General Election 2017 – The Nihilism Of It All

Back on the 18th of April 2017, when Theresa May called for a General Election to be held in the UK on the 8th of June it made perfect sense in her dull, little brain.

Theresa May is absolutely fucking useless.  For me; being an ardent supporter of privacy and the rights to free speech, free thought and an unregulated internet, her time as Home Secretary we dark, dark days and her assent to Prime Minister just as alarming.  She is the ultimate Orwellian nightmare, a person who true to form will use the current terrorist atrocities of London, Manchester and London again to further curtail civil liberties.

This trait is not the sole preserve of May and the Tories though, they are merely continuing policy brought in and extended by that arch-cunt called Tony Blair, who as an aside, despite announcing a grand return to politics has been so terribly quiet recently; mainly because terrorism can partly be laid at his feet but mainly because of the seemingly Lazarus-like rise of Jeremy Corbyn.

Jezza has risen though, not the Labour party.  And this is in spite of every single media organisation in the UK from the “left-wing” BBC to the “right-wing” Daily Mail running nothing but negativity about the man.  Hmm, it’s almost as if the media has some kind of vested interest in maintaining some kind of normalcy in party politics.

The Labour party are a shambolic bunch; racist Abbott is front and centre next to elitist Thornberry.  The Blairites that remain in the party are now having to hold their tongue as the polls suggest the election might actually be close.

Ha, the chance would be a fine thing.

Blairites are spineless creatures, they are indeed Tory-lite but oh how Labour voters both old and new wished for a return for the “glory days” of 1997-onwards, which say this whole debasement of political debate begin.

We are the political class; we will talk at you, not to you. We know what it best, we are your nannies, you are sick and we command you to be well.  It is a terrible joke that some still think the Tories are “small state” for what they may withdraw from on a social

The only good things to come out of this entire campaign is that this will hopefully be one final nail in the (il)Liberal (un)Democrats ethically sourced coffin.  A party of a wets farts, who  wish us to forget they enabled Cameron to become PM while dwelling on this myth that they somehow controlled or watered down the worst excess of the Tories.

Greens & UKIP –  all the acknowledgement they are worth, much like that little tyrannical harridan north of the border.

There is something wonderful about watching this election unfold on Twitter.

You’d think that the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump in the US would temper hope.  Indeed I suppose a win for Macron in France and a loss for Wilders in the Netherlands gave this impression that “good and the decent” people still existed in the real world.

 

All the while talking heads on Twitter will sing with glee about the millions more people who have registered to vote, many of the them young.  They forget that; they might have already been registered, they’ve just re-registered, they won’t all vote against the Conservatives and more importantly because of the first past the post system in the UK, unless they are in key areas in will make fuck all difference.

The next line of attack is to get the young to convince “the old” to vote for Labour, for these youngster’s futures.  You know, because months of blaming old people for the Brexit vote and hoping that because they are old, they’ll die sooner and then a second referendum will mean we’ll stay in the EU.  But history isn’t cool, hypocrisy is where it’s at.

Theresa May could have kept this election about Brexit and she would have walked it, but she doesn’t care about that and has fucked it royally, just like she will with the negotiations with the decrepit and monolithic EU, even though it should be the easiest thing to do.

Truth is, people what something different, something that isn’t mainstream and this is why there is a Corbyn surge.

Trump won because he wasn’t Hillary and wasn’t a politician.  Brexit won because it wasn’t mainstream, it was a chance of something different.  Macron in France, to some extent, was at least offering an end to the status quo (despite being mainstream).

May becoming PM with an increased majority would be a disaster but there is just something about drinking the salty tears of those on twitter that is so appealing in seeing this happen

People want real change and this will not happen and there is something glorious in watching every, regular person (myself included) get fucked over by what will occur on June 8th.

Dance to the tension of a world on edge and then get some cans in to watch the end of the world.

 

Thanks for reading.

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…

 

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.

Camra Obscura

So in my most recent post about all things beer related I ended with a cheap pop at the expense of the Campaign for Real Ale or CAMRA as it is known.

Only I didn’t.

Not of the organisation as a whole just a minority of it’s members.  A minority that is also shrinking (mainly due to death rather than a change of heart and mind) but sadly for CAMRA this minority is still the image that most other beers drinkers* have of them

This isn’t an apology for that friendly jab at them, what this piece is inspired by is that within the hour of me fending off questions from CAMRA members on twitter (and via DM), I was back defending them too.

This tweet appeared on my time-line

 

A few things I take umbrage with (1) that like someone in need of quick gratification, rather than confront the person who has caused the “offence” they run off to the nearest tabloid for maximum exposure.**  (2) that the photo of the leaflet seems to purposely focus on the female drawing rather than include all the patronising drawings of  the “other types of drinker.” (3) the distinct lack of research in finding out about the leaflet, which coincides with point (1). (4) the need for the threat of violence kind of undermines the whole message much like that prat running Pumpclip Parade

The leaflet is about 5 years old, in it are some cartoon drawings meant to personify certain styles of drink and what type of person might prefer which style; Light Ale, Bitter, Mild, Stout, Porter.  It is face-palming stuff.

