Wednesday, May 25, 2016 

Who would notice the difference?

The former CEO of McDonald's has caused outrage after suggesting replacing the company's beef patties with formed round cakes of human excrement.

"I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday, and checked out an impressive start-up company that is making Scotch Eggs out of dog dirt, hipster beard shavings and cat eggs," said Ron McBurgler, "and it set me thinking. They're selling these foul creations for $10 a time.  Now just imagine if we could do away with the cow altogether, recycle our own waste products, and put the prices of our new burgers up at the same time.  We'd not only be saving billions, our profits would go through the roof."

While most commentators have responded with disgust to McBurgler's idea, one public figure willing to defend his blue skies thinking was Labour MP Wes Streeting.  "The vast majority of the reaction has been old-fashioned snobbery," the street fighting representative for Ilford North told Burger Off magazine.  "I for one can't wait to tuck in to the new style Big Mac, and McDonald's will still be very much welcome at this year's Labour conference.  I've also heard they've some ideas for new condiments, and as a big fan of mayonnaise, can't wait to see what they've come up with."

Ron McBurgler is also unrepentant, telling the Cannibal Times that if still in charge his plans wouldn't stop there.  "I've heard about this thing called Soylent Green.  Apparently it's people, but I don't see why that should stand in our way of properly marketing it.  Consumers are too damn fussy these days."

The Kool-Aid man declined to comment.

In other news:
Legal highs to be banned; formerly legal highs and already illegal highs to remain available from your friendly neighbourhood drug entrepreneur
Institute for Fiscal Studies warns whoever wins EU referendum, we lose
The men who live as goatses - "we're just as normal as all the other gaping assholes you see walking down the street'

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016 

Killin.


In the end, everything comes back to the Simpsons.  In Rosebud, after being wished a Happy Birthday by the Ramones, Mr Burns orders Smithers to have the Rolling Stones killed.  "But sir, that wasn-" "Do as I say!"

In the same way, it would be far too easy to have those personally responsible for da yoot #Votin campaign for the Remainers slaughtered unceremoniously in their beds.  Equally, those at the Stronger In headquarters who commissioned it, then gave the OK after seeing what venturethree came up with should also not be shot down on their way to work as recompense.  No, to really make clear just how traumatised everyone who has watched just the 25-second clip urging the youn t ge ou an vot will be, as you can't just drop the g from words ending in ing and claim that is how the childrens speak, innocent people have to die.

Hang on a minute you're probably saying, that seems a bit much.  Except it's not.  Is it really that hard to put together a campaign that might just have an impact with younger voters while not both being as dumb as a bag of rocks and therefore also treating them as having the IQ and attention span of an exceptionally dim goldfish?

Here's one idea I just pulled out of my ass, and I've been awake already today for 17 hours.  Black background.  White text.  If you're watching this, you're probably already aware of the issues around the EU referendum.  We just want to remind you of who's in favour of leaving, and who's in favour of remaining.  Black and white shots of Farage, Gove, IDS, Chris Grayling, Dr Death, Katie Hopkins, etc etc.  Colour shots of Nicola Sturgeon, Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas, Alan Johnson, Eddie Izzard, JK Rowling, any number of the other various celebs/artists who signed the luvvie letter.  That's what we think too.  Vote Remain.  End.

Now, which of you Remain dipshits pays me, and which one of you is going to cut down the requisite amount of first born?

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Monday, May 23, 2016 

Good bad film club #4: What Have You Done to Solange?


(Previously: Nightmare City, Burial Ground and SexWorld.)

(Expect potentially a fair few more of these over the next month, as if expected politics over the four weeks to come turns into one long scare-athon, I really can't be doing with pretending to be interested in or attempting to referee between one side claiming house prices will fall by 18% if we leave and the other saying the EU makes it illegal to sell bunches of bananas in twos and threes.  A plague, frankly, on both their houses.  I'm also not here the week of the referendum, just as I wasn't for the Scottish vote.  Good timing, eh?)

This will probably be taken as proof of my lack of credibility on Italian genre cinema, but I really don't care for a good number of Dario Argento's acclaimed earlier works.  Sure, I'm quite partial to his first three films, the ones that picked up effectively where Mario Bava had left off with the all but creation of the giallo, but when it comes to Deep Red, Suspiria and especially Inferno, I'm just left cold.  Deep Red fails to satisfy, and Inferno I simply find tedious.  Yes, it opens well with Rose Elliot plunging into water in the basement of her apartment complex, has the usual striking visuals and looks gorgeous, but the surrealism does nothing for me.  I'm the same with Lucio Fulci's films from the same period: everyone usually raves about The Beyond, which is by far his most Argento-like work, whereas I just see a mess of gory setpieces without anything really connecting them together.  Sit me down in front of either Zombi 2 or City of the Living Dead though, or when it comes to Argento his 80s films Tenebrae and Phenomena, and I'll lap them up.

