Monday, February 01, 2021

"If I Be Waspish, Best Beware My Sting"

We kick off ye latest From The North bloggerisationism update with the TV Comedy Moment Of The Week. Which, of course, came from Would I Lie To You? and involved national treasure Bob Mortimer and a story involving Damon Hill, the British Grand Prix and a 'lucky' Scotch Egg. What's not to love, dear blog reader?
A year-and-a-half after first being announced and picked up as a series, Netflix has revealed some of the cast for its big-budget adaptation of Neil Gaiman's much-loved The Sandman. Tom Sturridge will play the title role of Dream whilst Game Of Thrones' Gwendoline Christie will co-star as Lucifer Morningstar. Vivienne Acheampong, Boyd Holbrook, Charles Dance, Asim Chaudhry and Sanjeev Bhaskar will also featured in the long-awaited fantasy drama. There's still no news on who will be playing Dream's sister, Death yet, however. Which is probably going to be the ultimate deal-breaker as to whether this blogger will adore the series the mostest, baby, when it finally arrives or whether he will merely like it a great deal.
In a recent From The North bloggerisation update yer actual Keith Telly Topping drew dear blog reader's attention to the first part of Josh Snares' superb How Doctor Who's Missing Episodes Came Back video series. 'Thoughtful, balanced, immaculately researched and, just as an added bonus, really funny,' as this blogger noted at the time.
Well, Part Two in now extremely available for viewing on You Tube. Detailing the fascinating and complex story of how we went from having one hundred thirty odd 1960s episodes of Doctor Who missing from the Beeb's - shamefully incomplete - archive to the present total of only (and this blogger uses that word with some, necessary, irony) ninety seven. A third part of the series is, apparently, planned focusing on the state of the post-1970 archives and why some of the early Mister Pertwee serials only existed as (in the case of The Ambassadors Of Death really 'orrible quality) monochrome telerecordings. And, if you want to check out some of the other videos on Josh's You Tube channel, you can find them, here.
This blogger has been reading an awful lot of online articles over the last few weeks, dear blog reader. Far more than usual, in fact. Well, we are currently under complete-and-total-bloody-lockdown here at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House (more on that subject later in this bloggerisationism update). And thus, this blogger needs something to stave off the boredom of waiting for the end of the world other than contemplating the inherently ludicrous nature of existence. Anyway, one of the most amusingly-told and, hopefully, non-apocryphal, stories this blogger has read of late is this piece at Far Out magazine, Lee Thomas-Mason's Exploring David Bowie's Awkward Friendship With Roger Moore. If it isn't true, God, is should be!
Along similar lines, Entertainment Weekly has a lovely article-cum-interview concerning From The North favourite Edgar Wright's forthcoming independently funded documentary about From The North favourites Sparks with contributions from Edgar, Ron and Russell. Edgar, the interviewer notes, interviewed an extraordinary array of Sparks fans during the making of his film. How, the interviewer asked, did he know who was a Sparks fan, or 'do they just all gather together at mad Sparks cult weekends?' His reply was both funny and very revealing. 'There are people who are noted Sparks fans, who have said so before, like Steve Jones or Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert from New Order. Dave Weigel had replied to something I'd said about Sparks. It was interesting, the people who came out of the woodwork. And, then there are other people who you assume are a Sparks fan. I probably made that assumption with Beck or Patton Oswalt. I just approached them and went, "You like Sparks, right?" And they said, "I love Sparks!" It's almost like a Freemasons handshake, where you got an inkling about who might be a Sparks fan. It seemed obvious to talk to Ron and Russell and people that they'd worked with, but very quickly it became a chance to tell a bigger oral history where you're seeing who Ron and Russell are inspired by, the music they make, the people who are listening to that and the music they make. So putting Sparks at the epicentre of all this amazing culture. And not just music. What's great about the talking heads is you've got people from the worlds of film and TV and comedy and literature and political journalism. It was interesting to me to show how many people out there are obsessed. Hopefully the documentary will create a lot more fervent fans.' This blogger cannot wait to watch The Sparks Brothers, which premiered this week at the - virtual - Sundance Film Festival, whenever it eventually reaches the UK. If the trailer is anything to go by, it's gonna be large.
Another From The North favourite, Mitch Benn, is - finally - publishing the third part of his Terra trilogy, shortly. In an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star, Mitch explains how the first two books came about and why the third one took so long.
This blogger's favourite article of the week, however, was undoubtedly BBC News's UK Government Backs Birth Control For Grey Squirrels. One can imagine the parents of author Justin Rowlett, proudly discussing their son's flourishing journalistic career with fiends. 'Oh yes, he's doing very well at the BBC, he's writing about squirrels now. And contraceptives ...'
What's On TV reports that the much-anticipated return of Ben Miller and Sara Martins to Death In Paradise will occur on Friday 5 February. The big question in the case of Ben's character, of course, is how can someone who was brutally murdered back in series three suddenly be alive and well, again? One is sure they'll have an answer for that which doesn't involve someone stepping out of a shower. Or, maybe it will?
