What’s the best way to follow a semi-final where 8 goals are scored in 90 minutes, the first 5 coming within the first half hour? How about a 2 hour goalless draw? In the end, the second semi-final between Holland and Argentina went down to penalties. And the score was:

HOLLAND 2 (P) ARGENTINA 4 (P)

I’m no expert, (Have I told you that over the last 29 days?) but I think Argentina had the edge over most of the game. Not that Louis Van Gaal, the Holland coach, would agree. He said: “At the very least we were equal with them, if not the better team.” Ok, but you still lose.

And so sadly we say goodbye to @Braggovic. Well, not quite. Holland must now face Brazil and @Mojorainbw in the third place play-off. What’s the point of that? At the risk of sounding like a mardy teenager from some weak teen comedy set a few years back “get over yourselves, losers!” Here’s something me and Louis agree on, Louis stating: “In a tournament you shouldn’t have players play a match for third or fourth place.There’s only one award that counts, and that’s being world champion.” But, for the sake of the Tweepstake, I am going to quickly change my mind. All the best @Braggovic and @Mojorainbw (and, for the sake of world peace Holland, let Brazil win).

But back to last night. What was Van Gaal thinking? He took Van Persie off shortly before the end, missing out on one of his best hopes of a penalty scorer; he used up all of his subs so he couldn’t put freakishly long-armed goalkeeper Krul on (who did such a good last minute job saving two penalties in the penalty shoot-out with Costa Rica in the quarter-final); he left  regular goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen to stay in goal for the penalty shoot-out (a goalkeeper who has never saved a penalty in his entire professional career!); and, when two of his strikers refused to take the first penalty, he said ok to that. Some of his decisions leave me feeling he was trying to win the match in the two hours of play!

Oddly, all the press attention over the two semi-finals seems to have focused on the losers. Let’s not forget that Argentina won last night. Argentina; a team managed by a former Sheffield United and Leeds United midfielder: Alejandro Sabella played for the two teams for a short period in the late 70’s and early 80’s before returning to his home country of Argentina. And that’s about as boffiny as I’m going to get on that one, choosing instead to return to some manager lookalikes.

Here’s Holland’s manager Louis Van Gaal:

Louis Van Gaal in Going Home?

Louis Van Gaal in Going Home?

And here’s flat-nosed Hollywood actor Jon Voight:

Jon Voight - The Champ or The Chump?

Jon Voight – The Champ or The Chump?

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “this is rubbish, he just picks any old men that are about the same age”. Well how about this one? Here’s Hollywood actor Jack Nicholson handling the truth:

"I can handle the truth!"

“I can handle the truth!”

And here’s Argentina’s coach, Alejandro Sabello at a press conference:

"No! I never met Brian Clough at Leeds United!"

“No! I never met Brian Clough at Leeds United!”

And that’s it for today. A few days off even. If you’ve just read this and have no idea what’s been going on for the last 29 days please sponsor me just for the hell of it here. The plan is to raise £1966 for Alzheimer’s Society. It’s like a sponsored thing, but without me doing anything too strenuous; just writing and looking for funny photos. Bye for now.

 

Advertisements

Just as Turkey blocks Twitter and YouTube, the State of Kate Bush has ordered a block on all online booking ticket agencies. Those now wanting tickets for her first live gigs in 78 years will have to walk to a participating venue and buy them. Just buy them, Tommy Cooper style. There’ll be a price on the ticket, you hand over a matching amount of money, and the shopkeeper gives you the ticket. Done. Enjoy the gig.

If only.

It’s not like that. Not now. But was it ever?

Now, you have to be up at 9.30 in the morning (Ha! Hard luck Peter Stringfellow! No tickets for you!) Up at 9.30 and then there’s a 15 minute window (hopefully Cathy gets her tickets) before they’re all gone.

I joined in the Bush Rush, although it’s not really my kind of thing (I only like Sparks). I did it for my wife. She likes Kate Bush (not so keen on Sparks).

I’m there, 9.30, ready to go! The only tickets that seem to be available cost £9,567. They’re for the hospitality package (which does, admittedly, throw in a “bamboo cone of chocolate & caramel dipped berries”). Oh, and for all my lies, that last bit is true.

To get to the point, I do, within 15 minutes, find two possible tickets for me and Zoe. They’re the only ones I can find and they are in the circle. They are £135 each.

Hmmm. That’s a lot… but, in the long run, we’re only going to die. So what the hell!

Having made a decision it’s a race against time. A clock ticks away onscreen. I have about seven minutes. I have to type in one of those nonsense words that proves I am human. It was something like R1PUoFf. It’s difficult to know; it was all scratchy and slanted like a Tin Machine lyric.

