End of an era…

Was zooming around the BBC News website, as I am wont to do from time to time, when I came across this story.

An iconic floating nightclub based on the river Tyne for 15 years is to be towed away at the weekend.
The Tuxedo Princess ship, with its legendary revolving dance floor, is being tugged from its Gateshead mooring to make way for a £10m office complex.

As a student in Newcastle in the early 90s, I spent many a happy Monday evening on “The Boat”. And while people all too easily label things as “legendary” these days, the revolving dance floor on The Boat was indeed something to behold.
Stand in the wrong place and your prospective (and obviously very classy) female friend for the evening would be slowly rotated away from you – a distressing and confusing experience after a few* cheap pints on the way down there.

So RIP, The Boat.
I’m sure I should have more memories of you than I actually have, which in itself, speaks volumes.

* few (n) – a small number, in this case, probably about 11.

The Dark Hype

I’m not a big fan of films and the cinema. Even less so when the hype surrounding a particular film means that suddenly, “normal” people can talk of nothing else except the latest offering from Hollywood. Gone are the important discussions about important things – politics, football, money, work – replaced instead by pseudo-knowledgeable comment about the directing ability of some Russian bloke whose name sounds like a sexually transmitted infection (or whatever) and his “meaningful cinematography”.
Why? Because it’s “cool” to “know” about such things this week.

The Dark Knight has done this to people. And, in case there wasn’t enough off-screen publicity for the film with Aussie actor Keith Ledger having thrown a seven during filming; conveniently, the star of the piece has to (allegedly) beat up his mother and sister, just so we’re aware that he’s in a film which you can currently buy tickets for.
The net result of these actions is even more hype over the film. The Grief Athletes who suddenly emerged as previously-unheard-of Heath Ledger fans when he died are now calling for him to win an Oscar for his performance.

And the nominations for Best Actor are:
Heath Ledger for Being A Rather Ordinary Actor
Heath Ledger for Overdosing Druggie
Heath Ledger for Joker in The Dark Knight Because He’s Dead, and
Cristiano Ronaldo for My Ankle Is Broken, Even Though He Didn’t Touch Me

Utterly pathetic. Because it actually doesn’t matter whether the film or the performances are any good or not. Not that you’re going to hear anyone dare to say that they’re rubbish anyway, because it’s simply not acceptable to criticise a überhyped movie like this.
Although leading South African film critic Barry Ronge enjoyed the film, he did pass comment on the radio that “the length made my bottom a bit sore”. I presume he was talking about the chronological enormity of the movie, and that he hadn’t accidently slipped into a dodgy massage parlour next door to the cinema.

So no, I haven’t seen The Dark Knight. And I won’t, because I don’t want to. You can’t make me.
For me, the best films are those which don’t get hyped out of all proportion. The ones whose storylines you don’t know in every last detail before you even go near the cinema. The ones where you can be honest about the ropey bits without fear of being shouted down for not being trendy or called insensitive just because some junkie topped himself in a hotel room while they were making it.

Yes, I’m aware that I’ll get comments and emails telling me how great the film is and how wonderful the “meaningful cinematography” is and so on.
But then, the same people said that about Harry Potter and The Matrix Trilogy and the new Star Wars films. Have you considered that maybe you were brainwashed into being wrong about them too?
Don’t tell me how it’s broken box office records etc etc. Popular doesn’t necessarily mean good: lest we forget, The Teletubbies had a number one hit in the UK with Teletubbies say Eh-Oh in 1997.
Popular? Yes.
Good? No.

I wonder what we’ll be saying about The Dark Knight in 11 years time? 
Heath who?

Zuma “shocked and embarrassed”

Not by allegations that he showers to protect himself from HIV, nor by his pending corruption charges, but by white poverty in South Africa.

The head of South Africa’s governing African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, has said he is shocked and embarrassed about white poverty in the country.
Mr Zuma was speaking after visiting the Bethlehem township near the capital, Pretoria, where white families live without running water or electricity.
He said the high level of black poverty did not mean whites did not suffer too.

Yes, in this country famed for its haves and have-nots, traditionally divided among racial lines, there has been a blurring, with an estimated 131,000 white individuals classed as homeless. Of course, this number is tiny compared to the number of black people in the same situation, but that still doesn’t make it right or any easier for those who are struggling. In raising this “awkward” issue, JZ is once again making all the right noises and appealing to potential white voters with the election coming up next year.
Does he really care? Who can say?

