Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Austerity Budget.

So... we had our austerity budget....

I think we got off pretty easy.

I should probably explain this to North American readers - in our lands we have to suffer and such. Truly. Actions have consequences...

So... austerity budget... nett result.... nothing.

Under these budget conditions, unless I am a billionaire ghost, I am better off under the new budget. And I am a ghost, so fuck you tax collectors.

Realistically I should suffer. But no... I can still choose whether to pay tax or not. Genius.

Truly. We had a chance to fix this thing, but instead we decided to enjoy it a while longer. Nice.

I'm calling the World Cup.

The winner is...

South Africa.

The Chatterley Affair

I've mentioned Desperate Romantics before.

But, what I didn't realise was that one of the main characters in a different BBC production, one I'd seen before, was one of the Desperate Romantics.

There was a recurring theme on BBC Four recently - Rude on Four. 

The BBC had a heyday of depravity in the 70s. Easily the best time to watch TV here. Sure, we get the sexy, violent US show now, but.. but, it's not the same. Forty, thirty years ago we had I, Claudius, The Borgias, The History Man... some of the best TV ever made. We had Play For Today, and Dennis Potter.

BBC drama has dried up, so to speak, recently. With a massive yank of the chain, it has been brought to heel by it's master, the government and select media opinion.

There have been co-productions, like Rome, which I've talked about.

However, obsessed with dreary costume drama, the BBC had abandoned cutting edge work.

In general.

Desperate Romantics was a great show. Really.

But that's not what I'm talking about.

The recent show I watched was "The Chatterley Affair".

Rafe Spall, then 23, plays a juror on the original court case, drawn into an affair with some upper class totty, played by then 36 year old Louise Delamere.

In 1960 Penguin books published the novel.  They had to go to court to defend it.

This particular DH Lawrence work was banned in the UK for over thirty years. The rest of his work is golden. You should pick it up. Seriously, you should. Ahem.

You didn't pick up any of his other work, did you?

Of course not. But he is thought to be one of the best writers of his generation. However, strangely, NOT for Lady Chatterley, which is considered one of his weaker works.

Rafe Spall, son of Timothy Spall, played William Holman Hunt in Desperate Romantics.Timothy Spall is just epic. Rafe's performance wasn't universally appreciated, but I think he tried very hard. He may not have been good, but at least he was trying.

The Chatterley Affair, confusingly, had an upper crust juror flirt with and finally bed, lower class juror. Um, that's, basically, the book. The back story is different, but the same.

I liked it, but... it should have been a better, more wholesome story.

Or a really trashy one.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I've been watching, and enjoying, Spartacus Blood and Sand.

I'll let that sink in.

It is, possibly, one of the most derided shows of recent years. It comes from the same stable that gave us Xena and Hercules, but with more curse-words.

I consider myself to be a fan of both Xena and Hercules. I've huge respect for Raimi, no matter what he does. Well.. you know what I mean. THAT was bad. But apart from THAT he's been righteous.

What's wrong with Spartacus:

1. Too many curse words.
2. Too much violence.
3. um...

But what's RIGHT about Spartacus?

1. Curse Words
2. Violence
3. Cursing violently - describing a god as a bloody cock-sucking shit with cocks for eyes and a bloody, vomiting ass, full of twisted, diseased whores with bloody eyes for cocks.

I LOVE the dialogue. As I've said before, I'm a huge fan of the HBO/BBC co-production Rome. I have it in my Amazon Wishlist in case the blu-ray becomes ridiculously cheap. Or under twenty quid.  Spartacus doesn't QUITE match the dialogue in ROME, which features local star Ray Stevenson.

To be fair, nothing about Spartacus matches Rome. I recall a post about the budget for the show on imdb.com, but I can't go back there to check out what was said, because when I saw it, I was curious about the show but had no intention of watching it. Now I've started to watch it, I love it and do not want to absorb spoilers by accident.

To summarize, the post about budgets claimed that Spartacus had roughly a tenth of the budget of Rome. Whoever the guy was making the post, he said a lot of smart stuff about budgets.Seriously, someone has to go back and find that budget post... Long story short, Rome destroyed itself.

Rome was an incredible show, but you all know that already. Ray Stevenson's Titus is EXACTLY the best friend we want, worst enemy we don't want.

Rome? Naked Polly Walker.

I'm throwing that out there.

But Rome was supposed to have three seasons. Unfortunately the budget got eaten after two seasons. They could have made more shows, but it would have taken TOO long to earn the money back.

