The Whistleblower

I don’t really like dramas any more. I find them all a bit dissapointing. Specially crime dramas, or anything that’s supposed to be suspenseful. They pin everything on the twist which bores me senseless. “Never mind the first 59 minutes. Let’s blow their minds in the last minute with an ending these braindead morons would never ever guess“. Yawn. Though when it comes to crime dramas Cracker was a cracker. And I’m currently loving The Wire as much as everyone else.

Anyway – I ended up watching The Whistleblower last night. Christ! I haven’t seen such blatent physical violence with intention to infuse hatred and anger since that snuff movie Mel Gibson made. I could barely watch as the evil-looking Doctor Neary ripped out body parts from young women. They were only short of giving him an evil laugh as he ripped out womb after womb. MWAHAHAHAHAHAH. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be incensed on this occasion – but Christ on a bike covered in thorns and battered to an inch – that was a bit much. The second part is on tonight if you fancy some good old Hammer Horrors blood and guts.

Tricks of the mind

TV. I spend a lot of time giving out about it. That soul-eating suckbox sitting in the corner, dominating all your senses. Slowly eating your life. Hours where you could be making, creating, living, loving. Or even depleting the long list of depressing chores, to live a more clutter-free life. Not just ridding the pile of unironed clothes but the cobwebs in your head. A night on the sofa, wasted life-hours, ending with a fat gut, laden with guilt, like the soiled sock hidden under the bed of a teenage boy.

Woah. I’d just intended to post that I read Derren Brown’s book recently and I’m looking foward to his Trick or Treat show again tonight and all that bile just spilled out. What I’d intended to say is that while I do loath the tellybox at times and would love to see it in the bin, I do love good TV, rarity that it is. I’ve a few heroes I love to watch on the box; David Attenborough, Roy Mears, Richard Dawkins, Armandi Ianucci, Charlie Brooker, Stephen Fry. And I love a good film, or a good quiz (not to be confused with a gameshow).

I just hate when we end up sitting in front of the stupid thing watching crap as if its some kind of domestically social event. And I hate that late night plastic soap plaguing the screens; neither serious nor funny. Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Plastic Polly, Fucking Funty. They’re all the same shallow numbeties. And I despise the kind of TV programming designed to reel you in and suck on your very soul, either for the rest of the night (Top 100s) or the rest of your robotic life week after week (soaps). And Fridays are the worst, just when you’re too tired to do anything else, they lay on the thickest excrement from the bottom of the barrel.

Woah. Let’s try again. Derren Brown’s Trick or Treat is on tonight. I like Derren Brown and I find his work intriguing. He could so easily be dismissed as an annoying magician, and he often is. But he doesn’t do magic. Psychological tricks, amazing memory feats, and general head fucking but no magic. And he’ll be the first to admit, nay shout from the rooftops, that anyone who claims to read your mind or predict the future is nothing but a shyster.

I read his book, Tricks of the Mind recently and it’s highly entertaining. Actually it starts off a little bit puerile, with the kind of bad jokes and puns, that people new to writing haven’t learned to resist yet. Like people dabbling with electronic music using too much reverb, or budding design enthusiasts using too much drop-shadow. Resist! But the silly puns are gone by the end, as are the silly tricks, from the start of the book. There are fascinating insights into lie detection, cold reading, hypnosis, NLP and memory. Not that showing you the tricks of his trade makes it easy, or possible, to do likewise. Could you fly a plane after reading the manual? The second half of the book is a scathing attack on all forms of mumbo jumbo, from fortune tellers and psychics to healers and religion, which puts him into hero ranks for me.

I’m suddenly reminded of an otherwise clever young guy who constantly regurgitates a line that I reckon some lecturer told him and he thought it was clever. He reckons that Irish Atheist are just rebelling against the Irish Church and it doesn’t reach any further than that, which is the biggest load of cock I’ve ever heard repeated. Like most Atheists, I despise all forms of superstition: fortune tellers, mind readers, lucky black cats, unlucky magpies, psychics, mediums, the number 13, prayer, heaven, hell, god, afterlife, auras, amber beads, luck, souls, ghosts. It’s all the same mumbo jumbo to me. Catholic or Muslim, Jew or Gentile.

Woah. Let’s try again. Derren Brown’s Trick or Treat is on tonight. It’s an entertaining little show. Last week was a ‘Treat’, a guy was shown how to add facts from hundreds of books to his short-term memory and kicked ass in one of the biggest pub quizzes in the UK. In tonight’s episode, a girl picks the ‘Trick’ card and has to wrestle with her conscience over the torture of a cat. I’m guessing that it’s Brown’s version of that famous obedience to authority experiment carried out by psychologist Stanley Milgram.

Trick or Treat

10.00pm. Channel 4.

Then turn it off and play some scrabble, or bake a cake, or see what fun you can have with some facepaint and a sleeping child. Or… maybe… just watch Peep show on straight after Derren Brown. Then if you’ve had a few cans, Balls of Steel might seem like a good idea. And then before you know it, it’s 2AM and you’re woken by the stale beer spilling onto your lap in a cloud of self-loathing on another wasted night.

Lance Armstrong V Stuart Shorter

I recently ended up reading two books side by side, It’s Not About the Bike by
Lance Armstrong and Stuart: a Life Backwards by Alexander Masters. Now I don’t like watching sport, I don’t like talking about sport and I don’t like reading about sport but a friend in work gave me ‘It’s Not About the Bike” and told me it’s not about the bike. Most of it is about Armstrong’s remarkable battle against cancer, and he is a remarkable person but where I started out rooting for him, I ended up disliking his smugness. As the battle against cancer, which is an intriguing read, became history, and he began to win the races I just got a bit bored, and found his cocky competitiveness to be a big turn off.

In the meantime I was getting to know Stuart Shorter, a paranoid homeless alchoholic violent suicidal self-harming junkie. Stuart’s life is told backwards, (as Armstrong’s simulaneously goes forward, onwards and upwards) , so you get to find out what made Stuart the man he is, and the more I read, the more I found myself rooting for him. I wanted him to win and Armstrong to lose. But the tragic are tragic to the end, and winners are winners.

Stuart and his biographer, Alexander Masters became friends of sorts, through a field of differences. It’s a fascinating read, and their story has recently been televised and it’s on this Sunday:

Stuart: A Life Backwards

BBC2. Sun 23 Sep, 9:00 pm – 10:30 pm 90mins