Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Touch 'N Fresh


You know that advert bothers me on any number of levels. Largely because of the many unanswered questions it raises. For example, does the child actually leave when he flounces towards the door halfway through? If so does his mother follow him or let her obviously deranged offspring wander in to the road regardless?

Either way you'd think the mother would have the good sense to warn who ever was receiving the pleasant little gift of her defecating child on their doorstep. A phone call maybe? “Hi Paul? Yeah it’s me. Brenda. Oh um, yeah fine thanks. Listen Paul I’ve got, er, do you mind if I bring little Jimmy around to yours? No no, nothing serious. It’s just, well, Jimmy wants to do a poo at your house. Paul? Hello? Paul?”.

Also who the hell is Paul? Is he a relative? The boy’s school chum? The mother’s boyfriend (Gee Note: Although blatantly not for long if her son keeps banging on his front door demanding to release the beast in his bathroom)? The weird guy that lives on the end of the street who always carries sweets in his pocket? My point being, for all we know Paul could be a Dragon in disguise. No really he could. If you don’t believe me just ask Mike Rowley.

Rowley made headlines around the world in his homestead of Southwest Florida last month after local news station NBC-2 conducted an interview with the former Vietnam vet. Good ol’ Mike had recently retired from working life and had moved to a town called North Point in April with his 16 year old son Shane. During the interview Rowley was asked something along the lines of how he was settling in the area and the crazy bastard replied.

"The only bad part is the aliens around here."

(Gee Note: I hear ya. All those immigrants coming over here like they got a right to. Taking our jobs. Stealing our women… Huh? Oh. You mean the “other” type of alien? I knew that.)

And with that, off to the races we went.

It turns out that both Mike and Shane had seen aliens larking around in their back garden and the surrounding wood area. More often than not these sightings would coincide with (Gee Note: “Moonshine” Monday?) a full moon. The creatures were described as “greys”, and although Mike and Shane had yet to capture any extra terrestrial shenanigans on film, Rowley Snr claimed to have taken a plaster cast of the beasts foot print.

With all this going on it was obviously important to give the creature a name. After what I’m sure must have been a torturous process the names “Wacko Made Up Creature” and “Florida Alien Thing” where left behind in favour of the snappier “North Point Devil”. And really it’s amazing what a difference a cool sounding name makes. Because, despite the ludicrous story of extra terrestrials kicking around in the woods of Florida backed up by a plaster cast of some holes, bloggers and paranormal writers started to report the tale with earnest.

Rowley decided that with the amount of attention he was now receiving it was high time he cashed in on all this. And so he created a website where for a bargain $22 you could purchase your very own North Point Devil t-shirt. He also set up a Youtube channel where him and young Shane get to put their point across via a series of interviews. Like this one.

(Gee Note: I don’t know about you, but for a moment I had the horrific thought that Mr. Rowley was sitting there not wearing shorts.)

All this hullabaloo piqued the interest of the Southwest Florida wing of MUFON. MUFON, one of the largest and oldest UFO investigative organizations in the United States, contacted Rowley and offered to help him investigate this strange phenomenon. Rowley readily agreed.

Here‘s where it gets interesting. Only a couple of weeks in to the investigation and Rowley, unsatisfied with the lack of progress, sent the following email to MUFON hoping the gee them up a wee bit.

We think this is a dragon and that it is a neighbor that changes from dragon to human, Shane saw these creatures in the full moon...our neighbor Paul ws always atour cornor in the dark during these times on his phone, he says he needs to get out of the house to have a cigarette away from his wife. Se would be there for hours. Shane ws seeing these creatures during the times he ws there. The cornor he stood atis 5o feet from Shane;s bedroom window. Our neighbor has not been at the cornor for a long time, now that the moon is full, he is there. He is trying to make frineds with Shane in his human form.

He engages in conversation with Shane when Shane comes out of the house. night before last teh moon was bright he ws there till midnight, I ws watering my lawn moving the sprinkler every 20 minutes. I would open the door quietly and hear no no one talking on his phone, then I would walk out non chalantly pick up the sprinkler and he would start talking. thsi happened several times, I would quietly ome out the house ( he cant see me because of the garage is in the way) wait behing the gaarage and listen for him on his phone, and hear nothing, as soon as I emerged from behind the garage he would start talking.

8x ...coincidence. there is something here. Something with a huge tail. We have read about dragons, since we found out it had a tail (( did you hear about that yet?) dragons do change from human to dragon and they have elves and other mythological creatures as slaves and do have human friends if these human friends can keep it secret. So far we dont want to be friends or keep a secret. An infra red camera on that street cornor during the full moon will catch him changin into dragon...We have something here. this is for real.......Things are giong real slow on the investegation, the 8 mm of the eyes in the dark have not been ditigatalized and enhanced yet, we hae not had our lie detector tests yet. We dont know what is going on...we jjust guess at stuff, like we think maybe they did enhance the film and see the dragon but dont tell us, so we dont spook and ruin things, we just dont know....Shane can be regressed, no one has contacted us for that.