So, Spartacus made me go check out Wikipedia for gladiators.

There were, basically, two types of gladiators.

Good gladiators. And...

Effeminate gay gladiators.

Those, appear to be my findings.

The more armour a gladiator wore, the manlier they were. The less armour, the less.

So retiarii, with naked chests and tridents for weapons, were considered to be squealing gay boys. Seriously. This isn't my prejudice, this is ancient Rome at work.

Yeah, I know. Logic. You'd think that the guy with no armour would be given at least SOME credence!

Nope. Apparently, the hardest fought battles were between heavily-armoured secutors and almost naked retiarii. And the retiarii were the, often derided, favourites. Wearing armour, and wielding a deadly gladius was the equivalent of being the fall guy. Stepping onto the arena sand against a man armed with a pitchfork and a net, with nothing but heavy body armour, a massive shield and one of the most efficient killing devices ever created made you the probable loser.

Give a man a fish and he'll eat fish for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll slay gladiators until he gets bored. Apparently.

It's quite fascinating.

What's worse than an almost naked fisher-guy? One that wears a tunic.

Yup. Apparently retiarii tunicati were the worst of the worst.

Instead of facing an armoured gladiator, with net and bare chest, as retiarii tradition demanded, they wore a leather tunic.The bastards!

It gets even better.

The retiarii tunicati might be dressed up to look like women.

Often this wasn't a fate for some poor soul condemned to a gladiatorial life, instead it was a punishment for a criminal who had, clearly, pissed off some big wig.

Honestly, like a woman!

From what I can tell, Spartacus is an accurate depiction of gladiatorial life in ancient Rome.

It is violent, profane, and funny.

Violence abounds.


No-one has been killed while wearing a tunic, having been derided for their effeminate gladiatorial skills.

See? Progress..

At least one of the Spartacus gladiators is fond of cock. He doesn't make a big deal of it.


Sunday, June 20, 2010


Baby owl meets lion.

Enjoying the World Cup

Shockingly, I'm quite enjoying the World Cup.

I haven't followed any team sports since my teens, when I decided I was a Washington Redskins fan. American football appealed to my wargaming nerd heart, and was only shown on Channel Four, whose other stable output was bizarre European sub-pornographic movies with barely there subtitles and clothes. Subtitles will make you go blind. Or something.

A combination of things turned me away from the spectacle of American football. For one thing, most of the live matches were broadcast at four o'clock in the morning here, and I had to get up for school. For another, it became apparent that American footballers are a bunch of girls who have to wear body armour to play rugby.

I've not followed team sports since. I will actually watch a rugby match if it's on and I suppose I watch Formula One from time to time, though the team work there is often as unifying as a Borgia family get-together, but in general I prefer sports where one person is pitted against another or the field. Tennis, gymnastics and, until recently, mixed martial arts. I'm still , in theory, a fan of MMA, but recent shenanigans have soured the sport for me, and top level competition is eye-bleedingly dull . When they introduce a K1-esque action rule, or the Pride yellow card system, I may be back.

So why am I enjoying the World Cup?

England is getting humiliated.

There has never been a rational reason to follow a Premier League football club. In the twenties, the local club may well have been composed of local people who worked in the local mill and drank in the local pub, but in the modern game everything is changeable. The players aren't local, and are little better than mercenaries for hire, with millionaire lifestyles and a sense of decorum that hasn't been seen since the fall of the Roman Empire.

Seeing these cosseted tycoons embarrassed by equally talented, but hungrier and leaner teams has been quite entertaining. I don't particularly care who wins when Australia is pitted against Japan - the gladiatorial equivalent of matching a kitten against a lamb - but when England, France and Germany, preening European decadents one and all, are getting beaten or held to a draw by "lesser" nations, it's quite satisfying.

I'm even prepared to sit through 90+ minutes of a game, and endure the sorry sight of grown men falling over and begging for attention from mommy, I mean the referee, when two players stray within a few feet of each other. Seriously, people watch this sport without irony? I pity the fools.

There's a popular New Zealand t-shirt - "I don't care who wins, so long as Australia loses".

With the World Cup I don't care who wins, so long as it's nobody I've ever heard of.

Is Cameroon in it this year?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ye Old news

I have pretty much wasted an hour here: Ye Olde News.

Clippings from old newspapers, and such.

Part of my fascination is the way old newspaper men would write an article in an endearingly homespun way. It's a treat for the brain.