walk spoiled) – have done as piss-poorly as us Sassenaches. Only two Scots have held The Open’s Claret Jug aloft, since 1920.

And yet the British keep trying. They spend billions (proper, long ones) watching America (north AND south) Europe (east AND west) Asia and Australasia (that’s pretty much the whole World) CLOBBER the ever-optimistic but ultimately-futile efforts made, to succeed at ANY of the games their own people ORIGINATED.

*specifically… http://morpheusatloppers.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/morpheus-on-sport/

Mar
07

…was the “brainchild” of the Thatcher administration, in the early Eighties – and it has WRECKED Britain.

As a reaction to the excesses of the trade unions in the Seventies, most people were all FOR it. Get private businessmen in, to sort out the UK’s moribund nationalised industries.

They ignored the naysayers, who warned that putting the nation’s transport, utilities, health, education and other public services into commercial hands would result in higher prices and reduced facilities.

And so the selling-off of Britain’s “family silver” began. Right from the start, it became obvious the naysayers had been RIGHT.

Trains began crashing – regularly. And ticket prices went through the roof. Every year, there were hose-pipe bans – while baths, toilets and washing machine became small and water-mean.

Hospitals began charging for everything and actual medics became an endangered species. Schools ran out of books… you get the picture.

Oh, there were a couple of success stories. At first, the investment in the telephone system meant street-phones WORKED – and Telecom dragged the domestic communications market out of the Thirties. But the PRICE…

And, fearing the power of the major television services (particularly the BBC – seen as being left-wing) Thatcher introduced a bill to force the companies to air independently-made programmes. This actually introduced a DIVERSITY into programming – a success story that continues today..

But once the “prime” businesses had been drained (along with the North Sea Oil revenues) Thatcher began selling off everything the government HAD – including facilities that should NEVER have fallen into commercial hands.

Like the nuclear power industry. But when the privatised version of THAT went tits-up (like locals giving birth to two-headed babies) they came up with a SOLUTION. Windscale effectively changed its name to Sellafield.

And the prison service. When prisoners began escaping from Group 4, THEY changed their name too. In fact to date, several times.

My favourite Group 4 (currently G4S) stories are…

At Birmingham – a ghastly Victorian prison – they LOST THE KEYS, resulting in all the prisoners being trapped in their cells for an entire day (perhaps they fed them hot-dog sausages through the spy-holes in the doors).

Cost of new locks and keys: over a quarter of a million quid.

Another prisoner was given leave for a weekend and went off on a two-week holiday to Minorca.

But my favourite G4S story HAS to be the one-legged prisoner who wrapped his false leg in a bandage – then when they fitted it with a monitoring device (à la “White Collar”) he simply removed the leg and hopped off to commit more crimes.

Changing names may initially convert the infamous and notorious into the innocuous – but with the gutter-press (who are happy to deflect attention from THEIR misdeeds) snapping at the heels of these clown companies, that ploy does not last for long.

But cock-ups aside, putting public services in the hands of people whose sworn duty (and in some cases, legal obligation) is to MAKE MONEY – is GUARANTEED to end badly.

Having been around for sixty years now, this writer has seen it all and he TIRES of watching the INEVITABLE occur in Britain, with monotonous regularity.

He recalls a time when walking near a street-corner, he watched two cars approach a crossroads. He noted that the driver of the vehicle in the minor road was not slowing – thus had obviously not seen the “give way” line that was buried in the major road’s camber.

Too far from either car to wave an alert, he just watched them plough into each other.

That is me and Britain, today.

Mar
04

…you either go through it with your head held high – or hung low.

So sayeth the prophet (actually, it was my Zen alter-ego, Cornelius, in “Random Thoughts” – but he said a mouthful).

You see, in This Life, you will encounter good luck and bad – in EQUAL MEASURES.

But how you choose to DEAL with this inevitability will determine whether you are a WINNER or LOSER.

A run of BAD luck (and in a life filled with happenings, it would be a statistical anomaly if such runs did NOT occur) can easily convince you that you are CURSED – while a run of GOOD luck tends to go unnoticed.

This is in the nature of man’s thinking. For example…

I HATE Thailand: it is muggy, has poisonous snakes and scorpions, is cursed by TERMINAL bureaucracy, its roads are populated by bike-riders who have no IDEA what they are doing and its people are obsessed with money, commercially clueless and treat their animals atrociously.

I LOVE Thailand: the sun shines most days, it has cute geckos, the cops do not constantly pester motorists, there is no road rage or jealousy, its people have a high threshold of boredom and are optimistic TRIERS, furthermore they are always happy and will help you whenever they can.

So which of these statements is true? Answer: BOTH of them.

Like ALL countries and peoples, the Thais have their good points and bad. And points that some outsiders will view as bad – others will view as GOOD.

Thus it can be seen that in all of Life, you will encounter a MIX of good and bad. It is how you FOCUS on these things that decides how you will SEE them.

Dwell solely on your life’s NEGATIVE aspects and you will convince yourself that you are a loser. On the other hand, only fixate on your good fortune and you will go round with a sickening, permanent smile – and drive all around you CRAZY.

But the fact is, neither of these extremes is desirable – what you need is BALANCE.

You must accept that no matter HOW carefully you plan things, the perfidy of Fate will inevitably capsize SOME of them. But remember that on the other hand, for every affair that goes straight down the dumper – Fate will make something work right that you had not even considered.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – so said Mr Lennon. And of course, he was right. And ACCEPTING that fact will enable you to relate POSITIVELY to This Experience.

So once in a while, step OUTSIDE of yourself – look at the WIDE picture. THEN see your life for what it is: a complex conglomeration of possibilities, decisions and results – foreseeable and otherwise.

And you will discover that those results are divided EVENLY between what can reasonably be termed fortunate and unfortunate. 

But remember, luck – even the GOOD kind – will only take you so far in This Place. If what you see is a life you have driven down a BLIND ALLEY, then you will have to reverse and change DIRECTION.

However, do not panic – there is an unending supply of alternatives and only if you carry your baggage and preconceptions with you, will you fail to take advantage of them.

You only get ONE SHOT at This Existence. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to make the BEST of it.

Ultimately, life IS simply what it is: neutral, an empty canvas.

What you choose to fill it with is entirely down to YOU. Blaming FATE for your unwillingness to explore Life’s Rich Pageant is like blaming the waiter, if you order the wrong meal.

So right NOW: step BACK from your life, look at ALL of its intricate convolutions – and the results of same. Are you HAPPY? If not, WHY not? What could YOU do to improve it – or even REBOOT it?

Got it? Then DO IT!!!

Feb
26

Sometimes, you just have to SMILE at America’s efforts to “re-invent” the English language.

The latest example I saw was the titular “majoritarily”.

Of course, they mean “mostly” – but what a sweet, nonsensical word!

(Which WordPress’ SpellChecker unsurprisingly REJECTS).

Feb
24

…is currently filming in Norfolk’s legendary Jewel Of The North…

Cromer (don’t ask).

Despite having appeared in a fair number of feature films – including some as the lead – Steve Coogan has never really made the grade in the cinema.

His only significant award nod (he didn’t get it) was for “The Parole Officer” – a fairly good British film which would probably have done better IN Britain had it been called The PROBATION Officer.

It was appropriate to call it The Parole Officer in AMERICA – but it appears the producers forgot films ARE ALLOWED to have different English-language titles on opposite sides of The Pond: like “The Hot Rock” being anglicised to “How To Steal A Diamond In Four Uneasy Stages” f’rinstance.

Although that is a bad example: the producers apparently assumed we Brits would not understand that “hot” is US slang for stolen – and likewise “rock” for gemstone.

Oh, yes: and we do not get “guy” or “chick” out of context, either.

And none of us have EVER read a Donald E Westlake book.

Berks.

The irony is, the film did NOTHING in America, anyway.

And even before filming is finished, I can assure the producers of “The Alan Partridge Movie” that THEIR effort will do little better.

They might as well call it: The Alan Partridge FILM.

For more on this, hit… http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/cornelius-on-the-the-alan-partridge-movie-film-spoiler/

Feb
17

Sometimes you just HAVE to laugh.

It seems a company called “HP” (nothing to do with the sauce – although they SOUND pretty saucy) designed an “app” (short for application: programmes you can load onto your “smart” phone to enable you to do things like take a picture of someone – then hit a button and watch their face acquire werewolf hair and teeth) called the “Chubby Checker”.

Using said app, you would take a picture of a man’s feet – and it would tell you the length of his schlong (in my case, UK: 10/US: 10.5/Eur: 44 = 7″/17.8cm – make of that what you will).

But the King Of The Twist – THE Chubby Checker – is still alive and active at 71. And he did NOT see the funny – nay, HILARIOUS – side at all. So he is SUING – for half a (short, American) billion bucks!

How much he will score remains to be seen. But if the case becomes a cause célèbre, it will provide more laughs than Anthony Weiner, Hugh Grant and Jimmy Swaggart combined.

The “Chubby Checker” indeed. Haaw-haaw-HAAAAAWW!!!

laughing

Feb
16

Small things can change history – even CLOTHES – and when that occurs, the wearers are often TOTALLY unaware of how it happened.

For example, when Agnetha Fältskog chose her wardrobe for her appearance with Abba in that 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, she could not have DREAMED the reaction that the combination of her satin outfit and kidney-bean figure would stimulate (and I use the word “stimulate” advisedly).

wp Agnetha Faltskog

The next day, all over Britain, millions of men were murmuring to each other, “‘Ere, did you see that blonde bird on Eurovision last night? Cor, I would…” – and I have no doubt the same conversation was being repeated all over Europe (in other languages, of course).

Then again, Aggie’s body only STARTED Abba’s career – the fact that Sweden’s most successful export (bigger than Volvo) contained one of the top ten songwriting duos of all time was still necessary to PERPETUATE it.

A few years later, the Nolans repeated the trick. An ever-varying number of colleens in disco pants, they got men murmuring AGAIN (although few of them wanted to HEAR the girls).

wp Nolans-001

Next came Davina McCall. In her case, her killer body meant that mere JEANS were enough to ensure that millions of blokes suddenly took an interest in “Big Brother” – a TV programme they otherwise would not have watched if you had PAID them.

wp Davina McCall-001

And then there were the gold lamé hot pants that relaunched Kylie’s career. They were allegedly purchased by Kylie’s dresser in a charity shop, for fifty Australian cents. The return on THOSE (filled with the still-trim Kylie) could not have been more – if said garment had been made of ACTUAL gold.

wp Kylie Minogue

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

The latest example of this phenomenon is our titular lady – one Pippa Middleton.

Her sister Kate was set to marry the next (or possibly, the one after) King of England, in Westminster Abbey.

Now naturally, an event such as this was planned down to the finest detail. And even though the TV coverage was LIVE, the vision mixer would have had the whole thing story-boarded out.

However, something happened that NO-ONE could have foreseen.

Not wishing to be seen as trying to out-Diana Diana – who on HER Big Day sported a dress that resembled something out of a Disney production – Kate’s wedding dress was a relatively modest affair.

And so, not wishing to outdo her sister, Pippa had gone with an even SIMPLER number – a plain white satin (AGAIN, satin) sheath, with no bells or whistles.

But On The Day…

The camera set-ups at the Abbey had been straightforward – inside and outside were fully covered.

But no-one had considered the GAP between the two.

You see, while the Great West Door leads straight into the Nave – the walls of this Gothic monstrosity are several feet thick.

And it was in THIS place that it was decided the Princess-to-be would be introduced to the clergy. Thus the procession was halted for SOME TIME – before she was allowed to progress to the point inside, where the cameras could get the shot of her entrance (so to speak).

Therefore, whilst all this was happening, the TV feed maintained the outside view – which showed Pippa standing behind Kate, who was now obscured by the archway.

Unfortunately for Pippa no-one was obscuring the REAR-view of HER.

