Samuel Smiths – What a Fucking Rotter

I was late to getting the news that Samuel Smith’s brewery has issued a decree across its entire estate of pubs that anyone found to be swearing should be turned out of the premises, whether they will be barred seems to be up for debate but seeing as ever news piece I’ve read on this links to another article, which links to another and another and another, it is pretty hard to guess what the exact truth of the matter is.

I’ve read precisely one blog on this, saw a few comments on the #hopinions thread that Beer O’Clock run every Sunday

 

 

and I saw CAMRA’s response to the news

 

On this matter I don’t particularly care in one instance; if a private business wishes to enact its own policies about what is “good behaviour” then by all means go ahead.  People cheer when the private companies that are Facebook and Twitter remove members that are abusive (within their own definition of what abuse actually is) but heaven forbid a private company should refuse to, for example, make a cake saying something they disagree with, oh no.

It is rather odd that Sam Smiths has chosen to focus purely on swearing, I can only assume that they are OK with someone in their establishments saying nigger or faggot so long as there isn’t a four-letter word in amongst said possible drunken diatribe but what constitutes a private conversation in a public place?

Then again the current state of the world is pitted against itself in what exactly is and isn’t a “bad idea” what is and isn’t “hate speech” and more pertinently, what is or isn’t “offensive.”

Within the beer bubble itself there are points of view on certain subjects (for example pump clips) that go against the new orthodoxy and while all these little games and battle of wills are being played out, governments world wide are monitoring and recording their citizens communications under the pretence of security and protection.

 

The last thing anyone needs to be protected from is words, rude or not.

 

Thanks for reading

 

On a separate note, here is why some people actively boycott drinking Sam Smiths beers and so for some a swearing ban is neither here nor there…

 

My Religion Is Better Than Yours – Its Killed Less

Firstly apologies for linking to the Independent and especially its BuzzFeed part that is their “Indy100” but this response has been tweeted onto my time-line for numerous days and I get the feeling the people doing it don’t really think that deeply about things such as murder and subjugation.

Muslim lawyer shuts down troll who says there’s no ‘Christian version’ of Isis

Qasim Rashid goes on to say that he was making his point as to terrorism having “no religion.”

Only it does.  People can say that people are using a “perversion” of any holy text but that is to gloss over how and why they are able to claim their acts in the name of their religion.

This is moral relativism that is at the base of every major religion.  Putting aside the wars, murders, slaughters and the general body counts that can be laid at the feet of each religion there is something more pernicious at the heart of all of them and that is the enslavement of the individual, of their thoughts and of their actions.

The punishment that you can get while still alive for thinking or behaving in a way not in keeping with their god’s word and the biggest kicker of all, eternal punishment after you die.

I know people of religion always love to bring up the “atheists” that were Stalin and Mao.  Wonderfully adept totalitarian dictators who, in the case of Stalin re-established the Russian Orthodox Church to culturally unify the people behind him and in the case of both established their political thinking as the religion of the people, because you can’t become a living god if people are praying to other ones.  Simple replacement of one cult of religion for the cult of personality that Stalin and Mao desired and required for total domination.  Indoctrination into any belief process requires total acceptance and the inability to question anything.

The simple matter for me is, if anything and everything in a religious text is open to interpretation then that bad has to be taken as well as the good.

And if it can be taken in a “bad way” then perhaps it isn’t good at all.

 

Believe what you want, there are 6 billion people in the world, there should be 6 billion “religions”

 

Thanks for reading.

Applying for the Position of State Censor

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I have been a long-term admirer of your work, even before you changed what the “C” in your name meant.  It was very helpful of you and the DPP to publish a list of 72 films and the subsequent 39 that were prosecuted made then all the more necessary to get hold of and view.  It has also been wonderful watching your scope increase; from film editors to analysing video games and now you have been allowed into the online world.

We shall skip what the definitions, legal or otherwise about what is pornography and pornographic, they have become a terms stripped of all meaning recently and I’ll just get to the nub of the matter.

I find the challenges of “regulating online pornography” to be rather easy.

What is made and filmed by consenting adults is legal and obviously anything made without consenting adults is a matter for the police, so this covers my view on the making of such material.

