Sunday, February 26, 2006


One accepts those incompatible things which, only because they coexist, are called the world.

-- J L Borges, The Book of Sand

The world is a Noah’s Ark on the sea of eternity containing all the endless pairs of things, irreconcilable and inseparable, and heat will always long for cold and the back for the front and smiles for tears and mutt for jeff and no for yes with the most unutterable nostalgia there is.

-- Diane Arbus


Diane Arbus took this photograph of Borges in Central Park in 1968. Three years later, she took her own life, aged 47. Borges, 69 years old when this picture was taken. He would die, a blind old man, in 1986.

Borges; the writer who invented paradoxical universes. Arbus; the photographer whose lens saw the hidden.

Borges was fascinated by Jewish mysticism and Arbus was a Jew whose eye seemed to unlock mysteries hidden in the world before us. The word of God hidden in the world of reality is the essence of Kabbalism and when Arbus says: "A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know" she writes in the tradition of her forebears. Arbus' photographs of strange worlds hidden in plain sight, her vision so complete it's as if she constructed an entire life in her own image. Borges stories of wdreams and edifices built on riddles, his writing so complete that though he could not see the world, he created vast universes of 'awful symmetry' and complete logic. The two of them seem to belong together. The photographer's image of the writer seems to speak something.

I wonder what they said that day in the park.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Football & Fascism

Two events in football this week. Arsenal's victory in Spain, the first British team to ever beat Real Madrid at home. Real were Franco's team during the Fascist years, a key element in the state militarisation of the culture. They were the nemesis of Barcelona who were doublecrossed and hindered at every turn, because they were both communitarian and separtist and therefore a grave threat to the totalitarian order.

Which segues us to the second major game - Barcelona's defeat of Chelsea. Chelsea are owned by a Russian oligarch who made a vast amount of money in a rapid series of opaque deals and has made some kind of arrangement with the ex-KGB crypto-militarist order in Russia. The manager of Chelsea is a Portuguese autocrat with unpublicised but not unclear hard right political notions.

Football and populist politics have always dissolved into each because large crowds defined by regional sympathies assemble every week at football games, and that in itself is some kind of a political act. The manager of Chelsea has taken this a step further because he clearly sees himself, in image and in context, as a charismatic leader who preaches a total creed of action and control.

Which brings us to this article by a British intellectual on Jose Mourinho and Portuguese fascism, which is really quite awesome. And that brings us to this observation on Mourhino, which is not in the article, by the Portuguese journalist Joel Neto:
He doesn't just work with people. He controls people. He dominates people. He works with people's minds.
Which summons up the image of none other than Dr Mabuse, Fritz Lang's criminal mastermind who psychically controlled the Berlin criminal classes from his prison cell. Mabuse was an allegory for Hitler, Lang had to flee Germany after making that film not so much because the Nazis hated it, but because Goebbels was so impressed he wanted Lang to work for them.

Football, fascism, mass entertainment.

In Mourhino's bronzed gaze clutching a Samsung phone I see sword & sandal fascism given a Gucci rubdown. And in some way, I see a cold, metallic shard of mass culture. 'The people need a leader'... and in the pouting cashmered sponsored-up-the-ass, touchline Mabuse that is Jose Mourinho those who really need it - have one.

And Barcelona's victory becomes even sweeter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Cheney Visual Hunting Aid

Courtesy of:

Mad, bad and dangerous

Of course, I can't resist a small nod to the Veep. I also can't resist this picture which combines one of my favourite films with one of my favourite assholes.

What to say? Veep shoots man at 30 yards.

I have nothing new to add, only to remark that this rather elegantly backs up the 'psychotic buffoon' meme. This guy shoots a friend at 30 yards whilst aiming for quail (quail fly, men walk, right? so why was he aiming at ground level?). Now, assuming this was not premeditated - which would be a whole level of craziness I can't engage in right now as it'll fry my fiction circuits - we're talking about the same guy who just rewarded his worst enemy, ie Iran, with a Shiite theocracy next door and lots of looted nuclear equipment from the same place to help boost their nuclear programme.

And someone gave this idiot a gun?

