Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Odds and ends

-Pretty much a consensus that Christmas TV was worse than usual this year, saved for me by gratefully receiving DVDs of HBO's finest (Generation Kill, The Corner, Recount) to keep me ploughing on with life into 2010.

-2009 was the year that I realised that Jeremy Vine poisons anything he lays his hands on with Daily Mail-itis, turning his Radio 2 slot into a right wing polemic, having already driven the once fine investigative television programme Panorama into a sensationalist tabloid travesty.

-2009 was also the year that I realised I couldn't stand (even detested), those that can't spell, can't differentiate between 'your' and 'you're', 'to' and 'too' and 'of' and 'off', and the boring mass of the (young, although not exclusively) British population who are obsessed with drinking, shouting, ignorance and little else. I've entered my old life crisis at 21.

-Quote of the week

'(Sarah Palin) would like Avatar: its depiction of "the noble savages" is, no doubt, a well intended argument against the destruction of rain forests, but add in a couple of orange brush strokes and you have a Gauguin painting. It is patronising, simplistic and offensive, like Palin and fake science.'
-Hadley Freeman, G2 -30.12.2009

-Picture of the decade

A Palestinian boy being teased with toy guns. A picture that had me disturbed for some time, and neatly encapsulates our new era of terror. Happy New Year.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

In Treatment

In Treatment has become an instant television favourite of mine in the two weeks I have been watching it.

It's one of a few select programmes that is both so emotionally involving and moving that you feel somehow a more rounded human being for having watched it.

And because it feels such a personal discovery given that it is relatively unknown, part of you wants to keep it that way, and not let the masses hear about it or see it.

However the acting and writing is too perfectly judged, meaning that you are seriously denying yourself if you never allow yourself to become engrossed in the programme.

Gabriel Byrne plays a therapist with a life that appears to be being dramatically shaped by a select few of his patients, whose weekly visits map the course of the series.

That's all the background I feel necessary to give to you, you can discover the rest for yourself.

The first season is currently showing on Sky Arts at the moment, with a UK DVD boxset due to arrive early next year. If you can get hold of an import copy in advance however, I'd recommend you do so. It really is worth investigating.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Deadliest Catch

Deadliest Catch is oddly compelling television, given the subject is crab fishing. This is primarily because the setting is, as the programme reminds us every episode 'the vast Bering Sea', known for its cold stormy waters. And the work itself is tiring even to watch, physically demanding, and very dangerous.

There is no doubt there is a substantial amount of post-editing that goes on, as with most modern shows. You will for instance hear the same audio every other episode dubbed over new shots, but the tactical decisions, mechanical issues and daring sea rescues make up for that.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't The Sopranos of the sea, but it is cleverly made television that, for a reality show at least, remains fairly minimalist.

Irritating adverts

Yet more of those twatting adverts featuring arrogant little shites 'getting a band together' via facebook and other self-adulation sites are sprouting up all over the place.

What worries me most are the people you see in the background of these adverts, who are, I am hoping, extras brought in en-masse for the purpose of shooting the ad.

Terrifyingly though, many look as if they are general passers by who have been taken in so easily and readily by the shiny promise of minor X-factor style fame. This doesn't bode well for our political future, as if a bunch of fascists in a van turned up at this location, these people would be the first ones dancing over; jumping, smiling and waving their arms around like cretins.

For a balanced argument, here is how to do an advert properly; clever design, great Sigur Ros-esque music, and a simple premise:


The judge from Masterchef (one of two, I'm not looking his name up) currently doing stilted Iplayer trailers, has a strangely distracting head shape. When viewed from the front, it raises unexpectedly in steps, like sections of pavement that you scuff your feet noisily and embarrassingly along the surface of, having turned out to be higher than you had initially judged them.

In terms of weird skull geometry he remains behind the never-ending forehead that is Evan Davies, but solidly ahead of the famed rotundity of Karl Pilkington's.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Christmas working

We are fast approaching Christmas again, which is obviously for many a fantastic occasion, but for me is largely ruined by one word; Asda.