One of the - few - plus sides of the current lockdown type malarkey is that, just occasionally, you stumble across something during an afternoon of channel-surfing on the massive Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House TV-box which, however momentarily, takes you away from a world of plague, pestilence, famine, whatever the Fourth Horseman was, now extremely former President Mister Rump and so on. Case in point this Thursday when Keith Telly Topping, having just returned from a brief stroll down to the local pharmacy to collect his latest batch of very hard drugs happened upon an afternoon showing of one of his favourite movies, The Way Ahead on Talking Pictures. For about ninety minutes, this blogger could forget all about The Four Horseman (well, except for war, obviously) and just be taken to a different time. It felt great (not something one normally says about the Second World War, admittedly).
As mentioned in the last From The North bloggerisationism update, From The North favourite Engrenages ended with a bang when the final two episodes were broadcast on BBC4 on Saturday. And, long-term fans were given what was, perhaps, the most unexpected - but, wholly, welcome - happy ending on TV since The Bridge. There's a fine summation of the finale by the Gruniad Morning Star's regular Spiral reviewer, James Donaghy and, in the same media organ, a decent - if a bit overly crawly-bum-lick - piece on the series as a whole by Graeme Virtue. 'How do you sum up Spiral, a show that - over the course of eight seasons and eighty six episodes - evolved from a buzzy breakout hit to a long-in-the-tooth warhorse?' asks the latter. That it was, you know, brilliant maybe? Or is that too simplistic for the Gruniad Morning Star? Why use four words when you can use fifteen hundred instead? Anyway, as Laure and Gilou strolled off, hand-in-hand into an uncertain (but, hopefully, non-jail-specific) future, this blogger wished to add From The North's thanks to the producers and cast for the single best gritty and extremely violent Parisian crime and legal drama of the last decade. And, probably, ever.
Meanwhile, From The North favourite of the moment, Efterforskningen (The Investigation) is starting to make big - or, at the very least, medium-sized - waves across The Atlantic. As this piece - The Investigation Will Frustrate You (On Purpose) - in Vulture demonstrates. So, for that matter, does Daniel D'Addario of Vanity Fair's review The Investigation Is 2021's First Great Drama. Spot on.
Dear blog readers with memories longer than the average goldfish may recall that this blogger was particularly harsh on certain TV critics during From The North's Best & Worst TV Of 2020 awards. Most notably over a couple of reviews of the third series of what had previously been a critical favourite, Killing Eve and what this blogger described in the piece as 'the horribly obvious nature of the British media's "arse-lick-'em-up-and-then-slap-'em-down-hard" attitude to any form of success.' One of those who copped this blogger's particular ire and righteous fury was one Anita Singh of the Torygraph. Her claims that 'the novelty has worn off' and that Killing Eve was 'no longer TV's must-watch' caused this blogger to, angrily, observe 'the fact that some arrogant smear of no consequence considers liking any TV show to be "a novelty" tells you everything that you need to know about Anita Singh of the Torygraph.' Well, the odious and nasty Ms Singh of the Torygraph - who is rapidly turning into this blogger's most loathed TV critic of all time (taking the place of previous From The North bucket of shite That Awful Graham Woman who writes for Radio Times) - has been at it again, dear blog reader. The opening episode of the second series of From The North favourite Staged was her target as Singh criticised the 'meta' aspects of the series, saying 'Staged is at its best when [David Tennant and Michael Sheen] are being funny, rather than debating whether or not they're funny.' This blogger thinks, actually, that's for the audience to decide, Anita m'love, not some arsewipe of no importance at the Torygraph. Antia, however, was not alone in her use of the 'arse-lick-'em-up-and-then-slap-'em-down-hard' attitude to success in relation to Staged. One Rupert Hawksley (no, me neither) - who, seemingly, couldn't get a job at the newspaper designed for Middle Class hippy Communists, the Gruniad, so he had to go to the Independent instead - called the first episode 'stale and indulgent [...] Perhaps Staged was always this smug and we just didn't notice, so grateful were we to have something new to watch, but the tone is now horribly out of step with the national mood.' Once again, pal, the national mood is not something which gets decided by some joyless goitre pushing out their phlegm in the (distantly) fourth biggest selling national broadsheet. Or, someone who has the gall to describe anything as 'smug' when writing for a newspaper for whom the word could almost have been specifically created. These are, of course, classic examples of the 'arse-lick-'em-up-and-then-slap-'em-down-hard' principle. And, in the case of the latter, it's also a textbook case of something this blogger's old mate Paul Cornell - now, of course, an acclaimed TV writer his very self - once talked about in relation to ambition and Doctor Who fans. 'If you try to show a fan a point,' Paul once said, wearily, 'chances are, they'll miss it.' If ever there was a finer example of that in relation to TV critique, it's describing Staged as 'smug.' Self-deprecating? Yeah. Arch? Possibly, this blogger might give you that. Ridiculous? Deliberately so. But 'smug'? TV critics, dear blog reader, they're a right bunch of contrary twats at the best of times. This blogger very much included. Here endeth the lesson.
