Archive for the ‘Fun Things’ Category
I heard about these listening to the Slate Political Gabfest. This is from the 1944 CIA Manual on how to sabotage organisations.
What I loved about this is we all know people like this in organisations we belong to. They may not realise that they are saboteurs, but they are.
The gabfest participants added on a 9th one for the modern age. Schedule lots of meetings with video-conferencing in areas with poor wireless as you’ll spend half your time dealing with people dropping in and out!Tags: CIA, sabotage
CBS Television Studios announced today it will launch a totally new Star Trek television series in January 2017. The new series will blast off with a special preview broadcast on the CBS Television Network. The premiere episode and all subsequent first-run episodes will then be available exclusively in the United States on CBS All Access, the Network’s digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service.
The next chapter of the Star Trek franchise will also be distributed concurrently for television and multiple platforms around the world by CBS Studios International.
The new program will be the first original series developed specifically for U.S. audiences for CBS All Access, a cross-platform streaming service that brings viewers thousands of episodes from CBS’s current and past seasons on demand, plus the ability to stream their local CBS Television station live for $5.99 per month. CBS All Access already offers every episode of all previous Star Trek television series.
The brand-new Star Trek will introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966.
Alex Kurtzman will serve as executive producer for the new Star Trek TV series. Kurtzman co-wrote and produced the blockbuster films Star Trek (2009) with Roberto Orci, and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) with Orci and Damon Lindelof. Both films were produced and directed by J.J. Abrams.
Very excited by this.
There have been five main Star Trek series:
- Original 1966 – 69
- Next Generation 1987 – 94
- DS9 1993 – 99
- Voyager 1995 – 2001
- Enterprise 2001 – 2005
I never got into Deep Space 9 much. I rate Next Generation as may favourite series, followed by the original and then Enterprise.Tags: Star Trek
The Herald reports:
Oxford University scientists have created a series of body maps that show just where we are comfortable to be touched. …
It also showed – again, unsurprisingly – that the less we know someone, the less comfortable we are to be touched by them. However, there was one noticeable exception.
Men, it seems, have no areas which would be completely off limits to a touch from a total stranger – as long as the stranger is a woman.
This is amusing, but also no surprise.
How often do you see men hugging each other?
I am an occasional man hugger – like when we have just got to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, or when NZ wins the rugby world cup. Or maybe if someone has died!
In general the closer the relationship, the fewer areas of the body that were taboo, although people tended to be uncomfortable about letting anyone except their nearest and dearest touch their erogenous zones.
This meant that while a woman might be happy for her uncle to stroke her back, her front would be off limits. And male strangers should note that almost all parts of the female body are to be avoided, other than the hands.
Interestingly, the men studied had a different viewpoint.
They didn’t want another man touching them, with even the head and the feet no-go zones.
However, almost the entire male body was up for grabs to a female stranger or acquaintance, with no part considered taboo.
In fact, for men, a woman they barely know has similar “touching rights” to a parent and more than a brother or sister, the journal Proceedings of the Royal Academy of Sciences reports. Although the reason for this is not clear, the study did find that the more pleasurable a touch was believed to be, the larger the body area that person was allowed access to.
I could take a wild guess at the reason!Tags: Fun Things
200 heads of state and/or government have been rated in order of hotness here.
This is No 1 – Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Bhutan. He is aged 35.
And at the bottom No 200 is Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of North Korea. He is aged 32.No tag for this post.
The Daily Mail reports:
In-flight television screens are to be axed from long-haul flights in and out of the UK with carriers streaming content to passengers’ mobile phones and tablets instead, it has emerged.
WestJet, a low-cost airline which will launch transatlantic flights out of London’s Gatwick Airport next year, will be among the first to remove entertainment systems from the back of airline seats for long-haul flights.
The move comes in favour of allowing passengers to stream content directly to their own devices, with a superfast wireless internet connection set to be provided to each plane by satellites.
