Filed under: advertising, business, creativity, humour, jokes, language, Rants | Tags: Blog writing, planet Blog, professional blog writing service, professional blogging, SEO
Here’s a little something I created this morning for my professional blog writing company www.planetblog.co.
Filed under: creativity, cycling, life, politics, Rants, science, Scotland, stories | Tags: drug cheats in sport, In pursuit of Lance Armstrong, lance armstrong drug cheat, Lyceum Edinburgh David Walsh, The Lyceum
David Walsh is nothing like the pompous, arrogant Sunday Times sportswriter that you might imagine sportswriters for aggressive newspaper groups in search of the scalp of the world’s greatest sports cheat, Lance Armstrong, might be.
David Walsh is a man whose son died in a cycling accident, coincidentally, aged 12 yet went on to be a great lover of cycling, and sport in general.
Tonight, in Britain’s most beautiful theatre (The Lyceum in Edinburgh) Walsh, acknowledging its humbling beauty, told the story of how he went out to get the lying cheat that is Lance Armstrong. And won.
It was an epic tale presented without a single note and narrated for over an hour.
And it pressed every one of my “Why Lance Armstrong is unforgivable buttons.”
Walsh eloquently argued why Armstrong not only used his cancer as both “a shield and a sword” but that his use of Growth Hormones before his diagnosis probably accelerated its invasiveness.
He made reference to the many, many people that Armstrong inhumanely took out, completely ruthlessly, in pursuit of the self preservation of his entirely false achievements.
He defended Sky and Wiggins as doggedly as he vilified US Postal and Armstrong.
And he did it all calmly, reflectively, convincingly, powerfully.
Please God. Tell me Walshy’s not on EPO.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, movies, music, Rants | Tags: anne Hathaway, les mis, Les MIserables, Tom Hooper, Victor Hugo
I’ve seen Les Mis twice on stage. It’s too long. Fact.
But I was interested in what would happen on screen and hoped that Tom Hooper’s horribly fussy direction of the King’s Speech would not follow him into this. I hoped but my wish was unfulfilled.
Tom Hooper puts the blown into overblown in everything he does. The Damned United wasn’t a patch on the book, The King’s Speech is simply the most overrated movie of the past few years and this, well put it this way, if Anne Hathaway hadn’t been in it I’d have been asking for my money back.
Let’s deal with the positives first (shouldn’t take long).
Anne Hathaway’s performance, as Fantine, is mesmerising, especially in her death scene at the end of the first reel. It’s a shame because the movie dies with her. And it’s all the more remarkable that Hooper will have two Oscar winning performances under his belt from two lousy movies. As I said; remarkable.
In places (Hathaway’s death scene in particular) the hand held camera work with a LOT of focus pulling (necessary because of the narrow depth of field and low light) works magically. It’s incredibly intimate, yet at others it’s just plain annoying (and repetitive).
Next the sound. I could hear every lyric from start to finish which meant that, unlike the stage play, it was easy to follow the (turgid and unlikely) story easily.
But the sound is actually one of my biggest gripes. Yes it was brave, and in parts very good (Hathaway) to make the actors perform the numbers for real, but by focusing on clarity of audio the incidental sound had to be dropped with the result that almost the entire movie sounded like it had been recorded in a recording studio and consequently appeared entirely fake.
Now the rest of the bad news.
The sets are horrible. Entirely unconvincing from start to finish.
Hugh Jackman is unbearable to watch (his singing voice is unlistenable).
Russell Crowe is appalling, but not as bad as the double act that is Helena Bonham Carter (surely her worst performance ever) and Sacha Baron Cohen who just plain sucks.
Eddie Redmayne left me totally cold but I’m sure the ladies will like his boyish good looks. But nah. He sucks too.
The direction is mawkish in the extreme which makes the child parts nauseous and heavy handed.
I could go on but I don’t want to bore you and I know that nobody will like this review on IMDB because nobody likes critical reviews on IMDB. Ah well.
Filed under: business, conservative, creativity, liberal, life, politics, Rants, Uncategorized | Tags: Barack Obama, democrats, ethnic vote, mitt romney, politics, republicans, The 2012 US presidential election
When Barack Obama rode into power in November 2008 on a wave of optimism, change, belief, creativity and downright sexiness the world gasped. American politics had not been so riveting since the 1960′s and certainly not as glamorous. This online ad encapsulated it all for me.
And then reality kicked. The mother of all recessions and hostile antipathy towards what’s now known as Obamacare.
One of Mitt Romney’s central strategies was, in creating 12million new jobs (really?), he would revoke Obamacare and return America to the most obviously polarised class structure in the Western world.
Obama meanwhile was criticised for continuing the Afghan war and for appearing remote; too much a thinker, not enough a baby-hugger.
He was doomed.
Five things saved him I believe. Catching, and killing, Bin Laden (in a brave and high risk operation), Hurricane Sandy, Clinton’s speech, his wife and a brilliantly single-minded and principled political agenda that reached out Liberally to the WHOLE of America.
While Romney seduced the white vote with constant appeals to their pockets “it’s the economy stupid.” Obama consistently ploughed his furrow of social justice.
The Democrats are painted as Socialists (albeit dressed in Blue) but they strike me, under Obama, as the world’s great Liberals, balancing vote winning (in the underpriveleged) social issues with strong foreign affairs and a balanced view on the economy; it’s not the economy at ALL costs.
This chart said it all when I saw it last week. It demonstrated what a danger Romney would be given the keys to the White House (we all saw his ineptitude abroad earlier this year in the UK)
The statistics are overwhelming and, guess what, the only country favouring Romney was Pakistan; default home of Al Quaeda. World, we got a close call here but escaped unharmed.
Obama’s return to power was anything but certain. He had to rely on a strong ethnic vote (and his ethnicity unquestionably helped there – were a white candidate standing against Romney the result would probably have been very different. Should Hilary Clinton choose to stand in 2016 her support amongst female voters may have a similiar effect). He had to scrap on the streets of the swing states for his life. He only performed moderately in the TV debates. He was saved in the end by his sticking to principles but his negative campaigning was far removed from the elegance of the Obey campaign.
