Thursday, 31 August 2006
*cough* *beg pardon?*
That's right folks, bad publicity, someone just ain't spinning the glorious success that is Iraq with enough vehemence for the Whitehouse's liking. And there was me thinking that it was a poorly thought out invasion plan and general incompetence and mismanagement by the Bush regime that has led to all the dead bodies piling up.
You'll be glad to know that the US military is offering $20m over two years for anyone who can monitor the US, international and Middle Eastern media and ensure that a more positive message gets out. I think I might just put myself up for the job, what I could do with $20 million of US tax payers money you wouldn't believe...
Of course we've been here before, ever since the Iraq invasion complaints about alleged media bias have been a regular fixture, back in October 2003, President Bush was blaming the bad news out of Iraq on the media's "filter". A year later came reports of a public relations campaign to sell the occupation ahead of the 2004 Presidential elections, and last year the conservative Media Research Center targeted America's TV news networks for their "defeatist coverage" of the war.
Given the scale of the problems that Washington faces in its war on terror, this refusal to accept the reasons behind the bad coverage from Iraq is astonishing.
The Internet has been abuzz with Donald Rumsfeld's latest idiocy in Salt Lake City, when he accused critics of the Bush regime of "appeasing fascism" and that the US was confronting a "new kind of fascism" which indeed it is, but Rumsfeld is part of the problem rather than some perverse, distorted crusader against it.
He has clearly lost his mind.
It's a bad state of affairs when those in power actually believe their own propaganda.
On a happier note, southern Lebanon is covered in around 100,000 unexploded Israeli cluster bombs (kindly supplied by the US) that the UN have described as "completely immoral" but the best bit is that 90% of them were dropped in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when Israel knew there would be a resolution.
I'm off for a cry.
Wednesday, 30 August 2006
THE PRESIDENT: "You know, I've heard this theory about everything was just fine until we arrived, and kind of 'we're going to stir up the hornet's nest' theory. It just doesn't hold water, as far as I'm concerned. The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda [freedom agenda? what kind of business speak is that?] in the Middle East."
Q: "What did Iraq have to do with that?"
THE PRESIDENT: "What did Iraq have to do with what?"
Q: "The attack on the World Trade Center?"
THE PRESIDENT: "Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective. I have made that case."
Took him long enough to admit it and remember that to justify the war, Bush informed Congress on March 19, 2003 that acting against Iraq was consistent with "continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."
So that's why we have some 45,000+ dead Iraqi civilians and 2,633 dead US soldiers?
Tuesday, 29 August 2006
It is a play for under fives, for the very littlest of people and acting in it was a total joy; not only is interacting with one year old audience members utterly amazing, to see them respond so honestly and uncomplicatedly to the stimulus of live performers in a live space but the experience was compounded by an excellent cast and crew. Indeed, it is rare to fully gel with a company of actors and technical crew but Dreams Come Out To Play proved to be a welcome exception; plenty of banter, plenty of silliness and no petty arguments.
It’s been a while since I’ve taken part in theatre for children, especially for an audience this young but without going all misty-eyed and romanticising what is a ‘tough crowd’, it really is a priceless experience for the actor and one that hones your focus, commitment and sense of communication. The performance is imagined as an arc or a constant echo: one that comes through me, to and through the child-spectator who returns it to me and from that expression I re-launch the performance. It’s all about being responsive and engaged and the rewards for actor and audience are many.
Luckily, the experience is set to be repeated at the end of September, when we spend a full two weeks in Telford, the home of the blogging legends that are the Merk, OMR, Fulla and the Stavros who I am looking forward to hooking up with for eight pints in The Crown and perhaps having a drunken fumble with OMR…
Sunday, 27 August 2006
Today, John and I went to the Clapham Picture House to see the movie, starring (if that's the word as they are disfigured by the interpolated rotoscoping) Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jnr, Woody Harrelson and Winona Ryder. It was brilliant and lovely to see John but many of the feelings that were brought up by reading the book returned to me in waves.
I worry about losing my mind, or more accurately how much will be left of me when I'm old? The frustration is compounded by the fact that my mental health issues are of my own doing, decisions made over 15 years ago still repercussing like a pinball off the bumpers and flippers; chipping bits of me away. I worry about having no true grip on what reality is, on the anchor that holds me down coming loose and without an anchor what's stopping me flying away forever? I've had moments when I have no idea what is truth, what is fiction and what is tangible and what is imagined; after a while you begin to question the very tenets of existence and in that path lays death: a continuous suicide.
I don't want to forget who I am. I don't want to forget what love means. I don't want to forget my name.
And then comes the ghosts of long dead comrades, which makes all the worry feel vulgar and wasteful; I should be grateful that I'm here in the first place, damaged goods or not, at least I can seize the moment, I least I can exist and do the very best I can and through my actions my brothers can live on.
Philip K. Dick closes his book with the following words, so I'll steal them...
"In Memoriam. These were comrades whom I had; there are no better. They remain in my mind, and the enemy will never be forgiven. The 'enemy' was their mistake in playing. Let them all play again, in some other way, and let them be happy."
Friday, 25 August 2006
It turned out that I definitely did get that advert and it was for the National Lottery, or more accurately it was for scratch cards...so there goes my principles on encouraging poor people to gamble but what the hell...
YEAH! I GOT THE JOB!