Somewhere in the scheme of things I had 4 minutes, then 3…  and in the mad scrabble to give our summer holiday away I typed and tapped and bought the two dearest tickets I’ve ever bought in my life.

But I’m happy. We want to go and we will have a great night out.

But why did two tickets at £135 each come to a grand total of £303.50?

Ah! “Service and delivery charge- £2.50”. Not bad! Service and delivery for only £2.50.

Oh! And “2 Booking Fee x £10.50”. I wonder what the distinction is between a service charge and a booking fee? And why two booking fees coming to £21 for what is the same booking?

Never mind. I guess this is how things are done these days. And we will have a great night out.

But wait! That still only comes to £293.50.

WHAAAAATTTTTT!!!!! “Missed Event Insurance: £10.00”

What? Seriously, what? I didn’t ask for this!

Well, it seems I did. Eventim’s policy is to automatically include this unless you choose to untick the box. Something I overlooked in my race against the, by then, 2 minute countdown.

I’ve complained and Eventim have pointed me to a webpage where I can print out a form, fill it in, and apply by post to the insurance company for a refund. I shouldn’t have to do this.

Here’s my complaint. it’s not a complaint about ticket prices, or even unseemly booking fees. It’s a complaint about £10. £10 and the way Eventim hoodwink us into buying unwanted insurance policies… for gigs!? Just take a moment to get to grips with this insane proposal: an insurance policy for a gig.

The honest way to do business is to say “tick if you want it” not “untick if you don’t”.

In the scheme of things it is not a lot of money. Probably the cost of a bamboo cone of chocolate & caramel dipped berries. But I’m going to go all Point Blank on this one. All Parker and Porter.

I guess I’d get into trouble if I called Eventim crooks. But it reminds me of the man in the Post Office the other day who when asked for 5 first class stamps by an old lady told her “we sell them in books of six”. She stood her ground and got a strip of 5 from the big book. But it was clear the post office man wanted her to think they were only available in units of 6. And so I will call him immoral, and I will call Eventim immoral.

Not Kate. This, undoubtedly, has nothing to do with her. Me and Zoe are going to have a great night out.

 

 

The countdown of the Top Ten Comedy DVD’s for Christmas continues. No.10 was The Channel 4 Comedy Gala, yesyerday’s no. 9 was Peter Kay. Today it’s number 8 and it’s…

Kevin Bridges

Kevin Bridges: The Full Story Boxset

It’s Kevin Bridges: The Full Story Boxset!

Now! A quick reminder of the ‘rules’. I haven’t seen any of these DVD’s. In many cases I haven’t seen the comedians. Even on the Apollo show. I am simply reviewing them by their covers alone. Here goes.

I don’t know Kevin Bridges story. But it goes something like this: Kevin Bridges talks about what it’s like being the unsung son of Hollywood actor Jeff Bridges. There’s some amusing anecdotes about boyhood fishing trips with Uncle Beau and an alarming tale of an onset visit to see Grandpa Lloyd when he starred in the comedy Jane Austen’s Mafia!

Maybe he’s not related. Maybe he is! You decide.

The Full Story Boxset is possibly a little misleading. How many DVD’s make a Boxset? How many stories make a Full Story? Well, in this case, two. Two DVD’s. Two stories.

The stories so far are, ahem, The Story So Far and The Story Continues. Perhaps, next Christmas, the Full Boxset will become a Triple Boxset and, in typical three act story style, the story will end with the third DVD, The Story Ends.

Comedians come in two forms; the grumpy comedian and the smiley comedian. In first place, at the moment, are Jack Dee and Michael McIntyre. (I was going to say respectively, but I’ll leave it for you to figure out- you can always click on the names above to see photographic evidence). Kevin, as his legs suggest, is straddling the two styles; it’s not a smile, it’s not a grimace. I cannot tell what it is. He is a third kind; the enigmatic comedian.

He possibly has no arms.

He’s looking up. The camera is either very high or Kevin is very short.

This is “unmissable stuff”  and, with two 15 certificate symbols, it is suitable for thirty year olds.

There is a lot of yellow.

Tomorrow, number 7.

Go Sober- Day Three

October 3, 2013

First off, an apology. To Frank. You can see Frank having a poncey drink (followed by a foul drink) here. When we were on holiday we would joke about our favourite documentaries; documentaries such as Titanic, Sharknado, and Big Momma’s House 2. In yesterday’s post I talked about a Woody Allen documentary, Sleeper.