Thus for several seconds, the WORLDWIDE audience had nothing to look at but her BOTTOM – encased by the afore-mentioned plain white satin sheath, BLAZING in the sun.

wp Pippa

Which lead to history repeating itself the next day – but this time on a GLOBAL, rather than just European, scale. “Did you see the royal wedding?” “Yeah – what about that bird…”

Which is why (at the time of typing) if you Google “Pippa Middleton’s Ass” you will get over one million, eight hundred and sixty thousand search results.

Even “[same]…Arse” will glean more than a hundred and seventy thousand (so no-one is likely to read THIS piece).

And all of that just goes to show that In Life, you can do what the hell you LIKE to try to avoid the perfidy of fate – but it is the little things that will get you, every time.

So if you are going on TV and have a nice arse – wear a BARREL.

Feb
15

If you are any age – and British – you will know the name. But you will as likely not know from where. Allow me to fill you in (and I do not even know you!)

Eric’s name has appeared several times a week, every week, on your TV screen, for the last FIFTY-TWO YEARS – as the composer of the “Coronation Street” theme.

He was born way back in 1908 and was a largely unsung (no pun intended – oh, all right then) composer. He worked on many films and TV series, but finally hit gold in 1954, with the main theme from the film “Meet Mister Callaghan”.

This was a British PI movie, starring Derrick De Marney. It is now long-forgotten, but those who have seen it say it is pretty good.

However, the film’s title theme was a HUGE hit, being covered – on both sides of the Atlantic – by EVERYBODY. Well, Les Paul and Ray Martin, for a start.

Here is Semprini’s version… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYjiOBqMU4Q

At this time, he was already 46 – and would be 52 when he was commissioned to write the theme for a soap opera that studio execs thought would only last six weeks.

But debuting in December, 1960 – it is STILL RUNNING. However sadly, Eric died only six years later.

So who WAS Eric Spear?

Well, he started his career at about the age of 20, as a stage ACTOR – he even had a role in a 1956 TV movie, as the Sultan Of Morocco.

But by his late twenties, he had added another string to his bow – that of composer. From 1935 until his death, he worked on around forty films – then after 1953, he started on television.

Fifties TV series like “Strictly Personal” and “Patrol Car” benefitted from his music – plus he wrote the themes for “The Errol Flynn Theatre”, “Sword Of Freedom” and “Time Out For Peggy”.

It is also said that he contributed to the De Wolfe music library. If that is true, it means you might have unwittingly heard Eric’s work on anything from Seventies Hong Kong kung fu flicks – through Eighties porn – to a Beyoncé video.

A long way removed from those black-and-white days of British Fifties TV and films.

So, a full, forty-year career then – but today, he will forever be known as the man who composed the “Coronation Street” theme.

The piece is actually called “Lancashire Blues”. Being set in the north of England and introducing southerners to phrases like “Ee, lass”, “Ecky thoomp”, “Aye, choock” and “‘Appen ‘t will” – Eric decided to go with a brass band – they being associated with northern folk.

The original piece goes like this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNV_Hh5ZWaE

It was never released commercially, until a CD appeared in 2005. It only lasts two minutes. Those familiar with the programme will note it has a short solo trumpet intro that was never actually used on the show, where the theme sounded like THIS… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvNwpy_U_KU

Actually, that was the 1964 re-recording, from a restored version of the kinescope of the 1960 Episode One – but it is virtually the same as the original and sounds more strident on the kine, than on the CD.

The tune probably gives actor William Roache the screaming abdabs every time he hears it, since he has been in the soap since that very first episode (you can see him in that last YouTube clip) and is now the LONGEST-SERVING actor in a continuous role on TV – anywhere in the WORLD.

But that is another story – which you can read on…  http://morpheusatloppers.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/morpheus-on-william-roache/

Anyhay, that is about it for this dissertation on Eric Spear. Forty years of work – producing two immortal pieces – a two-minute TV theme and a quirky instrumental. But then again, some composers work their whole lives and achieve NOTHING…

[UPDATE!] I am indebted to “radioman” – who I believe WORKS at the Beeb – for the following exchange, which I have “elevated” from the comments section on this piece.

He said….

Don’t forget he also wrote the music to another soap (the first British soap?)   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grove_Family

And I replied…

I had HEARD of this programme – named after the Lime Grove studio – but, curious, I looked it up. The first episode (arguably) is on YouTube. According to IMDb, the theme (and other music) was indeed the work of Eric Spear. Like the Corry theme (“Lancashire Blues”) it too has a title – “Family Joke” – and is a jaunty piece, played by a small combo, featuring a harmonica.

I am now “promoting” this exchange to my main article, complete with a piece I just knocked up for YouTube, featuring said theme – and a picture of ME, taken just about the time “The Grove Family” first aired.

Thank you for the inspiration, sir!

And said piece can be found HERE…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8ZiIRvJYtk

This piece has been an interesting journey – and a chance to link a number of my YouTube uploads to this column!

Feb
12

Congratulations are due to Mr Affleck for carrying off two BAFTAS for “Argo” at the British Academy Film Awards.

And for showing Bradley Cooper what a BEARD looks like…

Feb
09

Horse

I hear HORSE-meat has begun turning up in British burgers, lasagna, pasties, etc.

Where does one begin?

“I’ll have a Mr Ed-burger.”

“What a nightmare.”

“My kingdom for a McDonalds.”

“Stop your nagging.”

“The last time I ate horse-meat, it gave me the trots.”

“I just shouted at a Burger King assistant – now I’m a little hoarse.”

“Maybe Gallup should do a poll on this.”

“This’ll stirrup trouble.”

“I just finished a lasagna – it gave me neigh problems.”

“Don’t saddle me with this food.”

“What’s the mane course?”

There are a million of these…

Feb
03

Who? Well, he was the guy who invented the “Etch A Sketch” and he passed a couple of weeks ago, aged 86.

The problem I can see is, if he makes it to Heaven – haloes are ROUND…

Jan
29

Thirty years ago, Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker created a spoof genre that has often been imitated, but never equalled – until now.

“Airplane!” and “Police Squad!” heralded a new style of comedy, which mixed sight-gags – some in the background – with dead-pan delivery of absurd cliché lines by famous, serious actors.

The sheer number of jokes often required several viewings to get them all.

And now, Charlie Brooker has taken that formula to the max. “A Touch Of Cloth” – a reference to the popular but tedious police procedural, “A Touch Of Frost” – crossed with what happens to people who do not make it to the bathroom in time – does to Brit cop shows what “Police Squad!” did to Quinn Martin productions.

It’s all there – background gags like the poster showing items of fruit, with the title, “Fruits Which Are Not Oranges” (a reference to the controversial drama series, “Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit”) and the “Now Wash Your Hands” sign in the toilet – featuring a silhouette wearing a police helmet.

And cliché lines like, “You can’t go in there – it’s impossible!” – but John Hannah opens the door anyway – to reveal a blank wall.

Hannah was the perfect choice to head up the cast. Like Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges before him, he has played his part for real.

Created as an 85 minute movie, “A Touch Of Cloth” is split into two TV episodes. And this is genius, because this formula really only works in 40 minute segments. Go for longer and “laughter fatigue” sets in – and the audience begins to anticipate the gags.

This is intended to be the first of three such forays – the second is already in production – and I think there are still plenty of “…-cloth” gags left…

Jan
21

Being an ex-pat Brit, for the benefit of my Stateside readers I will clarify the situation in the UK: back in the Eighties, a particularly corrupt Tory government (US equivalent: Republican administration) sold off our national industries (then, anything they could lay their grubby hands on) to commercial interests – their fat-cat friends.

Yes, we too are cursed by right-wing arseholes (US: assholes).

And one such selling-off was our water and sewage industry. But where the purchasers of our communications, gas and electricity services had made a mint from them – the companies who had taken on Water And Poop soon discovered they had been LUMBERED.

Many of the systems they were now responsible for, dated back to the Victorian era and were currently falling apart. And as if that were not bad enough – in 1987, the World-wide Climate Shift arrived.

Of course, the now-commercialised Water And Poop companies were swift to divert the blame for the situation they had inherited to their consumers – charging THEM with being WASTEFUL.

And thus it was that they managed to get their buddies back in Her Majesty’s Government (whom they viewed as having screwed them in the first place) to pass laws forcing manufacturers to reduce water consumption by changing the designs of their products.

So baths got smaller, builders put SHOWERS into new properties, toilets became “dual-flush” and new washing machines only allowed a TINY amount to enter their drums. Suddenly, appliances that used water did not WORK properly.

Also, every “summer” the local governments would announce another “hose-pipe ban” – ensuring people’s carefully-tended gardens would end up resembling Arizona.

And this is the situation which still exists today – except that last year, half of Britain was under water (again) following the Wettest Year On Record (BOY, am I glad to be an EX-pat Brit) – which brings me to that titular “generosity”.

Southern Water have just announced that THIS year – there will be no hose-pipe ban.

In Britain, this is called “taking the piss”.

Jan
19

Lincoln Futura (1)

A concept car, they only ever made ONE. But even in the Fabulous Fifties, the bubble-topped beauty was too much and it never made production.

However, it did star in a movie. “It Started With A Kiss” was a rom-com/travelogue film, featuring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford, who win the car in a competition and – he having been posted to Spain – go for a drive around Europe in it.

But after this, the car – which had originally cost $250,000 – was virtually GIVEN away to George Barris, a car customiser who stuck it in his yard under a tarp, where it languished for a decade.

Then, commissioned to design the new TV Batmobile and having only a short while to complete the task, George remembered the Futura.

He cut away the wheel-arches (enclosed wheels having long gone out of fashion) took out the mid-sections of the canopy and added a red revolving light, remodeled the front and rear ends – sticking a fake jet engine in the rear – and planted three equally-fake exhaust pipes in the top of the boot.

And despite car fashions having advanced out of all recognition in the intervening ten years, the Futura had been so far ahead of its time in ’55 – it STILL looked futuristic. The fans of the TV series LOVED it.

1960s Batmobile

The original Batmobile (the converted Futura) is in a museum*.

But several fibreglass replicas of it exist today – and even one of the Futura. They also still make Sixties Batmobile toys – but of the 1955 Lincoln Futura, only a Fifties Hong Kong friction toy remains.

Of course, more than half a century on, they are as rare as unicorns. But it just so happens that when I were a wee lad, my Dad BOUGHT me one – and I still have it TODAY. You can view it here…

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xwvwzb_phil-spector-s-great-wall-of-sound-in-mono_music

One last thing – who says Hong Kong toys were cheap crap? It’s over fifty years old and the friction motor STILL WORKS!

* WOW!! Now THERE’S a coincidence (in a World where millions of things happen, it’d be a statistical anomaly if a few of them did NOT coincide). I wrote the above piece YESTERDAY and STAP me if the very car I mentioned – the original ’60s Batmobile – didn’t just get sold TODAY at auction, for four-point-two million bucks!

Holy spookiness!!!

Jan
19

(Thanks to the NRA) Phil Spector will probably be in JAIL until he is EIGHTY-EIGHT. And the journey that lead him there is a California Story to beat them all.

He first hit fame with his Great Wall Of Sound. This featured over-dub upon over-dub, the whole fed through both electronic and acoustic echo-chambers. Detractors called it “schlock rock” – which, Spector being Jewish, was a racist taunt.

Despite this, his epics hit the charts on both sides of the pond – but not necessarily in unison. “River Deep-Mountain High” went top five in the UK – but did little, Stateside. This was the beginning of Phil’s problems, as he considered it the best thing he had ever done.

Credited to “Ike & Tina Turner” – Ike was not even ON it. But this was typical. ALL of Phil’s records were created by HIM – the vocalists’ names were just for the labels.

Like, half of the Crystals’ hits were actually recorded by Darlene Love and the Blossoms.

Anyhoo – the thing about Phil’s Sixties output was it was only ever intended to be heard in MONO.

This was because the “layer-cake” approach of building them up got torn apart, if they were subjected to a stereo mix. And for twenty years, they REMAINED in mono.

