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Sunday, 28 November 2010

Two Exits And An Alternative For The Haters

Double elimination tonight, wasn't it? I forgot all about that! When Dermot came out to read the names off his card, to tell us who we've all voted to stay, there was a kind of hush all over the world. Cher went through, Matt went through, Rebecca went through, One Direction went through...

That left the Predictable Three, as I've taken to calling them. Katie, Mary and WAGNER! Katie didn't have a good week and knew her time was up. She took the kicking with grace and showed that, although she wasn't happy to be going, she's been lucky to last this long since the public hate her so much. I don't hate her. I thought she was great.

But she got the fewest number of votes so had to go. Leaving both of Louis's acts. WAGNER came first and sang Unforgettable, which he blatantly is. It was, if you ask me, the best performance he's given in the whole competition. But it was clear that if he were to ever hit the Bottom Two then he'd be leaving. So, Mary singing the same old shit in the same old way, messing it up by singing the same old verse twice and not really very well, in the same old clothes with the same old power... what was the point? I'm going to be controversial: Wagner was better than she was in that sing-off.

But, Mary survived. Katie and Wagner are no more; we have to live with that as we go into the last couple of weeks. So here are my predictions for the final. Firstly, I would LIKE to see Cher, Matt and One Direction get there, with Cher winning. I THINK it'll be more like Rebecca, Matt and One Direction, and do you know what? I think One Direction could just do it!

But imagine this: Mary (or any one of them) wins, they releases the winners' single (do we know what that's going to be yet?) and it flops. Through some strange and near-impossible feat Tim Minchin's 'White Wine In The Sun' hits the top spot for Christmas, giving us a Christmas Song for No1 for the first time in ages! A nice, happy, funny, heart-warming song that you can imagine playing on Christmas Eve when you're a bit pissed... It's a result that means that all those who want to stick the boot into Cowell can now do so, even though their prophet has been kicked off the show. It's a result that means for two years in a row The X Factor misses out on the top spot, yet still hits number 2. That's good enough, right? It does well enough for Cowell to see that the public's wants have changed in recent years, for whatever reason, and that there's nothing wrong with not getting the top spot when the next one down makes just as much cash for him! Music wins. We all win. It's a happy thing, not a nasty grudge-buy like Killing In The Name Of was...

Here's the song, along with a link to the iTunes page where you can buy it. So, let's do this?



--- Buy it HERE! ---

Saturday, 27 November 2010

THE X FACTOR'S WAGNER IN 'SINGING OK' SHOCK!

Firstly, no. No, Louis, don't do that! Don't ruin a classic rock song by the best band of recent times by giving it to that prick... Please! I cannot believe that, on Rock Night, they gave Wagner one of my favourite songs ever, Creep by Radiohead. When the intro played I was literally hiding my face. I was bracing myself to never be able to listen to the song again...

...And then he started singing... 

And do you know what? He wasn't that bad! Okay, he was no Thom York. But then again, there aren't many who can do it like Thom out there being actual recording artists, so that's not really a valid criticism.

Wagner sang the song in time, in tune and without distraction. It was, for want of a more stomachable phrase, not bad really! I do not think, though Louis, that Thom York would "like that version"... Not at all. And there seemed to be a string of those sorts of comments coming from Louis this week; "[original artist] would have loved that version!" - presumably, he's saying this because he doesn't have a little fat black man to poke fun of any longer. 

But, you know what? I'm writing this before the show's even half over! So come back tomorrow for my full opinions on tonight's show and tomorrow's result! OOH! Katie's singing Sex On Fire!!! Gotta go!!

Richard Herring Joins UCL Occupation (Briefly)

Comedian Richard Herring has shown his support for the students currently occupying UCL in protest against the bloody Tories (there's more to it than that, obviously, but that's enough in itself, isn't it?). 

After being Tweeted by students taking part in the occupation, he took time out of his busy schedule to visit them and tell a couple of jokes,in the hope of cheering them all up a bit, lifting the mood...

You can hear a short interview with Rich here, where he explains his position in their support. You can also hear more of Rich's (foul-mouthed, almost-illegal) opinions on the podcast he records with "colleague" Andrew Collins, here. If you've never listened, you definitely should. 

Comedy And Sharing - A Laid-Back Look?

DISCLAIMER: Before I start, I'm not accusing anyone of anything, here. I'm not saying anyone stole anything or that anyone's material is better/more worth stealing than anyone else's. There are no accusations or any kind of blame being applied here. The following is simply an observation, or series of observations, in support of a comedian of whom I am massive fan (yawn, sorry). The following is not very well structured, or very eloquently worded, but here we go:

In the words of Stewart Lee, "there has always been a tradition of, sort of, main stream acts stealing our jokes and passing them off as their own" which I suppose, is something that just happens

Other than taking the material-thief to task over such instances there's an element of "deal with it" about the whole thing. Quite recently, on Twitter, Keith Chegwin was accused of stealing other comics' material and passing it off as "either his own work, or traditional gags minted by long-dead comics". Citing the age-old "intellectual property ownership blind-spot" argument. Indeed, I've heard jokes on TV or at stand-up shows and retold them without crediting the source myself. I do not, however, have armies of "fans" who give me a virtual back-pat for my wonderful sense of humour. Recently, I've noticed a number of different instances of jokes that would normally not be heard by mainstream audiences, written by some of the most influential comics, retold credit-free on Live At The Apollo and the like.

I'm going to use Stewart Lee (surprise, surprise) as an example of how easy it is for a joke to be seen as stolen and/or misused. Now, Stew is revered among his peers as "the comedian's comedian" - and rightly so! He has written for the most unlikely of now-mainstream acts. 

Lee, in fact, directed The Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett in their first major stage show, Arctic Boosh, which has remained the basis for their entire chemistry as an act. The point; they aren't strangers to each other. I was watching Live At The Apollo a while back, the one Noel Fielding was on as a solo performer, and he said something that stopped me enjoying his routine, since it distracted me so much. I forget exactly what the material was, but that isn't really relevant. What's relevant is, when one of his jokes was laughed at before the punchline arrived, he used a like something like "now you're making your own jokes, it's like psychic comedy! I can come out and you can make the jokes yourselves in your heads. That way, if you didn't like the show it's your fault for being shit". A clever and funny line, no doubt ad-libbed. 

