" Madam Miaow Says: November 2008

Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Devil's Whore review: politics and sex


With a title like The Devil’s Whore, you just knew Channel 4’s latest costume drama set during the English Revolution (yes, we had one of those) was going to be a bodice-ripping bonkathon.

So it was a bit of a shock to see popular TV tackling the politics of one of the most exciting periods in English history, one that usually gets wiped from our collective memory just because the democrats bumped off a despotic king. The series introduces a new generation to a time when the English argued for a world where human beings were equal in the eyes of God and thereby deserved an equal share of the world’s riches — a sort of ... common wealth.

In those days, and increasingly true of today, that was fighting talk.

During the Civil War (1642-51), the Roundhead Parliamentarians overthrew Charles I when he threatened to bankrupt the nation. Had we not then reinstated the monarchy after the fascinating social experiment of the Commonwealth, we’d be celebrating January 30th, the day the English took a giant step in democratising the political system and beheaded their king.

Heck, this was the birth of the Mother of All Parliaments. You’d think our cinema and TV would be choc full of it. But no, we need Channel 4 and a big dollop of sex to stamp this momentous event onto our brains.

Actually, considering it is C4, the sex is remarkably sedate, performed only by loving couples within marriage or with the promise of marriage. When mere lust raises its head, the heroine’s honour is defended to the death. It is the convention of the tale that the fictional character of, Lady Angelica Fanshawe (Andrea Riseborough), traitor to her class, must shag for the honour of the series title in each episode or we would want our money back, had we paid for this.

Unfortunately, her paramours — and I’m only halfway through the four parter — die violently, each end foreshadowed by the appearance of what looks like Donnie Darko’s six-foot rabbit and the unmissable strains of “Mad World”, Donnie Darko's theme. I am looking forward to seeing who is lined up as Death of the Week in part III and playing spot the deliberate anachronism.


The Devil (top) and Donnie Darko's rabbit — separated at birth

What’s remarkable is that the writers reverse the dictum of 1066 And All That: cavaliers — wrong but romantic; roundheads — right but repulsive. I’m used to hand-wringing accounts of a tortured Oliver Cromwell doing what a man’s gotta do to the noble and misunderstood king — usually played by Alec Guinness, who even the most hardened republican would want to put in their pocket and feed chocolate.

Instead, Charles I is played unsympathetically by a mesmerising Peter Capaldi, just about resisting the attempt to twirl his Van Dyke moustache in villainous fashion. Not easy when it threatens to upstage him in every scene. For the first time, Chas 1 is shown for the cruel vain man he must have been to have played the power game to the end because he believed he ruled by Divine Right. I assume this is due to the writing of Pete Flannery who mesmerised us with Our Friends In the North, which gave us Daniel “James Bond” Craig, and Christopher “Dr Who” Ecclestone.

And when did you ever see a drama even acknowledging the existence of the idealistic Levellers?

I did want to know why Simon Pegg was playing Edward Sexby until I realised this was Life On Mars hero and Dr Who badass, John Simm. Starting as a mercenary on the Royalist side, he is swept along by his secret love for milady and becomes a leader of the Leveller faction of the rebels, proving that the smallest he hath as large a character arc as the greatest he.

Thomas Rainsborough (Michael Fassbender), one of the senior Levellers and as dashingly romantic as any cavalier, famously argued that the “poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he" at the Putney Debates. My money's on him being "the greatest he". I’d give his sermons a good listening to. Yowza!

Dominic West, fresh from The Wire, as a warts-and-all Oliver Cromwell, is implicated in Rainsborough’s demise and contains the germ of the character that would wreak havoc in Ireland but which, along with Scottish events, the writers don’t have time to cover in four hours.

Madam Miaow says ... A thoroughly entertaining introduction to the English Revolution. This is your history. Have fun finding out about it. Wax on ... wax off ...

The English Civil War

Co-creator Martine Brant on the series

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The Devil's Whore review: politics and sex


With a title like The Devil’s Whore, you just knew Channel 4’s latest costume drama set during the English Revolution (yes, we had one of those) was going to be a bodice-ripping bonkathon.

So it was a bit of a shock to see popular TV tackling the politics of one of the most exciting periods in English history, one that usually gets wiped from our collective memory just because the democrats bumped off a despotic king. The series introduces a new generation to a time when the English argued for a world where human beings were equal in the eyes of God and thereby deserved an equal share of the world’s riches — a sort of ... common wealth.