'Backlot Mountain'

This was a pretty interesting piece reporting on Ian McKellen's response to Brokeback Mountain. In a nutshell, Brokeback might
might lead to more honesty about homosexuality on the screen, but probably not behind the scenes in Hollywood. The piece points out the following, a real world analogy remarkable for its crispness and clarity:

in 2006, Jake and Ennis would find it easier to live as openly gay sheep farmers in Wyoming (where Casper has an openly gay mayor) than as openly gay stars in Hollywood.
Now, here's an idea for a challenging indie film: tell the story, behind the scenes, unvarnished, warts and all of a gay star who pretends to be straight. Show the technologies of commerce and power that force this dichotomy, show the stresses - mental and otherwise - on our character and show what it means to live a life of high-intensity exposure whilst nursing a half-hidden secret (because what these days cannot be sucked down the rumour funnel?)

It would be an extraordinary film, not very expensive to make (behind the scenes means behind the scenes) and full of the kind of character conflicts that make great visceral drama and of course intensely controversial. But whoever made it... would have their career closely and concertedly hunted down and taken apart. They would be signing a career death warrant only to be exhumed years later in the new dawn of an openly gay Hollywood to be feted as a brave pioneer on their death bed.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Father mucker!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ye Gods!

Not working.... is really hard work.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Tough Decision

Sometimes, in my other incarnation where I do not sweat heavily over a keyboard regurgitating half-imbided conspiracy theories culled from the further corners of the web, I work - or as is sometimes the case, don't work - in a profession of whores, idiots and madmen.

That is right, the film industry.

As a noble practitioner of the arts of writing and direction (or not writing and not directing) I'm a member of the venerable British Academy of the Film and Television Arts which means I get to drink at their recently reappointed bar (they deliver a frosty pint of Boddingtons) and every year at this time I get to vote on who picks up a gong on the big stage.

The voting process occurs in 3 stages. In stage one you're given a list of every film ever released in the UK over the last year and get to vote for whatever you want. Seeing as the final nominations always end up being crassly predictable - c'mon, you telling me 'A Beautiful Mind' caught you off guard? - I refuse to vote for anything that's likey to go all the way on the principle that everyone else will be voting for it too. So I give the forgotten films a chance. Avalon, Mysterious Skin, Head On, Shattered Glass... Haven't heard of them? Well, I tried.

Stage two, where you have a shortish list of 15 films I try and do the same. Alas, my attempts to bring The Bourne Supremacy to the attention of the British Academy voters also failed. By the time we get to the final nominations, maybe there'll be one (two if I'm lucky) flicks in there that I half admire. Last year in particular was tough: I found it very hard to get worked up about the Aviator and it's always a dismal experience for me to see Mike Leigh mumbling darkly in the half-light as he's spray-painted with praise for his particularly cartoonish version of 'realism'. As for the actor nominations! Ye gods... should there be anyone playing a physically or mentally disabled damaged soul who achieves a redemptive epiphany then my vote is as effective as that of a black felon in Broward county.

But this year, I cast my eyes over the nominations and for the first time I find it genuinely difficult to decide who should earn the gong. The films this year have been good - not great - but very good. There's an intelligence and awareness emerging that suggests something may, just may be afoot. But in the acting categories in particular, every single nomination holds outstanding performances. Take Best Actor:

DAVID STRATHAIRN - Good Night, And Good Luck.
HEATH LEDGER - Brokeback Mountain
RALPH FIENNES - The Constant Gardener

Now, with the exception of Fiennes who's fine in Gardener, I'd say every one of those actors delivers a - for them, up till now - outstanding, career defining performance. Strathairn and Seymour Hoffman are both character actors rooted in theatre. They possess awesome talent and great history, so it's just great to see them up for best man gongs with searing, densely layered performances. Phoenix I've always admired but he can miss sometimes, so it's great to see him in there with - yep, you got it - a densely layered, searing performance. And as for Ledger, he was in danger of being written off by some as a pretty Aussie beefcake so, forget about the gay part, it's great to see him deliver a... Searing, densely layered performance. And it's bloody hard to choose which is most deserving. That's a hard fight there.

Here's Actress in a supporting role:

BRENDA BLETHYN - Pride & Prejudice
MICHELLE WILLIAMS - Brokeback Mountain

I haven't seen Pride or North Country, though I wouldn't want to be duking it for an acting gong with McDormand. But again - Keener, Newton and Williams turn in outstanding performances. I've never seen Thandie Newton any better than she was in Crash and although her role in Capote is subdued and subtle Keener provides a kind of zenlike balance to the Seymour Hoffman performance that suggests without her the film could keel sideways, holed below hull by camp acid and high-pitched asides. To paraphrase Hollywoods greatest and mostly cruelly victimized of Scientologists, in Capote Hoffman can say to Keener "you complete me".