This TV ad from last month though was a masterclass in Liberal balanced communication and I hope it made its mark. There were so many that one will never know and it seems it was the doorstep canvassing that really made the difference. Obama’s strategy in micro-marketing being better and more energetic.
A note on the TV coverage. I watched it here, in the UK, flipping between the BBC, Sky, CNBC and CNN. By a country mile the most interesting, insightful and challenging coverage came from CNN.
The BBC was plodding and boring.
So, America has made a brave, some might say, and reasoned, others might say, judgement call. At the end of an administration that has see the economy hit by its very own Hurricane Sandy and against a presentable and domestically credible conservative voice offering the promise of a return to “The American Dream” Obama has held on, scraped back into power and given the opportunity to carry on his work, Not only that but The Senate surprisingly remained in the hands of the Democrats.
One major blot on the horizon; the Republicans still hold power in the house and so the opportunity to quash social change policies remains real and present.
One word sums it up again though.
I’m Mark Gorman and I approved this message.
Filed under: cycling, life, Rants, sports, stories | Tags: DR Pedro Celaya, Lance Armstrong, lance armstrong foundation, livestrong, US postal, USADA
Nimes 2003. Mid July. 35 degrees in the shade.
As I stood in the baking sun for more than five hours at the finishing line of a mid-race stage of the Tour de France waiting to catch a glimpse of my all time hero, Lance Armstrong, I’m blown away when an attractive young lady approaches me selling , for one Euro, the single most desirable, and certainly the coolest, thing I’ve ever seen.
A yellow rubber wristband bearing the Nike branded name of Lance’s new charitable venture – Livestrong.
I buy 10. And I wear a succession of these bands for a number of years.
I’ve already devoured “It’s not about the bike” (sublime) and ‘Every second counts” (something of a shabby follow up) but who cares, the proceeds are going to the Lance Armstrong Foundation (trustees of LIvestrong).
I buy Livestrong T Shirts. I am Lance Armstrong’s greatest evangelist.
Then news comes of the USADA’s alleged”victimisation” of Armstrong. They suspect wrongdoing and they go after him like a dog after a bone. What’s the point I wonder. After all I’ve read the books in which, page after page, he denies wrongdoing; “Why would I take drugs and risk ruining my body having just survived life threatening cancer. I would be the biggest fool on the planet.” I paraphrase, but that’s the sentiment and it runs through the books like a stick of rock.
Why would anyone lie, and lie again and again, this publicly, so convincingly? It’s not possible that it’s a lie.
Yesterday, the USADA issued a 1,000 page report using sworn testimony from 26 people including 15 members of Armstrong’s team at the time of his superhuman successes, US postal.
In it they say; “Together these different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalized team-run doping conspiracy.”
Team Doctor, Pedro Celaya, was the mastermind of the hideous cheat but he contests the claims as does Armstrong, but the evidence is no longer refutable.
One question. Why?
Why would a team, comprising of dozens of people no doubt, conspire to cheat so willfully and cover their tracks so assiduously for so many years? what is actually the point of that? In the words of the Horlicks advertising team “How do they sleep at night?”
So, I am the fool. A naive dreamer that like a child simply believed what St Lance said. saint by night, sinner by day that is. You can’t take away what Armstrong did for many suffering people,, you can’t ignore the benefits of the LAF and Livestrong. But now it’s a legacy shrouded in guilt, bad taste and conscience salving.
Oh Lance. You make me so sad now.
Filed under: bbc, olympics, Rants | Tags: bbc 5 live, bbc radio 5 live, commentary, locog, london olympics, olympic commentary, olympic events, olympic family, radio, radio 5, vacation
We listened to 5 Live all day yesterday as their presenters time and time and time again vented their spleen at the LOCOG for the empty seats that were evident at a number of Olympic events. Five Live has been on amission for months to undermine the event and despite an explanation, a very clear one, that the empty seats were those of the “Olympic Family” ie athletes and officials who are mostly in training at this early stage of the event and therefore unable to attend events. Despite this they attempted to whip their listeners up into a frenzy of dissent.
This typifies the bad side of Britishness, amidst everything that is wonderful about these games we have an innate need to find fault. I’m sick of it. Aren’t you?
Later in the day it appeared the tide had turned against them and they turned 180 degrees into arse licking support. Presumably the tweets and emails of listeners like me eventually wore them down.
Filed under: creativity, movies, Rants | Tags: Hal Hartley, Life Just is, london
Ironically this is the opening line of Alex Barrett’s directorial debut “Life Just Is.” Ironic, because that was exactly my feelings as I thankfully exited the cinema on the movie’s debut at the Edinburgh International Film Festival an hour ago. It’s trying to be a Hal Hartleyesque slice of modern London Life. It’s trying to reflect the ebb and flow of post University existence amongst a group of token flatmates and pals (a la This Life)>
I mean really; A black guy, a gay guy, an existentialist “nutter”, a pretty posh girl and a Northern Irish lass that doesn’t have to confidence to exist and is going to hell and back in a relationship with her new and much older boyfriend. Does that tick enough boxes?
I say it’s trying to be these things, but all it is trying. It’s turgid, tormenting, tumescant tosh.
Really it is.
Pretentious doesn’t even begin to describe how, err, pretentious this movie is.
The acting is at times naturalistic but more often than not simply wooden.
The camera work is so slow that on occasions you wonder if you’re actually watching the rushes.
There are many scenes of Tom (Nathaniel Martello-White) walking to work so slowly that you wonder if he’s actually disabled only to realise he has to walk that slowly so that the dolly can keep up with him.
Avoid this boring self-indulgent claptrap at all costs.
Filed under: creativity, humour, jokes, politics, Rants, Youtube | Tags: daily reckless, kelvinmackenzie, Tommy Mackay
See more of Tommy’s unique brand of humour here
Filed under: books, business, creativity, humour, jokes, life, Rants, stories, swearing, work, writing | Tags: apostrophes, death of the apostrophe, lynne truss, proper syntax, waterstones
Some fucking dick in the Waterstone’s marketing department thinks the apostrophe is an inconvenience in the digital age.
