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Entertainment

Whilst I was mooching…

I was mooching on the Sky box and came across the latest offering from the Syfy Channel. Now seeing as their last offering was the cinematic masterpiece “Sharknado 2” I thought they might leave off for a bit but I was offered “Strippers vs. Werewolves“. It has been universally panned. It is a shame for there is a space for a SF channel (note not Syfy or even Sci-Fi) but one not showing drivel aimed at 13 year-old boys who are wanking themselves blind.

Some observations of foreign types in crowds

There was some strange behaviour outside my hotel this evening, instead of the usual languid European-style pavement restaurant with a few, mainly elderly residents enjoying their café under an iridescent evening sun as a few blonde haired goddesses drift by aimlessly on bicycles, there was a massed throng of unruly teens and drunken men filling the square in front of my hotel.

I presumed that it was some form of political protest as they were uniformly dressed alike, but apparently not, it was in fact an opportunity to get utterly paralytic on Heineken served in plastic cups while watching a giant TV screen erected at the end of the not-so-very-grand place. I initially presumed they were there to watch the local version of “America’s Next One Hit Wonder” or whatever it is called in The Land of Clogs.

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Tuesday afternoon whimsy

I guess this qualifies as cross cultural entertainment.

Never say “Impossible.”

34 sec., in, out, done!

PS. One commenter’s observation, not too far down the page, elicits a discussion worth noting:

Peggy Larson
1 month ago

Please check the collar on that kitten. Often owners don’t loosen collars as the kitten grows and it strangles them. See this a lot in my vet clinic.

Roger Lloyd-Pack (1944-2014)

I was saddened to hear that the actor Roger Lloyd-Pack died yesterday of pancreatic cancer.

Probably one of my favourite TV shows whilst growing up was “Only Fools and Horses” and Lloyd-Pack’s “Trigger” was an absolutely vital part of the ensemble that made that show so brilliant – and it was epically good at times rising to heights of utter genius. Of course he was in loads of other stuff like “Harry Potter” and “Dr Who” but for me he shall always be the bumbling Peckham street-cleaner. I think we forget too easily that whilst the show was centred on the antics of Del and Rodney the rest of them from Mike at the bar of the Nag’s Head to Denzil the scouse trucker, Grandad, Uncle Albert, Boycie, Marlene and all the rest of them really made the show and gave the central cast folks to spark off.

As I said, I grew up watching that and I still watch it. Trig is no longer in my memory but in the Sky (in every sense). He is the overhead one Dave or Watch or whatever. Perhaps the nearest to immortality we can get. His peerless deadpan shall not be forgotten as long as electromagnetism exists.

I don’t think I can embed this (it’s BBC) but just click

…and there is loads more.

It’s A Wonderful Life… Comrade.

It is one of the best loved Christmas movies of all time, (it’s certainly one of my top five favourite films) but back in 1947 it was being accused of being Communist propaganda because the Banker character Potter, is portrayed as an evil money grubbing bottom line Capitalist. A bit far fetched for me I’m afraid.

Capitalists have never had a good Press have they? Can anyone name me a film or book where a Banker is the hero?

“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? no it’s Venture Capital Man and he has saved the day again! With his timely injection of cash the Dam was repaired, the Valley saved from flooding and all our children can sleep easy in their beds, well fed and prosperous for evermore. You’re my hero Venture Capital Man!”

It just doesn’t happen, does it?

Now don’t get me wrong, McCarthy was right ( if rather too paranoid and heavy handed), Hollywood was stuffed full of Luvvy Communists who were trying to push a Marxist agenda, but they were not hugely successful in getting the message across, because the essence of most films is the triumph of Good over Evil. The White hats win and the Black hats lose, it’s pretty crude at best, but hey that’s entertainment. What’s important is that the little people like us, the ones who provide the bums on seats, feel that we are on the winning side. However small and insignificant our lives that if we have friends and family who love us, and who we love back and help out when the going gets tough, then we are as important and consequential as Kings and Queens.

PS. You will notice on reading the article that Ayn Rand is mentioned as sitting on a committee that reported to the House Un-American Activities Commission. She gave evidence personally. Now quite what an upfront Libertarian is doing reporting to J Edgar Crossdresser and McCarthy is beyond my understanding of her Libertarianism. I wouldn’t have gone near Big Government witch trials myself. But then I have never read her and very likely never will. In fact the few details of her life and circle that I know of, I know for certain that she would never have been a friend of mine in real life. Do click on the link at the bottom of the Mail article, very illuminating.

So it only leaves me to say… for the day is almost upon us… A very Happy Christmas to all the Kitties that Kount, all our faithful Commenters, and yes to you, as yet unannounced, Lurkers in the Dark. Happy Christmas one and all!

