Friday, 9 March 2018
Friday, 22 December 2017
Monday, 15 May 2017
About 30% of the posts I see on Facebook, always written by people that I don't know (but are invariably liked by people that I do) are a variation of this:
I had a profound thought today. I could easily tell you about it in a paragraph. I could actually tell you in a sentence if I was succinct. But no, this is going to be like some kind of novella where the profound thought is only revealed towards the end.
This next section gives context. I have a normal life - I really am just like you. I'm so very flawed that I'm relatable. Flaws humanise us. I use self-deprecating humour to prove that I'm OK with the fact I'm not prefect. I'm the sort of person that you would like to hang out with.
But then I have to tell you of my struggle, it's been a hard-knock life, especially since the birth of my eldest, Belial. It was a difficult pregnancy and I reveal other things that seem a little too personal to be putting on a social media site.
Now it's the happy conclusion where I get to be the hero. I am a role model and an inspiration. I have have discovered that doing things that I enjoy makes me happy. Isn't that amazing? We should all take time out to do nice things. I told you it was profound. Please like and share.
Saturday, 22 April 2017
1) The role of Phoebe was written for Dame Judi Dench. Unfortunately for us she had already committed to rival sitcom 'As Time Goes By'.
2) The Friends logo was stylised with dots between the letters because FRIENDS was intended to be an acronym for Federal Research Into Enduring Normal Democratic Societies.
3) Getting the role of Monica Gellar meant that Courtney Cox missed out on Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. The infamous 'robotic rhino' scene was written with her in mind and would have seen a hot and sweaty Cox strip to her underwear. Jim Carrey did the risqué scene instead.
4) Joey's first three episodes were written around him being French-Canadian. Writers had not met Matt LeBlanc and simply assumed he was francophone because of his name. Those scenes were hastily re-written in English.
5) Ross and Monica were supposed to be Catholic but writers thought that Jews were funnier. The famous 'holiday armadillo' scene was written three months before the pilot.
6) Chandler's job was going to be the central element of Friends. His job title was so humorously specific (The Under Assistant to the CEO's Assistant in Charge of Finance and Planning), that the writers felt that it would become too much of a catchphrase.
7) Following the success of the 'Rachel' haircut, stylists lobbied the Warner Brothers studios to have complete control over Jennifer Aniston's hair; giving her a new style each week. Negotiations fell through when the stylists wanted to claim 10% intellectual copyright of the Rachel Green character.
8) Ross famously fathered Ben, though you may wonder why we see so little of his son (not even on his wedding day in London!). It seems none of the child actors who auditioned for the later series had the dramatic range or intensity that David Schwimmer demanded. In the end the producers felt that it was easier to give him a baby daughter, who had no lines, instead.
9) When Tom Selleck was contracted as a semi-regular, the intention was that he would play Magnum PI in a cross generational crossover. Angela Lansbury threatened to sue claiming that 'Murder, She Wrote' had exclusive rights to Magnum PI crossovers. The idea was quietly dropped.
10) The Ugly Naked Guy was actually intended to be the seventh 'Friend'. Unfortunately casting could not find a suitable actor in time and he became an off-screen character. It would no doubt have made those Central Perk scenes a little more...interesting!
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
At the risk of turning this into some kind of confectionary-based blog, I am going to write another thing about sweeties. If you're a fan of pick and mix (do you remember buying Spangles in Woolworths??), then you may well be aware of Candy King, the omnipresent P&M brand.
When I was younger, fairy tales always seemed to feature a roly poly benevolent monarch, inevitably white-haired and bearded who ruled for the good of the land. As I grew older, these kings were noble and wise, sometimes excellent warriors in their earlier lives and, older still, sometimes the kings were mad or malevolent. Whichever incarnation of fictional head of state, these kings were older figures, even elderly. Then there is the Candy King, a seemingly tragic cartoon figure.
The Candy King is primarily notable for his youth. He certainly appears to be happy, but his position has obviously come of the expense of at least one of his parents. What awful occurence left this child a demi-orphan and thrust him into power over the realm on non-branded treats (they're not Smarties, they're 'chocolate beanies')? Yes, he has power, but I bet there is not a day that goes by that he would merrily swap it to have his parent back. What kind of decisions does the young man make given his lack of life experience and do his advisors truly have his best interests at heart, or are they biding their time until they can claim the crown?
