Monday, April 30, 2007

House Of Cards

After spending a small fortune – well, ok, just merely a few quid – getting some business cards printed for my fledgling web design business I’ve spent the last few days trotting around my home town of Leamington Spa, trying to offload some of my newly minted wares onto the counters of the friendly shop keepers that make up the business sector of dear old Leamo...

And aside from one shop (where I personally knew one member of staff) all of them replied in the negative. No you cannot display your flea-bitten cards here. No can do. Clear off.

It’s very demoralizing.

I realize it is of course the prerogative of every business owner to choose who, how and what they display in their own shops in the way of advertising but I can’t help feeling a mite peed off about it all. It really felt like a long line of doors being slammed shut in my face. One after the other. Bang bang bang.

Thanks for nothing, guys.

Welcome to the cut throat world of small business.

My Top Ten Films

With marvellous adeptness my Blog Buddy, Old Cheeser, tagged me over the weekend to produce a potted account of my top ten movies.

Easy, I thought. No problem.

Except to narrow my positively obese DVD collection down to a carrot stick thin top ten proved harder than I thought possible. Nevertheless. Here, compiled in no order whatsoever, are my favourite top ten movies. Or, at least the ones that are in top ten right now. Ask me again tomorrow and it could be completely different (though The Land Before Time IX is never going to make the list – no matter how hard you look).

1) Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain – Audrey Tautou. Paris. A travelling gnome. Perfect.

2) Bladerunner – still, after all this time, the film refuses to look dated. And it still hits me right in the guts. Roy Batty’s final speech is one of cinema’s finest moments and I’m led to believe that he improvised much of it.

3) The Company of Wolves – being a massive Angela Carter fan it’s a real treat to see her literary genius transfigured into an amazingly evocative manifestation of every childhood fairy tale you were ever told. The Brother’s Grimm and then some...

4) The Outlaw Josie Wales – I like a good Western and this is one of the best. Great one liners too: “Hell’s come to breakfast”, “You gonna reach for that iron or just stand there whistling Dixie?” and “What we have in Texas is something called the Mississippi boat ride...”

5) Enchanted April – a lesser known Film Four production of the novel of the same name. It’s just a really lovely movie that makes the whole world seem much better. Josie Lawrence and Miranda Richardson put in breathtakingly gorgeous performances.

6) Donnie Darko – this film effects me on so many different levels I can’t even begin to describe them.

7) Unbreakable – I preferred this to Sixth Sense because it was so off the wall. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson both put in bruising yet vulnerable performances. A film that stays true to itself right to the last frame...

8) Lord Of The Rings – what can I say? It did the job for me. End of story.

9) About A Boy – I like the occasional chick flick and there’s just something about this that grabs me. I like the way the relationships within the film are handled. And it stars Toni Colette. That’s enough for me!

10) Memento – Guy Pierce is so good in this it’s untrue. Few films get this uncompromisingly dark. Not an easy film to watch but worth the effort.

Also vying for top ten places were: Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Unforgiven, Le Pacte De Loup, Plunkett & Macleane, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Get Carter, Elizabeth, Nil By Mouth, Akira, Planet Of The Apes (original), Kill Bill, L'Apartement, True Grit, Pulp Fiction, Muriel’s Wedding, LA Confidential, The Usual Suspects and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

Like I said, narrowing them down to a mere ten is nigh on impossible... and a top hundred would take far too much of my time to write up!

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Tache Ten

Dick Strawbridge pictureTen things you can do with the amazingly prehensile moustache of Dick Strawbridge, the Rex of Recycling on the BBC’s It’s Not Easy Being Green...

1) Weave the bristles into an amazingly robust kagoule that preserves body heat, protects against rain and allows you to strain homemade vegetable soup through the fabulously glossy fibres.

2) Wax, plait into spikes and imbed in the bottom of a freshly dug pit. Dick’s excellently nourished follicles are well known for having the strength to impale wild boars and grizzly bears upon the razor sharp points of their split ends.

