Saturday, February 06, 2021

"They Do Not Love That Do Not Show Their Love"

It's not often, dear blog reader, that this blogger is happy to recommend an article on Doctor Who from Radio Times, given the recent history of woefully speculative, often barely literate and inanely lowest-common-denominator crap which manifests itself as the once-respected magazine's coverage of the BBC's popular, long-running family SF drama. However, this blogger is a big enough man to admit when they do something vaguely worthwhile. And, this week, Huw Fullerton's piece Why Is Everyone Always So Bad At Predicting The Next Doctor? is worthy of considerable praise. Even if it does merely repeat many of the points raised by this very blogger on this very blog in a memorably terse - if verbose - rant shortly after Jodie Whittaker's casting in 2017.
'It's a familiar period of news and speculation that has reoccurred regularly over the years every time an actor is rumoured to be leaving the role. Frankly, it always frustrates me,' writes Huw with considerable irk on his broad shoulder. 'Every single time we start talking about who the next Doctor should be, people invariably start suggesting names so absurd and unlikely that you have to wonder if they've recently returned from a parallel universe, where appearing in a popular British sci-fi [sic] series is the pinnacle of creative and financial achievement.' Yeah. It's 'SF' mate, not 'sci-fi', only glakes and Americans call the genre that. You'd better start working out which category you fall into. Anyway, carry on. 'Tilda Swinton? Richard Ayoade? Idris Elba? If people seriously think these sort of names are realistic, they haven't been paying attention to the way the show is made, or its demands. It's like watching the judges on The Masked Singer confidently predicting that Brad Pitt has decided to dress up as a talking clock and sing ballads on ITV primetime - while technically possible, not a suggestion that anyone could really take seriously.' Testify brother Fullerton. Although, as noted, this blogger did make these exact points three years ago when he wrote: 'It's always the same kind of names that get thrown into the ring - Hollywood A-listers whom the BBC couldn't afford in the million years; in-demand TV-regulars who would never be interested in a job that has a ten-and-a-half month a year filming schedule leaving them no time to do anything else, mixed in with various c-, d- or z-listers, instructed by their agents to push themselves forward as a 'potential' next Doctor to a tabloid stringer and get themselves some free publicity. The bookmakers then get involved with their endless lists of runners and riders; almost all of whom you know will not be the name chosen because since when did you see a bookmaker telling you they think you should bet on someone who is actually going to win? And the whole thing becomes a - not entirely unamusing - circus for a few weeks and/or months until the actual actor chosen is publicly named.' So, back to Huw: 'For example, the current bookies’ favourite? I May Destroy You's Michaela Coel, who made waves last year with her self-penned comedy-drama dealing with sexual assault. Coel is a great actor and would undoubtedly make a great Doctor - but there's no way she'd walk away from a creative and artistically vibrant boom in her own career (having endured a close-fought battle to control the rights to her stories) to lock herself into ten months-a-year filming other people's scripts.' Quite right. So, once again, to quote this blogger: 'Here's a thought for you; on the last three occasions that a new Doctor has been chosen, in all cases the incoming Doctor - Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker - have been mentioned virtually nowhere by any newspaper, broadcaster, website, media speculator or bookmaker until about three or four days before the announcement was due, at which point they suddenly become overnight favourite(s). Presumably, this was because at that point, one or two of the handful of people who actually knew the [chosen] name had mentioned it, casually, to a friend or two over a pint, who had, in turn, mentioned it to a friend or two of theirs over a pint, several of whom had, immediately, rushed off to Ladbrokes to have a sly tenner on the outcome. So, next time there's going to be a change of Doctor, here's a tip for everyone; don't bother to speculate and ignore all of the people who are speculating to fill column inches. Rather, just wait until about three days before the announcement is due and then check out who is betting on whom. That will save us all a lot of bullshit, pointless hand-wringing and some unfortunate people - like Kris Marshall, for instance - getting depressingly spiteful malarkey said about them for the properly dreadful crime of "being the next Doctor" when they were never going to be.' Bright lad, that Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader. Talks sense. On occasions. 
In the meantime, dear blog reader, this blogger advises you to place your house and all of its contents on the Daily Scum Express's 'exclusive' prediction this week that - should Jodie Whittaker indeed be leaving the production at the end of the forthcoming series (something which is still unconfirmed by the BBC), her replacement will be ... Kris Marshall. Yes, dear blog reader, exactly the same rumour that the Daily Mirra pushed with allegations of inside information during the lead-up to Jodie's casting in 2017. And, look how accurate that turned out to be. Time will tell, as a very wise Gallifreyan once said. 
From The North favourite Mads Mikkelsen has, reportedly, revealed that 'talks' about reviving From The North favourite Hannibal for a - revived - fourth series have been 'revitalised' following the show's recent success on Netflix. Based on the novels by Thomas Harris the hit drama, which starred Mads alongside From The North favourite Hugh Dancy, From The North favourite Gillian Anderson, From The North favourite Eddie Izzard, From The North favourite Caroline Dhavernas and From The North favourite Larry Fishburne, was very cancelled in 2015 after three - superb, bowel-shatteringly scary, if occasionally Mad As Toast - series. It was added to Netflix last summer and has seen a huge resurgence in popularity over the last few months. Speaking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Mads revealed that, thanks to the renewed interest, the show's 'bosses' (for which, read, 'executives' ... only with less syllables) have been 'having serious talks' about the possibility of making another series. '[Since the series] has found a new home on Netflix, the talks have been revitalised,' he said. 'I don't think you'd find a member of the cast that is still alive that would say, "No, thanks." We all enjoyed it tremendously.' 
From The North favourite Line Of Duty has announced a major change to the series ahead of its return on BBC next month - there will be an extra episode in the forthcoming sixth series.
Russell Davies's latest drama It's A Sin has been getting some great reviews and has also broken an audience record for Channel Four. The five-part drama, which was written by the former Doctor Who showrunner and follows a group of gay friends living in London amid the 1980s AIDs epidemic, was released on the channel's streaming service at the end of last month to rave reviews. Albeit, as this blogger has previously confessed, he personally has found the series rather more difficult to get into than most of Russell's previous ventures and he's not sure why because Keith Telly Topping really wanted to like it. On Monday, Channel Four revealed the series has already had six-and-a-half million views on All Four - making it the biggest ever instant box-set on the streaming site. The phenomenal numbers also make It's A Sin the streaming service's third biggest series to date and the 'most binged' new series ever.
Fans of the acclaimed TV drama I May Destroy You on both sides of the Atlantic have expressed 'rage' over the show's snub in the Golden Globe award nominations. Written by, starring and co-directed by Michaela Coel, the BBC drama was one of the most highly regarded series of last year, including on this blog where it featured prominently in From The North's Best TV Shows Of 2020 list. Deborah Copaken, a writer for Netflix's Emily In Paris, said that her excitement at her own show's two nominations was 'tempered by my rage over Coel's snub.' Coel got some consolation in the Screen Actors Guild nominations on Thursday. She was nominated for best female actor in a TV movie or limited series in the guild's awards, where she will go up against Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy and Kerry Washington. 'I May Destroy You was my whole jam,' said Hamilton star Daveed Diggs after reading out Coel's SAG nomination. Presumably Diggs was using the word 'jam' to mean something considerably different from its use in 1978 The Rolling Stones song 'Some Girls'? Cos, if he didn't, that would be weirdI May Destroy You charted the fallout from a sexual assault after protagonist Arabella's drink is spiked. Writing after the Golden Globe shortlists were announced on Wednesday, Copaken praised the series as 'sheer genius.' She wrote in the Gruniad Morning Star: '"That show," I told everyone who would listen, "deserves to win all the awards." When it didn't, I was stunned. I May Destroy You was not only my favourite show of 2020. It's my favourite show ever. It takes the complicated issue of a rape - I'm a sexual assault survivor myself - and infuses it with heart, humour, pathos and a story constructed so well, I had to watch it twice, just to understand how Coel did it.' Others showing their support included actress and director Alice Lowe, who said I May Destroy You 'dwarfed' the other programmes on the Golden Globes shortlist.
