Archive for June 2009
The leaders of Britain and Ireland are a bit of a dull, grasping lot. Their personality colour chart seems to range from beige to grey.
Meanwhile across le channel and a few hours drive we have two of the most flamboyant, roguish, hormonal, overgrown teenagers ever to set foot in the European Parliament.
Mr Brown and Mr Cowen, could we swap you for Monsieur Sarkozy and Signor Berlusconi for a month? Oh go on, it would be fun.
Our continental cousins seem to have a lot more fun in their work than Britain and Ireland. Nicolas Sarkozy is an oversexed, hugely ambitious diddyman, like scrappy-do with a permanent hard-on. Or perhaps like Pepe le pew on Viagra. He gets his kicks by telling the French that they may have to work more than 35 hours a week. Mon dieu! Imagine working 40 hour weeks? The whole country needed a lie down in a darkened room when he told them. He is all for strengthening the Entente Cordiale, and has very strong views on law and order. We need this man in number 10.
He picked his female cabinet member specifically for their good looks and dress sense. He thinks nothing of telling his female staff to wear shorter skirts and tight blouses. Sid the Sexist looks bashful in comparison, and yet France seems to love him for it. He sees every man as a rival and every woman as something to be conquered.
And as for Silvio Berluscone, well at least he has excellent taste in women, even if they do range from jailbait to hookers. He has that kind of bedside manner that just leaves people open mouthed. Did he really just say that? Ricky Gervais could not have scripted some of Silvio’s little gems. During a televised encounter with voters on 10 April 2008 a young woman asked Silvio Berlusconi what the younger generation should do about the lack of secure jobs. He promptly suggested that she try to marry “the son of Berlusconi… with a smile like yours, you could try.” Cue stunned silence.
He is a former film director so I suppose he is used to getting his way with the fit young things. But his attempts to get 18 year old Noemi Letizia into government (or bed more likely) looks a bit pathetic. Still, you can’t blame him for trying. Berlusconi is said by many to be a national embarrassment, and the Pope has publicly belated him for acting like Rod Stewart. When a former member of the Hitler Youth lectures you on morality you know you have overstepped the mark.
But never since the days of Clinton and Yeltsin, has there been two world leaders you would love a night on the town with. You know it would end up with a visit to a strip club, a fight and a kebab. And probably a taxi ride home with a young lady of the night on each arm.
Keep up the good work fellas!
P.S. Check out my novel at http://www.theirishrepublican.wordpress.com
It has recently occured to me that the British Prime Minister has a lot in common with his Irish counterpart.
Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen both have a face like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle, and a temprament to match. And they both came to power within months via very similar routes.
James Gordon Brown was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of a minister of the Church of Scotland. While studying at the univerity of Edinborough he was kicked in the head during a rugby union match. This left him with retina detachment which sent him blind in one eye. He only narrowly retained sight in his other eye after experimental surgery in Edinborough hospital. Later in life he proved a highly competent Chancellor of the Exchequer before ruining it all by becoming Prime Minister after an awful lot of moaning and sulking.
In the recent leadership challenges he has been depicted as a crazed King Macbeth, clinging to power over a corrupt and decadent court.
Brian Cowen, another man not blessed with film-star good looks, rules the roost over the Irish sea. He too was something of a sportsman in his day and is still an official in the Gaelic Athletic Association. Luckily he suffered no mishaps on the pitch and he did well at school. Like Brown, he was not known for his diplomacy or sunny personality, and he soon gained a unique acronym, BIFFO. That is, Big Ignorant Fecker From Offally. Clearly, then, a man of the people.
He worked hard as a TD (Irish Member of Parliment), then as a cabinet member, then as a minister of various posts. Finally his corrupt boss, Bertie Ahern, was given the push and Brian got the top job.
If Britain thinks Brown is incompetent then Cowen seems to be univerally detested. The French paper, La Tribune, listed him 26 out of 27 on a list of Europe’s most effective leaders. Naturally, the insisted that Nicolas Sarcozy came first. Trust the bloody French. Don’t let it bother you, Brian.
However his career took an interesting as a life model. Bright and early one April morning the National Gallery of Ireland curators found a new addition to their portraits. Some joker had donated a rather good painting of Brian in the nude, and another one of him on the toilet. It made international headlines though nobody was ever charged.
So the leaders of the British and Irish Isles are a rather dull boring sort, the kind you would desperately aviod down the pub. Both are married with kids, to presumably, very patient women who don’t do wild boyfriends. Maybe they need a weekend with Nicolas and Silvio to sort out their image.