The above rant, dear blog reader, does rather bring to mind another example of TV critic glakery which this blogger was recently discussing in relation to Peter Flannery's acerbic socio-political masterpiece Our Fiends In The North. This blogger's most excellent fiend, Christian, had been watching the series again on Britbox and wrote a glowing piece about it on his Facebook page. Which caused this blogger to recall something which is often forgotten now (and that Wikipedia, for example, appears to have conveniently airbrushed from history). That when the series began in early 1996 it got some appalling reviews. Particularly one by a Middle Class hippy Communist wanker at the Gruniad which, basically, claimed that it was worst thing the Middle Class hippy Communist wanker - whose name has now, mercifully disappeared into the murk of history - had ever seen. They criticised minor aesthetic points - like a party rosette being the wrong colour - and the fact that one character was called Geordie in a story set in the North East (completely ignoring the fact that everyone in the North East whose first name is George gets that nickname whether they want it or not). And, astonishingly, they also described some of the acting as 'wooden'. In a cast featuring Christopher Eccleston, Mark Strong, Wor Geet Canny Gina McKee, Daniel Craig, Peter Vaughan, David Bradley, Alun Armstrong and Malcolm McDowell among others. A couple of the other reviews were, similarly, a bit sniffy - albeit nowhere near as offensively punchable as the Gruniad one. It was only around episode three that, this blogger believes it was the Torygraph, gave it a really glowing review and then, suddenly, it was like everyone and their dog collectively said 'oh yeah, it is good. I thought it was but, you know, the Gruniad was so down on it ...' The BBC started including some of the more 'five star' style comments in forthcoming episode trailers including a quote from the previously-mentioned Torygraph review which said - and this blogger is paraphrasing here -  something along the lines of 'in an era where politics has become vapid and bland, a reminder of a time when ideals and values actually meant something.' But this blogger can still remember, even by the end of the series where one of the broadsheets did an overview, the Middle Class hippy Communist wanker from the Gruniad remained of the opinion that well, it might've got a bit better as it went on but the first episode was still rotten. There was, admittedly, some more thoughtful critique - Lucy Ellman's piece in the Independent On Sunday, for example, which praised the series as a piece of drama but found issue with Flannery's 'concentration on friendship rather than family,' which Wikipedia quotes extensively. It's not something this blogger agrees with in the slightest but, at least Ellman provided some thought behind her sour tutting. Of course, these days, if you type the words Gruniad Morning Star and Our Fiends In The North into Google you'll get directed to various Stalinist-like history-rewriting guff like this and this: 'These are rich, beautifully drawn characters. Almost without exception, they can tug on your heartstrings and then repulse you within the space of a couple of scenes. Compare this with The Crown - which, in its less inspired moments, feels like a whistle-stop tour of old headlines - and the quality of the writing is immediately apparent,' claims the latest in a long line of Middle Class hippy Communists at the Gruniad, Stuart Heritage. What a great pity it was that Stuart didn't use the opportunity to delve into the Gruniad's own archives and give readers the opportunity to recall what a bunch of sour-faced Middle Class hippy Communist wankers used to (and, indeed, still do) write for the Gruniad in a reviewing capacity. This time, dear blog reader, the lesson really is endeth!
Speaking about fiends in Th' North, a few weeks ago dear blog reader yer actual Keith Telly Topping made a shocking - and stunning - discovery, one of the most singularly horrifying things ever. Bar none. If this blogger is ever thinking about ordering a Chinese takeaway - not an unusual occurrence here at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House as regular From The North dear blog readers well know only too well - this blogger usually goes to one of the two establishments closest to Stately Telly Topping Manor, Tams or the Royal Sky. But, just occasionally, he may fancy a change so the other one he uses, if more more periodically, is the Happy Chef on Station Road in Waalsend. It's only a couple of miles away from the gaff and delivery normally doesn't take more than about forty minutes. How disgusted was this blogger, then, to discover purely by accident that the flat directly above the takeaway was, in fact, the birthplace - and childhood home - of That Sting.
Yes, That Sting, this blogger's bête noire. That Sting with his 'orrible pretentious lute stylings and his daft cod-Jamaican singing voice. That Sting with his 'if you ever see me back in that place you know I screwed up really badly' rhetoric when he first made it with The Poliss. But who, twenty five years later, managed to drop into every interview how, whether he's in his penthouse apartment in New York or his four hundred acre estate in Tuscany, on a Saturday night he just had to get on the Interweb and 'find out how Th' Toon have got on.' So, when - fully aware of this dreadful new knowledge - this blogger ordered something from the Happy Chef this week he was fully expecting to get food poisoning from it at the very least. Because, That Sting always leaves yer actual Keith Telly Topping with a dreadful pain in the Gulliver.
In the event, dear blog reader, this blogger hasn't died yet so we should probably take that as a positive sign. And, yes, he really did deserve this ...
He also, if you're wondering, really deserved this salt and chilli King Prawn with Oyster Sauce which he got from the Royal Sky a few days later. Just, you know, for balance and in the interests of full disclosure and accuracy.
