Thursday, 31 December 2009

Sherlock Holmes

Continuing my burgeoning non-career as a film critic, I report that I went to see Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes last night. Confessing myself generally underwhelmed by Guy Ritchie, my expectations were low. I was pleasantly surprised. It's not at all bad.

The trouble with any film set in London is that I have lived or worked in the usual - erm - sets. The opening had me thinking, okay that's Middle Temple Lane. It must be said that the re-creation of Victorian London is very well done. The final confrontation is set on a half-built Tower Bridge. Researches (okay - googling) reveals that Tower Bridge was opened in 1894 which dates the period portrayed pretty accurately.

We have a very unconventional Sherlock Holmes portrayed here. He has no deerstalker, hardly smokes a pipe (best not to flaunt that sort of thing - theer may be children watching) and the one he does smoke is not the calabash of tradition. He also has a sideline as a bare knuckle fighter and has a - sort of - girlfriend. To further complicate matters, his sort of girlfriend is a sort of criminal. There is - unless I over-interperet things - one rather obscure visual reference. At one point Holmes is rescued by his sort of girlfriend. We see him draped over a sofa in a garret. Unless I am mistaken, the scene is a straight lift from Henry Wallis's Death of Chatterton (see below).

And the plot? Well the villain of the piece is a Lord Blackwood (why are villains always named black something? Like in the old westerns the bad guys wore black hats. Why not call him Lord Manboobs or somesuch and confuse the hard of thinking?) Lord Blackwood is hanged for all sorts of bad deeds and pronounced dead by Watson (traditionally Watson is portrayed as a bit of a dolt but in another break from tradition Watson is actually rather bright) but breaks out of his elaborate crypt to general alarm. One tiny note of factual criticism: executed prisoners - even aristocratic ones - were buried in the prison grounds - not in well posh crypts. Lord Blackwood is into the black arts and wants to take over the world - including amusingly re-colonising the USA. He fails. If you want to know the rest see the film.

The script actually works largely (see comments on Avatar). The dialogue is crisp and zingy. The action is that of a far more physical Holmes than ever portrayed before. This makes sense. It is visual media not the written word. Different considerations apply.

A parting grumpy old man type enquiry: why doesn't anybody listen to anyone these days? I mean literally. Anyone employed to deal with the public seems to find it too much effort to actually listen to what is being said to/asked of them and accordingly focuses out of any attempt at dialogue and takes a guess at what the latest interruption from doing nothing is saying. Unpicking the mistaken guess involves more dialogue than paying attention in the first place...

And, on that note, a happy new year to one and all!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Things to do in London on Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, I went to see Avatar. I'm not sure if I'm qualified to be a film critic as I regularly crash and burn on Earl's Bug Eyed Quiz (link to left) when the topic is movies - I don't cheat - I try to come bottom doing my best as opposed to deliberately messing up - and I usually do come bottom! But here goes. The director, James Cameron, is noted for directing Titanic, of which it was said with some justification that they spent $120 million (or whatever it was) on special effects and ten cents on the script. Rumour has it that something similar happened as regrds Avatar.

Let's get it out of the way. The special effects are stunning and well worth seeing Avatar for on their own.

The storyline? Well it suffers from metaphor overload. Just about everything is nodded to in a clunking sort of way. It starts off vaguely reminiscent of Apocalypse Now or any other Vietnam film you can think of with the choppers warily overflying the dense vegetation. Clunk! A nod to Vietnam. However we are not in Vietnam. We are on a planet called Pandora - as in Pandora's box (geddit?).

The Earthlings are on the most hostile environment imaginable. The atmosphere is rapidly fatal without breathing equipment. Everything in the natural world seems dedicated to - and with a talent for - killing them. Avatars are created to put the sort of human - apart from being blue, about twice the height of the average person, tiger striped and possessed of tails - tribespeople at their ease. The tribespeople are known as 'the people'. The objective is a precious natural resource the people are living on top of. At this point the metaphors are flying thick and fast. Everyone else who is invaded/occupied and is pissed off about it - let's think Iraq/Afghanistan. Clunk! Indigenous people unwittingly sitting on valuable resources. Clunk! The rainforest. Clunk! The native american - these savages are noble savages and have a lot of the characteristics of the native american - their language sounds similar too. Nod to Rousseau. Clunk!

