Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Black Day For Blue Peter

After previous scandals involving cocaine-snorting presenters and fiddling the results of phone-in compos, the tired old kids’ TV stalwart Blue Peter is in a bit of trub again, this time for ignoring the pleas of a thousand schoolkids when naming the latest feline mascot. The kids’ moniker of choice was “Cookie”, though the producers trampled on their dreams by sneakily claiming the popular vote was for “Socks”. Ho hum.

It reminded me of a similar Blue Peter competition I entered when I was about five years old involving the naming of a baby owl. Viewers were asked to send in ideas for names and the most popular would be chosen. The prize, as I remember, was a flight in a Spitfire or Lancaster or some military plane or another (the theme of flight – both owls and aeroplanes fly – being an extremely tenuous one).

After careful consideration in my half-decade-old mind, I decided an excellent name for the little fella would be Flaps, and I wrote to Blue Peter to tell them so (though obviously Mum and Dad stuck the stamp on the envelope and popped it in the post). My slightly older/wiser sister opted for the more sophisticated, and indeed topical, Bright Eyes, which I remember made it into the shortlist of the final five.

The disappointment that Flaps wasn’t even considered as an option when the show was broadcast is something I remember to this day. Though considering the sneaky underhand methods recently revealed, I (along with a thousand like-minded peers with the same request) could well have been diddled.

So sadly, Flaps the owl never came to be, I didn’t get my ride in a Spitfire, and the show’s producers no doubt rubbed their hands in glee at the mass swindling of its viewership.

For the record, Bright Eyes didn’t win either (I can’t remember what did). All I know is that it wasn’t’ f*cking Flaps. Bastards…

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Survival Of The Fittest

People are getting more attractive, and that’s not an opinion, it’s a bastardisation of Darwinian fact. A clumsy summary of evolutionary theory follows:

In the same way that the peacock with the best plumage attracts the most peahens, or Miss Wildebeest only has eyes for the most studly gnu on the plains of the Serengeti, humans are hard-coded with biological urges in order to ensure the survival of the fittest members of the species (by “fittest”, Darwin didn’t mean it in the modern sense of the word, though ironically it’s no less applicable).

Humans are, after all, just dumb animals whose purpose is to reproduce in order to pass our twirly strands of DNA onto our offspring. However, evolution dictates that constant improvement must be happening, so any successful genes must necessarily then be usurped by even better ones. Therefore by default, each successive generation must be better-equipped to achieve this than the last.

It logically follows that people, through the millennia, must be becoming more and more eye-catching as they strive to pass down their genes to successors whose ability to find a mate (and therefore procreate) is based on their attractiveness to the opposite sex.

To anybody who’s watched re-enactments of cavemen/ladies on telly, it’s clear that our ancestors were once all munters. No doubt there were cro-magnon nightclubs up and down the land even in pre-historic times, where standards were lowered at 2 o’clock in the morning and these troglodytic individuals engaged in a little bump and grind, no doubt to the smooth tones of the Neanderthal equivalent of Marvin Gaye. And thank god they did as that’s the reason we’re here today at all. Probably.

Further evidence is all around as even the most cursory glance around you will reveal that people are generally a little more easy on the eye than your average caveman (Caroline Quentin is obviously some kind of throwback).

Society imposes short-term cultural trends which temporarily (and superficially) dictate whether or not an individual can be said to be attractive: from corpulent Rubenesque ladies of yesteryear to twig-like supermodels of the modern age, though these fads are passing, and don’t impact the underlying bedrock of natural selection.

The logical conclusion therefore, is that in a few thousand years everyone will look like Brad and Angelina, while the offspring of Brad and Angelina will be nothing short of godlike.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Naughty Naughty Man...

Cambodian police, with backing from the UN, have arrested Pol Pot right-hand-man Nuon Chea for his part in the genocide which took place in the late seventies. He’ll shortly be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity; if he doesn’t peg it first that is.

The BBC news this morning claimed that the 82-year old “denies any wrongdoing”, which I can’t help but think is a likkle bit of an understatement.

To me, nervously driving away after tapping someone’s car with your own in Sainsbury’s car park, or failing to declare a bit of plumbing work while collecting your giro can be classified as wrongdoing. It’s a bit of an inadequate expression to level at the chap partially responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1m people. It’s like accusing Hitler of “misbehaviour”.

Don’t Blame It On The Sunshine, Blame It On Marcel

The world is today quietly mourning the death of Marcel Marceau, the world’s premier mime artist (though I defy anyone to name another mime artist, premier or otherwise).

No more will he struggle to make headway against an imaginary wind or pretend to be confined in an invisible box (unless he wakes up six feet under and there’s been some terrible mistake). One can only imagine his silent death throes, clutching at his heart in a theatrical manner to the admiration of hospital staff believing they were witnessing another trademark performance. I don’t think he had any final words.