In those days, and increasingly true of today, that was fighting talk.

During the Civil War (1642-51), the Roundhead Parliamentarians overthrew Charles I when he threatened to bankrupt the nation. Had we not then reinstated the monarchy after the fascinating social experiment of the Commonwealth, we’d be celebrating January 30th, the day the English took a giant step in democratising the political system and beheaded their king.

Heck, this was the birth of the Mother of All Parliaments. You’d think our cinema and TV would be choc full of it. But no, we need Channel 4 and a big dollop of sex to stamp this momentous event onto our brains.

Actually, considering it is C4, the sex is remarkably sedate, performed only by loving couples within marriage or with the promise of marriage. When mere lust raises its head, the heroine’s honour is defended to the death. It is the convention of the tale that the fictional character of, Lady Angelica Fanshawe (Andrea Riseborough), traitor to her class, must shag for the honour of the series title in each episode or we would want our money back, had we paid for this.

Unfortunately, her paramours — and I’m only halfway through the four parter — die violently, each end foreshadowed by the appearance of what looks like Donnie Darko’s six-foot rabbit and the unmissable strains of “Mad World”, Donnie Darko's theme. I am looking forward to seeing who is lined up as Death of the Week in part III and playing spot the deliberate anachronism.


The Devil (top) and Donnie Darko's rabbit — separated at birth

What’s remarkable is that the writers reverse the dictum of 1066 And All That: cavaliers — wrong but romantic; roundheads — right but repulsive. I’m used to hand-wringing accounts of a tortured Oliver Cromwell doing what a man’s gotta do to the noble and misunderstood king — usually played by Alec Guinness, who even the most hardened republican would want to put in their pocket and feed chocolate.

Instead, Charles I is played unsympathetically by a mesmerising Peter Capaldi, just about resisting the attempt to twirl his Van Dyke moustache in villainous fashion. Not easy when it threatens to upstage him in every scene. For the first time, Chas 1 is shown for the cruel vain man he must have been to have played the power game to the end because he believed he ruled by Divine Right. I assume this is due to the writing of Pete Flannery who mesmerised us with Our Friends In the North, which gave us Daniel “James Bond” Craig, and Christopher “Dr Who” Ecclestone.

And when did you ever see a drama even acknowledging the existence of the idealistic Levellers?

I did want to know why Simon Pegg was playing Edward Sexby until I realised this was Life On Mars hero and Dr Who badass, John Simm. Starting as a mercenary on the Royalist side, he is swept along by his secret love for milady and becomes a leader of the Leveller faction of the rebels, proving that the smallest he hath as large a character arc as the greatest he.

Thomas Rainsborough (Michael Fassbender), one of the senior Levellers and as dashingly romantic as any cavalier, famously argued that the “poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he" at the Putney Debates. My money's on him being "the greatest he". I’d give his sermons a good listening to. Yowza!

Dominic West, fresh from The Wire, as a warts-and-all Oliver Cromwell, is implicated in Rainsborough’s demise and contains the germ of the character that would wreak havoc in Ireland but which, along with Scottish events, the writers don’t have time to cover in four hours.

Madam Miaow says ... A thoroughly entertaining introduction to the English Revolution. This is your history. Have fun finding out about it. Wax on ... wax off ...

The English Civil War

Co-creator Martine Brant on the series

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Friday, 28 November 2008

Ancient Chinese stoner loses his stash: oldest marijuana ever found


Roll over Cheech and Chong. East India Dock Company and HSBC (former Midland Bank), your opium-addled drug-running days in China were 2,500 years too late.

The world's oldest stash of marijuana has been found in a shaman's tomb in the outlands of China. "The region of China where the tomb is located, Xinjiang, is considered an original source of many cannabis strains worldwide."

And none of that feeble "hemp used for fibre", malarky. Experts say this weed was "cultivated for psychoactive purposes".

Two and a half millennia ago? Dammit! I know where we went wrong. We invented ice-cream but no CHOCOLATE!!!!!

Ancient Chinese stoner loses his stash: oldest marijuana ever found


Roll over Cheech and Chong. East India Dock Company and HSBC (former Midland Bank), your opium-addled drug-running days in China were 2,500 years too late.