I'll leave the plot alone - go see if you want to know it. Nuanced it aint. It has a wildly improbable love affair. The use of overwhelming force by the Earthlings (or 'Sky people') - we are in shock and awe territory here. Clunk! And in the final stages an avalanche of New Age/Mother Earth guff. At this point the metaphorical clunkometer is blowing off the wall. Clunketty Clunketty Clunk!


Maybe twenty cents on the script. Plus it's a little over long. Go and see it anyway. The special effects are worth the trip. Plus you get a free pair of 3D glasses.

After the cinema, we repaired to Jimmy's - a Greek restaurant in Soho and of some fame. It's in a basement on Frith Street - also home to Ronnie Scott's and looks as if it hasn't been decorated since about 1960. My dinner companions, being American and Hong Kong Chinese, had never heard of Jimmy's but soon got the hang of it. After the mezzes, I had Souvlaki washed down with Cretan red.

And so to bed, as Pepys used to write. Well sort of ;)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Stille Nacht and a couple of other matters

The rabbit is hopping off to London for Christmas and the New Year tomorrow so - as promised a little while ago here is the St Thomas Boys' Choir (Thomanerchor) with Stille Nacht Heilige Nacht. I may be quiet until the New Year but don't bet on it.

Talking of the new year, could we start the second decade of the twenty-first century by dropping the 'two thousand and...' business as regards the year? Twentyten will do nicely, thank you. We didn't speak of one thousand, nine hundred and eighty four or whatever.

I post this photo as it was mentioned in an end of the year quiz I read today. It has to be one of the most famous, as well as - in my opinion - one of the best sporting photographs ever taken. It is of the Australian batsman Victor Trumper. I can't find out exactly when it was taken. Maybe about 1910? The photographer was someone called Beldam. It's sad that someone of such athleticism and grace suffered a debilitating, and ultimately fatal, kidney disease. He died in 1915 aged 37, leaving a widow and two small children. His intestate estate was valued at £5.

Happy Christmas and New Year to all. Oh and here is a photo (title Winter Solstice) nicked from Jailhouse Lawyer who nicked it from Family Lore. Hat Tips all round.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Barristerman and an apology

Hat Tip to the great and glorious Charon QC (link to left) who is adding Great British Artist to his many talents. Here is his Barristerman for the edification of the multitude.
I also owe an apology to Marie Kreft for not Hat Tipping her for the infamous Gaviscon advert. To make amends here is a big heads up for her copywriting business Good as Gold Word Services which anyone in the entire universe in need of a copywriter should contact immediately. I trust this makes sufficient amends.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Okay, let's do a few more terrible album covers...

Very - erm - festive...

Oh okay, a bit of googling and all becomes clear. The Louvin brothers were really brothers, real surname Loudermilk (!). Ira Louvin, the older one, was noted for his bad temper and his third wife shot him four times in the back after he tried to strangle her. He must have survived this experience as he married a fourth time.

The Louvin Brothers also wrote The Christian Life, which was covered in the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. The cover (of Satan is Real I mean not Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which has a nice picture of a cowgirl) features a 12 foot plywood model of Mr Satan and a load of burning tyres

The album title is I Love my Life. For someone thus blessed Mr Post looks strangely fed up. Why he appears to be having a shower is similarly mysterious. Researches reveal that for a mere $10 you can have a CD by our hero called - erm - Frog in the Kitchen Sink - featuring (and I quote) 'original toe-tappin', hand-clappin', jig-jigglin' songs, guaranteed to put a giggle in your gizzard! You'll find frogs in your sink, milk cows singing the "moos," earthworms wishing to fly, and jelly fish jamming with clams by the light of the old June moon!' Erm, quite so

Arghhhhhhh.... It's him again!

There are places not to come out - and on a naff album cover is definitely one of them. Fact.

Words fail me.The manic leer. The woman inexplicably in some state of ecstasy as regards what our man is doing with his xylophone. Bidding on a copy of this has just ended on e-bay, Mr Google tells me. Someone is a lucky punter.

Something for the single person to relate to...

Hat Tip to Beau Bo D'Or (link to left). Continuing the seasonal theme, here is a pic from Shorpy (again link to left) dating back to 1918. Evidently they fed horses Christmas trees then...

