Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Only In America ... (And You Can Keep It There Too)

A judge in New Mexico has lifted a restraining order on CBS talk show host David Letterman, sought by a woman who said he sent her coded messages via her television.


The Santa Fe resident had obtained the order on the grounds that Mr Letterman had caused her mental cruelty for 11 years, forcing her to go bankrupt. Lawyers for the TV host, who records his shows in New York, dismissed the claims as "absurd and frivolous".

No shit Sherlock.

The same judge who granted the ban accepted their request to quash it. In her request filed on 15 December, Colleen Nestler asked for Mr Letterman to stay at least three metres (yards) away from her and not "think of me, and release me from his mental harassment and hammering".

Hang on, the same judge granted the ban to begin with? He’s as deranged as this Nestler woman.

She accused the host of using code words, gestures and "eye expressions" to send her messages since she began sending him "thoughts of love" after his Late Show programme began in 1993.

In court on Tuesday, a lawyer for the talk show host, Pat Rogers, argued that his client was "entitled to a protection of his legal rights and a protection of his reputation". He also said that the New Mexico court had no jurisdiction over Mr Letterman, a resident of Connecticut.

Questioned by Judge Daniel Sanchez, Ms Nestler, who defended herself in court, said she had no proof of the alleged messages from Mr Letterman.

SEE?? Mad as a bag of frogs.

She added that if Mr Letterman or any of his representatives came near her, she would "break their legs" but denied after the hearing that she was making a threat. She had, she said, achieved her purpose since "the public knows that this man cannot come near me".

But he didn't want to sweetheart. Look, you're obviously mentally ill and shouldn’t be allowed out in public.

For pity's sake ...

"He Started It Mummy …!!"

Following the news that Arnold Schwarzenegger's name was removed from the Austrian stadium which bore his name, comes the next round of hair-pulling.

Now, his name has been erased from the websites of his Austrian hometown in the latest chapter of the row over the US death penalty. Local politicians berated Mr Schwarzenegger - one of Graz's most famous sons - after he refused to pardon a prominent US death row inmate.

The California governor subsequently made clear he wanted nothing more to do with Graz. "It's all settled," Thomas Rajakovics, a spokesman for Graz Mayor Siegfried Nagl, told Austrian media.

What next, hip-fired monster sub-machine gun shoot-out at dawn?

Now stop it, both of you, before I send you up to your bedrooms.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I Won’t Be Back …

Officials in Arnold Schwarzenegger's Austrian hometown of Graz have removed his name from a football stadium where he has been criticised for denying clemency to a death row inmate.

In by way of a return spat, the California governor has said he no longer wants to be honoured by Graz. Schwarzenegger said he would 'posting back' a "ring of honour" the city awarded him in 1999.

Former movie star and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of Austria's most famous sons. The other one being … err, you know … the short moustachioed painter fella … who put lots of people to death …

That’s it Arnie - you’ve got the Christmas Spirit alright.

Miserable sod.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Do You Remember The Good Old Days ...?

According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were children in the 60's and 70's, probably shouldn't have survived because our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint, which was promptly chewed and licked.

We had no child-proof lids on medicine bottles or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.

When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip-flops and fluorescent "spokey-dokey's" on our wheels.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seatbelts or air bags - riding in the passenger seat was a treat.

We drank water from the garden hose, not from a bottle and it tasted the same.

We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy juice with sugar in it but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.

We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no one actually died from this.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded.

We did not have Playstations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. 99 channels on TV did not exist, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no DVD, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet chat rooms.

We had friends - we went outside and found them.

We played rounders and sometimes that ball really hurt.

We played British Bulldog which also really hurt.

We danced to Madonna, when she was invented, never mind reinvented.

We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones but there were no lawsuits.

We had full on fistfights but no prosecution followed from other parents.

We played knock-on-the-door-and-run-away and were actually afraid of the owners catching us.

We walked to friends' homes. We also, believe it or not, WALKED to school. We didn't rely on Mummy or Daddy to drive us to school, which was just round the corner.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls.

We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility and we learned how to deal with it all.

So there.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

You Looking At Me …?

If you are ever invited to New Zealand’s north island and the village of Tamaki Maori, whatever you do, don’t laugh.

A Maori performer taking part in a traditional welcoming ceremony at the end of November has admitted head butting a tourist and fracturing his nose. Richard Minarapa Mitai-Ngatai told a court in Rotorua, New Zealand, that he thought the man was laughing at him.

Dutch tourist Johannes Scheffers, and others visiting Tamaki Maori Village, had been warned that laughing was disrespectful. A police sergeant said that Mr Scheffers accidentally gave a "nervous grin". At which point, Mr Mitai-Ngatai stepped forward and head butted Mr Scheffers, causing him to fall backwards with blood pouring from his nose.

"His intention was to nudge him back into the line with the main group of visitors," the court was told. "However, the force he used was well in excess of his intention."

Mr Mitai-Ngatai will be sentenced next month, so stitch that.