We think something mught be going on atmufon we are ot being told about. Please tell me if you tink there could be dragons , elves, fairies. Please telll me anything I should know but hav not been told. the tree the creature ws in, is suposto be checked for claw marks, it has not been checked. Survalance cameras on our property were supposto be set up ...they have not been. Something seems amis.He is here at the full moon, it is Paul our neighbor. Please call or write , If there si mis trust of us...we would like our film and foot print back and find someone trusting. We neeed the truth as to why things are not progressing as we were told they would. He wants to take dragon form, it happen on the full moon, our cornor is the best place for him to do it and not be seen. He soes not come to the cornor except on the full moon. we need to do some good camera work now.


Mike Rowley

MUFON are, generally speaking, a decent bunch of folks. And so despite the fact that this email is crazier than anyone who thinks that Taylor Swift’s video was actually better than Beyonce’s (Gee Note: I believe Kanye. I BELIEVE.), their designated investigator of the case, one Morgan Bell, sent a reply back which pretty much went “Uh OK. We don’t think your neighbour is a Dragon. But, you know, we can have a look for you if you like.”. To which Rowley replied.

I think my whole neighbor hood are dragons. One neighbor , not Paul has a dragon sticker on his truck. I have read a lot about dragons, they can be friendly IF you keep their secrets.

(Gee Note: Uh I think you’re confusing Dragons with Communists).

Alarm bells started to go off in MUFON head quarters, even more so when they reported that, well, they couldn’t find all that much going on in North Point. This seemingly enraged Rowley, who sent more emails with such inspiring words as:

You grew up with no father, your mom screamed at you all the time and you argued constantly with her until you left home. You have had a hard time telling the truth because you are afraid of the pain you might feel. Arguments become big and fearsome in your life with those close to you.



(Gee Note: Not the big boys of the UFO community! Those guys are dangerous man. With their… um… you know… stuff. OK I admit it. I don’t really understand this threat. It’s like that time when someone told me they played the guitar. “Really?” said I “Are you any good?”. “Dude,” he said “If you heard me play guitar you would shit yourself.”. I still have no idea what that means).

Not surprisingly MOFO MUFON decided to quietly distance themselves from this whack job. And, when the details of their final report started to do the rounds online, every blogger and paranormal writer who had treated the story with something approaching reverence suddenly started to shout out words like “HOAX” and “CRAZY”.

Soon after the $22 t-shirts of the North Point Devil were taken offline (Gee Note: Damn. I was going to pitch a slogan to them as well. You know like “Milkmen do it on your doorstep.”? Well how about “North Point Devils maybe do it when there’s a full moon”. C’mon. That has money written all over it.). And Rowley started telling reporters that he was fed up of having his privacy invaded and had decided to put his house on sale.

And there by the grace of God goes the tale of the North Point Devil. Which turned out to be not so much a close encounter as a brief encounter with a shell shocked former soldier. And the moral of the story? Well maybe it’s time that news agencies stopped shining a spotlight on those in society who aren’t quite as stable as the rest of us. Outside of the ethically questionable practice of trying to pop a rating by going “Look how NUTS these people are!!!”, the aftermath of such things rarely ends well for anyone who gets involved. If this sorry saga tells us anything, it’s that.

That and don’t f*** with MUFON.

Monday, 21 September 2009

You didn't mention you could read.

It's not often I shout the word "Hooray!" when I open my email inbox. Largely because most of the mail I receive is along the lines of "Hey fatso! Tired of being called "Moby" while working out? Well just by taking 1 of Dr. Spectacular's magic pills every day you'll be looking like Brad Pitt in no time". However, today I found a wee little gem nestled amongst the usual nonsense. It was a message from Tara.

Long time readers of this blog may remember Tara, the slightly bonkers medium who offers free online Tarot card readings. Having signed up for the service one night simply because there wasn't anything on the television schedule that piqued my interest, I posted the results here and thought that would be the end of it.

Well God bless Tara if she's nothing but persistent. Every other day since that fateful night she's been emailing me begging me to send her money trying to sell me her services as my personal psychic. Most of these have been along the lines of "Dude, you want to become wealthy, healthy and happy right? Well then send me some cash and you'll be rolling around with wads of cash and Russian super models before you can say "Alakazaam".

Today's message was extra special though. And so, for your enjoyment, I have reprinted it here.



Despite the late hour, I am writing you THIS URGENT E-MAIL which really demands your close attention. (Gee Note: Despite the early hour I am reading THIS URGENT E-MAIL. Although I wouldn't say it demands my close attention. I mean it's an email about psychic predictions. It’s not like it's a message telling me to look down because my foot is on fire. Because if it was then I'd probably be saying something like "Well I'll be dammed. I've been wondering what that burning smell was". That and screaming of course).

