Thursday, 30 August 2012

Olympics, Paralympics, I think that we another type of Olympics

After the surprising success of the London Olympics all eyes are now on the impending commencement of the Paralympics. I read an item on the BBC website concerning the use of 'too much technology' in the Paralympics. Predominantly this referred to new innovations in carbon fibre technology and the bonding processing during manufacture, marvellous. This combined with the recent report that Paralympic athletes are self-harming to increase their performance has caused as much of a stink as any reports of performance enhancing drugs in the conventional Olympics. It seems to me that the restriction of these methods, substances and technologies is creating a rather dull environment, a level playing field that ensures that only the most talented individuals excel. That's why I would like to suggest another Olympics, an event with no restrictions, The Freelympics!

The athletes have no restrictions other than their imagination. There are no banned substances, if you can get hold of it and ingest, mainline, snort or otherwise and it enhances your performance, that's great.  Likewise with prosthetics, technology, bionics etc. etc. Push the human body to its limits, I reckon if Usain Bolt was on speed with bionic legs he could beat a cheetah, ice hockey players on bath salts, swimmers with prosthetic propellers, the possibilities are endless.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Ghosts; the answer

In this modern age of mobile phones with cameras, and cameras, and cameras with phones with cameras and netbooks with cameras and fruit and vegetables with cameras, why is it that there are not a plethora of believable ghost imagery? OK, there are dozens of orb pics and photo-shoppped images and ancient double exposure nonsense, BUT, and this is a massive but, no really good photos of ghosts as described by their witnesses.

Why? OK, the sceptics will say that there are no ghosts, it's all bollocks, BUT, almost everyone, everyone, either has a story of an encounter themselves OR they have a second hand story of an encounter. Why is this the case? Obviously, there has been a situation, an event but as nothing has been  photographed does this mean that it can be dismissed? Absolutely not. In as much the same way as sceptics dismiss homeopaths as rubbish they are quick to use the placebo effects as the means to explain this, yet, the placebo effect itself cannot be explained. Obviously something is being experienced, sightings, sounds, aromas, but there is no proof. My answer is as follows:

Many, many external stimuli can excite and create the necessary behaviour within the brain in order to exhibit alien experiences. No-one refutes how ecstasy or LCD can cause hallucinations and bizarre effects. Natural events: fluctuations in the natural magnetic fields of the area for example can cause hallucinations. Dietary combinations can also, stress can and so can suggestion.

My conclusion is that paranormal encounters DO occur (only in as much as they are beyond explanations at this point in time) but they are caused by real events.

Tomorrow, the truth on the afterlife (the truth as it cannot be dis-proved ;-)

The Essex Lion

For many years I was part of the British big cat community, actively taking part in searches, press briefings and dealing with sightings from the public. I even became the big cat expert for the local paper The Southampton Daily Echo (proving how someone with no knowledge can should loud enough to became heard):

I am still convinced that there are tiny populations of the smaller varieties of cats in isolated areas of the British Isles, but any notion of a large cat population resident in the UK is an absolute nonsense. The latest media circus (literally) following the sightings of a 'Lion' in Essex were so obviously a bag of bollocks. There is absolutely no chance that a large cat can exist in that area without drawing a greg deal of notice to itself, do you know how much an adult lion needs to eat? About 11 or 12 pounds, that's over 5 kilos of meat a day an enormous amount of rats or mice, not going to happen. The justification for the media hype was that a circus visited the area at the start of the month. These days I doubt if the circus had any animals at all let alone a lion capable of surviving without notice for three weeks.

The reports were reminiscent of this story from 1999:

Friday, July 16, 1999 Published at 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
'Lion' is dog with eczema
A "lion" reportedly terrorising a village has been revealed to be a
retriever with eczema.
Children and pets were kept indoors in Birdwell, South Yorkshire, after
several reports of a lion on the loose.
But the 'king of the jungle' turned out to be Rocky, a balding and
elderly ginger retriever-rottweiler cross.
The confusion arose because Rocky's owner, Joanne Storey, had shaved his
fur after his eczema left him with bald patches. She left the fur around
his head and shaved his tail apart from the end, creating his lion-like
"Leaving the bit of fur at the end of his tail was done for a laugh
because the milkman had said he looked a bit like a lion," she said.