3) Placed against a tree at an angle of 45 degrees Dick’s face curtain can be made into a makeshift bivouac when you are caught outside in the hostile elements unprepared. Dick’s heavy nasal breathing will also act as a comforting heat source. Be careful not to light a campfire though!

4) Carefully removed from Dick’s top lip and preserved in quick hardening resin the mighty moustache of manliness can be utilized as a highly effective boomerang. Not only will it break the neck of any passing kangaroo but it will also catch a shed load of witchetty grubs within its fur matting. A main course and dessert – what more could you ask for?

5) Finely chopped and added to a crucible containing iron ore, fired to a few thousand degrees Celsius and tempered in spring water for several days the resulting tensile-intensive blade can be worked and sharpened into an edge so sharp it can cut through the dimension of Time itself. It’s also great for skinning rabbits and paring fingernails.

6) Removed whole and the upper portion glued to a strip of elastic Dick’s hairy slug makes a quick and easy replacement for damaged or besmirched underpants. It fits all sizes and is completely unisex. Due to its patented maximum ventilation technology the Dick Pants will keep your bits and bobs cool and comfortable. Also doubles as a handy brush for the safe removal of winnits.

7) Chopped into half inch lengths and attached to a piece of chewing gum the resultant mini brush can be fastened to any handy vibrator to become a highly efficient electric toothbrush. Useful when pursuing a hot date or pitching product at a high powered business meeting when you’ve been foolhardy enough to have taken the garlic and onion salad option for lunch.

8) Mixed with mud and river clay, the resultant wattle and daub can be used to caulk damaged canoes, fishing boats and Trans-Atlantic cruise ships to protect them against water incursion, barnacle build up and terrorist attack. It is also guaranteed iceberg proof.

9) Diced in a Kenwood and added to a concoction of oysters, chocolate and Drambuie this highly potent potion will have the desired object of your lust eating out of your hand and wanting you to stroke them with your own bodily love follicles... simply add a couple of drops to a glass of wine or as the topping to a baked potato and your wicked way will be had. Hey, it works for Dick. Allegedly.

10) Feeling rather breast heavy? Super strength cantilevered endurance bra finally failed you? Simply tie the ends of Dick’s moustache together at the back of your neck and rest your nellies in the resultant bap hammock. The moustacho-bra can be removed from Dick’s top lip to make it more portable or if desired can be left attached so that Dick’s happy go-lucky mouth can act as a heatsink, thus keeping you cool as well as advising you on the best way to go green and save the environment as your boobs are transported safely and stylishly with you wherever you may chance to go. A similarly arranged nob hammock is currently at the testing stage of production.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

X Factoid

A good friend of mine, who shall henceforth be known only as Mr D to protect his oddly-valued anonymity, is auditioning for The X Factor on Monday 30th April. Brave man.

The auditions take place at the NEC in Birmingham and Mr D is already as nervous as all hell. Not that hell ever struck me as being nervous in itself but never mind... however he has a fine voice and like me, has reached that juncture in life where it’s a case of: "If I don’t do it now I never will". As an old school friend of mine once told me: it’s better to regret something you have done rather than something you haven’t.

I tried telling that to the police after ram-raiding a local Ann Summers outlet a few years back but inexplicably it cut me very little slack...

Joking aside, I hope you’ll all join with me in wishing him well as he braves the censure of the likes of Dermot O’Leary and Patrick Kielty et al. Go get ‘em with your hot, syrupy vocals my good man!

For those of you that are interested Mr D’s vocal talents can be sampled at singsnap.com under the beguiling nom de plume of "Wilson".

Good luck for Monday matey!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Blooming Marvellous

It’s midweek and despite feeling shattered I’m in a pretty good mood.

Karen paid a visit to the midwife yesterday. She’s making weekly visits now so that the midwife can listen to the baby’s heartbeat. I’m glad to say that a very strong, very regular whooshing noise could be heard and all indications are that the pregnancy is progressing well. Obviously after losing the baby last year we’re both experiencing frequent bouts of anxiety over this one and it’s nice to have such regular reassurances from the midwife.