The scrapping of in-flight entertainment systems by WestJet, which will fly from London to six Canadian cities from May 2016, will reportedly remove more than 1,500lbs of weight from each plane.
This will allow hefty fuel savings to be made, meaning other airlines could be set to follow suit.
Richard Bartrem, the vice-president of WestJet, told The Times: ‘Today, more than 80 per cent of our guests are boarding with a device. The new system will allow us to provide a better, more relevant service to our guests while continuing to offer low fares.’
I think this is a great idea. I’d much rather have Internet on board allowing me to view my own choice of movies or TV, than the limited supply on board.No tag for this post.
A guest post by Tom Hunter:
No tag for this post.
In Back to the Future II there’s a scene where the character of Marty McFly, transported thirty years into the future world of 2015, sees a piece of sports news and exclaims:
“Wait a minute, Cubs win World Series? Against Miami?”
It’s somewhat of an inside-joke. When the movie was released in 1989 there was no baseball team in Miami and the Chicago Cubs had not won the World Series (WS) in 81 years. But the Boston Red Sox drought had then lasted for 71 years. The Cubs cross-town rivals, the White Sox, stood at 72 years. Moreover, the team was in the playoffs that year and it must have seemed reasonable odds to the scriptwriters to think that by 2015 they’d win it all. Surely no club could be such losers for that long?
It’s now 106 years.
No other major team in any sport has experienced such a drought. For 69 years they’ve not even won the National League (NL) pennant, which merely gets you into the WS. The next worst baseball team are the Cleveland Indians on 67 years.
A writer once said that there were two types of baseball losers. The first type were the Red Sox, who specialised in regularly taking their fans to the brink of winning it all – before stabbing them right through the heart. The second type were the Cubs – who never win anything. But as if to show the way, the Red Sox in 2004, and the White Sox in 2005, would prove it was possible, leaving the Cubs stranded almost alone on a desert island of dull mediocrity.
It’s a cruel reflection on their players and fans that many would take the fate of the pre-2004 Red Sox at least once in a lifetime. The famous Chicago journalist (and Cub fan), Mike Royko, would exhibit this feeling by inventing what he called “The Cubs Factor”: in any World Series one could predict the winner by counting up the number of ex-Cubs players on each team; the winner was whoever had the fewest. Fans created the Emil Verban society, celebrating a perfectly ordinary Cubs player – no Hall of Famer he – as the perfect example of the team. Verban was still alive when the club started in the 1970’s and felt it to be an insult, until he met President Reagan and discovered that he too, was a member of the society and a fan.
It did not have to be this way. Chicago always had the population and wealth to supply a team with all the cash it needed to buy good players or produce them through the so-called “farm” system, the layers of minor league teams through which young stars can rise. The Cubs were one of the founding teams in the 19th century, helping create the National League. They dominated the 1900’s, winning two World Series against the new American League, losing a couple of others, but always threatening. Fans of other teams lamented the Cubs powerful infield defence, even writing a poem about them – “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” – Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance, who regularly destroyed opponents with their fielding. This strength continued well into the 1930’s, where they appeared in several post-season series, and lost, but no differently than did other storied clubs such as the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
It was not until after the last World Series for the Cubs in 1945 that the decline truly began. For almost four decades the team would linger at or near the bottom of the tables. This was not losing, it was futility. There was a brief burst of sunshine in 1969 when they dominated the NL teams – right up until the last month of the season, when they collapsed, the NY Mets sweeping past them to top the NL and enter the World Series, which they then won. Adding heat to the ashes in the mouths of Cubs fans was the fact that the Mets had only existed since 1962. It was in this period that the story of The Curse began to spread.
The Red Sox had the Curse of the Bambino of course. The ghost of Babe Ruth, sold in 1918 after he’d pitched the Red Sox to yet another championship, because the owners thought his pitching days were done and that his batting did not fit the world of “small ball”, steadily moving runners around the bases. They were right on both counts but Ruth simply changed the game itself by hitting endless home runs, coming to dominate it as no other player had – and he would do it for their bitterest enemies, the New York Yankees, winning championship after championship. This was a curse of great power and evil, cast by the Dark Lord himself, a lightning scar stamped onto the foreheads of Red Sox players and fans for all to see and whisper about. The team that lived – while its fans suffered and died.