Here's best film:

CAPOTE - Bennett Miller
THE CONSTANT GARDENER - Fernando Meirelles
CRASH - Paul Haggis

I wasn't particularly touched by Gardener, but it's good work. Has more intelligence and craft than many a past nominee. Capote too. Good Night, Crash and Brokeback - that's another tough league. They're all directed with resounding accomplishment. I wouldn't like to have to choose. But wait...

I just did.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pop Nazis

A few months back I posted on the Nazi Olsen twin lookalikes Prussian blue. Well, the Observer music magazine had an interesting piece on the resurgence of mass-produced Nazi music across Europe and the US.

It's an interesting piece. Read it here. bottom line is:

'Hate rock is a growing problem,' ... 'It is the single number one recruiting tool drawing young bigots into the white supremacist movement. It is also the single largest money generator for the movement as well.' Burghart's greatest fear is a white power band breaking into the mainstream and appearing on MTV or getting into the UK music charts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Meet the New Boss....

... same as the old boss. Except this one's been 5 act redemptive structured and character plot-pointed beyond recognition.

That's right David Cameron, with his legion of media-schooled advisors, has written himself a character for us. And for any of you who - like me - have been carpet-bombed with Syd Field and Robert McKee then you'll be sniffing 'redemptive story arc' all over how he's being sold. Remember in this age, being low key, honest and riding a mountain bike is as much of a schtick as...
Having a schtick.

Now, read on:

In the entertainment industry you present a story as a logline: a simple, one-sentence pitch. This is followed by plot beats that show the progress of your narrative. That’s how the modern storytelling industry works – so why do I think of these things when I read about David Cameron’s coronation as new Tory leader?

Because Cameron and his advisors deliver crisp loglines: “A different kind of Tory”, a man who’ll “redefine politics”, “a modern and compassionate Conservative”. They back them up with well-constructed beats: youthful indiscretions since tamed, formative political experiences with Chancellor Lamont on history’s stage, mastery of the corporate world, a redemptive struggle to raise a disabled child. Cameron’s the politician who rides a mountain bike, the young man who delivers the epiphanic speech on cue. And just like a good modern screenplay or TV series, every beat, every set-piece is beautifully structured and managed to deliver a clear, coherent, uplifting result: a story.

While Cameron’s position on many major policy issues are still quite undefined, we’ve been given a good picture of what defines him. In the language of modern entertainment this is ‘Character Arc’. It’s formed by a technology of storytelling that’s all about taking that messy thing called life and reducing it to a clear 3-Act (or 5 or 7-act depending on which system you follow) narrative with jeopardy, conflict and resolution.

Now character-based politics is not new – look at Reagan – but politics as carefully structured Hollywood-style narrative is. Bill Clinton’s famous ‘Man from Hope’ film in 1992 framed a redemptive arc from poor Southern child to populist saviour. This inspired documentarist Molly Deneen’s 1997 portrait film of Tony Blair which framed the story of his life. Both of them built a political narrative which we could all share in: the resolution of Clinton and Blair’s drama would be ours too.

These days modern election campaigns are more and more wars of narrative, closely modelled on and inspired by mass entertainment. Whoever constructs the better story, wins. It won George Bush the last election – despite an unpopular war and uncertain economy he simply had a better narrative than John Kerry - and that’s how David Cameron is grooming himself now. And should he come up against Gordon Brown then I’d say: Gordon, beware.

In real terms, Brown outflanks Cameron utterly. But if it’s a war of narratives… The aging, bleak, embittered Scot, overshadowed by his charismatic leader faces a youthful underdog. A young man who overcame personal challenges, unencumbered by Brown’s kind of political baggage, speaking dialogue of optimism.

It’s a feelgood Hollywood drama versus a dark European art film, and if they were both showing in your local multiplex… It would be no contest.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I Am Not a Curmudgeon

The magnificently titled is a site whose only purpose is to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And it really does what it says on the packet, full of pictures like this whose only point in life is to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and somewhat sticky with knowingly-welcomed kitsch.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Woar on terra

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. . .
-- James Madison

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Simply the Worst!

When Bob Woodward asked him how history would judge his enterprise in Iraq, George Bush famously answered, "history, we don't know. We'll all be dead."

Cute, but a lie.

If there's one thing that motivates these people, it's their place in history.

When you boil it all down and strip out the complexities - something I'm prone to do as I stare at the blinking screen at 3 in the morning after a few tumblers of Scotch - then it's all history. It explains what the hell Blair's up to, why post-Lewinski and impeachment Clinton made his last-second dash to fix the Middle East and despite his disingenuous remark - Bush too.