Karen is certainly starting to look very pregnant now and is exhausted by her normal working day. By choice she’s continuing to work for a few more months and then will take off a good year or so after the baby is born to recover. It’s going to mean tight times ahead but it will undoubtedly be worth it.

On the novel front things are also progressing well. I’m now writing chapter 5 and am a healthy 24,812 words into it. My mate, Tris, thinks I’m making good progress from this statistic but having previously only written and published poetry I’m finding it hard to judge the novel’s development. I guess all I can do is plough ahead and try to write as best I can. Sounds a rather mawkish and overly simplified approach but it seems to be working so far.

I took the speculative step of getting some business cards printed up for my web design business this month too. I’ve now taken delivery of 500 self-designed business cards which I shall be releasing into the world forthwith. Hopefully some local computer retailers will see fit to display my sumptuously designed calling cards and then I can sit back and watch as a host of work offers don’t flood in...

And finally Karen and I have booked our summer holiday. We deliberated and cogitated over a week in Paris. We ummed and ahhed over renting a cottage not far from Nantes. But in the end decided on a week in Marazion in Cornwall and have rented a lovely little cottage overlooking the sea. France would have been nice but Karen will be heavily pregnant by then and not up to the discomfort of overnight ferry rides... and to ensure her comfort with a cabin inflated the price of the holiday way beyond the reach of our meagre budget. The train to Paris would have been better but in the end we decided we wanted a relaxing outdoor holiday as opposed to being swept up in the madness of a city. Albeit a very cultured and beautiful one.

So Cornwall it is and France can wait until next year. Or at least until my finances are healthy again!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dalek Divergence

Daleks picFour weeks into the new series of Doctor Who and it’s safe to say that Freema Agyeman has stepped up the plate admirably – she fits the bill, does the job, wears the hat and every other euphemism that defines universal acceptance.

The ghost of Rose Tyler has been well and truly exorcised. Helped no doubt by the fact that for the first time this season she wasn’t name-checked at some point by the Doctor. Much as I liked Rose it’s time she was laid to rest.

RIP (Rest In Panto).

And what of this week’s dynamic Dalek dichotomy?

In the words of my wife, Karen, the story was "classic Doctor Who" and that is high praise indeed. Daleks trundling menacingly down dark, murky corridors, American’s being genetically transformed into pig-men and a chorus line of gorgeously nubile NY broads. Hey – everything you need for a worthwhile Saturday night in.

I was dying for the Daleks to join the chorus line. Seeing Black Dalek Sec doing the Chattanooga choo choo would have been a marvellous piece of television. Ah well. Never mind. Maybe next week.

I liked the whole ambience of 1930’s New York and thought the show handled it well. It’s a big period to take on and capture but the show’s producers did so convincingly.

The story was excellent too – finely paced, plenty of action, political comment, social comment and fantastic emotion. Despite the proliferation of the Daleks the human element of this story was massive and helped make it a winner in my book.

My only niggle is the idea of the Daleks bending their obsessive adherence to species purity and splicing themselves genetically with humans – a far inferior species. Sure, I can understand the argument they expounded – the need to ensure their survival in the face of imminent extinction but even so. Why pick humans? Why pick the 1930s?

Why not splice a Dalek with a dolphin instead? Just as intelligent. Better swimmers. And they’ve got lovely disarming smiles.

Anybody for a Dalphin? Or a Dolphlek?

Catch a fish, anyone?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reservoir Dorks

Alan Sugar picKaren and I were further amused by the antics of the business bods on The Apprentice last night and even more amused by the antics of Sir Al.

There is a definite grey motif going on at Amstrad Mansions or wherever it is that the Holy Sugared One bases himself. Sir Al seems to be covered in a fine down of grey hair that I’m sure covers his entire face. Does he employ a topiary expert to shave his head into the inimitable Alan Sugar shape that we all know and... well, not exactly love but instantly recognize?