I remember when I was a boy TV was a lot more exciting. We had no reality TV to speak of, and we were no worse for it. We had fantastic telly, programmes full of action, adventure and larger than life characters.
Knight Rider and the A-Team, the most common examples, have been covered ad nausium so we won’t rake through them again. But does anybody remember this lot?
Airwolf & Blue Thunder
In the era of the Apache and the HIND-D these two look remarkably quaint. Crime fighting 80s helicopters with tremendous ability to blow things up. Every boy wanted a model chopper. Airwolf ran for three years with Jan-Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine (who is still going strong at 90). It’s chopper had a turbo boost, stealth ability and three cannon that could whack anything out of the sky or on land. It ran for four seasons.
Blue Thunder was the K-Mart version. It ran as a spin-off from the 1983 film of the same name (in spite of the helicopter being destroyed at the end of the film). It starred James Farentino, Bubba Smith (the huge cop in police academy) and Dana Carvey (long before he became Garth in Wayne’s World). It ran for one series.
The biggest playground debate of 1984 was who would win a dogfight between the two helicopters? Opinion remains deeply divided.
A crime fighting human shape shifter? What’s not to like? Well the special effects were remarkably crap (this was in the days long after the Thriller video), and the acting was somewhat wooden. The main character looked very pompous and English among the Americans and the plots were somewhat over fantastical. Even so it did scrape through one season before it’s under-budgetting problems forced it to be cancelled.
Manimal and it’s predecessor, Blue Thunder, had one major opponent. It wasn’t gun-toting thugs, shapeshifters or even rival helicopters. It was a soap opera called Dallas on at the same time on the other side. And nobody could beat a dose of J R Ewing’s family exploits in those days.
And we had only the one telly. Ferguson, probably.
Moving on we had Knight Rider on two wheels, Street Hawk. I distinctly remember mine and a mate’s response to seeing an advert for Street Hawk on TV. We both had delirious grins, we would definitely be watching that!
See also Highwayman, with Flash Gordon’s Sam Jones driving a high tech truck, very much like Knight Rider. By now a familiar pattern was forming, with CBS and ABC trying to come up with the most imaginative Boy TV they could (and often couldn’t) afford. Usually the best they could afford was a pilot film and a single series.
ABC brought in Glen A Larson, creator of Battlestar Galactica for one last throw of the dice.
Automan was hugely expensive and lasted, surprise, surprise, a single season. It was about a police computer geek who creates this holographic superhero called Automan. Naturally Automan fights crime, drives a car that starts, stops and takes corners instantly in a jump. Both figures can merge into a single conciousness. Automan looked remarkably like Tron, a film released the previous year and ABC had to carefully dodge plagurism accusations. It lasted one series as usual.
Finally somebody came up with something different.
V (AKA The Visitors) was a better than average story of Alien Invasion by stealth. It starred Beast Master’s Marc Singer as a heroic reporter. The antagonists were a bunch of mysterious humanoid aliens masquerading as humans. Under their rubber skin they had green reptilian features and sinister intentions for the human race. They used special effects to project images of aliens swallowing small animals. I remember covering the hamster cage before watching. Well I didn’t want the little fellow to have nightmares.
It wasn’t half bad and lasted a lot longer than previous efforts. They made a mini-series and then a sequel the following year. It was very big budget and starred a lot of acting talent. Unfortunately the series was cancelled unexpectedly and the storyline was left on a cliffhanger.
A remake of the series is currently in post production. We wait with bated breath.
So all that represented a certain golden age of 80s TV, long before Sky, Murdoch, fifty channels of shite and sodding Big Brother has the X Factor on Ice. It is a reminder of the sheer effort some TV producers went to to keep us entertained, long before they realised we were happy enough just watching a room full of dysfunctionals arguing among themselves.
Long live 80s Television.
All of the above are available as boxed sets from www.amazon.com
It has been confirmed in the last few hours that the king of pop, Michael Jackson, has passed away. The cause of death is said to be cardiac arrest. Family and friends are flying into Los Angeles to pay respects.
Michael was born in Gary, Indiana in 1958, the youngest of ten children who survived birth.
He started performing aged just 11 as part of the original formatted boy band, the Jackson 5. By 1969 the family, managed by their father, Joe, had cut a record deal. They went from strength to strength, pushed by Joe, who was an incredibly hard task master. In later years the Jacksons would talk openly of violence and abuse at their father’s hands.