The latest episode of From The North's 2020 'Curiosity Of The Year', Prodigal Son - Take Your Father To Work Day - was the best of the current (second) series thus far, Michael Sheen doing his usual 'so-far-over-the-top-he's-down-the-other-side' shtick with effortless charm and considerable good humour.
Once again, however, as with many episodes of this most curious of series, it's - many - plus points were almost (almost, but not quite) fatally ruined by That Awful Young Woman whose lack of anything even remotely approaching 'acting ability' is really starting to grate this blogger's cheese on a weekly basis. Jesus, dear blog reader, she really is so flaming annoying. And Prodigal Son, a series with a Hell of a lot going for it elsewhere, really suffers from her presence in it.
The opening episode of Dave's much-trailed Mel Giedroyc: Unforgiveable was broadcast this week. And it was, as this blogger had confidently expected in advance, thoroughly shite. As previously discussed on both the 2020 and 2019 From The North 'Worst Of' lists - in relation to Comedians Giving Lectures, Taskmaster, Hypothetical et al - and, indeed, at the tail-end of last year - in relation to Big Zuu's Big Eats - Dave's 'original' comedy output is, mostly, a frigging twenty four carat disaster area. Loaded with the usual pack of unfunny, 'very popular with students', waste-of-space, loud, obnoxious, full-of-their-own-importance planks masquerading as comedians. Plus, in this case, Graham Norton who just looked embarrassed to be there. Ben Wicks, the Executive Producer at Expectation Productions (so, it's his fault if anyone was wondering), suggested that Giedroyc - whom this blogger does have quite a bit of time for, even though her post-Bake Off CV has been one flop format after another - will be performing 'a vital public service: deciding which of Britain's funniest and most entertaining people are the biggest wrong uns.' And, if you replace the words 'Britain's funniest and most entertaining people' with 'arseholes the likes of Desiree Burch, Phil Wang and Lou Sanders' and the words 'vital public service' with 'something which no one in the public actually asked for but which we're being given anyway,' that's a slightly more accurate description of what Unforgiveable is all about. 'Everyone involved should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves' is a phrase, possibly the most damning imaginable for any movie or TV show, which was used by the critic and From The North favourite Mark Kermode to describe the 2005 film Hide & Seek, in which Robert de Niro delivered one of his most significant 'just give me the cheque' performances. It's also a useful phrase to describe the majority of original comedy which appears on the Dave channel (all the shows which don't involve Dave Gorman or Jon Richardson, basically). And, the overwhelming majority of the people who feature therein. Like Comedians Giving Lectures, Unforgiveable is unbearably smug and obnoxious. Like Taskmaster, it is, at times, buttock-clenchingly embarrassing (and not in an even remotely good way). Like Big Zuu's Big Eats is it loud, shouty and often almost unwatchable in its nauseating self-importance. In short, dear blog reader, it is perfectly possible that From The North's 2021 'Worst Of' TV list has already produced its front-runner and we're barely a month into the year. And, this blogger says all of the above not as a professional comedian himself - Keith Telly Topping wouldn't know one end of a joke from the other if it presented itself to him on a bed of fried rice looking all delicious and sexy. But, rather, he says it as a licence fee payer and Sky package subscriber (which, obviously, includes subscribing to the various UK TV channels of which Dave is one). You know, one of those 'little people' that pays your sodding - one presumes, grossly inflated - wages, Mel. Just saying. Ultimately, the most unforgiveable thing about Mel Giedroyc Unforgiveable is that some unforgiveable plank at Dave thought commissioning this unforgiveable disaster was a good idea. Now, that's unforgiveable.
China's state-owned broadcaster has had its licence to broadcast in the UK revoked by media watchdog Ofcom. Who are, of course, a politically appointed quango, elected by no one but who, like a broken clock, can at least be right twice a day. Ofcom said that the company that owns the UK licence for China Global Television Network doesn't have day-to-day control over the channel, which is against its rules. Star China Media Limited, which owns the licence, 'did not have editorial responsibility' over the English-language satellite news channel, Ofcom said. 'As such, SCML does not meet the legal requirement of having control over the licensed service and so is not a lawful broadcast licensee.' In the UK, broadcasting laws say licensees must have control over their service and its editorial policies. Ofcom said an entity called China Global Television Network Corporation is 'the ultimate decision maker' over programmes. But the regulator said it was 'unable to transfer the licence' to that company because it is 'ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, which is not permitted under UK broadcasting law.' Such a transfer was also not possible because 'crucial information was missing from the application,' while CGTN had 'repeatedly failed to respond to important questions' and had not carried out a restructure, according to Ofcom. The regulator said it had given the satellite news channel 'significant time to come into compliance with the statutory rules.' It added: 'Those efforts have now been exhausted.' The action to revoke the licence comes seven months after Ofcom found CGTN in breach of broadcasting regulations for airing a UK citizen's allegedly forced confession. In July, Ofcom ruled that CGTN had been 'unjust' to show footage of investigator Peter Humphrey 'appearing to confess to a criminal offence.' The channel was named CCTV News at the time of the broadcasts in 2013 and 2014. And last May, CGTN was found to have breached the UK's broadcasting code by failing to preserve due impartiality in its coverage of the Hong Kong protests. Barely half-an-hour after the Ofcom announcement, China's foreign ministry repeated its demand for a public apology from the BBC over its coverage of the pandemic in China. Some well-informed voices suggest that the timing may well have been genuinely coincidental - rather than a retaliatory gesture. This blogger is probably going out on a bit of a limb here but, he would suggest that if the BBC's response to this 'demand' s anything other than 'why don't you go fek yourself you human-rights abusing Communist scum,' they will have gone down a bit in this blogger's estimation. A statement which almost certainly means that From The North's half-a-dozen semi-regular readers in China won't be seeing this particular blog any time soon. Democracy, dear blog readers, it's a double-edged sword at the best of times, innit?
Taylor Swift (she's a popular beat combo of the Twenty First Century, m'lud) is reportedly being sued by a US theme park called Evermore, which claims that the singer's latest CD has 'infringed its trademark' by using the same name. The theme park's owners said Swift's Evermore release had 'caused confusion about' whether the two were linked. The Utah venue claimed there was a 'dramatic departure from typical levels' of traffic on its website in the week after the CD's release. Which one would have thought most businesses might have regarded as a good thing rather than something to enter litigation over. Swift's lawyers responded that 'there is no basis' for the claim. No shit? They wrote in a letter filed in court: 'Moreover, your client has suffered no damages whatsoever and, in fact, has openly stated that Ms Swift's album release creates a "marketing opportunity" for your client's troubled theme park.' This blogger thinks it's the use of the word 'troubled' in that sentence which makes it genius. The letter added that the claim was 'frivolous and irresponsible.' But the theme park owners, who are seeking millions of dollars in damages, have claimed the trademark for the name belongs to them and that Swift violated it when she started selling CD-related merchandise. Rumours that the Evermore theme park are also seeking to take legal action against the author, poet, opium addict and all-round weirdo Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) for his use of the word in The Raven cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. Nameless here for evermore, they reckon.
The return of test cricket to Channel Four for the first time since 2005 was an auspicious one for England's captain Joe Root, as he scored his third successive test century at Chennai against India. Albeit, if the social media read out on Channel Four's curiously dated coverage is anything to go by, many viewers who expressed a preference were less interested in the clicky itself and more in the return of 'Mambo Number Five' as the coverage's theme tune. This blogger's view? It's not exactly 'Soul Limbo' is it? Or John Barry's 'Florida Fantasy' - used by ABC in Australia during the 1970s - for that matter. Though it's still preferable to that thing Sky have been using for the last couple of years since they decide 'Deadlock Holiday' was no longer cutting it.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was shocked - and stunned - to be informed by his publisher, David Howe, that this blogger's recently republished volume A Vault Of Horror: A Book of Eighty Great (& Not So Great) British Horror Movies was number one in both Telos's paperback and eBook sales lists during January. 'Bloody Hell,' this blogger told David. 'I feel like The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s you might've heard of them) topping (ahem) both the singles and LPs charts in the same week.' David was happy to inform this blogger that Vault has 'done amazingly well since we republished it ... lots of love for the book and the films you cover in it as well.' Which was nice. If you wish to order a copy, dear blog reader, then the first question is, obviously, why you haven't bought it already? But, beyond that, we'll let you off just this once. The book can be obtained here. Please buy one, several or lots, this blogger has a lifestyle to support, you know?