A few minutes ago I finished a session of astral meditation about you. What I discovered is surprising, and could help you resolve your problems. (Gee Note: Aren't surprising discovery's the best? For example yesterday I opened the fridge to discover a packet of bacon I didn't even know we had. Which in turn led to the creation of the "Unexpected Bacon" dance, which was applied liberally around the kitchen until I stubbed my toe on the washing machine. Ah good time, good times).

What took place during this session is really a sign that YOUR FUTURE CAN CHANGE completely. I’m going to tell you all about the amazing details.

I know you now have a problem of bad luck that is poisoning your life each and every day. And I also know that things could quickly become much worse, if you don’t react right away. (Gee Note: Hey that rhymes! That Tara sure is a talented lady. Maybe she'd like to appear on my upcoming rap album "MC Gee and the Slightly Annoyed Four". It's being released on an independent record label because the music industry discriminates against white, middle class, British rappers. That's fo' shizzle. Can a brother get a witness yo?).

In other words, your stroke of BAD LUCK COULD CONTINUE and this dark period of your destiny will fade into time. I have to get you out of this terrible situation right away! (Gee Note: And there's only one way to do that. Grab your thistle whistle, give it a good hard blow, and get The Family Ness on the case. Man I love that show. I actually raved about it so much that I got the complete series as a Christmas present once. Also, it had a great theme tune. Ohhhhh Mctoot blows on his bagpipes. While Angus and Elspeth watch those notes go floating across the waaaaaves).

Now Gareth, I want you to take a match and do exactly the following (Gee Note: Burn them! Burn them all!): Light the match, and quickly repeat this prayer for spiritual protection 3 times:


(Gee Note: OK for a start Christis is a Christian Magazine of the University of York in England. If however you mean CHRISTI instead, you would successfully pronounce “In the name of Christ” in Latin. Which suggests that if I was Jewish and trying to protect to myself from harmful energy then, well, I’d be boned.)

You may not realize it, Gareth, but this magic action is essential if things are to work out in your favour.

The ritual will create an astral shield around you that will last for 21 days, capable of PROTECTING YOU AGAINST THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF ALL NEGATIVE INFLUENCES that are trying to intervene in your future and do you wrong. (Gee Note: OK. And after I’ve created the astral shield, how exactly do I get the lions to unite and become Voltron?)

I don’t want to scare you, but THERE ISN’T MUCH TIME LEFT FOR YOU. (Gee Note: Isn’t that a bit like saying “I don’t mean to be rude, but you’ve got a face like a warthog’s arse”?)

I keep feeling the need to intervene and PROTECT YOU AGAINST THIS NEGATIVE INFLUENCE.

I’ll tell you why Gareth:

I just finished a meditation session about you, and I’m still overwhelmed (Gee Note: Baby, you wouldn’t be the first woman to have a session with me and be ov… oh who am I kidding. I’m just happy if they’re not crying at the end of it).

I received confirmation that your future should change in the coming weeks, but at the same time I had a STRANGE VISION that bothered me a lot (Gee Note: I know exactly what you mean. I get those all the time. I’ll be idly day dreaming about something or other and then WHAMMY somehow I’m thinking about Zombie Michael Jackson. Where does that come from?).

There was a shadow, and hands reaching out to you. This vision is a bad sign. It means that SOMEONE HAS BEEN USING THE OCCULT TO TRY AND HARM YOU (Gee Note: Really? Awesome. I mean sure it’s a bit disconcerting that they’re trying to harm me and all, but if I’m honest I wasn’t aware I knew anyone cool enough to dabble in the dark arts).

Someone or something has been trying to take control of your destiny, probably to do you harm (Gee Note: Something? What the Hell? You mean like, wait, you don’t think it’s Zombie Michael Jackson do you? Hell bent on revenge against the world and therefore targeting it‘s most talented blogger? Hmmm. It’s all starting to make sense now).

It has planted doubts in your mind. That’s probably why you didn’t answer me before, and why you didn’t get that large amount of money I talked about in my last e-mail. You must understand that nothing good can happen to you if you just keep letting things pass you by, and don’t react (Gee Note: Uh lady, the reason I didn’t contact you is that you’re obviously a nut job. A very entertaining nut job granted. But a nut job none the less).

IT IS URGENT THAT YOU DO SOMETHING AGAINST THIS HARMFUL INFLUENCE which could certainly block the arrival of the large amount of money that should help resolve your situation in less than 21 days. (Gee Note: You mean I’ll finally have enough money to buy Tiny Tim that second crutch? Oh joy!)

Because of the ritual you did, and the prayer for spiritual protection you said, you are now sheltered from bad luck and HARMFUL ENERGIES THAT ARE TRYING TO HURT YOU (Gee Note: But not from arrows? What the hell kind of a shield is this?).

And that’s excellent, because good things are in store for you, Gareth, even if WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL. (Gee Note: Don’t worry. I trained for three years in Morriston’s School for Ninjas. “Careful” is my middle name. Well one of them anyway. Gareth Danger Excitement Careful Livewire Rhys Davies).

