Sunday, May 09, 2021

"There Is No Evil Angel But Love"

Another week, dear blog reader, another bloggerisationisms update here at From The North. Which is nice.
The BBC is reported to be 'shocked' - and stunned - to hear allegations by several women that the actor Noel Clarke sexually harassed them on the set of Doctor Who. Clarke played Mickey Smith in the BBC drama from 2005 to 2006 and then in a couple of further episodes in 2008 and 2010. You knew that, right? The Gruniad Morning Star has quoted five women, including an unnamed actress, who it says have claimed that he touched them inappropriately or made sexual remarks. He has denied all of these claims. He has previously 'vehemently' denied any sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing. Before apologising. The latest reports come a week after twenty women told the Gruniad that Clarke had harassed or bullied them during his career as a TV and film actor, writer, director and producer. Last week, he said he understood that 'some of my actions have affected people in ways I did not intend or realise' and said he was 'deeply sorry' to those people. But he denied that his actions constituted sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing. He told the Gruniad Morning Star that he strongly denied the latest allegations. A BBC spokesman said: 'The BBC is against all forms of inappropriate behaviour and we're shocked to hear of these allegations. To be absolutely clear, we will investigate any specific allegations made by individuals to the BBC - and if anyone has been subjected to or witnessed inappropriate behaviour of any kind we would encourage them to raise it with us directly. We have a zero tolerance approach and robust processes are in place - which are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect best practice - to ensure any complaints or concerns are handled with the utmost seriousness and care.' Last week, Sky halted its work with Clarke, including on the fourth series of the crime drama Bulletproof, while ITV dropped the final episode of his drama Viewpoint from its broadcast schedules. The BBC said that it would 'not be progressing any projects with Noel Clarke at this time.' BAFTA has suspended his membership, weeks after giving him an outstanding contribution award and the Metropolitan Police said they have received allegations of sexual offences from a third party. Meanwhile on Friday, Doctor Who and Torchwood actor John Barrowman was said by the Gruniad to have 'repeatedly exposed himself' on set. Although, the Gruniad added, 'numerous witnesses described the incidents as inappropriate pranks rather than anything amounting to sexually predatory behaviour.' So, there you have it, dear blog reader, the Gruniad considers that John Barrowman's is a 'non-threatening penis' it would seem. Which is jolly good news for anyone who has ever been menaced by it. A video of Clarke joking - somewhat sneeringly - about Barrowman's behaviour at a 2014 SF convention in Chicago resurfaced and went viral last week. In 2008, Barrowman apologised for exposing his genitals during a live Radio 1 broadcast. At the time, he said he 'was joining in the light-hearted and fun banter of the show and went too far.' In a new statement to the Gruniad, he said that his 'high-spirited behaviour' was 'only ever intended in good humour to entertain colleagues on set and backstage.' He added: 'With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behaviour and I have apologised for this previously. Since my apology in November 2008, my understanding and behaviour have also changed.' The Gruniad quotes Russell Davies and Julie Gardner, executive producers on Doctor Who at the time these alleged incidents took place as saying, that had complaints been made at the time, action would have been taken. 
Meanwhile, according to a hilariously mangled - and entirely unconfirmed - report from some plank of no importance at the Daily Mirra, 'lost Doctor Who episodes starring William Hartnell [are to be] regenerated as cartoons.' By which they mean, it would appear, that the latest 1960s story to be animated for a DVD release may (or may not) be 1965's Galaxy Four. In an effort, presumably, to get The Chumblies into the shops before Christmas. 