What kind of empire does he rule? Surely one based primarily in sugary goods cannot be a healthy one. Without the opportunity to enjoy a balanced diet he is, at best, going to be malnourished, at worst in some kind of diabetic coma. His young age suggests that this deceased parent was quite young themselves. It is a mayfly-like monarchy, short-lived and where there is an emphasis on procreation to keep the blood-sugar line going, but what kind of attention is this rotten-toothed king, poor complexion and all, likely to attract. His early ascendency is likely to give him some level of having an 'entitled', perhaps arrogant, look on life. His courtship will surely be with someone money-grabbing and shallow.
All he can hope is that he can perpetuate his family's control over this fairly niche retail area. It is certainly not a life that I would choose
Saturday, 11 March 2017
Monday, 28 September 2015
So, three short reviews of sorts based on my reading and viewing this week with a common theme.
The first is a book by Steve Brookstein, 'Getting Over The X'. I'm not a fan of The X Factor nor of Steve Brookstein. It was recommended by a singer/vocal coach friend of mine and the book promised a glimpse into the world media manipulation. Priced at 99p on Amazon Kindle, I wouldn't feel bad if I hated it.
Brookstein was the first winner of The X Factor with the promise that the winner would get a £1m contract while the loser would go home empty handed. The success of runners up G4 soon proved that to be a conceit. Steve was fairly successful before the X Factor but had been presented as a pub singer having his last shot at fame. His disillusionment with Syco saw him ask for a release shortly after his first album. By the time Max Clifford was finished, of course, he was 'dropped by the label' to return to singing in pubs. This was untrue, however according to the newspapers Brookstein became synonymous with failure.
The book shows the damage that all those reports did to Brookstein's mental health and articulates his frustration at not being able to present his side in the press. It shows the human impact of the dark underbelly of the media. That said, the book is quite badly edited (very repetitive) and Steve is not always a sympathetic character. At times he is prone to whinging, being a tad self-absorbed and far from modest about his talents. There is name dropping aplenty. It is his story and he wears his flaws on his sleeve.
Sitting on the opposite end of the injustice scale is 'World in Action: The Birmingham Six - Their Own Story'. Dating from 1991, and to be found on YouTube, this 24 year-old hour long special loses none of its impact. The six spent 16½ years in jail and were part of a wider group of people from Northern Ireland who suffered at the hands of an *ahem* overly enthusiastic British police force. World in Action conducted the interviews within days of their release.
The injustices that this documentary recounts are almost unbelievable to the modern ear. From flawed forensics to falsified reports, from severe beatings to denied appeals; the past really is a foreign country and that country has questionable human rights. Ultimately, the six were freed to cheering crowds and, despite their mistreatment at the hands of the state, they seemed to lack bitterness and anger; instead holding a desire to fight other injustices. Thought provoking, terrifying and, at times, heartwarming, this is an essential watch; a stunning piece of television that stands out in a world of reality TV.
The final item is a series that I am currently watching - Rumpole of the Bailey. I was reminded of the series when I was watching The Prisoner. Leo McKern played Number 2 in The Prisoner on a few occasions, most notably in the final two episodes. A rather theatrical actor, he has an amazing presence that seems to fill the screen. Despite Rumpole being quintessentially English, McKern was actually Australian. Nonetheless, he is perfect as Rumpole, an eccentric poetry loving barrister who always stands for the defence and for whom pleading guilty is against his 'religion'. The series has just finished on Drama though I purchased the complete series for £20 (sans the BBC Play for Today 'pilot' which can be found on YouTube).
As a TV series, Rumpole shows its age (through references, language, dress and attitudes) but continues to amuse, entertain and remain challenging to the status quo. It is hard to imagine ITV making something this good. Combining witty comedy, moving drama and legal battles/whodunnits in such an intelligent seamless manner seems to be a lost art. John Mortimer created a compelling series and its ability to be relevant almost 40 years later is a credit to him.