It would have been funnier if the ad-lib was Noel's. If you know your Stewart Lee, then you'll all know of the bit he does about the possibility of watching a split-screen broadcast of Charles and Camilla's Wedding/The Pope's Funeral where he delivers a feed-line, which the audience use to guess the punchline. 

Stew uses the same line as Noel, some years before that episode of Live At The Apollo, about the audience being responsible for not enjoying the show if they are making their own punchlines up before he delivers them. It's a great - and, more importantly, written - line that belongs to Stew! Now, it's not as structured as many jokes out there, and the way in which it was used was slightly different. But it is, essentially, the same line. 


Again, when watching Dara O'Briain's latest stand-up DVD he focusses on an audience member who is illegally recording the gig on his mobile phone in plain sight. He says to the kid filming, "there are 8 cameras in this room, it's being recorded for a DVD". Not a joke. Just a line. However, in Stew's new DVD, filmed before Dara's, he also has a run-in with a fella recording the gig. Stew, too, uses the line, "there are 6 cameras here, mate, it's being recorded for a DVD!" - similar, but not exactly the same. Again, not a joke. Just a line. It's very difficult to apply ownership to a line like that... it's not FUNNY in itself, it's all in the delivery. Also, from the same show - but again, in a completely different context - both comics explore the social relationship and power-structure between fairytale favourites, The Three Bears. It's not theft. It's very unlikely that either comedian is even aware of the others' material* or if they are, are not looking at it as being the same in any way. 


But it's not the first time that Stewart Lee has (allegedly) had material "borrowed and adapted" for mainstream audiences. This link offers a very interesting discussion on the similarities between Stew's work and other comics - comics who are better than this - like Gervais, Patrick Kielty and Jack Whitehall. The latter - and I swear this is true! - was on some show a while ago making jokes about being accused of material theft; he made some funny remarks, all his own! Then, with no degree of irony AT ALL, he spewed out a joke that is definitely a Frank Skinner gag! 

I can't remember the actual gag, I'm afraid, which I'm aware makes my argument less than credible. But my point is, even when caught mainstream comics "borrow" material, deliberately or not - it must be difficult to remember if you've had an idea yourself, (especially when they happen as fast as they must do in the mind of Jack Whitehall). It happens. It will always happen and it's reached a point where it is now largely ignored. I like Dara. I like Noel. I like Gervais. I also like Stewart Lee, I don't know if I've ever mentioned that... 

But, you know what? Even Stew uses jokes that aren't his. Even Stew puts jokes in his shows that he didn't write. In fact, the very first TWO jokes in the very first episode of Comedy Vehicle are not his. But what Stew does, as anyone should, is credit the people who wrote the gags openly. The end-credits of said episode feature the credits "Two Book Jokes by Simon Munnery" and, in a later episode, Stew even credits his own wife with providing a joke he uses. That is how to use others' material. As a Gentleman should. 

Nothing I write will change any of this, of course. But hopefully one day more and more people will take notice of the comics who don't necessarily reach wide, TV audiences. Comics like Stew, Richard Herring, Josie Long, Robin Ince, Milton Jones and countless others who, if you know your stuff, you will see having jokes borrowed left, right and centre by the more "mainstream" names. If we all go to see one of these acts live then the next time we hear one of their jokes repeated on The Royal Variety Performance or something, then we'll think "sorry mate, we've heard it done before, better, by the fella who wrote it originally!".


* Although, they both frequent the same venues and "comedy festivals" so probably are aware of the stuff.
☨ This IS irony! This IS a Stewart Lee joke (originally concerning Joe Pasquale). Clever, aren't I?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Well, that's me converted!

This one speaks for itself... Here is a Christian explaining why God obviously exists and why all atheists are "retards" - the arguments put forward are incredible! Best I've ever heard! I'm converted; who wants to sit next to me on the God-Bus?

Richard Herring: Saying Things We Know To Be True But Are Scared Of Saying, So You Don't Have To!

It's like this: Every now and again, I go all hard over a certain "type" of "something" and spend all my time writing and reading about that thing. Sometimes it's consumerist bullshit like The X Factor (well, it's always that) and sometimes it's a little band that no-one's ever really heard of - a band like Melt Banana, a real acquired taste, or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. And sometimes I look right back to my earliest days of knowing, instinctively, what funny is. Ladies and Gents, Richard Herring is funny.


If you don't know him, you should be ashamed. Not really... Let me educate you, though, to avoid embarrassment in the future. From Cheddar in Somerset came a man. That man was he. In the dying days of Alternative Comedy Richard Herring took his 2:1 in Modern History from Oxford and with it (as many with degrees do nowadays) began a career in comedy.


He is probably best known as "The Fat One off Lee & Herring" (not my description) - the best comedy double-act there has been in modern times (my description). Together with Genius-Equal Stewart Lee, Rich wrote for some of the best performers and programmes Britain had to offer. On TV, Lee & Herring gave us Fist Of Fun (which began on Radio 1, back when it was good) and the show that I honestly think formed me as a person (gush), This Morning With Richard Not Judy - a near-the-knuckle Sunday lunchtime show parodying the ITV Richard AND Judy shit-fest which was so popular at the time.

It is as a solo performer, though, that Rich's strengths lie, if you ask me. He's not afraid to say the things we know to be true, but are too scared to say; his various solo stand-up shows are all based on ideas most of us wouldn't let get past the "idea" stage. Between 1994 and today he's given us more than ten great shows; the best - for me - being Christ On A Bike (2001), The 12 Tasks Of Hercules Terrace (2004) and the wonderful Hitler Moustache! It is the latter I wish to talk about.

The name itself is almost unfair. But if the show were to be called The Charlie Chaplin Moustache then it wouldn't have the same pull, would it? As I'm sure you have guessed the show is about the misunderstanding of "The Hitler Moustache" and it explored whether it was the facial hair that made Hitler evil... But it's far more interesting and infinitely more thought-provoking than that. 

The exploration of racists' views by questioning whether hating JUST black people is actually worse than general misanthropy is inspired! Richard argues an uncomfortable point with wit and intelligence - just like every topic he tackles - and brings to our attention our very own deeply-disguised almost-racism. I watched the show and, as well as laughing heartily throughout, found myself looking at myself and giving myself a 'silent-ticking-off' about the awful things I've never noticed I think. As always, when I review stuff I want people to experience for themselves, I don't want to tell you "this happens" and "he says this funny thing" and what have you, but I will say this: The DVD has just been released; it's not expensive; it IS worth every single penny. 