A few years ago there were reported sightings of a Panther in Gosport, Bridgemary to be exact. When the newspapers contacted me I told them it was a hoax, a cat that size, with his reputation? Sure enough it turned out to be a large stuffed toy placed by the hoaxer on the road for a few nights to gain publicity. (The perpetrator ended up teaching Sam drums, great guy BTW). But it seems that the media want this hit to be true.
Are there big cats roaming the British countryside? Probably, but that's exactly what they are, big cats of the domestic variety and certainly not Panthers, lions, tigers or leopards. Sorry.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Simon Cowell is a ****, no talent, no sense and no conscience

And the biggest gripe of them all? Those that expect celebrity for nothing. The cheap Tv shows that promote the lowest possible denominator and raises their expectations, and that of the lowest classes, to tremendous heights. Why should anyone, and I do mean anyone, with no real talent be allowed to achieve the heights of success that have traditionally been reserved for those who have struggled and fought their way to the top?

The role models and levels of aspiration are 'kin nonsense. Simon Cowell and his ilk have created a new culture based on public opinion, media intervention and emotional bollocks. No-one, and I reiterate this, no-one, deserves any level of success without the struggle and hard work associated with that. Talent will out, it always will. However, singers, actors and similar can piss off if they assume that by circumventing the usual means to achieve their goal can be achieved by entering the absolute arse that is X-factor, talent etc. etc.

In the same way that the contestants that stand in front of the Dragons,in the den, and beg for cash, appeal to the public; the sad losers in the celebrity wanabee shows are the same. Neither can succeed without the format of TV, and as such cannot succeed.

The message: Like UK football clubs, there is no real business model for unwanted celebrity. Understand and ignore.


Lance Armstong and shit fruit machines

The Americans have a lot to answer for, their self appointed role to police the world to their standards is at the top of the list, somewhat reminiscent of a much maligned Empire who plundered the globe based on their financial requirements, but that's not the topic of this post. The British media are terrible for building up heroes, raising individuals, sporting celebrities in particular, then completely making a U-turn (why does an U-turn sound wrong?) and obliterating the pedestal THEY constructed. Every English football team manager has been subject to this approach as have any celebrity who grows too popular, digging up the dirt is very soon deemed to be more in the public interest than the continued promotion. The USA, however, have generally supported their heroes through thick and thin and at times have even drawn a grudging respect from me for exactly that.

The continued attack on the US cycling hero, Lance Armstrong, has sickened and disappointed me. The fact that he has now withdrawn from defending his good name is taken as proof of his guilt. He has given up any counter legal action after ten years of allegations from the regulatory body in the US that he has taken performance enhancing drugs, even though there is no evidence at all. The guy is a fantastic role model, he beat testicular cancer and became SEVEN times winner of the Tour de France, a feat that impressed even the austere French. Life IS too short to continue any such defence, Lance has suffered much in his life and has still come through as a shining light to us all. The current word on the net is that he will be retrospectively stripped of his titles, what a load of utter shite!! I, and I sincerely hope that any bugger reading this will support me, still see him as the level that any upcoming star in the cycling world should aspire to. Someone ask Bradley Wiggins how he feels about this.

Once again a message to the media: 'Support the hero for the right reasons, don't invent an opinion that is not only wrong but also negative and destructive.' 


On a completely separate note, I have just returned from hunting down and despatching a curry takeaway for the family. The Indian takeaway in Aldbourne is fantastic, reflecting the village in general. It is, however, obviously a remodelled chippy. A memory rose to the raging, muddled surface of my troubled mind: In the days when I would drink till closing time like a man possessed, then queue with the drunken masses for a portion of noodles, ribs and chips I would habitually engage with the ubiquitous fruit machine. Fruit machine, bandit, one-armed bandit, blinking thief, the ungainly beast has many names, but, a bastard by any other name is still a bastard.