Having worked there for slightly too long now, the Christmas period is the one that fills me the most with dread, because the negative aspects of the job are largely ten times more evident during this period; customers complaining, being unable to move down aisles to do the job due to the sheer number of people, customers who leave their trolleys at 90 degree angles to the shelving, people asking for things that have labels on saying 'we are out of this product'. The list goes on indefinitely.

This is often compounded by endless shifts, freezing temperatures and constant weariness.

I will say though, that occasionally blitz spirit amongst colleagues at this time of year is enough to make up for it. We go through the hell together, spew our bile over lunch breaks, and brave the cold 7am starts in unison.

So for you out there who hate the process of going to the supermarket over Christmas time, spare us a thought. Try and treat us with a little more respect this time around. You never know, we might not deliberately send you to the other end of the store looking for goose fat as punishment.

FA Cup

I am generally left pretty uninspired by the FA Cup these days. The constant barrage of clichés and generally dull insipid games has worn me down. This is not helped by Sunderland's pretty dire displays in the competition over recent years, but the competition feels pretty lifeless to me in its current state.

I vote that we shake it up a bit. For starters, using the method of organising the Dutch Cup ties, force the higher ranked side to play away from home, so the smaller clubs get not only an advantage, but also valuable money from gate receipts.

Secondly, how about seeding the draw so we avoid the dreaded all Premier League ties? I refuse to get excited about seeing West Ham play Arsenal when they meet twice a year anyway in games that both would probably consider more important.

Both of these elements would make for more inspiring ties, instead of having to generate false excitement over the largely falsified 'magic of the Cup' nonsense that we hear every year.

Sunday Night Football

Another cracking late finish last night to Sunday Night Football, with the Ravens beating the Steelers on an overtime field goal. Watching the Steelers lose is always great, but the nature of the last frenetic minutes of regulation time, where penalties moved the ball back and forth as if the turf was being tilted on a seesaw was gripping viewing. If you could stay up until 5am that is, which I just about managed.

The Vikings moved to 10-1 by comfortably beating division rivals Chicago in the Metrodome. I am certainly not one to count their chickens before they've hatched, but I can smell playoff football in the air, and that has me greatly excited.

Robert Webb

And last but not least, on a completely random note, I watched the Robert Webb 'My life in verse' episode reasonably recently on the recommendation of a friend. It was great viewing, as this following clip will hopefully demonstrate, and showed a darker side to Webb than many fans of the brilliant Peep Show will recognise. Unfortunately it is no longer available on iplayer, so this poor quality video will have to attempt to do justice to a high quality programme:

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Thick of It - Series Two continued

It seems that I have given the Thick of It a fair amount of time now to come back and impress me after my last less than enthusiastic review of the opening episodes of series 2.

I was preparing to write up an even more savage review this time around, but Saturday's episode brought me slightly back into a more favourable standpoint with the programme.

The show has fundamentally changed, and it is perhaps no longer wise to compare it to the first series and subsequent specials. It is now a comedy loosely hanging on to threads of being a plausible government satire, whereas the earlier episodes had the feel of a documentary set inside the corridors of power that happened to be unwittingly hilarious.

The most obvious example of this are the two central characters, the minister Nicola Murray, and Malcolm Tucker. Murray panics in an hysterical and not particularly amusing way whenever the inevitable disastrous event of the episode occurs, completely the opposite of the awkward shuffle and smile of her predecessor Hugh Abbott.

Meanwhile, Tucker's reputation precedes him. His character is now laughably one-dimensional, a swearing super computer fired into the plot at random moments when the pace is flagging. It wouldn't feel inappropriate to have a laughter track after Tucker's rants, as it feels as if this is the way the show is headed increasingly frequently.

However despite this, the show does still make for compelling watching. So whilst I am sad that the potential of the premise of the original concept, a serious political satire that was built around dark humour is now lost to us, the more mainstreamed comedy we are left with is still of high quality.

The last episode set within the confines of BBC Radio 5 Live was scripted perfectly, largely because it hinted at the older format, Malcolm's impact was minimised, the radio show was exactly as the real thing plays out (Richard Bacon's 'acting' was impeccable), and all of the events felt as if they could realistically happen in the real world and weren't overly exaggerated.