My own personal theory is that aliens are ruling the Amstrad roost. The greys have landed. Sir Alan is some kind of genetically modified gooseberry and rather appropriately sits between the two greyest people on the entire planet: Margaret Mountford and Nick Hewer. Surely these people are automatons controlled by remote signals emitted from the depths of some Amstrad computer shaped spacecraft in secret orbit around our primitive little world?

There is something dead eyed and emotionally void about them both. Every last drop of personality has been leeched out of them. Maybe Sir Alan regularly sups this heady brew to keep himself so vital and young looking...?

Great. First aliens and now vampiric qualities to boot. You can see why The Apprentice keeps me hooked can’t you?

Anyway, Mr Grey and his two plaster-board sidekicks rule the booted and suited combatants with great aplomb and the programme is a great demonstration of business psychology and competitive human interaction at work. There is something incredibly satisfying about watching all these smug, arrogant, super confident scheisters continually falling flat onto their own faces and displaying their immense business ineptitude... thus proving that despite their 6 figure salaries they really are no better than the rest of us grubbing about in the mud to acquire a paltry 5 figures on our payslips.

I pity Sir Al having to choose one of them to be his next apprentice, I really do.

He’d be much better off employing that bloated little dwarf they found at Roswell...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Sign Of Madness?

Possibly I’m over-worked.

Possibly it’s a sign of early dementia.

But as I walked to work this morning I found myself musing on whether there is a medical condition whereby people name their own farts and whether this condition has an appropriately double-barrelled Latin sounding title.

“Hello, I’m Billy Nomates and I suffer from Flatulence Nomenclature Disorder.”

If there is such a condition and it doesn’t yet have a medical title can I patent F.N.D?

Hmm.

I think I need a damn good holiday...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

MySpace

The more eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the new MySpace link on the right. What can I say? Some sort of cyber madness drove me to acquire a MySpace profile. I guess there’s some kind of ego thing at work here – wanting to stamp as much internet territory with my name as possible. Hey – it beats urinating on lampposts.

Just.

Anyway, I can’t say that I’m particularly impressed with the MySpace set-up. It’s all rather drab, clunky and workmanlike. There’s no finesse or sophistication to it. I much prefer good ol’ Blogger. Customizing MySpace is a complete pain in the A too – in the end I had to download some pre-written code just to make my profile look half decent. Unfortunately it doesn’t spruce up the MySpace Blog section so I don’t think I’ll be particularly dedicated to keeping it up-to-date. My devotion to Blogger will continue unabated.

The only good thing I can say about MySpace is it’s an opportunity for a spot of self-advertising on the World Wide Web. And it’s free...

I’d only recommend it if you’re terminally bored.

(But if you already have a profile and want to join my friends list – feel free!)

;-)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Up The Spears Of Sparta!

300 pictureKaren and I experienced the visual butch-fest that is 300 the other day – the latest film by Zack Snyder based on the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller.

And what a visual feast it was too. Beautifully restrained colour palettes, titan-esque picture composition, manly voices deeper than Barry White’s g-string and a super baddy who was camper than Charles Hawtrey in a pink tent pitched by the side of a Cornish Maypole.

There are definite homoerotic motifs present throughout the film – the Spartans are all incredibly muscular and spend the entire film prowling about with hardly any clothes on, thrusting their mighty spears into an unending host of enemies. The main bad guy himself, Xerxes, is a 9ft giant who in the words of one reviewer (whose name I forget) looks and acts more like RuPaul than a Persian God-King-Warrior. He is also in charge of a grotesque harem of carnivalesque and misshapen concubines that reminded me more of a monster-mash of creatures from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser films than a true Persian harem. But hey – what do I know?

The audience is therefore presented with the implied effeminacy, homosexuality and fetishism of the Persians and the manly, strength-as-virtue, battle honour heroics of the hugely outnumbered Spartans. For me such over-simplified divisions are a little too uncomfortable to palate. I was also uncomfortable with the politics of the film – the West (Greeks) versus the East (Persia) – given the present world predicament, though the whole premise could easily be turned upside-down when you consider that the West / America has more in common with the vast hordes and fire power of Xerxes than the poor outnumbered Spartans facing invasion by a foreign enemy...