Seen through a particular prism all Bush's presidency has been is an attempt to rewrite history - the history of his father's presidency. They were gonna invade Iraq bigger! Cut taxes morer! Do all the groovy paleo-con shit they never got to do while that effete, Euro-internationalist Bush I dude was barfing sushi, hugging homos and ignoring the base. Presidency as massive Oedipal playground - I've written on it before, and no doubt will again. But now let's just bring this oil tanker back onto course: Bush lies when he says he doesn't think of history.

And that's
what makes this so goddam funny:

It would seem that 338 out 415 of America's top historians have classed him well on track to snagging the prestigious 'Worst President Ever' ™ award and... [drum roll, please] he's got 3 more years to go!

Read and weep, my droogies:

This is what those historians said -- and it should be noted that some of the criticism about deficit spending and misuse of the military came from self-identified conservatives -- about the Bush record:

  • He has taken the country into an unwinnable war and alienated friend and foe alike in the process;

  • He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich;

  • He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state;

  • He has repeatedly "misled," to use a kind word, the American people on affairs domestic and foreign;

  • He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign
    (Iraq and the battle against al-Qaida);

  • He has sacrificed American employment (including the toleration of pension and benefit elimination) to increase overall productivity;

  • He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress;

  • He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime.
  • As of now Bush is up against James Buchanan for the gong - Buchanan basically ran one of the most corrupt regimes in Washington and plunged America into the Civil War - but as noted, Bush has more than enough time to catch up, take a lead, possibly even lap Buchanan. There's one chink of sunlight for the Shrub however - as the piece points out:
    Many of the historians note that however bad Bush seems, they have indeed since worse men around the White House. Some say Buchanan. Many say Vice President Dick Cheney.
    Ah yes, our good friend Dick, that old warhorse of evil, corrupt buffoonery. Glad to see the Cheney-is-an-idiot meme may finally be catching on in the sombre halls of academia.

    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    Time forks perpetually towards innumerable futures

    In all fictional works, each time a man is confronted with several alternatives, he chooses one and eliminates the others; in the fiction of Ts’ui Pen, he chooses – simultaneously – all of them. He creates, in this way, diverse futures, diverse times which themselves also proliferate and fork.


    ‘He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time. We do not exist in the majority of these times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both of us. In the present one, which a favourable fate has granted me, you have arrived at my house; in another, while crossing the garden, you found me dead; in still another, I utter these same words, but I am a mistake, a ghost.’
    -- Jorge Luis Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    Beyond Time

    I wrote a few days ago about how an entire generation is passing away around us. I was referring to the 'great generation', those who witnessed and served in the Second World War. But on Monday one of the last surviviors of the generation before that - those who survived the trenches, the 'Lost Generation', passed away. His name was Alfred Anderson, he was the last living witness of the Christmas Truce.
    Here is the news:

    Christmas Day truce veteran dies, aged 109

    In 1914 Alfred Anderson witnessed one of the first world war's most remarkable events

    Gerard Seenan
    Tuesday November 22, 2005


    The last soldier to have served during the first world war's Christmas truce in 1914 died peacefully in his sleep yesterday aged 109.

    Alfred Anderson, who was also the oldest man in Scotland, died at a care home in Angus, bringing to an end a life which spanned three centuries and marking the end of a generation who were witness to one of the most remarkable events of the great war. Mr Anderson fought with the 5th Battalion the Black Watch and was the last surviving veteran to have served during the 1914 truce. There are now believed to be only eight survivors of the first world war left in Britain.

    The former soldier was 18 when he was sent to the western front. Although he was stationed back from the frontlines when the truce broke out, he remembered the silence of temporary peace and shouting out "Merry Christmas" when he and his friends first heard it.

    Announcing his death yesterday, the Rev Neil Gardner, minister at his church in Alyth, Perthshire, said: "He was Scotland's oldest man but he remained lucid almost until the end. He was a very gracious and unassuming man. He ... lived a truly remarkable life."

    Shortly after dawn on Christmas Day 1914, the sound of Silent Night, or Stille Nacht, was heard from behind German lines. As the carol ended, a German soldier appeared in no-man's land. "Merry Christmas. We not shoot. You not shoot," he is reported to have said. It was the beginning of an unauthorised truce that would gradually spread across the 500-mile front, where more than a million men were stationed. Soldiers from both sides shook hands, sang carols and played football. In some parts the ceasefire lasted for weeks, but Mr Anderson heard gunfire by afternoon.