But, with the Sixties over, Phil was courted first by John Lennon (contrary to logic, Paul McCartney was FURIOUS when Phil added strings to the “Let It Be” album-tracks) then others.

However, these new successes were short-lived. In 1974, Phil was almost killed in a car crash.

This development sent a man already known for erratic and often violent behaviour completely over the edge. His head badly scarred from the accident, he began wearing absurd wigs. Then he produced a punk band called the Ramones. And finally, he became a recluse.

Stories about him waving guns at anyone who displeased him were rife. Then the money ran out.

At this point, he was forced to sell the rights to his Sixties catalogue. The deal included the original tapes, which had been recorded in THREE-track.

Understandably, it now being the early Eighties, the new owners of the material had them remixed for STEREO. Phil was FURIOUS – but could do nothing.

Eventually, he managed to buy back the rights, but the damage had been done. Despite now only re-releasing his early material in mono again (including the 1963 classic Christmas Album, with the original cover art) people had already heard his genius RIPPED TO PIECES.

I myself possess mint STEREO copies of the Christmas Album and a number of the Sixties singles – but am all-too-aware they just don’t sound RIGHT.

And thus it is that I have put together four of those Sixties hits in a high-dynamic MONO mix, for Dailymotion.

It’s a video site – not a constipation medicine – so if you have a sound system connected to your computer, ramp it up to ELEVEN and click on..

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xwvwzb_phil-spector-s-great-wall-of-sound-in-mono_music

Jan
13

If proof were needed that the subtitle of this column is apt – trust the POLICE to supply it.

It appears the Lancashire force received a call that a drunk was wandering around with a samurai sword. They sent one of their finest to investigate.

The officer found his man and nailed him with his police-issue Taser.

Unfortunately… the Tased man turned out to be a BLIND man on his way to the pub – and the “sword” was the man’s WHITE CANE.

The police have subsequently taken away the officer’s Taser and the blind man – a two-time stroke-sufferer – is suing.

In a World where a woman gets over a hundred grand ’cause her workmates call her “massive cleavage” – and another gets a seven-figure sum from McDonalds, ’cause she burns her lips on a hot cup of McCoffee – this writer hopes the Tased blind man gets a MINT from the Keystone… sorry, Lancashire Kops.

On the bright side, at least the blind man lived in ENGLAND. If he had lived in America – he would be DEAD now.

Jan
03

…will not happen.

Every Full Moon, dancers converge from all over the World to boogie the night away on Haad Rin Beach, Ko Pha-Ngan. And as a Brit retired to Thailand more than eleven years now – many visits to Haad Rin’s monthly knees-up have failed to kill ME.

This country is like Ireland (the whole island) in the Seventies – all SORTS of aggro in the Separatist bit (Ireland: the North – here: the “Deep South”) – but perfectly peaceful elsewhere.

To get to Ko [island] Pha-Ngan, only requires you to go as far south as Surat Thani – which is WAY short of the “troubled” area. And the two sides of the dispute only target each other, keeping the aggro in their own backyard. It has RARELY spilled into Hat Yai (the “capital of the south”) and that is still WAY south of Surat Thani.

And, unlike with Bali, it has NEVER affected the trains, clubs, beaches (including Haad Rin) Bangkok, Pattaya – or ANY tourist areas. The main reason being Thailand is sh*t scared of bad publicity affecting the tourist trade and thus has TIGHT SECURITY in those areas.

Furthermore, Bangkok has been free from political problems since the Red Shirt demos of a couple of years back (if you want, you can avoid wearing plain yellow and red shirts – but as an obvious tourist, you would be okay anyway).

Elsewhere, the Preah Vihear Temple area on the Cambodian border has been a site of squabbles for years, with little squads of soldiers occasionally getting bored and popping off a round at the other side. But that is a LONG way from anywhere you will be going.

And as for the recent shooting ON Haad Rin; a Brit got stroppy with some Thai kids and discovered to his cost that Thais love American “action” movies and think guns are cool – a mistake the culprit will have MANY YEARS to reflect on, in one of Thailand’s SERIOUSLY nasty jails.

But it is best not to argue with the locals, just in case.

However, such happenings here are VERY RARE. This is the first such incident at the Full Moon Party – where around TWENTY THOUSAND tourists go to boogie EVERY MONTH – and they now hold “Half Moon” and “Dark Moon” parties too (although those are somewhat less well patronised).

Thus, over the last thirty years, around FIVE MILLION tourists have attended one of these shindigs – and so far, this guy is the ONLY one to have left in a BODY-BAG (apart from drunks who wander into the sea for a wazz and get LOST).

Furthermore, the music that started it all – TRANCE – can still be heard at Vinyl, Zoom and the Boom-Boom Bar. So GO for it!

For more, see my attempt at capturing the essence of this phenomenon, at… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hriep_-tWrk 

Dec
30

As 2012 (properly called “twenty-twelve” – not “two thousand and twelve”) slips into 2013, one inevitably reflects on where one is, in one’s life.

And being now sixty (jeez) one realises that one is now at the beginning of one’s Fourth Quarter, In This Place.

As stated elsewhere in these ramblings, the Quarters are…

0→20=growing up, 20→40=young adult, 40→60=middle-aged adult and 60→80=old fogey.

And as one of those old fogeys, I have learned everything I need to – experienced everything I want to – and achieved everything I am ever likely to. 

Now of course, we are the first generation for whom the possibility of radical life-extension achieved through science rather than myth and superstition actually EXISTS.

But for the moment, all of that can only be speculation. So for the time being, let us assume that we, those Brave Baby Boomers – are all in our LAST Quarter of existence.

So as a Generation, what have we really accomplished?

We were gonna legalise pot. Well, the first stirrings of that ARE finally happening.

We were gonna eradicate racism, sexism, sexual orientationism (? – prejudice against gays) and all sorts of other -isms.

But all we managed to do was create mass confusion, thanks to what became known as Political Correctness.

And we have not managed to do much about ageism – which is unfortunate for US, since WE are now old.

Inevitably, two of our number managed to reach the Oval Office and Number Ten. Actually FOUR – but we will draw a VEIL over George Wan… sorry, WaLker Bush and James “Gordon” Brown.

Yes, Bill Clinton and Tony “Bambi” Blair occupied those hallowed offices for eight and ten years respectively. However, in all that time they achieved little of a positive nature.

Bill was caught dallying with a chubby intern and Bambi made a long series of BAD choices.

But at least most of us BBs have managed – to some degree – to master THIS medium. And so at least our voices can be heard – MOST places.

However, when it comes to all of the greed, stupidity and bullsh*t in the World – we have managed to do little to stem THAT.

And now a brand new year approaches – 2013. Even the SOUND of it seems like science fiction. Twenty-thirteen. But it is a fact – or will be in two days from now.

So have we BBs had our chance and BLOWN it? Or is there yet time to Make A Difference?

And I do not just mean whittering on in this medium...

Dec
23

The problem with prediction is that the variables inherent in life are exponential. In other words, as events vary from those that would seem most likely, they in turn experience their own variations. Then rinse and repeat.

Thus films whose intent is to portray the future ACCURATELY, rather than simply being “what if” fantasies, have their work cut out – and are more often than not total bollocks.

Of course, the cynic would point out that provided the production’s GROSS is acceptable on its first release, who CARES how ridiculous it looks when the future era it is set in actually comes around?

Anyhoo, let us examine a few examples and see how close they came.

We begin with…

H.G. Wells’ “Things To Come” (1936)

01 Things To Come

Based on Wells’ book of just a few years earlier – and Wells himself worked closely with the filmmakers – it’s earlier passages are eerily accurate. However, as time goes by, this epic spirals into absurdity.

World War Two continues into the Fifties, then the Sixties – which features bombers that resemble Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose”, complete with umpteen propellers (in 1936, Whittle’s jet engine was still on the drawing board) – after which the planet descends into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

I will save the rest, as you might see it one day.

The point is, as time progresses, the diversion between the film’s narrative and actuality becomes – as stated in para one of this exploration – exponential.

“1941” (1979)

02 1941

Being a comedy directed by Steven Spielberg in 1979, this was not actually a prediction movie – rather a retro, “what if” one, which explores what might have happened had the Japanese launched a major offensive against Los Angles, right after Pearl Harbour.

In fact, there WERE attacks on LA in the early days of WW2, but how significant they were has remained shrouded in mystery – the authorities at the time understandably being loath to start a panic.

Anyhay, this manic movie is generally considered to be Spielberg’s “disaster” movie in more ways than one. But actually, the film made a healthy profit, won awards for its special effects and is not half as bad as its reputation paints it.

Our next look at this genre also varies somewhat from it – in that only the source novel could be thought of as being predictive. The actual film was MADE in…

“1984” (1984)

04 1984

A depressing, dour film, it was not a success – and definitely not a date movie. It was also confusing, since the dystopian future it depicted was now CONTEMPORARY – and had not happened.

George Orwell’s book had been written in 1948 and the author had simply reversed that year. It was never actually intended to be a prediction of what life would be like thirty-six years hence, rather what it COULD be like, socially, politically and practically, in the future generally.

But 1984 was not about this film. It was about Frankie Goes To Hollywood and other Eighties Techno-Pop bands. Pop’s last hurrah.

While the totalitarian state where Big Brother Watches and Security Is The New God did not exist in 1984 – we had to wait until after “9/11”, 2001 for THAT.

Which brings us inevitably to…

“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

03 2001

After decades of films featuring laughable spacecraft, mostly looking like WW2 V2 flying bombs, with scant attention to technical detail, Stanley Kubrick filmed Arthur C. Clarke’s masterpiece.

And by the ACTUAL year 2001, it all still looked pretty good. The technical details had held up comparatively well. And the traditional business suit WAS still as it had been for many decades before 1968, proving Hardy Amies had been right – while designers of futuristic film apparel for lesser sci-fi films who had gone with vari-coloured Lurex had got it horribly WRONG.

But other aspects had been bedeviled by those inevitable variables, like Pan Am having gone broke several years before – and the BBC not getting lots of digital channels until several years after.

However, the MAIN split between the film and reality was how the momentum in the space programme had plummeted, once the political goal of plopping some men on the moon had been reached.

Thus we finally arrive at…

“2012” (2009)

05 2012

Roland Emmerich’s final film in his “apocalyptic” series was based on the Mayan “prediction” that the World would come to an end on the 21st of December, 2012 (two days ago at the time of typing and we are all still here – well, at least you and I are).

In actuality, the Maya never said any such thing, but in the spirit of never letting the facts ruin a good yarn, Roland spent two hundred million dollars in digital special effects, making it happen.

And while in America (a country already steeped in paranoia) it did poorly at the box office – in The Rest Of The World it cleaned up.

Perhaps the Rest Of The World just WANTED to see California tip into the Pacific.

Nevertheless, at least as far as accuracy was concerned, it was only required to portray society as it would be THREE years in the future.

The prediction aspect was solely about Doomsday and if he had got THAT right – you and I would now be TOAST.

So let us be grateful that these cinematic dips into prognosticated destiny are simply what they are – for ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!

Dec
21

I’ll bet you a million pounds the World is still here tomorrow…

Dec
21

Creationists: you claim the ease with which bananas can be peeled proves Intelligent Design.

I’ll see your banana and raise you a walnut.

Dec
13

Prank phone calls have been around since Alexander Graham Bell.

And radio prank phone callouts date back at least to the Fifties – legendary DJ, Wolfman Jack, was a master of the art.

But last week, one such call ended in tragedy. Two young hosts on a local radio station in Sydney, Australia – posing as QE2 and the Windsor Wingnut – rang the hospital where Princess Kate was staying, to ask how she was doing.

Having likely been raised on “Carry On” movies on TV, the young presenters had assumed their deeply LAME impersonations would be detected immediately – and that they would be told off by a Hattie Jacques-type matron.