The BBC has commented on the future of From The North favourite Line Of Duty following last week's finale. Ahead of the series six finale's broadcast on Sunday 2 May, the show's creator Jed Mercurio had paid tribute to his cast and crew and thanked the BBC for 'six incredible seasons.' 'Viewers were then left wondering if the show would return due to the feeling of finality in the episode, which has been widely panned as "disappointing" after being watched by a staggering number of people in the UK,' according to some smear at the Independent. And by 'widely panned' they mean 'whinged about by half-a-dozen malcontents on Twitter whose views matter not in the slightest except to Middle Class hippy Communist journalists who believe that social media is "the sole arbiter of the worth of all things."' Which, just in case you agree with them, it isn't. And, whilst were about it, who uses the word 'panned' to mean 'whinged about' in anything other than an ironic sense? The BBC - seemingly nowhere near as bothered by the whinging of some malcontents on Twitter as the Indi and the Gruniad Morning Star - has suggested it is more than happy for the show to continue should Mercurio want to make more. And, considering that the finale had an overnight audience of almost thirteen million punters - most of whom aren't members of the Twatterati - who can, honestly, express any surprise at this 'news'? In a statement, the BBC's Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore said: 'I'm looking forward to having a conversation with the team about where we go next and what the future of the series might be.' Moore added: 'Addictive event television, Line Of Duty has kept the nation guessing for the last seven weeks, so it's no surprise that last night's jaw dropping finale set a ratings record.' She hailed Mercurio as 'a master of his craft,' continuing: 'I would like to congratulate him and the entire cast and crew for delivering such an incredible drama series.'
And, speaking of Jed Mercurio, the Line Of Duty creator has, very satisfyingly, bee-atch slapped one of the whinging malcontents on Twitter down into the gutter along with all the other turds. It was, dear blog reader, quite a sight to see. One trusts that 'Lorraine from the London area' was suitably chastened after receiving such a beautifully delivered withering put-down in front of all of her Twitter peers. That's what you get when you mess with Jed Mercurio, Lorraine from the London area. Bigger - and better paid - gobshites than you have tried before and received an even more vicious (metaphorical) slap in the mush. Take that there Cressida Dickhead, for one. 
Whilst many of us have occupied ourselves during the on going pandemic by performing some minor home improvements, for the former comedian Adrian Edmondson the usually straightforward act of cleaning his windows took a turn for the worse, according to a piece of gossip masquerading as 'journalism' in, of course, the Gruniad Morning Star. Edmondson described having to be rescued by fire services after getting himself trapped on his window ledge, saying that he had to ask passers-by to get help but that, despite the precarious position, the fire brigade 'didn't snigger too much' when they carried him to safety. Some of Edmondson's three hundred thousand plus followers on Twitter used the confession to link to his previous work, claiming that it sounded like a scene featuring his characters in The Young Ones or Bottom - when he used to be funny - and that it would have no doubt greatly amused his former comedy partner and co-star, the late, great Rik Mayall. The Gruniad then went on to expand four sodding paragraphs of newsprint and bandwidth on repeating several - not especially amusing - replies sent to Ade about his mishap. Trees died to bring you this crap, dear blog reader.
The Circle will not be returning to Channel Four, after three years on our screens. Because it was shit and no one was watching it, which is the reason why the vast majority of cancelled shows get cancelled in the first place. The only outstanding issue now, is for Channel Four to identify the brain-damaged moron or the victim of a cruel medical experiment who commissioned this atrocious banal slop in the first place and relieve them of their employment. Based around catfishing (no, me neither) and social media, contestants chat online and vote each other off based on popularity. And, trust this blogger, it was every single bit as horrific and vile as tat description makes it sound. The series was, for example, a prominent feature in From The North's Worst TV Shows of 2018 list. 'It was hosted by Maya Jama and Alice Levine - both of whom should be sodding ashamed of themselves - and has been compared to Big Brother,' this blogger wrote at the time. 'So, in other words, it's a TV format ripping off another TV format ... The series was won by twenty six-year-old "Internet comedian" (whatever that means) Alex Hobern, who had played the game claiming to be a twenty five-year-old woman called Kate, using photos of his real-life girlfriend, Millie. A single sentence which should sum up to everyone who avoided The Circle like the plague why you made entirely the right decision. This is television in Twenty First Century dear blog reader. Horrifying, isn't it?' It had three regular series and one featuring z-list alleged celebrity type individuals, each with contestants living in the same block of flats during the show. A spokesman for Channel Four lied: 'The Circle has been a huge hit for young audiences and has grown successively over three seasons.' And we know that's a lie because, if it wasn't, there's no way it would have been cancelled. The Z-List Celebrity Circle was won by Lady Leshurr (no, me neither), who pretended to be one Big Narstie. No one knows why.
