Jul 14

“There’s No Drama Like Wrestling”

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On the 18th June 2014, I took to the stage (a very small stage, but a stage nonetheless) as part of Geek Show Off to publicly declare my love for all things wrestling.  I could have talked for nine minutes on so many aspects of grappling but focussed my attention on another passion of mine: Andy Kaufman. So, here’s what I had to say before a sold out London crowd: 28th July 1982 changed professional wrestling forever. That was the day that the undisputed Intergender Wrestling Champion, Andy Kaufman, laid in to the undisputed babyface of the Memphis territory, Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, on nationwide American television. ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ was drawing 10-15 million viewers in its early years so this was the biggest single event to happen in the world of professional wrestling since 1976 when Muhammed Ali fought Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki in Tokyo – but that’s a whole other story.   However, it seems we’ve joined this tale mid-way.  Let’s go back to the beginning.

Dec 11

Eight FT Nights: “The Hanukkah Story”, The Nanny

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(Soz for the late posting, yr correspondent has completed a GRUELLING 25-HOUR JOURNEY across many time zones including correspondent’s British spouse being detained by US Homeland Security for 2.5 hours of fun! But all HOME SAFE now albeit in an awkward timezone for posting.)

Again the mother of the household is frying latkes in the first scene (we’re 3 for 4 here), again there is an interfaith family (4 for 4), again there is a stilted explanatory “What is the story of Hanukkah?” scene (3 for 4) and holy crap is that Ray Charles? Holy fuck what is Ray Charles doing in this! Oh man! This is already the best Hanukkah ever!

Dec 11

Eight FT Nights: “The Best Christmukkah Ever”, The OC

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Is it though? IS IT?!

NB I have never seen an episode of The OC before and watched this while (a) drunk and (b) packing. So I may have missed some subtleties, but actually looking back I don’t think so.

Dec 11

Eight FT Nights: “Chanukah”, Rugrats

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Chag sameach! And so long to advent calendars and welcome to EIGHT FT NIGHTS of Hanukkah TV specials. Although your correspondent doubted eight Hanukkah-related TV episodes or specials existed in the whole of pop culture, having dredged the depths of 1980s cartoons and 1990s sitcoms it turns out there are at least TEN! But we’re not going to do ten.

Nickelodeon classic cartoon Rugrats features an interfaith Jewish-Christian family and more holiday specials than you can shake a baby at. The episode titled “Chanukah” features adventure, drama, triumph, grown-up Hebrew jokes and two bad puns around “Maccabee”:

The other one, for the record, is “To be or Maccabee”.

Apr 10

“The Eleventh Hour” Reviewed By Lytton, Age 3 1/4

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Jan 10

The Last Ever Tenth Doctor Story Reviewed By Lytton Ewing Aged 3 And 1 Month

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“There was a monster party and all the monsters dancing. The green monsters were nasty, them called Doctor Who ‘idiot’. At the end him not Doctor Who anymore, him a different person. I love Doctor Who, can we have it on DVD?”

Dec 09

Rage vs X-Factor: Winners and Losers

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Well, that’s that: the machine has been given a good beating and we can look forward to “Bulls On Parade” on the festive Argos ad next year. I will admit I didn’t think the RATM crew could do it: I was wrong. But as the dust settles on this most fractious and increasingly entertaining Christmas No.1 race, who has actually benefited? Here’s my round-up of winners and losers.

Joe McElderry: He’ll be Number 1 next week most likely, but while the ‘battle’ was never about him this puts him firmly in the “Leon Jackson” box, not the “Will Young” one. On the other hand, the constant refrain from the judges during the series was that he had a musical theatre kind of a voice, and this might nudge him in that direction and away from the fickle world of pop. Before dabbing your eyes over Joe’s lost dreams, it’s worth noting that if he’d sold as many as Alexandra did with “Hallelujah” last year, he’d have been #1, Rage or no Rage.

Rage Against The Machine: It’s good profile-raising stuff for them and their other material will do well from it, though unless MP3s come with reading lists in their IP3 tags the ‘educational’ element of RATM may be a little missing. The downsizing of their song’s target from “institutional racism” to “Simon Cowell” is probably a fairer reflection of their listeners’ concerns anyway but it’s left them looking a little… cuddlier… than once they did (and their participation in a classic British radio brouhaha has only helped). They themselves have joined in with gusto, of course: “RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE THANKS ‘EVERY FAN AND FREEDOM FIGHTER’ FOR THE ‘ANARCHY CHRISTMAS MIRACLE OF 2009′” blared their press release.

Dec 09

FT Advent Calendar Of Free Online Games: 15th December

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The point and click puzzle game these days seems almost as dead as the text adventure. And in the case of the text adventure (interactive fiction darhling) perhaps they have just reverted to their core audiences oblivious of the technological progress that seemingly made them obsolete. Well today’s is a beautiful thing to look at, and to play. Short, sweet and very very pretty. Starring this geezer – but what is he looking at?
telescope man

Sep 09

19 Buddy Acts Whose Names Were Deemed Interesting Enough To Be The Title Of The Show Despite Not Actually Being Notable At All

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HARDCASTLE AND McCORMICK Remember them? Early eighties Stephen J.Cannell buddy show. The sit being Hardcastle was a retired judge, McCormick his last case, and together they chased down criminals who had slipped through the legal system to catch them in the act. Law & Order second chance division. The show had gimmicks galore, a nice sportscar, and a gruff relationship between the leads .but it got me thinking, what is there about its name that would make you watch it. HARDCASTLE AND McCORMICK!!!! How long were they spitballing that title around to make people watch it? Was there a suggestion in the name that this would be a HARD show, spiky long names in lieu of characterisation.

Instead look at The Scarecrow And Mrs King. That is an intriguing title from the get go. Why would Mrs King (ordinary name) be hanging out with someone/thing called The Scarecrow? And are you willing to give the show ten minutes of your time to find out? Maybe Little And Large, Cannon and Ball or even Smith and Jones were not your cup of tea, but the names describe aspects of their acts. (Smith and Jones really were that dull.)

In the understanding that nothing is done randomly in TV, or indeed any artform, here are another 18 double acts with unremarkable names. And a few theories behind the naming.

May 09

The Fruit Stand School

Do You See + FT5 comments • 280 views

Bond pulls the handbrake and dips his DB7 into a shimmying 180, suddenly accelerating again in a squeal of smoking rubber around the corner, where he’s just caught a glimpse of the villain’s tail-lights. But wouldn’t you know it – there’s a fruit stand in the way. Stolidly gripping the gear shift, Bond slams through it, no time to spare, grapefruits and plums ripped flying from their lovingly-packed cases into the cloudless Adriatic sky, two green and white striped umbrellas flail over sideways, screams are heard. The grocer’s jumped, but whether he’s clear of the damage is not known.

I have a fantasy – surely shared by others – of seeing an entire movie based on the aftermath of this scene. First the stillness of the street and the exclamations of bystanders. Someone’s writing down the license plate number. A peach rolls a few feet and stops. In a room where light cuts through wooden shutters, we see photographs arranged on a mantle, and an old black telephone. It rings. A woman answers. The news isn’t good.

OK, maybe it shouldn’t be feature-length. But I luxuriate in these sorts of details when they appear in movies and on TV, and they’re a big reason why I like Breaking Bad.