So it is with 's 1972 giallo What Have You Done to Solange?  By the standards of the giallo, it's a fairly straightforward, relatively lacking in outright sleaze little number.  To describe it in such terms is undoubtedly to do it a grave disservice: by the standards of 1972 it's still a really quite nasty picture, while also being very much of its time.  The BBFC rejected it outright back in 1973, around the same time as they were letting through films such as the Exorcist, A Clockwork Orange, Straw Dogs and no doubt some others I've forgot uncut, if with very much in the way of controversy.  Even in 1996 it was still being cut for video release by 2m 15s, no doubt lopping off practically everything that explains why the killer is murdering his victims in the way he is.

Anyway, we're getting ahead of ourselves.  Dallamano is probably best known for his work as a cinematographer, lensing two of Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns starring Clint Eastwood, A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.  He most certainly brings a cinematographer's eye to Solange, as from the very opening of the film, as we watch the two stars Fabio Testi and Christine Galbo, playing Enrico and Elizabeth respectively through the leaves of trees on the bank, pawing at each other in a punt as they float down what we soon learn is meant to be the Thames, this is a giallo that takes great care with its composition.  Shot in 2.35.1 ratio, it never looks anything less than beautiful, the colours eye-popping.  The cinematographer responsible below Dallamano is none other than Aristide Massaccesi, aka Joe D'Amato, notorious shlock director behind the Black Emanuelle series, the video nasties Absurd and Anthropophagus, and in later years, a huge number of hardcore features.  That he was supremely talented, if not at directing, will come as a shock to some.

Enrico and Elizabeth's heavy petting session comes to a halt when Elizabeth is sure she caught a glimpse of something happening on the bank.  With the frustrated Enrico unable to find anything amiss, he drives his younger lover back into the city.  For yes, this is a giallo set in the London of the early 70s, although it's not exactly clear why, being an Italian-German co-production.  Set mainly around Kensington and Chelsea, with the obligatory shots of the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and other landmarks, it nonetheless even in these limited circumstances infinitely cranks up the interest level, at least for this Brit.  Enrico it turns out is more than a bit of a cad: not only is he cheating on his wife Herta, played by a dressed down Karin Baal, he's also a teacher at the exclusive Catholic girls' school attended by Elizabeth.

Now, while it's never made clear precisely how old Elizabeth and her schoolfriends are meant to be, although one guesses 17/18, we are obviously in distinctly dodgy territory.  Films based around the exploits of barely legal schoolgirls were very much the rage at the time, and this is one of the tamer examples.  Nonetheless, that the entire film is based around the very sexual murder of teenage girls, whatever their age, even if in the denouement this is rationalised, the film could very easily be classed as misogynist.  It definitely has a conservative view of the world, that's for sure.

Indeed, the way things pan out, you could almost define it as a Catholic work as a whole.  Enrico starts out as this lothario, apparently determined to split from his frumpy German wife to be with the nubile Elizabeth, only for the pair's marriage to be rekindled and saved by err, Elizabeth's untimely demise, drowned by the killer in order to cover his tracks.  Enrico is predictably fingered as a potential suspect after her murder at their flat for just such liaisons, only Herta is convinced that her straying husband, while a bastard, isn't a killer.  Galbo's death comes as a shock, despite it being an obvious take from Psycho of the killing off of one of the main stars.

From this point on, the film flips on its axis into familiar giallo tropes: Enrico is the amateur sleuth working alongside the police, determined to both clear his name and find the slayer of his almost lover, as we're soon told that Elizabeth was in fact still a virgin, unlike the other classmates already murdered.  This is despite us being shown a scene that clearly shows Enrico and Elizabeth in the presumed midst of sex.  But hey, this is a giallo, we're not looking for everything to make perfect sense, are we?