But in 1979 Michael had his first solo album, and ‘Off the Wall’ was soon riding high in the charts. He started to develop ground-breaking choreography and perfected his stage presence and innovated the new wave of MTV videos. But what he did best was sing beautiful songs in the most tremendous falsetto voice, the likes of which have not been heard before or since.
His appearance started to alter dramatically with a rapidly whitening skin and extensive rhinoplasty to the nose.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s he broke record sales of his albums, Dangerous and Bad. Michael had become a music phenomenon. But behind the scenes Michael had developed strange and unhealthy behaviour.
As far back as the early 80s he had developed an affinity with children, at first commendable. But the problem was that somewhere the boundry of acceptable behaviour became blurred and inevitably the first child abuse scandal broke in 1993.
The family of Jordan Chandler chose to settle out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Meanwhile Michael’s star continued to shine. He endulged his extravagant behaviour and bought the Neverland ranch, complete with it’s own cinema, zoo and funfair.
He married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of another musical icon, in 1993. They had known each other since 1971 and were old sweethearts. She married him when he was at his lowest ebb and nursed him through his traumatic patch.
Slowly things got better for Michael and he embarked on the HIStory world tour. ‘You are not Alone’ and ‘Earth Song’ both reached number one in the Gallup charts.
In 1997 ‘Blood on the Dance Floor’ also made it to number one, as part of a new album ‘HIStory remixed.’
But the child sex abuse rumours resurfaced and in 2002 he was again questioned by police. A well publicised court case followed which ran a fine tooth comb through his unusual life. Eventually the court found Michael not guilty on all counts.
To his last day he did not fit the character profile of a paedophile. In the company of children he regressed to the mind and personality of a ten year old, according to psychologists who watched him interact. Did this oscillate between childhood and a fully grown male sexuality? The answer will never be known.
As well as his singing career Michael became the owner of various song rights, including the Beatles back catalogue. He also bought out Famous Music LLC, the label that contracted Eminem and Shakira among many others.
He gave charity concerts for the families of the victims of 9/11, and the families of Kosovo.
In spite of success huge legal bills and years of extravagance had left him massively in debt. Neverland was foreclosed in 2007. Early in 2009 some of Michael’s antique possessions were put up for auction.
But Michael was planning his comeback. He announced he would be playing no less than 50 dates at London’s O2 Arena. The first ten dates alone would have netted him £50 Million.
Sadly it was not to be. Michael’s health had been in decline for weeks. Telephoto pictures of him wrapped in blankets in a wheelchair made their way into the tabloid press. And in the early hours of this morning the stories were confirmed, he had died of Cardiac Arrest on the way to a Los Angeles medical centre.
He will remain the most prominent performing legends of our generation and one of the biggest selling artists of all time.
Michael Jackson 1958 – 2009.
It has just been reported to me that the brave lady Farrah Fawcett has lost her battle with Cancer.
Her last rites were given on 24th June and she left this world at 9.28 Pacific Standard Time today.
Farrah had a long career in film and televeision spanning many decades, starting with a guest spot in I dream of Jeannie. Later on the set of The Six Million Dollar Man she met future husband Lee Majors.
But her big breakthrough was with Charlie’s Angels, a long running series about three crime fighting glamourous young women. In later years she took much more serious roles and was three times nominated for an emmy award for her hard efforts.
In an effort to show that older women can still be sexy she appeared nude in Playboy.
But she was tragically diagnosed with Cancer of the anus in 2006. She made the best of what time she had left by working on a fly on the wall documentary of her life. Farrah’s story was watched by nine million people. She died with her long time partner, the actor Ryan O’Neal, at her side.
Just a quick message boy and girls -
A deal has been struck betwen the FIA andeight teams of the FOTA preventing any split in the Formula 1 championship. It has been announced that Max Moseley will not be standing for re-election after the end of his current term.
More news on this as I have it.
Her name was Neda Agha Soltan, and she was on her way home from university. On the way the car she was travelling in was caught up in a demonstration and, fatally, she got out of the car to watch. A security marksman took aim and ended her life with a bullet to the chest.
All of this was captured on camera and rapidly e-mailed to friends in Holland who posted it around the world. In a heartbeat she became a martyr for Iranian freedom.
This horrifying incident came after the recent Presidential elections were hotly disputed with claims of vote-rigging by the ruling Government. Rioting and violence followed and the carnage has been flashed all over the television and internet. Will this be the start of a new Iranian revolution? We will watch and wait.