The Curse of the Goat does not rise to that level, yet another example of the pallid nature of Cub-world. The story goes that in 1945 the owner of the famous Billygoat Tavern strolled uptown to Wrigley Field to watch a WS game, with his pet billygoat in tow. Refused entry to the stadium on account of the animal, he laid a curse upon the Cubs, declaring that they would never again win a championship. Nobody took any notice and the spread of the apocryphal story was likely due to the fact that the tavern was the watering hole of Royko, Studs Terkel and other Chicago scribes. But it stuck. So much so that at one point when the team had lost the first sixteen games of a season – leading a radio DJ to exclaim, “Come on guys! Let’s win ………. one” – the son of the owner was tracked down by fans, who persuaded him to walk a billygoat around the field before the start of a game. The Cubs lost anyway.
Could fate be any more cruel.
It turns out that it could. If anything the 1970’s were the bottom of the barrel. The real problem was not the magical powers of farm animals but ownership and management. The team had been owned for decades by the Wrigley Family (of Wrigley chewing gum fame) and they treated the team the way an ageing English Lord might treat some shabby castle he’s inherited. There was no focus, no fight, and perhaps not even much desire to make the team winners.
Their fortunes only began to improve when the Wrigley family finally tired of their chew toy and sold out in 1981. Just three years later the Cubs made it to the playoffs. Perhaps not knowing how to cope with this, they lost against a team that seemed no better than they. The new owners were the Tribune Company. They made the team the centrepiece of their local TV station, WGN, and then linked it to other TV stations across the country to form a so-called “Super-Station”. With cable and satellite TV in their infancy the Tribune created hundreds of thousands of new fans and re-captured old ones in areas that had no major league team, or which contained pockets of Chicago and Mid-West retirees, where the big networks would often only show games from big name clubs. The team developed a substantial and unique nationwide following. But they were also pushed to win.
They would hit the playoffs again in 1989, ’98, 2003, ’07, and ’08. Each time they fell short, but this was still manna from heaven for survivors of the Wrigley famine. Fans began to calculate that at a minimum the law of averages would begin to tell in their favour; make the playoffs often enough and sooner or later lightning must strike.
The 2003 series showed that the game is something more than averages. Playing for the NL Championship against the Florida Marlins in a best-of-seven series, the Cubs were leading in games by 3-2 and, in the eighth inning of the decisive sixth game, by 3 runs to 0. With one out, a Marlin batter popped up a foul ball down the left-field fence, the ball falling just one row into the crowd. Moises Alou, a skilled and experienced fielder reached into the crowd to grab the ball with his mitt, his eyes following it all the way. But Alou suddenly found the hands of a fan – Steve Bartman – also reaching for the ball, which hit them and bounced further into the crowd.
Despite his years of professional play Alou lost the plot, yelling at the fan and arguing for long minutes with the umpires. The ugly mood spread fast. It was as if a switch were thrown and the power drained from the fans and the players, although it would be in keeping with the Curse to imagine the feeling as one in which a magical, happy spell has suddenly been broken. In an instant stomachs fell, mouths went dry and throats closed as all the old fears rose up: the black bile that accompanies being the “Loveable Losers” of baseball, and cursed.
The team went from being on cruise control to simply falling apart, the Marlins feasting on them for eight runs in that inning to win. A listless, demoralised Cubs team lost the next game and the series. They had been just five outs away from entering the World Series to play against a shaky Yankee team, whom the Marlins would beat up to gain their second WS win in just over a decade of existence. Steve Bartman needed four beefy cops around him to leave the stadium and found himself subject to almost intolerable abuse afterward just for being at the centre of sporting history and doing what any fan would – but the truth was that Alou, and then his team, had simply not coped with the ordinary adversity of a single mistake.