Everything is in any case wrapped up neatly by the end.  Solange herself, in something only an Italian genre of this type could probably ever get away with, isn't so much as mentioned until we're three quarters of the way through the film.  Never mind What Have You Done to Solange, Who The Fuck is Solange?  Solange once she turns up is played by none other than a mute Camille Keaton in her first film role, best known for playing Jennifer, the rape victim turned avenger in I Spit on Your Grave, one of the video nasties still cut by the BBFC to this day.  Without giving any further spoilers, there's a reason why Solange is the way she is, rather than being born in the state we see her in, and it involves all the previous victims.

...Solange is by some distance the best film I've covered yet in this series, to the point where it's a bit of a cheat to even include it.  There are a whole host of things wrong with the film, most of which are amusingly pointed out by Alan Jones and Kim Newman on their superb commentary track featured as an extra on the similarly brilliant Arrow Blu-ray release, yet none which really detract from it so much that it prevents it from being one of the finest giallos I have yet seen.  Jones says it's easily in his top ten, which is praise indeed from the author of a book on Argento.  Everything about the Arrow release exudes class: the film has been given a glorious transfer, there's a visual essay on the film and its semi sequels by Michael Mackenzie, and then there's the newly commissioned artwork, which manages to top even the original exceptional poster art.  Whatever your taste in films, give this one a go.

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Friday, May 20, 2016 

Shadow Boxing VIP.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016 

The artist subsequently known as PJS.

It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at the continued failure of the tabloids, News UK in particular, to get the injunction preventing them from making public the identity of the person known only as PJS lifted.  They must have thought it was a sure thing; how could the supreme court possibly disagree that the identity of PJS had become so well known, thanks to the name being all across social media, published in the National Enquirer, the Sunday Mail, numerous blogs etc, that it would be an absurdity not to let the Sun on Sunday print all the juicy details on the threesome?

Never underestimate the potential for judges to go against accepted wisdom (judgement PDF), especially when they notice something that's passed everyone else by.  IPSO's code of practice, Lord Mance notes, states that an "exceptional public interest would need to be demonstrated to over-ride the normally paramount interests of children under 16".  You could of course argue that consenting adults should consider the potential consequences for their children of extra-marital activities, regardless of the agreement of both partners, not least because of the obvious potential for it to cause difficulties down the line.  This is not by any means though a justification for a story that all the justices agree has no public interest defence whatsoever to be published.

Indeed, I would argue that it's possible in this case to respect the arguments of both Lord Mance for the majority in over-turning the Court of Appeal ruling that the injunction should be set aside, and Lord Toulson in his lone dissension.  It's hard not to respect a judge who risks incurring the wrath of Paul Dacre by directly referencing the paper claiming the law to be an ass due to the publication of PJS's identity elsewhere; if that is the price of applying the law, Mance writes, it is one which must be paid.  The court is well aware of the lesson which King Canute gave his courtiers, Mance goes on, in answer to the claims that injunctions in the age of the internet are defunct, with the Lord later quoting a previous ruling by Justice Eady "that wall-to-wall excoriation in national newspapers, whether tabloid or ‘broadsheet’, is likely to be significantly more intrusive and distressing for those concerned than the availability of information on the Internet or in foreign journals to those, however many, who take the trouble to look it up".  I would argue that distinction still holds up today, if barely: there is a huge difference between a story appearing on multiple newspaper front pages, available for anyone to see at petrol stations, supermarkets, newsagents etc, whereas online it is still possible to avoid such stories altogether if you so wish.

Lord Toulson disagrees, writing that the "court must live in the world as it is and not as it would like it to be", and also that "in this case I have reached a clear view that the story’s confidentiality has become so porous that the idea of it still remaining secret in a meaningful sense is illusory".  Toulson does not "underestimate the acute unpleasantness for PJS of the story being splashed, but I doubt very much in the long run whether it will be more enduring than the unpleasantness of what has been happening and will inevitably continue to
happen.  The story is not going away".

It most certainly isn't.  The only reason that the papers have been full of stories for the last couple of weeks about a certain Downton Abbey actor are due to a certain injunction still being in place from years ago.  One way or the other, the British media will get a story they want to be out in the open out in the open.  They might not make any money out of it, quite the contrary in the case of the Sun, with its legal fees likely to be astronomical, but for those who want to know they'll probably be able to find out.  If the case going to trial, with PJS and YMA likely to win, gives them satisfaction and protects their children, then great.  More likely however is that Carter-Fuck will go on getting richer while the kiddiwinks will find out one of their parents is partial to threesomes regardless.