It is a source of amazement to me that some of the girls we lusted after the most in the late nineties turned out, within a decade to be mentalists of the highest order. You just have to look at Peter Andre and you think ‘there but for the grace of God, go I.’
But what happened to the honeys of our youth to turn them into the psycho ex-girlfriends of our worst nightmares? Well, a lot as it turns out.
Example number one. Katie Price, also known as Jordan. She first blew our socks off in the late nineties as a page 3 glamour model of a different order, this girl had the x factor before anybody knew what it was. She used the pseudonym Jordan because association with page 3 could prove detrimental to later career moves. She need not have worried, her name was virtually her trademark.
Over the years she left behind a trail of exhausted and nervous men, including Dane Bowers, Dwight Yorke, Gareth Gates and Teddy Sheringham. But finally she met the man who would be the Ken to her Barbie. She succumbed to Cypriot-Australian Peter Andre’s charms during a reality TV show in 2003. The two were married in mid 2005.
But in recent months the two have split, with Peter citing her emotional cruelty and unreasonable behaviour. The long hours with reality TV cameras invading their every private moment dealt the death blow to their relationship She has long been generating tabloid headlines and filling the pages of supermarket magazines, with a perchant for clubbing and grabbing any pretty man who doesn’t move away fast enough. She is very single minded and a ruthless businesswoman, a T.V personality and an authoress of two books. Poor Pete is, well, a nervous wreck.
Example number two is her sometimes friend and fellow head-banger Kerry Katona. Now this lady exploded on to out screens as front woman of girl group Atomic Kitten. And what a front! Busty, brassy and blonde, this was a girl who came from nowhere and quickly grabbed everybody’s attention.
Kerry had a hard time growing up and it seems to have left it’s mark on her relationships with men and reality in general. After a brief career as a lap dancer she joined a dance troupe and then the girl band Atomic Kitten. After some success at home and in Asia Kerry left to get married to Westlife singer Bryan McFadden.
The marriage was not a success, in spite of giving birth to two girls. Bryan got a bit randy on his stag party with a couple of strippers and himself and Kerry never really reconciled. He later met Australian singer Delta Goodrem, who was calm, dignified and quietly spoken, the antithesis of Kerry.
Later Kerry met and quickly married Mark Croft, a former taxi driver and things rapidly began to unravel. Their house was burgled in 2007, with thieves taking the family hostage before making off with hundreds of thousands of pounds of loot. This terrifying experience had a profound effect on Kerry, causing bouts of bi-polar disorder. Strangely about this time the easily swayed public seemed to take against her after years of apparent popularity. She went from being voted best celebrity mum to second worst. She didn’t take the criticism lightly and hit back with statements to tabloid newspapers. Pictures of her smoking while pregnant appeared and she was forced to defend her actions.
Then came the famous appearance on This Morning when she appeared live for an interview, rambling and slurring her words, apparently pissed out of her head. Was she? No satisfactory answer has been forthcoming. Max Clifford, her representative parted company from her about this time.
For months Kerry spent periods of time in the celebrity clinic the Priory.
In spite of all that, and her apparent break up with husband number two, she has written four books. But only very recently she was dropped by Iceland, the frozen food chain. This was because she was seen snorting a white powder (presumably not Beechams) during her reality TV show. How dumb can you get?
Example three: Pamela Anderson
In common with the other two, Pamela exploded into our lives as a smorgasbord of beauty, bosoms and blonde hair. And in common with the other two she now seems nothing more than a strung out single mum with crap boyfriends, kids she can barely control while holding down a career.
Pamela is a former Playboy playmate who had her break into TV via the series Baywatch. From there she soon reached the silver screen with the dire Barb Wire. In the meanwhile she became hitched to rock singer Tommy Lee who she publicly took to tonguing.
The couple made tabloid history when a home made sex tape became available in most rental stores. Although far from classy, it did set a precedent for the celebrity sex tapes of Paris Hilton and Abi Titmuss. But once we had seen Tommy’s T-bone impailing Pammy none of us wanted his sloppy seconds, and our love affair with Ms Anderson ended there. When she spawned two sons and re-married Kid Rock none of us really cared any more. What is she doing these days? We don’t really care anymore, we have moved on.
A flash message communicated to the Admiralty early this morning gave a thrilling message. Captains Bob Geldof and Roger Taylor had won a fantastic naval victory of Ibiza in the Balaeric Islands, defeating Count Leopold Bismarck in open combat.
What were two wrinkly rock stars doing taking on the Kreigsmarine in the Mediterrainean? Well it was all for charity.