Fans were annoyed rather than distressed at later losses in 2007 and 2008, when the Cubs were simply beaten by better teams. But 2003 was an introduction to Red Sox world. It was little consolation to know that the they had also fallen the same way that year – in seven games and getting to within five outs of winning the AL pennant. Naturally it was against the Yankees. Fans across America raised their eyebrows and marvelled at the power of the respective curses.
So here we are in 2015 and the Cubs are in the playoffs again. Hopes, always pegged low, have steadily risen. They entered as a Wild Card team, due to finishing third in the Central Division of the NL. But this time it’s only because the two best teams in baseball – in terms of season wins and losses – came 1st and 2nd in the same division. The Cubs finished the season of 162 games with a better win-loss ratio than any other team in either league except those two – the Pittsburgh Pirates and old foes from down the I-55, the St Louis Cardinals. The latter had won 100 games, always the mark of a great team.
Incredibly the Cubs have now beaten both, and beaten them well. They’re a young team and seem to be playing with joy and verve, uncaring of the weight of history. They will soon face the despised enemies of Cub fans everywhere, the New York Mets – a team whose evil I never fully understood until a TV break during a game when their “fans from Down Under” were introduced: Australian cricketers Greg and Ian Chapple. The series will decide the NL Pennant and see who goes to the show on October 27.
So is this it? Will the capricious gods of baseball be appeased? Will the curse of the damnable goat be lifted? Will the shameful stain of Loveable Losers be wiped away? You’ll have to forgive this New Zealand fan if I turn my lonely eyes away from the All Blacks in late October. They’re already winners many times over and I must support the underdog of all underdogs.
No Cub fan will ever get too confident, even if they’re leading three games to zero, holding a 10 run lead going into the 9th inning of the decider. But if a smoking DeLorean screams into existence at the entrance to Wrigley field on October 21st and Marty McFly steps from it to pronounce that the Cubs will win, the fans would not doubt their eyes and ears for a moment.
After 106 years of failure they’ll believe anything!
Five Thirty Eight has surveyed readers on the most rewatchable movies. There is a difference between great and rewatchable. Two of the movies I have rewatched countless times are Life of Brian and Blues Brothers.
Their top 25 are:
|2||The Wizard of Oz||76|
|3||The Sound of Music||58|
|4||The Lord of the Rings (series)||56|
|5||Gone With the Wind||52|
|6||The Princess Bride||45|
|8||The Shawshank Redemption||42|
|9||Harry Potter (series)||36|
|10||It’s A Wonderful Life||35|
|16||The Lion King||28|
|24||Pride & Prejudice||19|
What would you add to this list?
Earlier this year I rewatched all six Star Wars movies in preparation for Episode VII. And currently rewatching the Indiana Jones films.Tags: films
The Telegraph reports:
This might just be one of the last articles you ever read because Doomsday is coming, a Christian group has warned.
So if you’re worried about being charged 5p for plastic bags for the rest of your life, then worry no more.
Just a few weeks after Nasa dismissed warnings of a blood moon apocalyptic meteor strike, the threat of another world-ending event has appeared on the horizon.
Chris McCann, leader of the eBible fellowship and all-round God expert, believes the world will be engulfed and destroyed by a great fire on October 7.
If you’re seeing this blog post, then I guess he was wrong.
The Herald reports:
Jeremy Clarkson will earn more than $23 million a year for his new Amazon car show, with James May, Richard Hammond and producer Andy Wilman close behind.
The former Top Gear host, unceremoniously sacked from the BBC show this year, will reportedly pocket $70m from the streaming service over a three-year period.
The rumoured fee means the 55-year-old would be paid nearly $2m per episode, making him Britain’s highest paid TV host.
Boy he’s really hurting being sacked from the BBC. His income has increased around five fold.
Amazon Prime apparently spent $380m signing up the trio, making it Amazon’s biggest single investment in original content to date. With 36 episodes in the pipeline, each individual episode will have a reported $10m budget.