At the time when I was patronising such establishments the gambling licensing laws were such that the winning limits were restricted and as such so were the gambling limits. Time and time again I would throw a few quid into these machines, whilst I was waiting for my order, only to realise that the stake was 2p, yes TWO PENCE, giving me dozens of chances to win. As soon as I realised my mistake I would pray, I would curse out loud when I won, and I would always wish I had not been drawn in to the insane world of the 2p gambler. Invariably I would win, again, and again, and again, until such time as the completion of my order would be declared and I would leave with a stinking mound of inferior noodles, a massive pile of copper coins AND still over a quids worth of credit in the machine.


Friday, 24 August 2012

Prince Harry and the Vegas adventure

When I first heard about Prince Harry being photographed naked I must admit that I was a little surprised that he should have allowed himself to get caught in such a compromising situation.  Then I thought 'ah well, he's only 27, single and in Vegas'. Then, when I heard more from the media, on a TV breakfast show I think, I learned that not only was he in his hotel room but that the photos had been taken by one of his so called friends, I actually shouted at the TV (an action generally performed by the old and terminally hard of thinking). On the face of it the argument seemed to be that a Prince of the realm had let the side down by his thoughtless actions. I'm not a great Royalist but being fair to the lad, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan don't forget, he's single, wealthy and he was in Las Vegas in his hotel room, so basically why should anyone give a flying fudge. If there is any reaction it probably stems from jealousy, imagine: 'Me, HRH PRince Harry of Wales, here in Vegas, playing strip snooker, with my reputation? Well, do I go for the tight brown or the loose pink? Bang on!

It's not his actions that I object to but the media, once again with their pathetic 'non news' approach to this. The greatest irony for me is that a majority of the coverage, at least until The Sun (Lord Leveson is still deliberating you idiots) ignored the pleas from Saint James' Palace to not publish the photos, took the approach to decry other media organisations for promoting the pictures thus raising the profile of the  event and perpetuating a non-story. For f's sake, there's enough proper news at the moment. Let's face it we are controlled, brain-washed and directed by the media and the faceless psychopaths that lurk behind the top jobs in these organisations.

Final message to the media in general and the press in particular: piss off and cover a real story, leave the lad alone, tossers.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Judge Dredd 3D

I have long been an avid fan of 2000AD in general and Judge Dredd in particular. I still have hundreds of 2000AD comics and spin off Titan Judge Dredd books and frequently read and re-read them. In the mid-nineties I was looking forward to the film, when announced, right up until the lead was announced as Sylvester Stallone. There was absolutely no way he wouldn't stamp his star authority on the production and even less chance of him keeping his helmet on. This proved to be the case and the result was one of the worst films ever made (according to Rotten Tomatoes anyway) with characters and the story forming a nonsense mish-mash of complete bollocks, disappointment is an understatement. The writers and artists involved with the Judge Dredd stories created a fantastic future world, a parody of contemporary society with many in jokes and current social and cultural references and this was completely ignored with this Stallone attempt.

I have so many hopes for the new film, more so since one of those involved with the production is none other than Carlos Ezquerra, one of the original artists/writers from the old days, in fact his artwork inspired the writers to change their original ideas, setting the story further in the future than originally intended.

The story used for the film seems original but with 'Block War' undertones. It's appears a degree or two darker than the comics with a definite 'Blade Runner' feel. I am impressed that the film has an earlier release date in the UK than anywhere else, true homage to the origins of the comic strip. With this in mind this link explains.