Yeah sure it is in a url, but we all know that urls don’t need punctuation and everyone, even Lynne Truss, will live with that.
However, to use that as an excuse to rebrand Waterstone’s as Waterstones is absurd.
It’s a fucking bookshop.
It should be the last bastion of proper syntax for fuck sake.
It is utterly unforgiveable.
It’s like the Driving Standards Agency hiring blind people to take driving tests.
Before you know it we’ll have section’s for biographys, comic’s, childrens book’s, and busine’ss section’s.
Or is that bastards’ or bastards or bastard’s or bas’tards or bas’tard’s or bas’tard’s’
I give up. In apoplexy.
Filed under: creativity, life, Rants, tv | Tags: C4 The bank Job, Channel 4 The bank job, Greed, humility, Shadenfreude
Did you see The Bank Job on Channel 4?
For a week the winning contestants in each nightly episode collectively pooled their night’s winning money into a collective pot.
Tonight the five finalists duelled one another in a process of elimination until only two were left. (Two greedy blokes as it turned out.)
One was a lucky and hopeless player, the other a cool cat who thought he had it in the bag.
But the producers of this magnificent Game Show had one last twist up their sleeves (it transpired they had two in the final denoument though.)
So, each finalist was given two boxes with about £230,000 in one box and Trash in the other.
The next bit was tricky.
They had to decide if they wanted the full £450,000 or were happy to split the winnings. But they couldn’t say it outright, they had to convince the other that they would share or that they were gambling for the lot.
The deal was, they gave their opponent either the box of Trash or the box of dosh.
If only one handed over the dosh the recipient took the lot.
If both handed over the dosh they spilt it.
But if BOTH handed over the Trash they BOTH lost and the dosh was split between the other three losing finalists.
What would you do?
I’d take my chances on my felllow man and assume that he too would rather have half than nothing and hand over the dosh, after all there was a two in three chance of losing by not taking this approach.
What did the greedy chaps do?
They both handed over the Trash and both left empty handed.
Served the greedy shites right.
A triumph for Channel 4 and a lesson in humility for all involved.
Shame on them.
Filed under: politics, Rants | Tags: Big man, northampton, Old lady armed robbery, Old lady jewel heist, Old lady justice, Rough justice, scotfail, scotrail, The law is an ass, train assault
How come the “Big Guy” in this video is vilified in many circles for stepping in and sorting out a situation and risks losing his job when all he has done is sort out a wee nyaff that delighted the onlookers..
But this old lady, who stepped in and sorted out a situation becomes a national treasure when all she has done is sort out a bunch of wee nyaffs that delighted the onlookers.
For the record I think the “Big Man” did everyone on that train a favour and should be lauded.
The Scotfail guard summed the company up quite nicely.
Filed under: Rants, Scotland, stories | Tags: dangerous drivers, drving in fog, idiuot drivers, M5 crash lessons
OK, so to all of the arseholes that drove alongside me; mostly rammed up my tailpipe from Kilmarnock to South Queensferry today in a very thick fog from 4pm – 6pm I can only assume you were ALL unaware of the news story on Friday night where 51 people were seriously injured and 7 died as a result of thick fog mixed with smoke on the M5 near Taunton.
Here’s a picture of it just in case you think I’m making it up…
Because if you were aware of it you all make me sick to the pit of my stomach. Particularly professional drivers of lorries and vans who are happy to overtake on crowded rush hour roads at 70mph when anything over 50 mph was already risky driving.
Thankfully I survived but you lot can fuck right off.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, Rants | Tags: Christopher Hitchins, POW torture, torture, Vanity Fare Waterboarding article, waterboarding, waterboarding demonstration
Watch this video and then read the accompanying article by Christopher Hitchins of Vanity Fare who voluntarily took one for the readers. But I warn you it is quite distressing even in the small dose that he received.
Utterly horrific and barbarous – and he got off lightly.
I’m grateful to Chris Miller for bringing it to my attention.
Ria is distraught.
Her idea of doing a degree in Dentistry has been swept away. Although she did great with 4 Highers including crash Chemistry, but her English Higher evaded her.
In some ways this doesn’t surprise me because her English teacher was an absolute moron. She refused to put study classes in. Constantly failed to mark homework, lost half the class’ portfolios. In short she was not fit for purpose. I complained again and again to the school about her and they acknowledged my point but to no avail.
Tom, by stark contrast, is cock a hoop having passed his two Highers and Three Int Two’s. He had a different teacher for English but he cannot believe he passed his PE Higher because, guess what, the teachers sucked. And guess what. I complained about them too.
For all the others that dedicated themselves to their profession. I thank and applaud you.
Filed under: advertising, Arts, creativity, Rants, Scotland, stories | Tags: Beady Eye, British Art Show, GoMA, Milena Dragicevic, philips
I went to the British Art Show at GoMA last week. Not that brilliant to be totally honest. Mostly pretty pretentious guff.
I saw this painting by Milena Dragicevic.
Two days later I picked up a copy of Shortlist with an ad for Philips.
Filed under: business, family, Rants | Tags: complaining, complaints, complaints letter, customer service, good service, Hayes Garden World
We bought an “unbreakable table” from Hayes Garden World a couple of years ago.
During the cold snap this winter…it broke.
So I wrote to them…
Filed under: creativity, family, humour, jokes, life, Rants, Scotland, stories | Tags: fight at wedding, poo, skidmark on wedding dress, skins, wedding, wedding disasters, wedding nightmares, wedding stories
Filed under: business, creativity, family, itv, jokes, life, music, Rants, stories | Tags: amanda holden, BGT, britain's got talent, Louis Walsh, Ronan Parke, Simon Cowell, SYCO
For reasons which will become obvious, I can’t reveal my full identity. But let me just say that, I am an executive with Sony Music UK with many years experience in music mangement. My work involves close liasion with Simon Cowell’s SYCO company (specifically SYCO Music and SYCO TV) and, as a result, I have seen what goes on from the inside and this has left me increasingly uncomfortable about the integrity of Britain’s Got Talent and particularly the workings of SYCO.