However, Britain is not like that anymore. These days, most hospitals employ foreign personnel in minor positions and the call was answered by a passing Asian nurse who, it being the middle of the night with the switchboard unmanned, simply passed the call to the duty nurse handling Kate.

She in turn assumed the call was kosher and began giving details of the princess, while the two hosts just “went along with it” – thinking they had unexpectedly obtained a scoop (many Australians being obsessed by Britain’s royals).

But then three days later, that passing nurse – hanged herself.

Oops.

So whose fault WAS the death?

Many said the nurse herself: she must have had “issues” to have cashed in her chips over such a trivial affair – the prank call being the straw that broke the camel’s back. But those people forget the ETHNIC dimension (possibly for PC reasons).

While such nonsense would not have affected a Westerner unduly, people from other backgrounds can, whilst their English may be conventional, possess very different values from said Westerners.

The whole business might have seemed catastrophic to Jacintha.

Also, while the hospital has claimed that no action was taken against Jacintha – who knows WHAT was said to her – or by whom?

It could be that her superior gave her an almighty roasting – and following the suicide, understandably kept shtumm. But they will now have to carry a mountain of GUILT for the rest of their lives.

Which brings us to those two hosts. One had only started with the radio station the previous day. His career is now SCREWED and like his co-host, he will DEFINITELY be carrying that mountain of guilt.

But their role in this affair is secondary. They were mere pawns in the game.

The REAL villains of this piece are the radio station and in particular, the PRODUCER of the programme.

I understand that this latest business is not the FIRST time the station has been in trouble over on-air hoaxes. Over the last fifteen years, it has had a NUMBER of “stunts” end badly – this is just the first that has resulted in a DEATH.

For those unaware of on-air hoax protocols, they are basically as follows…

To air an audio, video or audio/video recording made without the participant’s knowledge, one of the following conditions must apply:

In the case of an investigative journalistic piece, the piece must be “in the public interest” – which does NOT cover a topless princess or similar.

And in the case of a “candid camera” stunt, or ANY piece made for entertainment purposes, ALL participants must sign a waiver. The broadcaster must get clearance from EVERYONE directly involved, using a legally binding RELEASE FORM.

This last is why people’s faces in such pieces on TV are often “pixelised” – even when they are merely bystanders. A number of TV stunts have gone wrong in the past and so these days, production companies take no chances. 

Of course, obtaining such consent is expensive, difficult and time-consuming – and where a piece is time-sensitive, often impractical (the Princess was only set to be in hospital for a few days – and it was on the other side of the World).

Thus many broadcasters – particularly small ones – prefer to just let the lawyers hear the piece and if they okay it, broadcast it and hope for the best.

But in THIS case, they got the WORST.

Many celebrities have been pranked by PROFESSIONALS – comic impressionists and the like – but they are PUBLIC figures who are prepared for such nonsense.

However Jacintha was just a little nurse – a stranger in a strange land – who found herself in the middle of something that was too big for her.

Her blood is on the hands of “2Day FM” and the producer of “Hot 30” – THEY are the ones who should be in the spotlight.

Dec
05

Poor (not really: he’s RICH) old (not really: he’s six weeks younger than ME) Chuck Lorre.

Having barely recovered from the monumental, steaming pile of aggravation caused by the histrionics of his main “Two And A Half Men” star, Charlie Sheen; now the show’s titular “Half” – Angus T Jones – has gone and gotten himself RELIGION (in the form of Seventh Day Adventism – whatever THAT is).

And having declared the show to be “filth” – he says he wants OUT.

Angus T Jones - Sept 2011

Furthermore, given the show’s “adult themes” do not sit well with the followers of his new-found faith, he’s urged “his fans” not to watch it.

His FANS? WHAT fans??? Wake up and smell the roses, Angus – the only fans you have are fans of the SHOW.

You are a kid actor (barely) who got SERIOUSLY LUCKY, glomming a multi (about TWENTY, according to my reckoning) million dollar gig that guarantees you’ll never (unless you’re even more stupid than “Jake”) want for anything as long as you LIVE.

Apart from a handful of cameos, your other acting achievements are ZILCH. Back in the Sixties, Butch Patrick (who is also now my age) played Eddie Munster and then spent the rest of his life trying (and failing) to keep his “career” going. That’s YOU – after “Two And A Half Men” finally wraps.

But then HE never scored a FRACTION of the loot YOU have.

Your relevance to (and airtime on) the show has been declining year by year anyhow. But being integral to it (solely in terms of the TITLE) they were forced to keep you on – and pay you OBSCENE amounts of money for doing so. And now you SHIT on them.

Okay, I know you’re only nineteen – but from one who is WAY older and wiser, I can tell you that all of that easy money you’ve received since you were EIGHT is IMPORTANT. Money don’t buy happiness – but it certainly buys you the freedom to FIND it.

And BLOWING the chance to earn even more over “principles” is MADNESS. Even the dopey stoner you play on “Two And A Half Men” would have more sense.

In the future, you will REGRET your current idiocy. You will discover that THESE are your Golden Years – as an actor, you are right up there with the afore-mentioned Mr Patrick.

So I just hope for YOUR sake (I could give a rat’s arse) that your financial advisors manage to stop you pissing away the fortune you have made, before you REALISE that fact.

Nov
23

Being himself over six feet tall, this is an academic point for this writer – but elsewhere in these columns, he has ruminated on the excesses and just plain STUPIDS created by Political Correctness.

And a new one has impinged upon his consciousness: it appears the PC term for persons of reduced stature is dwarves (some incorrectly say dwarfs) – NOT midgets.

The reasoning behind this is that midget merely means SMALL – as in midget car – and derives from midge: a small biting insect, similar to a mosquito.

Whereas the word dwarf describes the MEDICAL CONDITION that is responsible for producing the phenomenon of said persons.

Okay, fair enough.

But what pisses off THIS journalist is that no allowance is made for normal human verbal interaction. The thing is, WORDS alone cannot wound – that only happens when the person USING them INTENDS so to do.

Inflection, body-language, VOLUME and context are the important factors – not the words.

One cannot go around taking offence at everyone who uses language “insensitively” – one needs to RESERVE one’s ire for those who MEAN to attack one.

Casual misspeaking is not the enemy – vile, primitive, bigotry IS.

People can easily convey irrational HATRED without using ANY “inappropriate” words.

And ridding the World of THAT emotion will take a LOT more than just tidying up the language…

Nov
17

An organisation is currently protesting the use of a Buddha statuette used “creatively” by Maxim magazine. Half-naked ladies posing with its sacred icon does not sit well with said organisation – the National Office of Buddhism.

I’m adding NOTHING…

Nov
08

Having just watched the twelve-hour coverage of same (even longer than the Oscars) on CNN, I noted that their commentators failed to mention two important facts.

Firstly, how the graphic of the states – once all bar ONE of the results were in – resembled an old man with his todger hanging out of his trousers. Forty-nine of said states being coloured (sorry – colORed) deep red or blue – while Florida (THEM again) was BRIGHT YELLOW.

And secondly, the MISSING statistic.

Thing is, all night they were showing the stats of the voters – and it turned out those voting for Barry Obama were mostly young, female, secular and urbanite (UK: townee) – leaving old, male, god-botherers in hee-haw (UK: hayseed) regions for Willard Romney.

Meaning those who went for Barry were America’s INTELLIGENTSIA – while those going for Willard were its slack-jawed morons.

(Not surprisingly, given that Willard was one of the very Wall Street robber-barons who landed America in the financial doo-doo it is still trying to crawl out from – while Bazza is the one man who, despite the best efforts of Congress, has done all within his limited powers to REVERSE that mess).

Perhaps Baz should impose an IQ lower-limit on America’s voters…

Oct
28

Has The Donald now completely LOST it?

Having been roundly embarrassed after handcuffing himself to a dead hooker named Birther, he now offers to donate five million bucks to a charity of Barry’s choice, if he will reveal all of his school and college records, his passport applications, his inside leg measurement, etc.

Obama should counter with HE will donate TEN million bucks to a charity of TRUMP’S choice – if HE will reveal WTF that THING is, on top of his HEAD.

Some pieces just write themselves…

Oct
16

These days, America having screwed up the billion and trillion (see  https://damienatloppers.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/damien-on-ive-told-you-a-million-times-dont-exaggerate/ ) we can only safely use thousand and million, when we need big numbers.

But there are a whole bunch MORE out there – and TINY numbers as well. The trouble is, these SI units are METRIC and America cannot get its collective head around THAT. Hell, even us Brits have taken decades to do it – and apart from the very young, we STILL drink pints and measure our height in feet and inches.

The problem is that while decimal measures are great for scientists, our old Imperial measures RELATED to everyday life.

Like, the acre comes to us from the Middle Ages – and was the amount of land a bloke with an ox could plough in a day.

And the foot comes from WAY back and is simply the length of a (shod) human foot.

While the hundredweight (112 pounds) dates back to Medieval times and was the most a man could comfortably carry on his back (like a sack of coal). Although America has a short version of THAT, TOO – just 100 pounds.

As for pints and gallons, they get SERIOUSLY complicated – and yet again, America’s are SMALLER.

However, these days the old measures are fast disappearing in favour of the more logical, practical and CO-RELATING decimal measures (a litre of water weighs a kilogramme and occupies a thousand cubic centmetres – more or less).

But while most are familiar with mega- this and micro- that – few know the LOT. So here – for those who would like to BROADEN their descriptions of large and small quantities – they are…

Deca- = times ten (10 to the power 1 – not used much)

Hecto- = times one hundred (10 to the power 2 – likewise)

Kilo- = times one thousand (10 to the power 3)

Mega- = times one million (10 to the power 6)

Giga- = times one thousand million (10 to the power 9)

Tera- = times one million million (10 to the power 12)

And now we get SERIOUSLY big…

Peta- = times one thousand million million (10 to the power 15)

Don’t worry too much about these “powers” – the number is merely the number of ZEROS. Onward…

Exa- = times one million million million (10 to the 18)

Zetta- = times one thousand million million million (10 to the 21)

Yotta- = times one million million million million (10 to the 24)

And that is as big as you can GET. Meanwhile, going DOWN, we have…

Deci- = one tenth (ten to the power MINUS one)

Centi- = one hundredth (ten to the power minus 2)

Milli- = one thousandth (10 to the power minus 3)

Micro- = one millionth (10 to the power minus 6)

Again, the “powers” are just zeros, with “minus” indicating the number is a FRACTION. Thus “micro-” is one OVER one million.

Nano- = one thousand-millionth (10 to the minus 9)

Pico- = one million-millionth (10 to the minus 12)

And here is where we get seriously SMALL…

Femto- = one thousand-million-millionth (10 to the minus 15)

Atto- = one million-million-millionth (10 to the minus 18)

Zepto- = one thousand-million-million-millionth (10 to the minus 21)

And finally, my personal favourite…

Yocto- = one million-million-million-millionth (10 to the minus 24)

The possibilities are endless…

“Hang on a yoctosecond” or “Oi! Yoctobrain!”

If you admire a celebrity, don’t call them a megastar – call them a yottastar. Alternatively, if you’re talking about Frankie Cocozza – you have YOCTOSTAR.

So there you are: a whole RANGE of prefixes that can be tacked onto words to give PRECISE measurements, instead of silly words like gazillions or miniseries (which should have a hyphen, anyway).

And if you can’t remember ALL the prefixes, just fix these LAST two into your vocabulary: yotta – bloody BIG, yocto – incredibly TINY.

Astound your friends and confuse your enemies!

You’re welcome.

Oct
12

Women live longer than us blokes (serves ‘em right!) In the UK (despite what its lying government might say) that’s 79 for us and 82 for them.

However, life being what it is, sometimes blokes find themselves alone first. And when that happens, the more adventurous often sell up and head for the sun, sand, sea and sex of my adopted country – Thailand.

But after some time spent in those pursuits, a lot of them just buy a condo, find a mature Thai woman with kids whose husband has split, to look after them in return for an income – and settle down to a life of boozing, TV-watching and sleep.