Well, dear blog reader, miraculously it would appear that, just occasionally, there are some things on Twitter which are worth reading and which almost justify social media's existence. Case in point - 
Which, of course, brings us - unhappily - to this week's 'we've been asked to speak politics to you today' segment. This blogger feels that there are a number of entirely legitimate questions which should be asked about the way in which many aspects of the pandemic situation has been handled in the UK, in particular by the government. However, Keith Telly Topping still believes that the time for that debate is not now, in the middle of a plague. There will, this blogger believes, be time enough for such a debate when all of this horror is over - indeed, Keith Telly Topping thinks it's probably fair to say that the next general erection is likely to be, at least in part, a referendum on the government's handling of the pandemic. Nevertheless, it was interesting to read a piece in the Daily Mirra this week in which the authors - Dan Bloom, Lizzy Buchan and Oliver Milne - listed fifteen ways they believe Boris Johnson didn't 'do everything we could' to stop over one hundred thousand Covid deaths. This blogger was not surprised to discover his own particular pet peeve was included in the list at number thirteen; the way in which in the lead up to the first lockdown (and, indeed, well into it) there was still a major debate going on about whether wearing a mask would make any difference. We were into mid-April before that became stated government policy, the previous excuse being that the science on the matter was alleged to be 'inconclusive.' Common sense told anyone with half-a-brain in their head otherwise. 'For months Boris Johnson - and his medical advisors - insisted there was little benefit of covering your face to slow the spread of coronavirus,' the article states. 'But three months after the first case reached the UK - Johnson admitted: "I do think face coverings will be useful, both for epidemiological reasons, but also for giving people confidence that they can go back to work."' Face coverings were later made mandatory by law on public transport, followed - eventually - by shops and supermarkets and other venues such as churches and cinemas. 'Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty admitted masks were one of the main lessons learned from the pandemic,' the article concludes. No shit? 
Anyway, as noted, there will be a time for much reflection on all of this in the months ahead. For the record, this blogger believes that it was clear from early March that a lockdown was needed but the government held off for, probably a fortnight at least (maybe a bit longer) than they needed to, one presumes because they were scared about what would happen to the economy. How ludicrous that feels now given what's happened since but this blogger is quite sure that was their thinking at the time. Having sneered at the very suggestions of a lockdown in February (see item number one on the Mirra's list of shame) by mid-March it was increasingly clear that such a thing had become unavoidable. Nevertheless. Johnson 'was accused of dithering over lockdown for a few crucial days in March while the virus spun out of control,' the authors note. 'The Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool versus Atletico Madrid were allowed to go ahead early in the month while fears mounted. The Prime Minister announced people [should] stop all "unnecessary" social contact on 16 March - before lockdown legally took effect on 23 March. That meant pubs were allowed to stay open for almost a week despite the Prime Minister ordering citizens not to go to them. SAGE advisor John Edmunds said "poor" data back in March made it hard to "pull the trigger. But I wish we had, I wish we had gone into lockdown earlier. I think that has cost a lot of lives, unfortunately."' The country almost certainly came out of lockdown in June a bit too early. We almost certainly went back into lockdown two or three weeks too late in November (item six). The back-and-forth on whether Christmas was locked down or not was an utter fiasco and directly led to the third - or, is it fourth? - surge which we are still currently suffering the effects of (item fifteen). Yes, yes, yes, to all of those - it certainly seems to have been a case of one 'you're a couple of weeks behind the curve here, Boris, mate' situation after another. The government has spent much of the last year - perhaps, in some cases entirely understandably - being reactive rather than proactive. And, on the one or two occasions where they've tried being proactive, they've, it would appear, got those decisions completely wrong. It's not all their fault, of course and - despite this blogger's own political leanings - right now, party politics really has no place in this particular debate. There will be time for that - and for recriminations - at a later date. As this blogger notes, if the next erection isn't - in part - a referendum on how the mess was/is/will be handled, then it bloody-well should be.
If you fancy a - genuinely - sobering and appalling moment immersing yourself in just how bad the pandemic has been and how much worse it could get then the BBC News Visual and Data Journalism Team's article Coronavirus Cases, Deaths, Vaccinations By Country article is likely to make your blood run cold.
This blogger believes that this graph is, perhaps, the most revealing. Clearly suggesting that if you want to be safe from the potentially horrific icy tendrils of Covid-19 you need to get yourself over, jolly quickly, to From The North favourite The Federated States of Micronesia or one of its neighbouring Pacific nations. Those guys seem to have got the situation well under control.
As opposed you, know, everywhere else.
We reported in the last From The North bloggerisationism update about Forbes magazine's excellent piece 'We All Got Played': QAnon Followers Implode After Big Moment Never Comes, just one of several articles which delved into the murky and terrifying world of now extremely former President Mister Rump's - how can we put this most delicately - bloody barmy supporters. And their understandably deep, dark and terrible bewilderment and discombobulation that now extremely former President Mister Rump is, you know, now extremely former. BBC News' Biden Inauguration Leaves QAnon Believers In Disarray covered broadly similar themes and the Associated Press, NPR, The Washington Post and NBC News were also delighted to their own angles on this story. Well, the hits just keep on coming over the last few days as further articles like the Financial TimesQAnon In Crisis As Day Of Reckoning Fails To Materialise, CNN's Many Believed Conspiracy Theories About Trump And The Erection. Now, They're Losing Faith, GPB's Without Their "Messiah," QAnon Believers Confront A Post-Trump World and the Stuff website's Disillusioned QAnon Supporters In The US Reaching Out For Help prove. Twitter and Facebook have also been full of screengrabs of posts allegedly made to various right-wing websites in which some of those who drank the Kool Aid are now, seemingly, having second thoughts. One particularly widely-shared example is posted below. However, call this blogger a suspicious old cynical sausage if you like but something about this just screams 'fake' to yer actual. Maybe it is genuine but it seems a little too perfect, too bewildered, too full of self-loathing rather than wildly flailing anger at everyone else in the entire world. And, particularly the final two lines about the pandemic simply seem like a cherry on top of the cake that the cake, frankly, didn't need. This blogger suspects this may be the work of a disinformationer having a bit of a laugh at right-wing scumbags' expense. In which case, bravo, it's jolly well done. If just fractionally too neat (and, well-spelled) to be believable. If it is real, of course, then Sarah definitely needs to make sure he doesn't see his son again. Austin is well off without him. And, yes, mate, you should be wearing a mask because the virus is, horribly, real. 