It’s long been known that there is a quite a degree of “fixing” in BGT. ( Daily Mail http://bit.ly/fxkWne ) But press reports on “fixing” are only the tip pf the iceberg when it comes to SYCO’s manipulation of, not only the show and the contestants, but also the viewing public and hopefully, in this email, I can shine some light on the smoke and mirrors trickery of SYCO.
Take BGT 2011 for example. Scouts working for SYCO first saw Ronan Parke (the 12 year old singer) some two years ago when he was just 10 and was singing at a birthday party for former Norwich City goal-keeper, Bryan Gunn. Following that, Ronan was privately auditioned by SYCO scouts on two more occasions and, as is usual practice on BGT, he was “invited” to audition for the show as a “preferred” contestant. At the same time, Ronan and his parents were “required” to enter into a contract with SYCO. Like all SYCO contracts, it is heavily weighted in favour of the label and are notoriously bad, even in the cut-throat world of the music industry. Simon effectively signed Ronan for life and he’s got little or no chance of ever getting out of it…unless Simon decides to terminate. Recording contracts are legally extremely complex and usually require input and advice from very expensive, specialist contract lawyers. SYCO knows that such legal advice goes well beyond the means of most contestants. As one senior SYCO executive said to me recently. “These people are mugs. They’ll sign away their own mother just to get on tv. It’s a fucking turkey-shoot and then we own their arses!”
As is common for “invited” contestants that SYCO likes and have already signed, Ronan and his parents were provided with a car to drive them to the audition in London. These “invited” contestants don’t have to queue up with everyone else, they don’t go through the preliminary auditions with producers, but perform straight to Simon and the judging panel at a pre- arranged time-slot. And so it was for Ronan back in 2009 when he was just 10.
It was at this initial audition that I first met Ronan and he looked very different back then. He was a skinny, 10 year old lad who, even at that time, was a bit effeminate. His voice needed a bit of working on, but that wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, nerves got the better of Ronan and he was unable to perform. Simon however, had already seen the audition tapes from the scouts and took Ronan into an unused dressing room and got him to sing in there with his mum for support. Clearly Ronan was not going to be part of BGT in 2009 and nothing from this was ever televised.
Ordinarily, you would think that would be the end of things, but with Ronan already signed to SYCO, far from it. This was just the start of a two year grooming and manipulation process to prepare Ronan for stardom.
It’s no big secret that Simon has been looking for an artist who could crack the very lucrative pre-teen market for some time, particularly in the US. If you like, he wanted his own rival to Bieber and, taking a leaf out of how professional football academies develop youngersters to feed their main team, Simon wanted his own singing academy and Ronan was just one of a number of identified youngsters, with whom SYCO intensively works with.
A development package, which included professional singing, dancing and stage-craft tuition was arranged for Ronan and the SYCO machine kicked into gear with the view of Ronan entering BGT 2010. Lots of work had been done with Ronan and his voice was much improved, unfortunately nerves were still a major issue for him and it was decided by SYCO not to enter him into the 2010 series.
At a following senior exec meeting at SYCO it was suggested that Ronan be dropped, but with Simon confident that he could be the kid he had been looking for, it was agreed that Ronan would receive “intensive support and input” to ready him for the 2011 series. Although Ronan’s voice was now stunning, there were other major problems to be dealt with in order to sell him to the public. With respect to Ronan, he was nothing more than a cooky-looking, skinny runt of a kid and this was identified as a major handicap to sales.
It was agreed at a high-level, secret SYCO meeting, that if they were to do anything with Ronan, he needed totally restyling from the toes up. And so with time running out to develop Ronan into the star Simon wanted, SYCO went into overdrive. Ronan was even given speech and elocution training to rid him of his rural Norfolk accent, again in preparation for the potential US market. As for his effeminate and girlishness, this posed a bigger problem and resulted in many highly confidential meetings. At one of these meetings, the unthinkable was raised as a way forward….
Until now Ronan had been encouraged to “boy-up” and it was planned to present Ronan as an everyday skater-boy. But with his girliness still showing through, the image just wasn’t believable. So a decision was taken to encourage and allow Ronan to “release” and enhance his campness . Disgustingly, SYCO planned to sexualise him. They were well aware of course, that if they sexualised a young girl to look sexually older than she is, all hell would let loose. But with Ronan, as one executive put it, “no one has ever seen a ‘gay’ kid before, it’ll be a novelty.” As for the pre-teen market, it was accepted they wouldn’t care if Ronan appeared gay or not…most probably don’t know what gay is anyway. And so, with a total gay- sexualisation of Ronan secretly planned, SYCO got to work. I should stress, Ronan’s parents were not aware of any of this and were never consulted about Ronan’s development or management. When I first met Ronan he was a bit effeminate in his ways, but nothing like the camp, girlie-giggling kid you see now on BGT and this is a direct result of SYCO’s styling. Even his clothing worn at the audition and live semi-final were chosen for him by SYCO to match his new image.
SYCO took over everything to do with Ronan. His hairstyle, his clothes, his poise, giving tv interviews, you name it, Ronan was styled within an inch of his life and all on the promise of stardom, just as long as he worked hard and listened to his mentors. As for Ronan’s parents they were constantly reassured that Simon was personally looking after Ronan and “it’s all good”.
And so to BGT 2011. With Ronan ready to be unveiled, SYCO bosses, under instructions from Simon did something not done in previous series of BGT; the winner of BGT 2011 was decided long before the first auditions took place and that winner HAD to be Ronan Parke. With Ronan now 12, he looked and sounded just as SYCO had planned, but time was running out. Soon Ronan would be going into puberty and his voice would eventually break, so BGT 2011 had to be the vehicle to launch Ronan’s career; another year and as a singer he would probably be beyond any meaningful career and the opportunity will have been missed. With all this investment in Ronan, the production managers at SYCO TV are ready to deliver Ronan as ordered. Again, I need to stress, Ronan and his parents know nothing of this and have no idea Ronan will win BGT this weekend.