It hath been raining on - or jolly near - the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House virtually non-stop for the last six days, dear blog reader. If this goes on much longer, this blogger is considering popping out (in his wellies) to the Stately Telly Topping Manor garden shed and building an Ark.
Amongst the big news of the week, dear blog reader, has been a military coup d'état in Myanmar. Whether or not the Myanmar military sent a message after they had taken control of the country to now extremely former President Mister Rump saying 'Don, mate, y'see that's how you stage an insurrection, you don't leave it up to clowns, numbskulls and people dressed as a Bison (who live with their mom)' is not, known at this juncture. In fact, little is known about what is really going on in the benighted country since they've, reportedly, shut off the Interweb as part of their coup-type activities. Facebook, for example, is currently blocked in the country 'for the sake of stability.' Which will come as jolly bad news to any Myanmarese Doctor Who fans keen to discuss the deficiencies of Chris Chiball's stories. Or, is that just this blogger's Facebook feed? This blogger thinks Chiball is okay by the way. The new military dictatorship of Myanmar, on the other hand, nah, not so much. (One presumes that From The North is also currently subject to blockerisation in the land which will, one imagines, be awkward for From The North's four semi-regular readers in the former Burma.) One of the consequences of the coup, of course, has been the arrest of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. Once seen as a beacon for human rights - a principled activist who gave up her freedom to challenge the ruthless army generals who ruled Myanmar for decades - whilst Kyi's image had suffered internationally due to her response to the crisis that befell Myanmar's mostly Muslim Rohingya minority, she remains popular with the country's Buddhist majority. Of course, Aung San Suu Kyi is no stranger to this type of situation having spent almost two decades under house arrest before her release and subsequent rise to power. But this time, sadly, she won't have the one thing which - she once claimed in 2011 - kept her going during her long period of isolation, listening to the BBC World Service. Mostly because her favourite show was, she suggested, one presented by convicted sex offender Dave Lee Mister Hairy Cornflake his very self. Convicted sex offender Dave Lee Mister Hairy Cornflake does, currently, have a radio show - on United DJs (no, me neither) - though one doubts that is a broadcast platform which is currently available in Myanmar.
One of this blogger's favourite online articles over the last week has been the Independent's Nine Of The Most Farcical Things That Have Already Happened After Just A Month Of Brexit written by Greg Evans. This includes pithy - though, tragically, mostly accurate - assessments of subjects as diverse as the fishing debacle (and William Rees Mogg's dubious claims that 'British fish' now and are, apparently, 'better and happier fish for it.' Before they're caught, killed and eaten with a plate of chips, obviously), Samantha Cameron whinging about her business suffering because of Brexit and Breixt-supporting ex-pats no longer being able to watch British TV shows. 'A strong sense of schadenfreude descended over some Remainers on 1 January, when those who voted for Brexit and have since moved to Europe discovered that they couldn't live their British lives while sunning it up in Spain quite like they had before,' the article notes. It also rips into, for example, odious buffoon Fat Sam Allardyce, which is always fun. 'There are many hidden consequences from Brexit even in the world of sport. If a football team in England now wants to sign a player from a team in the EU they will first have to obtain a work permit. This might not have been something that West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce, a well-documented supporter of Brexit, didn't consider before returning to the game in December only to find signing new players is a lot easier said than done.' Laugh? Laugh? This blogger nearly started. The article also notes: 'Due to the new laws imposed on Brits travelling to Europe, bringing food and drink into any EU country is now strictly prohibited. This includes your packed lunch as demonstrated by this Dutch TV clip which gave birth to the now-iconic line of "Welcome to the Brexit."' And, perhaps saddest of all: 'Even the music industry is feeling the costs. Once the pandemic is over and acts start touring again are going to find things a lot more difficult as the UK rejected an EU proposal to extend the music visa scheme which gives "visa-free short-stays for all EU citizens." These type of schemes are invaluable to emerging musicians and caused an uproar in the industry. A letter, which was organised by the Lib Dems, saw many notable musicians voice their opposition and frustration to the government's move. Those who spoke out included Elton John, Ed Sheeran and Roger Daltrey.' The later of whom - from The Whom, obviously - was once responsible for this memorable gem on the subject of his views on Brexit. This blogger thinks it's the look of pure embarrassment on Pete Townshend's Shepherd's Bush as he thinks 'am I still in a band with this daft plank after all these years?' that makes it art.
Keith Telly Topping also thoroughly enjoyed Emine Saner's in-depth Gruniad Morning Star profile on From The North favourite Toyah Willcox. 'Of all the celebrity offerings that have come out of the pandemic, the gloriously weird videos made by Toyah and her husband, Robert Fripp, are surely the most compelling,' writes Saner. 'It is possible, within each short clip, to cycle through every feeling from wanting to cover your eyes while being unable to look away, to the dawning realisation you may be watching a profound piece of performance art. Mostly, it is impossible not to laugh. There they are in their cosy Worcestershire kitchen, perhaps with the dishwasher open in the background, with Willcox, accessorised with mouse ears, tap-dancing, bouncing off the Aga. Both dressed in black tutus at the end of their garden, the pair dance across the screen to music from Swan Lake. Fripp lies on the floor of the hallway, while Willcox - dressed in red PVC and devil horns - performs The Kinks' 'You Really Got Me' on the stairs. It's joyous.' Later Saner adds: 'One of the funniest and most popular videos (4.3 million views on YouTube), is Willcox performing Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' on an exercise bike, though it's fair to say her breasts are the highlight. "We did the exercise bike in a rehearsal and my top was completely see-through, which was a surprise," [Toyah] says. "I have a mentor who's basically my personal trainer and teaches me guitar and he was born in 1980, he doesn't know who the Hell I am. I said: 'Can I get away with this as a sixty two-year-old?' And he said: 'Do it.' And I trusted that response."; Saner adds that she praises Fripp 'for admirably maintaining eye contact with Willcox, despite her nipples being dangerously within his line of vision and she laughs. "Robert loves his wife. And when I do these things."' Toyah and Robert's latest Sunday Lockdown Lunch upload, incidentally, sees a return of the skin-tight nipple-revealing white poloneck (one can never have too much of that) and a splendidly spiky guitar duel on 'I Love Rock N Roll'. That's a well-nice Strat you're packin' there, Toyah m'love!
Remaining with rock and/or roll music, dear blog reader, this blogger doesn't often do those 'make an Asperger's-style list of various things in your life' affairs which do the rounds so often on social media. But, last Sunday he happened to be a bit bored. So ...
First Rock and/or Roll Concert Attended - Paul McCartney & Wings. Newcastle City Hall. September 1975 on the Venus & Mars tour. It smelled like The Seventies, dear blog reader.
Last Rock and/or Roll Concert Attended - From The Jam, The O2 Academy, late 2019. And, yes, dear blog reader, if you're wondering The Godlike Bruce Foxton has still got it!
Best Rock and/or Roll Concert Attended - The Housemartins at The Riverside, in 1986 in the week that 'Happy Hour' hit the top ten but they were still playing tiny clubs (and playing five-a-side with people, including this blogger, in the car park pre-gig). Honourable mentions go to The Clash at Middlesbrough Town Hall (1978), Oasis at Maine Road (1996), Goodbye Mister McKenzie also at the Riverside (1989) and Costello & The Confederates at the City Hall (on crutches with a broken foot - this blogger, that was, not Elvis) in 1987. And many, many others too numerous to mention - The Specials, Madness and The Go-Go's all on one bill in Sunderland in 1980, for one. 