In contrast, the budget for Top Gear was just over $2.3m, including the presenter costs.
Can’t wait to see it.Tags: Jeremy Clarkson
The Guardian reports:
A new series of the 1980s BBC comedy Blackadder is on the cards, star Sir Tony Robinson has said – as long as they can afford Hugh Laurie’s wages.
Robinson, 69, who played Baldrick in all four series of the sitcom, joked that they might struggle to pay Laurie, who went on to become a major star in the US with the medical dramaHouse.
“I do think a new series of Blackadder is on the cards,” the comedian and TV presenter told the Sun. “I have spoken to virtually all the cast about this now. The only problem is Hugh’s fee. He’s a huge star now – or so he’d like to think.”
A 5th series of Blackadder would make me very happy.Tags: Blackadder
Saw an article about the “inventor” of the sandwich, Lord Sandwich – so checked out his Wikipedia page.
The modern sandwich is named after Lord Sandwich, but the exact circumstances of its invention and original use are still the subject of debate. A rumour in a contemporary travel book called Tour to London by Pierre Jean Grosley formed the popular myth that bread and meat sustained Lord Sandwich at the gamblingtable. A very conversant gambler, Lord Sandwich did not take the time to have a meal during his long hours playing at the card table. Consequently, he would ask his servants to bring him slices of meat between two slices of bread; a habit well known among his gambling friends. Because John Montagu was the Earl of Sandwich others began to order “the same as Sandwich!” – the ‘sandwich’ was born.
Never realised it was named after a person.
But what I really liked was this part:
In a famous exchange with the actor Samuel Foote, Sandwich declared, “Foote, I have often wondered what catastrophe would bring you to your end; but I think, that you must either die of the pox, or the halter.” “My lord”, replied Foote instantaneously, “that will depend upon one of two contingencies; — whether I embrace your lordship’s mistress, or your lordship’s principles.”
Wonderful!Tags: Lord Sandwich
By John Stringer
Martin Freeman is brilliant as Lester Nygaard in the 2014 SOHO TV series FARGO spin-off of the 1996 film.
What does one watch after Breaking Bad? Can anything be as good? Is life doomed as half-baked forever afterward as you wait for the next season of GoT or The Walking Dead?
There’s Season 2 of True Detective (starring a surprisingly different-looking Rachel McAdams of The Notebook) or Season 2 of Ray Donovan. Both are great, but neither quite cut the blue crystal meth. When the rellies were over from Perth recently, I forced everyone to watch FARGO (1996), because you’re not truly human till you’ve watched FARGO, don’cha know.
The classic and now iconic, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) FARGO 1996.
FARGO was that supremely awesome 1996 genre-breaking neo-noir black comedy crime thriller set in Minnesota and North Dakota near the Canadian border and based on real events. One of the key characters is dialect.
The Coen brothers are such excellent film makers. In 2006, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and inducted into the US National Film Registry for preservation. Has won heaps of awards.
It starred that surprise find Frances McDormand (above) as Marge (‘Margy’) Gunderson, a heavily pregnant local Minnesota police chief, and other well-known actors, such as William H. Macy (Jerry Lundegaard) whose inept crime falls apart due to bungling and the persistent police work of the extremely normal Marge. McDormand hasn’t been seen much since she played in a weird movie with George Clooney and Brad Pitt (Burn after Reading, 2008) in which Clooney plays an adulterating serial sex addict and Pitt plays his favourite crazy guy again (Fight Club and Twelve Monkeys).
SOHO to eternal praise has extended the 1996 FARGO film by creating a TV series that picks up exactly where the film left off. A suitcase of cash is stashed in the snow along a fence line in snow-swept wastes with a red windscreen scraper stuck in the ground to show where it is. And the Fargo legend continues.