Thus their days become a routine of waking, showering, eating, sitting in a nearby bar, drinking for hours with their peers – then going back to their condo for another shower, eat, TV and bed (it’s better than freezing in Britain).

However, in a run-down area of Bangkok, this reverie was disturbed for some. An area known as Washington Square had become dilapidated and was ripe for redevelopment – but said area was owned by a number of property companies and they could never agree on anything.

But eventually the developers managed to get their ducks in a row and within days, the whole area got torn down. Hit  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uHrvKedqXY for more.

And in that area, the phenonenonomon occurred. Given the buildings were constructed cheaply, from thin concrete slabs, it didn’t take long to level the lot – and shortly afterwards, a number of old western men were observed wandering around, dazed, in what looked like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, murmuring, “Where’s the Silver Dollar?” “Where’s the Cat’s Meow?” “Where’s the Texas Lone Staar?” (sic).

It is thought many of them were Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Oct
04

For years, homophobes accused Mr Fix-It of being a poof. I wonder if they are happy NOW?

Of course, the “revelations” should have surprised no-one. The fact that Seventies Pop-stars and DJs nobbed young fans at gigs and behind the scenes of Top Of The Pops in the Seventies has been common knowledge for decades.

And I can understand why. In the early Nineties, I and my then-lady were staying at a hotel in Birmingham and, arriving there in our car just as a mini-bus disgorged New Kids On The Block, were mobbed by hundreds of pubescent teens.

I laughed it off with a cry of “No autographs please” – and dodged around the boys they were THERE to see.

Later, around three in the morning, myself and my lady returned to the hotel on foot after a night at Ronnie Scott’s “annexe” club, to find a hard-core of fans holding an all-night vigil outside the front.

Fascinated by this phenomenon, we stopped to talk to the girls. The conversation was instructive. Most of the girls were there more for the companionship of their peers than the group. The LAST thing on their minds was a sexual encounter with them.

But we heard tales of a FEW girls who, by bribing roadies – got a lot CLOSER. And a few monied ones had booked INTO the hotel with that aim. Whether they had been successful we never knew.

Later, back in our room, we discussed what we had learned of this strange world. Both of us had, at some time in our lives, experienced a passion for someone which had inspired us to hold a vigil designed to place us near them, without actually providing contact.

Only if YOU have been there can you understand that – a yearning for someone who is unattainable.

However, a chilling aspect of our reflection was the realisation that an unscrupulous man staying at that hotel could definitely have taken ADVANTAGE of the situation. Some of the fans would have done ANYTHING for the promise of an “in” to our fellow hotel-guests.

The “worship” of another human being is strange enough, but when the object of the affection is a celeb, things can get more than a little flakey – people become OBSESSED with DESIRE. However, sadly the NOTION of sexual contact with an “icon” often falls way short of the REALITY – as many “groupies” will attest.

Which explains why most of those who DID get nailed by “showbiz royalty” in those halcyon days – kept QUIET about it. Their illusions having been shattered, they ended up feeling used and STUPID.

And as for the stars themselves – my brief encounter with a hundred screaming, nubile teenyboppers was VERY instructive. If, in the Seventies, I had been one of those desired persons – I would have found it VERY difficult to resist.

Over the years, every now and then, a name has popped up – Gary Glitter, John Peel, Bill Wyman, Jonathan King and now the legend that was Sir Jimmy – in connection with misdeeds with teenage girls (and occasionally, boys).

But celebs are monied – and worth money to The Business. And so ranks are CLOSED.

Only now that Savile is DEAD have details of his doings emerged.

And with the Grim Reaper beckoning many of his contemporaries, it is only a matter of time before a FLOODGATE is opened…

——————————————————————————————————————

I wrote the above piece 25 days ago – and since that time, the floodgates I spoke of have ALREADY opened.

And so I propose to EXTEND this piece, beginning with its initial comments and my replies (thus keeping things chronological).

“I met Sir Jimmy, in the seventies. But I were lucky. I were a lad. Holden McGroyne – October 13, 2012 at 8:11 am

“So is one of the people now claiming Sir Jimmy fondled them – but at the time, he was a GIRL. Although a while later he had a ‘gender reassignment’ operation – however he has not claimed that Sir Jimmy’s groping had any bearing on that decision.

“Either way, while I am no fan of kiddie-fiddlers (as an 11 year old, I remember being constantly pestered by them) I have to say that as an ex-pat Brit, I have found the various REACTIONS to the Savile saga in Britain nothing short of HILARIOUS.

“Of course, the Sun got up on its usual high horse, braying for his knighthood to be ‘revoked’ – but while that rag’s readers might be lacking in intelligence, its writers are not. They know that said knighthood died WITH him.

“And hospitals and similar organisations have been busy trying to eradicate the plaques, ward-dedications and suchlike that carry his name, thanks to his myriad charitable works.

“Then some are calling for his remains to be dug up and dumped somewhere (a lot HE’LL care – he’s DEAD).

“While the suits at Auntie are running around like headless chickens, worried they might be legally LIABLE for Sir Jimmy’s misdeeds.

“When his peers start falling off the perch and THEIR misdeeds come to light – it’s going to be a FARCE! Damien – October 14, 2012 at 10:22 am

“‘…people become OBSESSED with DESIRE…’ The reaction of religious fanatics, against such negative complications of Mother Nature’s cunning plan to keep the species going, is even worse. Anonymous – October 15, 2012 at 5:56 pm

“Apparently I now learn S’Jimmy was ‘knighted’ by Pope John-Paul 2 – now THERE’S irony! Damien – October 18, 2012 at 8:56 pm

…which brings us to NOW: the 29th of October – and events have moved on apace. Freddie Starr and the afore-mentioned Gary Glitter have been dragged into this thing – with the promise of more celebs to come.

So let us take stock of where we ARE with this saga.

The Seventies were a strange time. To one as old as this writer (60) they seem like yesterday – but they are as far away today as the Twenties were, in the Sixties.

So from one who was there (the Sixties, not the Twenties)…

In 1960, The Pill arrived. Did it herald a bold new age of sexual permissiveness? Hardly. Initially, they were only made available to MARRIED women – over 25 – who had had at least one child.

But by the Seventies, expediency had overtaken Fifties morality – and ANYONE could get it. Including underage girls (it was better for GPs to distribute them like sweets than deal with teen pregnancies).

And being a chauffeur in those days, I recall one of the effects of this thinking. There was at least ONE West End club where girls as young as TWELVE were admitted, wearing rubber fetish gear. And while celebs like Bill Wyman looked hungrily on, they danced on stage.

How was this possible? Well, the local cop shop was… [actually, I had better let that go; I do not want to piss THEM off]. And the doorman was hardly going to turn away the club’s “stock-in-trade”.

Suffice to say Bill met 13-year-old Mandy Smith there – and while their marriage did not last long, it fed the tabloids when his son from an earlier marriage got engaged to Mandy’s MUM. Had THEY married, Mandy would have been Bill’s wife AND grand-daughter-in-law (I think – even the tabloids could not work out THAT one).

Wyman was said to have bedded over 1000 girls – which brings up another aspect of the Seventies: it sat right BETWEEN the era of antibiotics that could nail any STD – and AIDS.

So against this back-drop, it is easy to see how Seventies Pop-stars and DJs were inextricably linked with pubescent girls.

However, S’Jimmy was a different case.

Now that more facts have come to light, we can see HIS story is FAR more sinister. Let us look at those facts…

One: Jimmy’s name was never romantically linked with a lady, which initially evoked questions concerning his sexuality. However, Jimmy insisted that although he applauded people who were gay, he was NOT (and given his precarious position, one can now see why he did not want to annoy ANYONE – even gays) and that his chosen vocation (a constantly touring DJ) did not permit a serious relationship. If pressed, he would boast that he had had MANY “sexual encounters”. But he never elucidated – and no-one ever came forward to qualify what those encounters involved.

Two: the only woman he DID admit to loving was his MOTHER (“The Dutchess”). Now the fact a son loves his mother does not make him Norman Bates… but still.

Three: when the fact he had been doing voluntary menial jobs (like hospital porter) at various institutions became known, he trumpeted the fact that he had been doing it for YEARS, unheralded. Very noble – but WHY?

Four: in the early Seventies, before PC was established, accusations of “inappropriate behaviour” with minors tended to get swept under the carpet.

Five: He “joked” that he hated kids (methinks he protested too much?)

Six: the most DAMNING evidence of all comes from Paul Gambuccini. He has described his impression of Savile as being like a necrophiliac – but rather than being attracted to the DEAD, he was attracted to those who, while alive, were unable to resist or report his advances.

One can easily see how this would work. While chauffeuring in the Seventies, I had a regular pickup from a “special needs” school. She was a young girl, about thirteen, who was sweet and charming – but did not SPEAK.

And as with the groupies described above – it occurred to me that an unscrupulous man could take advantage of THAT situation also.

All of which paints the picture that is now emerging: a man with a mother obsession – constantly touring the country – surrounded by adoring pubescent teens – no regular girlfriend – immerses himself in voluntary work that will bring him into contact with the DISABLED – in an era when sexual shenanigans are accepted – even encouraged.

And while the Eighties and Nineties brought PC – where children were finally BELIEVED – by that time, he had established himself as a fund-raising, do-gooding GOD. Weighed down with honours, running marathons, raising millions for charity – he had hospital wings named after him, for gawdsakes.

Who was going to go up against THAT?

Answer: NO-ONE – until after he was DEAD.

Earlier in this piece (which I am leaving as is) I made light of Savile’s misdeeds. I assumed he was simply revelling in the same sexual freedom – prevalent in those balmy days – as his contemporaries.

But if the picture that is now emerging is TRUE – and given the number and consistency of the stories, it is virtually impossible to doubt them – he was a CAD.

While others in that period merely succumbed to physical temptation with silly but willing teens, he RAVENED THE DEFENCELESS AND VULNERABLE – knowing he was untouchable. He was a MONSTER.

Savile is more usually spelled with two “L”s – “Saville” – but in his case, it is spelled correctly: SaVILE.

——————————————————————————————————————

There is another take on this issue, which can be found at… http://morpheusatloppers.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/morpheus-on-jimmy-savile-the-truth/

17th February, 2013

And now yet ANOTHER name has entered the story – “Coronation Street” actor, Michael Le Vell (real name: Turner).

It seems he became “a person of interest” to the police a couple of years ago – well BEFORE “Operation Yewtree” (see the “other take” above) – and thus seemingly has no relevance to this piece.

However, it would be naïve to believe that the DPP’s decision to REVIVE his case – after having DROPPED it two years ago – is NOT unrelated to the “new climate” which has been created, as a result of the S’Jimmy case.

Of course, Corry is no stranger to this kind of thing. Older readers of this piece will recall Peter Adamson, the gruff scouser who played “Len Fairclough” for over twenty years – until an accusation of kiddie-fiddling at his local swimming baths effectively ended his career.

He was ultimately cleared of those offences – but mud sticks. And from that point, he went steadily downhill. Already known as something of a “hell-raiser”, his alcohol consumption and brawling increased in inverse ratio to the work that came his way – until his finances dwindled in direct ratio to his health.

He died, PENNILESS, in 2002, aged 71 – having once been a household name.

Sep
26

So I saw this headline: “Crocs to be artificially inseminated” – and had a conversation in my head that went: “How do you artificially inseminate a crocodile?” “VERY BLOODY CAREFULLY!!!”

Sep
14

So the paps caught Kate with her baps out – oh, BOO-HOO!

If you’re going to join The Firm, you HAVE to know the RULES. Which are: you are now ROYAL!

QE2 and Phil The Bubble knew it SIXTY YEARS AGO – and in all that time, you have never seen THEM making tits of themselves.

Okay, QE2 misjudged the Diana thing. But let’s face it, if your son married unwisely – then got divorced – then his ex-wife got killed in a car-crash with her new boyfriend – what would YOUR response be?