At the Ibiza Regatta earlier last week the two were appointed Captain of the sailing yachts Alexa and Tiger Lily. Up against them was Count Bismarck in Bushido, determined to avenge the loss of the ship named after his ancestor, to the British navy.
The battle at sea was long and fierce with Geldof and Bismarck giving no quarter. Finally in a display of sheer balls-out seamanship Geldof sailed dangerously close to the rocks, and far off course, to cut across the bow of Bismarck. The two ships drew level and boarding parties fought tooth and oar. In the end it was Geldof who won the day and Bismarck congratulated him on his sportsmanship.
At the after-party a large cheque was signed and much champagne was drunk as the two toasted their success as the ghosts of Drake and Nelson applauded wildly.
Well what a weekend it was for Peugeot, it just goes to show that all good things come to those who wait. After three pole starts in two years the French team finally took glory at the national home of motor sports.
The world’s longest race kicked off at 15.00 CET with Frank Montagy in the lead. Disaster struck the Peugeot team when two of their cars collided in the pits. One of which had to be dragged back into the pits, wasting precious time. A diagnostic revealed a broken fuel pump, potentially disasterous.
Further back the blue and orange Aston Martins made good time and looked in good position to move up the grid. By the forth hour the Peugeots had consolidated their postions and things were looking good for the French team.
Disaster struck Audi when Lucus Luhn found out that colliding with a barrier is a convenient way of decellerating rapidly. Luckily he wasn’t hurt, but it was a rather startling way to ruin a night’s sleep.
But the worst accident happened to Bernoit Traluyer, 32. He wasn’t having the best of races when he pulled into the pits with smoke belching from the front left wing wheel arch. He was there for four minutes while the mechanics worked away in a blur of elbows and spanners. The radiator was cleaned, the nose cone was replaced and he was given the green light to go. Desperate to make up time he rocketted out on to the track. He had only been open for business a few moments when he car left the track just after the Dunlop arch. The chassis was shattered but the cockpit remained intact. Traluyer was treated at the scene and was whisked off to hospital, unconcious. He was later revived and suffered no serious injuries, remarkably.
By hour 18 the two Peugeots were in the lead with the rest of the field trailing. By hour 22 the Corvettes had had enough, and they slowly ground to a halt, trailing nuts and bolts.
As Peugeot closed on the finishing line drama ensued at the back. Seiji Ara’s porsche Spyder had a dissagreement with a tyre barrier after underbraking, putting him out of commission.
And so Peugeot carried the day, taking a one-two victory. As stated, it was a far from easy race. After the first lap disaster they released one Peugeot directly into the path of another. But things settled down, and is spite of acute exhaustion they managed to win the day.
Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away in Paris the FIA announced the new teams that will be joining the F1 grid. Firstly we have:
Firstly USF1. This is a team we expect to see great things from. With a history of home grown races in Daytona and Indianapolis and home to Ford and GMC, they could storm the track. They will be building their own chassis in Charlotte, North Carloina and fitting them with red-blooded Cosworth engines. I can hear that snarling motor now. THeir bosses will be the very capable technician Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor. The latter is an Englishman and a former Journalis. He is no stranger to danger, being the man in the car with Frank WIlliams when he had the accident that left him paralyzed. He is an interesting character, and has won many awards for Journalism. If he concentrates on management and lets Ken Anderson get on with the Engineering, they will work wonders.
Secondly Campos Grand Prix. This is a privateer team headed by former F1 driver Adrian Campos. It is a client team of Italian engineering firm Dallara. Their HQ will be in Madrid with their technical base in Valencia. They are unusual in that they are making a jump directly from F3 to F1. This doesn’t, in my opinion, sound like a receipe for success. They are miles from FIA headquarters, miles from their manufacturer base, and split between Medrid and Valencia, severl hundred miles. I hope they have deep pockets.
The third and final team is a bit of a curveball. Manor Grand Prix, anyone? They are a British team and a customer of Wirth Research engineering. They have experience in Formula 3 and Formula Renault and.. well, thats it. They are owned by John Booth and their technical director will be Nick Wirth, CEO of Wirth Research. This is the former technical director of Simtek engineering, made infamous by the death of Roland Ratzenberger.
Five teams, McLaren, Toyota, Renault, BMW and Brawn, have submitted conditional entries. If these conditions are not dropped, by 19 June 2009, their entries will be revoked. And if that is the case other teams, such as Prodrive, iSport and Del Trotter racing may have to make up the numbers. Once again we wait with bated breath. And who said F1 was boring?