The acting chief of the US Capitol Police has grovellingly apologised to Congress for not having done enough to prepare for the pro-Rump insurrection earlier this month. 'The department prepared in order to meet these challenges, but we did not do enough,' said Yogananda Pittman, who took over when the previous-chief resigned. Despite 'strong potential for violence' the force did not adequately prepare for a 'terrorist attack,' she added. Yes, indeed. The rest of the world did notice that, Yogananda. It was on TV and everything. Meanwhile, arrests continue and the charges just keep on piling up. And, there have been some court appearances including a figure familiar to From The North dear blog readers Bigo Barnett. Who had his latest session up-a'fore The Beak earlier this week. Quite laugh it was, too. Albeit, not for Bigo. An outraged federal judge in Washington ordered Barnett - who was, infamously, photographed with his feet up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk during the Capitol insurrection and then bragged about stealing her mail to the media afterwards - to remain exactly where he is, banged-up in The Slammer, pending trial. US District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell condemned the mob's attempt to 'disrupt the peaceful transfer of power' and described Bigo's actions as 'brazen, entitled [and] dangerous.' The judge argued that he had 'prepared with a weapon' and was 'cloaked with entitlement' and 'happy to be one of the stars' of the attack. As he left the Capitol building, Barnett boasted to reporters that he had left a quarter coin on the speaker's desk along with a note that said 'Nancy, Bigo was here, you Bitch.' 'I wrote her a nasty note, put my feet up on her desk and scratched my balls,' he told a reporter from the New York Times, proudly. Barnett was arrested on 8 January in Arkansas on a range of charges, including violent entry, entering government property with a dangerous weapon and theft. A seven-page statement of the facts pertaining to his arrest claims that the label of a stun gun brand is clearly visible on the gun tucked into his pants. 
   One of Bigo's fellow - equally widely mocked - domestic terrorist pals, QAnon Jake (who lives with his mom) has, reportedly, indicated his willingness to testify in the forthcoming impeachment trial of now extreely former President Mister Rump, his lawyer told Newsweek. Jake's sudden wish to be a law-abiding citizen and turn grass, snitching up his ex-idol like a dirty filthy stinkin' Copper's Nark, of course, wouldn't have anything whatsoever to do with now extremely former President Mister Rump's disinclination to grant him (and other seditious insurgents) a pardon. Before Rump left office and scuttled off to the Florida sun whilst Jake rots in a cell in DC (although at least he is getting his requested organic food now). Speaking to Newsweek, attorney Albert Watkins claimed that his client 'accepts responsibility' for having been incited by Rump and 'feels strongly that he needs to do everything he can to help the government.' And, stop his pretty-boy ass being traded for a pack of cigarettes in the showers, possibly. 'He has come to the conclusion and been made acutely aware of the fact that what has happened is instead of being the patriot who's trying to help his president save his country, he was made the fool,' Watkins claimed. One or two people even believed him.
'Even your friends and family are tipping us off. So you might want to consider turning yourself in instead of wondering when we're going to come knocking on your door - because we will.' That was the stark warning from Steven D'Antuono, the FBI's Washington field office assistant director, to the hundreds of now extremely former President Mister Rump supporters who stormed the US Capitol in the - failed - insurrection. Some of the highest profile alleged rioters have, reportedly, been snitched up like a good'un to The Feds by sons and daughters, ex-lovers, work colleagues and friends - a sobering illustration of how America's bitter political divide reaches down to everyday family life. The FBI has received at least one hundred and forty thousand photos, videos and tips in the weeks since the insurrection with acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen saying many were 'notably from friends, co-workers and other acquaintances.' Two women were arrested in Pennsylvania on Friday for activities linked to the storming of the Capitol after federal authorities said that one of them boasted on a selfie about wanting to shoot House speaker Nancy Pelosi. 'We broke into the Capitol. We got inside, we did our part,' Dawn Bancroft sneered in the video which she sent to her children, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the criminal complaint against the women. 'We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the friggin' brain, but we didn't find her.' The FBI arrested the women after receiving a tip about the selfie, presumably from a family member. Bancroft and her 'friend', Diana Santos-Smith, who was also captured on the video, face three federal charges, including knowingly entering a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry. If convicted, they are likely to be hit with a length spell in The Joint.
One person who has yet to be arrested for her wicked insurrectionist ways and naughty badness is That Awful Taylor Greene Woman. Though, given the fact that just about every media watcher in the world is, seemingly, currently looking at every word she's ever said and every video she's ever posted online it can't be too long before they find something illegal. Although interestingly - and, perhaps, wisely - the Biden Administration is reportedly refusing to give That Awful Taylor Greene Woman the attention she, so clearly, craves. The Biden administration's policy regarding the first-term congresswoman from Georgia was made clear on Wednesday when a reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki whether the President had any reaction to recent reports of online behaviour that many found appalling and disgraceful. 'We don't,' Psaki said, curtly. 'And I'm not going to speak further about her, I think, in this briefing room.' As, indeed, from now on this blog intends to do working on the 'if you ignore them, they might go away' principle. After all, dear blog reader, you don't have to talk about a piece of stinking shat lying in the gutter to know that it's there, do you?