I'll therefore try to watch the rest of the series with a less critical eye.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Henry and video replay

Having been an advocate for video replays in football since the idea was first suggested, I always feel slightly angered when something initiates widespread cries from across the sport for it to be used, when these self same papers and commentators have cast doubt in it before.

This happened last night at the Stade de France, with Thierry Henry's handball allowing William Gallas to score a goal that gave France a 2-1 aggregate win in their World Cup playoff against Ireland.

There are simply no reasons for not having video replay in football. The idea that it would slow the pace of the game is nonsense. The video replay in rugby league or American football simply becomes part of the action and drama itself. And it is not as if football is never slowed by constant play acting, cynical time wasting or unnecessary substitutions either.

Those that complain that only the top levels of football would be able to afford to have it used also have no leg to stand on. Hawk-Eye in tennis and cricket may only be used in the big international or domestic tournaments, but it doesn't mean that your local club has to have it, and it certainly doesn't detract from the venue as a result.

Many claim that this controversy is what makes football the great talking point it is, but I would far rather have conversations on the more interesting side of the game; great players and great matches, not on whether a player has cheated to help his team to victory.

Equally there are those old conservative types who say, well if it is introduced, where does it end. Do we replay classically disputed ties, such as Maradona's hand of god game, which is a point so flippant that it hardly bears dealing with.

The problem is however, that it is these old conservative types who are running the game. Look at any sports newspaper today, or any independent football website and try to find one that isn't leading with Henry's handball on the front page. Now look at Fifa's, the world body, and organisation whose competition Henry will be starring in next year:

The story doesn't even make the top articles on the page. When we find a match report, it is not Henry whose name is emblazoned in the headline, but Gallas. Did this handball happen? Did we all imagine it?

Hidden away in the text we find this simple mention:

The story is the same whenever some other similar controversy arises that puts Fifa in a bad light. They simply pretend it hasn't happened.

What hope is there for world football?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Mild irritant. May be corrosive to brain.

I have just seen one of my favourite hate figures on television once again, the unbearably cheerful 'Gavin from Autoglass', who has once again reminded me to get that pesky chip in my windscreen seen to before I drive through one of those 40 feet deep craters he seems to encounter on a surprisingly frequent basis on his Barratt Homes Estate road, and shatter it.

Gavin joins the as yet unnamed 'redhead' on a generic mobile phone advert, where, for reasons largely unsaid or non-existent, said redhead feels the need to organise a party for like minded, apparently oppressed redheads in order to feel better about themselves. To do this, they travel to the notoriously tolerant (!) Moscow to celebrate.

And, because it is a redhead party, where other races, creeds and colours are, one imagines, shunned and ignored, the music they choose is, wait for it, Simply Red.

Between casually vomiting out the window and shouting at the television during this advert, I managed to flick the channel over, just in time to see Gavin appear again.

Jacqui Janes

I am already feeling numbed towards Jacqui Janes, which is a terrible thing to say about someone who has lost a son in Afghanistan. However I just can't help but feel sympathy in the current situation towards the Prime Minister, who has after all, at least written his letters by hand to relatives of those lost, rather than impersonally typing them. Spelling mistakes are regrettable, but that is all they are, mistakes, not any evidence of intended insult or lack of caring.

There is something unbearably awkward about her attacks on the PM, especially the recorded phone call this last Sunday which Janes escalated into an argument with Brown. This is surely not the right approach to having a reasoned debate over equipment issues for soldiers, but it must also be appreciated that reason must be hard to summon in times of such personal grief.

You know something is wrong however, when even on The Sun's website comments are offering sympathy for Brown. I am sure that if someone close to me died in similar circumstances the last thing I would want to do is drag his or her name through the media for what appears to be, or could be mistaken for, an orchestrated attack on the Prime Minister.

Monday, 2 November 2009


And lo, it came to pass. Brett Favre returned to his old stomping ground Green Bay in a Vikings uniform in an event so ridiculously hyped that it blew a hole somewhere out in space.