The film also shamelessly glorifies violence and death in battle. I realize the film makers are merely trying to give us a flavour of the Spartan ethos that led 300 men to face an entire army but in the morally conscientious world of 2007 such machismo carries undertones of foolhardiness – for all the Spartan’s stand is deeply heroic and truly admirable.

Despite my problems with the film though I really enjoyed it. Yes it is violent but there is something cartoon-like about the violence that stays true to the visual nature of the original graphic novel: it’s cartoony but not in a desensitizing sense although it does allow the audience to offset the horror of bloodshed a little. That sounds like a paradox but I can’t really explain it any better. Go see the film and you’ll understand what I mean. Visually the film is stunning – it is sumptuously photographed – and provided you disengage your politics and any historical knowledge beforehand it’s a film that most people I think will enjoy.

You’ll never see a big man’s spear handled so well...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

This Was NOT Acceptable In The 80s!

Has every DJ in the UK taken a kick-back from Calvin Harris’s record company?

No matter where I go, no matter when I turn the radio on I am plagued with “Acceptable In The 80s” – surely the most abominable recording since Maggie Thatcher’s “Where there is despair may we bring hope” speech in the late 70s.

Stupid lyrics. Stupid pitch-warped vocals. And a stupid fake reedy synth backdrop that sounds like it was composed on a Bontempi organ. Utter utter shite.

This would absolutely have NOT been acceptable in the 80s.

It even wouldn’t have been acceptable in the 90s and that’s saying something.

Calvin. You may have hugs and love for people born in the 80s but for those who experienced their teenage years during that period we have nothing for you but a rather stiff middle finger.

Swivel you wasock.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Is There Life On Mars? Definitely.

Life On Mars picThe Great Work has finished.

Tuesday nights will never be the same again. I feel as bereft as when Cracker came to a close.

So – was the conclusion of Life On Mars worth waiting for? Did it manage to fulfil every expectation, every need, answer every question and give everyone a believable happy ending?

That would be a tall order even for Shakespeare!

However I think the writers did the job rather nicely. The episode was poignant and sad. It kept me and Karen on the edge of our seats all the way through. It answered so many questions but raised a whole load more. And most of all it played with our heads mercilessly right up to the last moment.

Was Gene Hunt the tumour or was it Frank Morgan? Did Sam make it back to 2007 or did he stay in the coma the entire time. Did Sam commit suicide or just leap from one reality to another?

Half way through I was convinced that Frank Morgan was the cancer wanting Sam to abandon Hunt and Co. – all the people that have contributed to Sam’s formation and upbringing – in order to take over his brain and kill him. Frank was after all from C Division.

Yet the tumour was benign. So was Gene Hunt the tumour after all? Wow. Can Gene Hunt ever be seen as benign?

At the end, back in 1973 the radio garbled the words “He’s slipping away from us…” and Sam deliberately changed channel. Is Sam dying or is he slipping further into a coma that he never actually awoke from? The camera angle rising upwards as they drive away would suggest that he’s dead… but it is only a suggestion.

I actually like having the ending so enigmatic and open. The writers have performed a work of sheer genius in my opinion. What’s the best way of pleasing everybody? Give them a choice! Answers are there if you want them but they’re fluid enough that they can be turned to fit any number of theories. You choose.

For me what matters most is that Sam was true to himself.

That’s what the entire series has been about after all.

Life On Mars will be sadly missed.

Monday, April 09, 2007

In The Meantime…

Karen and I are absolutely cream-crackered after spending a glorious weekend just over the Welsh border in Monmouthshire. We have conquered The Great Skirrid and come away with sunburn and our souls replenished as a consequence.

Until I can summon up the energy to toss more wordage into the electronic ether please accept the scan picture below of the little ‘un taken last Monday as a token of my verbal esteem…

Baby scan pic

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sugar Off!