So far in the history of BGT and X-Factor, for that matter, no one has ever won who has not been an “invited or preferred” contestant, and it does sadden me that, all those thousands of people, lining up outside, often in the rain and cold, are basically wasting their time. The producers of BGT are not looking for the talented people, they aready have those. The reality is that the producers are hunting out oddities, freaks and, I’m ashamed to say, mentally ill people, to act as amusing fillers in the audition shows. They are nothing more than unpaid extras and they don’t even qualify for traveling expenses! It’s quite disgusting and shameful really, how the production team on BGT operate. People come from all over the country, often at great personal expense, because they think BGT is a talent competition and they stand a chance of realising their dreams. I can tell you from the inside that BGT is no more a “competition”, than I am an astronaut. Nothing is left to chance on BGT, everything is micro-managed, choreographed, manipulated and planned down to the last detail including, the telephone voting.
The ability to manipulate viewers opinion is vital if you are to control telephone voting and indeed get the required result. SYCO see this as essential to the success of the show and are very open about fact; planning and delivering live shows of quality is impossible if it was purely left to the public vote. As Simon said in a meeting once. “The public NEED to be told who to vote for.” Everything on BGT is geared towards telling you who you should for, particularly on the production side. It’s an art really, which Simon has honed to perfection and SYCO are now world leaders at.
The micro-management of Ronan’s audition performance was incredible. I was really quite shocked at his new image. From a starting point of wanting Ronan to look cute for the pre-teen market, SYCO had totally gayed him up in the process. Ronan’s not a 16 year old expressing his sexualty for the first time, he’s a 12 year old boy. It was horrible and I was very uncomfortable as to where this was going to end. Ronan, still suffering from nerves, performed his song and received a standing ovation from all three judges…why? Because it was in the script to give Ronan a standing ovation. As for Louis comment. “Ronan Parke. Remember that name. This kid’s gonna be a star!!” – that was actually fed to him from the production gallery and I know the guy who wrote the line. And when it comes to Ronan’s tears…well, check it out on YouTube or something. You see Ronan crying and wiping away tears. Only you don’t see any actual tears, not even on close-up and on an HD tv. Yep you guessed it, even that was choreographed, right down to the lip-biting!
It was also interesting to see that even before the final credits rolled on Ronan’s audition show, SYCO TV had uploaded the offical video of Ronan onto YouTube. Today, that particular video has been viewed over 2.5 million times and growing. SYCO don’t do that for other contestants, so why Ronan? The gaying-up Ronan plan slightly backfired on SYCO when lots of negative comments were being posted on YouTube and Twitter about Ronan’s image and the supposed sexuality that represents. Things got so bad on YouTube that the posting of comments had to be suspended. But SYCO learned from this and dressed Ronan more appropriately for his semi-final show; preferring a much more Bieber inspired look to the ‘gay- kid’ image presented in the audition.
In another unusal move for BGT contestants, SYCO created Ronan’s Official Facebook Fan Page and Twitter account. Both these services are managed from within SYCO and they post messages and pictures, not Ronan. This is because they don’t want Ronan posting anything controversial and is standard practice for currrent artists signed to SYCO.
And so this weekend will see Ronan crowned as winner of BGT 2011. Oh and let’s not forget the £100k prize money. It’s unlikely Ronan will see much or any of that. He’s been signed to SYCO for two years now and under the terms of his contract, while SYCO stump-up for costs in advance, this is paid back from future earnings. So he will need to pay for all those lessons, coaches, cars, clothes, styling and management… I wouldn’t be surprised even after winning BGT, if he is not still in debt to SYCO.
As a recording artist Ronan has a relatively short shelf-life. Simon knows he is going to have to hit the ground running to maximise Ronan’s earning potential, particularly if they go ahead with a planned break into the States and the pace is going to be frantic for Ronan. If you think the music industry is bad in the UK, you haven’t seen anything until you experience it Stateside. With an “anything goes” attitude all morals have long since gone out of the window. There will be no allowance for Ronan’s age and he will be expected to perform on late- night shows and dinners etc. And if he get exhausted, there’s always some sleaze-bag on hand ready to put a line of coke under his nose. I’ve seen it a million times.
I know for a fact, that the songs have already been chosen for Ronan’s debut single and album, and that the backing and drum tracks have already been laid down.
Of course, once Ronan’s voice breaks, it’s game-over and he will be commercially redundant for a few years. By the time he gets through that, the world will have moved on and his fan-base will have grown-up a bit. Will he make a comeback? In my experience I’d say probably not.
I’ve met Ronan a few times over the past couple of years. He’s a really nice kid with a generous, warm personality and the most wonderfully cute, girlie-giggle. There’s nothing to not like about Ronan. He’s a really sensitive soul and this comes across as him being a bit effeminate. But in a world of thuggish chavs, Ronan’s a real breath of fresh air really and a real delight to chat to. Do I think Ronan’s gay? No, is the short answer to that. SYCO have got a lot to answer for in their initial styling and image for Ronan. Like many 12 year old boys, Ronan may have issues in coming to terms with his sexuality in a couple of years. But right now, he’s just a great kid…a bit different, I admit…but a great kid just the same.
I hope Ronan is not damaged by this experience, unforunately, history warns otherwise…but whatever, the genie is already out of the bottle and come this weekend, Ronan’s life will change forever. Whether it’s a good or bad experience being a 12 year old star in today’s music industry, only time will tell. But as an industry insider I have serious reservations about what is about to happen to Ronan Parke and I doubt he or his family are ready for what’s coming.
Filed under: humour, politics, Rants | Tags: returning officer fail, scottish elections
The returning officer has little to do other than count a few bits of paper and tell folk the outcome. However I feel a good returning officer has a duty to do so with good presentational skills.
Here are a few examples from last night of good protocol.
The first is near perfection height management, as you’d expect, from Edinburgh. The RO herself has modestly taken her place out of centre shot.
In this one the Glaswegians show a thorough understanding of the exposition of the craft.
This would have been excellent had the RO not spoiled it all by putting his titchy wee self in the middle. And the guy on the right was too busy preening to make a really great exposition.
Although creating beautiful “form” this RO from Falkirk mucks it up by taking centre stage.