A Quick Sonic Screw … Driver …

A 17-inch model of Doctor Who's Tardis first used as a prop in a 1965 episode of the classic BBC science fiction series is being auctioned. The plywood time-travelling device is being offered for sale at Christie's auction house on 14 December.

The famous blue police box is expected to fetch up to £6,000 and was built at the BBC visual effects department.

The idea to use the Police Box design was originally conceived by Anthony Coburn, author of the first episode The Unearthly Child. It is believed that this particular model was built by Ron Oates, said Christie's.

Anyone know what Tardis means? That’s right children … Time and Relative Dimension in Space.

At £6,000 your wallet better be bigger on the inside … now, how much for the girl?

Richard Pryor …

US comedian Richard Pryor has died after suffering 20 long and painful years with multiple sclerosis. He died at the age of 65 of a heart attack at Encino hospital near Los Angeles, his wife Jennifer Pryor said.

A series of hit comedies in the 1970s and 1980s - including Stir Crazy and Silver Streak - helped make him one of Hollywood's highest-paid stars.

RIP RFP - you made me laugh.

Not Rocking All Over The World …?

Status Quo have cancelled tour dates after guitarist Rick Parfitt was hit by a health scare. The masters of the 12-bar boogie are no strangers to the troubled world of rock stardom.

The band have fallen victim to musical snobbery, health problems and internal unrest. But Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi have enjoyed huge commercial success over the decades, and their popularity endures.

Parfitt, now 57, first met fellow frontman Francis Rossi at a holiday camp in 1965. Guitarist and singer Rossi, now 56, had been a co-founder of south London-based beat band The Spectres in 1962, together with bassist Alan Lancaster. They were later joined by organist Roy Lynes and drummer John Coghlan, but the quartet struggled to achieve success.

Parfitt joined in 1967 and the band became Status Quo.

In 1985, Status Quo were on top of the world when they opened Live Aid at Wembley Stadium, but it would prove to be Lancaster's last outing with the band. He tried to take out a High Court injunction to prevent Status Quo performing without him. But Rossi and Parfitt secured the rights to the name and re-formed the band with a new line-up. They were joined by John "Rhino" Edwards on bass, Jeff Rich on drums, and keyboardist Andy Brown.

Health problems hit in 1997 when Parfitt's old lifestyle of drink and drugs began to take its toll and he underwent a quadruple heart bypass after doctors warned he could die at any time. But he went on to make a full recovery, admitting he was still fond of the "odd pint".

In 2001 the band - which now featured drummer Matthew Letley - cancelled thee concerts after Parfitt was diagnosed with repetitive strain injury (RSI) and could not play the guitar.

Earlier this year, the band found themselves snubbed again, by organisers of the Live 8 concert. Rossi said they were "desperate" to join the Hyde Park concert, but despite opening its Live Aid predecessor, they were kept off the bill.

Status Quo remain defiantly unfashionable, but they still have legions of supporters around the world. They, like many in the music business, will be hoping Parfitt and Rossi can bounce back once again.

I saw The Quo’s concert in Paris a few years ago.

One of the best night’s entertainment I’ve had with my kit on.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

To Know Her Is To Love Her ...

On October 19th I interviewed Yoko Ono.

The next day, I wrote this; 'This coming December marks the 25th anniversary of John Lennon’s death but dear 72-yr old Yoko is still out there, at the forefront, driving the 'Lennon Deity Machine', unable to let sleeping legends lie in peace.'

Today, the BBC proved me right with this.

I am not alone.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Frankie Sells …

In a matter of a few days (December 13th to be precise), Bristol auctioneers Dreweatt Neate, are flogging off a selection of personal items belonging to comedy icon Frankie Howerd. Among the lots include a portrait of the Up Pompeii! star by artist June Mendoza. Once adorning the walls of ’chez Francis’, it is expected to fetch up to £3,000 (€4,400). Other items include an Omega Seamaster watch which Howerd wore up to his death and a leather doctor's bag in which he used to store jokes.

The portrait, which depicts a thoughtful Howerd dressed in a smart grey suit, used to hang over the mantelpiece. "It is a very nice portrait and we have many other interesting pieces," said Nick Ewing of Dreweatt Neate. They include a pair of brass goblets used as props in Up Pompeii!, in which Howerd played the wily Roman slave Lurchio. Earlier this year the late comedian's OBE was raffled to raise money for various charities.

Sayonara Pat …

Actor Pat Morita, who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Ralph Macchio's mentor Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid, has died. The 73-year-old died last week at his home in Las Vegas.

Born in California to immigrant fruit pickers, he was among the thousands of Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during World War II. Morita, who began his career as a comic, rose to fame in TV's Happy Days.

Butt Naked …

Police in El Salvador exposed a planned bank heist after finding two naked would-be robbers digging a tunnel towards the vault. The two men, covered in nothing but dust, were caught after part of the tunnel collapsed, leaving a gaping hole in the street near the bank.