Alan Sugar pictureKaren and I guffawed ourselves silly watching The Apprentice last night. What a sorry-arsed bunch of booted-and-suited halfwits, scheisters and ego-blown grifters the latest bunch of Amstrad job applicants are. I wouldn’t employ any of them to clean my toilet let alone give them a 6 figure salary to boost Alan Sugar’s bloated bank account.

The task last night was a real stinker. The teams had to design and market some kind of doggy essential that the UK’s millions of dog owners would go absolutely barking for – so much so they’d happily part with the £29.99 asking price for whatever tat the teams eventually came up with.

The utter dross that the teams thought up made me correctly conclude that these overpaid billionaire-wannabes know more about drain-storming than brain-storming. What utter sewage. A crappy looking doggy wardrobe was one team’s uber-work. Literally a tatty Formica box complete with silver bone shaped door handles into which the nutty dog owner could throw all their expensive doggy paraphernalia. It looked like a mini wardrobe for a white trash Barbie. But at least it was better than the “dog nappy” idea that they originally came up with. The other team – the boys, naturally – came up with a Rambo style utility belt for the hapless dog owner. It featured removable pockets into which the canine fan could shove bones, balls and pooper scoopers galore. It’s a real shame it didn’t have an auto-destruct button.

Christ. And these people are the business world’s elite?

Sir Al would be better off employing me. I came up with three sterling doggy-gadget ideas within ten minutes this morning and here they are for your delectation.

1) The Dog Papoose. Simply a Velcro Coat for both owner and dog so that the fashionable dog owner can carry their fatigued mutt easily and safely attached to their own chest or back. Obviously such a mode of carriage is not recommended for un-gelded Alsatians or Mastiffs.

2) Take ‘Im Out In Style. You know the situation. Your hound is on his last legs and needs to be put down fast but you can’t afford the extortionate veterinary fee – not and buy the new PlayStation 3. What you need is the Take ‘Im Out In Style dog taser gun. Delivers a massive electric shock which will painlessly fry your pooch for a fraction of the price of a lethal injection. It’s a darn sight more entertaining too. Who said dogs can’t dance? The tag line for this product could be: Take ‘im out for the last time... take ‘im out in style!

3) I’ve saved the best till last. The Sugar Shagger. You want your canine pal to sow his wild oats so you’ve left his undercarriage intact. Unfortunately he tries to hump everything and everyone in sight as a consequence. If only there was something he could expend his four-legged energy and seed upon. Well, now there is! The Sugar Shagger. Carefully moulded from synthetic easy-clean material the Sugar Shagger’s behind is modelled on the best canine rump available (this year’s Cruft’s Winner or Posh Spice – not decided which yet). With full working parts and “service hatch” The Sugar Shagger will allow Fido to have his way harmlessly and safely until such time as you can get him a real doggy piece of ass. But here’s the clever part. You know how branding is important? Corporate identity is essential to a good sale? Well the front end of The Sugar Shagger is expertly modelled to resemble Sir Alan Sugar himself. Watch his beard wiggle as Fido buries his bone. Watch his piggy eyes light up as Fido howls his ecstasy. And at the moment of climax Sir Al’s voice will bring Fido back down to earth with a gruff, “You’re totally spent, son, you ain’t no good to me... you’re fired.”

Offers anyone?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nuchal News

You’ll all be pleased to hear that Karen’s nuchal scan went well on Monday – no sign of any abnormalities and the baby seems to be developing just fine. Nice strong heartbeat and a real wriggler to boot. The blood test results received yesterday evening also backed up all the positive indicators. In fact Karen’s blood test results were like those of a teenager which is pretty damn good going for a something-older-year old.

We also came away with a nice DVD of the scan which makes for amazing viewing – but then I am biased. It’s incredible how much can be seen even at the 12 week stage. Weirdly, spying on this “life-before-life” world felt a little invasive even as it was absolutely compelling. At one moment the baby seemed to cover its face with one of its hands as if to say “leave me alone, this is private”. It was quite humbling.