All the same, coming in the same week as the IPSO decision that the Sun blatantly breached the editors' code of practice over the QUEEN BACK BREXIT bullshit, with the paper throwing its toys out of the pram in response, saying yes, the headline was a complete lie, but the one underneath "qualified" it, and the Queen isn't above politics anyway because she called the Chinese rude, for those of us whom enjoy schadenfreude, it's been a fine time.  Long may it continue.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016 

The cupboard is bare on purpose.

We are but a year into a whole 5 of Tory majority rule, and yet to judge by the thinness of the Queen's speech, it would seem the government is already running out of things to do.  This is admittedly somewhat down to how the Tories have succeeding in piloting some of the worst of their policies through the Commons already, with the Psychoactive Substances Act shortly to come into effect for just one.  Conversely, the list of bills is also slighter as a result of opposition from the backbenches: suitably watered down is the schools bill, from forcing all schools to become academies to merely pushing them in the general direction.

The real reasons for why the cupboard is bare are obvious.  First though, this wouldn't be a Queen's speech post on this blog if I didn't have a moan about the increasingly deranged nature of the spectacle itself.  The Queen is now 90 years old, and regardless of your views on the monarchy, the requirement that she carry on getting dolled up to read out the inane bumpf of her latest government surely can't be allowed to go on much longer.  Should the Tories ever get round to sorting out their bill of rights, making the head of state read out nonsense about improving the life chances of all will have to be designated cruel and unusual punishment.  Dennis Skinner's yearly jokes have already regressed to the point where they are statements rather than attempts at humour; why not square the circle and get the Beast of Bolsover to read the damn thing out?

No, the real reason the speech has so relatively little to raise ire is that parliamentary politics is effectively suspended until June the 24th, by which point it'll almost be time for the summer recess in any case.  Anything that might further incense either the Tory backbenchers or for that matter the opposition, never mind the public, has been postponed until after the referendum.  Sure, a few on the right will hardly be pleased by the proposed prison reforms, especially the idea of some only being locked up at weekends, but they're overwhelmingly likely to be for Leave anyway.

Far more instructive than the contents of the speech itself is the way its been spun.  The BBC News at 10 has led each night this week on prisons, part of an obvious softening up process for what was coming today.  Peter Clarke, former head of anti-terrorism at the Met, author of the main report into the hoax Trojan Horse takeover of schools in Birmingham, apparent friend of the Tories and new independent inspector of prisons was given the kind of platform never previously afforded to Nick Hardwick, in the main to comment on "legal highs" finding their way inside.  High profile reporting into the chaos prisons have been descending into is of course welcome, but is hardly telling the full story unless it makes clear the problems have been exacerbated massively by overcrowding and cuts in funding.  The bill outlined today, aimed at putting into law the proposals previously announced by Michael Gove and David Cameron won't make things worse, but nor will they begin to solve them when Cameron continues to argue against the "idea that reform always needs extra spending".

Whereas just plain laughable is the idea today's attempts at improving "life chances" could ever add up to a legacy for David Cameron.  Quite simply, there's nothing there: no one could disagree with the changes to adoption or the "help to save" plans, they're just overwhelmed by the Tories' on-going contradictions.  The party can hardly be the great friend of diversity David Cameron claims he wants it to be, forcing universities to be open about their admissions while at the same time encouraging landlords and hospitals to be suspicious of anyone with the wrong skin colour or a foreign sounding name.  The party that depicts Sadiq Khan as an extremist, refusing to say London can be safe in his hands cannot be taken seriously on either discrimination or "life chances".

But then Cameron has no intention of his legacy being such things.  The other reason why the Queen's speech has so little for the Tories to shout about is he still doesn't know if he's going to be around beyond June 24th.  If he isn't, he will go down in history for austerity and being the prime minister who through the most abject weakness took Britain out of Europe.  If he is, then he most probably has another year in which to further shape how he will be remembered.  Chancing leaving Osborne, or worse yet, Boris with his legacy legislation was never an option.  Still, should the Leave campaign manage to turn around a seemingly unassailable lead for Remain, then Boris will forever be known as the man who made all porn sites verify their users are 18.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016 

That Lady Royall report into allegations of antisemitism at the Oxford University Labour Club in full.

  • I do not believe that there is institutional antisemitism within Oxford University Labour Club
  • However, in order to remove the possibility of any such claims being made in the future, OULC should take action to ensure there is a safe space, i.e. by disbanding immediately in case anyone's feelings get hurt again
  • All further allegations of micro-aggressions should be reported immediately to The Telegraph, The Times, or John Mann MP in order to be used against Jeremy Corbyn
  • Err...
  • That's it

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