Day of the Doctor.

It is today. It is a fixed point in time and space and I shall be there – or at least in Stockport (the Manchester tickets had gone) – to see the 50th anniversary show live in 3D in the cinema. Cool. I shall not be alone. This is being shown live in 94 countries in 1500 cinemas live. This has never been done before. My wife recently bought the 50th anniversary edition of Dr Who Magazine. It has a copy of the 1964 first anniversary edition of the mag which includes a letter from a reader saying that the Who was the best programme (don’t we call ‘em “shows” now) on either channel. How times change!

I should have bought a fez for the night. Fez’s are cool. There is nothing more but this…

I puked all night.

X Factor

I saw that on Sunday and was nearly shocked.

I knew it was a pile of fetid baboon livers but it’s now so far beyond the pale it ought to have kicked the bucket (though apparently ratings are up!).

Amongst the travesties were a deranged Anglo-Jamaican woman who dressed like the Pyongyang Poundland’s Lady Gaga after a night on absinthe, sang like a cat spay-a-thon and murdered a sort of Bob Marley medley. No woman, I cried. Fuck me! She got through. I assume they are keeping her for comedy value. See below.

There was also a fat bloke from Nottingham. He could sing OK but was halted before he could finish by Gary Barlow raising his arm like a Caesar. The rest of the panel left him with nowt but his eyes to weep with – which he did. Poor sod.

There were also two sets of three lads doing harmonies (and possibly “doing” a clearly “tenting” Louis Walsh who is not only so far off his fucking rocker so as to be only an acorn from the Yewtree Memorial Laughing Academy).

They were clearly the ringers.

Then there was a lass who belted out “I Drove All Night” in the club-singer fashion. Barlow again raised the Hand of Doom and asked her to sing something “more contemporary” which she did seamlessly. The “old” tune being there only to add to the “dramatic tension”. She went through, obviously.

But everyone involved referred to the song as a Sealion Dion number (a North Atlantic mammal who swam all night to try to save the wreck of the Titanic)*.

And I mean everyone. This is the real history of the song…

“I Drove All Night” is a song written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly and made famous by Cyndi Lauper. The song was originally written for Roy Orbison, who recorded it in 1987, but his rendition was not released until 1992, after the song had become a top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic for Cyndi Lauper in 1989. The song has been covered by Pinmonkey (2002), Celine Dion (2003), and The Protomen (2012).

Yeah, that’s a “Celine Dion” song, OK.

Need I add that there were baying mobs? Anyway, I like that song and for those interested this is Roy Orbison’s version and this is Cyndi Lauper’s. This is Celine Dion’s.

I neither know nor care about the version banged out by the bloody Butlin’s singer.

Make your own mind up. But to call it a “Celine Dion Song” is taking more piss than a tannery.

And I have seen the endless skies of America with a lover in one (Honda) Accord. We once drove all night – until we got to a Subway, and a Motel. Then we stopped and dear reader… Ate sandwiches in nowhere Alabama, watched “Grease II” on cable and…

Well, we were glad to get out of New Orleans is all.

*A terrible film only mitigated by Leonardo DiCaprio slipping into the inky Abyss in a scene one would need a heart of stone not to laugh at.

That Dashing Young Man and His — WHAT Machine??

Over at Samizdata, Natalie has posted something on the mewlings of a certain Public Intellectual. One thing led to another with the result that Nick (nice-guy) Gray brought up what he calls “mental pollution.” Through the magic of YrsTrly’s wetware, the same found this, which might provide some entertainment for those Kitties who are loafing around rather than occupying themselves properly with Kounting….

There is a short video of this technological miracle in operation at

http://www.computerhistory.org/babbage/

While there, visitors might wish to consult the Site Map.

Maggie

I was born in 1973 so Margaret Thatcher was PM for my formaive years.

I very vaguely recall “Sunny Jim” and have no recollection of that fat treachorous oaf Ted Heath or of that deranged buffoon Harold “bloody” Wilson. He thought MI5 were gonna kill him. If only…

So she was my PM. In eleven years you can do much good and much bad and a heck of a lot that is just expedient. She of course did all three but overall she was more on the side of the angels. I am not going to eulogise her here because that has been done both here and elsewhere.

Instead I shall make some random points about my experience as a kid under Maggie. And about the BBC coverage of her death.

When she took over it, Britain was on it’s arse wearing trousers you could x-ray with a petrol station flash-light. Something I don’t remember but experienced was my Mum and me (I was in a pushchair) shopping in Newcastle’s great department store, Fenwicks by candle-light. In Newcastle, in the 1970s. Jesus Christ! Try telling that one to the youth of today. The trash wasn’t collected, the dead weren’t buried and it was kinda like Mogadishu with a worse climate.