Worst Dreadfully Bad Haircut Rock and/or Roll Concert Attended - Deep Purple at the Haymarket Odeon (1976) by a country mile. Even at that age this blogger could tell it loud, turgid rubbish. Get yer hair cut, you hippies. Dishonourable mention for Bowie (in one of his bad haircut phases) on The Glass Spider tour at Roker Park which was so disappointing. The only time this blogger actually got to see The Grand Dame live and he was playing most of Never Let Me Down.
Loudest Rock and/or Techno Concert Attended - New Order at the Mayfair 1986 between Low-Life and Brotherhood. Ear-bleedingly loud. And still there was some chap standing behind this blogger bellowing, between every song, 'TURN THE FEKKER UP!' Orbital were also pretty deafening when this blogger saw them in 2000.
Most Surprising Techno and/or Spacerock Concert Attended - The Prodigy at Middlesbrough in 1995. Turned this blogger from a casual listener with a couple of their singles into a lifelong fan. Ditto Hawkwind at The Astoria in London in 2003.
Most Seen In a Rock and/or Roll Concert - Probably james (which will be into double figures). If it's not them, it'll be The Jam.
Next Concert Of Any Description To Be Attended - What's a gig, guv?
Wish I Could Have Seen In a Rock and/or Roll Concert - Having had a chance to see The Human League on the Dare tour and bombing it out because this blogger thought all his mates who only listened to The Clash, Buzzcocks and Joy Division would sneer. This blogger did eventually get to see Phil and the girls (and, some other people) about fifteen years later. But, even though it was good, it wasn't the same as seeing the real line-up.
This week in the wild and wacky world of US politics, dear blog reader, we have discovered that, according to CNN records show some of the seditious insurgents who stormed the US Capitol did not even vote in the very erection that they were protesting over the result of. And that House impeachment managers on Thursday requested now extremely former President Mister Rump testify at his upcoming Senate impeachment trial, in a dramatic move to try to get the former President 'on the record' about his conduct before, during and after the January insurrection. And that the private bankers responsible for lending to now extremely former President Mister Rump and Jared Kushner resigned from Deutsche Bank last year following allegations related to the unauthorised purchase of a Manhattan condominium. Also, the FBI is reported to be working to track down a woman identified as having participated in the insurrection. The New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow claimed that a woman 'in a pink winter hat' caught on video and in numerous pictures is now 'a fugitive from the FBI.' The woman's local TV station said it was 'not reporting the woman’s name since she has not been officially charged.' But, sadly for Rachel Powell, a forty-year-old mother of eight from Western Pennsylvania, The New Yorker itself felt no such reticence. Meanwhile, a federal judge tightened the restrictions on a Harrisburg woman accused of stealing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's laptop during the failed coup after agreeing she is 'too much of a cyber risk' to be allowed free access to the Interweb. As a new condition of allowing her to remain out of prison pending trial, Judge Zia M Faruqui ordered naughty twenty two-year-old Riley June Williams to stay off the Interweb except for conversations with her lawyer. Of which, one imagines, there will be several. The FBI also arrested a North Carolina man Stephen Maury Baker and charged him with unlawfully entering a restricted building, as well as 'violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.' According to the charges laid against Baker, he was part of the conspiring insurgent mob of scum which broke into the Capitol and began live streaming his illegal doings online, including via his YouTube channel called, not inaccurately, Stephen Ignoramus. He repeatedly referred to himself by that name, showed his face on his videos from inside the Capitol and ended one of his streams by saying the police were forcing everyone out of the building. Thus making this one of the least successful surreptitious illegal entries in the history of crime. One Zachary Alam has been charged over the riot after a family member reportedly tipped off The Feds about his - alleged - wicked and treasonous ways. Snitched him up like a good'un so they did. Alam has been identified as the rioter previously known as 'Helmet Boy' (stop sniggering at the back) who was captured on video using his helmet (stop it) to smash a window to the Speaker's Lobby during the January insurrection. Prosecutors say that Alam was seen wearing a fur-lined hat while storming the Capitol building and can be observed 'entering through the window of the Senate Wing entrance to the Capitol.' He was then seen 'trying to breach a barricaded door to the Speaker's Lobby, a hallway that connects to the House of Representatives chambers,' according to court documents unsealed on Monday. The complaint states that Alam shouted 'Fuck The Blue' multiple times at the officers, then kicked the glass panels of the Speaker's Lobby door. Alam's thoughts on members of his family turning Cooper's Nark on his sorry ass are not, at this time, known. A North Texas realtor, Jenna Ryan, who claimed to have travelled 'on a private plane' to the now extremely former President Mister Rump rally and later, the Capitol insurrection, was kicked off PayPal after attempting to solicit donations for 'legal fees and losses.' Ryan asked her Twitter followers for help, sharing a link to a PayPal account where supporters could 'offer a donation.' Ryan said, 'I am accepting donations to pay legal fees and losses due to my arrest and charges by the FBI' and later claimed she had raised a thousand bucks. Only in America, dear blog readers.
The Feds seem to be really getting their shit together in laying more serious charges on a whole raft of previously arrested (alleged) felons. Also on the naughty boys and girls list following their saucy - alleged - insurrectionist shenanigans, for example, are a couple of jokers linked to the extremist Proud Boy group who are accused of scrawling the words 'murder the media' on the Capitol building and are now facing conspiracy charges. According to CNN, the Justice Department unveiled fresh charges against Nicholas Ochs and Nicholas DeCarlo in a federal grand jury indictment on Wednesday. Two Nicks who both got nicked. Fitting, one could suggest. The duo are accused of planning and fundraising for their alleged effort to block Congress' certification of Joe Biden's election victory and various other nefarious skulduggery.
Brian Stelter's fascinating piece on the CNN Business website FOX News Suffers Ratings Slump While Staffers Fret About Post-Trump Future draws attention to what must be, for The Murdoch's, the alarming news that Nielsen numbers for the month of January released on Tuesday show Faux News ranked third in the three-horse cable news race for the first time since 2001. 'Think about it this way: January was one of the biggest months of political news in a generation, yet FOX couldn't capitalise,' writes Stelter a bit sneeringly but, it must be noted, note entirely unamusingly. 'Instead of competing by promoting correspondents and putting news coverage front and centre, the network prioritised ever more outrageous, ever more extreme opinion. Tucker Carlson Tonight essentially expanded to Tucker Carlson Day & Night.' 