In January the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival will open in it’s new venue of G-Mex (or Manchester Central) and no doubt there will be vendors selling all manner of tat stuff.  This will include clothing with “amusing” (generally beer related) phrases on them.

In 2014 when the festival was first held (in the Velodrome, a replacement for the Winter Ales festival that moved to Derby) some t-shirts were spotted like this…

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…and of similar ilk.  Childish, sea-side stuff, but not the best thing to be selling when you’re trying to make your festival feel inclusive.  The problem was reported to the organisers and the complaints were acted upon.  Roll on 2015 and the same thing was on sale; the sneaky vendor had set-up his stall for inspection and then promptly put out these t-shirts when no one official was about.

Not CAMRA endorsed but nonetheless it is at a festival they are hosting and this only perpetuates the perception that the organisation is filled only with sexist old men.

**Addendum – as noted in the comments below, the offending t-shirts/their sellers will not be at the 2016 event – uptodate evolution in action**

 

It should be noted that key-kegs are now “approved” by CAMRA as being legitimate forms of dispense for “real ale” and they will be making their début at the above beer festival and yes, there will be some members that will actively avoid drinking “gassed” beer and they won’t do it quietly either.

 

So with that said I will state that the above twitter account did also put out something that was bang on about CAMRA…

 

I’m a member of CAMRA.  Or rather I’m an active member of CAMRA and whereas this stuff doesn’t offend me (nothing really does) it is a retrograde step if the campaign wishes to achieve what it can be, because otherwise at its best it will always be associated with these misguided attempts at being accessible and at its worst it will always be run by sexist old men.

CAMRA doesn’t help itself sometimes; lack of a sense of humour, not being forward thinking, improvements in health care giving sexist old men longer lifespans.

There is an evolution taking place within CAMRA.  It is slow but I wouldn’t be typing this shit if millions of years hadn’t given me opposable thumbs.***

CAMRA isn’t suddenly going to be amazing over night, it needs time but it also doesn’t need it’s chequered history being brought up over and over again, this will only perpetuate a siege mentality and then nothing will change.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

*This group consists of all or some of the following: craft wankers, hipsters, Brewdog fan club performing seals who do what their masters tell them in such a punk way, non-CAMRA members & CAMRA members and anyone else who drinks beer who ever gets into the politics of this rather than just enjoying a pint – I’m looking at you reader.

**Melissa Cole is in no way a tabloid journalist; she has morals (or so I’m told).

***Fuck you, creationists.

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.

The Hypocrisy of the Dancing Man

Yesterday (25th Many 2015), the ‘Dancing Man’ Sean O’Brien did a great many things, borne out of a ‘positive’ reaction to ‘trolls’ on the internet.

Basically a fat man was body-shamed on the internet (4-chan, the absolute ultimate in free speech sites) and the reaction was so sympathetic that a great deal of people and celebrities needing extra kudos jumped on the story with nothing but praise for Mr. O’Brien and hatred for said ‘trolls’.

Fast-forward to today (26th May 2015) and we again have numerous health stories linked to the subject of weight

The talking-head panels that review papers and news ‘stories’ of the day moved from ease to the uplifting story of an clinically obese man and his holiday in the USA to the you’ll-be-dead-by-50 health scare stories the continue to be trotted out by ‘experts’ on a daily basis.

But there is no over-reaction of the Twitterati and celeb-heads over this.

Granted one man’s plight and public embarrassment is not really comparable to a story the generalises about being obese but all these stories published about public health are designed to create divisions.

But the under reaction is that the public tolerate being ‘trolled’ by the state.

In fact in the UK, where health care is ‘free’ – it is all ready on the slippery slope that those who are fat, or smoke, or drink alcohol, or eat salt, or eat sugar are not worthy of said ‘free’ treatment.

Those that don’t do 30 minutes of exercise a day, or eat 5 portions of fruit and veg, or those that sit for too long or drive everywhere, they are the next group in the sights of our health moralists.

Mr O’Brien is a man who clearly loves life, food, dancing and anything else that makes him happy.  He achieved his notoriety by being in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ and yet when he comes back to the UK he will sit in front of his TV, open up a newspaper or even go to his doctor and be continually told that he is too fat.

Maybe he is too fat.  Maybe his weight will have negative impact on his life and its future quality and while we get hypocritically riled up about some people pointing and laughing at those who don’t fit into a standard we happily let certain others do exactly the same thing.

Know the consequences of what you do, take personal responsibility for them and learn to tell everyone to fuck off.

Till next time.

Eat, drink and be merry.