This isn't one for the easily offended or the stupid, though. Intelligent people with open minds ready to be shown a skewed yet lucid side of a topic that many run from for fear of saying the wrong thing will love this. Richard Herring, as fans of any of his work will know, is not a man who "holds back". He is an innovative and cutting-edge comic (quite a feat considering he's been doing this for pretty much 20 years straight). I can't heap enough praise on him. Watch all his shows. They're mostly available from Cardiff life-savers GoFasterStripe and I urge you to begin your collection now. 

    Wednesday, 24 November 2010

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One

    When I read the final instalment of the Harry Potter "saga" I got through it in three days. I literally couldn't put it down. Just like the book before, I devoured it and wanted to re-read almost immediately. As it stands, I've read each book six times each.

    If there's one bad thing to say about Part One of the adaptation by Warner Bros. then it would be that the movie also takes about a day and a half to reach the "half way point" in preparation for what promises to be an epic Part Two. I wanted to get that out of the way at the start of this review - if you can call it that - because, apart from a few niggles that I only suffered because I'm a nerd, know the books inside out and the movie doesn't always stay true to it exactly, it's the only bad thing I have to say about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And I still wanted to go straight back in to see it again!

    Beginning (what would be) Harry's final year at Hogwarts with almost no recap of the story preceding it, The Deathly Hallows dives straight into the moody, blue-grey adventure; the search for the remaining Horcruxes. Remember them? You'd be forgiven for forgetting - but it almost doesn't matter, because they aren't that important, are they?

    I'm assuming that if you're reading this then you've read the books too, but if not I'll try not to give too much away. But wow. Gone are the silly, slapstick moments that some of the previous films suffered from (and I mean suffered) and instead we get a dark, dangerous and almost adult tale. The three leads have upped their game in terms of acting skill. It seems that the kids we first watched all those years ago really have grown up. Most notable is the almost omnipresent stubble spattered all over the fellas' faces. Emma, too, looks a more worthy adversary; gone is the frizz and flutter of previous years, swapped instead for a quiet sophistication and the feeling that she knows exactly what's going on. 

    (I wish I could tell you more about the plot to put the following into context, so it doesn't seem like I'm being a pervert - but I won't, so "seem" away...)

    The whole feel of the series has "grown up". There are more "real" kissing scenes, one of which - between two of the leads (no, not Ron and Harry) is a naked one... And they are perfect. Sexy, mature and needed. The swear-words that are still shoe-horned into the script don't feel so "shoe-horned-in" any longer, probably due to the cast in the scene being more mature themselves, and the dialogue in Camp Voldemort is less "panto" than in previous movies. You'd be forgiven for thinking you're watching a grisly horror movie during the much-anticipated "Nagini, Dinner!" scene at the Malfoy's mansion. Rickman, Bonham-Carter and Fiennes are all terrifying and unsettling in their roles as the most mentionable of enemies.

    The supporting cast of characters on Team Potter are also on fine form. The Phelps boys, particularly, are the comedy glue - along with Dobby - which stops the whole thing falling apart under the weight of hopelessness woven throughout the story. Watch out for the "toothbrush in the ear" scene; that made me rock with laughter!

    But there is something definitely "Part One-ish" about this one; something I don't suppose I can complain about! It's a series of exciting action set-pieces interlaced with meaningful and smile-inducing moments of sheer beauty (Harry and Hermione dancing in the tent is just gorgeous; probably the best scene in the film for making you both love and fear for the characters' welfare) which leads to "the important middle bit" of the book. Okay, they've done a great job at making a cliffhanger out of something that never was one, to be fair. Although, having read the book and understood the reasons behind Ol' Voldy's actions in more detail, I felt that without having done so the movie would leave me slightly lost. The incredible "story within a story" - The Tale Of The Three Brothers - explains a lot; the basics, at least, and does so well, but I would imagine that any 10 year old in the audience would have NO idea what the task was any more.

    All in all, just like the other movies in the series, this is a great, great movie if you've only ever followed the films. If you've read the books and loved them, as I have and still do, you will spend most of your time trying to figure out why they changed that bit or this bit and wondering where Mundungus's hair has gone.

    But if you enter into this one knowing more or less what's coming and you look forward to those best bits then you will have a blast! I believe this is the most impressive of all Harry Potter movies to date, but have huge hopes for the final instalment. The best bits? Okay... A bit spoilery here, but the two non-human deaths of note are both heartbreaking and come and go in such a scurry of activity and emotion that by the time you're crying about them - and you will, if you have a heart - they're done with. There's no time to dwell on losses here, this one's all about getting to the fight. Also, eyes open for a cameo from "Dave Coaches" from Gavin and Stacey in one of the funniest little bits the movie has to offer.

    Hmmm? A mark out of ten? Okay - eight and a half

    There are lots of laughs here, as well as lots of opportunities to shed a tear. I just wish they'd spent more time explaining... Since the book has already been split in two, it was obviously a time thing. As long as you know what's happening before you go in, you'll love this. I did. Now, when shall we go again?

    Tuesday, 23 November 2010

    Happy Birthday Mr Who!

    Doctor Who is 47 years old today. Can you believe it? Nope. Me neither. But it is! We've seen 11 Doctors, countless monsters and companions, many different looking blue boxes - all the same, a few phallic aliens, lots of tweed, a fair bit of bubble-wrap and at least two fezzes (fezi?)... It's a show we all love and one that means something very, very special to me personally. It's seen me through family tragedies, lost lovers, growing up, growing beards, losing money, gaining mates, losing mates, loves and losses of every kind you can think of. But it's always there. It will always be there. And I think it's one of those things that just gets better and better... I am in love with this show.

    Here's a little celebratory video created by someone better at computers than me... In the form of a Big Brother End Of Series Best Bits video, I give you Doctor Who:

    Sunday, 21 November 2010

    It's Just Not Funny Any More!

    Tonight we lost a great talent. We should have lost a sad, talentless old man. Wagner is still there and it's just not funny any more. In the first few weeks it was a "ha ha look at this silly showman" thing and there was an element of charm to the whole thing. That charm is gone. And it's not Wagner's fault. It's the fault of the cretins who think it's funny to keep him in. 