I must say that this is the first time in my long career as a medium that I’ve met someone as promising as you, who is at the same time surrounded by so much adversity. (Gee Note: I bet you say that to all the guys you’re trying to fleece for money).

Do it now (Gee Note: Get to the CHOPPER! Man I love Predator. Did you know that the Predator was actually played by Jean Claude Van Damme for like all of 2 weeks before they removed him for being a pain in the ass? And then he went on to make Timecop. Which even now is all kinds of brilliant. Not that there‘s any point to all this you understand. It‘s just I realised that I‘d gone a whole year on this blog without mentioning Timecop once, and thought that was something I had to remedy). You have no reason to put off for tomorrow what you can do today. AND TOMORROW MIGHT BE TOO LATE.

Gareth, you know that you may never have another chance like this to CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

That’s why I’ll be waiting to hear from you as soon as possible.



And so the moral of the story is, oh God, I don’t know. If you are going to light a match and chant nonsense, then try not to get distracted by thinking of such things as Zombie Michael Jackson, The Family Ness and Timecop.

Because if you do there’s a good chance you’ll burn your fingers.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Two And A Half Minutes With The President

Charlie Sheen recently made headlines by challenging President Barack Obama to use his executive power and re-open the investigation in to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Here's the transcript of that historic meeting in full, as reported by Sheen himself.*

CHARLIE SHEEN  Good afternoon Mr. President. Thank you for giving me 20 minutes of your precious time. I understand how busy you are.

PRESIDENT BARAK OBAMA  YO! Cha-zizzle! You know I always got time for you. You are like my favourite actor of all time man. I loved you in The Mighty Ducks.

CS  Um… That… er… that wasn’t…

PBO  “Thank you very much, Mr. Ducksworth! Quack Quack Quack Quack Quack, Mr. Ducksworth!”. Ahahahahahahahaha. What a great movie. Say do you still play hockey?

CS  It… I… er… Mr. President I think you’ve got me confused with someone else.

PBO  Oh and I love that movie about The Queen of England. You know, the one where you play like her manservant or something. God that was awesome!

CS  Manservant? Are you talking about Prime Minister Tony Blair?

PBO  Yeah, that’s him. Thank God people like that don’t exist in real life huh?

CS  Sir, I wasn’t in that movie eith…

PBO  So what are you up to now man? Didn’t I read you got divorced or something?

CS  I didn’t come here to talk about my ex wife sir.

PBO  Hey is it true that the old lady kicked you out because she found out you’d paid a porn star to have sex with you?

CS  Mr President….

PBO  Oh my God! Look at your face! LOOK AT YOUR FACE!! You did didn’t you? You paid that porn star to get down and dirty with you! Ahahahahahahaha. That’s cold man. Stone cold. Give me five!

(The President holds up his hand in the air. I slap mine against his as he grins wildly a me. At this point one of Obama’s senior aides appears at his side and whispers something in to his ear).

PBO  Nah man, you’ll have to reschedule it for another time. I’m chillin’ with Lou Diamond Phillips right now.

CS  I’m not keeping you from anything important am I sir?

PBO  Oh hell no. Seeing you means I get to skip a meeting with some guys who wanted to propose a solution to “the crippling poverty many Americans currently face.”. Booooooorrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiing. You know how many meetings like that I have to go every day? Sometimes I actually blow off people by going “OH MY!!!!!! We have a NATIONAL EMERGENCY!!!! I’m soooooo sorry, but I have to rearrange our meeting for another time.”. And then I call my afternoon magician and spend the rest of the day laughing and clapping. That’s the best thing about this job. Magicians on speed dial.

(An odd moment of silence between us. Precious time ticking away.)

CS  President Obama…

PBO  Please Martin, call me Oakie.

CS  Oakie?

PBO  Yeah. It’s Kenyan. It means “He who looks a bit like a tree.”.

CS  Sir, why would you have a Kenyan nickname?

PBO  Oh… no reason. Say, you aren’t wearing a wire are you?

CS  No.

PBO  Ahahahahahahaha. No of course you aren’t. So Kiefer, I guess you didn’t schedule this just to listen to me yammer on and on. What can I do for you? Need a DUI arrest forgotten about or something?

CS  Mr… er… Oakie. The reason I am here is that in researching your position regarding the events of 9/11 and the subsequent investigation that followed, am I correct to understand that you fully support and endorse the findings of the commission report otherwise known as the ‘official story’?

PBO  Huh?

CS  Do you support the official story of what happened on September 11th 2001?

PBO  Oh yeah sure. I mean what’s to disagree with? We all saw the plane’s fly in to the Twin Towers and stuff. Unless of course those “planes” were, like, dragons in disguise or something. But I don’t think they were dragons in disguise. Because dragons don’t have opposable thumbs. So it’s pretty hard for them to construct a really good disguise. It’s what separates us from them. That and they’ve got wings and can breath fire. You wanna hear my dragon impression son?