Judge Dredd

The potential for a franchise with the scope to tell the allegorical tales from the original stories is immense. My favourites from the original comics include, but not exclusive:

Robot Wars - Call me Kenneth and all that
The Cursed Earth - Tweak, Spikes Harvey Rotten and the Angel gang
Judge Death - exposure to the very sexy Judge Anderson, exposes Dredd's humanity
Judge Child - exploring the universe beyond Mega City One
Judge Cal - a megalomaniac Chief Judge takes over the city
Block Mania - A pre cursor to the cold war allegory
Dead Man - my absolute fave

And many, many more, all from...

I hope, beyond hope, that the Dredd stories are portrayed as well as Peter Jackson did with the Tolkien epics.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Black Arses

Following my non-attendance at La Pouchailade at Trie-sur-baise, for reasons stated in an earlier post mainly to do with the fact it's been covered before and as such not the unique angle I'm after for the French chapter of the book. So, back to square one and with time in short supply. I still have to sort out Hungary, the crazy Hungarians are still not answering my emails by the way, and Vegas, not sure what is happening with that at the moment. The re-write is also currently not happening (can something not happening be termed current?) purely down to my inactivity and lack of motivation.

The plan for the real French trip is to return at the end of September to experience the delights of the col-de-noir. There are, evidently, restaurants in the general area of St. Yrieix la Perche that serve traditional dishes exclusively made from the black arsed pig. Following this I aim to find a farmer from whom I purchase some choice cuts, sufficient to make some sausages, and to use my newly endowed butchering skills attained from my River Cottage course. This means I will have to take my mincer/sausage making machine on the flight, great if I get stopped at customs.

Thursday, 16 August 2012


 A few years ago, Emma and I visited the town of Oradour-sur-Glane. For those of you unfamiliar with the name it is a small town in the Limousin region that was falsely identified by the Nazis as a town harbouring members of the resistance responsible for the capture and incarceration of Sturmbannführer Helmut Kämpfe, commander of the 2nd SS Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion. On the morning of June 10th 1944 the 4th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment ("Der Führer") surrounded the town of Oradour-sur-Glane, herded the inhabitants into the town centre, divided them into small units and massacred them without any explanation, justification or reason, 642 townsfolk died without knowing which pathetic nazi ruling they were supposed to have transgressed.

For anybody interested, presuming that anyone does read this hehehe, please check out the wikipedia entry:

That visit prompted Emma to put a youtube pastiche together to music:

Today, at the behest of Beth, who first came to awareness of this tragedy through our initial visit and Emma's video, we returned. This time armed with further research and increased awareness the memorial held more poignancy and atmosphere. Even Sam and Will, who accompanied us on a whim, were moved and remained respectfully silent throughout our visit.

Please check out the album available via my Facebook page. I will, however, post one snap I captured which made me feel terrible, not sure if I should have taken it, of a pair of very young, innocent French girls standing in the church, a place of murder and suffering where most of the women and children of the village lost their lives.

Today made me aware, particularly as the date of this tragedy was my fathers birth date, that such inhumanity exists not only in living memory but is happening today. Just because horrific murder occurs in the name of politics, religion or for no reason at all in places further than our immediate backyard, is no reason to ignore that they happen all to frequently. There is no excuse for such behaviour, not on a national level and not on a personal level.

All to frequently have I heard the French maligned for their part in the Second World War but I realised today that the population of an occupied nation who never gave in or gave up on the allies, supported their resistance without question. To oppose an occupying army knowing that the discovery of any form of resistance or non-compliance would result in death at best; torture and death of an entire town at worst shows, the courage of unbelievable proportions. It is easy to criticise a nation when you have not fought a war on home ground in living memory, I'm looking at you USA, and even easier when you have not faced a real threat to person.

'nuff said.

Holiday in French France

The original decision behind the selection of the dates the while Gosport based chapter of the Gledson clan would visit the La Croisille homestead had everything to do with La Porcailhade, of the fete du cochon. This pig festival held annually at Trie-sur-Baise in the Haute Pyrenees has in the past attracted a great deal attention from various areas of the media, Eurotrash featured the event so you get the idea.