    The man has been given chance after chance when he shouldn't have even been there in the first place. He's never been in the bottom two and I think it's disgusting. He has no talent and no hope of a future in the record business. In case you haven't noticed, this is not a funny X Factor post. I'm being serious.

    Since the whole "Anti X Factor" thing last Christmas which saw "Killing In The Name Of" hit the festive top spot, there's been a mob mentality online that means now nothing is serious any longer. But the most recent plebeian shits to organise a "revolt" against the powers-that-be have missed the point completely. There is a campaign on Facebook with almost 30,000 supporters who are asking for Wagner to win the show. THAT'S STILL THE SHOW WINNING YOU PRICKS! I mean, how stupid can you possibly be?! If you vote Wagner to win it means that he'll get paid millions to make records; it means that nothing we've seen on the show this year has meant anything at all; it means that your dreaded "Corporate Music Nazis" who run The X Factor are also counting their millions. You're not rebelling. You're simply supporting, but with no talent at the end!

    There's a strange set of rules that seem to apply to the show this year. Something that means X Factor contestants are automatically the enemy to music. Some are, no doubt. But there are also SOME great singers there. Two of those singers were in the bottom two tonight.

    And it's all because a joke has gone too far. In the enlightened words of Matt Cardle, "There are lots of funny twists and turns on this show; some of them simply aren't funny any more!" Not that it really matters, right losers? I mean, if any of these contestants are really any good then they'll get the record deals they deserve, right? And they'll have a career and all the flash shit that comes with it, right? And Wagner, having won A MILLION POUND RECORD DEAL will release a croaky shit version of whatever whiny, sentimental "winners' song" they choose this year and disappear into obscurity. WELL DONE! GOOD JOB! What the fuck does that achieve? Nothing. You're all idiots.

    This group, here, has gained almost 3000 members since I began writing this post. Which is shit. I want to splatter the page with abuse and tell each and every cock-end on there that they are making a mockery of their own campaign - it's backfiring you wankers! However, I can't do that - because to do that I would have to join the group. I will not do that. So, I'll say it here: You're all idiots. You're wasting your money and your time and seriously trying the nation's patience, now. Fuckwits!

    Okay - let's bring this down to basics; this is not a serious issue. It's a television programme about singers. It's not really that important to me. But, to some, it is. Shame that those people are either not voting for who they like or voting for Wagner, for a laugh. Read the title of this post again. IDIOTS! I don't like to sound like a dick here, but I'm more intelligent than to think that ANY act of rebellion or show of moral obligation will sink this show. I'm watching it, I'm enjoying it for what it is, it's not the end of my world. But, you know what? It's boring now. Wagner needs to leave. Then the competition can continue for real. Get the loser out so we can find the winner. Now, piss off.

    Friday, 19 November 2010

    Take That and a Soapy Mess! - Children In Need 2010

    So, the Doctor Who trailer (last post) was great! We all loved that! But, I think, two of the best highlights from this year's telethon were the East Street Eastenders/Corrie mash-up and the fabulous performance from Take That; they performed Never Forget with Robbie Williams for the first time EVER! THAT is special!

    Take a look:


    Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol Trailer

    Here it is, from BBC Children In Need:


    Nice innit?

    Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol airs on Christmas Day 2010!! (probably)

    Tuesday, 16 November 2010

    'Children In Need' Needs You This Friday!!

    This Friday, 19th November 2010, sees the BBC put on its most anticipated night of entertainment and fund-raising: Children In Need 2010. The channel turns charity for a mish-mash of music, sketches, appeals and special guests. I've always, always supported Children In Need. It's "my charity" if you will... It does very important things for some of the oft-forgotten children, kids who need help.

    Not only has this yearly event helped thousands, maybe millions of vulnerable children in the years it has been happening, but it's also given us - the people with the cash - some of the greatest and most memorable performances from some of the country's most talented - and most untalented - people. From Peter Kay's All-Star Animated Band, to the Newsreaders' take on Rocky Horror, to the almost-most-exciting-of-all Doctor Who bits Children In Need never fails to entertain, to make you laugh - sometimes even when you're not meant to! But it's all to get you to DONATE!

    It's not a lot of money, £5. Yes, I know we're all hard-up because of the Tories, but I reckon even they will dig into their dark hearts and find a modicum of empathy for these kids. You're not going to let them get the upper hand, are you? Thought not!! :)

    It's a fiver. It's two pints in your local and not even two in Cardiff or any other big city. I'll be throwing my fiver on the pile; I don't have more to give this year unfortunately, but as Mary Byrne will surely tell you, "Every Little Helps!" - who knows?! You might even feel better for it. I'm damn certain the kids on the receiving end will! Or, go to the pub, come home pissed and give £50! I've done that before now too! And I didn't feel so good in the morning physically, but I felt that the night of booze and bathroom-floor-sleep was worth it!

    For more information on Children In Need; ways you can help out, raise money or donate any amount you possibly can; for a run-down of what to expect this year on the telly; for news on what's happening in your area this week, please, PLEASE visit www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey and do your bit

    Oh, but before you do, have a look at this: My favourite ever Children In Need performance from the Children In Need Rocks The Albert Hall concert last year, it's just perfect! I'd love to know your favourite Children In Need moments in the comments below!

    The numbers in the corner of the video may not be right, so use the website to donate!

    CONFESSION: I FANCY THE QUEEN!

    NO! Not this Queen we have now! Although, she was hot in her day, was Liz! No. I mean our FUTURE Queen, Kate Middleton (sorry - Catherine, as I believe she will be known, formally). 

    Today it was announced that she and William will marry. Next year we'll all have a day off and there'll be plates on sale. Or tea-pots. It's been all over the news and stuff - I'm watching the rolling coverage on BBC News right now; that interview where they both look really happy and she sounds posher than she used to. But you know what! She's great! She's apparently the first commoner (yeah, that's what they're saying) to marry into the Royal Family in some time! 

    Now, I'm not a Royalist. Far from it! I think they're a waste of time and money - if I'm honest. But William is the "good one"; so's Harry, but he's the "one you'd have a pint and probably end up breaking into your old primary school at 3am with" Royal. Wills, though! He's a bit bumbling, like his dad, but you can see how happy he and Kate are together. They're both smiley and giggly and joke about together (Will is a very funny bloke, you know!). Honest! He's sarcastic and witty and very dry! An intelligent man, too! They really suit each other.