The world's oldest stash of marijuana has been found in a shaman's tomb in the outlands of China. "The region of China where the tomb is located, Xinjiang, is considered an original source of many cannabis strains worldwide."

And none of that feeble "hemp used for fibre", malarky. Experts say this weed was "cultivated for psychoactive purposes".

Two and a half millennia ago? Dammit! I know where we went wrong. We invented ice-cream but no CHOCOLATE!!!!!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Conrad Black begs Bush’s pardon: demonstrates perfect manners


Convicted felon Conrad Black is begging George Bush’s pardon in the dying days of the presidency. He may be a thieving swine who looted his own empire but it’s nice to see the upper classes still have perfect manners.

In prison since March this year for obstruction of justice and defrauding his stockholders, Black has another six years to serve, unless his ideological stable-mate in the White House can ride to the rescue and bust him outta jail with his trusty 6-gun afore Sheriff Obama hits town. Yeeha!

Hey, what happpened to “less understanding” and “more condemning”?

Bush’s scorched-earth limbo promises to throw up some utter shockers. We’re waiting with bated breath (today mine is baited with red Thai curry, heavy on the garlic) to see how awesomely imaginative and venal he can be.

Not content with looting $700 billion from the American people to give to the banks, proving it’s capitalism for the poor but socialism for the rich, Bush is also smashing up what remains of US civil liberties by making surveillance easier, weakening the Clean Air Act (well, he is an oilman), and planning the further erosion of abortion rights.

This could be Bill Clinton MkII, the mark in question being Marc Rich who fled the United States in 1983 to live in Switzerland while being "prosecuted on charges of tax evasion and illegally making oil deals with Iran during the hostage crisis. He received a presidential pardon from United States President Bill Clinton in 2001 during Clinton's last day in office." (Wikipedia) Incidentally, the Deputy Attorney General at the time, Eric Holder, is in the frame for the top job with Obama. Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose.

And the granddaddy of them all, George Bush Snr in his presidential dying days left a giant turd for the incoming Clinton by kicking off in Somalia, "Just to fuck things up for Clinton", says Splinty on the dog 'n' bone this morning.

Hilarious videos on the last days of Bush, Clinton and Gates at Vanity Fair. Vote for the best.
(STOP PRESS: The vids appear to have gone offline but I found this serious appraisal of Bush's "midnight regulations". A must-see!)

And while you're there, check out 16 guidelines for making stuff suck. If thine eye offends thee, do it like this.

Conrad Black begs Bush’s pardon: demonstrates perfect manners


Convicted felon Conrad Black is begging George Bush’s pardon in the dying days of the presidency. He may be a thieving swine who looted his own empire but it’s nice to see the upper classes still have perfect manners.

In prison since March this year for obstruction of justice and defrauding his stockholders, Black has another six years to serve, unless his ideological stable-mate in the White House can ride to the rescue and bust him outta jail with his trusty 6-gun afore Sheriff Obama hits town. Yeeha!

Hey, what happpened to “less understanding” and “more condemning”?

Bush’s scorched-earth limbo promises to throw up some utter shockers. We’re waiting with bated breath (today mine is baited with red Thai curry, heavy on the garlic) to see how awesomely imaginative and venal he can be.

Not content with looting $700 billion from the American people to give to the banks, proving it’s capitalism for the poor but socialism for the rich, Bush is also smashing up what remains of US civil liberties by making surveillance easier, weakening the Clean Air Act (well, he is an oilman), and planning the further erosion of abortion rights.

This could be Bill Clinton MkII, the mark in question being Marc Rich who fled the United States in 1983 to live in Switzerland while being "prosecuted on charges of tax evasion and illegally making oil deals with Iran during the hostage crisis. He received a presidential pardon from United States President Bill Clinton in 2001 during Clinton's last day in office." (Wikipedia) Incidentally, the Deputy Attorney General at the time, Eric Holder, is in the frame for the top job with Obama. Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose.

And the granddaddy of them all, George Bush Snr in his presidential dying days left a giant turd for the incoming Clinton by kicking off in Somalia, "Just to fuck things up for Clinton", says Splinty on the dog 'n' bone this morning.