Fox Sports decided it would be worthwhile having a camera focused on the quarterback for the entire duration of the game for reasons largely unclear to anyone else. They also happily showed endless loops of Favre emerging from the tunnel prior to the game as if he was enduring an unfortunate groundhog day episode in his mind.

The Fox commentators also did a useful job in contradiction, one minute musing that the Favre media storm may finally and thankfully be dying down, only to show the montage again 20 seconds later.

As a Vikings fan I am hopeful that the conclusion of yesterday's game marks the end of the media circus surrounding Favre, a circle that began with frankly embarrassing 'I'm retiring'/'I'm not retiring' fiasco following his 2007 season with Green Bay.

In the end it was a game that turned from being a blow-out win for the visitors, to the Packers coming within 5 points in the 4th quarter and leaving myself peering at my internet stream considering some form of self-harm at the prospect of throwing it away.

Thankfully Favre and Peterson righted the ship and in the end the Vikes won with a comfortable score of 38-26. It takes Minnesota to 7-1 and has fans, including myself, dreaming of something beyond a wild-card playoff game.

The NFL is horrifically unpredictable (except when the Lions are playing it seems) but the remaining season schedule looks reasonable, a trip to division rival Bears seeming to pose the most danger.

I always feel as if is fitting reward for five years of support I have given to the team, and then I remember that there are such things as fans of Detroit, Oakland and St Louis in this world whose suffering looks set to continue.

It doesn't stop me from feeling incredibly optimistic about the team's prospects for this season however, and if the purple and gold are anywhere near Florida next February 7th I will be unseasonably chirpy. Bring it on.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Thick of It - Series Two

I'm trying to decide whether this series of The Thick of It is living up to my admittedly high expectations yet.

In my opinion it is, alongside Generation Kill, one of the best shows we currently have on television at the moment. The first episode of the new series (BBC 2, Saturdays) left me slightly underwhelmed, as did the opening to the second, yet I couldn't quite put my finger on why this was the case.

This feeling partly stems from having watched the spin-off film 'In The Loop', which I didn't like nearly as much as I had expected to. The script felt too linear, the chaos too overplayed, and the characters, such as the geeky US government aide, seemed slightly too wacky to be plausible. Simply put, I didn't feel the show worked as well in film format.

Part of the key to the first series was the understated nature of the characters, and the contrast in pace between moments of utter listlessness and crazed frenzy.

The danger of the film, and the manner in which the second series started, is that The Thick of It could go too far down the path of slapstick humour. Moments such as Glenn smoothing his hair nervously before rushing in to meet the new female minister sat strangely out of place with how the first series played out.

The hapless Hugh Abbott will certainly be missed, as there was something still always completely human about him, despite the ridiculous nature of the situations he found himself in. The relationship between Abbott and Glenn was also fascinating to watch develop, and this will sadly be absent from the new series.

It also occasionally feels as if the reputation of Malcolm Tucker precedes him, and that each tirade must be more filled with swearing than the last for it to make it into the script. Tucker's best episodes were actually the two hour-long specials where we saw signs that he was cracking under the strain for the first time, and his subsequent attempts to wrestle back control of the situation.

However it must be said that towards the conclusion of the second episode I felt myself warming to the show again. Moments such as Malcolm reminding a Guardian writer of his 'wandering hands', and the mini-fit thrown in the car after hearing of the minister's latest error still make for great entertainment. A reappearance of curmudgeonly Tory MP Peter Mannion and PM Special Advisor Julius Nicholson will go a long way to winning me back completely.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

So what's my excuse this year?

So the NFL visits London for the third year running today, and once again I have spectacularly failed to make an effort to get myself to the game. There are several reasons for this, the cost of the ticket, the cost of getting to and from the game, but none of them particularly stack up against how big a fan of the sport I consider myself to be, now my second favourite behind football.

Instead every year I find myself hoping that the game will be a wash-out, that one side will completely have dismantled the other by the second quarter, and that it will rain, rain more heavily than it ever has done before in the capital and make it a truly miserable viewing experience in the stadium.