    She's pretty and classy and prone to flashing her arse at the boys apparently, so say her Uni mates. She's not that much of a snob, thankfully; she's got a great smile and looks a bit like Katie Holmes. The point is - the reason for this post - I'm unusually happy about this. I honestly wish them all the best. I'm sure she'll make a beautiful bride. She's the sort of girl - millions or not - that I'd go for. Long, dark hair, boots and tights, winter coats and all pretty cutesy smiles. She's a bit shy but clearly has a proper sense of fun! 

    Oh God. Listen to me. Going on and on... I'm sorry. I'm not gushing, honest. I just wanted to know if it was okay for me to fancy a future monarch. I believe the pictures, the interviews and 'that video' of her getting into the cab outside that nightclub with her mates that time all put my mind at ease...

    To Kate and Wills! *clink*

    Sunday, 14 November 2010

    KATIE LIVES!

    Well, well, well! FOURTH week in the bottom two and we all would have been forgiven for thinking that it was the last we would ever see of Katie Waissel. She was up against The King Of Pain, Aiden "The Chain-Stand" Grimshaw. He might have a bunch of comical additions to his name, but not even his pretty-good version of Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House was enough to save him from the chop.

    Katie sang a Christina Aguilera song apparently, something called Save Me From Myself, which we did. And I have to say it was the best vocal I think she has ever given. Both performances in the sing-off were pretty impressive. I enjoyed both. But it was clear from the reaction the judges gave (regardless of how they voted) just who they thought had done best. 

    You could see Simon mouth the words "Bloody hell!" when Katie finished singing, he was wide-eyed and I knew before he spoke who he'd keep in. So, it went to Deadlock because Louis is a coward/fancies Aiden. And when it was revealed that Aiden would be leaving the poor guy was almost in tears. In his post-"your-out" interview with Dermot he said that a friend of his had seen, leaked on Twitter, that he was placed third from the bottom, vote-wise. So many on Twitter cry FIX. Idiots, all. Honestly, don't speak to me.

    As a very good friend said, just moments ago: "1) The X Factor is not a "fix". If you think it is, ring OFCOM if you're middle class or even SFO. Fraud is illegal.", "2) If anyone is a "joke" it's the British public who voted to keep Wagner in, and didn't vote for Aiden.", 3) Simon Cowell is not "only interested in money", he doesn't have power to control how people vote." and "4) I'd give Katie one." 

    - I couldn't have put it better myself...

    The Hill Valley Tales - An Epic Poem

    The boy had left for school again,
    The clocks'd all chimeth Eight,
    Though, since they weren't at all set right,
    The boy was clearly late.

    He took his board and off he rode,
    To school he went, post haste,
    And straight into the head he bumped,
    Whose wrath did promptly taste.

    "A slacker", quoth he, "nothing more",
    "Just like your ol' pa-pa,"
    Though little did our hero know,
    Soon he would travel far.

    That very night; the place, a lot,
    Fill'd oft with car and van,
    But emtpy t'night for this boy's mate,
    Did have a wondrous plan.

    "A Car", said he, when boy arrived,
    "But not the normal kind,
    For throu'ght time, shall travel we,
    The past, and more, we'll find."

    A gang arrived, their guns did shoot,
    Our heroes, both, they fled,
    And Doc they d'hit, and down fell he
    Into the dust and tread.

    Our Boy, distraught, did venture thus:
    Into the car he dived,
    And jabb-ed at controls, and through,
    Time, un-identifited.

    A crack o' fire, a squeal of tyre,
    The ground was marked 'nd seared,
    Left only was a trail of smoke;
    The car, t'ad disappeared.

    The place; a time of old; and dark,
    The Era; still unknown,
    For'nto a barn, the car did crash,
    The building's walls were blown.

    "Come out!" quoth man with much distress,
    And from the smoke, he saw,
    A beast of yellow, stumbling,
    From out his very door.

    Panick-ed and a-bellowing,
    Through fear, fright and awe,
    An alien from world unknown,
    Did man believe he saw.

    Some time later, on a road,
    His Pa the boy did save,
    From getting hit by speeding ride,
    And ended on the pave.

    Awaking, lost and ill-at-ease,
    Our Hero sees his Ma,
    A troublesome thing, for all concerned;
    His Dad shoud'st hit the car.

    As timelines splayed and change was made,
    Our hero knew his fate.
    His mother and his father, he
    Must a'sure share a date.

    To Doc's, went he, for urgent help,
    Repairing what he's broke,
    But 50s Doc will not believe,
    And thinks it all a joke.

    A video and the car itself,
    Makes Doc Brown see the facts,
    A force of strength unseen before,
    Is needed to make tracks.

    So together, our heroes make,
    A plan to put things right,
    But Ma'n'Pa's meet and getting home,
    Must happen th'same night.

    A light'ning strike and that of love,
    Is thought will do quite well,
    Enough, at least, to send Boy home,
    And nurture love's soft swell.

    So to a dance goes Marty Mac,
    With Mother on his arm,
    Where fight and heroism makes,
    Lorraine see George's Charm.

    His Parents brought together 't'last,
    To Doc did Marty hike,
    And waited in the car for age,
    Til clocktower light did strike.

    The storm its toll on cable take,
    And disconects the wire,
    But wily Doc set all a'right,
    And Marty leaves in fire!

    Ol' Doc rejoices, happy he,
    For all the plan did work,
    Til Marty 'ppears from darken-ness,
    Ol' Doc was sent berserk!

    "You can't be here" said Doc to Boy,
    "To  th'future I sent thee"
    "I'm back" said Marty, breathless now,
    "For movies Two and Three."

    The X Factor - Paije Richardson Special (with added "V"agner!)

    So it's week six and the show is in that dippy middle part, where it's okay, but nothing special. This week was Elton John week (which was good news for Paije, because he's just like a cuddly little black Elton John.) Not such great news for Mary, or Wagner, or most of the others...

    Rebecca shone again. One Direction were okay. Katie was good. The others were fine, in the most part. But some just didn't rise to the challenge! Matt was consistent, once again, but the songs this week were just flat and overused. The show felt, for the first time this series, a bit tired. But Paije's energy was great!