Hilarious videos on the last days of Bush, Clinton and Gates at Vanity Fair. Vote for the best.
(STOP PRESS: The vids appear to have gone offline but I found this serious appraisal of Bush's "midnight regulations". A must-see!)

And while you're there, check out 16 guidelines for making stuff suck. If thine eye offends thee, do it like this.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Bah, humbug! Jack Straw bans comedy in prison

Jack Straw at a prison near you

You'd think that in paying your debt to society, losing your liberty was enough. But not for hard-man Minister for Injustice Jack Straw who today banned a comedy course for convicts in Whitemoor maximum security prison in Cambridgeshire, a facility holding 500 of the most dangerous prisoners in the UK.

I'm puzzled as to why mean-spirited Jack has stopped a course, days after it had already started, that promises to socialise a bunch of guys who obviously need it. Oh, I see. Muslims. Lots of Muslims. Some convicted of terrorist-related offences.

Make them miserable. That'll stop them blowing up civilians.

Our Man on the Spot, Charles Shaar Murray, said: "I can't think of any better way of deprogramming Al Qaeda than to make them tell jokes."

Not be outdone in the hang 'em, flog 'em, burn 'em at the stake stakes, Shadow minister Nick Herbert closed ranks and said he was sceptical of the value of these courses. Well, yes, you are a Tory, Nick, a party not best known for their scintillating sense of humour.

Harrumphing all over this evening's Radio 4 PM News programme, Nick said he wasn't "sure if it’s about rehabilitation or recreation. It should be about restitution." He complained that most of the prisoners were "below the level of an 11 year-old in reading." Well that would date back to your Conservative government's education system in the 1990s, wouldn't it? He continued, "I'm not sure comedy courses prepare prisoners for return to society," it's a waste of money and it doesn't reduce re-offending, blah, blah, blah.

Frances Crook of the Howard League said of Straw's ruling, that this was, "A gut reaction to a tabloid headline." And what, precisely, is Jack's job?

The comedy course organisers claim it provides education, rehabilitation, getting you to know yourself and a feeling self-worth. Perhaps they should invite some of our politicians to join up.

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross were again pilloried for their (unfunny) fonejacking of Sachs, this time by the Big Suits at the BBC.

Could have been worse, though. What about the comedian in Burma who was sentenced today to 45 years?

Who’d be a comic?
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Bah, humbug! Jack Straw bans comedy in prison

Jack Straw at a prison near you

You'd think that in paying your debt to society, losing your liberty was enough. But not for hard-man Minister for Injustice Jack Straw who today banned a comedy course for convicts in Whitemoor maximum security prison in Cambridgeshire, a facility holding 500 of the most dangerous prisoners in the UK.

I'm puzzled as to why mean-spirited Jack has stopped a course, days after it had already started, that promises to socialise a bunch of guys who obviously need it. Oh, I see. Muslims. Lots of Muslims. Some convicted of terrorist-related offences.

Make them miserable. That'll stop them blowing up civilians.

Our Man on the Spot, Charles Shaar Murray, said: "I can't think of any better way of deprogramming Al Qaeda than to make them tell jokes."

Not be outdone in the hang 'em, flog 'em, burn 'em at the stake stakes, Shadow minister Nick Herbert closed ranks and said he was sceptical of the value of these courses. Well, yes, you are a Tory, Nick, a party not best known for their scintillating sense of humour.

Harrumphing all over this evening's Radio 4 PM News programme, Nick said he wasn't "sure if it’s about rehabilitation or recreation. It should be about restitution." He complained that most of the prisoners were "below the level of an 11 year-old in reading." Well that would date back to your Conservative government's education system in the 1990s, wouldn't it? He continued, "I'm not sure comedy courses prepare prisoners for return to society," it's a waste of money and it doesn't reduce re-offending, blah, blah, blah.

Frances Crook of the Howard League said of Straw's ruling, that this was, "A gut reaction to a tabloid headline." And what, precisely, is Jack's job?

The comedy course organisers claim it provides education, rehabilitation, getting you to know yourself and a feeling self-worth. Perhaps they should invite some of our politicians to join up.

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross were again pilloried for their (unfunny) fonejacking of Sachs, this time by the Big Suits at the BBC.

Could have been worse, though. What about the comedian in Burma who was sentenced today to 45 years?