Here is a good example of returning officer FAIL. Although the numbers are good and the overall effect is reasonable the guy in the white shirt four from the right and the white haired bloke both totally ruin the RO’s efforts.
The wifey in the ginger wig is also a major aberration. Not only is she out of height synch. She’s too far forward and she’s clapping like a performing monkey.
If you were Scottish I hope you were voting for a historic moment.
Sadly half of you couldn’t be arsed getting yourself down to your nearby polling station.
Those of us that could be bothered contributed to the sending of one of the most vocal messages in the history of this fantastic nation’s politics.
To see the Liberal vote collapse was not all that surprising given Nick Clegg’s appalling act of virtual treason by bedding with the Antichrists.
But for the Labour vote to fail to materialise so spectacularly in the face of this ripe political climate (for them) is far more remarkable.
Part of the reason for that was Iain Gray’s utterly hapless presidential performance in the face of a tour de force by Alex Salmond.
This is a MONUMENTAL result.
It is absolutely jaw dropping because the whole voting structure in Scotland, designed by Labour, was intended to keep the SNP out of power.
Not only has it failed to do that but it has returned what political experts deemed impossible. An overall majority in a PR chamber.
I doubt we will ever see a day as dramatic in politics again in my lifetime.
I doubt Iain Gray will see the week out as Labour leader in Scotland.
I doubt many people will see anything like as effete a collaboration in Liberal Democratic clothes as Nick Clegg and Tavish Scott in their lifetimes. (Total amateurism. Tavish Scott made Iain Gray look almost workmanlike at times.)
I doubt we will vote for Scottish independence.
Filed under: football, jokes, politics, Rants, Scotland, sports | Tags: Scottish Football Association, SFA
“Lennon is currently serving a four game suspension imposed earlier in the season and will sit out the second of those games against Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Wednesday night. It was widely believed that the fresh punishment would take effect when the current ban was completed but Celtic’s statement confirms that they do not believe that to be the case.
Taking into account the SFA’s rules and the date the most recent ban was imposed, Celtic are claiming that both suspensions will be served simultaneously from this point on, meaning their manager will be in the stands for four more matches including the Inverness game and not a further six as would be the case if suspensions were served consecutively.”
I am not jumping on the anti-Lennon bandwagon, I simply can’t be bothered and I do have sympathy for the way he is treated in his private life. No, this is all about the SFA and their continuous bottling it. If Lennon has erred his sentences should not be commuted, like the last one was or run simultaneously. No wonder Celtic are not appealing. If they did even a commuted sentence would begin after the current one.
It’s a farce.
Filed under: advertising, family, humour, jokes, life, photography, Rants, Scotland | Tags: bass ale, Belfast, farquar gaylord, mark gorman, the troubles, think hard
I have been striking this ridiculous pose for at least 20 years as this photo testifies.
Shot outside The Europa Hotel (the most bombed hotel in Europe) in about 1988.
The equally unattractive human being in the photo beside me is Damian McElholm. A keen country pursuits hobbyist.
He’s famous for replying to Gerry Farrell when he was asked what the shooting was like around here (Belfast, at the back end of “The Troubles”) replied “accurate.”
Filed under: advertising, business, Rants | Tags: bullshit, jargon, marketing bullshit, video
It is the scourge of most industries and is anathema to great communication.
Take this for example…
Filed under: advertising, business, humour, jokes, Rants, work | Tags: new media, phd, reaching young people, talking to young people, Web 2, Web 2.0, yoof, youth marketing, youth targetting
Thanks more especially to The Ad Contriarian and will Atkinson for bringing this piece of utter codswollop to my attention.
Listen to what these horrible little brats are saying.
“Don’t worry, you’ll offset the costs by selling the leads onto those data aggregator type companies.” Whaaaatttttt? Just like my 16 year olds talk.
Honestly it’s the funniest script I have EVER heard in my life, but it’s meant to be serious.
Oh man, I feel so, like, out of touch now.
Must get down to see those connected dudes at PHD.
Do you think they are connected with Ogilvy in any way?
Filed under: business, creativity, life, Rants, work | Tags: apple, apple buchanan street, apple glasgow, apple tv, complaints, good old apple, retail complaints, returns policy
So, here’s the story.
I bought, with excitement, the new Apple TV in October last year.
In fact, I pre-ordered it online. But a week after release it was still on order. No sign of delivery any time soon.
No worries, I was in Glasgow and popped into the Apple store one day,
“Got an Apple TV?” I asked wistfully.
“Actually, yes, 10 arrived about an hour ago, you’re in luck.”
Cautiously I advised that I had an online order, unfulfilled,
“Don’t worry sir you can cancel it.” (I think, in retrospect they could and should have done that on my behalf instore.)
I went home to cancel , only to find it had been despatched, when it arrived I had to take it back to the Apple store, unopened, for a refund.
It was refunded. Without a great deal of grief, although unbeknown to me they took back the shop sale, meaning the receipt I had was for the online product.
So, moving on. I now have a shiny new Apple TV.
But, every time I tried to demonstrate the wonder of this amazing invention to my pals it took, like, at least an hour to load my computer library.
I never actually used it, not once, because it’s, frankly, crap if you have a big music or photo library on your mac.
I have both.
Two days ago I gave up, phoned the Apple store and asked if I could take it back for a refund.
“yes” the manager said, I could. For cash.
So I did.
Thereafter ensued a bit of a trauma. It took over half an hour for me to establish that the return had been approved by the manager, for cash.
At first the sales assistant disbelievingly went to check with the manager and came back to say I could get a gift voucher to the value of the product.
“No, sorry.” I said.
Cash, my cash, had been spent on the product, and as, in my view, Apple TV is not fit for purpose I demanded it back.
He crumbled and relented (for me that suggests that the manager had gone for an initial fob off on the gift vouchers).
Thereafter, many, many attempts (and many, many staff) were involved in disentangling the fact that my receipt was for a purchase from the Apple Store online at the same price as the Apple Store on terra firma.
In the end the deed was done.
I was, ultimately satisfied.
So, what does this say about Apple?
Actually, in my view, a lot of positive things.