The reality always fails me, the two games so far have both been considered successes, and I have been left more embittered and annoyed with myself every time.

The great thing about British followers of American football is the cult support it has, and in the five years since I started following it this support has only blossomed further, and with the advent of the International Series, has finally broken through into the mainstream.

This has created an interesting demographic of fans spanning two generations both of which have grown up around the television coverage provided at the time, the fans that watched the sport on Channel 4 in the 1980s, and the more recent converts like myself, who have been fed on a diet of Channel 5.

It's disappointing to see that the BBC won't be showing live coverage of the game this time around, but part of me is glad. For some reason there is satisfaction in keeping the sport away from the mainstream. It is a strange and unique feeling to watch a fantastic game played across the Atlantic one night, and have nobody and no media coverage talking about it the next day.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


It seems I may have to review my position on blogging. The last two weeks have seen a number of significant news stories that have revolved around people eagerly expressing their viewpoint in the virtual sphere, both with equally important consequences.

The attempted injunction placed on The Guardian newspaper, barring them from reporting a question asked in Parliament by an MP relating to the Trafigura dumping scandal was rendered worthless when speculation from both old and new forms of media ran wild.

This seems to have been a perhaps unintentionally positive usage of the multitude of options for people wishing to speak their mind on anything and everything they can lay their hands on. The injunction was subsequently lifted and valid questions were raised as to how any lawyers could have the temerity to attempt to silence parliamentary privilege.

The Jan Moir affair is, I feel, slightly different, but has had equally satisfying results in this case at least. In case you are not aware of the circumstances of this story, Moir, who writes for the Mail and should therefore have set some alarm bells off in this context, wrote a particularly venomous piece about the late Stephen Gately.

I won't analyse the article here, as I feel I cannot do any better than the brilliant columnist Charlie Brooker did on the Guardian website, which you can and should read, here:

There are several interesting/pleasing things about people rightly reacting to this nasty piece of so-called journalism. I will make it clear that I do indeed detest this style of writing anyway, right wing hacks on large salaries for producing the most repugnant and outspoken pieces they can on a regular basis. Most of them are possibly shits in real life too, which makes it reasonable to hate them.

This case also has flashbacks to the Brand/Ross saga of 2008, which was of course largely driven with glee by the Daily Mail, which reserved a hatred for Brand, who stood for the things that readers of the paper couldn't stomach, essentially someone who had once drunk and taken drugs to excess and then gone on to make a success of themselves.

The Mail clamoured for the sacking of both, although noticeably focused on Brand. Whatever the outcome, the paper was engaging in one of its favourite pastimes, terrorising the BBC, which it did so effectively on that occasion.

The important thing to notice was that the number of complaints about the show, which were little more than a dribble to start with, inflated massively once the news media got hold of the story, and so people who would not even have been anywhere near their radio sets during the time of the broadcast were suddenly leaping on the nearest bandwagon, destination Press Complaints Commission.

Therefore it is at least partially satisfying that this time the shit has landed, via the PCC, at the offices of the Mail, but less so in that one would have to assume the same band wagon jumpers happily guided this one down the same route.

It is representative of that 'quick, have a defined opinion to order' culture we seem to embrace so readily in this country, and whilst in this case it was certainly justified, that is not reason to celebrate it unreservedly.

And I noticed that the BBC stayed a significant distance away from widely reporting the storm of complaints the Mail had generated.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Question Time

Following on from the topic of an old post I've decided to keep a 'Stupid Voter Alert' watch running within this blog from now until the election. If possible I'll get clips of the cretins and post them up here for your (my) own enjoyment.

The faux political opinions that I spilt my bile on before also apply when watching what should otherwise be a fantastic programme, Question Time (BBC1, Thursdays). What would, I'm sure, in years past have been a unique opportunity for citizens to hold accountable ministers and public servants has, in recent years become an embarrassing pantomime event. What typically happens goes as follows:

Member of public: You're a lying bastard. Where's the child porn?

MP: I'm sorry, but I find your question impossible to answer in the way in which you phrased-

Generic Dimbleby 3: Answer the question you kiddy fiddler!