Who’d be a comic?
Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Fascists complain about fascism: doh!


A quickie.

The (fascist) British National Party (BNP) membership list has just been published on the internet by someone with a grudge and employers are scouring it fast. I just saw a member of the BNP complaining on BBC1 news ... wait for it ... that we're living in ... a FASCIST STATE!

Result, mate!

STOP PRESS: An eagle-eye writes in her journal:
I perused Excalibur, which is the BNP's online shop. ...
And lo! A lot of the stuff they sell, especially the Celtic things, is not just like the stuff we sell - it *is* the stuff we sell.
It's made in China.

Fascists complain about fascism: doh!


A quickie.

The (fascist) British National Party (BNP) membership list has just been published on the internet by someone with a grudge and employers are scouring it fast. I just saw a member of the BNP complaining on BBC1 news ... wait for it ... that we're living in ... a FASCIST STATE!

Result, mate!

STOP PRESS: An eagle-eye writes in her journal:
I perused Excalibur, which is the BNP's online shop. ...
And lo! A lot of the stuff they sell, especially the Celtic things, is not just like the stuff we sell - it *is* the stuff we sell.
It's made in China.

Israel installs Robocop kill zones in Gaza


Alarming news that Israel has finally installed automated kill zones around Gaza with the "See-Shoot" Sentry-Tech system. They can now exterminate stone-throwing children and a whole range of civilians along with with stray dogs, livestock, pigeons, and the army doesn't have to break into a sweat or even watch.

Some of this technology has been tried in Iraq. Yet another revelation of the nightmare Blair, Bush and their acolytes in government and the media got us into. So the Iraqi people have been guinea-pigs for the arms industry? How many of us knew about that?

Terrorists who strap explosives to themselves and blow up innocent civilians are to be condemned, but the billion-dollar sci-fi technology employed by an entire state is in another realm entirely.

From Kibush:
Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, said she is concerned about the deployment of such a system, regardless of whether it is operated in automatic or semi-automatic mode.
“There have been many cases in which people with no hostile or terrorist intentions were shot approaching the perimeter fence,” she said.
“Some attempted to enter Israel to find work, others suffered from disabilities, and still others were children who may have wandered into the forbidden areas. From a human rights perspective, the technology here is not as important as the need to evaluate each potential threat on a case by case basis.”


Meanwhile the entire population of Gaza — 1.5 million human beings — is under siege by Israel. Some 750,000 people are now out of food and medical supplies.

Delegations from the European Parliament have been trying to visit the area. More info here.

Ever since Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006, Gaza has been subjected to an increasingly severe blockade that bars most essential supplies. Gaza’s economy has collapsed as a result, triggering sharp increases in unemployment, poverty, and childhood malnutrition.


How is this fostering peace?

The first British human rights activist has been arrested. Andrew Muncie is being held near Tel Aviv airport.

AP: Israel spurns UN plea to ease Gaza blockade

Charlie Pottins on the abducted Gaza fishermen.

[STOP PRESS: ITN reported this the other night as a new development but no-one else has picked it up so we could still be in the limbo period waiting for it to happen, which I hope it never does.]

Israel installs Robocop kill zones in Gaza


Alarming news that Israel has finally installed automated kill zones around Gaza with the "See-Shoot" Sentry-Tech system. They can now exterminate stone-throwing children and a whole range of civilians along with with stray dogs, livestock, pigeons, and the army doesn't have to break into a sweat or even watch.

Some of this technology has been tried in Iraq. Yet another revelation of the nightmare Blair, Bush and their acolytes in government and the media got us into. So the Iraqi people have been guinea-pigs for the arms industry? How many of us knew about that?

Terrorists who strap explosives to themselves and blow up innocent civilians are to be condemned, but the billion-dollar sci-fi technology employed by an entire state is in another realm entirely.

From Kibush:
Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, said she is concerned about the deployment of such a system, regardless of whether it is operated in automatic or semi-automatic mode.
“There have been many cases in which people with no hostile or terrorist intentions were shot approaching the perimeter fence,” she said.
“Some attempted to enter Israel to find work, others suffered from disabilities, and still others were children who may have wandered into the forbidden areas. From a human rights perspective, the technology here is not as important as the need to evaluate each potential threat on a case by case basis.”