Like it or not something had to change. Otherwise I’d be eating dung.

Previous commentators on stuff here about MaggieT (that’s her blog-name that is) have said basically “Know someone by their enemies”. So true.

But also know them by their friends.

Now I’m not sure how conservative I am. I am not sure how patriotic I am. I’m British for fuck’s sake! I don’t need to be patriotic. Being patriotic would be an indulgence. As Margot from “The Good Life” (the character was based on Thatcher) might have said, “Enough with these Latinate histrionics!”. Do I need to explain British achievements? Nah, didn’t think so. The Argentine Emisary is not cracking out the Ferroro-Roche for the funeral. He or she shall be sadly missed.

No, I’m not celebrating Britishness (though we have much to celebrate) but Maggie was British to the core and it came as no surprise that at her funeral this will be played:

watch?v=7MG27BKwjaI

But her reign meant so much more to me. It meant colour TV, a microwave and a ZX-Spectrum. It meant things moving out of the horror-show of the ’70s. The era of Thatcher and Ronnie meant a scantily clad nymph capering about the fore-deck of a Panamax* battleship** and straddling a 16″ gun and leaving very little to the imagination of me, you and hundreds of sailors. We weren’t gonna lose the Cold War after that!

And the movies were so good and up-beat! It was a different world to now. It was a world of immense leaders and great fun and a massive hope for the future. The future was not feared. Think of the movies of the time! They didn’t play Les Buggeurs Risible about ersatz “moral ambiguity”. No, they said life was good and getting better.

The past was another country. It was better and that was Maggie’s country. And Ronnie’s country.

I wish I could turn back time.

In some ways.

I certainly don’t want a full-scale Cher comeback!

*The Iowa class fast-battleship was built with 18″ clearance for the Panama Canal. Now you might think parking at Tesco is tricky in a Ford Focus but…
**The USS Missouri. Interestingly enough the warship upon which the Japanese signed their surrender in 1945.

Pratchett 2.0

I know there are a lot of Terry Pratchett fans among the Kitty Kounters (we even have a quote in the sidebar), but his daughter, Rhianna, is less well known. She started out as a journalist, but now writes scripts for videogames. The rather marvellous but misunderstood Mirror’s Edge was one of hers, and I’ve always liked the speil from the trailer (oddly, I can’t find this exact version on YouTube; the one I’ve linked is the closest):

Once this city used to pulse with energy; dirty and dangerous, but alive and wonderful. It started slowly at first. The authorities said the changes – the monitoring, banning, regulating – were for the greater good. But good doesn’t mean right…

Top stuff, eh? Anyway, she’s written the new Tomb Raider reboot, and there’s an interview over at the Metro’s gaming section. Most of it’s about the game obviously, but she talks about her dad and how, once he’s unable to continue working, she’ll be the Custodian of the Discworld (although she has no intention of carrying it on: “protecting it from myself”, she says). Sounds like it could hardly be in better hands.

Julia Gillard…

Let’s be honest…

I often feel out of my depth here. I really don’t care too much for poli-tricks and Aussie poli-tricks even less so. But of course our host is of the “upside-down” variety so clearly what Ms Gillard says and does matters to him. Fair play olive-drab ciggy packs and all. Whatever!

But, regular readers may have noticed that I do have an interest in what you might term popular culture so what I do notice about Ms Gillard is that she looks like Jodie Foster’s ugly sister.

I appreciate that is hardly a remark worthy even of Polly but it’s true.

Julia…

Jodie…

Look-up other piccies – you’ve got the ‘net – you’ll see what I mean.

Oh and in my defense on being more interested in pop-culture than pol-culture (apart from the fact that pols tend to be ugly as sin – nobody ever looked at Ed Balls and felt lurve – last time I saw him on the telly I felt vaguely nauseous) it has to be said that Jodie Foster has been in some entertaining movies which is more than can be said for Julia Gillard.

Ah, but Nick! You ain’t taking things seriously enough! Yes I am. You act well in a good movie. That’s bringing something to the party. You politic and you ain’t. Acting is more important than politics. Mime is more important than politics.

The greatest trick the pols ever pulled was to convince you otherwise. Politics is nothing but show-biz for talentless munters.

Best Bond Line Like Evah!

And it’s said by Q. “Skyfall” is a decent movie but it lacks such lines…

Some might say this is a good thing.

Some might.

They also might find this puerile…

They just don’t have the eternal mind of a ten year old.

I do.

I’ll leave Carrying on up The Khyber to reality which is infinitely more comedic in it’s tragedy than can be made-up.