Of course, there were the two issues that Diana was the birth-mother of the Numbers One and Two to the British Throne – and the British tabloid press had elevated her to goddess-like status (even though she was NOT the “People’s Princess” – she was POSH) resulting in the biggest outpouring of public grief since the death of Rudolf Valentino.

And so, despite protocol not allowing for the flying of the Royal flags at half-mast, she should have waived it and dived headlong into the public orgy of teeth-knashing.

But QE2 comes from Old Stock and it was not her way.

Likewise, when she’d had a bad year, describing it in her Christmas Speech as an “annus horribilis” wasn’t the smartest move, either. Not having learned Latin, most of the great unwashed assumed there was something wrong with her ARSE.

So – she is out of touch with the Common People. But what do you expect? It’s like how Phil puts his foot in it every time he talks about “foreigners”. But he’s an old right-wing reactionary, so again – what do you expect?

The fact is, aside from these blunders, QE2 and Phil have maintained the dignity required of their position – for SIX DECADES.

But the NEW Royal generation has a lot to LEARN.

If QE2 had been “common” – by now, she’d have been teabagged by a male stripper at a hen-do, got pie-eyed at the local British Legion and be addicted to Bingo, down at the local Palais.

But she’s NOT. And thus she has no idea about ANY of that.

And if her eventual replacements are going to MAINTAIN the dignity of Royal office, they had better start following her example.

In the good old days, Royals’ excesses were kept QUIET. But today, technology has spoiled all that. First it was the paps’ long lenses. And now today, even INDOOR activities are at risk. ALL rich people have little camera- and video-phones – and THIS medium enables them to put those images into the Public Domain in SECONDS. 

And so a Royal CAN’T wear a Nazi uniform at a fancy dress do – or get up to naked high-jinks in Vegas (for Royals, what happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas) – or get their norks out, to avoid tan-marks.

Or go shopping at Tesco – or enter a wet tee-shirt competition on a Club 18-30 holiday – or get stoned in an Amsterdam cafe – or do doughnuts in an empty car-park. Suchlike activities are fine for us PLEBS – but Royals are DENIED these small pleasures.

However, before we begin to feel TOO sorry for these people, let’s consider this: Royals fly aircraft and do activities we can only dream of – they visit all four corners of the World, enjoying luxury we can’t imagine – and meet celebrities you and I will NEVER meet.

Plus they will never want for ANYTHING. All of their lives, they will be surrounded by opulence: the best food, wine, entertainment, travel and accommodation.

They have ENORMOUS wealth and power. And all they have to do to MAINTAIN it is be COOL.

Start behaving like the REST of us – and they will BECOME like the rest of us. Which AIN’T so cool…

Sep
11

…is an issue that has had BOOKS written on it. Here is MY take…

Firstly, let us remember that without CONFLICT, there cannot be drama. However, that conflict does not have to be PHYSICAL – it can be intellectual.

But moviemakers today prefer BODY-counts to discussion. Ignoring the fact that a single bullet can END a decades-long life filled with experience, learning and social interaction in a SECOND, they present us with “action” films where villains are cut down like chess-pieces.

Human beings – with their loves, lives and souls – reduced to skittles.

But guns (with absurd sound-effects) and “splatterpunks” are sexier than talking heads.

And the carnage begins early: most video-games are of the “shoot-’em-up” variety. A waste, when the technology could be used to simulate FLIGHT – without a PLANE.

But this is where the arguments begin. Supporters of violence on TV and in movies point to the fact that countries like Japan have comics, video-games and movies that have always been FAR more violent than those found in say, America – and yet ACTUAL violence in Japan is MINIMAL, compared to The States.

They claim that violence in the media merely mirrors the violence in society, rather than CAUSING it.

They further claim that over previous centuries, when such media did not exist, violence in society was far worse.

They state that violence in the media is CATHARTIC – that it actually REDUCES violence in our society.

While those who take the opposite view claim that media violence – like exposure to explicit sexual material – DESENSITISES us to it.

And that while becoming desensitised to sex is harmless – as we quickly become REsensitised to it, when the occasion requires it – becoming desensitised to VIOLENCE is DANGEROUS.

They claim the constant barrage of violence INURES us to it.

And further, that whilst the explicit sex portrayed in porno movies is unrealistic – violent acts are all too EASY to perpetrate.

However, those with the opposite view claim that as with exposure to explicit sex, we RECOVER – that the effect of an action movie on our patterns of behaviour is only temporary. So long as no-one pisses us off during the first five minutes after we leave the cinema, everything will be fine.

Of course, censorship has always been seen as an attempt to limit both explicit sex AND violence. But the truth is far more complicated.

Pre-1970, it forced moviemakers to portray illegal and/or immoral acts as leading ultimately to DISASTER. Even COMEDY crooks could not be seen to “get away with it”.

But Hollywood still got away with a LOT. “Gilda” (a major 1946 feature) was DEPRAVED for its time. It was STEEPED in S&M. But by giving it an absurd cop-out ending, the studio managed to slide it past the censors.

However, one issue that would not pass the censors was anything they felt could be IMITATED, to the detriment of society.

A good example of THAT was the 1953 biker movie, “The Wild One” – featuring then-hot Marlon Brando. It did not get a UK certificate until 1967.

The fourteen-year OUTRIGHT BAN on the movie was caused not by any bits that could have been excised – but rather by the whole CONCEPT of the movie.

The plot of The Wild One (“What are you rebelling against, Johnny?” “Whaddaya got?”) centres around two biker gangs who meet up in a small American town and proceed to DOMINATE it.

Now in those post-war days, biker gangs were becoming a PROBLEM and while it was not quite what happened in The Wild One – the thinking was, supposing a biker gang cut the phone lines to a remote small town or village and just drove in? The place would be THEIRS.

And the thought of the potential resulting mayhem sent shivers down the backs of the British censors of the time – so they KILLED it.

But by the Sixties, the youth of the day had started buying CARS and the “Mods And Rockers” conflicts (vastly overstated by the tabloid press anyway) were a thing of the past.

Also, by then – The Wild One was an anachronism.

But violence never reduces in its effect. Forty-five years on, “Bonnie And Clyde” STILL has the power to shock – particularly the climax.

However, while violence taken casually COULD result in yet MORE violence – it can be shown to POSITIVE effect. For example, the rape scene at the beginning of “Death Wish” is repulsive – but it sets up the motivation for the central character to become a vigilante.

On the other hand, the violence at the END of “Witchfinder General” is an orgy of REVENGE.

Then again, what about the violence in cartoons?

It is all a matter of CONTEXT.

A good example of this was when the British censor handed down an “A” certificate for a film for which he simultaneously awarded an “X” certificate to its TRAILER (trailers had to be certified separately, as a trail for an “X” would often be shown in a “U” certificate programme).

The moviemakers were incensed: until the censor pointed out that while there were only a few minutes of violence in the actual movie – where good eventually triumphed – the trailer mostly featured action sequences and thus hit the audience with an onslaught of ferocity which had NO context whatsoever.

And thus it can be seen that the censor’s job is difficult. Constantly balancing the levels of violence with context and artistic merit – and an eye to the eventual audience.

Trying to gauge how realistic a movie can become – before it is likely to set off a feeble-minded member of that audience, to do something unspeakable. Almost everyone is capable of separating fiction from reality – but there is always the odd ONE…

However, it must be remembered that no censor really cares whether “gratuitous” violence makes our skin crawl – or triggers some looney.

Their job, as independent bodies, is merely to protect the industry from charges of running “disorderly houses” – not to protect our sensibilities. Or even our lives.

Finally, in this examination of the possible effects of violent fiction on the public comes the “psychological thriller” – which surely must be the most dangerous form of violent entertainment of all. Certainly it OUGHT to be the most iniquitous, because here the audience is invited to enter the twisted brain of a PERPETRATOR of violence.

In any drama, there must be a central character. And inevitably, we will come to consider them as the “sympathetic” character.

Which is unfortunate when they happen to be a MONSTER like Jack Carter, Norman Bates (Robert Bloch kills OFF Marion Crane half-way through) Hannibal Lecter (come on, were you REALLY rooting for Clarice Starling?) and the afore-mentioned Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, to name but five.

In fact, these last two are particularly monstrous because, like Albert DeSalvo, John Christie and Ted Bundy – they were REAL people.

In fiction, we can tell ourselves that the central character is like the boogey-man – but when monsters who actually EXISTED become the central characters of movies, we are on a slippery slope.

People actually MARRY individuals on Death Row. Would you want your daughter to do that?

So, in conclusion, this world is filled with REAL violence. And fiction has value, because it takes us OUT of that world. And fiction features drama. And drama needs conflict. And conflict often includes violence – which is what this world is filled with. Thus we are in a CYCLE.

Statistics show that violent people almost always come from violent backgrounds – and there is little we can do about that.

But every day, we feed violent imagery to those who are NOT infused with violence. Is this a good idea? But then, if they are NOT naturally violent, surely those images will not MAKE them violent?

And if that desensitisation effect really IS only temporary, where is the harm? Realistic drama cannot survive on a diet of fluffy bunnies, while the World is in turmoil.

But supposing it is NOT? By permitting violent imagery, are we allowing ourselves to become the CAUSE of that turmoil – rather than the CURE?

What is the answer? Damned if I know…

Sep
06

Who IS Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth?

Some call her Oloroso, after the fortified wine – which is described as “dark and nutty” in Wiki (I make NO comment).

But mostly she is known as “that bl*** bitch from the Trump shows” – having first appeared on “The Apprentice” – then “The Celebrity Apprentice” (her “celebrity” seemingly being that she had appeared on “The Apprentice” – then more than twenty other “reality” shows, including “The Ultimate Merger” – another Trump show).

The description seems apt (albeit monumentally racist) as on “The Celebrity Apprentice”, she locked horns with Piers Morgan – who pounded her into the ground like a tent-peg, resulting in him gaining popularity. Which was quite an achievement given that previously, HE had been the most hated celebrity around.

In fact his unpopularity became underscored when people cheered Jeremy Clarkson for BELTING him – since Jeremy is ALSO famous for being despised by many. All of which makes her TOP in that chain of unpopularity: Jeremy, Piers – then her.

But Trump seems to like her. Or maybe he just wants to stay on the right SIDE of her – she hinted she might try SUING him after an ickle bit of plaster fell on her in a building project, while filming her first appearance on “The Apprentice”.

And the recently departed Michael Clarke Duncan must have liked her too – he was her fiancé. But a couple of months after his series “The Finder” got cancelled, he suffered a heart attack.

Reports vary: one claims that Omarosa gave Michael CPR to keep him alive. However, it did not take – two months later, he succumbed.

Indeed, being close to Omarosa appears NOT to be good for your health. Her father was murdered when she was seven – and her brother was murdered just last year. Only Jerry Lee Lewis has a worse record – but then he is 76, while she is only 38.

So where does all this leave her? Well, she appears to be trying to transcend her career as a reality “star” (an oxymoron if ever there was one) by STUDYING.

She is now an ordained minister (then again, so am I – and I am an ATHEIST) and is currently trying to add a theological degree to her (according to Trump) PhD in communication.

But qualifications – real or imagined – only get you so far. At some point, if she cannot find a replacement for Michael Clarke Duncan, she will have to seek GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT.

The only proper job on her resumé (although according to People, she was “transferred” from it, due to disruptive behaviour) appears to be a spell with Al Gore, when he was Bill Clinton’s veep, as “Deputy Associate Director of Presidential Personnel” – which sounds dubious.

Was it SHE who fixed Bill up with Monica Lewinsky?!

At the beginning of this year, she announced that her talents would be applied to a new magazine called “Reality Weekly” (or weakly) – but said publication went down the dumper after just six months.

Of course, she could always go back to the Trump well and see if there is anything left there.