Meanwhile the entire population of Gaza — 1.5 million human beings — is under siege by Israel. Some 750,000 people are now out of food and medical supplies.

Delegations from the European Parliament have been trying to visit the area. More info here.

Ever since Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006, Gaza has been subjected to an increasingly severe blockade that bars most essential supplies. Gaza’s economy has collapsed as a result, triggering sharp increases in unemployment, poverty, and childhood malnutrition.


How is this fostering peace?

The first British human rights activist has been arrested. Andrew Muncie is being held near Tel Aviv airport.

AP: Israel spurns UN plea to ease Gaza blockade

Charlie Pottins on the abducted Gaza fishermen.

[STOP PRESS: ITN reported this the other night as a new development but no-one else has picked it up so we could still be in the limbo period waiting for it to happen, which I hope it never does.]

Monday, 17 November 2008

I'm A Celebrity: George Takei gets roasted


George Takei being roasted, and I'm not talking Tommy Sheridan-stylee. See George being a good sport while Paul "Fitzy" Fitzgerald takes him apart at the Friars Roast, the event where comics get to savage our beloved entertainment icons on our behalf.

Also very funny, George laying into William Shatner at his roast with such viciousness that you'd think he meant it. Ouch! Drop in at 5m 20s.

Missing, the end coup de grace where George tells the Shat, "Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on." You can watch that here.

Meanwhile, netizens are calling for Robert Kilroy-Silk to be ejected from their jungle hell first. ARE YOU CRAZY? First rule of Reality TV: never EVAH vote out the a-hole before exhausting his/her ability to annoy and provide us with an interior view of the darkness of the soul or whatever black hole passes for a heart. I want to go staring into that abyss until it stares back and pokes me in the eye.

Kilroy's creepy "don't know whether to fuck her or fight her" obsession with WAG Carly Zucker makes fascinating viewing. Thankfully, security is at hand.

Tonight 21:00 on ITV

I'm A Celebrity: George Takei gets roasted


George Takei being roasted, and I'm not talking Tommy Sheridan-stylee. See George being a good sport while Paul "Fitzy" Fitzgerald takes him apart at the Friars Roast, the event where comics get to savage our beloved entertainment icons on our behalf.

Also very funny, George laying into William Shatner at his roast with such viciousness that you'd think he meant it. Ouch! Drop in at 5m 20s.

Missing, the end coup de grace where George tells the Shat, "Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on." You can watch that here.

Meanwhile, netizens are calling for Robert Kilroy-Silk to be ejected from their jungle hell first. ARE YOU CRAZY? First rule of Reality TV: never EVAH vote out the a-hole before exhausting his/her ability to annoy and provide us with an interior view of the darkness of the soul or whatever black hole passes for a heart. I want to go staring into that abyss until it stares back and pokes me in the eye.

Kilroy's creepy "don't know whether to fuck her or fight her" obsession with WAG Carly Zucker makes fascinating viewing. Thankfully, security is at hand.

Tonight 21:00 on ITV

Sunday, 16 November 2008

I'm A Celebrity: Mr Sulu vs Tango Man


Holy car-crash telly. George Takei and Robert Kilroy-Silk head up this jungle slug-fest in a moment. They'll hate each other. Both will hate Esther. Brian Paddick, Martina Navratilova ... Yay for the gays!

Just wait til someone mispronounces George's name. Hissy fit? Phasers on kill, more like. I don't fancy your chances, Kilroy. This man had to deal with the Shat for years and he'll have you yelling, "Beam me outta here".

Who can forget George Galloway's magnificent lesson from the 2006 Celebrity Big Brother series, a masterclass in how to kiss up and kick down. This one promises to be just as brilliant and see me through those cold winter's nights. C'mon guys, don't let me down. Egos on stun.

I quite fancy going on this one myself. Bush Tucker trial? Kangaroo testicles? Witchetty grubs? No prob! Just pass the garlic and the soy sauce and watch me love it.

"Help, I'm A Celebrity. Get Me Out of Here"
21:00 ITV
22:30 ITV2

I'm A Celebrity: Mr Sulu vs Tango Man


Holy car-crash telly. George Takei and Robert Kilroy-Silk head up this jungle slug-fest in a moment. They'll hate each other. Both will hate Esther. Brian Paddick, Martina Navratilova ... Yay for the gays!