The story that From The North favourite Susanna Hoffs was 'pranked' into singing the vocal on The Bangles 1987 number one 'Eternal Flame' whilst naked by the song's producer Davitt Sigerson is not new. Susanna mentioned it in the 2015 BBC documentary I'm In A Girl Group and, prior to that, in a 2012 interview with Rock Cellar magazine. But, that didn't stop the Gruniad Morning Star from treating this amusing but somewhat lightweight story as an 'exclusive' in a recent piece. 'Davitt had recently produced Olivia Newton-John and pranked me by telling me she did her best vocals in the nude,' Sussana told interviewer Amy Fleming who, seemingly, couldn't believe her luck at the 'scoop' she'd just been given. 'I imagined it would feel like skinny dipping - vulnerable yet freeing - and I decided to try it. Nobody could see me; there was a baffle in front of me and it was dark. After the first song went so well, I became superstitious about it, like in sports where you have to have your rabbit’s foot, and ended up compelled to skinny dip my way through most of the album.'
A recent discussion on Facebook focused this blogger's attention on the history of the BBC's acquisition of Star Trek back in the day. The popular American SF drama (you might've heard of it) was bought by the BBC in either late 1968 or early 1969 at almost exactly the same time that, in the US, NBC were in the process of cancelling it (production on the final episode, Turnabout Intruder, wrapped in Los Angeles on 3 January 1969). It's worth remembering, of course, that contrary to the iconic worldwide status the franchise subsequently achieved, Star Trek was never a hit in America, either critically or commercially, during its initial run - constantly being on the verge of cancellation during its three series after its debut in 1966. When this blogger was co-authoring The Doctor Who Discontinuity Guide in the early 1990s, the question of when, exactly, knowledge of Star Trek first arrived in the corridors of the BBC cropped up. Some of the later Patrick Troughton Doctor Who stories seemed to contain a few, stray, elements which could, at a stretch, have been described as being 'inspired' by aspects Star Trek. Albeit they were mostly aesthetic - like, for instance, Dudley Simpson's eerie choral-heavy music for the opening sequence in The Ice Warriors (produced in the autumn of 1967). Certainly the LP Leonard Nimoy Presents Mister Spock's Music From Outer Space had received a UK release - on Dot Records - in 1967 (a full two years before the series finally turned up on telly in Britain) although whether Dudley, or anyone else at the BBC, had heard it at that stage is unknown.
Myself and my fellow authors asked Terrance Dicks - then Doctor Who's script editor - when he first recalled hearing about Star Trek. He noted that he and producers Derrick Sherwin and Peter Bryant had been shown a handful of Star Trek episodes by the BBC's then head of drama, Shaun Sutton, during the period before the BBC committed to purchased the series and had been asked for their opinions on it. They had, Terrance recalled, been positive although he doubted that - with its far higher production budget - the series had much of an influence over Doctor Who at that time. The BBC thus became the broadcaster for Star Trek in the UK for the next twenty years. Curiously, episodes were not shown in either US broadcast or production order (although unlike NBC in America, the Where No Man Has Gone Before pilot episode was shown first by the BBC, on 12 July 1969. Stark Trek was, initially, placed in Doctor Who's traditional 5.15pm Saturday tea-time slot, sandwiched between Grandstand and the Simon Dee chat show, the sixth series of Doctor Who having concluded with the final episode of The War Games on 21 June.
The first twenty five Star Trek episodes broadcast in the UK, a combination of stories from the first and second US series', ran during 1969 until 27 December (meaning, for example, that the character of Chekov was introduced to UK viewers earlier than he had been to those in the USA). The BBC edited some episodes of their more violent content and/or for timing reasons. There seemed to be no obvious rationale for the order in which episodes were broadcast - for example, one of the series most famous stories, The City On The Edge Of Forever, the twenty eighth episode to be broadcast in the US was shown third in the UK run (on 26 July). Other early highlights included the two-part The Menagerie (shown on 23 August and 30 August) and The Devil In The Dark (6 September). All episodes were broadcast in black and white up to and including another of this blogger's favourites, What Are Little Girls Made Of? on 8 November. The following Saturday was BBC1's first full day of colour broadcasting and the first episode of Star Trek to benefit from this technological leap forward was another memorable one, Arena. At which point people in Britain were shocked - and stunned - to discover that Starfleet uniforms were, actually, red, yellow and blue rather than the various shades of grey they had previously assumed them to be.