    Lieutenant Colonel Roddy Riddell, regimental secretary of the Black Watch, said the death of Mr Anderson, whose funeral is expected to take place on Friday, was the "end of an epoch". In 1998, Mr Anderson was awarded France's highest honour, the Légion d'Honneur, for his services during the first world war. In interviews, he said he never forgot the trenches. "I saw so much horror," he told the Observer last year. "I lost so many friends."

    Jack McConnell, Scotland's first minister, said the sacrifices that Mr Anderson and his generation of young Scottish men made and the horrors they endured must never be forgotten.

    I find this information very moving and I think I understand why... but not entirely.

    I've always been moved by the idea of people who live beyond time. Over the last five years many moments in art that I've found most profound, at a quite simple and deep level, were to do with this.

    That sequence in Spielberg's AI where the android child and his robot teddy bear emerge thousands of years into the future, in a time where humans have ceased to exist and yet... The one memory that gives the child peace is a mundane & simple one: his human mother putting him to bed in a suburban home that was lost to dust thousands of years before.

    The climax of 6 Feet Under, which travels deep into the future to see each character's death, including one who lives 102 years to 2085. Many are visited spiritually at the moment they expire by a loved one from the past - in other words, from our own present that seems so visceral and important now and soon will just be memory.

    Finally, the chapter in David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas called Sloosha's Crossing An' Everythin' After. Written in the manner of a primitive Huck Finn, it charts the life of a tribesman called Zach'ry, who lives far in a post-post-Apocalyptic future (we've gone so far, we've already had and survived apocalyptic wars which ensue from this time). Zach'ry represents a line of humans who've surpassed the age of exploration, the World Wars, this time, an advanced post-religious era many centuries after ours and then... Unknown to him, Zachary witnesses the last death of civilization's light. What he sees, is the end of human endeavour and there's nothing to follow it.

    Everything dies and crumbles to dust. But it's not just the thought of weeds growing in the carcasses of skyscrapers - itself a deep, powerful image - it's the idea of people living so long, witnessing so much they themselves become remote islands in a sea of memory. The last remaining witnesses to civilizations past and forgotten. And there is something in the loneliness and historical depth of that that moves me intensely.

    Alfred Anderson's first memory was of soldiers from the Boer war holding him on their shoulders as they returned home. He fought in the trenches of a war that seems to have lost all meaning now, just the cruel and violent carnage of mud and iron. He saw the descent to the Second World War, death camps and atom bombs, the rise and fall of communism, moon landings, environmental ruin and he ended up now, marooned in our age so far from where he started and so far from that epochal moment of his and so many of his comrades' lives: when a German soldier walked uncertainly across No Mans land waving a white cloth one freezing day in 1914.

    And now, Alfred's gone and we're alone. All we have left are the recorded memories, the documents and... We too will be slowly marooned as time moves on.

    So RIP Alfred, and the others from your time: rest in peace. Wherever you are, we'll be joining you soon. And then, others will mourn what we have seen and known.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Proverbs 6: 16-19

    'A Warning against Idleness & Falshood':

    16 These six things doth the LORD hate;

    yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
    17 a proud look, a lying tongue,

    and hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,

    feet that be swift in running to mischief,
    19 a false witness that speaketh lies,

    and he that soweth discord among brethren.

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    This is not 'The Onion'

    It has been widely reported that socialite Paris Hilton was attacked by her pet monkey, Baby Luv, as she shopped for bras in Los Angeles.

    Saturday, November 19, 2005


    Over the last few years, I found myself starting to read the obituary pages. We may not fully realise it yet, but an extraordinary generation is dying off around us and some of their lives are quite simply - beyond fiction.

    But there are incredible lives that have been lived, containing amazing stories to be told whatever the generation. Epic journeys from one state of living to another, like the one this man took:

    CP Ellis

    A reformed white racist, he fought for black workers

    Christopher Reed
    Friday November 18, 2005

    The remarkable journey of CP Ellis, who has died aged 78, took him from leadership within the Ku Klux Klan to lifelong friendship with an African-American activist and welfare mother, who once took a knife to him after hearing his racial obscenities.

    His relationship with Ann Atwater, who attended his funeral, became the subject of a book and a documentary film, and was the favourite of all the interviews conducted by Studs Terkel. Terkel included his discussion with Ellis in two of his books, describing it as confirmation of his optimism about the human condition. "It showed we can change our minds," he said.