And, speaking of awful, ludicrous, discredited and downright silly ladies, From The North favourite Sidney Powell, the attorney who was distanced from the now extremely former President's legal team because she pushed election-related conspiracies which even Rump seemingly found too hot to handle, was said to have submitted a lawsuit that 'breathed more lies' than most cases seen in court, after she challenged Michigan’s election results. Issuing a response to Powell's lawsuit on Thursday, lawyers for the City of Detroit said that the lawsuit contained 'warped logic' and dismissed claims that voting machines had been tampered with, among other completely daft conspiracy theories. 'Few lawsuits breathe more lies than this one,' said the forty five-page court document, which was shared online, to the glee of millions. 'The allegations are little more than fevered rantings of conspiracy theorists built on the work of other conspiracy theorists.' Lawyers went on to - metaphorically - eviscerate the former Rump campaign attorney and her wild allegations, saying that some complaints had already been dismissed in Michigan's courts and others had not even been considered by the President's legal team because they were 'off the wall. If any of the conspiracy theories contained in this case had merit, they would have been brought in those cases' or by the Rump campaign's legal team, said the court. Even the Rump campaign lawsuits have - strenuously - avoided the completely bonkers claims included in this particular lawsuit. The case was among two submitted by Powell after she was distanced from the Rump legal team last month, because she was said to have pushed its own conspiracies about the election too far. Both cases, including one in Georgia, were found to be riddled with typos and other inconsistencies and widely mocked when she published both cases on her website with titles that read: The Kraken Is Released On Georgia! and The Kraken Is Released On Michigan! Lawyers in Detroit responded to the inclusion of a fictional county in Powell's case, which she had named 'Edison County' and said that the mistake 'became a public embarrassment when it was reported by the press.' As well as a bruising assessment of her allegations, the court document went on to warn that Powell wanted 'nothing less than a court-ordered coup d'état. The fact that the Complaint is frivolous does not mean the lawsuit is not dangerous to our democracy,' it added. According to analysis by the Associated Press, six cases brought by the US president and Republican allies in Michigan have now either been rejected or dropped. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Thursday filed a motion for sanctions against three Michigan attorneys as well as Powell who 'pursued a frivolous lawsuit in an effort to disenfranchise Michigan's voters and undermine public trust in the outcome of the 2020 presidential election,' according to a press release. Powell is also currently facing a bowel-shattering one billion dollar plus defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems over her spurious claims about them. As noted in a previous bloggerisationisms update, no one seems entirely sure whether Sidney - or, indeed, her comedy double act partner Rudy Giuliani who is also being extremely sued by the company - actually have a billion bucks. But it should be jolly interesting to find out.
It's not just the now extremely former President's legal time that are having a bad time of it. According to Vanity Fair's article Trump Alums Can't Believe No One (Respectable) Will Hire Them After That Tiny Little Insurrection ex-White House staffers - at all levels - are finding new employment opportunities surprisingly limited given that the most recent line of their CV includes the words 'Working For Now Extremely Former President Mister Rump's Administration.' Which is a little like walking into a 1946 German equivalent of the Job Centre and, when filling in a form and asked for previous job title writing 'SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer.' Regardless of what happens next, the shocking - and stunning - indictment of Rump's presidency is that he is the only man to ever serve in The White House to be impeached twice, a record which is likely to stand for quite some time. This fact has, reportedly, led Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian for NBC News and the author of ten books on US presidents to brand Rump and his presidency as 'the definition of disgraced.'
A cemetery in Louisiana (where the cowshit lies thick) has, reportedly, apologised after refusing to bury a local black police officer because of a decades-old provision allowing only white people to rest in peace there. Can any dear blog reader confirm, this is 2021, isn't it, not 1821?
The well-naughty CEO of a Canadian casino company valued at nearly two billion bucks has extremely quit after he and his wife were busted and charged with lying to officials so they could get a Covid vaccine jab. Rod Baker, now formerly of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp and his wife, Ekaterina, had travelled from their home in Vancouver to the remote Northern Yukon territory for the inoculations. The region, home to many indigenous peoples, has a faster vaccination rate than in the rest of Canada, data shows. The couple had posed as motel workers, but their nefarious skulduggery was quickly revealed by locals. Presumably because of their highfalutin, vainglorious city slicker ways. They were discovered after asking to be taken to the airport straight after they had received the vaccination in the small community of Beaver Creek (stop sniggering at the back), on the border with Alaska. According to the New Hamburg Independent newspaper, the couple were uncovered and forced to walk the several miles back to the Beaver Creek airport after they were unable to get a ride from any of the town's one hundred and twenty five residents. Which, no doubt, absolutely ruined their - extremely expensive - shoes. In a statement to the BBC, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation said that Baker was 'no longer affiliated in any way with the company.' It added that its board of directors has 'no tolerance for actions that run counter to the company's objectives and values.' The Bakers are reportedly each facing fines of eleven hundred dollars for allegedly failing to self-isolate. They have also been charged with the considerably more serious 'failing to behave in a manner consistent with declarations' they made upon their arrival in Yukon, according to court documents obtained by CTV News. The latter charge is reported to carry a maximum sentence of six months in The Slammer.