They had apparently stripped off because of the heat inside the tunnel. The area, in the capital San Salvador, had been under police surveillance after reports of mysterious noises. "We have stopped a big-scale robbery," said the city's police commissioner, Wilfredo Avelenda. He said the tunnel, which led to an abandoned house, had been worked on for several days and was nearing completion.
When part of the tunnel collapsed, near to the bank, the two men ran out in to the street to escape, but were arrested by a police patrol. Police spokesman Carlos Rugamas said the tunnel stretched for 75m (246ft). Investigators exploring the tunnel afterwards said the heat inside was unbearable within just a few seconds, after weeks of particularly hot weather.


Monday, December 05, 2005

First Impressions ...

I should like to thank the Hapimag Hotel over the road who have an open wifi network. I am connected. In these 'InterWeb' days, if you’re used to having round-the-clock access, when it’s gone you get the feeling the world is turning without you.

As a news-junkie, then it's even worse as I can only take the BBC World Service for so long. It's a good station but it has it's limits and I'm not all that fussed about listening to programmes about water-treatment plants in Africa - as important and necessary as they are. The radio is in the kitchen and the reception isn't exactly FM quality. It’s more like a tinny voice trying to punch through the sound of someone screwing up a crisp bag.

My interweb provider should be round tomorrow morning to plug me into the mains once again. I've been in this new apartment for a little over 4 days and the weekend was the first time I could actually get down to sorting out the mass of boxes, boxes and yet more bloody boxes. In 48 hours I had it licked - building bookshelves, unpacking books, office stuff, clothes (oh my, do I really need all these?) and other personal items. It was like one of those kid's handheld games, like the small plastic slot thing where you have to move the squares around to make a picture.

By Sunday afternoon I had the boxes either unpacked or redistributed, the sofa in place, the television where it should be, lights plugged up and working and the bed positioned. I now have the problem of rubbish - a mountain of flattened cardboard now growing in the kitchen.

Being in a new place means that I have to get used to new views out of the windows, a new environment packed with noises and sensations. In my old apartment, I could make my way throughout, in the dark. In the new place, I am constantly bumping into things and stubbing my toes on walls, furniture and bloody boxes.

I have four windows on the second floor; two on one street, two on another. My bedroom and part of the living room overlook a two restaurants, a café (complete with online bookies), a small water fountain and a collection of other apartments. The other part of the living room and kitchen overlook a picture framing shop and my friends at the Hapimag Hotel (it's fascinating what goes on behind those windows).

For years now, I haven't had to deal with street lights so I've thrown up some heavy curtains to block the nocturnal light pollution. The dustbins are emptied at 07h00 and the chaps who 'do' are not exactly subtle. They get a kick from a bin full of glass. The daily trade at the bookies lets rip with some audible support their gee-gees get close to the line. Behind the 'head' wall in the bedroom, is a restaurant extractor or something. Its low hum goes off for 10 minutes every hour (must have a word with the people next door), other than the upstairs neighbour (I need to introduce myself) tapping his foot to some truly awful French music, all is well, chez moi.

Now, what's going to be the first thing to piss me off? Bets are now being taken …


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Look What I Found ...

Here I am in my new home. The movers (3 of them) turned up on the dot of 10h30 and by 14h00 had me reinstalled 70m around the corner. The interesting thing was that they didn't bother to use their truck, they loaded everything up onto trollies and wheeled it round (it's a 'mover' thing). I would have thought that a fully loaded truck would have been quicker but there you go.

I spent a constructive Thursday afternoon and evening rebuilding the bed, hanging curtains and playing 'hide and seek' with boxes clearly marked 'cuisine' which were all in the living room and underneath boxes marked 'salon'. For a number of hours I thought all my plates had gone.

Very bad night's sleep and, Friday, I was up at 06h00 for a trip down to Lyon to cover the Face-Op press conference - more of that on the next edition.

I had assumed that all was lost internet-wise until December 6th, once back at home I popped in my Wi-Fi card and 'hey presto' I picked up a local network. Hurrah.

So, today I'm slotting the bookshelves back together and unloading the boxes.

If anyone is passing and ... any volunteers?

Nah. Didn't think so.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

When Will It Ever End ...?

So, D-Day has arrived. I'm moving house.

At sundown yesterday, I had to sack one set of movers as they just couldn't get their act together (the cheapest of the quotes) and swiftly engaged the services of the next licensed bandits on the list. Almost twice the price of the other lot but if it'll get me out of here, I'll just have to bite the bullet and for that money, you'll find me sitting in the corner with a cuppa.

I ran out of cardboard boxes yesterday but the fruitier on the corner has a few banana containers 'round the back' for me. There's always something else ... just when you think that you have it cracked, you find another pile of crap somewhere. I'm now at the stage that anything not in boxes will be slung into black plastic bags and tossed into the truck.

The next time you should hear from me will be December 6th ... the cable/internet people can't get it together beforehand.

See you at the other end ...