Despite the shambolic process they honoured an agreement to replace a four month old technology purchase without any real gripes. They accepted that the customer’s view of the efficacy of the product may be wildly wrong, but he is actually the customer.
They, reluctantly, and with great difficulty, crossed distribution channels, albeit the same price, product and firm. But they did.
Overall, I feel good about the Apple attitude, but the experience was pretty rank.
Filed under: football, Hibees, Rants | Tags: colin calderwood, Edinburgh, edinburgh finest, gibberish, Hibees, Hibernian, hibernian form, mark gorman, mark gorman gibberish, rod petrie, Scottish Football, SPL, the cabbage
After defeat to Motherwell yesterday this very odd man said…
“There are aspects of the game I enjoyed. Problems are there to be solved so that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”
On Tuesday night after Hibs went out to a team two leagues below the odd bod Calderwood commented…
“We had so many good opportunities, the goalkeeper’s had a number of good saves, we’ve had efforts cleared from the line and I think they defended their goal excellently.
He has so far won 2 out of 15 games.
Being, at best, an armchair fan I have not seen him in action but I am told he stands impassively, hands in pockets, barely involving himself in games and certainly not leaping about like the madman Yogi Hughes had become.
It all just seems like he’s going through the motions.
Remarkably he claims to be “really enjoying it” at Easter Road.
Inevitably, the fans’ ire tends to turn to the manager or the Chairman in these sorts of situation. And Rod Petrie’s extended honeymoon is certainly looking to be over at this moment in time.
The sale of Stokes and Bamba appears to be hitting home now and our lack of action in the transfer market is becoming notable. I’m a great admirer of what Petrie has acheived at Easter Road but it feels like he has made an extraordinarily bad appointment in Colin Calderwood and his earlier reputation for canniness is in danger of becoming one for penny pinching (for which I am told he has a strong internal reputation.)
Lastly, of course, there’s the team itself; some say it is a shadow of its former self, one of the worst to have played for Hibs in many years (if not ever), but I saw Zemamma, Miller, Riordan, Wotherspoon, Murray, Stack and McBride (all in the squad yesterday) play Dundee Utd on 3rd October 2009 and destroy them before drawing 1 -1.
At that point the table looked like this…
A month later it looked even better…
And even by mid January Hibs (with this team) were in touch with the top, so my contention is not that it is the players themselves that are poor but the way in which they are applying themselves.
It feels to me that there is a cancer somewhere in Easter Road that is permeating the team and turning good players into bad. Yogi lost them, and Calderwood has never had them bar one freak night against Rangers.
It needs sorted, and quick.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, jokes, life, politics, Rants, stories | Tags: bill grundy, bill grundy and the sex pistols, phil adams, phil adams sawdust blog, sawdust, swear, swearing, swearword censorship, swearwords, the express, the guardian
I am indebted to my friend Phil Adams for making me think about this subject, of which my regular readers will know I am very fond. This morning he wrote a brilliant and highly amusing post on his excellent blog, Sawdust. It’s about an issue that makes my blood boil. The lame-assed censorship of swearing, in the media.
Take this example from last month’s Times (One of the worst offenders as it happens)…
“Student rioters were incensed as they charged on Whitehall. Said one, ‘the f***ing coalition are a bunch of c***s.’ ”
OK, I actually made that up but it’s a typical sentence you might read any day in any quality newspaper; except the Guardian who would have literally reported the quote.
Do they think we are complete idiots, that we can’t work out what letters the asterisks replace.
In his post Adams beautifully argues that this is in fact a form of reverse psychology, it’s a stopper, because it actually brings MORE attention to the swearword. You re-read it, maybe even saying “fucking” out loud and if you’re a reader of the Daily Mail or Express you might even write in outrage to the editor.
Why not paraphrase the quote or leave it out altogether if swearing is such a challenge to your sensitivities?
And while I’m on it why does the Sun think it’s OK to show a picture of a topless girl next to a paragraph (headline even) that reads “It’s all a load of b*ll*cks.”? Which is most offensive to the greater number of people? I mean, Jesus Christ, Rodney and Dell Boy said bollocks repeatedly on prime time TV for years, so I’m pretty sure it’s not even a swear word. OK it’s a step up from my Grandmother’s old favourite: Ruddy. But I have seen Bollocks b*ll*cked up many times in the red tops.
This is one of my all time favourite poems which elucidates my point to perfection.
This was the moment that changed the history of swearing on TV. I mean it’s hilarious. The juxtaposition of posh old Bill Grundy and the trying oh so hard Sex Pistols…
It’s all captured beautifully in this book I received for Christmas. I read it whenever I sit on the sh*tter.
Let’s return to the Guardian; where others write *rse (I kid you not) or trail Tarantino’s movie as Inglorious B******’s the Guardian will happily go for the full Bhuna. No one is afraid of the swearie police at the Guardian and that’s one of the reasons I love it so. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it. Just like you are, or aren’t, reading this post this far.
So, that’s that off my chest. I can go and make the f****g breakfast now.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, life, Rants, Scotland, stories, theatre | Tags: A view from the Bridge, Arthur Milller, john dove, royal lyceum theatre Co
“They need answers, and in a way they don’t need telling problems so much. In our modern media there’s a tremendous saturation of what’s wrong, and what I try to do is to draw out what’s right.”
I’m sick of the current media blame culture, I really am.
Take the sacking of Stewart Stevenson because it snowed and he made light of it. Someone had to ge because it snowed. Take the MD of NI Water who didn’t repair the pipes quick enough because for 20 years the money for pipe-fixing was diverted into counter terrorism in the Province.
I could go on and on about the culture that stifles us today where heads must roll for evils done to us. How about we just moan clearly and concisely and then the problem gets fixed and we all move on.
Now, BP, that’s a different story. The MD of BP was in denial of the situation and couldn’t, seemingly, be arsed with fixing it. His head should have, and did, roll.
But, generally speaking, it’s all a bit wearing is it not?