So we now have to turn our heads to who views such things and when it comes to viewing such material then it follows that it is legal for consenting adults to watch this material also.

If we skip the confusing laws of the UK that make the act of having sex legal at 16 but then having to be a full 2 years older to actually watch it legally then we should take the maximum age of 18 and below as the people we should worry about when it comes to getting hold of such material online.

And in this case it falls squarely on the parents.

I therefore can’t really expand to fill the requested word count of 1500 so I’ll just reiterate my main point;

Regulating online pornography to those under the legal age is the job of the parents or the adults responsible of said minors.

I feel I’ve just written myself out of a job but please feel free to consider me for the role.

Thanks for reading.

Identity, Offence and a Hitler Clock…

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This is my Hitler clock…

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Much like Nazism, it doesn’t work but is certainly striking to look at.  It was made by a French man so I think we can forget about puns about German efficiency…that comes later in this piece.

Of course if you are offended by this because you think it glorifies our little toothbrush-moustached Austrian (by birth) dictator then that is your business, I’m of the opinion it mocks him.

Then again some people are offended by the Swastika without appreciating it’s history and significance to others completely devoid of any relation to the Nazis.

 

I never knew either of my granddads but was always fascinated by the story of one of them and its relation to personal identity.

Walter was from Bohemia and he was fluent in 4 languages; German, English, French and Czech.

Bohemia (where the Rhapsody is from) is currently in the Czech Republic (formed 1993, or as Sporcle now insists its referred to as, Czechia), though during my grandfather’s birth it was part of Germany (making him German by birth) but then, from 1918, part of Czechoslovakia following the carving up of Europe after the First World War.  It was then part of the Sudetenland that was annexed back to Germany in 1938.

 

Then the Second World War happened.

 

Apart from being in the midst of the Nazi Empire my grandfather and his family also had the rotten luck of being Jewish.

 

Papers, please.

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Being of some standing and right before they were stripped of all their possessions, they were at least given the chance to get away with their lives, provided they could prove that someone (I assume in a then neutral country) was willing to support them and prove that they could, hence the document below.

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How and when my granddad left Bohemia I don’t know, I’ve heard via Italy but it isn’t really important other than the fact that rather than getting to America he wound up in England and joined the British Army.

Fun Fact: he helped teach media-baron in-waiting Robert Maxwell how to speak English (apparently Maxwell had a very good ear).

 

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler approaches 1″.

– Mike Godwin, 1990 (Godwin’s Law).

The above “law” doesn’t just apply on-line, it is a go-to comparison of the mentally lazy who not only report & comment on the news but also those that lead countries.

We are currently living in a world where people are obsessed with defining themselves; be it gender, race, religion, sexuality, political leanings, class, nationality, diet, weight, height, general appearance, the list is as endless as the list of people ready to get offended at the slightest utterance of anything that seemingly disparages any of these things.

It is a world obsessed with itself, a world of narcissism. People so desperate to identify as something end up creating divisions in their own minds, thinking themselves open-minded, they really are as narrow-minded as those they think they are the antithesis of.

 

 

What you drink probably makes you Hitler too.

 

Hitler is/was, sadly, neither the be all or the end all of all that is or has been evil in the world.  These modern despots and murderous terrorists are so much of a world away from the person with an opinion or a comment you disagree with and the choice language that may come with it, that it is a sign of how laughable things have become that this distinction even needs to be made.

 

My grandfather was lucky in a way, reaching the UK and being able to start a family and have a relatively normal life up until his death.

Emma and Amalie lives however ended in Auschwitz, their names now in the list the adorns the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague.

 

For the record, my other grandfather was, at the very least, a descendant of an Orangeman, but that is probably another story.

 

Thanks for reading.

Beer Hates You

It really does hate you.

It hates you for your race.

It hates you for your class.

It hates you for your Instagram account.

It hates you for your food matching twattery.

It hates you for your use of sparklers.

It hates you for your use of gravity.

It hates you for your blog about craft beer.

It hates you for your blog about beer that isn’t craft beer.

It hates you for your attendance at beer festivals.

It hates you for your mantra that beer people are good people.

It hates you for your cynicism about the mantra that beer people are good people.

