http://blogs.sundaymercury.net/paul-flower/

unhappy birthday

By Paul Flower on Jul 8, 09 02:50 PM

It's my birthday. A fact I'm reminded of every few minutes as most of my 218 'friends' on Facebook wish me a happy one, usually with some associated abuse. I'm trying to forget about it; consequently I'm regretting ever joining bloody Facebook. I'm probably too old for social networking anyway, or is that just how everyone else makes me feel?

Naturally my 'colleagues' see fit to present me with a birthday card with references to bus passes, pensions and even 'granddad'. Were it not for the fact that I'm self-employed I'd consider complaining to HR.

When recently ridiculing a younger, more flamboyant, client, he quipped that 'it probably wasn't like this in my day'. In my day?! Which day did he think that was, some other century? Well, yes I guess it was. I could've pointed out that I hung out at the same clubs as Martin Degville, Boy George and the pioneers of new romantic, the first time around, the original electronica. Obviously that would've aged me as well.

pop is dead?

By Paul Flower on Jul 1, 09 02:22 PM

From the millions of words expelled into the stratosphere following Michael Jackson's death, one phrase rings truest: we may never see his like again. Take that in any way you chose, my point is that the king of pop may never be deposed - pop careers no longer have that longevity, new artists do not have the potential to sell the same quantity of music, artists are not allowed to develop that way. The king is dead, etc.

It's a problem that the music industry needs to address but seems unable to do so; we just do not appear to be creating mega-stars with cross-over potential and lasting appeal. There were many factors that contributed to Jackson's success but a combination of talent and timing was the primary one.

To this you can possibly add persistence. You may not have realised it but his major breakthrough album, Off The Wall in 1979, was his fifth solo release. It also followed a four year gap since his last album. The four initial solo albums were characterised by their lack of major singles - approx one per album - and 73's 'Music & Me' could justifiably have been called a flop.

Now, where was I......

By Paul Flower on Jun 26, 09 06:20 PM

It's festival season. I note this as some weak explanation of my tardiness, even if I'm not entirely sure what tardiness means. The fact is that at my stage of advanced adulthood if I go away for three days to an event like the Isle of Wight Festival then it's very likely to take me at least double that time to recover, by which time it's time for the next event which, this year, is Hard Rock Calling currently taking place in Hyde Park (I'm in a portacabin sheltering from the rain).

My tiredness means that I'm barely able to string a sentence together. To be fair this doesn't usually stop me from trying but the consequence is that I'm the only one that can understand the aforementioned sentence. Not a great selling point if the aim is to have more people reading this blog, which it is. Tell your friends!

The other issue is that post-festivals I can generally fall asleep at the drop of a hat. In fact don't bother dropping any hats as I'll be snoozing before it hits the floor and completely unable to pick it up. Now you understand what I was saying about the sentences making sense.

The loyalty factor

By Paul Flower on Jun 18, 09 01:03 PM

This week's blog could've been encompassed within the few words I wrote on my twitter feed yesterday - we get relegated, he gets promoted and I get stuck with a season ticket I no longer want. This was, of course, a response to the inevitable resolution of the long-drawn-out saga over whether Tony Mowbray would go to Celtic.

Like most football fans I am slightly one-eyed but even I recognise the overwhelming lure of power and money, no-one can really deny that Mowbray is moving to a bigger club, a club that can buy top players, a club that has the potential to win things. It is regrettable that he chose the immediate post-season to remind his players about the value of loyalty but we all know that loyalty has no place in modern football, he may as well have saved his breath.

So, I wish Mowbray well, there's no point in bleating about it. A similar point could be made to those Villa fans still sore about Gareth Barry's departure. I try to see both sides of any argument and how many of us would've turned down the opportunity to increase our salaries by that amount? He even wrote you a letter - how many players would bother to do that?

Whilst you may see me in a new light of magnanimity, see PF in his coat of charitable colours, you should be under no illusion that I'm similarly disposed towards existing players who demonstrate or vocalise their desire to be elsewhere whilst being gainfully employed and paid by my long-supported club. These players seem to have very short memories and a shockingly small conscience that their input may be at least partly responsible for placing us in this diminished position.

In the wake of the Susan Boyle controversy Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has said that it'd be 'impractical' for them to psychologically screen all entrants to the competition. She's right of course, but instead of impractical she could also have used the term 'counter-productive'. The entire joy of watching the initial audition process would be destroyed if they were to exclude people due to borderline personality disorders.

It probably says something about my personality but I have no interest in seeing people with moderate talent trying to prove their worth, I'm far more interested in the legions of the misguided and (possibly) psychologically-impaired who think that they have something special to offer, when in truth they've always just had special-needs.