I, for one, refuse to believe the ZumaRuma™ merchants who can see no good in the ANC President. While I sometimes feel that he is playing a clever political game – he’s talking a lot about issues that matter to South Africans, but actually promising very little – I don’t think that he is an evil, white-hating racist as some would have us believe. I think he is more grounded and in touch with the population than Thabo Mbeki is or ever has been – and that’s a good sign in someone who, it seems, will be the President of the Republic from next year.

He does have some baggage though, obviously. Primarily his corruption trial* which, despite a myriad of delays and stalling, will raise its ugly head again over the next few months (next thrilling installment August 4th).
However, rapidly moving up to become Zuma’s second biggest suitcase is ANCYL President Julius Malema. Just as soon as JZ pacifies the whities, his sycophantic lapdog Malema alienates them again by saying something daft or inflammatory. After his somewhat ill-advised “kill for Zuma” comments last month, he moved on in spectacularly idiotic style yesterday, suggesting that JZ could rule the country from prison

We can’t imagine the courts finding (Zuma) guilty because, if you arrest him, he will lead us from prison. We are not afraid to be led by a president in orange clothes.
If you want to save yourselves the embarrassment you must drop the charges, because arresting him will not stop him from being the president.
There is no other candidate.

Am I alone in thinking that Julius was surprised to get a laugh when he said that? What’s the betting that he was stone-cold serious? One wonders if, behind the scenes, he’s been working out how to get world leaders to come to Pollsmoor Prison to conduct their business and setting up a video link to the UN, “just in case”.

However, the tide is growing for the charges against Zuma to be dropped. Not just because Julius loves him and doesn’t think he did anything wrong, because they’re rubbish reasons, but for the more serious reason that it would almost certainly be catastrophic for the country and the economy if he were to be found guilty and then take office as President. Or take office as President and then be found guilty.

So perhaps Zuma should not run for President? Or is it a case of better the devil you know?
Because Malema the Suitcase actually got one thing spot on: There is no other candidate.

So where do we go from here?
I don’t mind admitting that I’m a bit stuck on that one right now.

* Actually, to be precise, it’s a corruption, racketeering, money laundering and fraud trial.

Delaying arrest with Sad and Rad

You know the problem. You’ve gone and murdered a few thousand ethnically different people and now the nanny state authories are unhappy for some reason and they want to arrest you and take you to Holland.
And we’re not talking special cafes and scantily-dressed ladies in Amsterdam – we’re talking war crimes courts in The Hague, Europe’s third most boring city behind Brussels and Brussels.

The only way to avoid arrest is to hide. By growing a big fluffy beard.

IRAQ SADDAM CAPTURE    
Sad & Rad: Grew facial hair to delay capture.

It won’t work forever, but it will give you an extra few years to pursue your other interests, be they hole-dwelling or alternative medicine. And it’s mobile – you carry your disguise around with you. On your face. Clever.

The trouble is that now both Saddam Hussein and Radovan Karadzic have utilised this method of concealment, the authorities know exactly what to look out for. That being, of course, big fluffy beards. Which makes you wonder – what have Gandalf and Father Christmas been up to and how long before they get arrested?

    
San & Gan: Possibly guilty of war crimes?

“Sorry son, Christmas is cancelled this year. Remember: Santa is on trial for ordering the slaying of 3,000 innocent muslim men. You can have your train set next year if they haven’t hanged him.”

Just looking for photos?

Note to regular readers: Please scroll down to read 6000 miles…

Just here for photos of our newly-arrived daughter?
Of course, I’d much prefer it if you’d hang around a little and take in the sights and smells of 6000 miles…
Or even subscribe to the RSS feed and we’ll tell you about all the latest news.
Who knows – you might even like it here.

But if you were directed here by my wife or you are here with the sole intention of looking at photos of squeaking neonates, then you’ll find the appropriate flickr set here. (Last update: 18th August 2008).

UPDATE: The Mrs has been utilising her swanky mobile phone to upload pictures of the kids to her Sony Ericsson/Blogger photo blog. No words, no frills, just photos. Which is what it’s all about really, right?


Squeaker

Normal service is resumed below.
Thanks for visiting – and Bon Voyage!