The TV series is as brilliant as the film (described by some as the best new TV series). It stars Billy Bob Thornton as a seriously evil psychopathic serial hitman working amongst a cast of ordinary Joes over several years. Main protagonist is Lester Nygaard (rhymes with Lundergaard from 1996) played by Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins The Hobbit). All are just excellent. Allison Tolman re-plays ‘Marge’ but as Deputy Molly Solverson also pregnant like Gunderson in 1996. The Police Chief is ‘Sol Goodman’ of Breaking Bad (Bob Odenkirk) whose character in BB was so rich, the character spawned his own spin-off TV series as the ambulance chasing small-town crime lawyer. In Fargo 2014 he retires at the end of Season 1, due to the trauma, and Molly takes over as police chief, to complete the Marge Gunderson circle.
The series is full of black comedy and then sudden, unexpected violence, all the more black because of the ordinariness of it all (ceramic ducks on the back wall and sensible woolen jerseys with snow flake patterns). The juxtapositions are jolting. Well worth a watch.
I just LOVE this series. Season 1 is finished on SOHO but Prime is re-running it again on 4 and SOHO have SOHO POP-UP on 11 that runs the series as a marathon back-to back if you watch for that.
Here’s a quote from 1996: “So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well. I just don’t understand it.” ~ Marge Gunderson.
Here’s a great clip from the TV series.John Stringer
Flicks has run a survey of NZers over which films are their favourites. The top 10 are:
- The Shawshank Redemption
- The Empire Strikes Back
- The Godfather
- Pulp Fiction
- The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Dark Knight
- Forrest Gump
- Star Wars
- The Matrix
Seen all but No 10. Happened to just rewatch The Empire Strikes Back last weekend. The best of the six.
The Shawshank Redemption is my favourite film and have viewed it a dozen or more times.
I’d have Kill Bill Vol I in the top 10. It didn’t even make their top 100!
They also have the 10 most hated films. They are:
- Battlefield Earth
- Batman & Robin
- The Room
- The Last Airbender
- Jack and Jill
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
- Movie 43
- Disaster Movie
Luckily not seen most of them. Actually loved Sharknado – but only because it was so over the top bad it was funny.
Eric Barker at Time gives us some facts on alcohol backed up by research:
- If you want to crack someone’s skull, use an empty beer bottle, not a full one.
- Ban liquor and the homicide rate goes up.
- Vodka is more associated with homicide than beer or wine.
- Alcohol is the most harmful drug.
- Ban smoking and you get more drunk driving.
- 31% of rock star deaths are related to drugs or alcohol.
- You don’t function better after when you add Red Bull to your Vodka — you just think you do.
- Drinking makes you wealthier, can stave off dementia and help youlive a long life.
- Have the bartender use a tall, thin glass, not a short, fat one.
- You’remore creative when you’re drunk.
- Getting drunk makes you more think more politically conservative.
- You know what you’re doing when you’re drunk, alcohol just makes you care less about the consequences.
- Women like wine better when they think it’s expensive.
- One of the best predictors of how sexual a woman is is how much she drinks.
- Women probably get beer goggles worse than men.
- The answer to whether people like the taste of beer can predict if they have sex on the first date.
This is very funny. A piss take by The Katering Show.Tags: sugar
Stripper-fuelled funerals have been outlawed by the Chinese government.
The crackdown comes after two recent cases of countryside Chinese funerals that featured exotic dancers.
The strippers were allegedly hired to attract larger crowds of mourners.
The Chinese have always been great innovators!No tag for this post.
A MAN high on the drug flakka attacked a police officer after running naked through the streets shouting “I am God” and having sex with a tree, police said.
Kenneth Crowder, 41, was arrested in Melbourne, Florida, on Friday following a dangerous, drug-fuelled bender.
According to a police report obtained by Click Orlando, witnesses called cops after spotting Crowder having intercourse with a tree.
Ouch, that could hurt. I wonder how was he actually attempting sex with the tree?
When approached by an officer, Crowder acted aggressively and identified himself as God.
Police said Crowder was Tasered twice, but pulled out the electric probes before punching the officer.
The unhinged man also allegedly tried to stab the cop with his badge while screaming that he was Thor.