CS  Um, sure Oakie.


CS  Yeah that is really goo… Wait! Mr. President I’m afraid we seem to be veering away from the point here.

PBO  And what point would that be Christian?

CS  Namely that the official story for the 9/11 terror attacks is, quite frankly, nonsense.

PBO  Hmmm. I see. And what do you base this on? It's not the "Dragon Theory" is it? Like I said, that one's full of holes.

CS  I have the evidence with me.

(I hand over three or four files I have brought with me. These are filled with loads of great information I put together all by myself. As I pass these to the President our fingers briefly touch and I feel a spark of electricity run through my body like I've been hit with a cattle prod).

PBO  Ah great. Files. I love reading. Ahahahahahahaha. Seriously though couldn't you just, like, break it down for me in to a series of bullet points?

CS  Well I'm glad you asked that sir, as it just so happens I've been memorising a list of twenty bullet points just in case.

PBO  Wow! Really? Why would you do that?

CS  I, er, I don't know. Admittedly it doesn't make a whole lot of sense considering I was giving you the files in the first place. And, you know, listening to these bullet points would require you standing there not saying anything for ten minutes. Which, considering you are the most powerful and influential person on the planet, is really unlikely. To be honest with you I have no idea what I was thinking. I must have been high at the time.

PBO  Good point. Still I guess we should give the whole bullet point thing a shot, considering that much like the evidence you've presented here, this meeting obviously has no grounding in reality.

CS  Thank you sir. Okay, first; On the FBI's most wanted list Osama Bin Laden is not charged with the crimes of 911. When I called the FBI to ask them why this was the case, they replied: "There's not enough evidence to link Bin Laden to the crime scene," I later discovered he had never even been indicted by the D.O.J.

CS  Number 2; FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, was dismissed and gagged by the D.O.J. after she revealed that the government had foreknowledge of plans to attack American cities using planes as bombs as early as April 2001. In July of '09, Mrs. Edmonds broke the Federal gag order and went public to reveal that Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban were all working for and with the C.I.A. up until the day of 9/11.

CS  Number 3; The following is a quote from Mayor Giuliani during an interview on 9/11 with Peter Jennings for ABC News. "I went down to the scene and we set up headquarters at 75 Barkley Street, which was right there with the Police Commissioner, the Fire Commissioner, the Head of Emergency Management, and we were operating out of there when we were told that the World Trade Centre was going to collapse. And it did collapse before we could actually get out of the building, so we were trapped in the building for 10, 15 minutes, and finally found an exit and got out, walked north, and took a lot of people with us."

WHO TOLD HIM THIS??? To this day, the answer to this question remains unanswered, completely ignored and emphatically DENIED by Mayor Giuliani on several public occasions.

PBO  Emilio, do you really think it's a good idea to raise your voice in the office of the President?

CS  Sorry sir. It's just that I get so gosh darned passionate about all this it makes my blood boil sometimes.

PBO  I empathise. I feel the exact same way about Cheerios.

CS  Uh... OK. Number 4; In April 2004, USA Today reported, "In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted...

(I notice the President tug his left ear lobe three times in quick succession. Immediately a senior aide is at his side and hands him a note. From where I stand I can see a large smiley face drawn on the paper in thick crayon).

PBO  Oh MY. We have a NATIONAL EMERGENCY!!!! I'm soooo sorry but we'll have to re-arrange this meeting for another time.

CS  But sir, I have another 16 of these points to go.

PBO  I know, I know. And I'd love to hear each and every one of them. Really I would. But, oh gosh, these national emergencies - well - you know how they are.

CS  Mr. President! One more second!

(The President starts towards the door - I follow him quickly step for step, but stub my toe on a table and have to hop the last few feet).

CS  Mr. President, I implore you based on the evidence you now possess, to use your Executive Power. Prove to us all Sir, that you do, in fact, care. Create a truly comprehensive and open Congressional investigation of 9/11 and its aftermath. The families deserve the truth, the American people and the rest of the free world deserve the truth. Mr. President -

(He pauses. We make out shake hands).

CS  Make sure you're on the right side of history.

(The President breaks the handshake).

PBO  I am on the right side of history. Thank you Judd, my staff and I will be in touch. Well I say "I". Really I don't make many phone calls myself. Tell the truth I don't even know how you get an outside line from the Oval Office. I saw Biden do it once. He was showing off trying to impress the Italian Prime Minister. That Biden. Such a riot.

(I watch as he strides gracefully out of the room, the truth I provided him held firmly by his side; in the hand resting on my thigh of providence.)

*not really.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

I have introduced myself. You have introduced yourself. This is a very good conversation.

You know it’s a sad sight when somebody who once enjoyed the trappings of fame resorts to releasing a sex tape in order to cause a controversy and garner some attention.