The malignant spread of reality TV seems to prove that I'm not alone, clearly most couch-potatoes like a dose of delusion with their evening meals. We all like to laugh or gasp at the 'hilarious' efforts of those who believe themselves to be the next Madonna, or Elvis. It's the modern-day equivalent of bear-baiting, or maybe it's dog-fighting for non-chavs or bare-knuckles for non-pikeys. Seeing Cowell savage would-be contestants, tearing their hopes into tiny pieces, is a bizarrely-ritualistic form of entertainment taking us back into the arena with the gladiators and the emperor who can turn fate with a simple twist of thumb-up or thumb-down.

A psychologist friend of mine has written a blog on our generally spiteful nature with regard to these programmes, a prescient piece considering that it was written before Ofcom mentioned the 350 complaints they'd received about BGT. It seems that the vast majority were not complaining about Boyle (only 20 phoned in concern for her) instead they were raging at the treatment of ten-year-old Hollie Steel, who broke down in tears during one of the semi-finals. Before you think that this should warm your heart please note that 50 were questioning the morals of subjecting crying children to the nation, the other 280 were complaining that Cowell gave her a second chance to perform after the tears had been shed. The complainers said this was just unfair.

Britain's got crap TV

By Paul Flower on Jun 1, 09 02:46 PM

Cyprus is a beautiful temperate country, its occupants are warm and friendly, it is steeped in history both modern and ancient. I have spent memorable holidays there on a number of occasions, I love Cyprus. Unfortunately now when I think of Cyprus I think of only one thing - the outline of the island as tattooed on the bulbous wobbling belly of some bald fat dancing fool on a TV talent show.

It was hard to avoid Britain's Got Talent last week, I know because I tried. As it transpired I saw about 30 mins of one semi-final, and 45 mins of the final. There are some acts I managed to avoid altogether and I my life was enriched by their absence.

We're now into the silly summer season on television, a time when all your favourite shows come to an end and are replaced by nothing you'd really want to watch. Or maybe that's just me. In the past few weeks I've lost Heroes, Desperate Housewives and The Shield, more of which later, and it'll soon be the end of The Apprentice. It troubles me though that the shows generally recognised as being great are usually treated very badly by UK TV channels.

embarrassing television

By Paul Flower on May 22, 09 05:59 PM

Television's a freak show isn't it? It's like watching a parade of the mentally and physically afflicted doing unicycle tricks for the 'entertainment' of the illiterate and chronically couch-bound. Actually that sounds pretty good.

Instead of providing a window to the world, television is more of a porthole slammed on the side of the asylum. In the main they've even given up the pretence of it being some kind of educational tool, now it's just sit and gawp fodder for those of us who can't be bothered to do anything else and can't afford multi-channel satellite feeds.

I've been reaching this conclusion over a prolonged period whilst vegetating in front of the screen - it's either one screen or another. Mostly though it appears to be the fault of embarrassing bodies on Channel 4.

It's the follow-up to a presumably successful series called embarrassing illnesses where people who were suffering some kind of condition so shameful that they couldn't go to their GP could get advice. Yes, they were too embarrassed to go to their private doctor's surgery but they were willing to parade themselves in front of millions on TV. It's a paradox I'm still struggling with, C4 aren't struggling though - which is how they've managed to get at least twelve hours worth of content out of it.

Expendable?

By Paul Flower on May 13, 09 01:36 PM

Maybe I'm just too laid back? I'm becoming slightly worried that I've become so cynical that many of the recent 'scandals' barely scrape the surface of my consciousness. This M.P.'s expenses furore for example, has it not descended into the level of farce?
It's hard to sort through the mess of which party's members claimed the most money, or for the most ridiculous items and now it's degenerated - as these things always do - into point-scoring, who can be the most apologetic or the first to be seen to be the most penitent. Could I care less? I doubt it.

My mother, on the other hand, is apoplectic or at least she would be if she knew what apoplectic meant. When I last saw her at the weekend she was incandescent with rage and I'm still struggling to know why. She's been alive long enough to be aware that M.P.s are not charity workers, she knows that they're generally feckless, untrustworthy types. So, why be upset at the latest evidence of their pocket-lining, rule-bending, self-serving natures?

It could be argued that we prefer our representatives to behave this way, who do we want fighting for our rights - people who take what they're given or those who are intelligent enough to know how to manipulate the system?

To boldly go......

By Paul Flower on May 8, 09 01:55 PM

Watching an SF epic, like the new Star Trek movie, in IMAX is a humbling experience. It also spoils you - as watching one on the small screen will never seem the same, because it isn't. In IMAX you feel like you're actually in space.

Having never even seen a Star Trek movie at the cinema previously, seeing this one is a real revelation. You have to say that JJ Abrams got it spot on, and whoever did the casting deserves a medal. Ignoring the fact that Zachary Quinto was clearly born to play Spock, I'm constantly bewildered at how they continually find children who look like the actors - without casting their own children of course.

Anyway, it's wholly recommended - particularly in IMAX. For once all the good stuff isn't just in the trailor.

This says it all - in a truly genius style:


Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

Divide & conker

By Paul Flower on May 7, 09 04:27 PM

Respect to the headline. on Twitpic

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