    Meanwhile, the Axios reporter Jonathan Swan has described to CNN a 18 December meeting between at the time still soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump, White House officials and various completely bloody bonkers conspiracy theorists which, Swan claims, 'ended in a profanity-laced shouting match.' The video is, to be frank, four of the scariest - yet, also, funniest - moments you may ever experience in your entire lives, dear blog reader. 'Demented,' is another descriptor used about the four hour meeting. And, still on the subject of perfectly extraordinary moments of TV, Newsmax anchor Bob Sellers repeatedly tried to cut off MyPillow CEO - and certified moustachioed loon - Mike Lindell in an interview this week after the now extremely former President Mister Rump-supporting executive spread erection fraud falsehoods on-air. That's a particularly touchy topic for the conservative news channel, because it was recently named in a lawsuit claiming it spread misinformation about voting machines. Lindell - whose company has recently suffered a massive drop in the sales of its products - was invited by Newsmax to discuss so-called 'cancel culture.' Twitter recently banned his personal account and the MyPillow account for repeatedly sharing crass and wild erection misinformation. But at the beginning of the interview Lindell was keen, instead, to discuss the conspiracy theories which got him kicked off Twitter in the first place. 'We have all this erection fraud with these Dominion machines,' Lindell said. 'We have one hundred per cent proof.' They don't, just you know, for balance. Sellers quickly interjected: 'Mike, you're talking about machines. We at Newsmax have not been able to verify any of those kinds of allegations,' he said, before reading from a statement: 'While there were some clear evidence of some cases of voter fraud and erection irregularities, the erection results in every state were certified and Newsmax accepts the results as legal and final. The courts have also supported that view.' Although he did, rather, resemble someone being poked with a stick whilst he said all this. An executive at Dominion Voting Systems has previously sued Newsmax and others over false claims of voter fraud. Following the lawsuit, Newsmax ran an on-air news segment correcting the 'prior falsehoods' it had disseminated. Separately, Dominion has sent Lindell a letter warning that litigation against his sorry ass is 'imminent.' Lindell told CNN that he 'welcomes' a lawsuit from Dominion and has 'one hundred per cent evidence.' Which, once again, he doesn't. While reading the statement, Lindell shouted over Sellers, claiming that Newsmax was trying to do the same thing to him that Twitter did. 'You have just suppressed me,' Lindell claimed. Come and see the violence inherent in the system, dear blog reader. Perhaps even funnier than that is a report that one of those who most helped to peddle voter fraud conspiracies for now extremely former President Mister Rump, the lawyer Lin Wood, is himself now being investigated ... for alleged voter fraud. Wood is something of a controversial individual who, in a deliciously ironic twist of fate, is now being investigated by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Wood, who voted in Georgia during the erection, reportedly now has a permanent residence in South Carolina in property he purchased in April, 2020. In a statement that he gave to CNN on Tuesday, Wood explained that he had not been 'domiciled' in South Carolina adding 'I have been a resident of the State of Georgia since 1955. I have changed my residency to South Carolina yesterday. This is pure harassment by the Georgia Secretary of State.' That would be the same Georgia Secretary of State whom then soon-to-be-former President Mister Rump called in January and instructed to falsify Georgia's erection results, presumably? Wood's statement reportedly caught the eye of Georgia erection officials which has prompted the investigation from Raffensperger's office. As one can imagine, people on social media appreciated the delicious irony of the situation with great relish. Again, only in America, dear blog reader.
Should Lindell eventually find himself in the dock facing Dominion's lawyers he will, at least, have some company. On Thursday, another voting technology company, Smartmatic announced that its had filed a 2.7 billion dollar lawsuit against FOX News and some of the network's hosts along with the attorneys - and stone radgy heedbangers - Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, alleging that the parties 'worked in concert' to wage 'a disinformation campaign' that has jeopardised its very survival. Giuliani and Powell are already, of course, in the process of being extremely sued by Dominion. The lawsuit, filed in New York state court, accused FOX, Giuliani, Powell and hosts Faux News hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro of 'intentionally lying' about Smartmatic in an effort to mislead the public into the false belief that the erection was 'stolen' from now extremely former President Mister Rump. In a statement on behalf of the network and the named hosts issued after the lawsuit was filed, a FOX News spokesperson said, 'FOX News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion. We are proud of our 2020 erection coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.' One or two people even believed them.
Gun sales in the US in January have set a new record after the Capitol Hill insurrection malarkey according to reports. Gun merchants sold more than two million firearms in January, a seventy five per cent increase over the estimated 1.2 million guns sold in January 2020, according to the National Shooting Sports Federation, a firearms industry trade group. The FBI said that it had conducted a record four million background checks in January. Most of them related to people whom you really wouldn't want to meet in the dark alley. Only in America, dear blog readers, only in America.
Now extremely former President Mister Rump has reportedly quit America's Screen Actors Guild shortly before it had the chance to kick his orange ass intothe gutter after it launched a disciplinary hearing into him, citing the Capitol insurrectionist malarkey. 'Who cares!' the now extremely former President wrote in a - badly spelled and barely literate - letter, adding that the union had 'done nothing for me.' The feeling was, apparently, entirely mutual. 'Thank you,' was the Guild's brief - and hilariously kill-em-with-kindness - response. Now extremely former President Mister Rump has appeared in a number of films, including Home Alone 2 and Zoolander. He also hosted the US version of The Apprentice TV show. Last month, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists said its disciplinary committee would meet to decide what action should be taken regarding now extremely former President Mister Rump's role in the failed insurrection.
From The North favourite Hal Holbrook, the Oscar-nominated actor known for playing Deep Throat in All The President's Men, has died aged ninety five. Holbrook, who also appeared in Wall Street, Into The Wild and Lincoln, died on 23 January, his assistant told the New York Times. He also had a distinguished theatre career, mostly notably in his one-man show portraying Mark Twain. He had numerous TV credits to his name, including appearances in two of this blogger' favourite episodes of the US political drama The West Wing - Gone Quiet and Game One - as Republican State Department veteran Albie Duncan. 
Director Holbrook's stage and TV recreation of the revered American novelist, humourist and social critic in Mark Twain Tonight arguably brought him his greatest fame. It earned him a TONY award for his Broadway performance in 1966 and the first of his ten EMMY nominations in 1967. In the course of his long career Holbrook won five EMMYs. He first crafted and then performed Twain while he was a nineteen-year-old college student. His first big appearance in the part was on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Later, he performed the show on television and in theatres, also for former President Eisenhower and in an international tour sponsored by the US State Department. He continued with his Twain act until his early nineties, playing on Broadway and notching up more than two thousand performances in venues across the country. 'Mark Twain gets me out of the bed in the morning,' Holbrook said in 2014. 'He literally fires me up. I don't have to fire myself up, all I have to do is lay there and think about what's going on in my country and the world and run over some of the Twain I am going to do.'
Holbrook was born in Cleveland in February 1925. His mother was a vaudeville dancer. Holbrook and his two older sisters were reportedly 'abandoned' by their parents when he was two years old. The children were then raised by their paternal grandparents, first in Weymouth, Massachusetts and later in the Cleveland suburb Lakewood. He first starting acting aged seventeen when he performed in the popular farce The Man Who Came To Dinner at Cleveland's Cain Park Theatre. After serving in the Army as a staff sergeant in Newfoundland during World War Two, Holbrook attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio. He later went to New York and studied with the actress Uta Hagen and in the 1950s, Holbrook acted on the CBS soap opera The Brighter Day. He won his first EMMY in 1971 for his work on the NBC drama series The Bold Ones: The Senator and took two more trophies for playing Commander Lloyd Bucher in the 1973 TV film Pueblo, about the capture of a US ship by North Korea in 1968. Holbrook's craggy voice and appearance loaned itself to historical portrayals and other parts that required gravitas, such as his portrayal of the title character in the TV mini-series Lincoln, for which he also won an EMMY. He reprised the role in the ABC Civil War mini-series North & South in 1985 and its sequel the following year. Among many other shows, he also appeared in The Sopranos, Bones, NCIS, Grey's Anatomy and Hawaii Five-0. He co-starred with Martin Sheen in the 1972 TV movie That Certain Summer. Holbrook was also the narrator on the Ken Burns documentary Lewis & Clark: The Journey Of The Corps Of Discovery.
On the big screen, as well as making an impression as Deep Throat, he played a power-hungry police lieutenant in the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force. He made his film debut in Sidney Lumet's The Group (1966). In Steven Spielberg's 2012 Lincoln biopic, Holbrook played presidential adviser Preston Blair. He also featured in the films The Firm, Capricorn One, Julia, The Fog, Water For Elephants, Men Of Honour, Creepshow, The Star Chamber and Wild In The Streets. In 2008, aged eighty two, Holbrook became the oldest actor to have been nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in Into The Wild, starring Emile Hirsch. (His record has since been overtaken by Christopher Plummer, who won in the same category in 2018. See below.) In recent years Holbrook became a regular presence on US television, with roles in series including Sons Of Anarchy, Rectify and the sitcom Designing Women. In 2003, Holbrook was honoured with the National Humanities Medal by President Bush. Holbrook's memoir Harold: The Boy Who Became Mark Twain was published in September 2011. He was married three times. He and third wife Dixie Carter - who also appeared in Designing Women - were married in 1984 and remained together until her death in 2010. He is survived by his three children and two stepdaughters, as well as two grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.