Life is a tragedy for those who feel,
but a comedy to those who think.

- Walpole.

Untruth of the week. And idiocies of the week. And a bit of genius.

(Reuters) – British police arrested comedian Freddie Starr on Thursday as part of an investigation triggered by allegations that the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile sexually abused hundreds of children, media reported.

Whether or not Mr Starr abused kids is undecided. He is allegedly alleged to have raped a girl in Jimmy Savile’s dressing room whilst the other randy old goat was groping another girl. A more grotesque scene is hard to imagine. No, it’s not that that is the untruth, it’s the idea that Freddie Starr in any of the Universes of the Many World’s interpretation of QM could he be regarded as a “comedian”. He’s about as funny as a case of genital warts. There are things I’ve fished out of streams funnier than Starr. The last was a toilet seat. Quite how a toilet seat wound-up in my stream is an exercise I leave to the reader and I hope he lives in Baker Street and has enough ‘baccy for three pipes.

Perhaps Mr Starr would be funny if he’d gone to Salford University.

Can you teach someone how to be funny? Well Salford University certainly seems willing to try, as it launched its first comedy degree course on Monday.

Peter Kay was there to give it two of his thumbs up, and there can be no finer professional endorsement than that. The course will take twenty students at a cost of £8,500-a-year and they will be taught how to perform their own comedy material, learn drama techniques and write sitcom scripts.

There will also be modules on what makes people laugh, the business side of the industry and the cultural importance of comedy.

There are plenty of private courses around the country that teach stand-up skills, but the question is, are they ever effective? Or, is any structured teaching in this area ultimately a waste of time?

It’s strange how we instinctively seem to feel that humour has to be innate, and yet we have no problem with ballet lessons, fine art degrees or drama schools.

Now children, repeat after me, “My mother in law is sooo fat…”. For fuck’s sake! Universities (and variety theatres and pubs and clubs) over generations have produced comedians. According to St Stephen of Fry the funniest man who ever drew breath was Peter Cook. Cook honed his skills in the Cambridge Footlights whilst doing a degree in languages and writing a review show for Kenneth Williams. Peter Kay learned his schtick on the club route round Northern England.There are things that you need to learn for sure to be a comedian (in some areas that would include how to duck a well-hurled beer bottle) and it isn’t entirely innate. But that doesn’t mean it has to be (can be?) taught and the comparison with the likes of ballet is facile. This is a huge issue with me. The idea that you didn’t legitimately learn anything unless you get the certificate. That pieces of paper matter more than knowledge and honed skills. I can imagine the scene on Kill Devil Hills December 17th 1903. Actually Mr Wright you can’t do that! We need to see your pilot’s license first… I mean I understand why we have pilot’s licenses after Orv and Will but do we need to prevent dangerously unqualified comedians? Another point is the BBC have recently moved in large to Salford’s Mediocre Cityso is Salford University’s timing co-incidental. If this produces more utter crap like “My Family” then I believe a napalm strike is the only moral solution.

And the genius? Last night I was at a facility of another of Manchester’s Universities. At Jodrell Bank to hear Jocelyn Bell Burnell give a talk. The ridiculous to the sublime. She’s a long-term hero of mine and she wasn’t disappointing.

Brony And Doyle…

Adult male My Little Pony fans? Bronies are true rebels.

Yes, apparently there is a cult of young heterosexual men who are into “My Little Pony”. For pity’s sake! The even have conventions and online discussions and stuff. Well, good. Nobody will take the mick out of me for being into SF ever again!

Money quote from linked article…

I guess the better question is, why should these guys stop watching My Little Pony? It’s a show about friendship, learning, making mistakes and having people you love help you out. It also has happy endings. According to that recent study, the bronies said watching the show gave them positive feelings.

Well, I tell yo why. Because it’s a show for small girls. And it’s bloody awful. They should be watching proper stuff. I know should is too strong but what’s wrong with car-chases and fights? And fighter planes and spaceships and stuff.

I mean let’s face it if I knew an adult woman into MLP I’d worry but for blokes it’s truly bizarre. I bet some of them have branded duvets. Yes, that’s going to pull the ladies. Well, it might but it’ll be ladies wetter than a haddock’s bikini.

Is it some sort of reaction to Comrade Kim and the Ayatollahs kicking off or economic woes or something? And you know retreating into fantasy. If so read Tolkien or something. That involves a fair stock of “friendship, learning, making mistakes and having people you love help you out”. And fights and chases and genuine peril and storylines and tension and stuff.

Or is it just a meme? Like the “Viva Ken Barlow” stickers appearing all over Manchester? God knows.

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