Filed under: family, life, politics, Rants, stories | Tags: 2010, 2011, 60 watt, Arcade fire, Band of joy, Belle and Sebastian, best books 2010, best music 2010, best of 2010, best theatre 2010, canon 450D, Cee Lo Green, Courage of others, david peace, Edinburgh, electronic music, fct, german music, Hibees, Hibs, I am Kloot, iPad, John Grant, john hughes, krautrock, lyceum, lyceum theatre, madmen, Midlake, Nick Clegg, nmp, pailgap, queen of denmark, red riding, red riding quadrilogy, Robert Plant, Rumer, Scotland, St Columba's hospice, stv, the apprentice, the red riding books, The suburbs, tories, tory idiots, usability lab
Not a bad vintage actually.
Work wise I was run off my feet once again and almost literally in December which proved to be extraordinarily challenging due to the shitness of the weather and the fact that I was researching all over the country. It was a real struggle, very stressful indeed.
Some great clients which include STV, Ampersand, Corporation Pop, 60 Watt, nmp and LA Media from last year. But added a few too including Gill’s Cruise Centre, Paligap, and The Usability Lab.
My golf stank pretty much from start to finish and I had a poor Arran and a poor St Andrews. However one highlight was an Eagle 3 on the par 5 second in the club championships first round. I won that but went out in round two. However Forty years of failing to Eagle were finally over. (Tom got about 6 last year alone).
Musically it was a big return to form after very poor shows in both 2008 and 2009.
I’ve already posted my tracks of the year elsewhere which will give you an idea of my top ten albums, but for the record, these are they…
I’m New Here by Gil Scott Heron
Band of Joy by Robert Plant
The Courage of Others by Midlake
Queen of Denmark by John Grant
The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire
Sky at Night by I am Kloot
Elektonische Music Experiment – German Rock and Electronic Music 1972 – 1983
Write About Love by Belle and Sebastian
The Lady Killer by Cee Lo Green
Seasons of my Soul by Rumer
My blog had a record year, just, with 340,000 hits, up 45,000 on last year and beating 2008 by only 1,000. As a result I hit the million mark last week and raised over £1,000 for St Columba’s Hospice in the process. Thanks to all who contributed.
I did two music quizzes (one in Edinburgh and one in Manchester) for NABS and these raised £3,500
The Hibees were a farce from year start to end and our Scottish cup hopes look less plausible than for a very long time. Looks like we’ll be going at least 110 years before winning it again.
Theatre again played a big part in my year.
My role as a director of The Lyceum developed and I thought Mark Thomson had a vintage year. Every show was a hit in some form or other and the highlights for me were The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Confessions of a Justified Sinner, The Price and The Importance of Being Earnest.
FCT had another good year, my first at the helm and I’d like to thank the fab committee for their support. Two great shows in Just So and Guys and Dolls and another ENDA award. Annie’s next but no decision yet on the festival. Our away day in October was deemed a great success.
Amy started at Uni and is working hard as she has done all year at Dakota. She bought a virtually new car herself ( a Toyota Yaris) and I was really proud of her for being so focussed to be able to do this. Ria is working hard at school and did really well in her standard grades. Tom isn’t and didn’t.
Tom’s golf continued to improve and his handicap went from 11 to 7.
Sadly Jeana’s blossoming work at Suntrap came to an end when the funding was pulled. She was devastated and I suspect still is.
We holidayed in California and it was a tram smash of a holiday from start to finish, summed up by this video…
In books I didn’t read much. I am enjoying Freedom by Jonathon Franzen but the best of the year was the Red Riding Quadrilogy by David Peace.
And my movie of the year? Well, I saw over 20 movies at the flicks this year and a lot of real quality. But I plump for The Social Network. A Prophet was great as was Monsters and The Road, but David Fincher surpassed himself with an amazing script by Aoron Sorkin.
TV show of the year? No Question. Mad Men (we’re playing catch up and only nearing end of season two but it’s fabulous).
In reality TV The Apprentice continues to kick ass.
Digital gizmo of the year? My iPad… but also my Canon 450 D. An up and down year on the camera front but happy with my lot and looking for a Canon 5D Mk 1 and a new 28mm prime lens to move on a level in 2011.
Idiot of the Year? Won hands down by Nick Clegg. Only cos he sold his soul to the devil. But he was run close by those fools that lead our government. You know who they are. Tony Blair continued to make a right fucking dick of himself and the legacy of Kenny Macaskill is not away yet with Magrahi in the rudest of health.
Sadly I lost a number of friends during the year; Myles, Kathy and Jim, I’ll miss you all. God bless and love to all of your families.
Wife of the year? Jeana Gorman. 21st year running. How can she bear it?
Put it this way. I couldn’t live with me. Still.
And so to 2011.
Hibees win the Scottish Cup. (That’s just stupid. Ed.)
Tom gets down to a 4 handicap.
I win something, anything, at Golf.
The kids do well at school and uni.
I am healthy throughout. (And lose rather a lot of weight.)
Both Cath and Jean stay healthy too
The credit crunch doesn’t get worse again.
Filed under: advertising, family, life, Rants, Scotland, stories, work | Tags: carphone warehouse, charles dunstone, fone expert dunfermline, htc desire, mobile phone companies, the gyle
First of all, because Alex Sneddon read my recent post about the HTC phone failure and Carphone Warehouse’s response, he gave me the correct contact details for Charles Dunstone. I emailed him last night and I received this email in reply this morning…
Dear Mr Gorman
Many thanks for your email, I am extremely sorry to hear of the problems your son is experiencing and concerned that you have had to contact to me in search of resolution.
I have got someone investigating what has gone wrong and we will be back to you shortly.
In the meantime, please accept my sincere apologies
Literally five minutes after reading it the manager of the Gyle phoned me full of apologies for the treatment Tom had received at the Princes Street store! He offered an immediate exchange explaining that this “NEVER happens.” and that I had clearly escalated my complaint in an appropriate manner.
So, well done CFW for eventually doing the right thing.
Well done also for the brilliant Phone Expert in Dunfermline who allowed us to cancel our £75 (not £175 as we had been quoted by CFW) spare part order.
I wonder why they changed their minds? The power of blogging or just realising that they had made an unfair decision?