And, speaking of Christopher Plummer, the dazzlingly versatile Canadian actor whose screen career straddled seven decades, including such high-profile films as The Sound Of Music, The Man Who Would Be King and All The Money In The World, has also died this week, aged ninety one. His family confirmed the news, saying he died peacefully at home in Connecticut with his wife of fifty three years, Elaine Taylor, by his side. Lou Pitt, his long time friend and manager of forty six years said: 'Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with great old fashion manners, self deprecating humour and the music of words. He was a national treasure who deeply relished his Canadian roots. Through his art and humanity, he touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will endure for all generations to come. He will forever be with us.' A tremendous actor and leading star, on stage, screen and Alpine meadow for more than six decades, Plummer's first film appearance was in 1958's Stage Struck, a backstage drama starring Henry Fonda in which Plummer played a writer in love with Susan Strasberg's ingénue. He outlasted fellow hellraisers such as Peter Finch and Richard Burton - Plummer once contracted hepatitis when over-partying with Tyrone Power - to become the go-to actor for senior roles in movies with Oscar-potential. These ranged, in 2009 alone, from a dying, but still robust and flirtatious, Leo Tolstoy in Michael Hoffman's The Last Station to the hilarious, eponymous showman in Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus (Heath Ledger's last movie) and the voice of explorer Charles Muntz in the computer-animated Up. His biggest hit and best-known role, however, remained as the singing anti-Nazi Captain Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music in 1965. More recently, in 2017, he stepped in to replace Kevin Spacey in the Ridley Scott-directed All The Money In The World, after Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct. Scott praised Plummer at the time, telling the Gruniad Morning Star that '[he's] got this enormous charm, whether he's doing King Lear or The Sound Of Music.' Scott added: 'This guy's a real colouring book, he can do anything.'
Born Arthur Plummer in Toronto in 1929, the great-grandson of John Abbott, Canada's third Prime Minister and grew up in Quebec speaking English and French fluently. After leaving school he joined the Montreal Repertory Theatre and, after a short spell on Broadway, achieved his first leading role as Hal in Henry V at the 1956 Stratford Festival in Ontario (where his understudy was William Shatner, who became a lifelong friend). His New York debut was in 1954, as George Phillips in The Starcross Story. The critic Kenneth Tynan hailed him as the Earl of Warwick in Jean Anouilh's The Lark, translated by Lillian Hellman: 'One salutes a great actor in embryo, reserved and saturnine and as powerful in promise as the Olivier of twenty years ago.' More stage roles followed, including his first TONY nomination in 1959 in Archibald MacLeish's JB, which was directed by Elia Kazan. He also secured roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK replacing Peter O'Toole when playing Benedick in a 1961 production of Much Ado About Nothing (opposite Geraldine McEwan) and the title role of Richard III in the same year and consolidated his Broadway reputation with critically acclaimed performances in Brecht's Arturo Ui in 1963. The Sound Of Music, released to huge success in 1965, proved Plummer's breakthrough to stardom albeit someothing of a albatros around the neck of the actor. Adapted from the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical about the real-life Von Trapp family, Plummer was originally reluctant to take on the role and, in 2018, told the Gruniad he was 'furious' when he found out his singing voice was to be dubbed. 'I'd worked on my singing for so long, but in those days, they'd have someone trained who would sing through dubbing. I said: "The only reason I did this bloody thing was so I could do a musical on-stage on-film!"' So, if you're wondering, that's not Plummer singing 'Edelweiss' on the soundtrack but, rather, Bill Lee. Plummer's well-known distaste for the film did mellow over time: 'I've made my peace with it,' he noted. 'It annoyed the Hell out of me at first. I thought: "Don't these people ever see another movie? Is this the only one they've ever seen?" But I'm grateful to the film and to Robert Wise, who's a great director and a gentleman and to Julie [Andrews], who's remained a terrific friend.'
Plummer, like his friend Albert Finney, was renowned for romancing his leading ladies. Charmian Carr (the eldest daughter, Liesl, of the Von Trapp family) later cheerfully confessed that she learned how to drink from the time they spent together whilst filming. In 1956 he married the actress Tammy Grimes and they had a daughter, Amanda, who also became an noted actress. That marriage ended in divorce in 1960 and Plummer embarked on a wild romance with the British journalist Patricia Lewis. Based in Mayfair, they regularly hit the nightspots, but were involved in an horrific car crash outside Buckingham Place after leaving Peter Cook's Establishment Club in Soho; Plummer was unharmed, but Lewis remained in a coma for months. They were married in 1962 but divorced five years later. After The Sound Of Music, Plummer was much in demand as a character actor in high-profile films. He featured opposite Natalie Wood in Inside Daisy Clover (1965), then played the real-life World War Two spy and conman Eddie Chapman in Terence Young's highly under-rated Triple Cross (1966) and had a support role as Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in The Night Of The Generals (1967). Plummer was cast to replace Rex Harrison in the film adaptation of Doctor Dolittle but when Harrison agreed to stay with the movie, the producers paid Plummer his agreed salary to leave the production. At the same time, Plummer was performing in Peter Schaffer's stage play The Royal Hunt Of The Sun. He appeared in The Battle Of Britain (1969), was a brilliantly wry Sir Arthur Wellesley in Sergei Bondarchuk's epic Waterloo (1970) and featured in The Return Of The Pink Panther (1975). He played Rudyard Kipling in John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King and was a terrific Sherlock Holmes (with James Mason as Watson) in Murder By Decree (1979). He also had success on stage, winning a TONY in 1973 for the title role in the musical Cyrano.
Though he continued to work steadily in the 1980s and 1990s, the quality of his screen roles began to dip, though he did appear in some fine movies including Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) opposite his old friend Shatner as the Klingon general, Chang and in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992) as a racist prison chaplain; he also played virologist Leland Goines in Twelve Monkeys (1995) and the TV journalist Mike Wallace in The Insider (1999). His stage work, as before, appeared to sustain him, with another TONY in 1997 for the title role in Barrymore, about the actor John Barrymore and a King Lear in 2002, directed by Jonathan Miller, which led to yet another TONY nomination. As he entered his eighties, Plummer's screen career enjoyed a sharp upturn. In 2010, he received his first Oscar nomination, for the Tolstoy biopic The Last Station. Although Plummer lost to Christoph Waltz for the supporting actor award, the nomination sparked a flurry of interest in his work and two years later Plummer won the Oscar in the same category for Beginners, for his role as a man who comes out as gay in his senior years - at eighty two, he remains the oldest actor to win an Oscar. Plummer subsequently broke another age-related Oscar record (one, ironically, previously held by Hal Holbrook - see above), as the oldest actor to be nominated, in 2018, aged eighty eight, for All The Money In The World, in which he played J Paul Getty, the plutocrat whose grandson was kidnapped by the mafia in 1973. The director, Ridley Scott, said later that Plummer had been his first choice for the role, but that it had been offered to Kevin Spacey because of Plummer's age. Spacey was dropped after the film was finished and Scott reassembled the cast and crew to shoot replacement scenes. As recently as 2019 Plummer appeared to great acclaim in the all-star cast of Rian Johnson's Knives Out. His CV also included appearances in The Fall Of The Roman Empire, Lock Up Your Daughters!, The Spiral Staircase, Aces High, International Velvet, Ordeal By Innocence, Red Blooded American Girl, The Clown At Midnight, A Beautiful Mind. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Cold Creek Manor and, on TV, in Jesus Of Nazareth (as Herod), The Thorn Birds, Nuremberg, the acclaimed Night Flight (with Edward Woodward) and American Tragedy. In Todd Robinson's The Last Full Measure (2019) he played the dying father of the Viet'nam war hero William Pitsenbarger, as his dead son's former colleagues - including William Hurt, Samuel L Jackson and Peter Fonda (in his final movie) - campaign for a posthumous award of the Medal of Honour. And his voice will be heard in Sean Patrick O'Reilly's Heroes Of The Golden Masks, due to be released later this year.