    He came out and sang Crocodile Rock and sang it quite well! He was  just like a little Kingpin From The Daredevil Movie. All pink shirt and bow tie, he was just like a little singing version of what could have been the Eleventh Doctor if Patterson Joseph had got the part... Yes. I'm taking the piss. Louis was at it again. And apparently he's exhausted his back-catalogue of black people, since he used the ol' Luther Vandross line again... No "cuddly" this time, though, presumably Paije has lost weight! That could go against him, since it seems that Louis only likes "little cuddly" things, for which read "young boys with puppy fat".

    And what was that I just heard?! Cheryl was unfamiliar with the song Crocodile Rock?!?! Is she not a huge pop star? Does she not KNOW what music is?! If I was Elton John (which I'm not) and I was watching this (which he wouldn't) I'd be offended more by that one comment than by any of the substandard karaoke versions of my musical masterpieces (which, no doubt, he will be)!

    Sorry kids, this last couple of weeks I'm really not feeling The X Factor like I was. The series seemed to peak on Guilty Pleasures Week and go slowly, and almost unnoticed, down hill from there. X Factor Acts. You have a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blow... hang on!! What's that? Stephen Fry is supporting WAGNER?!?! Surely not! Hehehe!

    Friday, 12 November 2010

    Twitter Is Spartacus

    Twitter has exploded! But careful, that sort of language could land you in the dock, defending something you may have said in frustration that any reasonably intelligent person would know was not meant as a literal or serious (or even credible) terrorist threat.

    Paul Chambers lost his appeal at the Twitter Joke Trial yesterday and got himself landed with a fine that anyone who has just lost their job, career prospects and anonymity over a stupid and misjudged message on a social network site would struggle to afford easily. 

    After suffering a disappointment in the run-up to see a friend - the airport he was to fly from was closed - he posted an angrily-worded Tweet (pictured) and found himself arrested, detained, accused, fired, criminalised and supported by hundreds of thousands of fellow Twitter users, including most of the left-leaning "Celebs" who felt, as most did, that this was a big fuss over next-to-nothing. It was just one man voicing his frustration and disappointment about a much-anticipated trip. We've all posted things on Twitter before that have been a bit near-the-mark when it comes to good-taste/bad-taste, but context is everything. Nobody who publicly Tweets "I'm going to blow up an airport" or anything of the like, from their personal, traceable, named, publicly-viewable social networking account has ANY plans at all do anything of the sort! 

    You seem to find that terrorists nowadays strike with the element of surprise. They do it anonymously, in the most part, or the responsibility is accepted by a major terrorist network. Not a social one. Don't get me wrong. What Paul Chambers did was silly. It was not the sort of thing that is looked upon lightly in today's horror- and terror-stricken age of printer bombs and fundamentalism. 

    But any surface investigation would have shown that Chambers had, not only no terrorist links, or history of violence or anything of the sort, but a great sense of humour (most of the time). His time line on Twitter was full of witty little posts! Some of them as daring as the one that saw him in court! Celebrities like Charlie Brooker, Frankie Boyle and others who have carved a living from their angry, daring, yet obviously-not-serious aggressive opinions should all watch out, because they have all posted far, far worse than that - as have I!

    Now, the social network of choice by most of the "reasonable people" on the planet - Twitter - has shown its solidarity to Chambers' case in typically daring and opinionated style. Thousands of users have repeated the incriminating Tweet, word for word, and added the hashtag #IAmSpartacus - in reference to the famous scene in the movie. So either the courts have to get their heads around whether thousands of threats are 'nothing to worry about' but one single threat is, or we're all heading for a shit Christmas. Either way, it highlights to those who never care to see that "reasonable people" are everywhere, not just in the Judge's closing statement. And THESE reasonable people, the thousands tweeting in Chambers' support (Stephen Fry has even offered to pay his fine!), saw the Tweet for what it was. Anger and frustration ill-advisedly transferred into a below-par joke. 

    This country is going to the dogs. I'm proud that when it happens there are many thousands of others with whom to say "we told you so". This hashtag thing has really restored my faith in humanity and its power to speak louder in unity than it would alone. Now lets see if it has the power to overturn a judgement! 

    "Poets Are Wankers"

    Okay, before we start, I don't think that.
    But a friend said: "Poets are Wankers"
    And she IS one, for God's sake! - 
    And even she doesn't care for some twat

    Prattling on and on and on about
    Love, Honour, Reason, Summer.
    Loads of other GCSE English Lit Shit.
    Shit no-one but the examiner cares about.

    And only then because he gets his pay
    For reading sentences like:
    "Carol Ann Duffy says onions are like love or something because they make you cry and that."
    All fucking day, 

    As a job... 

    And if he was - incidentally -
    Marking this one, by the way, he'd probably
    Mark me down for rhyming "About"
    At the end of line five, 
    with the word on the end 
    Of line eight; "About"

    (See? There!
    I've done it again! 
    I don't Care!)

    Or mark me down for not having it rhyme all the way through,
    Or having some lines too long and improper, use, of commas, and bad syntax, and not correctly employing caesura, complication, connotation, allegory, alliteration, assonance - except, I do!

    Back to the point...
    Poets. Wankers.

    It seems, there just are no
    other uses for them. 
    (Though, to be fair, I didn't think about it for long)
    They aren't really much the kind
    Of artist who translate well 
    Into any other form 
    Of expressive art, you'll find.

    "Leave them to their poems"
    I say. It's the only thing for them.
    They deserve far more praise for it!
    Nothing at all rhymes with 'Poems'.


    Shoving stuff together, and 
    Making it fit, making it rhyme,
    It's not easy, you know. 
    I can't bloody do it. Sand.

    (I take my hat off to 'em.)

    Monday, 8 November 2010

    Trake Eats Dirt

    So, the results came in and we were all shocked. And shocked at lots of stuff! First of all Trake (pictured) and Katie were revealed to be the two with the lowest number of votes. 

    Then, both were shit in the sing-off - although Katie at least sang with her heart, breaking down at one stage and falling to the ground, cross-legged and rocking. There was a genuine feeling of unease in her much-repeated pleadings - whether part of the song or not.

    Then, when they were both finished, Cheryl refused to choose between the two acts, which were both hers remember. And then it all kicked off online with an almost 50/50 split in those who believed she was right to refuse to send one of "her girls" home and those who thought that she should have done her fucking job, since that's what she's paid for. 