Two days into our holiday the date of the fete du cochon arrived and I was surprised at my lack of enthusiasm for the event. I discussed this with Emma and the older boy drawing some surprising insights. For every planned visit or event previously attended I had a personal contact or genuine interest this, although potentially a very interesting story, held very little appeal other than the bizarre. The five hundred mile round trip to visit an event where I would know no-one, have no idea where to apply myself seemed to make little sense. On top of this the event had been done to death years before, I listened and changed my plans. Thanks to Mrs. Folley, that's Dawn to those who know her, I was now aware of the cul noir, or the black arsed pig, a breed which originated in the area close to where my parents bought their house. My plan has now changed and in the closing months of the year aim to plan yet another trip to follow this up.

That aside I used my freed up time to visit the farmer's market in Segur-le-chateau, beautifully picturesque village in the Correze. Mostly aimed at British, German and Dutch tourists the market, held on every Monday night throughout July and August every year, draws large crowds and has a fantastic sense of community and fun.

There are a number of stalls run by local farmers, selling their produce which can then be taken to the communal grilling area where the purchased raw materials are cooked to your taste.

I, of course chose sausages, not the more traditional ones bought from a British couple based in Lubersac, but duck murguez chipolatas purchased from a duck specialist who was selling out very quickly. The only down side was that all of the loud, tattooed shag-wits propping up the bar were all Brits. I don't think that I have enough for a French chapter yet but by the end of September I hope that I can rectify this.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Professional footballers are a bunch of useless bankers

After the pathetic display from our nations footballing elite during the Euro 2012 competition and to a lesser extent, the olympics it struck me that this sub-class of humanity has a great deal in common with the banking buffoons that have attracted so much negative press recently. Both attract disproportionately high salaries compared to their usefulness and productivity, both are paid irrespective  of success and performance, both flaunt their affluent lifestyle and show no shame at their moral turpitude and both should be shot for this bearing in mind we have representatives of our armed forces risking their lives on a daily basis for a fraction of the price. Also, the Olympics have highlighted this, the level of commitment displayed by the professionals compared to their 'amateur' (OK these days a very loose term) counterparts is so evidently orders of magnitude apart that the 'professional' footballing industry needs a severe regulatory kick up the arse.

I was listening to the radio yesterday, bloody heel I'm beginning to sound like 'thought for the day' on radio bore. Billy Connolly said something once along these lines (updated for effect):

I was watching my son play his Xbox the other day when he suddenly asked, 'did Jesus play the Xbox daddy?', and I answered, 'In a funny way he did.'

Anyway, I WAS listening to the radio yesterday when the subject of the overpaid footballing sub-class arose and as usual an opinionated 'football' writer was wheeled out for an opinion or three. The question concerned 'wage cap pin, a good thing or a bad thing?' The writer was dead against it, he used the argument that if the English FA caps wages then the best players will play abroad. I did, and still do fail to see his point. When football clubs spend in excess of 80% of their income on salaries then something has to give. Economics, like physics, cannot be denied. A football club is a business and must be run as such. If a club, such as my local team Portsmouth, over spends to the extent that they cannot support themselves then, I am sorry to say, just as any business would, it's time to go bust. The football approach and the ridiculous false economy it perpetuates clearly cannot last. So what if the club has existed since 1898, change or die, simple.

With all of this said, I have had enough of football now and will not be able to generate any more than a passing interest. Sport has shown of late that it does have a place in society as a study of any civilised culture will attest, but to create a elite sub-class who set themselves apart from the spectating masses is a step too far.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Chilli memory

Over the past few days chillis, that is chilli peppers, have figured quite prominently in my daily itinerary. Now, anyone that knew me during my time in French Guiana, I'm looking at your; Trev, Liam and Sarah, knows that I have a very painful blind spot in my memory for hot food.

Years between the consumption of hot chilli peppers can be excused and as such my performance at the Great Dorset chilli festival can be excused but whilst in the only EU community in South America things were different.