    Ellis, who preferred to be known by his initials, southern style, summed up his experience in a pithy political pronouncement. "It finally came to me," he said, "that I had more in common with poor black people than I did with rich white ones."

    Ellis was born into a poor family in the tobacco and textile town of Durham, North Carolina. His father was a mill worker - and a Ku Klux Klansman who hated blacks, Jews, Roman Catholics and liberals in that order, and taught his son to think the same way. Young Ellis failed at school and on the job market, mostly working as a janitor.

    He had married while still young and fathered three children, the youngest of whom was born blind. Ellis found that no matter how hard he strived, he never had enough money to keep his family in a decent condition. "I worked my butt off and never seemed to break even," he told Terkel. "They say abide by the law, go to church, do right and live for the Lord, and everything will work out. It didn't work out. It kept gettin' worse. I began to get bitter."

    Ellis concluded that his misery was the fault of Durham's black population, and he joined the KKK. He recalled his induction for Terkel. "I'll never forget the night when they put the white robe on me and the hood, and I was led down the hall and knelt before the illuminated cross. It was thrilling. Me, this poor little ol' boy, a nobody, felt like somebody."

    He became the Exalted Grand Cyclops, or local leader, of the Durham klan and attended city council meetings armed. It was in 1968, at one of these gatherings, that Atwater tried to stab Ellis. They met again in 1971 when they were asked to join a discussion group on educational desegregation. Ellis took a machine gun with him.

    To their mutual astonishment, the pair were voted co-chairmen of the meeting, which lasted for 10 days. They spent 12 hours of each day arguing, but gradually found that they agreed on many points. Ellis said he realised they had much in common: poverty, hard work and exploitation by others.

    By the end of the session, Ellis had decided to leave the KKK and publicly tore up his membership card. Over the years he suffered insults and ostracism from former white friends, and struggled with alcoholism. But he found a job as an organiser of the mainly black women members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which included janitors, and stayed there until retirement.

    His friendship with Atwater continued, and they appeared together at meetings. Osha Gray Davidson's book about their story, Best of Enemies, appeared in 1996 and they were the subject of an award-winning documentary, An Unlikely Friendship, in 2002. Ellis is survived by three sons and a daughter.

    · Claiborne Paul Ellis, union organiser, born January 8 1927; died November 3 2005

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    And then the Emperor Hid Pt.2

    This is a good recap of all the GWB's having a drunken paranoid breakdown rumours over the last few months.

    I have to say, reading all the above, the White house seems to resemble a cross between a Douglas Sirk movie and Dr Strangelove - whichever way you cut it: the bonkers satire and the bloviated melodrama remain.

    The picture that emerges is quite dizzying: in the Oval Office GW knocks back the sauce like Robert Stack in Written on the Wind as Laura B pops valiums in the staff pantry to refreeze her Stepford Wife smile. Karl Rove gets blown by Jeff Gannon in the Lincoln Bedroom, and the Bush Twins do naked tequila limbos in front of repression-ravaged bodyguards in the Nixon Bowling Alley for Girls Gone Wild - Rose Garden Special, the Veep lurches at the nuke button - inbetween his 341st and 342nd heart attack, buzzed back to life by Pentagon-issue defibrillators - and Scott McLellan stands on the podium drenched in nervous sweat proclaiming milk, honey and business as usual.... Sweet weeping Jesus.

    One thing you have to say about Clinton - a middle age guy getting a hummer from his impressionable intern is real life.

    This shit? It's pure soap.

    And by the way, the Nixon Bowling Alley is no joke:

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    And then the Emperor Hid


    Reports from the hard-Republican Washington Times say that embattled Bush has entered full paranoid emperor mode:
    The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.
    I don't know about you but this just makes me think: Caligula, Nero, decline, fall.

    When the most powerful man in the world retreats into the company of adoring and manipulative women in order to come to turns with his zeppelin-size father complex.... Jesus, forget Rome, switch to Greece: anyone say 'Oedipus'? Make that, Oedipus with a quart of Maker's Mark. Some primo blow. And God-knows-what medication Dr Feelgood - Dr Tubb I believe is the name - has him jacked on.

    Read this for more detail. And shudder. I hate this White house as much, no - more, than the next man. But an emotional meltdown, chaos and power vacuum in the leadership of the most powerful nation on earth is a very very very bad thing. It only spells one thing: big trouble.

    We're so lucky, huh? We have ringside seats to some very interesting times indeed.