Frank, as his Twitter alter-ego, @eph_bee, pointed out in his RT that my blog post featured a Frank joke.

It did. Sorry Frank. Although I’d like to point out that these documentaries are no laughing matter.

This mishap was an accident. Here’s how it came about: On hols we would drink. Alcohol. And then, when I drink, I forget. And then I appropriate other people’s jokes. It’s inappropriate to appropriate.

(I’ve just looked back over this. The second paragraph reads like future-speak. And, in time, it could become meaningless. Let us all enjoy the Twittersphere whilst it’s here.)

Secondly… Oh, I can’t remember the secondly. And I’ve not even had a drink!

So, since it’s late, let’s enjoy one of the weirdest drinking videos you are ever likely to see. Hank Williams died when he was 29. He was a mess of alcohol and drugs when he went. And he left a little four year old lad dadless. But that didn’t stop Hank Jnr from growing up and eventually getting to sing with his dad. Here’s the two of them duetting on There’s A Tear In My Beer. Creepy, moving, and keeping me off the booze.

Please help me and my wife stay off the booze throughout October for Macmillan Cancer Support. You can sponsor me, or my wife, or both of us here, here, or here. You don’t have to give much; £2 can get us an imaginary half pint, free from tears. Thank you.

Go Sober- Day Two

October 2, 2013

Day Two of Go Sober. And today I have mostly been drinking ginger tea.

I should be able to go without alcohol for a month. Let’s face it, there was a time in my life when I didn’t drink for almost 16 years (please provide your own punchline). So a month is a doddle. Not even a month now. Just 29 days.

I’m doing it, along with my wife, to try to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.That’s all. It’s not a health kick or anything new wave. Oh, I know it won’t do us any harm but… Hang on! What if it does do us harm! In Sleeper (a documentary by Woody Allen) cigarettes are proven to be good for us. It’s just a matter of time; Woody made the documentary in the 22nd Century.

So, God willing!, alcohol will, in the long run, turn out to be good for us. We’ll all be dead by then, but it’s a comforting thought.

If you’d like to help us reach our target for Macmillan (an ambitious £1664) please sponsor me, or my wife, or both of us here, here, or here. You don’t have to give much; £2 can get us an imaginary half pint. Thank you.

Blimey! Only two days to go. I’ve raised a fantastic £455 so far. Big thank you’s to my latest sponsors, Siobhan, Hannah, Glenn, and Helen. x

And today I must try and rid myself of the horrors of yesterday when Comic Relief gave me the most disturbing treat of my life- a video of thanks from One Direction. It’s disturbing and a little odd. Do Comic Relief think only children are trying to raise money for them? You can read of my trauma here.

I’m sure yesterday’s trauma must have led to my slightly gloomy take on the generally perky When All’s Well yesterday too. By the time I’d written that I’d had two cans of cheap lager and a packet of fake pork scratchings. Imagine pork scratchings where all of the good bits have been replaced by air. Thanks Bobby!

And so I managed to equate a jolly 80’s pop song to the end of Vertigo. Just because of bells. There’s bells in It’s A Wonderful Life and Elf, just to try and strike some sort of a balance.

I’m not sure what today’s song is going to be but I’ll try to aim for something a little more fun.

In the meantime, if you can, please sponsor me here. I’m aiming for £1986, in honour of EBTG’s 1986 album, Baby, The Stars Shine Bright.

It’s going to be a push, but what in life isn’t?

You can read yesterday’s ravings here.

Ok, my rant is out of the way and all is well again. Which brings us to:

Today’s choice. And it is from @AndreaMann. It’s When All’s Well from Love Not Money.

Here’s what I do. I listen to it. I write about it. It’s for Comic Relief. I’m part of Team @tracey_thorn and our aim is to raise a million pounds for Comic Relief through Twitter. If you enjoy this post, or even if you don’t but are just feeling kind-hearted, please sponsor me here.

When All’s Well is, on the surface, an uplifting song of love.

When all’s well/ my love is like cathedral bells

But most of the video takes place underground. Tracey is trapped in an upturned cathedral bell. Ben tries to rescue her. The video cuts of early. I like to think, in his failure to elicit an escape, that right at the end, when the youtube stops, he jumps into the bell to be with Tracey.

It’s a jolly sounding song, like lots on Love Not Money. It makes me think of The Smiths again. In a good way. But listen to those opening words:

We are not true/ We are not pure/ We are not right

You wouldn’t get One Direction singing that.

O but still I’ll steal to you at night/ Too selfish by half/ Too ugly by far/ But when your songs have been sung, come to me

It is a love song. but…

Rumours are rife/ And the winter blows cold/ Reminds me of such wretched times

And we’re back. In hard times. Today it makes me think of the lying former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change who saved the planet by speeding. Would many sing this of him?