Just wait til someone mispronounces George's name. Hissy fit? Phasers on kill, more like. I don't fancy your chances, Kilroy. This man had to deal with the Shat for years and he'll have you yelling, "Beam me outta here".

Who can forget George Galloway's magnificent lesson from the 2006 Celebrity Big Brother series, a masterclass in how to kiss up and kick down. This one promises to be just as brilliant and see me through those cold winter's nights. C'mon guys, don't let me down. Egos on stun.

I quite fancy going on this one myself. Bush Tucker trial? Kangaroo testicles? Witchetty grubs? No prob! Just pass the garlic and the soy sauce and watch me love it.

"Help, I'm A Celebrity. Get Me Out of Here"
21:00 ITV
22:30 ITV2

Friday, 14 November 2008

Such a nice chap ... Politicians remembered

Ronald Reagan

What is it with commentators and their memory box and reality filters?

Charming fellas, George W Bush and Tony Blair. I remember them well.

Such a nice chap ... Politicians remembered

Ronald Reagan

What is it with commentators and their memory box and reality filters?

Charming fellas, George W Bush and Tony Blair. I remember them well.

Friday, 7 November 2008

UK recognises Chinese rule over Tibet


Ha, ha! Right on the money-maker. There's me saying, "I wonder what news the government's going to bury during this time of rejoicing in the world," and here it comes.

The UK finally recognises China's sovereignty over Tibet. Yeeha! Break out the yak stew. I'm gonna party like it's 1899.

Never let it be said the Brits aren't sneaky, even if they are predictable.

Perhaps now the Tibetan people can focus on how to improve their conditions as part of the new superpower.

UK recognises Chinese rule over Tibet


Ha, ha! Right on the money-maker. There's me saying, "I wonder what news the government's going to bury during this time of rejoicing in the world," and here it comes.

The UK finally recognises China's sovereignty over Tibet. Yeeha! Break out the yak stew. I'm gonna party like it's 1899.

Never let it be said the Brits aren't sneaky, even if they are predictable.

Perhaps now the Tibetan people can focus on how to improve their conditions as part of the new superpower.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Obama's dark secret revealed: election hypnosis


Barack Obama hypnotises America

America's wingnuts demonstrate how to admit defeat with grace and style.

I particularly like the bit that goes: " ... Assigning a meaningless task to the rational mind to distract it thus leaving the subject unguarded by the rational mind. ..." (Hmm, not unlike my time on the left.)

Whereas this is how it really went ...


Homer Simpson tries to vote

Johann Hari on four ticking timebombs for Barack Obama

STOP PRESS: Back to Earth with a bump. Barack Obama appoints right-winger to be his chief-of-staff.

Obama's dark secret revealed: election hypnosis


Barack Obama hypnotises America

America's wingnuts demonstrate how to admit defeat with grace and style.

I particularly like the bit that goes: " ... Assigning a meaningless task to the rational mind to distract it thus leaving the subject unguarded by the rational mind. ..." (Hmm, not unlike my time on the left.)

Whereas this is how it really went ...


Homer Simpson tries to vote

Johann Hari on four ticking timebombs for Barack Obama

STOP PRESS: Back to Earth with a bump. Barack Obama appoints right-winger to be his chief-of-staff.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

10 Ways Not To Die On Stage

Anna Chen and Chinese Elvis (Paul Hyu) at Colchester Arts Centre

Anna Chen

10 ways not to die on stage ...

DON’T be fooled just because it says ARTS centre. This is just a sinister device to get you to relax.

DON’T be fooled by claims of “it’s an intelligent audience, they’ve come via the recent historical exhibition/gallery/arts festival so give them something challenging”. If it’s a) a Saturday night, b) there’s a bar in the auditorium and beers are being served six feet away from your hallowed spotlight, and c) you can’t be heard over the chink of glasses (or vice versa), chances are you are going down like a cup of cold sick.

If the headline act is something vaguely tributy but good like Chinese Elvis, The Bootleg Beatles, or George Formby, the audience did not come to hear your pearls of wisdom. Blast them instead with your finest vagina material. Believe me, it works.

DO give them a demeaning “fuckee-fuckee” routine. Unless you have any pride left. This will have them creaming themselves. Preferably in a blender.