But whatever the future holds for Ms Manigault-Stallworth – I doubt it will be BORING.

picture © Glenn Francis, http://www.PacificProDigital.com

Sep
03

…which, since it involves big corporations and governments, is a saga of greed, incompetence and rank stupidity.

For those who don’t know, sildenafil citrate is the generic name for – a brand name that rhymes with Niagara. But since this historian has no desire to be SUED by a certain company whose name rhymes with None The Wiser, he’ll state right now that the following in no way relates to any real product, event or company. Okay?

This writer first heard about sildenafil citrate, when it was just ending its FDA trials. At that point, it didn’t HAVE a brand name. And since the FDA have to PUBLISH their findings, a friend got him the results off the Interweb (he didn’t have a computer in those days).

Whilst most of the report was technical, one didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know what “penile tumescence” meant. Your Humble Scribe realised this would be big (so to speak) – and waited for more news.

Over the next few months, it emerged that the price at the factory gates for these wonder-pills would be £4.75 (around $7.50) per pill – REGARDLESS of the SIZE – 25mg, 50mg and 100mg. Huh? What sense did THAT make?

It further emerged that 100mg would be too strong for most people (it’d make their eyes go funny) while 25mg would do little. However 50mg would – like the Third Bear’s Porridge – be just right.

This turned out to be the FIRST cock-up committed by those in charge of the discovery. Oh yes, let’s be clear on THAT. Rhymes with Niagara wasn’t INVENTED – it was stumbled upon by ACCIDENT, when None The Wiser were running clinical trials on what they hoped would be a drug to help sufferers from angina.

It didn’t work, but only when the test subjects proved reluctant to part with the unused pills did None The Wiser realize they might be ON to something!

Anyhay, apparently no-one at None The Wiser CONSIDERED that people MIGHT just think of CUTTING the 100mg sizes of their HIGH-priced wonder-pills in TWO. After a couple of YEARS had passed, they belatedly advised people NOT to – as it would affect the drug’s absorption rate (make it work FASTER – so?)

But by that time, they were far too late. EVERYONE was buying the 100 mg pills and cutting them – either using a sharp knife or a “pill-chopper” (sales of which had by then sky-rocketed). Has anyone ever SEEN a 50 or 25 mg pill?

Cock-up number two was with the MARKETING. Although to be fair to None The Wiser, it wasn’t entirely their fault. The thing is, people STILL think of drugs as being one of only TWO types. Those you take to cure an ILL – and those you score from a guy called Big Louie on a street-corner.

But of course, for some time now, there has been a THIRD category – “lifestyle drugs”. These can make you smarter, faster, hornier or hairier – whatever you need. But since all drugs have MANY effects, some medical supervision is useful (like, hairy-pills make you grow breasts).

And that was the problem for None The Wiser. Since there were few facilities for marketing these drugs, outside of the Interweb, they elected to sell rhymes with Niagara as a MEDICINE (the word appears FREQUENTLY on the patient information leaflet).

Which it really ISN’T. Sildenafil citrate merely reduces the BACK-FLOW of blood FROM the penis, like a cock-ring (which have been around for MILLENNIA – but of course, a pill is a lot less INVASIVE) and will NOT cause blood to flow INTO the penis – and is therefore USELESS as a cure for impotence.

It merely gives you more CONTROL, so that miaowing cat, or noisy party, or sudden realisation that you left your car-keys in the ignition – or any other distraction that causes you to lose your concentration on the job in hand – doesn’t cause you to lose your ERECTION.

So, rhymes with Niagara was just a very useful LIFESTYLE drug. But its discoverers understandably didn’t want their new wonder-drug consigned to the plethora of products available on the Interweb, which claim to make you lose pounds in days – or live forever – or become INVISIBLE.

Thus they went the medical route. But they botched it. In Britain, once this scribbler heard what the pills were going to retail for, he worked out that if the National Health Service issued them on prescription on DEMAND – it would cost them around £4 BILLION a year. A few months later, a newspaper (well – the Daily Mail) did the same sums and belatedly came to the same conclusion.

But there were still several months to go before the pills would be on sale, so both None The Wiser and the British government had plenty of time to work out a sensible solution to the problem. Like, given that the production cost of sildenafil citrate is PENNIES, reduce the price by 40% to the NHS – None The Wiser would STILL have made a PACKET – and then let the NHS issue them one pill per prescription charge. Simple – and the NHS would have made a packet too.

However, this simple answer didn’t occur to EITHER party and the whole business turned into a FIASCO. This reporter had a friendly doctor who gave him prescriptions for FREE – and he then haggled pharmacists down to £7 a pill. So £3.50 a pop, then.

But many others paid ABSURD prices for “consultations” with greedy quacks (three questions and a blood-pressure test – a first year medical student could do it in forty-five seconds) and even MORE absurd prices for the pills themselves.

Eventually “copy-cat” drugs emerged. But their manufacturers followed the precedent established by None The Wiser – called them medicines and issued pills (all sizes the same price) that were still horribly expensive, thus effectively inviting purchasers to continue cutting them.

But today, now that None The Wiser’s patents have run out in many places, LEGITIMATE, professionally-manufactured GENERICS are available. In India, the 100mg sildenafil citrate pills sell for 37 rupees each. About £0.50 (80 cents). That’s 25 PENCE (40 cents) a pop.

In Thailand, yours truly gets ’em (imported from India) from a local pharmacist for £2 ($3) each – or £1 ($1.50) a pop – no prescription required. But back in Blighty and America, people are STILL being ripped off.

And it could all have been SO different. Like with the fatuous and unwinnable War On Drugs, had a little commonsense prevailed, for the last decade, people would have been able to enjoy man’s greatest technical achievement in the field of PHARMACY the way they have those in electronics, engineering and so on – CHEAPLY and FREELY.

Instead of which, the whole enterprise has been besmirched by rip-off corporations and bedevilled by bureaucratic bullshit.

It’ll be the same with genetic research, stem-cell research…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

UPDATE! I wrote the above piece YEARS ago – but it appears little has changed since.

Recently, a bloke in Britain got busted for selling “fake” rhymes with Niagara. Except the pills in question were the Indian ones I spoke of above, which are NOT FAKE – but GENERICS. There is a WORLD of difference.

“Fake” drugs are often manufactured in dismal, unsanitary conditions and contain all SORTS of crap. Whereas generics are PROPERLY and LEGITIMATELY manufactured.

And since the Indian brand name (Kamagra) was specified – I’m surprised the company did not SUE.

I further learn that supermarkets have now joined in the selling of sildenafil citrate pills – playing the role of PHARMACISTS. They do as I described above: ask a few questions and take a blood-pressure test.

But the pills they sell are still rhymes with Niagara – at only slightly less than the original highly inflated price.

So why do they not sell GENERICS? Apparently, it is because they have not been “approved”.

Now, I’m no expert on the laws regarding pharmaceuticals – but surely, if a drug is a GENERIC of a drug that has already been approved, it enjoys the same status. Right?

Only if its quality is below par, should it have a problem – which is the case with ANY generic drug.

Then there is the issue of PRESCRIPTIONS. In Britain, there are four classes of medicinal drugs: the most potent can only be issued in a hospital, while most other drugs can be issued by a pharmacist, on production of a prescription. Then there are SLIGHTLY potent drugs which can be issued off-prescription, but only under the “supervision” of a qualified pharmacist – and finally, “soft” drugs (like cold cures) that can be sold anywhere.

I’m not including “herbal remedies” – which are a whole other thing.

And of course, since sildenafil citrate is not a “controlled” drug (i.e – ILLEGAL) one can always buy them over the Interweb. Which is where the “trafficker” got it wrong. If he had bought the Indian generics and despatched them from ABROAD, he would not have run foul of British law.

However, some of his shipments might have been intercepted in the POST.

Which brings us to a “cloudy issue” – the status of ALL LEGITIMATE imported materials.

I recall that before I escaped Britain, I used to go on an annual pilgrimage to the Algarve, in Portugal – to buy my year’s supply of CIGARETTES.

Since in Britain, cigarettes are taxed at LITERALLY A THOUSAND PERCENT – many people use the 1993 Single European Act to save themselves A GRAND a year, by going abroad to buy them.

In fact, there are MANY items where purchasing them in Europe can save you a packet – like CARS. The only limitation is you cannot resell the item(s). Although with cars, I believe there is a time limit (no-one wants to drive a car for EVER – not even a VOLVO). 

However, HMG does not like its citizens avoiding (not EVADING) tax – so harasses them at every opportunity. Like the time they introduced a THIRD Customs “gate” at airports, for those who had purchased items within Europe. An obvious attempt to intimidate those purchasers.

Although, as I understand it, they dumped the idea before it had started.

Nevertheless, as with the status of sildenafil citrate, the procedures for European “personal imports” are VAGUE, to say the least.

Like with fags, you can import up to TEN THOUSAND (the 400 is just a “guideline” – it means you won’t be HASSLED by HM Customs) from within Europe. Which is a reasonable year’s supply. That’s one case, containing fifty cartons – which is five hundred packs. Over the year, around 27 cigarettes a day.

But if you are intercepted by Customs, you are “required to prove they are solely for your own use” – so how the hell do you do THAT?

If challenged, I would have pointed out the fags were FOREIGN – and thus could not be sold “over the counter” in Blighty. Further, that they were all the same brand. And that I was a smoker. And that I had no connection with any form of “distributor”. And that I only did one trip a year (although with no stamps in my passport – Europe doesn’t bother anymore – I would have had no way of proving that).

And finally, that given “black market” ciggies cost LESS than I had PAID for them – it would hardly be worth my time.

I could then have produced a few upstanding British citizens who would have been happy to declare that to the best of their knowledge and belief, I did indeed go on an annual sabbatical to buy my fags – then smoke them, over the year.

This would probably have sufficed – the only way I could have TOTALLY PROVEN my case would have been to have had a Customs officer personally ACCOMPANY and observe me for the year – hopefully, an attractive FEMALE one (if such exists).

Actually, one almost feels SYMPATHY for HM Customs – HMG has made their job IMPOSSIBLE.

Every day, thousands of PLEBS do Channel-crossings to Calais and load up with “cheap” (not so much) booze and fags – there are hypermarkets that specially cater for them. At one point, British cigarette manufacturers used to ship their products over there – so they could be brought straight BACK and resold in Britain.

But then, HMG made them label the packs “UK tax not paid” – thus driving the trade underground.

Plus Customs were given (somewhat fascist) powers to CONFISCATE vehicles that had been used for smuggling (one wonders how THAT little ploy worked out, when said vehicles had been RENTED?)

Then eventually, LEGITIMATE personal importers began REVOLTING and started taking Customs to COURT. Several cases ensued, which Customs usually LOST – at great financial cost and embarrassment to themselves.

Furthermore, an increasing number of travellers began objecting to the harassment they received from Customs – pointing out that every time they returned from a holiday, they were made to feel like criminals, when they were doing nothing WRONG.

They also pointed out that the OTHER citizens of Europe didn’t have to go through this crap every time THEY crossed a border. Indeed, some of Europe’s borders are so “casual” – you can cross one without even NOTICING.

Only in cold, eternally-wet, miserable, over-priced BRITAIN, do people have these problems.

Which is one more reason this boy is GLAD to have escaped the damn country. Here in Thailand, fags are eighty pence a pack, sildenafil citrate costs a pound a pop (no prescription) and even in the Rainy Season – it don’t rain ALL BLOODY DAY.

No wonder Thailand is known as The Land Of Smiles…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ANOTHER UPDATE! Land Of Smiles indeed. In Britain, the regulatory body for drugs is called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). And it is they who “approve” drugs (see above) which are then listed in the British Pharmacopoeia. Thus, generics generally have the letters “BP” printed after them.

So you can still buy Nurofen and pay for the brand name – or get ibuprofen BP, which is exactly the same, for considerably LESS. This is because ibuprofen long ago went out of copyright and became available for any manufacturer to produce.