(Gee Note: Really? People who have Aids are like Hitler? How insanely stupid is that? It's probably got a follow up advert where people with no legs are compared to Pol Pot).

Confession time: Despite having never been there I can't help but love Japan. For many reasons actually. Sake, Super Mario Bros, Ghost in the Shell, shoot outs in a pitch black room under the direction of Takeshi Kitano, Yojimbo, The's - the list is endless. But the main reason I love Japan is that as a nation it’s always struck me as being slightly bonkers.

Take Ninja Warrior for example. Ninja Warrior, or Sasuke as it's known in Japan, is a television show in which 100 people attempt to complete an assault course that was designed by a drunken sadist. No really, joining the Navy Seals is easier than completing this goddam thing. It's split in to four stages, each with increasing levels of difficulty, and includes such events as "Try not to die as you trampoline on to a hanging cargo net" and the popular "Travel across a really long ledge using only your finger tips". It’s as if somebody was playing the video game Tomb Raider, caught a sight of the implausibly proportioned Lara Croft hanging from a rickety stone pillar, and thought "My that would make for some good TV. Except we'd need to lose the hot English lass. And all the old Temple's and stuff. Do that and, baby, we've got a show.".

Now if it was held in any other country, with the possible exception of the United States, nobody would be crazy enough to apply for this thing let alone try and beat it. However it appears that the Japanese public are collectively one samurai short of an Akira Kurosawa movie, as twice a year thousands upon thousands of them sign up to compete in the grand daddy of all challenges. These range from the ever so slightly deranged Minoru Kuramochi, a restaurateur who's frail body makes him ideal for failing spectacularly at the very first obstacle, to genetic freaks like Makoto Nagano.

Japan’s eccentricity isn’t confined to television shows however. Indeed after the nation’s recent general election, “crazy” can be found at the very top of Japanese society. The “crazy” in question? Well that would be the one and only Miyuki Hatoyama, Japan’s newly crowned First Lady. How crazy is she? Well according to a piece in The Guardian last week…

"I eat the sun," Miyuki says, raising her arms as if to tear pieces off an imaginary sun. "Like this: yum, yum, yum. It gives me enormous energy."

(Gee Note: See what I love about this is that she actually felt the need to describe how one eats the sun, complete with nom nom nom noises.)

It isn’t just in sun eating stakes that Miyuki excels. The 66 year old former dancer also does a nice line of clothing. Namely skirts made out of hemp coffee bags. She also believes that she met Tom Cruise when they were both in a previous life. And that at the time Tom was a Japanese man. Which I’m sure is news to Mr. Cruise. Not to worry though, Miyuki is convinced it will all come flooding back to him in good time. "He would recognise me when I see him and say: 'Long time, no see!'" (Gee Note: Sure he will. Either that or he’ll back away slowly and try not to make eye contact. You know, one of the two).

But what truly separates Miyuki from the herd is an extract from her book “Very Strange Things I've Encountered”. An autobiographical work, one particular passage deals with an event that took place 20 years ago.

"While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus. It was a very beautiful place, and it was very green.”

First off, Venus is the second closest planet to the sun. It's atmosphere consists mainly of carbon dioxide, it rains sulphuric acid, and it's surface makes the Sahara desert look like a manatee's playground. The ground temperature often exceeds 440 degrees centigrade, with volcanoes regularly erupting like a pissed off Naomi Campbell. There is no lava flow from these explosions, just massive clouds of sulphur that are spewed in to the air.

Bottom line, it is in no way imaginable “green” (Gee Note: Although in her defence Miyuki may have been thinking of another planet and mistaken it for Venus. Like Venus’s tropical sister planet… Greenus. Ahahahahahahahaha. Geddit? Greenus. I’m so awesome).

Secondly I don’t care how in to psychotropic narcotics you are, anyone who believes that when they fall asleep their soul goes on a journey and has some amazing adventures instead of, you know, it just being a dream is in need of some serious help. Because otherwise last night my soul was involved in a situation with model and actress Milla Jovovich, some whipped cream, and a xylophone. And I’m pretty sure that never really happened. Because trust me if it had I honestly wouldn’t be as grumpy as I am.

But here’s the thing. It’s easy to write all this off as just the ramblings of some lovely yet slightly daffy lady. Until you remember just who she is. Her husband Yukio Hatoyama is due to be sworn in as the President of Japan. She will be the wife of one of the most powerful people in the world. I mean imagine if this was America for a moment, and during the run up to the general election Michelle Obama releases a book which contains the following passage.

So, uh, about ten years I was out camping in the woods with my homies, when Bigfoot ran past. No really, Bigfoot. Scared the s*** out of me let me tell you. The dude’s huge.

Would Barack get elected after that? I’m no political expert but my money would be on “Probably not”.