Friday, 18 December 2009


We haven't had a wac-coe in ages. In fact, there's been only one ever on WR. It's a Leeds supporter thing involving chanting 'we are the champions, champions of Europe' all the way through half-time at away games with shirts removed and twirled over heads. It's a sort of footballing Jacobitism that refuses to recognise the succession after we were robbed in the 1975 European Cup Final by a referee who apparently wasn't bribed but might as well have been. This example is at - erm - Walsall. It's a bit hard to get the flavour of on a video clip but it's great fun live

More dreadful album covers

It's been a while since we raided the dreadful album cover cupboard. Dreadful enough for you? Curiously, England Dan (sounds back to front to me) later achieved some note as a country singer as Dan Seals.

Here is a festive touch from our old friend Heino, at it again. Fröhlich Weihnachten to you too you big girl's blouse.

Continuing the seasonal theme, we have The Kingston Trio. Just one question: why are they sticking their fingers in each other's ears?

Certainly not! Dear me.......

As has been commented previously (and see previous offering), US gospel albums are a rich source of shocking covers (who will forget The Handless Organist?). What on earth is going here is a matter for conjecture but have those two guys grown those moustaches for a bet?

I suppose this was probably an attempt to raise money for the dental bills. Okay, that's enough dreadful album covers. I did actually delete one before posting on the grounds of grossness. Anyone with a strong stomach, google Beastiality by the Handsome Beasts. Blech! Oh all right, then. Just one more.

As with yesterday's posting, I maintain a decorous silence. As a parting shot, here is a dreadful advert from the 1930s. Lard = Happiness? I like the idea of the Lard Information Council, though.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

I'm saying absolutely nothing...

Gaviscon advert from South Africa. Hmmmmmm.....

A bit of seasonal levity...

Lightening the mood after last posting. This even features a white rabbit! And for further delectation, here is yet another song I have posted before but in a different version,, the Byrds with Truck Stop Girl.

Oh and here's an impressive trick. Hat Tip to The Anti Christ (yes, seriously)

When is a war criminal not a war criminal?

Q: When is a war criminal not a war criminal?
A: When the war criminal is a former Israeli minister on a visit to the UK.
The individual above is Tzipi Livni, Israeli Prime Minister during Operation Let's Butcher Lots of Natives Because We Can - sorry Cast Lead. Westminster Magistrates Court issued a warrant for her arrest for war crimes under the 'universal jurisdiction' applicable for war crimes. Annoyingly, she was - contrary to belief at the time - not in the country after all so the warrant could not be executed.
Predictably a volley of toys flew out of the pram from Israel. Whinge. Whinge. Not fair. Whinge.
The British response? Capitulation. David Miliband, Foreign Secretary and Hillary Hottie (see below) simpered that the government was looking 'urgently' at ways to change the law. Some little squirt called Ivan Lewis, a foreign office minister, announced that 'this must never be allowed to happen again'.
Why not?
There's a place for Tzipi Livni in the next cell to Radovan Karadžić at the International Criminal Court at the Hague. Below is some of her handiwork as actually caught on Israeli TV.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

A bit of law...

This cheered me up greatly. For overseas readers, Carter Ruck are a prominent firm of defamation lawyers. I've never seen the point of defamation, which seems more showbiz than law. What's wrong with offering the miscreant out? Hat Tip to Daniel Hoffman-Gill.
With Hat Tip to boingboing via Charon QC, here is an instructive clip. We are the most spied on nation on earth with CCTV everywhere but poking up the bog at our bums and that's only a matter of time. But do some filming yourself and trouble follows. I asked on WR ages ago 'what are PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) for? Here is the answer - mindlessly harassing a photographer including implying she is a terrorist, demanding to see her footage and generally giving her a hard time for being 'cocky' - as boingboing comments 'failing to cringe sufficiently'. Senior police officers have admitted that anti-terror legislation was being 'widely question and search innocent photographers' and that the practice should stop. Somehow the message hasn't filtered down to these numpties.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Blair as psychopath and narcissist