OK, I was younger and fitter then:

But, I did, and still do have a problem when deciding which spicy foods to have a go at. We hadn't been in country for long, in fact I believe that it was, maybe the second or third night. It was down to myself, my room-mate and co-conspirator for most of my time in Kourou, Trev Lund and the contract manager, Dave Kelleher to find somewhere to talk, reflect and have some food.
At that time, as anyone will attest visiting Kourou in the early noughties, there was little to do, so we began the night at the only real bar Bar des Sports:

Then we were looking for a place to eat. We ended up at La Grillade, a steak outfit that turned out to be the best place to eat for months later. We were served our ordered steaks on wooden platters with respective cutlery and a large Scots bonnet chilli, which I picked up and bit into immediately, stating;

'I love chillis me!'

Fifteen minutes later, I was still convulsing and crying. Two offers of an ambulance had been declined as had a lift to A & E. The sniggering from my colleagues lasted right up until the pain diminished and I could se once more, the French clientele however were more concerned and maintained the call for medical attention, I declined and recovered.

Time passed and my memory faded. In fact, my memory faded all too quickly and was lost well before my next encounter.

A few weeks prior to my acrimonious departure from Kourou and my parent company it transpired that a visit to La Grillade was inevitable. Dave, a great guy but miscast, invited Trev and myself to the restaurant. Once again I was presented with the wooden platter, meat and bell pepper. Once again I attacked the beast, and once again the ambulance was placed on standby.

When the tears and the pain cleared a rather friendly Frenchie took me to one side to explain my ignorance. The 'kin hot chilli was present on the platter in order to cut through with the steak knife and hence to gain a smear of chilli oil. A subsequent cut through the steak would yield a slightly spicy slice of meat, marvellous.

Once again after this weekend I realise that my ignorance with regard to food is paramount and that I have very little memory of food that has caused pain.

Still, I love chilli.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The French connection

With only days before I, and an intrepid group of pork crusaders, were due to set off to Trie-sur-Baise for La Pourcailhade, or La fete du cocoon, or similar, second thoughts are presenting themselves. My wonderful consultant in the region, did in fact suggest that pig festivals in general are popular all over France. A sign a few miles from Dad's place advertises one such festival very close to where he lives. Evidently the black arced pig, or cul noir, is big business in the Correze area and commands a certain degree of respect.

With any luck the cul noir festival will be taking place when we are in the area.

I never though I would be praying for locally accessible pigs with black arses.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Great Dorset Chilli Festival

I cannot believe that it is a year since we were in All Cannings, near Devizes,  and the first Dorset Chilli Festival was advertised. That was the first such event and I missed it, this year, however I didn't. First of all the venue was great deal closer than I thought, Wimborne St. Giles is just over the Hampshire/Dorset border and a mere forty-five minutes drive from Gosport.

Unfortunately we were cash limited, we only took fifty quid, especially after paying the twenty-four quid entrance fee, so we didn't have much left for food, beverages etc. There were loads of chilli sauce stalls and a few chilli plant stalls. The taco bus was our venue for lunch, nice steak taco with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

A local skiffle band were performing, bashing out skiffle cover versions of some well known contemporary numbers, my tractor's on fire, the eye of the badger and, my favourite hit me baby one more time.

The Mariachi, or semi-mariachi band were also pretty good.

Whilst me misses enjoyed a stereotypical Caribbean chicken n' rice n' peas, I overheard a conversation concerning chilli pork scratchings which, apparently were available from an outfit named Fire foods so Will and I set off to search for the same. The taster was tasty and not too spicy so I bought two packets. Opening one to try a few, which we all did, proved to be a lot more hot than I had anticipated. They did taste awesome so please check out their website:

Emma tried some chilli cider, a rather peculiar hot and cold combo the worked, the bottle contained a chilli pepper and seeds. The ice-cream stall, predictably, was doing a roaring trade, Emma and Beth used the last of our cash to buy some but they did avoid the chilli flavour ice-cream which I found slightly disappointing.