It hates you for your opinions on craft beer.

It hates you for your opinions on beer that isn’t craft beer.

It hates you for your willingness to spend huge amounts of cash on craft beer.

It hates you for your willingness to buy from supermarkets.

It hates you for your drinking of real ale.

It hates you for your drinking of grapefruit ales.

It hates you for your drinking of key-keg.

It hates you for your drinking of dead keg fizz.

It hates you for your will to try to set up your own brewery.

It hates you for your hatred of family brewers.

It hates you for your CAMRA membership, or lack of it.

It hates you for drinking in industrial-chic and retro-fitted bars.

It hates you for drinking in a pub.

It hates you for serving it too warm.

It hates you for serving it too cold.

It hates you for #Dryanuary

It hates you for #Tryanuary and #TryJanuary

It hates you for drinking it in thirds.

It hates your liver.

It hates your kidneys.

It hates you because there is no safe limit.

It hates you for making it complicated.

Brewdog – If a dog barks in a forest and no-one is around…

…do only foolish sycophants easily parted from their money hear it?

 

So the obvious nature of this blog is “pointless, small-time beer blogger tries to make name for himself by having a go at THE ‘craft’ brewer in the UK.”

I’ve been loathed to write articles about said brewery in the past due to the fact that their Modus Operandi is to create controversy and any kind of mention, good or bad, is extra advertising and recognition for their brand.

I have nothing against the beer that they make.  I’ve had a lot of it in the past, I’ve got glassware and even a t-shirt.  I’ve got quite a few emails from a lovely woman called Angela who apologised every time I placed an order because it was always delivered incorrectly.  They were professional and went above and beyond in correcting the order and even providing additional beer by way of an apology.

I stopped buying their beer around the time they started shoving bottles up the backsides of taxidermal animals.

It wasn’t because of that, it was because around that time Brewdog apparently fell foul of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for using naughty swear words.

Which enable them to generate more “punk” advertising.

Only the ASA had receive one complaint and that was from Brewdog themselves.

There are few things I like more than beer but one that stands clearly above the booze is freedom of speech.

So by all means do market you product however you feel and use whatever language you want I’ll support you in that quest, I just won’t necessarily contribute financially.

The problem I have is it freedom of speech (and more worryingly, freedom of thought) is under attack from all quarters.

The crusade for morality that I grew up with in the 1980s led by Mary Whitehouse and her merry band of religious and conservative (politically & morally) nut-jobs that lead to the banning of films and stickers on albums has now been flipped on its head that now it is generally the politically liberal who seek to curb any speech or thought that anyone may get offended at.

One term is called micro-aggression.  Look it up, to have a mind-set like that is not only closed to ideas is not only unevolved but is also just plain dangerous.

What does this have to do with Brewdog you might ask?

Well to me complaining about your own language to generate more hype and then to use this to play the victim is not only just typical of spoilt bullies who are used to getting their own way but slowly chips away at free speech, a speech that the marketing department at Brewdog rely on heavily.

This was brought into stark reality a few weeks ago when the article below appeared in the Guardian.

UK craft beer: taking over the world one pint at a time

It featured a quote from the well-respected blogger Melissa Cole who said of Brewdog:

“A lot of their stuff is disingenuous, dull or mildly offensive…”

Which it is.  They are indeed disingenuous and dull but offence is up to each individual, I personally don’t find anything they do offensive other than chipping away at free speech…

…so on cue, James Watt plays his victim card with the bullying tone…

He then witters on about something completely unrelated…

Good use of advertising a new beer launch…

If you read the full conversation you can clearly see Miss/Ms/Mrs Cole defends (not that she has to) her position very well, in clear and simplistic terms that even the most dull and disingenuous fuckwit could understand, addressing both Watt and some of the more insalubrious adherents to the Brewdog cult fanclub crowdfunding shareholding.

What is actually most gratifying is that most of the comments of Watt’s tweets about this incident do point out that the emperor does indeed have no clothes but squeaky wheels do get the grease and boy are they greased well.

The problem with Brewdog and their marketing MO is that their prime audience is composed of the easily offended (as well as the easily pleased) and they are the exact people who chip, chip, chip away at the foundations of free speech and I’m less bothered about them not buying Brewdog products or starting up po-faced petitions as am I about the impact it has on everyone else’s ability to think and speak how they so wish.