We have another scan next week and the midwife is going to make a point of regularly listening to the baby’s heartbeat. All this attention is very comforting to be sure and we’ll certainly be lapping up all that they throw at us. One lesson we’ve learned: you can’t be too careful...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dark Roots

Anna Nicole Smith pictureCompelled by curiosity, Karen and I watched Dark Roots: The Anna Nicole Smith Story on Channel 4 last night. It made sombre, sad and oddly solemn viewing. On the whole though I felt the show was largely disrepsepctul, unsympathetic and part and parcel of the awful media circus that undoubtedly contributed towards Anna Nicole’s death.

It’s too easy to see Ann Nicole as nothing more than a stupid, pouty blonde, breast enhanced, coked-up redneck who never ever escaped from the trailer trash po’cracker mindset that she was born into.

Which is all a bit too one dimensional for my liking.

Yes I know she played along with the oversexed dumb blonde image but I have a feeling it said little about her true self and more about the men around her who all, as far as I can see, were more determined to acquire material gain for themselves than to give Anna Nicole any emotional and financial stability (with the exception of her husband, J. Howard Marshall II). Despite the brazen TV and DVD appearances there was something ineffably wounded about Anna Nicole Smith and you can’t help but wonder just what a screwed-up childhood she must have had. Hell, I can hazard a few guesses but let’s leave those floating in the ether, shall we?

The TV show did little to get to the heart of Anna Nicole’s tragedy. As documentaries go it was scrappy, uninformative and merely reproduced the lazy media veneer of Anna Nicole Smith rather than expose her true soul. The interviews with her family and friends – who all, I have to say, looked like damaged stock – merely underlined how ill equipped Anna Nicole was to lead the big boobed bunnygirl lifestyle that she felt was her only route out of Trailer Park, Trashville, Tennessee.

The interviews and media clips were continually interspersed with an awful, fake hillbilly, banjo-based ditty whose lyrics only served to belittle and poke fun at Anna Nicole. Half way through I was entertaining a mad desire to see the banjo player and redneck vocalist tied to the fender of a Texas pickup truck by their small red hairy balls and driven into a gator infested swamp... if only.

Even searching on the internet for a picture of Anna Nicole Smith to illustrate this blog I was shocked to see how many topless, nipple oiled shots there are of Anna Nicole available on the net. You don’t even have to use any “dirty” phrases in the search. Just her name will do it. Is this all she meant to people? Do we think no more of her than a massive pair of breasts and pouty red lips parting provocatively? No wonder she was so unhappy.

Anyway. The overriding feeling I came away with was how sad, lost and continually let down Anna Nicole Smith was by everybody around her. Everybody except her son which explains why his death sounded the death-knell for Anna Nicole Smith herself too. Poor kid.

And that applies to both of them.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Verdict:

Doctor Who picReserved. But then I’ve always been a cautious wee soul.

But I will say that I enjoyed last night's episode hugely and think that the injection of Miss Jones (o-oer, Rigsby) will be a very good thing. She’s got a fire and an upfrontness which works well with Tennant’s frenetic Doctor. Straight in and no messing. In yer face geezer. Take it or leave it. Which was just what this first episode needed: a few nods to the past but mainly chowing down on the breakneck action of the present.

And what great action it was. Stompy aliens with massive horns and leather skirts rampaging around a hospital inexplicably sucked onto the moon, talking like Barry White farting into a biscuit tin and marking everybody with an X. Wow. Just like going to a nightclub in Birmingham. Only with more expensive looking women.

Talking of which, didn’t Freema look lovely. Always helps, doesn’t it, eye candy?

For me the only real question mark is over her family. How long before they grate so much on my tits that I start praying for another Darlek invasion to wipe them out? To be fair the only ones that really annoyed me were the dad and his blonde dolly bird. They were like a couple of characters from Eastenders only without the benefit of two dimensions. Too cartoony. The mother was good though.

Anyway, I think it’s far too early to say whether it’s an out and out success. The first episode gets a thumbs up but I’m going to give it a couple more weeks to see how it all beds down before I deliver my final judgment.

Unlike the Judoon, my judgment is not swift. Though it might be Swiftian