All in all an expensive afternoon but I will definitely attend next year, Insha Allah.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Mister Benn the movie...again, and some thoughts

Thanks to Richard for prompting me to do some research via Google on the history of Mister Benn, or as most sites add NOT Mister Bean. John Hannah was to play the title role and was, along with his associate and film producer, Jevon O'Neill, attempting to raise 4 million pounds required to take the film to pre-production. This was over ten years ago, the script and screenplay had already been finalised four years previously when, in 2001 the project was shelved due to a lack of interest from the British film industry in general.
As mentioned, John Hannah was to play the lead role with Ben Kingsley as the creepy shopkeeper and Jane Horrocks as the love interest and driving force for the plot. From the odd snippets of information available on the inter web it appears that Mister Benn tragically loses his true love Monica McBride and uses the wiles of the shopkeeper to win her back through various time travelling adventures.

 The love interest aspect completely contravenes anything in the original animated series and is obviously added as a sop to the US audience where any film without a strong female lead and love interest is a big no-no. I have another idea about this as I do regarding the 'time-travel' aspect.

The project was shelved more than ten years ago and things have moved on a great deal since then. Social media has given the public a collective voice, one which media outlets ignore at their peril. I honestly believe that with an up to date script and the right amount of pressure this film can be made starting with a Facebook page to support this idea. The other driving force behind getting this idea moving is that Ricky Gervais has expressed interest in the idea:

Well, that was back in February 2011, so we can only hope that he has lost interest by now.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Sorry, but Mister Benn, again...

I've been, or even Benn (see what I did there?), thinking more regarding the ida of Mister Benn the Movie. After the post yesterday I've have thought more and would really, really love this to become a big time movie. For those, if there indeed 'those', reading this blog, this is Mister Benn:

And as described in Wikipedia:

Mr Benn is a character created by David McKee who appears in several children's books, and an animated television series of the same name transmitted by the BBC in 1971 and 1972. Whether in a book, or on television, Mr Benn's adventures take on a similar pattern. Mr Benn, a man wearing a black suit and bowler hat, leaves his house at 52 Festive Road and visits a fancy-dress costume shop where he is invited by the moustachioedfez-wearing shopkeeper to try on a particular outfit. He leaves the shop through a magic door at the back of the changing room and enters a world appropriate to his costume, where he has an adventure (which usually contains a moral) before the shopkeeper reappears to lead him back to the changing room, and the story comes to an end. Mr Benn returns to his normal life, but is left with a small souvenir of his magical adventure. 

There were fourteen episodes, I have the DVD somewhere and will get round to watching it this weekend, in each of which Mr. Benn experienced a different adventure assigned by his particular choice of costume. They were:

The Red Knight
The Big Game Hunter
The Cook
The Caveman
The Balloonist
The Zoo-keeper
The Diver (my favourite)
The Wizard
The Cowboy
The Clown
The Magic Carpet
The Spaceman
The Pirate
The Gladiator

There is so much scope for a real action movie with morals, lets face it there's been some shit out there recently. I think that a screenplay with a good background and following perhaps, three or four of the adventures above would be a good film. My personal preferences would be; The Diver, The Cowboy, The Clown and The Pirate. Can do sue good stories on these.

Any thoughts, if anyone actually reads this shit, would be most welcome and I wouldn't mind a writing partner. actually.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Movie remake madness

What is wrong with the movie industry? The amount of remakes of recent movies is gaining pace, but why? Have the writers dried up? Is the drive for money so great that only tried and tested formula will gain any financial backing?  OK, so there are a great deal of original films out there but the number of remakes has increased drastically over the past yew of years.