    I think I must agree with the former group. This has been a series of scandal and upset. The X Factor has been more or less a mainstay of the red-top front pages, even spilling over into the broadsheets sometimes. The more the show gets in the papers, the more people will tune in to "see what the shit is going on!" In the words of Simon Cowell, "There's good publicity and there's bad publicity. But it's all publicity!"

    Now, please! Can we all stop thinking Wagner is funny?! Him out next, then Mary, then Paije. Thanks.

    Saturday, 6 November 2010

    The X Fac...."Zzzzz!"

    Well, maybe I'm just getting old. Maybe there's a dip in standards. Maybe I'm being ultra-picky because I feel so ill. But did anyone else think that tonight's The X Factor was a bit shit? Not including a couple of great performances, one incredible one, the standard and atmosphere was so slow-burning and damp that I almost gave up.

    Ignoring all the rubbish, I want to talk about just the best act, for now. Then I'm going to have a little rant about Louis Walsh and his (deliberate or not) racially offensive comparisons.

    So. Matt Cardle! What a show! He sang The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - the song he nailed at Bootcamp - and once again delivered a pitch perfect performance. I cannot put into words the level of emotion his performance stirred in me tonight. Last week I said that Cher was gave the performance of the series so far; this week Matt topped it. He was superb!

    Katie was also great, as was Rebecca (I suppose) and TrayC, although I don't like her as an act. I think she's boring. But overall, tonight's show passed largely without consequence. Once most of the acts had sung, I instantly forgot their performances. Mary was just awful! I think Wagner and Mary are in danger of leaving us tomorrow night - and deservedly so! There was an element of bad feeling, on the show and in people's reaction to it, tonight. Nerves, opinions, emotions and egos were all sky-high, on and off the stage. If Wagner stays tonight I'll consider not watching any more*. Give me an X Factor show with Diana Vickers, Olly Murs, Cher Lloyd, Katie Waissel, Rhydian, Jedward (yes, I know!!) and maybe a handful of others I can't think of at the moment and I'll be happy...

    ...But please, lets not have another bloody week of whiny, screeching ballads and bloody leather-and-studs rock'n'roll knock-off shit, please! And for heaven's sake, get rid of Louis "I'll deny the Holocaust next" Walsh! Any more of his offensive, borderline racist head-nodding bollock-filled opinions and I swear I'll cry!

    So far this series Louis has described Paije as "like a cuddly little Luther Vandross", "so, so soulful - and so's your voice" and reminding him of "a young Lenny Henry"!!! LENNY HENRY?! What the hell is that meant to mean? 

    Basically, what he means is that Paije, being a chubby black kid (Louis seems uninterested in his vocal talent), is a bit like any other chubby black person. Because that's how ignorant and out-of-it Louis Walsh is. This is a man who thinks that skin-thin stereotypes are all you need to win a talent show. His tainting of Storm Lee as "a rocker" and of Mary as "a normal person" (for which read Old, Fat and Irish) and Wagner as a fucking ladies man! 

    Dear God! I know I never talk to you, not believing in you and everything, but please! Please, get Louis Walsh out of the public's view and into some 'old people's home' where Al Jolson DVDs are still deemed acceptable entertainment. The man is annoying, insulting and talentless. He is racist, sexist and out of touch - completely! Yours "Faithfully", Gareth Bundy.

    Hopefully, next week, I'll have something nicer to talk about. As it stands, I'm sorely disappointed in The X Factor. Very, very poor show!

    *This comment carries the same sincerity as Simon's "I'll leave the country..." remark from last year. 

    The Walking Dead (FX)

    I've just watched the first part of The Walking Dead on FX, the zombie-apocalypse survival adventure based on the hit comic book series of the same name. 

    I've read the comic since the beginning and love it. When I heard that it was to be turned into a television series staring Andrew Lincoln, of all people, I was nervous. But I had no reason to be. Episode one was chilling, emotional and graphic without branching into shock-territory. I don't think I've ever felt so sorry for a rotting, crawling, hungry half-corpse before in my life. The make-up and visual effects are outstanding and the acting, so far, is superb. There is everything I expected from the book, some of it frame for frame which made me smile. I'm eager to see the next part now, to see if the standard it maintained.

    I'm a little nervous about how they will take the show forward; I hope they don't alter it too much for television. The book seemed to have just the right balance of zombie-bashing and marital affairs. I have very high hopes for this little gem, though, so fingers crossed they don't "do a Lost" and drag it out forever and a day.... Here's to a few more weeks of watching this at my Mum's late at night - since I don't have FX.

    Friday, 5 November 2010

    Franklyn (2008)

    I'm a movie lover and as I get older I'm moving away, in terms of taste, from flashy Hollywood Blockbusters and towards the more interesting, intelligent, thought-provoking pieces that seem to be all too rare in today's "think of a commercially marketable title, then write a story to fit" movie world! Time travel morality tale Primer is a perfect example of what I'm looking for, as is Four Lions, the terrorist-comedy.

    Also, there's Franklyn. Unquestionably one of the most original screenplays to reach our welcoming minds in years. Set between the parallel, yet contrasting worlds of Present Day Earth and Meanwhile City, a sprawling faith-driven metropolis straight off the brush of some "Old Master", Franklyn is, at its core, a tale about loss and about how four seemingly unconnected strangers deal with it.

    Starring Sam Riley, Eva Green, Ryan Phillippe and Bernard Hill, all playing fractured and frail individuals, as different from each other to begin with as their final fates are the same, the movie jarringly marries retro-future steam-punk pseudo-Victorian sci fi comic heroes and villains with the instantly recognisable energy and bleakness of contemporary London with such beauty and ill-begotten emotion that the story is almost secondary to the visuals here. But only 'almost'; this story is one of heartbreak, romance and, ultimately, peace. Described in one review as "Donnie Darko does The Matrix", Franklyn is that. But I think it's unfair to give such a visual, tonal comparison without praising the perfectly crafted tale underneath. It runs thus: Milo has been left at the altar on his wedding rehearsal day and, in the weeks when he comes to terms with this, he meets up with an old childhood sweetheart.

    Emilia is a depressed artist whose latest project's suicidal practices may spell the end for her. Esser is a devoutly religious man, willing to forgive his missing son's sins if only he could find him within the sprawling and sick London back streets. And Jonathan Preest is a masked vigilante, the only non-believer in Meanwhile, a city where religious belief, of any and every kind, is mandatory. Having faith is the law; it's how the Clerics from the Ministry control the frightened masses. The four come together in a surprising showdown that ticks into view as if run by clockwork.