And, just to prove it's not only in Canada that such criminal type malarkey occurs, BBC News reports that a driver went supermarket shopping in a second-hand ambulance with the emergency lights flashing. The ambulance was reportedly carrying a family when it arrived at the ASDA store in the Harpurhey area of Manchester on Wednesday. Traffic officers tweeted that the group 'promptly went inside to do their shopping.' The ambulance was seized and a man was later charged with a range of driving offences. The thirty two-year-old is due before magistrates in Manchester charged with driving while disqualified, driving without a licence, driving without insurance and using a vehicle with unauthorised blue lights. He also faces a charge of failing to appear at court at an earlier date on other charges. When asked by his daughter what daddy had been arrested for, his wife reportedly said 'everything, sweetheart. Everything.'
Two men who organised a mass snowball fight during the latest coronavirus lockdown have each been fined ten grand. Hundreds descended on Hyde Park in Leeds when heavy snowfall carpeted the city earlier this month. West Yorkshire Police said that the men, aged twenty and twenty three, had put those who took part or watched at 'a significant and completely unnecessary risk.' Chief Superintendent Damien Miller said that the event on 14 January had been a 'blatant breach' of the rules. 'We take absolutely no pleasure in handing out such heavy fines to these two young men, but their actions encouraged hundreds of people to be in close proximity to each other,' he said. The twenty three-year-old had previously received a fine for breaching restrictions on mixing households, the force added. Police declined to give any further details about how the men encouraged people to attend the snowball fight.
According to that ever-reliable provider of world class reportage Bang Showbiz 'John Challis says Nicholas Lyndhurst has "moved on" from Only Fools And Horses.' Unlike, seemingly, John Challis himself who only ever seems to heard about these days when tweeting something and being described in media reports about the contents of his tweets as 'John Challis, who used to play Boycie in Only Fools And Horses.' Never, please note, 'and, also,  in the completely unlamented spin-off The Green Green Grass which everyone pretends never happened. Well feel sorry for Maaaaaaar-Leeeeen ourselves.' Although, that wouldn't be anywhere near an unfair assessment.
And that, of course, brings us nicely to ...
It's been movie-week at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House, as it happens. With choices based, largely this blogger will freely admit, on what Mark Kermode has been recommending over on the Kermode & Mayo Film Review. Thus, Bill & Ted Face The Music.
M Night Shama-Lama-Ding-Dong's Glass.
Mary, Queen of Scots. Nice bread, Dave! 
BlacKkKlansman [sic].
The Babadook. Which absolutely terrified this blogger in a way that little has since I Am The Spirit Of Dark & Lonely Water when yer actual Keith Telly Topping was nine. And, he doesn't even have the excuse that he wasn't warned in advance, either.
The Dig.
The Personal History of David Copperfield.
And, of course, not forgetting the best movies in the history of the medium ...
Callum Wilson's double gave this blogger's beloved, though tragically unsellable (and, seemingly relegation-bound) Magpies an unlikely but deserved victory at yer actual Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime to give the side of Steve Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him nasty) their first win in eleven matches in all competitions. It was a better performance than November's home win over Everton to complete the double over The Toffees and take United - temporarily, at least - nine points clear of the relegation zone. Wilson could have had more goals, twice hitting the woodwork and side-footing narrowly wide, but the two he put past Mackem filth, Jordan Pickford, were expertly finished and capped a decent team performance which belied the recent run of shockingly poor results the Magpies have inflicted on their long-suffering supporters. Jonjo Shelvey took a seventy third minute corner which found the unmarked Wilson and his header nestled inside the far corner beyond the despairing dive of Pickford. It was no more than United deserved and with Everton struggling to create anything significant at the other end, Wilson almost doubled the lead two minutes from the end when he rounded Pickford but hit the upright from a tight angle. However, his second came in the third minute of added time when substitute Allan Saint-Maximin found Jamal Lewis down the left and Lewis's ball into the box reached Wilson. The striker took a bad touch but had time to steady himself and lash it into the corner for his tenth goal of the season before kissing the TV camera in celebration then being mobbed by his team mates.
A headline on BBC Sports suggests that Joelinton Haircut: Newcastle To Take 'Appropriate Action' Against Forward. This blogger would dare to suggest that of the many things disastrously wrong with his beloved, though tragically unsellable (and now, seemingly, relegation-bound) Magpies, the dodgy Barnet of their misfiring centre forward is the least of their current worries. Three goals in over fifty Premier League games having been purchased for a club record forty million quid might be a slightly more important Joelinton issue to be addressed. So, for that matter, might the future of his manager, Mister Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him nasty). Just a suggestion from a supporter; you remember those, Mister Ashley? One of those annoying 'little people' that pays your sodding wages.
From The North's Headline Of The Week award goes to the Daily Record for Scots Golf Club Worker Claims He Was "Spanked Daily" By Female Colleague. Nice work if you can get it. Good game golf, dear blog reader. As Sir Ringo Starr (MBE) noted in That'll Be The Day, 'it teaches you how to put things in holes.' 