Like many big stars, he was sometimes renowned for being bad-tempered, or 'difficult', though the longevity and range of his career suggests creative deployment of his temperamental excesses. He had long renounced his wild party days, though he loved talking about them to journalists and in his vivid, highly readable autobiography, In Spite Of Myself published by Knopf in 2008. He and Amanda - his only child - had limited contact during her teenage years but did re-establish contact later and were reconciled, reportedly, maintaining a friendly relationship. He lived contentedly in a farm house in Weston, Connecticut, with his third wife, the British dancer and actress Elaine Taylor, whom he had married in 1970. She and Amanda survive him.
The US country singer-songwriter Jim Weatherly, best known for writing the 1970s hit 'Midnight Train To Georgia', has died aged seventy seven. Weatherly died at his home near Nashville on Wednesday. Music publisher and friend Charlie Monk said the family attributed his death to natural causes. The Goddamn Queen of Soul, Gladys Knight, who had a number one hit with 'Midnight Train To Georgia' along with her Pips, said he had been 'a sweetheart.' Born in Mississippi in 1943, Weatherly released nearly a dozen studio LPs during his five-decade career. In his student years, the singer was a gifted quarterback for the University of Mississippi's American football team. But later in the 1960s he decided to leave sport and focus on music in Los Angeles. 'Midnight Train To Georgia' was recorded by Gladys Knight & The Pips in 1973 shortly after their departure from Motown to sign of Buddha Records. It went on to win a Grammy Award, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The song was originally written and performed by Weatherly under the title 'Midnight Plane To Houston', which he recorded on Jimmy Bowen's Amos Records. 'It was based on a conversation I had with somebody. I wrote it as a kind of a country song. Then we sent the song to a guy named Sonny Limbo in Atlanta and he wanted to cut it with Cissy Houston. He asked if I minded if he changed the title to 'Midnight Train To Georgia'. I said, "I don't mind. Just don't change the rest of the song."' In an interview with Gary James, Weatherley stated that the phone conversation in question had been with the actress Farrah Fawcett and he used Fawcett and his friend Lee Majors, whom she had just started dating, 'as kind of like characters.' Weatherly, at a programme in Nashville, said he had been the quarterback at the University of Mississippi and the NFL didn't work out for him, so he was in Los Angeles trying to write songs. He was in a local football league with Lee Majors and called Majors one night. Farrah Fawcett answered the phone and he asked what she was doing. She said that she was 'taking the midnight plane to Houston' to visit her family. He thought that was a catchy phrase and in writing the song, wondered why someone would leave LA on the midnight plane - which brought the idea of a 'superstar, but he didn't get far.' Gospel singer Cissy Houston recorded the song as 'Midnite Train To Georgia' in 1973. After Gladys Knight's version was an international hit, a number of American artists, including Aretha Franklin, later recorded their own versions of the song. In her autobiography, Between Each Line Of Pain & Glory, Gladys Knight wrote that she hoped the song was a comfort to the many thousands of individuals who come each year to Los Angeles in an effort to realise the dream of being in motion pictures, television or music, but then fail to achieve their goal and plunge into despair. Weatherly's biggest solo success was 1975's 'I'll Still Love You'. He also wrote further Gladys Knight hits, including 'Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)' and 'You're The Best Thing (That Ever Happened to Me)'. He recorded with a range of high-profile stars, including Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers, Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney. Weatherly filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Publishing Group in October 2002, which is now considered a landmark case in the entertainment community. He claimed that he was underpaid royalties for 'Midnight Train To Georgia' for years. Universal Music argued that Weatherly could not proceed on his action because the one-year contractual limitations frequently found in entertainment contracts, had passed. This became the issue that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided, in a published decision which set new legal precedent. The court decided that the one-year time limitation would not apply. 'A defendant cannot hinder the plaintiff's discovery through misrepresentation and then fault the plaintiff for failing to investigate,' the court wrote. Weatherly was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was pure dead alarmed to find this little old beardy grey-haired pensioner in the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House kitchen. What am he gonna do? And, don't call him Scarf Face.
big shop was returned to the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House earlier in the week, dear blog reader. It was much needed, obviously, as this blogger cannot live by takeaways alone. Although, he is happy to give it a try if necessary.
Wednesday saw Championship side AFC Bournemouth react to their fourth successive league defeat by jettisoning manager Jason Tindall. That, of course, raises the question of what position Tindall's assistant, Graeme Jones, would now be in had he not opted to join this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle the previous week. Ex-Magpie defender-turned-coach Jonathan Woodgate has been placed in temporary charge at Bournemouth - a mere forty eight hours after joining their coaching staff to replace Jones. At that rate of progress, Woody'll be the Cherries' Chairman/Owner by the time you read this bloggerisationisms update. Meanwhile, at this blogger's beloved (though unsellable and now, seemingly, relegation-bound) United, Mister Bruice (nasty to see him, to see him nasty) continues in gainful employment. Which, given the current appalling employment figures in this country due to Covid is, frankly, merely one more reason to curse the manifest unfairness of this wretched pandemic.
From The North's semi-regular Headline Of The Week award goes to the Independent for Woman Claims She Was Fired From Fast Food Restaurant After 'God-Fearing Customer' Discovered She Did Porn. Although Wired's breathless exposé, The Yoga World Is Riddled With Anti-Vaxxers And QAnon Believers and the Nigerian Tribune's Woman Faces Charges For Spanking Police Officer On His Buttocks are also worthy of consideration in this regard. As is The Week's Prosecutors Don't Know Where Kenosha Shooter Kyle Rittenhouse Is, Want Him Arrested Again. That might be a touch difficult, guys, if you don't know where he is.
That said, this blogger's favourite headline this week comes all the way from BBC News. 'No more worries for me or you ...' dear blog reader.
President Joe Biden has endorsed the effort for NASA to return to the Moon that was initiated under his predecessor now extremely former President Mister Rump. There had been speculation over the direction the new administration might take on the Artemis programme. The plan would see the next man and the first woman land on the lunar surface in the next few years. White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the news at a briefing on Thursday. 'I'm very excited about it now - to tell my daughter all about it,' Psaki said, adding: 'Through the Artemis programme, the United States government will work with industry and international partners to send astronauts to the surface of the Moon - another man and a woman to the Moon.' She explained that the missions would carry out 'new and exciting science, prepare for future missions to Mars and demonstrate America's values.' Importantly, there was no mention of the 2024 target for the first crewed Moon landing, a goal set by now extremely former Vice President Mister Pounds, Shillings and Pence. There had long been speculation that the new administration would not be tied to this date. After the Moon return was announced by Mister Pounds, Shillings and Pence in 2017, NASA announced that it was targeting the landing for 2028. When the now extremely former Vice President re-set that timeline in 2019, it had been seen as a way of 'lighting a fire' under the space agency - accelerating an effort the administration thought was moving too slowly. The 2024 date has been in doubt because of a funding shortfall for the landing element, which will carry astronauts from lunar orbit down to the surface. NASA had asked for 3.3 billion bucks to fund the Human Landing System in 2021 but received only eighty hundred and fifty million notes, which is likely to impact the schedule. The other elements of the Artemis Moon architecture are the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System rocket. The Orion capsule and service module to be used on the first Artemis mission - an uncrewed loop around the Moon - are at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida being prepared for a launch currently scheduled for late 2021. The largest section of the SLS rocket that will lift Orion on this flight is currently at Stennis Space Centre in Mississippi, where it will undergo another 'hotfire' - in which all four engines burn for eight minutes - during the week of 21 February. The previous hotfire attempt shut off after just over a minute because of a hydraulics issue. The Orion and SLS hardware to be used on the second and third Artemis missions is currently being assembled. It is the third flight that will see humans land on the Moon for the first time since Apollo Seventeen in 1972. Psaki said: 'To date only twelve humans have walked on the Moon - that was half-a-century ago. The Artemis programme, a waypoint to Mars, provides the opportunity to add numbers to that. Lunar exploration has broad and bicameral support in Congress.'