Thor is a god, not the God. He would knwo that if he hadn’t been high on flakka.Tags: Fun Things
December can’t come quickly enough!Tags: Star Wars
By John Stringer
I really likeTopGear, Jeremy Clarkson and James May (and the other good-looking one from The Monkeys). I watch it on rainy sunday afternoons, or with beer and dogs while Her WithinDoors is away and I have the man house to my rule-breaking self.
The three (plus The Stig) have a chemistry and a lad-ishness that gives me hope as a 50-something white flabby male. It’s either that, or take up Himalaya trekking and swimming. I’m not a petrol head, but once had a Jag (well, actually a Daimler Series ii , but everyone thinks it was an XJ6 and it’s made by Jag) and a 1939 Austin Minx (which I reminded everyone was born while Hitler was driving into Poland).
It was about the characters and the writing; May’s dry wit and Clarkson’s gorgeous turns of phrase. The three irresponsible petrol gurus take no prisoners, they are not beHOLDEN to corporate auto conglomerates who pay mega amounts to have their cars castigated and belittled. They are also passionate about driving, cars and on road awesomeness.
They’ve drawn millions like me, into a stupid car geek programme and made it thrilling, funny, entertaining, and made The Beeb millions (TopGear is their star programme). 12 seasons.
And so this debacle with Jeremy Clarkson, the tallest moai on this Easter Island, was like a very British spinster stoush unfolding on Coronation Street. Auntie Beeb and that tart Mrs Clarkson going at each other with handbags and hair nets. The Mirror reported Clarkson had made an “expletive-laden rant at a charity event” against BBC exec.s earlier in the week, later qualified as “meant in jest.”
But May was right, it was initially a fairly small private meltdown that became way bigger than it should have which was a “tragedy.” See here.
James May has done a series of on camera reactions from the front door of his modest Council-style flat (ya gotta love those Brit celebrities and their humble ‘ostentation’).
So initially I played this as a case of Political Correctness gone mad. Yes, there was the off camera ‘N’ bomb (which you can hear endlessly by any Black comedian and Rap artist over and over again, including in films) and the “slope” comment, which was obliquely racist but a really funny pun in the context of the sloping bridge. (Let’s be honest, EVERYONE does that behind closed doors; all human groups nick-name other groups).
But the Beeb – as May said on the clip – probably had their hands tied. It was not really about blokey Blokiness standing up to oppressive Stalinesque modernism that is hand wringing political correctness. No, it seems Jeremy is suffering from MANopause and went too far. As May says, “He’s a Nob.” The Sydney Morning Herald said he was a victim of his own behaviour. Brilliance and hubris; like that myth that all artists are manic depressives, their genius stalked by a converse.
But you have to give The BBC credit, they’ve handled this pretty well. Sure, it got away from them, but like a honed working-class British greyhound, they hauled in that runaway fluffy bunny and mouthed it several times. Tony Hall conducted a thorough investigation, and spoke to both parties about the incident. It was reported Clarkson had turned up at the producer’s house to make an apology, but was cold-shouldered.
Seems to me Clarkson was a bullying oaf; a 20 minute tirade of abuse against an innocent victim based on perceived elevated celebrity status and not getting special treatment (prima donna stuff) and then some sort of ‘handbagging’ incident. Various reports about a punch or not. Probably just some middle-aged man shuffling.
Reading Halls’ explanation (in full here below) you have to accept The Beebs position and actions. Clarkson is brilliant, loved by millions for his irreverence (note his Twitter count) and Britishcock a snoop, but was a bully and lost control. Tony Hall initially stepped in to delay an immediate sacking. Pproducer Oisin Tymon (opposite) was attacked and endured a sustained superiority tirade, in a work context. Unacceptable. Bullying is bullying, and no one should have to endure that, especially at work.
“First – The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price. Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect. I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff – who is a completely innocent party – took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.
“Second – This has obviously been difficult for everyone involved but in particular for Oisin. I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout. As a senior producer at the BBC he will continue to have an important role within the organisation in the future.