If they are dancing in the aisles and singing along to the headline act, this is yet another clue that your carefully-crafted poems, so full of wit and poignant observations, may not be their entertainment of choice.

DON’T say anything that requires a knowledge of who Edgar Allen Poe, Elektra and Sigmund Freud were. (“Hey, we got ourselves a READER!” Thank you, Bro Hicks)

DO refer to soaps and celebs with abandon.

DON’T recite poetry at them. Unless you mean it as a smackdown. In which case choose your longest. Reading from a thick sheaf of A4 will clinch it for certain. I test-drove this one on Saturday.

DO break free from your script and engage with the audience, like the elderly scowling hippy couple in the front row. Him in green velvet frock coat, beard and specs, her in long white Miss Havisham bridal gown. Long hair, once blonde but now dry and streaked with grey and topped with some sort of floral wreath looking like Ophelia pulled out after ten days dead in the water.

If a sea of white faces is staring up at you with suspicion in deepest Essex, DON’T regale them with comedy about being an ethnic minority. Remember: “You ain’t from around here.”

DO watch The Blues Brothers scene in the Country ‘n’ Western club very carefully. Understand the use of Rawhide as a Get Out Of Jail Free card. Rewatch. And learn, Glasshopper.

DON’T reach for your gun and shoot the audience. Unless it’s a powerful pump-action ping-pong ball gun fired from the business end of a blow-up doll. I have tried this. It works.

If you DO go down, go down magnificently in flames. Real ones. But make sure it’s you who has control of the accelerant — and that you know where the extinguisher is stashed. And don’t wear polyester.

All right, that’s twelve.

(PS, Tommy Cooper is the only one who ever did it right.)

10 Ways Not To Die On Stage

Anna Chen and Chinese Elvis (Paul Hyu) at Colchester Arts Centre

Anna Chen

10 ways not to die on stage ...

DON’T be fooled just because it says ARTS centre. This is just a sinister device to get you to relax.

DON’T be fooled by claims of “it’s an intelligent audience, they’ve come via the recent historical exhibition/gallery/arts festival so give them something challenging”. If it’s a) a Saturday night, b) there’s a bar in the auditorium and beers are being served six feet away from your hallowed spotlight, and c) you can’t be heard over the chink of glasses (or vice versa), chances are you are going down like a cup of cold sick.

If the headline act is something vaguely tributy but good like Chinese Elvis, The Bootleg Beatles, or George Formby, the audience did not come to hear your pearls of wisdom. Blast them instead with your finest vagina material. Believe me, it works.

DO give them a demeaning “fuckee-fuckee” routine. Unless you have any pride left. This will have them creaming themselves. Preferably in a blender.

If they are dancing in the aisles and singing along to the headline act, this is yet another clue that your carefully-crafted poems, so full of wit and poignant observations, may not be their entertainment of choice.

DON’T say anything that requires a knowledge of who Edgar Allen Poe, Elektra and Sigmund Freud were. (“Hey, we got ourselves a READER!” Thank you, Bro Hicks)

DO refer to soaps and celebs with abandon.

DON’T recite poetry at them. Unless you mean it as a smackdown. In which case choose your longest. Reading from a thick sheaf of A4 will clinch it for certain. I test-drove this one on Saturday.

DO break free from your script and engage with the audience, like the elderly scowling hippy couple in the front row. Him in green velvet frock coat, beard and specs, her in long white Miss Havisham bridal gown. Long hair, once blonde but now dry and streaked with grey and topped with some sort of floral wreath looking like Ophelia pulled out after ten days dead in the water.

If a sea of white faces is staring up at you with suspicion in deepest Essex, DON’T regale them with comedy about being an ethnic minority. Remember: “You ain’t from around here.”

DO watch The Blues Brothers scene in the Country ‘n’ Western club very carefully. Understand the use of Rawhide as a Get Out Of Jail Free card. Rewatch. And learn, Glasshopper.

DON’T reach for your gun and shoot the audience. Unless it’s a powerful pump-action ping-pong ball gun fired from the business end of a blow-up doll. I have tried this. It works.

If you DO go down, go down magnificently in flames. Real ones. But make sure it’s you who has control of the accelerant — and that you know where the extinguisher is stashed. And don’t wear polyester.

All right, that’s twelve.

(PS, Tommy Cooper is the only one who ever did it right.)

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