Scientists have finally located the source of mysterious gamma-ray blasts being sent towards Earth. Astronomers have, reportedly, tracked the blast down to what they say is a celestial object known as PSR J2039?5617, a rapidly spinning neutron star. The object has been known about since 2014 and scientist suspected that it could be a spinning neutron star orbiting another less substantial star. But they could not find proof of this until now. They have recently discovered that the object is, indeed, part of a binary system and spins around three hundred and seventy seven times each second. Like a record, baby, right round round round. It orbits another star, roughly one-sixth of the mass of our own Sun, which it is gradually forcing to evaporate. As it does, it sends out gamma-ray pulsations that can be detected by space telescopes launched from Earth. The cosmic hunt was conducted by a research team led by scientists at the University of Manchester. But they were critically assisted by people all around the world, who had donated their computers to the Einstein@Home programme. That allowed researchers to, in effect, borrow the computing power of PCs inside of people's homes, as they lay idle overnight. It means that thousands of people helped contribute to the work, without even necessarily knowing what they were doing. To attempt to find the source of the blasts, the researchers had to check through vast amounts of data in search of possibly useful signals. A single computer core would take five hundred years to complete the work; by using people's home computers, the researchers were able to do it in two months. 'It had been suspected for years that there is a pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star, at the heart of the source we now know as PSR J2039?5617,' Lars Nieder, a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics said in a statement. 'But it was only possible to lift the veil and discover the gamma-ray pulsations with the computing power donated by tens of thousands of volunteers.'
The BGR website this week asked a pertinent - if, somewhat personal - question: Are There Aliens Hiding Around Uranus? 
The widely-publicised detection of phosphine gas on Venus - a possible 'bio-signature' suggesting the Hellish planet could have living microbes in its clouds - was 'probably' caused by an entirely different gas which is not a clear sign of life, according to new research. Studies by a team of American scientists suggest the radio telescope observations thought to reveal phosphine above Venus were, instead, caused by sulphur dioxide, which gives off signals that can be confused for phosphine under certain circumstances. The latest research published in January also suggests that the radio signals originated far above the Venusian clouds, where phosphine would quickly be destroyed by other chemicals - giving further weight to the idea that they were caused by sulphur dioxide.
Titan, Saturn's biggest moon, probably helped to cause the planet to start tipping off-kilter long ago. Saturn is tilted with respect to its orbit around the Sun, by a little bit more than Earth is. Planetary scientists had thought that Saturn acquired its tilt more than four billion years ago, thanks to the gravitational influence of Neptune. But recent measurements made with NASA's Cassini spacecraft show that Titan - the moon with a nitrogen-based atmosphere - is moving relatively rapidly away from Saturn. Melaine Saillenfest at the Paris Observatory and his colleagues capitalised on that finding to suggest that Titan is actually to blame for Saturn's tilt. Their calculations suggest that, around one billion years ago, Titan was migrating away from Saturn and led the planet into a gravitational interaction with Neptune - which steadily tilted Saturn over. Big migrating moons could similarly cause giant planets in other solar systems to keel over.
In 1995, NASA's Galileo mission dropped a probe into the atmosphere of Jupiter and found it to be far drier than expected. In 2020, NASA's follow-up mission Juno explained the mystery: it involves mushballs, apparently. When the Galileo probe reported that the upper reaches of Jupiter's atmosphere just North of its equator were drier than expected, planetary scientists at the time merely chalked this up to bad luck. They had thought that perhaps while the general region is dominated by moist, cooler air, the probe just happened to fall into a hot spot which was drier than normal. But nobody likes a coincidence, especially scientists and twenty five years later, they found the real reason. It turns out that the region just North of Jupiter's equator is overall much drier than you might expect based on atmospheric modelling that we had performed so far. But that atmospheric modelling neglected one key ingredient that was only discovered recently with the Juno mission. The Juno probe discovered that in areas where 'shallow lightning' can occur in the atmosphere, ammonia can combine with water, binding together into a mushier version of hail. As these balls sink, they accumulate more ammonia and water, pulling it down into the depths of the atmosphere. 'High up in the atmosphere, where shallow lightning is seen, water and ammonia are combined and become invisible to Juno's microwave instrument. This is where a special kind of hailstone that we call "mushballs" are forming,' related Tristan Guillot, Juno co-investigator at the Université Côte d'Azur in Nice. Juno has found an abundance of shallow lightning and the associated mushballs in the latitude band North of the equator, exactly where Galileo dropped its atmospheric probe. So, it would appear, that probe didn't just get unlucky, it found the first signs of a much more complex and intricate atmospheric pattern than anyone had previously realised.
Cloud-free exoplanets are exceedingly rare; astronomers estimate that less than seven per cent of exoplanets have clear atmospheres. For example, the first and only other known exoplanet with a clear atmosphere, WASP-96b, was discovered in 2018. Astronomers believe studying exoplanets with cloudless atmospheres can lead to a better understanding of how they were formed. 'Their rarity suggests something else is going on or they formed in a different way than most planets,' said Munazza Alam, an astronomer at the Harvard & Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. 'Clear atmospheres also make it easier to study the chemical composition of planets, which can help identify what a planet is made of.' WASP-62b was first detected in 2012 through the Wide Angle Search for Planets South survey. The planet orbits WASP-62, an F-type star located 5five hundred and seventy five light-years away in the constellation of Dorado. The alien world is about half the mass of Jupiter and orbits its host star once every four days at a distance of 0.06 AU. Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, Alam and colleagues recorded data and observations of WASP-62b using spectroscopy, the study of electromagnetic radiation to help detect chemical elements. The astronomers specifically monitored the planet as it swept in front of its host star three times, making visible light observations, which can detect the presence of sodium and potassium in a planet's atmosphere. 'I'll admit that at first I wasn't too excited about this planet. But once I started to take a look at the data, I got excited,' Alam said. While there was no evidence of potassium, sodium's presence was strikingly clear. The researchers were able to view the full sodium absorption lines in their data, or its complete fingerprint. 'Clouds or haze in the atmosphere would obscure the complete signature of sodium and astronomers usually can only make out small hints of its presence,' Alam said. 'This is smoking gun evidence that we are seeing a clear atmosphere.' The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
A BBC Panorama team has, reportedly, been 'threatened' (with unspecified retribution) following a programme about a suspected crime boss's influence in world boxing. Police in Northern Ireland have warned about 'an unspecified threat' from 'unnamed criminal elements' in relation to the programme, broadcast on Monday. It investigated the role played in the sport by Daniel Kinahan - named in the Irish courts as the head of one of Europe's most prominent drug cartels. The programme led to calls for tighter regulation of the sport. Although some in boxing have defended Kinahan's involvement. Jo Carr, the BBC's head of current affairs, said: 'The BBC places the utmost priority on the safety of our teams, whose journalism plays a vital role in a free society. It is despicable and intolerable if thugs think they can muzzle a free press through intimidation. We will continue to throw light into even the murkiest of corners.' The courts in Ireland have accepted that an organised crime group linked to Kinahan is involved in drug trafficking and execution-style murders. The group is also suspected of involvement in a feud with a rival Dublin gang that has resulted in eighteen people being murdered. Dead. Kinahan's lawyer told the programme his client has no criminal record or convictions and the allegations about him being a crime boss are false and have no evidential basis. The lawyer said: 'In so far as our client's record in boxing is concerned, he is proud of his record in boxing to date.' Kinahan's involvement in boxing caused an outcry last summer when world heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, publicly thanked him for setting up a much anticipated title fight with fellow British champion Anthony Joshua. The criticism died down after it was announced that Kinahan would no longer negotiate Fury's fights and he was stepping away from boxing. But Panorama's Boxing & The Mob programme claimed to have discovered that the suspected crime boss was still advising top fighters in world boxing.
And finally, dear blog reader, the greatest single story in the history of humanity: Angry Maskless Man Denied Food Service, Returns With Gun To Steal Fried Chicken And Waffles. The alleged incident allegedly took place at Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles in Pasadena, according to ABC News' Los Angeles affiliate, KABC. They added that the armed individual did not demand or take any cash from the restaurant - only chicken and waffles. And, he even took syrup for his food before leaving.