“Third – Obviously none of us wanted to find ourselves in this position. This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.
“The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked Kim Shillinglaw [Controller of BBC Two] to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programmes in the current series.”
Right result. Oisin Tymon will stay on, Clarkson has gone for unacceptable behaviour after a final written warning.
What next? Well, channels will be falling over one another to hire Clarkson for mega gazillions. Netflix is already a rumoured suitor. A successful rival may buy-up James May, Richard Hammond lock stock and barrel and parallel a similar show, or something new. The fans will slide and wheel burn over, and it will make the new company tonnes of money. But they’ll have to pay high, as Hammond and May also have other BBC shows they are involved with.
And I suspect Hammond and May without Clarkson will not work, like The Two Ronnieswithout sexual innuendo. But I hope they all work together to complete a successful 2015 series, perhaps with a funny focus on Clarkson’s departure. That would have class.
I like Clarkson, we need brigands like him, irreverent, Churchillian bulwarks against namby pamby, metrosexual hand-creamy politically correct 1984-ness. They give us hope. Clarkson is a kind of Beowulf epic hero, clad in furs with a dripping metaphoric battle axe of wit, double entendres and scathing put-downs.
So, Clarkson has been bumped on a pedestrian crossing and rushed to ER, where he’ll revive, arise as an anti-Beeb phoenix albeit somewhat shattered on a fast ferrari windscreen, and get paid even more. And as admirer Tony Hall director general of the BBC admits, “continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.” Like a revered but slightly naughty vintage classic that leaves too much oil on your driveway.
This was a very British debacle. The issues were all traversed through the tabloids, no one got too hand-wringy, the issues got put, there was perspective, and values, and a hard call (worth several gazillion to the BBC) taken in the interests of fairness, equal treatment. We got an actual outcome (Clarkson got sacked) , the victim was reassured and cemented in his employment (as the innocent in all this, he was). Clarkson was cut adrift with respect and acknowledgement today to slew new speedways, but without covering up or failing to acknowledge his offending Nob-ishness.
We await the next lap with petrol-heady expectation.
~ John StringerTags: Jeremy Clarkson, John Stringer
Middle eastern politics and terrorism was the prevalent theme with the cartoonists this week.
This cartoon is by Gary Varvel (whose cartoons are consistently funny and thought provoking).
The obvious dislike between Obama and Netanyahu must be music to the ears of Israel’s enemies in the Middle East. This is something I find very troubling as Israel and USA need to stand together now more than ever. In my opinion ISIS and friends are winning the war on terror. It pains me to admit it, but ISIS and friends are more organised than America and its allies. It is certainly reminiscent of the 1930’s when fascism was growing.
Also why is Obama so bent on agreeing to a deal with Iran? It seems like a very risky strategy to me.Tags: cartoons
Hillary and her emails was like last week the favourite topic with the cartoonists. Instead I’ve chosen two cartoons on different topics.
The first cartoon by John Deering makes fun of Obama’s Middle East policy in particular the relationship with Saudi Arabia.
© John Deering (Andy Marlette News Journal) – Found at Real Clear Politics
The second by Gary Varvel pokes fun at Washington DC and Republicans by showing the elephants.
© Gary Varvel – Found at Real Clear PoliticsTags: cartoons, US politics
The new season of Game of Thrones will screen in this country at exactly the same time as it does in the United States and in many other countries around the world.
That means the first episode of season five will be on Sky TV channel SoHo at 1pm on Monday, April 13, Sky head of publicity Lisa Franklin said in a statement.
I will be busy every Monday afternoon from 1 pm to 2 pm.
As well as the early-afternoon screenings, SoHo will repeat each episode in New Zealand at 8.30pm the same day.
Great move by Sky to show it simultaneously. People don’t want to wait half a day during which they read reviews.
Game of Thrones maker HBO said simultaneous screenings would take place in 170 countries and territories.
Good on HBO for also making the access rights available.Tags: Game of Thrones