Now an argument could be made that just because Miyuki is as nutty as a snickers bar, it doesn’t mean Yukio is the same. After all, if Paula Abdul has taught us anything it’s that opposites attract (Gee Note: That and you can afford to go on television every week for eight years blind drunk and, amazingly, at no point will you get fired). Except Yukio has already claimed that Miyuki “will take an unusually prominent role for a Japanese First Lady during his administration”. And if this was in any doubt before allow me to reprint the quote from the beginning of this post unedited.

"I eat the sun," Miyuki says, raising her arms as if to tear pieces off an imaginary sun. "Like this: yum, yum, yum. It gives me enormous energy. My husband has recently started doing that too."

(Gee Note: The Japanese president eats the sun? OH MY GOD!!! They’ve elected Unicron. You know, that great big robot from Transformers: The Movie that floats through space, consuming Heavenly Bodies like they are Pop Tarts. To hell with this. I’m going to lock myself in a nuclear bunker somewhere. Call me when the Autobots have won).

See? This is what I mean about Japan being slightly bonkers. It may have been that Yukio Hatoyama was elected President because he had the best policies, or has a gift of the gab. I honestly don’t know enough about Japanese politics to say for certain. But I’m willing to bet that quite a few people voted for Yukio simply because of his wonderful wife.

And that is the reason I love Japan.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

This is why Superman works alone.

Hey I know. Let’s play a game. It’s called “Who would you hire?”. Never played it before? Don't worry, it's really simple. "Who would you hire?" goes a little summin’ summin’ like this...

You’re a movie producer working for a really big studio. The studio has fallen on hard times recently and has struggled to make more than, oh gosh, three decent movies in the past ten years. During this time two other studios have made big money with comic book adaptations. And so, not being adverse to jumping on bandwagons, your studio has purchased the rights to as many superhero franchises as it could get it‘s grubby little corporate hands on. Sadly, despite some initial promise, the resulting movies fail to ignite the box office and are largely panned by the critics. Still the studio keeps making these movies despite not being very good at it, a contractual obligation forcing them to or risk losing the rights to these potentially profitable properties.

So here’s the dilemma. It’s decided that one of these superhero movies needs a reboot. You’re the producer, and you have to hire a screenwriter who will revive this flagging horse. Who do you choose?

A) A comic book fan with a proven track record for writing good comic book based movies? (Gee Note: Like David Hayter for example)

B) A comic book fan with a proven track record for writing good non comic book based movies? (Gee Note: Like a pre Dark Knight Jonathan Nolan for example)

C) A non comic book fan with a proven track record for writing good movies? (Gee Note: Like William Goldman for example)

Or D) The dude who wrote Batman & Robin? (Gee Note: Like, er, the dude who wrote Batman & Robin for example).

If you answered A, B, or C then congratulations you are not a moron. If you answered D then you are a moron. You are also either already employed by Twentieth Century Fox or are on their graduate program.

That’s right folks, in an attempt to breath life in to the tired and flabby Fantastic Four films, Fox have decided to reboot them with Akiva F***ing Goldsman at the creative helm. For those not familiar with the work of Akiva F***ing Goldsman, he’s the unparalleled genius who wrote lines such as

POISON IVY Once you have frozen mankind, these babies will overrun the globe, and we shall rule them, for we will be the only two people left in the world.

MR. FREEZE Adam and Evil.

Or the almost Shakespearian

MR. FREEZE What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age! (Gee Note: Er, well, no. Dinosaurs were killed by a bloody great big asteroid hitting the earth like it was Chris Brown’s girlfriend. Or they were wiped out by Volcanoes. Or they all grew a pair of wings and evolved in to birds. It wasn’t the goddam ice age. Unless there was a Brontosaurus who had survived all that by hiding out in the Congo only to forget to pack a sweater. “Why would I need it?” thought the Brontosaurus. “It’s a tropical jungle after all.” Ah, poor Brontosaurus. So noble and yet so foolish.)

And so according to reports The Fantastic Four, who are some of the most recognisable comic characters ever, have had to already endure two tremendously lifeless movies and now Akiva F***ing Goldsman. Knowing him, he’ll probably pair The Fantastic Four against a crap villain. Like the Mole Man. Or a giant kung fu teddy bear.

Speaking of the Mole Man, one of the most fascinating urban legends to have popped up over the past fifteen years are the Mole People of New York City.

The legend goes like this. In the 1950's some archaeologists stumbled across a group of albinos living way below the earth's surface. These albinos kept freaky deaky mutants known as mole people to wash their cars harvest mushrooms, which the albinos ate after frying them in some butter with a pinch of nutmeg. Probably. Anyway eventually the mole people, tired of their slave status, rebelled against the albinos. During the confusion the archaeologists escaped with a buxom young lass in tow who, although being born of albino stock, looks exactly like Cynthia Patrick. I mean all kinds of Caucasian with strawberry blonde hair.