Members of audience: howl for blood, boo MP when he speaks, cheer other members of the audience's offerings.


Nick Griffin is on this Thursday's episode, which has divided opposition about the rights to free speech. Generally I am of the opinion that you have the right to speak your mind with the exception of saying anything that may be considered seriously offensive to others.

I am completely morally opposed to and repulsed by the views of the BNP, but there is a valid argument that says you should allow them to air their views in the manner of any other political party, so at least they cannot play the often recycled 'we are being repressed by the Government' line that ultimately works in their favour.

Friday, 16 October 2009

The Death of Yugoslavia

The Death of Yugoslavia is a fascinating BBC documentary from the mid-1990s that is unique in featuring the key players from all sides of the Balkan conflict reflecting on what caused the outbreak of war. This means that we hear from the late Slobodan Milošević in his most defiant and arrogant manner, as well as those later accused of war crimes such as military leader Ratko Mladić.

The combination of rare footage and talking heads adds to the tension and harrowing atmosphere of the programme. It is difficult viewing, but also documentary making at its very best, providing the evidence of the vicious outcomes that foolish indignant nationalism can lead to.

You can watch the first episode of the series here:

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


6-0-6, the nation's self-proclaimed 'favourite football phone-in' on BBC Radio 5 Live has become a tiresome listening experience over recent years.

Part of the problem is the frequency with which it is on, often four times a week, leaving callers repeating each other's points, or apparently desperately trying to come up with the most ridiculous points to appear unique and different.

This is minimised though when Gabriele Marcotti hosts the show, usually alongside DJ Spoony or Mark Chapman. Marcotti was in particularly fine form last Sunday, aggressively forcing callers to get their point across, and challenging their opinions by counter questioning.

This is the fundamental problem with the phone in; half the callers have no point to make and simply want to hear themselves on the radio, and the other half have often illogical and invalid arguments to make.

Therefore it is essential that these views are challenged, and callers probed to prove that they know what they are talking about. 606 often reminds me of the election scenario I have mentioned before in this blog, the public dress up supposed deeply held 'opinions' when in reality they are often shallow clichés.

Alan Green

Talking of 5 Live sports, Alan Green has gone significantly down in my estimation in recent years. Having used to been a huge fan, I have come to realise that his over opinionated monologues during a game can often hamper the description and enjoyment of the event.

True, they can often add some humour and flavour to the game, but too often he appears to rant and rave about a subject he may know little or nothing about. It takes fellow pundits Graham Taylor, and last weekend, David Pleat, to dare to argue with the way Green viewed certain decisions and prevent the usual polemic.

I will say that Green gives games a 'big game' feel, and that when he does his actual job of commentating he can be very good at it. I just wish the moaning, whining and slating of a talk show host could be left out of it.

Mike Ingham is the best commentator at the station, and gets this balance spot on, giving great insight to the game but also with reasoned and balanced opinion, admitting when he does not know enough to give comment on an issue.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

How objective is our television news?

I've just watched a piece by political editor Nick Robinson on the 6 o'clock BBC evening news about Gordon Brown's speech to the Labour Conference, and one of Robinson's concluding sentences stuck out:

'Do you want five more years of him as PM?'

Does that strike you as particularly impartial? Surely a simple: 'Now the public must decide whether Brown will stay at the helm' would suffice.

The Robinson example is in fact extremely common when you make an effort to listen carefully to the phrasing of sentences or intonation in voices in news programmes or even the otherwise brilliant Newsnight.

The latter is perhaps a stronger example, as when Jeremy Paxman, to quote The Thick Of It, 'pulls that horse face of mock incredulity' the audience surely can't help but be swayed one way or the other about what they are witnessing.

This ties in with my last post about the media's power to sway opinion so easily. Watch out for any stories regarding the Labour party at the moment for example. Not because I am a paranoid Labour supporter you understand, but because in the current climate anything remotely Labour party related is treated by the media as if it is diseased.

Another side to this that may be interesting to note is that Robinson and omnipresent political commentator Andrew Neil have pasts that may have a bearing on their outlook. Robinson was national chairman of the Young Conservatives for a year, following a period during his university days where he was Chairman of the Oxford University Conservative Association, facts he chooses to omit from his blog biography on the BBC website.