Following the return of Doctor Who in January 1970, the BBC reassessed their placement of Star Trek, moving it to Monday evenings at 7.10pm when it returned on 6 April 1970. The second 'series' - twenty one episodes - were mostly drawn from the second US series, with a few leftovers from the first and included the debut UK broadcasts of such well-remembered stories as The Trouble With Tribbles (1 June 1970), Bread & Circuses (8 June) and Journey To Babel (22 June). The run concluded with A Piece Of The Action on 7 September 1970. However, within a month the show returned, switched again, this time to Wednesday evenings at either 7.10pm or 7.20pm from 7 October for a further seventeen episodes. This featured a rag-tag mixture of episodes from all three US series, including the first UK showings of Mirror, Mirror (11 November) and Amok Time (25 November).
However, problems lay ahead. On 2 December 1970 the BBC showed the last remaining unbroadcast first series episode, Miri. Almost certainly it had been held back to this point because someone sensed the episode, with its storyline concerning a community of feral, Lord Of The Flies-type children might be problematic when shown in what was still seen as, essentially, a 'family viewing' slot. Sure enough, the episode did prompt more than the usual number of complaints from parents who considered it to be too disturbing for seven year olds. The BBC seemingly agreed; the corporation looked through the rest of the episodes which they hadn't shown up to that point and decided that three - The Empath, Whom God's Destroy and Plato's Stepchildren - couldn't be edited to an acceptable level and were, therefore, effectively, 'banned'. (Rumours persist to this day - as this article proves - that the real reason the latter was on the disapproved list was due to the US controversy over the episode's famous inter-racial kiss rather than anything related to violence. Whether that's true or not, we may never know.) The Empath had, in fact, been due to go out on BBC1 on 16 December 1970 and was even listed as such in the Radio Times but it was replaced by The Paradise Syndrome at the eleventh hour.
The final batch of fifteen Star Trek episodes were broadcast on BBC1 in 1971, starting with Spectre Of The Gun on 15 September. This included the series worst episode, the risible Spock's Brain (13 October) and concluding with Turnabout Intruder on 15 December, the last UK debut for a Star Trek episode for over twenty years. Along with Miri the three unbroadcast episodes remained unbroadcast throughout the regular (and hugely popular) BBC repeat runs of the 1970s and 1980s. Because 'they all dealt most unpleasantly with the already unpleasant subjects of madness, torture, sadism and disease,' the BBC said in a reply sent to the Star Trek Action Group, a fan collective who, in 1976, had written to the Beeb asking, politely, why those three episodes had never been shown in Britain.
There was, eventually, a happy conclusion to all this nonsense. The story goes that, following the success of the BBC's broadcast of the first three series of The Next Generation (1990 to 1992), the corporation decided to, again, repeat the entire original Star Trek series this time on BBC2 starting with the first UK showing of the original pilot, The Cage (18 August 1992). However, when they looked at their film copies of the 1960s episodes, they were rather battered, scratched and faded after twenty years of regular showings. So, the BBC ordered a complete new set of prints from America. And it was, seemingly, only at this stage that they looked again at the 'banned' episodes and wondered 'why are these on the banned list?' given how much the world had changed in the ensuring two decades since those decisions had been made. So, the first UK broadcasts of the three previously unbroadcast episodes took place around Christmas and New Year of 1993-94 (22 December 1993, 5 January 1994 and 19 January 1994). Perhaps surprisingly, given the controversial nature of the whole issue, the BBC didn't make a particularly big deal in terms of publicity surrounding these 'first' broadcasts and it is probable that some of the audience outside of the chalk circle of rabid Star Trek fandom, didn't even realise they were watching episodes they had never seen before. The run also saw the first UK broadcast of Miri in twenty two years. And, also, because of various edits which had been made over the years that was the first occasion the majority of UK viewers had ever seen Star Trek episodes in full as originally broadcast in America.  
Records that yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been trying to track down a copy of for far too long that he's finally managed to lay his hands on via the Interweb. Part one (of a potentially on-going series). The George Martin Orchestra Gets Shafted. 'Y'all take this honky out an' waste him!'
According to the BBC News website, Coldplay's Chris Martin says lockdown made him confront his ego. So, seemingly, what our mothers used to tell us was true, dear blog reader, every cloud does have a silver lining. Now, hopefully Martin's 'confrontation with his ego' will have resulted in him not making any more of those wretched records which sold in their millions - to Middle Class hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers, mostly - but, when played, evaporated on contact with the ear. We can but dream, dear blog reader. Dreaming (as Blondie - as far better band than bloody Coldplay - once said) is free.