Alas the question of how the hell she managed to keep her skin colour and lovely locks in place while living in the earth's core was never answered. She was killed shortly after escaping to the surface, a volcano erupting rather unexpectedly and falling on her head. Meanwhile a member of the albino clan managed to evade the blood thirsty mole people and went on to carve out a successful career in television, playing the role of Alfred in the 1960's television show Batman (Gee Note: Man I love 1960's Batman. Anyone one remember that episode where the Joker tied Batman and Robin to two electric chairs, and they were all like "Oh no, we're going to die!" but then there was a city wide blackout and they were saved? And then the power came back on, but some cops arrived an untied Batman and Robin before the current could get to the chairs? Proving that Gotham City's finest are in fact the faster than electricity and therefore the ideal place for Usain Bolt to end up after he hangs up his running boots? That was ace. Also it had a kick ass theme tune. Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah BATMAN!) .

Well ok maybe not. That might actually be the plot line to a 1956 classic B movie called "The Mole People". Still the real urban legend is pretty much as unbelievable. And it all started with a woman named Jennifer Toth.

Now before we start it should be mentioned that there are many cities around the world where the subways and underground railway stations are used by homeless people as shelter. That's pretty hard to disagree with. However there have been persistent rumours that in New York a group of homeless folk have become tribalistic, electing "Mayors", fighting with other tribes, accessing electricity by means of illegal hook up, that kind of thing. The idea is that an ordered and organised society is thriving under the very streets of the big apple.

In 1993 a book called "The Mole People: Life In The Tunnels Beneath New York City" was published by the Chicago Review Press. Written by the above mentioned Ms Toth, who at the time was an intern at the Los Angeles Times, it is pretty much the primary source for all this subterranean society stuff. In the book Toth, who apparently spent several months interviewing homeless people, also claims that mole people use steam from pipes as showers, have exercise rooms, and that she saw one of these underground types catch a rat and bang it against a wall until it was dead. After which he, of course, ate the deceased rodent. (Gee Note: Well… at least it was fresh I guess).

Which all sounds very interesting. Except sadly it appears to be make believe. Or, say the critics, at the very least it has been sensationalised somewhat.

The most notable of those critics are Joseph Brennan and Cecil Adams. Brennan, a rail enthusiast, has gone to great lengths to research the book's claims. From a purely geographical and structural perspective Brennan claims there is not one “fact” in the book that could be reliably verified. Particularly vexing for Brennan was one particular passage that, when talking about the thriving population underneath Grand Central Station, read:

...Grand Central Station, which is spread over forty-eight acres, making it the largest train station in the world. It also goes down six levels beneath the subway tracks. There is no complete blueprint of the tunnels and tracks under the station. Many tunnels were begun but abandoned. Some were built but forgotten. Some were sealed off, but underground homeless people have broken through, either directly or by hacking a hole through the wall or by circuitous routes, to inhabit them now.

To which Brennan quite rightly replied.

What a load of nonsense. Grand Central Terminal is not in any place below subway tracks, and it goes down two levels of tracks and with passages at two levels below that. "No complete blueprint"? Detailed diagrams can be found in several published books, and photographs of the excavations can be found in published books and articles as well. No tunnels in the terminal were begun and abandoned. The terminal was constructed in one project completed in 1913, and not accreted piece by piece over many years as this may imply.

Before going on to say

By the time I found her describing her own visits to places that do not exist, I realized this is something worse than a little sloppiness.

Adams, who runs the wonderful The Straight Dope website, was initially supportive of Toth’s claims. Before posting an initial report on the book after receiving a question from one of his readers, Adams had contacted Toth and had been convinced she was genuine. And so, although he admitted that he had not ventured down the tunnels himself, he gave Toth’s version of hoards of homeless people banding together to create underground societies a ringing endorsement.

However Adams' readers are a cynical bunch and his mail box was flooded with cries of “Bollocks!”, many sighting Brennan’s report as proof. Adams read Brennan’s work and, now less convinced of Toth’s sincerity, decided to give her a call.

Says Adams.

I called Toth back; we had a tense conversation. I asked if there was any way of corroborating her story. She put me in touch with a woman named Cindy Fletcher, who stayed in the tunnels on and off in the early 90s. (She and Toth didn't meet at the time.) To my astonishment, Fletcher did not second Toth's claims. "I'm not saying the book is not true, I just never experienced the things [Toth] said she saw," Fletcher said…. Fletcher for her part doubted Toth's claim of subterranean societies: "There are no leaders down there."

Coupled with the fact that despite Adams’ relentless prompting Toth “could not remember” the way to get to one of the mole people’s “villages” even though she had been to the tunnel “two or three times a day for seven months”, Adams was led to the conclusion that

Parts of Toth's book are true, parts of it aren't, and you take your chances deciding which are which.

And you know maybe it’s a good thing. I mean if it was true that tribes of mole people were inhabiting the sewers and tunnels of underground New York, there’d be nowhere for the alligators to live. Also if Jennifer is a such a dab hand at fiction, then maybe we could start a petition to get her added to the writing crew of the Fantastic Four movie?

After all she can obviously write a much better story that Akiva F***ing Goldsman.