Marcel is actually indirectly responsible for one of the worst films of the ‘80s as Michael Jackson reportedly copied his moonwalk directly from the aforementioned ‘wind’ routine. Had there been no moonwalk, there would be no Moonwalker - a motley collection of self-promoting tat masquerading as a film from the monkey-loving weirdo. In it he plays a hero with magical powers and is chased by drug dealer Mr. Big, finding time to save three children and shoehorn a number of his music videos into proceedings. He even copied his white pasty face…

Friday, September 21, 2007

That's (Not) Entertainment

Don’t get me wrong, I like people hassling me for money as much as the next man, though I’m genuinely puzzled by a form of street entertainment (and I use the word “entertainment” in its loosest possible sense) which has sprung up in recent years.

People pretending to be statues. What’s all that about? These struggling actors can usually be found smothered in white emulsion, standing atop a plinth in the middle of the high street, exhibiting as much animation as roadkill.

Pretending to be a statue has no artistic merit and takes no particular skill except the ability to slap on a bit of Dulux, which renders them indistinguishable from slow-moving albinos (who must be quids in since this particular form of ‘street art’ started). Often the only clue that “standing still” warrants some kind of financial reward is a strategically-placed hat at their feet.

Tourists gawp in awestruck wonder “Look, they’re not moving or talking or anything! Amazing…” Amazing indeed, as their ability to mysteriously winkle nuggets out of people’s wallets by doing precisely nothing puts their efforts on a par with telekeneticists.

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer street entertainers to live up to their label and be at least moderately entertaining, or if they’re not, to put the effort in by unicycling or juggling fire or scaring small children (or by scarily juggling small fiery children). Finding entertainment value in motionless thespians is like putting a DVD on only to watch it on pause.

Friday, September 07, 2007

It’s Not Over ‘til The Fat Fella Sings

Sung he has, and over it is for Luciano who delivered his final aria and mopped his brow with that little scarf thing for the very last time yesterday.

Like an operatic Barry White, Pavarotti was of sizeable girth and was renowned for his love of the ladies, though that’s probably not a mental image you want to dwell on with either of them. The two of them are probably duetting in heaven right now (or hell, depending on whether they behaved themselves when they were alive) as a sort of a male version of The Weathergirls.

In his 71 years of hairy super-sized existence on Earth, he popularised opera for the masses, notably as one of The Three Tenors alongside Domingo and Carreras.

In the darker recesses of my record collection lurks a Xmas single by the hilariously named The Three Fivers, made up of Bruce Forsyth, Jimmy Tarbuck and Kenny Lynch, in which they parody the infinitely more talented trio in piss-poor operatic style.

Let’s see you mimic them now boys. Any volunteers for pushing up a very large number of daisies? My money’s on Tarby.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Brian Of Britain

Big Brother is over for another summer, which means that the summer itself is also almost over. Liam was the preferred choice of victor in Castle Collier, but stupidity eventually won the day with the infantile, but entirely likeable, Brian emerging triumphant and gangling down the steps like Crazy-Legs Crane after too many coffees.

We were just happy that the spectacularly vacuous twins didn’t win. They’re two individuals tuned to a shrieking girlie frequency so high that the dial’s long since been broken and they’re unable to see the world in anything but a shade of fuchsia (which affords them the emotional range of the average Vulcan). Exhibiting unnervingly childlike wonder throughout, they were so shallow kids couldn’t even paddle in them.

On “Planet Samanda” everything was “dead, dead good” and all the people were “dead, dead nice”, and for thirteen weeks they demonstrated a complete inability to engage in the most simple of conversations or speak more than three words without interspersing their strange staccato speech with a series of giggles. Had I been a BB8 housemate, viewers might have witnessed the first ever televised suicide (whereupon they’d probably describe me as “dead, dead dead”), the sweet release of death being preferable to enduring their daily squeals.

You’ve got to admire the resilience of the unfortunate individuals who had a passport to their world for the duration of the show. Being locked in a house with them for that length of time would have tested the endurance of a Green Beret prisoner of war.

Congratulations this year to the BB production people who, in Charley, contrived to find someone even more odious than Jade Goody (a few short months ago I didn’t think such a thing was possible). Thankfully, since leaving the house, she’s revealed herself to be a creature of no discernable talent, which means that her time in the spotlight is happily finite. Hopefully she won’t be held up to be some sort of celebrity pantomime villain which would serve to trivialise her contemptible behaviour, and with any luck she’ll shortly be completely ignored which is the worst fate for a member of the celebrity sect she so longs to join.

Cracking stuff. Roll on BB9…

Why Man Should Not Play God

Geeky scientists have been guffawing nasally and administering weak slaps on the back to each other this week after being given the go-ahead by the UK regulator to create human-animal hybrid embryos for research purposes. They’ll be mashing together human and cow DNA, and teleporting them to the other side of the laboratory (or whatever it is they do) in order to make themselves some stem cells.

It’s a little-known fact that similar secret experiments were undertaken around forty years ago, though sadly the results were classified and have never been revealed. You can’t help but wonder though what the result would have been had the embryos been allowed to develop. Just what sort of hideous chimera or mutant beast would result? I suppose we’ll never know...