Two jellyfish were swimming in the sea, dear blog reader. One said to the other: 'Have you heard about Harry?' The other jellyfish replied that he had not. 'What's up with him?' 'You'll never guess who he stung,' said the first jellyfish. 'He only went and stung Sting?' 'Harry stung Sting?' asked the second jellyfish. 'Sting, the former singer with The Police.' 'Yeah.' 'Sting, the lute playing, tantric sex advocate and would-be saviour of the planet?' 'The very same.' 'So,' asked the second jellyfish, 'what happened?' 'Aw, man, it was a total tragedy,' replied the first jellyfish. 'He was in so much pain. They tried peeing on it, they tried medication, they tried even stronger medication, they tried positive thinking, nothing worked. The doctors couldn't do anything for him.' 'That's terrible,' said the second jellyfish. 'You're telling me, mate. After three days of screaming uncontrollable agony and hallucinations, poor Harry died ...' Nah, listen ...
The lawyer for a Delaware man charged over the Capitol attack in January is reported to be floating a unique defence: FAUX News made him do it. Anthony Antonio, who is facing five charges including violent entry, disorderly conduct, impeding law enforcement during civil disorder and general naughtiness in a public arena, fell prey to the persistent lies about the so-called 'stolen election' being spread daily by now extremely former President Mister Rump and the right-wing scumbag network that served him, his attorney Joseph Hurley claimed during a video hearing on Thursday. Antonio spent the six months before the riots mainlining FAUX News while extremely unemployed, Hurley said, likening the side effects of such a steady diet of misinformation to a mental health syndrome. 'Fox television played constantly,' Hurley said. 'He became hooked with what I call "Foxitis" or "Foxmania" and became interested in the political aspect and started believing what was being fed to him.' Antonio's segment was somehow only the second most notable part of the hearing according to media reports. 'Another defendant shouted obscenities, sending the proceedings into near chaos at one point.' Hurley's argument calls to mind the infamous 'The Devil made me do it' defence, although one might argue The Devil has nothing on the prolific manipulators at FAUX News. And, whilst there is certainly an element of believability to the harmful nature of persistent right-wing scumbag propaganda effectively manipulating a person's ability to distinguish fact from reality it remains to be seen whether or not there is considered to be any legal merit to such a claim. For Fox's sake, if noting else. Multiple videos obtained by the FBI from the day of the riot appear to show Antonio as being especially active in the chaos. He is seen wearing a bulletproof vest featuring a patch of the anti-government extremist group The Three Percenters. At one point in video footage he can be seen shouting at officers: 'You want war? We got war. 1776 all over again.' It was a revolutionary sentiment spread by the radical right-wing congresswoman Lauren Boebert and others on the day. Elsewhere, Antonio is seen with a riot shield that appeared to have been stolen from law enforcement, squirting liquid on an officer being dragged into a crowd, stealing a gas mask and jumping through a broken window into the Capitol. FAUX News has continued to spread misinformation about what happened that day. The network is currently being sued for billions of dollars by two voting machine companies, Smartmatic and Dominion, for spreading lies about their role in the alleged 'theft' of the erection.