Long may they continue to brew the good beers they generally produce and long may they be called out on their bullshit which, like the boy who cried wolf is every time they open their pie-holes.  This may seem like bit of an over reaction and it may well give Brewdog too much credit, but like water dripping on concrete, every little whine about things that offend someone erodes these freedoms I and many others hold dear.

 

Please whine below if you need to, I’ll field all (or most likely only the 2 I’ll receive) of your comments.

 

Thanks for reading.

Wes Craven – A Projectionist’s Tribute

I’m writing this piece having just got back from FrightFest 2015 

It seemed apt that following the news of the death of Wes Craven that the final film of the night – the entertaining Tales of Halloween should be a horror anthology featuring 10 individual stories directed by current protégés of Wes Craven and was dedicated to his memory.

For those of us that grew up during the 80’s we were to be intrigued by a new bogeyman – his name was Freddy Kruger and he came into being in 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”   Now it wasn’t just the creatures under the bed or in the closet that would frighten you but you now couldn’t even escape when you fell asleep.

I watched that particular film as a child of about 13 while recovering from my first dental filling – it still scared me watching it in the daylight and filled me with dread come night-time.

As I grew up I became fascinated by Video Nasties and the bods behind FrightFest have done two quite excellent documentaries about this censorious Spanish Inquisition-like moral panic that came about in the early 80’s in the UK.

One of the films on the list was Last House on the Left – a film that was only fully released uncut in the UK in 2008.  I was fortunate enough to meet the now sadly late lead villain of the piece (David Hess; along with Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface from another banned movie “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) at a horror all-day event in Welwyn Garden City some time around 1999.  That film itself set a standard of the “home invasion” genre that is popular these days while also being a fore-runner of the “torture porn” subdivision.

But before that I had become a film projectionist at my student cinema.  I saw Scream there for the first time as a punter (on a day off) and it was a very effective horror thriller.  The open set-piece with Drew Barrymore having quite a most profound effect on me.  It proved so popular that we regularly screened the film and I projected it twice.

On my first projecting mission of Scream I not only the spliced the film together (this is way before DVD’s) but also had to set-up the screen, the sound and do various technical checks.  The cinema was a big hall with a stage and it was built in a wind trap.

Stupidly I hooked up the sound and the speakers first and while testing projecting the first 30 minutes scared myself shitless as the torment of Barrymore’s character played out this was accompanied by the emergency exits opening and banging closed, the various ropes and pulleys clanging in the rafters and then, once the screen was down, being blinded by the light from the projector and having to run like a mad man out of the wide open hall hoping I wasn’t set upon by some unseen fiend lurking being a seat or the various curtains.

I never made that mistake again.

The second projecting mission of Scream requires a bit of Projecting 101:

The films which I projected came in reels.  These could either come “head” or “foot” first.  Head is the start of a reel, foot is the end of it.  You may have seen old countdowns like this:

We take out these but there is a test frame to let you know you the reel is the correct way around so they can be spliced together in the correct order.

See also Fight Club

 

I state now I have never edited any genitalia into any film I projected.

This time I had left some trainees in charge of the splicing and they’d informed me that there were no test cells, so it was blind luck if it was edited together correctly.  A quick test projection showed the first 3 reels were OK so it should be assumed everything else was going to run smoothly….

Everything was going fine during the screening, audiences were jumping out of their seats, screaming and laughing in the right places then, just as the anxiousness of every cigarette burn signifying a new reel has subsided, of course the last reel had to be the problem.

No sound and Courtney Cox’s feet were where on top of her head.

A loud “FUCK” echoed around the hall as I ran into the projection booth, shut down the projector, ran the film back and re-spliced it together.  The hopefully now corrected film was re-looped onto the projector and the film was restarted after about a 10 minute break, but then something even more strange happened and a very important lesson was learned…

This little break and return “to reality” had not impacted on the audience one iota, the still jumped and screamed and laughed as the last act of the film played out and the end credits rolled.

That is the magic of film.

That is the beauty of horror movies.

That was the genius of Wes Craven.