    And I won't talk any more about the ins and outs of the story as I fear I may give too much away. What I will talk about, though, are the performances. Notably, Eva Green's troubled art student, Emilia. Eva's performance takes a firm hold of the problems her character faces; depression, suicidal tendencies, loneliness, grief and - the most impressive, for me - a love for her art that surpasses her need for survival.

    Again, Sam Riley's vulnerable and mousey "hero" Milo is a particularly impressive turn from an actor I've not previously had reason to rave about. He brings a sense of being completely lost in a situation he has no control over any more to the screen with impeccable subtlety. The other leads shine, too! Bernard Hill's "nice enough every-man" searching for a son he feels he may never find is a heartbreaking thing to watch. His story, as it unravels, isn't a very happy one - despite the inevitable end to his tale that never comes. And Phillippe's poster-boy looks don't need to carry him in this movie, since he spends 80% of his screen time wearing a greying, expressionless mask. His movement and tone of voice take us from London and slam us face first into Meanwhile City at the most unexpected moments.

    For such a glamourous cast this film relies very little on their 'heartthrobability' or 'hypnobeautification'. It's all story. It would have worked just as well (though not as grandly) as an audio-play in four parts. And when the final revelation comes, about 15 minutes from the end of the movie, it hits with a force you don't expect. Bridging characters and locations lay as clues to the solution of the puzzle throughout the film, but it isn't until you see the workings scribbled in the margin in that final few scenes that the weight of the story you've just watched lands on you and leaves you breathless, speechless and in awe. It was, to me, one of those films where you leave the theatre in silence, thinking. I immediately wanted to go and see it again. I did. Over and over until it left the cinemas altogether...


    Luckily, it's been out on DVD for ages now! You can buy it at Play.com for a very reasonable, almost charitable £3.49. Don't buy it based on anything other than curiosity. Don't watch the trailer (above) and think you're getting V For Vendetta or anything like it. This is a romance. A dark tale of loss. It is a psychological thriller far more than it is a "comic book sort of beat-em-up thing". I know people who were disappointed in this movie because they knew too much about what they wanted before seeing it. Watch this knowing almost nothing and I guarantee, you will walk away struck dumb. AN incredible piece of cinema. 9/10.

    Tuesday, 2 November 2010

    If You Prefer A Milder Comedian Please Ask For One

    It's no secret that I have a hero. Since I was 12 years old I've admired and followed Stewart Lee, from his days as "the thin one" in Lee and Herring, through Jerry and the fuss, to his triumphant return to the comedy circuit in the early to mid '00s. His first three stand-up shows are a must for anyone who knows and appreciates his style; don't bother if you don't. Stew is like, as many would suggest, the "'Marmite' of Comedy" - you either love him or hate him - but I won't use such a clich├ęd simile. I don't think he'd appreciate it. 

    Instead, I think he's the "'Jerry Springer: The Opera' of Comedy" - if you're a forward-thinking, intelligent, reasonable person with even the slightest understanding of irony, satire and parody as tools for comedy then he's just the comedian for you. He certainly doesn't pull any punches in what he says, there are few real belly-laugh-inducing jokes and a lot of the subjects discussed so eloquently will undoubtedly make you unsure whether you should be laughing in the first place, anyway. If you're a Mail-reading hate-figure-seeking vulture, I'm sure you'd like his stuff too - for very different reasons! But, "If You Prefer A Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One". I'm sure Peter Kay has another DVD out. As it stands, I'm a "Leftie, Guardian-reading bore". As bad as this sounds, Stew is the comedian of choice for me.

    And his most recent stand-up DVD - the above, titular - is, I believe, a satirical masterpiece. There are only a few "jokes" in the 1 hour 45 minute show; the pirate one, the Top Gear one and the Magners one... But Stew works his magic on these topics with such a practised hand - as always - that the time flies and before you know it he's signing DVDs in the foyer. Again, in a good way! If you know Stew then you know some of what to expect; repetition, pauses, self-deprecation, audience-splitting based on ability to understand his routine... But there is something else in this show that sneaks out as the tales grow taller and taller and the now-obligatory "falsified satirical breakdown" approaches it is clear that this is a thought-provoking and important lecture. Tackling the hypocrisy of broadcast and print media, the perils of knowing Stew at school (maybe) and the inevitable truth that much of what Stew does is available online, through countless bit.torrent sites, before the commercial DVD has even been burned, I found myself smiling more than laughing. It's less comedy and more a comedic way of bringing important and everyday occurrances of oft-ignored society-wide moral blindness to light.

    I sat in awe as Stewart Lee ended what was as near-perfect a performance as he is able of giving without de-constructing even his own methods and means (which he does, actually) with the revelation that he was about to break the final taboo of stand-up comedy by "attempting to do something sincerely and well". 

    This turns out to be a relevant and heartfelt version of Steve Earle's 'Galway Girl' - a song that meant something to Stew until it was used to advertise Pear Cider. Who knew he could sing pretty well too? He can! Ironically, the main body of the show along with the wonderful closing musical number are available to view on Youtube, despite Stew's berating of an audience member caught red-handed while recording the final fifth of the show on his mobile phone, in clear view of a slowly (but methodically) emotionally unravelling Stewart Lee's face. The song is the perfect end to an uncomfortable and much-publicised show, which plays out like a house built on sand, collapsing and crumbling into nothing, leaving a perfect and beautiful dune - something far more attractive than that which it once failed to support. There's none of the gushy, washy, stadium-jarring piano pseudo-emotion that you get at the end of a massive Lee Evans set, no! A guitar, a violin, a singer who isn't a singer singing a song he used to love - it's the one story Stew tells that could be 100% true (and 0% false).  

    If you've never seen Stewart Lee perform live - as I haven't (but I have tickets for March) - then this is the closest you'll get to genuine "Comedy As Art/Art As Comedy" until you buy a ticket for the soonest possible Lee gig. I won't tell you to watch this DVD because it's hilarious. I'll tell you to watch ALL the Stewart Lee shows and become one of us who are in on the joke. My Aunt thinks he's boring. She's never been so offended than when she watched this DVD. She can't get too angry about it, though. Not any more. She's 41, after all...

    Buy Stewart Lee DVDs and see much more of his older stuff on his website HERE.