Neil was editor of the Sunday Times newspaper for 11 years, and has in his career worked closely with Sky, The Spectator and The Daily Mail. A balanced political slate there? I'll let you be the judge.

Monday, 28 September 2009

'You can't trust any of them, can you?'

The repeated appearance of Channel 4's trailer for the Dispatches programme focusing on MP's expenses now immediately has me reaching for the remote.

There is something painfully self congratulatory about the whole issue of expenses when the topic arises amongst the general population, a bubbling self righteous anger that I have come to find pretty repulsive.

As Stephen Fry said at the time the Daily Telegraph was gleefully spreading its findings over weeks worth of newsprint, there are very few of us out there who can truly say we have never tried to get the most out of our situation in regards to bonuses, benefits or bursaries.

The reality is that the general public love it because it creates a simple black and white narrative. We can label all politicians as crooks, purely in it for the expense accounts and living lavishly, whereas we are all good and pure hard-working souls.

We seem to forget that the life of a politician is not only presumably emotionally exhausting, but makes a mockery of the notion of a 9-5 job, instead spreading meetings, sittings, votes and constituent surgeries across mammoth days that would be largely unthinkable to the vast majority of us.

And what do they get for this tireless endeavour? Certainly rarely any praise. The best an MP can typically hope for is not to feature in a newspaper in any form, as the coverage will almost certainly be negative.

I appreciate that there are some politicians out there who have taken advantage of the system's faults, but we must retain a far more balanced viewpoint when it comes to addressing our representatives in parliament.

I fear that the expenses scandal is one way of showing the huge power that the media carry in forming opinion. It sickens me to hear interviews with people on the street in the build up to elections where tabloid clichés and rhetoric are incoherently regurgitated as an excuse for a real opinion and a valid reason to vote.

Perhaps there should be some form of short test before one enters the polling booth. Forget the sanctity of the secret vote, tell us 5 valid reasons for voting the way you are. If you can't give us the reasons you truly wish to vote this way, I'm afraid we will have to turn you away.

At least I wouldn't hear any more of the 'well they're all liars anyway' lines again.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

And all the pieces matter

Still, following on from my opening post, I guess I should make an effort to connect with you, whoever you are, AND WHATEVER you are doing with your lives that you have sunk to the low point of reading this.

I'm mostly going to be blogging about the media and politics, mixed in with a bit of sport now and again, but thought I should also link and direct you to the sites/TV programmes/interests that make my life enjoyable for no reason other than to fill this space with the same inane drivel that the rest of you have.

Still! To start with, if you are in any way a fan of The Wire you may have recognised the embarrassing hijacking of a fifth season quote for the title of the blog. This is because The Wire is the best television programme that has ever been made. I'm not even going to argue about it, unless you can show me something better. Please attempt to, but it may well be a futile exercise.

From my own personal viewing, nothing else has come close to The Wire for its content, its style and its depth. I can't explain it to you if you haven't seen it, just start watching it and give it time to grown on you. What I appreciated most was the fact that the show never forgets that you are an adult human being. that you do not need to be spoon-fed plot developments and episode recaps. Instead it focuses on realism and the simple interactions between human beings, which ultimately can be far more dramatic than any canned action sequence from a film.

I could bang on about it for years, but this is the sort of fanaticism that would also miss the serious points that the show tries to get across, and if the show can in anyway affect you as profoundly as I believe it did me, it will be worth having a shot at watching.

Will go on to discuss other stuff but BORED NOW so signing off.

The difficulties of blogging

Who cares what you have to say?

Is my initial reaction to the trend of blogging. Fair enough for people that have already made something of themselves, or for people who may genuinely have something important to get across, but for anyone else it has always felt, to me, an unnecessary ego trip fuelled solely by a desire to become famous or well regarded within a section of society.

Neither of which is applicable to myself. Yet.

I've got to give it a go though, a module for my journalism studies dictates it. So let's see what happens shall we? Yeah? YEAH?