And yet all the same? I will never deign/ To think ill of you, when all’s well/ My love is like cathedral bells

We’re back in a song of love and forgiveness. And the beauty, and the love, are found, not just in the joyous melody (that you should dance around the lounge to), but also in the downbeat and upbeat last verse:

Amongst all the dross/ And the lies and the grief/ There are so many things you just wouldn’t believe/ But amongst all the dross/ And the lies and the grief/ When all’s well, my love is like cathedral bells

Cathedral bells. I can’t help but think of Batman and The Joker.Or Judy and Scottie.

But let’s focus on the positives; this film has Ben and Tracey messing with bells. Here’s a line from someone else, but it wouldn’t be out of place in this song:

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars

Have a dance, and if you can please give some money to Comic Relief here.

Today’s choice for my Comic Relief  Team Tracey Thorn Challenge has been picked by none other than @tracey_thorn. The choice was between Ugly Little Dreams and When All’s Well from 1985’s Love Not Money. Tracey tweeted; “Ugly Little Dreams deffo. International Women’s Day innit, you can go all feminist on our ass. Or something.”

Let’s face it, it’s going to be ‘or something’.

Ugly Little Dreams, like yesterday’s Draining The Bar, is another of Everything But The Girl’s country & western tinged songs.

The song is dedicated to Frances Farmer.

In 1985 when I was 23 I had no idea who Frances Farmer was (despite the film Frances, starring Jessica Lange, having come out in 1982).  Somewhere down the line, before Wikipedia, before computers, I found out*. Way back then my best understanding of Ugly Little Dreams was garnered from these lines:

What chance for such girls/ How can we compete?/ In a world that likes it’s women/ Stupid and sweet

Way back then. Of course, 28 years later (or 60 odd years later from Frances’ time), the world is a vastly different place isn’t it. Just ask Hilary Mantel.

Now, I’m not saying that David Cameron called for Hilary Mantel to be lobotomised (beheaded?) for her thoughtful and intelligent critique of how the media mould(ed) and shape(d) Princess whatsername, but… well, he kind of did, didn’t he? Had he even read the article?

What chance for such girls/ How can they compete?/ In a world that has a Prime Minister/ So stupid and… neat?

They’re my words, not Tracey’s.

What is he up to? Let’s be frank. Let’s put (party) politics to one side. David Cameron is not stupid. He’s, I guess, oh go on then, if we must… he’s clever.

He’s more of a disingeuous **** than stupid (call me a coward for using asterixes, but it is International Women’s Day, and, being frank again, that’s a whole new argument I’m just not getting into).

Yeah, he’s just a shameless **** who, for the sake of votes, is afraid to show his true intelligence; is afraid to say what he knows in his heart; that Hilary Mantel’s article was just fine.

I bet he read it. I bet Ed did too. He can’t get away with it either. He’s a **** (please substitute some different consonants and vowels for variety’s sake).

They’re all cowards afraid of being true to themselves, afraid of showing a little intelligence, in case, just like Mantel, they become ‘hate figures’; little knowing they are already on their way. They are Frances Farmer negatives.

I could be losing you. I’m no good at polemic and I almost undoubtedly take short cuts in my attempts at an argument. And you may have come here for jokes. ‘He wasn’t like this when he swung his pants’, someone in my head says.

Perhaps Wikipedia can do some of my work for me. If you can spare the time, have a read about Frances Farmer and then come back.

Are you back?

I’ve been watching Frances on This Is Your Life, from 1958. Astonishing stuff. Here’s part one. In it Frances wins an award at the age of 17 for a school essay entitled God Dies. Her teacher at the time, Miss Belle Mackenzie, comes onto the programme and Frances is very happy to see her again, giving her a big hug.

And then Professor Glen Hughes comes on. I’m not so sure Frances is quite as pleased to see him. Glen says: “Well, of course, the first place, she was very lovely. Secondly, she was intelligent and (unclear). She always had a sort of intellectual chip on her shoulder.”

It’s enough to make you mad/ But it’s safer just to break down and cry

 

 

Part two is hard to watch. Frances is clearly uncomfortable with the host’s simple-minded summing up of her life, but there’s some fight left in her; “If you’re treated like a patient you are apt to act like one.”

 

 

Here’s Ugly Little Dreams.

 

 

If you can, please give some money to Comic Relief. You can sponsor me here.