But the story with sildenafil citrate is more complicated. Different countries take varying attitudes towards None The Wiser’s patents on rhymes with Niagara.

And in Britain, while the BP does not involve itself in patent issues (only the QUALITY of drugs) sildenafil citrate BP has yet to make an appearance.

BUT NOT SO IN THAILAND!

On the 17th of next month, the Thai version of the MHRA (the GPO – that’s the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation – not the General Post Office!) will launch sildenafil citrate using the brand name Sidegra (but don’t tell Sid – maybe they should have called it Thai-agra) for only 90p ($1.30) per 100 mg tablet – and importantly, just 50p (80c) for the 50 mg size – finally negating the need for that tedious CUTTING.

This will make them HALF the amount that India’s Kamagra pills cost here (after taking the import charges into account).

But what of Britain and America?

How long before Britain releases sildenafil citrate BP? And America (who have no similar organisation) at least “approve” generics?

Given the power big corporations like None The Wiser hold over their governments, this reporter would not want to hold his breath.

But luckily for Brits and Yanks, MOST people are online now. And since their Customs cannot keep up with a FRACTION of the incoming mail, their citizens are free to surf the Interweb to find the best deal they can.

Of course, there are a lot of PIRATES hiding behind the protection of said Interweb – but Kamagra have their own website and as far as this historian is aware, they are trustworthy.

And what of None The Wiser? Well, following their greed, stupidity and arrogance (issuing 25, 50 and 100 mg sizes of their pill for the SAME PRICE, thus clearly demonstrating that the cost of production for them was MINIMAL) they initially only had problems with copy-cats or “clones” (Cialis, Levitra, et al).

But thanks to THIS medium, legitimate products from beyond their reach are now flooding the western market. And with the Wall Street gangsters having given people the need to tighten their finances, many are taking advantage of that fact.

However, it is still a tragedy that for well over a decade now, those for whom this wonder drug should have been a BOON have been denied it, either financially or completely, by stupid (and generally corrupt) governments – and the company who blundered into the discovery, back in 1995.

This punter has always managed to obtain it for the lowest price possible – from ’99 to ’05: £3.50 ($5) a pop – from ’05 until now: £1 ($1.50) – and after the 17th of next month: 50p (80c). And that is with NOTHING EVER spent on “consultations” or prescriptions.

But it is sad that millions of others have not been so lucky…

Aug
17

Aging foetus, the Right Honorable William Jefferson Hague: “We have no arrangement with the United States [WE’RE AMERICA’S BITCH – THAT’S NOT AN “ARRANGEMENT”]. This is the United Kingdom fulfilling its obligations under the Extradition Act to Sweden, a close partner in so many ways [WELL, I LOVED ABBA ANYWAY], a fellow democracy [TEE-HEE!] in the European Union.

“It is as simple as that. Therefore to us it is a simple matter of carrying out our law but, as well as being simple [I MUST STOP SAYING SIMPLE – IT’S MAKING ME SOUND BLOODY SIMPLE], it is something we must do. We absolutely must fulfil our obligations under the Extradition Act. Therefore, we are determined to do so and we remain determined to do so [SHIT! I’M DOING IT AGAIN] despite the regrettable announcement that Ecuador has made today.

“There is no threat here to storm an embassy. [ARE YOU KIDDING ME? GO TO WAR WITH ECUADOR? BENNY THE POPE WOULD HAVE A FIT]

“We will not allow Mr Assange safe passage out of the United Kingdom [LET’S SEE HOW THE BASTARD LIKES CASSAVA EVERY DAMN DAY] nor is there any legal basis for us to do so.” [THAT MILF, TERRI MAY, CAN FOOT THE BILL FOR THE COPS GUARDING THE EMBASSY – HMM, I WONDER IF SHE’D…]

Aug
14

Back in the Seventies, well-heeled Londoners could reach Manhattan in just three hours. Great. And now, hypersonic planes are scheduled to do the trip in just ONE hour.

But what’s the bloody point – when it takes you THREE hours to get through “security”?

This farce is yet ANOTHER example of how, since 1973, technology has marched purposefully FORWARD – while society has gone inexorably BACKWARDS.

Aug
08

My smarter brother, Morpheus has written about a number of Movie Sillies in a piece called –  http://morpheusatloppers.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/morpheus-on-tv-remotes-on-tv/

In it, he rambles on about dart guns that can apparently knock a man down in two seconds – safes that can be opened in a few seconds more, by anyone with a stethoscope – and various other absurdities.

But I saw one last night that made me LAUGH OUT LOUD. It was at the end of episode eight of “Alcatraz” (“The Ames Bros”) – a series which was CANCELLED after episode thirteen.

The moment occurred when jug-eared Warden Edwin James (played by jug-eared actor, Jonny Coyne) went down to his vault and swept a tarpaulin to one side to reveal a stash of thirty-six gold bricks. He then proceeded to ONE-HANDEDLY pick a brick off the top and hold it for several seconds, while gazing upon it lovingly and gently blowing the dust off.

And he did this without a HINT of STRAIN!

Which demonstrated to anyone who knows ANYTHING about gold that the props department who made the bricks, the director of the piece (Nick Copus) and Jonny himself – did NOT.

This precious metal has a number of unique properties – one of which is its WEIGHT. Or, as Auric Goldfinger describes it, “…its divine heaviness”.

Gold bricks come in various sizes, for different applications. The most common kind are like those featured in “Goldfinger” – properly called gold bars. But the ones shown in this episode of “Alcatraz” were clearly INGOTS, which are generally larger.

And these particular ingots were MUCH larger – at a conservative estimate, at least THREE TIMES larger.

Which, given that a standard gold bar weighs in at over twenty-seven pounds (to put that into perspective: a full-weight ten-pin bowling ball is only sixteen pounds) means that had the ingot the Warden was calmly holding in his hand been REAL gold – it would have weighed over EIGHTY POUNDS.

My WIFE weighs that much!

Silly.

Jul
29

Adam was heading for the gym when it happened. Having risen at his usual 05:00, he had popped down his vitamin pills, run downstairs and breakfasted on dry toast and wheat germ biscuits, washed down with his customary grapefruit juice.

And now, as the morning sun began dragging itself over the horizon, he was jogging to The Body Shop, to give himself a workout, before heading home to change for work.

Except for Adam, it was hardly work – he was a hod-carrier for a local building firm. The money was mediocre, but the job gave him the chance to keep his finely honed physique in prime condition.

Not that he needed that body to attract girls – Adam rarely looked at a girl. He was aware of just how many STDs could be picked up, when engaging in casual sex.

And so he was saving himself, for that SPECIAL girl. However, he knew that he must soon begin to seek her out. His greying hair told its own story – the time was fast approaching.

But what he did not know was on that particular morning – so was a TRUCK.

And as he hopped off the pavement opposite the gym – it HIT him, mashing his perfect body into pulp.

Although to Adam, the impact took FAR longer to experience that he could ever have imagined. He had heard that when one’s death is imminent, one’s entire life flashes before one’s eyes. And now he realised it was true.

As his head turned and he saw the truck bearing down on him, he knew he had NO time to avoid its path. And so his life began to unreel before his very eyes.

He saw the girls he had turned down – and tried to imagine what it would have been like to have gorged himself on their firm, young flesh.

He saw the steaks, bacon, chips and other delicious-smelling food he had always denied himself.

He tried to imagine what it must be like to enjoy a fine cigar. Drink a single-malt scotch. And just SLEEP – for more than his customary six hours.

And as the massive vehicle struck him and he felt his human frame succumb to its unyielding steel – he realised he was a monumental BERK.

Jul
21

James Holmes – like Michael Ryan (Hungerford) Thomas Hamilton (Dunblane) Anders Breivik (Oslo) Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine) before him – was a QUIET young man. But then, like the others, he decided to get NOISY.

One American Right-Wing Arsehole actually suggested that had there been an armed guard at the cinema, everything would have been alright. Yes, of course – a SHOOTOUT in a crowded cinema – THAT would have helped…

Naturally, these Right-To-Bear-Arms clowns will point to the fact that in Hungerford, Dunblane and Oslo, guns are hard to come by. British, Scottish and Norwegian citizens cannot just go out, sign a piece of paper and get tooled up, ready for action – a “freedom” enjoyed by most Americans.

However, this writer is a believer in statistics (sometimes) and at least in THIS case, those speak for themselves. A look at the numbers just for School Shootings is instructive…

Since 1980, the figures for MAJOR School Shooting incidents are as follows: South America, Asia and Australia combined – twelve, all of Europe – nineteen, Canada – seven and the United States of America – ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN.

But at least those Americans had their rights. Unfortunately, those rights did not extend to the two hundred and fourteen kids they KILLED.

Jul
05

Today, I noted with sadness the passing of another one of Britain’s GIANTS of comedy.

However this piece is not about the genius and geniality of Mr Sykes (there will be PLENTY of pieces about those) but rather a curious fact about probably his most famous work – “The Plank” – which is that the 1979 remake has now lost more of its contributors than the 1967 original.

The ’67 version starred Sykes, with Tommy Cooper, Jimmy Edwards and Roy Castle. And now that Eric has joined them, that quartet is no more.

It featured Jimmy Tarbuck, Anna Carteret, John Junkin, Bill Oddie, Stratford Johns, Graham Stark, Jim Dale, Hattie Jacques, Libby Morris, Ronnie Brody, Johnny Speight and Kenny Lynch – most of whom, while being somewhat long in the tooth, are still WITH us. Tarby lives – along with Anna, Oddie, Stark, Dale, Libby and Lynchy.

But those featured in the remake have been less lucky. Like its predecessor, THAT film also starred/featured Sykes, Edwards and Lynchy – along with, this time, Arthur Lowe, Lionel Blair, Henry Cooper, Harry H. Corbett, Bernard Cribbins, Robert Dorning, Diana Dors, Charlie Drake, Liza Goddard, Deryck Guyler, Charles Hawtrey, Frankie Howerd, James Hunt, Wilfred Hyde-White, Joanna Lumley, Brian Murphy, Kate O’Mara, Anne Sidney, Reg Varney and Frank Windsor – ALL of whom have passed, with the exceptions of Blair, Cribbins, Liza, Joanna, Murphy, Kate and Ann.

Now I realize the list of survivors of both movies is, coincidentally, the SAME – lucky SEVEN.

But as can be seen from the size of the two paras, the remake’s cast was much BIGGER. NO-ONE was gonna turn down the chance of working with Mr Sykes – particularly in a remake of The Plank.

And anyway, given the remake was made TWELVE YEARS later – you would have expected more cast members to have survived.

But no. They have been DECIMATED – a number passing prematurely – mostly from cancer.

However, while the remake might have been unlucky for its cast – it is MORE than lucky for US. In this miserable AGE of remakes (and sequels, “prequels” whatever) due to Hollywood having run out of IDEAS – the remake of The Plank is well worth a look.

It should be on YouTube (I failed to upload it as it was already there) and uses all of the music hall gags worked into the original – plus the ones Eric ADDED to it – and yet MORE he added to the remake. In short, it’s a masterpiece.

And the original (same as above) is worth a look too – if only to see a rare film appearance by Tommy Cooper.

Plus do not forget Sykes’ other “silent” movies – “Rhubarb”, “It’s Your Move” (both of which also featured remakes) “Mr H. Is Late” and “The Big Freeze” (I have not SEEN that one – and it is not on YouTube – but if it is half as good as the others, it must be great).

Now that Mr Sykes has been taken from us, we will not see their like again.

Jun
24

I had heard the name – then I SAW it, on a Christmas episode of  “8 Out Of 10 Cats” – but it appeared the other panelists had no more clue than I.

It spoke – or rather, whittered – in an Irish accent.

It had two things that resembled heads – but with a cornfield where the hair would usually have been.

It was dressed in a harlequin costume.

And according to Wiki, it came sixth in a talent contest …and is now worth four and a half MILLION quid.

Verily, as it says at the top of this column – The Absurd IS Now Commonplace…

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