'Psychopaths are glib and superficially charming, and many psychopaths are excellent mimics of normal human emotion; some psychopaths can blend in, undetected, in a variety of surroundings ... There is neither a cure nor any effective treatment for psychopathy; there are no medications or other techniques which can instill empathy, and psychopaths who undergo traditional talk therapy only become more adept at manipulating others'

'Although most individuals have some narcissistic traits, high levels of narcissism can manifest themselves as a pathological form as narcissistic personality disorder, whereby the patient overestimates his or her abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation'
I have theorised for some time that Blair is a psychopath and a narcissist. See the definitions above via wikipedia. 'Glib and superficially charming' check ... 'excellent mimic of human emotion' check ... 'excessive need for admiration and affirmation' check ...
Plus psychopaths are incureable and untreatable. Here's the proof in the particular case. Blair has announced that he would have invaded Iraq even without evidence of weapons of mass destruction and would have found a way to justify the war to parliament and the public. This information was given quite freely to someone called Fern Britton on BBC television. It remains to be seen whether Blair's evidence to the reverting-to-type-as-per-expectations-after-a-promising-start Chilcot enquiry is quite so public. Sure, outrage can be cheap but there's a point here: a lot of dead people who otherwise would not be dead. The justification always was that Saddam was in breach of UN resolutions as regards weapons of mass destruction. As it turned out - surprise, surprise - there were no weapons of mass destruction. Oops!
Someone called Sir David Manning, a foreign policy adviser, told Blair in March 2002 'I said you would not budge in your support for regime change, but you had to manage a press, a parliament, and a public opinion which is very different than anything in the States'. In July 2002, Blair had told Bush he was in favour of regime change but public opinion needed a bit of duffing up to get in line (well he didn't quite put it like that but you get my drift). So it was a done deal long before the WMD pantomime as acted out before the UN by the hapless Colin Powell and others. We were lied to. And look at the shambles that followed - and continues to this day.
As an attempt at antidote here are Jefferson Airplane with We Can be Together, from the Volunteers album, the first popular song to demonstrate to the mainstream that mother can be half a word. Curiously one line is 'in order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fred hide and deal. What does fred mean as a verb as used here? Also, the very rude word is preceded by the words 'up against the wall fred'. Anyone with any ideas what is going on here?

Friday, 11 December 2009

“Same procedure as every year”

As it happens the rabbit has been doing an evening class in German. Last night was the last class of the term so there was a little party. Stollen was eaten, Stille Nacht was played from YouTube (if you all promise to be good, I will put up Stille Nacht at Christmas) and - here is where it starts to get weird - Dinner for One was played - also from YouTube - to general amusement.

Now Dinner for One - also known as The 90th Birthday - is pretty much unknown in the UK. I was one of only two people who had heard of it. But on continental Europe, it is massive. They think it is the funniest thing ever. Here is the backstory. Dinner for One is a 18 minute black and white 1963 TV recording featuring British the obscure British comedian Freddie Frinton and the even more obscure British comedian May Warden. The occasion is the 90th birthday of elderly upper class Englishwoman Miss Sophie, who hosts a dinner every year for her close friends Mr Pommeroy, Mr Winterbottom, Sir Toby, and Admiral von Schneider to celebrate the occasion. Of course she has outlived them all and the guest seats are empty. Her elderly manservant James makes his way round the table for each course impersonating them in turn. He also has to drink whatever is served with each course drinkwise four times - for each of the absent through being dead guests. Inevitably, he gets progressively more and more drunk. There is a running visual gag relating to the head of the tigerskin. I won't spoil it.

At every course there is the following exchange:

James: The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Miss Sophie: The same procedure as every year, James!

At the end of the dinner, Miss Sophie announces that she is off to bed.

James: By the way, the same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
Miss Sophie (delightedly): The same procedure as every year, James!
James: Well, I'll do my very best!

Best not to think about it...

So far, so what? Despite being almost unknown in the UK the sketch is absolutely massive in Germany in particular - where half the population may see the re-broadcast every year - but also in a number of mainly Nordic continental European countries. It is on every year if not more frequently , usually for the New Year but also for Christmas in some locations. “Same procedure as every year” is evidently a popular catchphrase in Germany.

How weird is that? I don't ever think I'd seen it all the way through before until last night. Yes, I'm afraid I do think it's funny. Oh dear. Here it is in Lego - as made inevitably enough by some Germans.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The New Labour disaster in four minutes...