(* It’s thanks to Tony Wilson that I started to look up things. He was being interviewed on TV once about the Situationists. The interviewer asked him what it was and he told him, and anyone interested, to go and look it up. He wasn’t being arsey (well…), he was just making us all do our homework.)

Ok, here’s the last 5.

If you’re new to this, I’ve been taking a look at the Top Ten Comedy DVD’s according to Zavvi’s website. And I’ve been judging the DVD’s by their covers. Not the comedians, not the content.

They’re all, no doubt, excellent. Hey: they’re the Top Ten! But, occasionally, their covers confuse. Or enlighten.

One thing’s for sure; they are all ideal Christmas stocking fillers.

Here’s a reminder of 10 to 6 before we hit the Top Five.

No.10 – Dara o Briain.

No.9 – Mrs. Brown’s Boys

No. 8 – Roy Brown

No.7 – Frankie Boyle

No.6 – Jack Whitehall

Ok, no.5. Oh, and a little reminder; it’s nearly Christmas… all of my assessments are fueled by martinis.

No.5…

Peter Kay no.5

No.5 Peter Kay

It’s Peter Kay! He’s live, and he’s Back on Nights!

Here’s the thing; I hate daytime stand-up comedy. it just doesn’t fit. Unless it’s stand-up for kids. All proper grown-up stand-up comedy must take place at night. It’s a job prerequisite. If Peter is back on nights what was going on before?

With the exception of the job of stand-up comedy, being on nights suggests a working class necessity; a need to bring in money, a need to work unsociable hours to make ends meet. To be frank, I’m stumped.

The DVD includes over 55 minutes of NEW live stand up. But it doesn’t say how much over 55. I’m plumping for under 56, otherwise it would surely boast ‘over 56 minutes of NEW live stand-up’. And, without seeing the back of the DVD, there is no way of knowing what percentage of comedy time the new material takes up. Concluding this point, we can state with certainty that the DVD is at least 55 minutes long.

Peter has turned his back on his audience as he sneaks up on an (unqualified) ‘World Record Breaking Comedy’ plinth of sorts. His eyes twinkle, but his grin is yet to be revealed. He may, or may not, have some fingers missing.

The DVD is suitable for 15 year olds.

Here’s another take on being on nights.

Sarah Millican

No.4 Sarah Millican

No. 4 is Sarah Millican. It’s a brand new 2012 show.

She is the Queen of Comedy; that’s official; it’s a British Comedy Award. As far as star ratings go, she is rated a 15 star act; 5 from The Mirror, 5 from Metro, 5 from The Telegraph. That also manages to cover the three main political parties; Sarah has something for everyone.

She is thoroughly modern; a reference that manages to make her quaintly dated too.

30 year olds will like this DVD.

Join me tomorrow, when I’ll try and finish this off.

The Comedians part 4

December 19, 2012

Ok. I know. I said “to be continued tomorrow” and now it’s the day after tomorrow and tomorrow was yesterday. I’m sorry. I lied. Or failed.

To recap: I’m counting down the Top Ten comedy DVD’s (ideal Christmas presents) according to Zavvi’s chart. I’m assessing them on artwork alone. I have no take on the comedy or the comedians. I’ve seen none of the DVD’s. Some of the comedians I am familiar with, others not. But this is not, I repeat not, a judgement on the comedy inside the cover.

I am (literally) judging a comedian’s DVD by his/her cover.

Oh, ok then. A little bias may creep in. But it’s not on purpose (or, to pinch a bit of fun from no.7 in the chart, tit’s not on purpose).

No. 10 was Dara O Briain.

No. 9 was Mrs. Brown’s Boys.

No. 8 was Roy Brown.

And so to No. 7

Frankie Boyle no.7

No. 7 Frankie Boyle

He’s as hairy as he was last time round in 2010. Possibly hairier. And it’s a brand new show for 2012.

The Hairy Pornflake has possibly calmed down a bit. Last time round he said he’d strangle you if he could. Now he’s just cryptically referring to the last days of Sodom, looking diagonally downwards, shiftily, cheekily, hiding in his philosopher’s beard.

But which Sodom? Sodom from the Street Fighter computer box games? Declaring “Die job death car?” Unlikely.

Sodom, the Canadian logging town that fell into disrepair in the first half of the 20th Century. Still unlikely.

It’s got to be the Sodom that went with Gomorrah. Surely. Or perhaps the Marquis De Sade’s/ Pasolini’s The 120 Days of Sodom. Maybe the last two days or so.

Oh, who knows.

He’s looking down, he’s smirking: Fundamentally, he’s going for the anal sex angle.

Happy Christmas.

The countdown will continue tomorrow. Maybe.