There seems to be three main types of remake, the remake of a real classic in an, often unsuccessful attempt to put a new spin on it, for that read Americanise a classic idea. There are many examples here;

The Wicker Man - a bloody awful and forgettable attempt to con temporise a truly great film
The Girl with the Dragon tattoo - not seen it yet but a big budget remake of a foreign classic
The Lord of the Rings - Effects and cash made it possible to do these books justice at last

I guess that these type of remakes are always going to happen, either when a new generation presents itself or technology and money give a better chance of a better big screen interpretation of a great story. There are many, many more examples of this and it is not a new concept. What is new however is passing off a remake as a prequel or a sequel but is really the same film remade.

The Bourne Legacy is the first one to leap to mind. On the surface a continuation of the Bourne series of films but really just a rehash of the first Bourne film.
The Amazing Spider Man, OK this has a different plot and bad guy to the original but the back story is the same. The portrayal of Spiderman was more in line with the comic books and for me better.
The Incredible Hulk is another Marvel film which sort of takes over from the last one but seems to present itself as an apology for Ang Lees version.
The Thing was an embarrassing excuse for a prequel which started off on the right lines but ended up pretty much regurgitating the first plot.

Then are the films that don't seem to know where the hell they are, the almost franchises I suppose.

X-men films, another Marvel (pardon the irony) series churn out their media with little regard for continuity or story, still pretty good though.
Batman. What the hell is going there? At least the recent trilogy makes no bones about the previous travesties.

The other thought that occurs is that decent films of the past that may have attracted a 15 or even an 18 certificate are being remade with the lucrative 12A certificate.

The remake, or new film passing off as a not really pre/sequel , that I am really looking forward to is the  upcoming Judge Dredd. The original was so shocking it's not worth recounting but the new one looks like they have thought about the existing, and sadly, ageing fan base. We'll see.

But for heavens sake can we have some new ideas and subsequent movies please. I mean there are some potentially fantastic potential seeds of films out there, I have a few good ones. Not least of these is Mister Benn (not Bean) the movie. A real action hero. I think I will even have a go at writing a screen play, you never know.

The Olympic losing spirit

With the Olympics still dominating the news I find it a bit nauseating that the message promoted by the media is one of 'taking part' not winning. This has been deemed the most important element of the events even to the point that the athletes themselves are regurgitating this nonsense. How many times have we heard over the past few days, 'It's not about about the medals it's about taking part.'? If this is the medias way of managing the publics expectations then at least give the poor competitors credit for trying their best instead of pouncing on them the moment they fail to win, either the expected medal or any medal at all with questions like;

'So Tom, no medal today? Talk me through it.'

It's pretty obvious, especially after seeing Euan Burton's devastation when he lost in his opening bout, that our athletes are trying their utmost, even with the promoted expectations of mediocrity. This is a particular good example, the pre-competition mantra, it's all about taking part' was very quickly replaced by a direct attack from a leading official from the British Judo Association, Densign White, blaming the teams 'lack of commitment' on their perceived poor performance, not really the encouragement and support required to raise the morale of the remaining fighters.

In football tournaments the media raise the publics expectations, praising and elevating our footballing gaggle of mediocre buffoons to heroes prior to the event. Then, as they habitually crash out of the competition at an early stage, release a torrent of abuse lambasting the team in general and the manager in particular. In contrast, well slightly, the media have once more raised the competing British athletes to heroic status but still the parallel message of mediocrity remains, perhaps as the safety net for failure.

I expect that our athletes have the desire to succeed but it must be difficult when the national attitude to competition is merely to take part. This can be seen at Infant, primary and junior schools throughout the land on sports days when non-competitive events take place where there are no winners, no losers and no point. Countries such as the USA and Australia certainly do not have this approach and have a great deal of success with it.

With all of this said, it is obvious to me that the British attitude of 'taking part' can be improved. It is obviously unfair when athletes have a talent for a particular discipline, they have an advantage over those who do not. Let's get the team together but let them draw lots to see which events they compete in, that will ensure that it is all about taking part with no chance at all of winning anything, or very little, and hence no disappointments. This can even apply to the winter sports, this is a positive approach and will allow the poor athletes to try something new rather than an event they have stuck at for a minimum of ten years.