The winner is, of course, closely followed by not one but two works of twenty four carat art from the Independent, Men Suffer Mouth Ulcers After Eating Thirty Kilograms Of Oranges To Avoid Airport Fees and UK Suffering "Absolutely Disgusting" Dog Poo Plague Amid Coronavirus Pandemic. A police spokesperson said they had 'nothing to go on.' Nah, lissun ...
One of this blogger's favourite musicians, The Animals' guitarist Hilton Valentine has died aged seventy seven. Hilton's death was confirmed by his record label ABKCO, which paid tribute describing him, entirely accurately, as 'a pioneering guitarist.' His much-imitated arpeggiated runs on the chart-topping adaptation of the traditional blues song 'The House Of The Rising Sun', played on his Gretsch Tennessean, is one of the best-known rock and/or roll riffs of all time.
Hilton was born in North Shields in May 1943 and - like many of his generation - was influenced by the 1950s skiffle craze. His mother bought him his first guitar when he was thirteen and he learned to play from a book called Teach Yourself A Thousand Chords. He continued to develop his talent at John Spence Community High School and formed his own group, The Heppers. They played local gigs and one contemporary newspaper review described them as, 'a young, but promising, skiffle group.' The Heppers eventually evolved into a rock and/or roll band, The Wildcats around 1959. During this period Valentine played a Selmar Futurama. His next guitar was a Burns Vibra-Artiste which he bought at JG Windows in the Central Arcade in 1960. The Wildcats were a popular band on Tyneside getting lots of bookings for dance halls, working men's clubs and church halls. It was during this period that they recorded an acetate, Sounds Of The Wild Cats [sic], at Morton Sound Studios in Newcastle (a mere stone's-throw from the joint where this blogger used to work as a matter of pure disinterest). In late 1963, Chas Chandler heard about Hilton's wild guitar playing and asked Hilton to join what was then still known as The Alan Price Combo. Singer Eric Burdon was already a member and drummer John Steel joined immediately following Hilton's arrival. Within a few months, the group - known for their wild performances of authentic rhythm and blues in a residency at The Club-A-Go-Go on Percy Street - changed their name to The Animals. Signed to EMI's Columbia label, the band's debut single was a brilliant version of 'Baby Let Me Take You Home', a song Burdon had found on Bob Dylan's debut LP, backed with the sweaty soul rave-up 'Gonna Send You Back To Walker'. The following 'The House Of The Rising Son' (which Dylan had also covered), was - according to legend - recorded in one take and, despite producer Mickey Most's doubts about its commercial potential (a song about a New Orleans prostitute, over four minutes long), it became a transatlantic number one in the summer of 1964. (Dylan, already a fan of The Beatles, was fascinated by this cross-genre pollination and, hearing songs he'd performed re-adapted by The Animals, played a part in his own switch from feral acoustic folk to electric rock a year later.)
Further hits followed for The Animals in a frantic two year period - 'I'm Crying', 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood', 'Bring It On Home To Me', 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place', 'It's My Life', 'Inside - Looking Out', 'Dont Bring Me Down' and 'See-See Rider' each one a little bloody gem - along with a trio of fine LPs (most notably 1965's Animal Tracks) before the band disintegrated due to musical (and narcotic) differences after an American tour in September 1966. Check out, for instance, Hilton's incendiary fret-work on 1965's 'Roberta' or the following year's 'Outcast' for a couple of great examples of The Animals at their very best. Although you might want to give 'We're Gonna Howl Tonight', their contribution to the 1965 Liza Minnelli TV vehicle The Dangerous Christmas Of Red Riding Hood a miss if you know what's good for you! Whilst Burdon retained the band's name and continued with a new line-up, Price began a solo career and Chandler moved into management (discovering Jimi Hendrix and, later, Slade), by 1967 Hilton was managing his former Wildcat band-mate Keith Shields who recorded a number of singles for Decca. One of those, 'Deep Inside Your Mind', was written by Hilton. In 1970 he recorded his own solo debut, All In Your Head, an interesting - if commercially unsuccessful - mix of folk and psychedelia. Hilton reunited with the original line-up of The Animals three times after their split. A one-off benefit gig at Newcastle City Hall at Christmas 1968, in 1977 for the Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted LP and, lastly, in 1983-84 for a studio LP, Ark and a successful but fractious world tour. In 1994, Hilton and the group were inducted into the Rock and/or Roll Hall of Fame. He released a new CD, It's Folk 'n' Skiffle, Mate! in 2004. Dividing his time between Tyneside and the US for much of the 1980s and 90s, Hilton was living in Connecticut at the time of his death. 
    As a tiny footnote, this blogger once - very briefly - met Hilton in, of all places, Longbenton where members of our respective families were acting in a school production. It was this blogger's brother who spotted him: 'That's Hilton Valentine over there!' he exclaimed. They say never meet your heroes but Hilton was, in fact, lovely when this blogger approached him. We exchanged pleasantries and this blogger shook his hand - in doing so getting to touch the fingers that once played the riff on 'The House Of The Rising Son'. They were, perhaps, fifteen of the best seconds of this blogger's life! 
And finally, dear blog reader, sometimes a photographic image simply doesn't need a caption, it does all the work for you.
Now, there's an idea for dull and wintery Sunday afternoon ...