I just came across this -the New Labour disaster in four minutes - by someone/something called LiberalVision. Worth a look - warning: contains graphic violence. Also contains Nena's 99 red balloons - or 99 luftballons in the original German. Here she is with original version.

Oh and as another bonus here is an informative sign...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Urban fox...

With Hat Tip - not for the first time - to Jailhouse Lawyer, I had to post this photo of a fox sauntering up an escalator on the London Underground (Walthamstow Central to be exact) like it owned the place. It then exited the station by walking under the ticket barrier. No doubt the naughty creature didn't have a ticket! Oh and here is the latest gem from Beau Bo D'Or (link to left) under the heading 'The Murdochs want to control the misinformation highway'.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Duppy Conqueror

A quick blog on the run today. Hank's Dreams - link to left - has a prize collection of weird and wonderful images - here is one I've just nicked. Death seems to be looking for trouble here... The image dates back to 1863 and the photographer was someone called Henri Robin. Scary, huh? Continuing the spooky theme and with more reggae, here are the Wailers with Duppy Conqueror. A duppy is a Jamaican ghost if you didn't know.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Has anyone told Bill?

Exclusive to White Rabbit and everybody else, I can reveal that Hillary Clinton (62) has got the hots for her British counterpart, Foreign Secretary David Miliband (44).

A loved up Hillary (I could get into this sort of journalism) gushed breathily to Vogue magazine that she liked his accent and added: 'Well, if you saw him it would be a BIG crush. I mean, he is so vibrant, vital, attractive, smart. He's really a good guy. And he's so young!'

She must be one of these cougars of whom I read.

Vibrant, vital etc Miliband reports of gorgeous pouting Hillary 'she's very good one on one'. Ermmmm......

Perhaps rephrase that.

This has echoes except more so of the bizarre 'friendship' between the lovely couple's predecessors Jack Straw and Condoleeza Rice, which seemed to consist of taking each other to sporting events that no sensible person would ever want to go to.

I wonder what Bill thinks? Still, I'd be amazed if there is anyone on the planet who would feel an ounce of sympathy for him. Not that I am suggesting that they are at it for real. I'm just having a little fun. Honest.

After the World cup draw, the Sun's front page headline today is...


It will be noted that this spells EASY. I wonder if the Sun's copywriters have ever heard of the word hubris?

I have posted this song before but I heard it on the radio this morning - Stir it Up - one of the most erotic songs of all time in my opinion. This is the original Wailers, complete with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer - dedicated to Hill and Mill ;)

And as a bonus, and talking of the much underrated Bunny Wailer, dedicated to everyone else in the world (except of course the people who piss me off) here is our man with Chant down Babylon

Friday, 4 December 2009

Rude words...

I am amused to see that Geoffrey Boycott is in a spot of hot water for exclaiming 'fucking tosser' on Test Match Special. Note for American readers: Geoffrey Boycott is an old Yorkshire and England cricketer. He is a strange man but was an all time great and is now a very knowledgeable commentator on the game. Test Match Special is the BBC national radio live cricket commentary programme. Boycott assumed he wasn't on air when he said the rude words. Oh yes he was! Cue much predictable outrage.

Mike Selvey has a sensible article in the Guardian today bringing an element of commonsense to the synthetic outrage that has blown up over the Boycottian rude word fest. He tells the story of Allan Lamb (another old England cricketer - pic above in typical pose). He was invited once to do a guest appearance on Test Match Special. There was a questionable umpiring decision.

'Fuck me!' exclaimed Lamb.

A note was passed to him.

'You can't say fuck on air' said the note.

'Shit!' said Lamb. 'Did I say that?'

This was apparently the end of our man's glorious career in the broadcast media, sadly nipped in the bud. We haven't had any Dead for a while so here they are with Not Fade Away

And as a bonus here are the Stones from 1964 with the same...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

An appeal for assistance...

I started this particular hare running on the Charon QC blog (link to left) with a quote from Sir Jeremy Greenstock, British ambassador to the United Nations 1998-2003 to the Chilcot inquiry:

'I regarded our participation in the military action against Iraq in March 2003 as legal, but of questionable legitimacy'.

Can anyone explain what this means?