Billie Hayes, whose portrayal of the flamboyantly and comically wicked witch Witchiepoo on the Saturday morning live-action children's classic HR Pufnstuf, died of natural causes on 29 April at Cedar's Hospital in Los Angeles. She was ninety six. Her death was announced by her family. A Broadway veteran by the time she reached national fame as the flute-stealing nemesis to a psychedelic dragon, Hayes had starred as Mammy Yokum in both the Broadway and film versions of the popular late-1950s musical Lil' Abner. She made her Broadway debut in New Faces Of 1956 along with an ensemble that included Maggie Smith. Following a couple of guest appearances on episodic TV in 1967 - including a Mammy Yokum-type matriarch in the Hillbilly Honeymoon episode of The Monkees - Hayes endeared herself to a generation of glued-to-the-TV Saturday morning viewers in 1969 as the eccentrically costumed, ever-cackling and always bumbling Wilhelmina W Witchiepoo. With a performance panache that was so-over-the-top-it-was-down-the-other-side even by the standards of the Sid and Marty Krofft universe of costumed creatures, Hayes was an immediate scene-stealer. Though Witchiepoo was the HR Pufnstuf nominal villain, intent on stealing the magical talking Freddy the Flute as if he were a pair of ruby slippers, Hayes' wildly entertaining vaudeville, slapstick style had legions of young viewers rooting her on to a victory that never came. 'Why me?,' she would constantly whine after the inevitable backfiring of her latest evil scheme. Born in Du Quoin, Illinois, Hayes began her showbusiness career aged nine, dancing professionally in local nightclubs. While still in high school, she joined the fourteen-piece regional orchestra of Vince Genovese and performed solo in her teens in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. After moving to New York, Hayes performed selections from her nightclub song-and-dance routine in an audition for famed theater impresario J. Shubert, who was so taken with her comic and musical talents that he cast her in principal roles of three roadshow operettas: Student Prince, The Merry Widow and Blossom Time. Soon, she was co-starring with fellow newcomer Paul Lynde in the New York revue What's New?, which led to her Broadway debut in Leonard Sillman's New Faces show. She then took over the role of Mammy Yokum from the original cast's Charlotte Rae, finding herself alongside another up-and-comer in the replacement cast, Valerie Harper. Hayes, with old-age make-up, a white wig and a long-stemmed pipe, would reprise the role in Paramount's 1959 film adaptation of Lil' Abner and, in 1971, a TV-movie version. She would return to the stage in the late 1960s as the character Minnie Fay in the national touring company of Hello, Dolly! starring Betty Grable. After her 1969 arrival in the cult Sid and Marty Krofft series, which also starred Jack Wild as the on-the-run Dorothy Gale-stand-in Jimmy and, providing the voice of Pufnstuf The Dragon, Lennie Weinrib (actor Roberto Gamonet was inside the puffy, full-body green-and-yellow costume), Hayes had found what would be her signature role. She returned as the character in the 1970 feature film adaptation Pufnstuf, along with Wild, Martha Raye and, in her sole feature role, Mama Cass Elliot (as Witch Hazel). Hayes even reprised the role in 1976 on the ABC Halloween star vehicle of her old friend Paul Lynde, appearing with The Wizard of Oz's Margaret Hamilton in a comedy sketch which revealed the sisterly bond between the two famous witches. The cancelation of HR Pufnstuf in 1970 led to yet another Krofft casting, this time in the dual role of Witchiepoo and the kindlier Weenie the Genie in the even more bonkers Lidsville (1971-72), with Charles Nelson Reilly taking the show's chief villain spot as the magician Horatio J Hoodoo. Hayes had a long and busy subsequent TV career in voice roles - The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, The Flintstones Comedy Show, Trollkins, The Real Ghostbusters, Rugrats, Transformers: Rescue Bots, among many others - and she appeared in a recurring role on the daytime soap General Hospital in the early 1980s as a street-wise international spy, Brighton O'Reilly. Off-screen, Hayes founded the Los Angeles-based animal rescue non-profit organisation Pet Hope, a cause she had championed since adopting a puppy abandoned in the basement of Broadway's St James Theatre during the run of Lil' Abner. Hayes is survived by her niece, Nancy Powers, nephews Tom Brosch, Louie Brosch and Guy Brosch and several great-nieces and nephews.
As a postscript to the previous, sad, item, this blogger has to report that he once risked arrest at Minneapolis International Airport. When, as he was about to catch a plane back to the UK following a visit in 2001, during a bag-check, the airport official discovered, in this blogger's suitcase, a carrier bag containing a video box-set. A video box-set of HR Pufnstuf to be exact, which this blogger has purchased for his (weird) fiend, Christopher. 'Err, that's not mine,' this blogger hurriedly told the official, only later reflecting that this was, he suspected, exactly the sort of thing the poor chap normally heard from recently captured heroin traffickers. Fortunately, perhaps, the official saw the funny side of the situation. Otherwise, it is perfectly possible that Keith Telly Topping would have been writing From The North for the past two decades from a cell in The Federal Joint whilst doing a thirty-to-life stretch (without the possibility of parole) for 'being a smartarse in the USA.' True story, dear blog reader. Still, it could've been worse, in less enlightened times one could get sent to The Chair for possession of anything related to Scooby Doo, Where Are You? Well know fact, that.