Needless to say, this was a massive breakthrough and a big step forward in my career. The filming was done on Tuesday at bloody Pinewood Studios, next to the set (admittedly, it was burnt down) for James Bond and it was so very amazing, I really don't have the words! It wasn't being ferried around in a golf cart from the dressing room to the set (which was very cool), or the great people I got to meet (who treated me so well), or the fact that it pays good but just being in front of those cameras, being an actor and a total corporate, sell-out, acting whore!
I can't wait until it's on TV and hopefully, I'll be able to post it on here for all to see. The lack of posts is down to being in Oxford on tour, with a show called Dreams Come Out To Play but more on that later...
Monday, 21 August 2006
Rolled my head right back and as the tears rolled down my face a girl put her hand on my leg and said: "Are you alright?"
I didn't know what to say so I just looked at her, she said: "This is my stop." and she kept her hand there until she had to go; not too heavy, not too light, just right.
"I wonder what he did wrong?" said no one.
I bit my lip so hard I drew blood but it didn't stop the tears making my face wet.
"Public transport is full of sad eyes gazing into the middle distance." no one said.
I watched a man save an insect, tenderly cupping its grass green form in his large, leathery hands and freeing it out of the train window.
I wish someone would do that to me. I wish someone would throw me out of the the window and let me find some beautiful place to get lost.
I wish someone would do that to us. I wish someone would throw us out of the the window and let us find some beautiful place to get lost.
"I see you're leaving me and taking up with the enemy?" said Elliott Smith.
Saturday, 19 August 2006
I got into work Friday to discover this on my desk…
…which tickled me no end.
I also learnt On Friday that I got the commercial that I was up for, I don’t want to jinx it by laying on loads of details but I will furnish you with more facts when I don’t feel so jittery about it but needless to say I am over the moon…and other such clichés. Unfortunately, Darren has not second-guessed the role; so to squash all rumours I will not be playing a hairy butt cheek, no matter what you may read on various Internet forums.
And then out of the blue I discover that my aunt has only a few days to live, I then get an email saying that she passed away at 9.30pm on the 17th August 2006. I had to phone up my dad (it was his sister, Daphne) to tell him the news; it was strange, my dad said: “You know me, I don’t cry, all the feelings just go somewhere.”
My thoughts and condolences are with the husband and family she leaves behind.
Friday, 18 August 2006
I needed that joy to off set the fact that workers in the City of London received some £19 billion in bonuses, which is the equivalent to the entire budget for transport in the UK, which is disgusting.
The talk about ‘positive profiling’ at airports, i.e. pick the Paki out of the line, is equally disgusting and fundamentally flawed. Can no one see that we are making our own enemy here, that we are antagonising an entire community, drawing lines in the sand: us and them? As I’ve said far too many times, we got ourselves ourselves a new nigger.
Now, whenever one of my Members of Parliament says that some individual civil liberties may have to be sacrificed for the greater good, I get really nervous. I get nervous because the evidence to do this seems to be based on spurious incidents of fake terror, so why should I trust my government to act in my best interests and where do you eventually draw the line? What volume of my civil liberties do I have to lose in this fraudulent war on a noun, before I’m allowed to get angry?
Todd may or may not be a spastic but Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was spot on when he said that: “Bush is crap.”
Give that man a medal.
Wednesday, 16 August 2006
Actually that's a lie, I do know, I'm up for a lovely acting job and had about 14 million recalls and I'm so desperate to get it for both financial and professional reasons that I could eat through my own face. But the wait goes on and knowing my luck it'll clash with the tour I'm going to be starting next week...
That man's pert ass cheeks are also there to distract me from the fact that the latest TERROR ALERT (Trademark of Bush/Blair. All Rights Reserved) was clearly such a pile of crap it beggars belief, as it stands there is still not a shred of evidence pointing to any terror attack. So not only do we now have the flawed doctrine of pre-emptive attack/defence in war but also in intercepting terror: "These Muslims may only be 3 months old but at some time or another in their life they may be provoked, by our policies across the globe, to carry out an attack, so we may as well arrest them now!"
Get this people: none of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb, none had bought a plane ticket and many of them did not even have passports!
Monday, 14 August 2006
Why is the United States the odd man out amongst developed nations? Why is the United States so loathed by former allies? Why is the United States so very different from any other nation in the world? Why is it the only developed nation never to have a left-wing government?
Conservatism is embedded into the very DNA of America.
According to the most recent surveys, favourable feelings about America are at the lowest point in every country since data has first been collated (which incidentally, is the 1950s). All European nations want a more independent relationship with the US and the majority of European nations also believe that Bush’s foreign policy is utterly misguided. Crucially, 83% of Americans and 79% of Europeans believe they have very different social and cultural values.
It could be suggested that since the shared threat of the Soviet Bloc has collapsed, the end of the Cold War has encouraged a more robust mutual analysis between the former allies and frankly, neither is happy with what it sees across the pond. Much of this stems from impotence; America is the inescapable world power and this leaves many people around the world feeling like surrogate US citizens who have to suffer at the hands of decisions that America makes but has no right of appeal or voice in these decisions.
An example of this is the foreign policy of the United States, which infuriates the rest of the globe. Whether it be the flawed logic of pre-emptive defence, or the fact that no other nation supports Israel so fully and or George Bush having the temerity to call Ariel Sharon “a man of peace”. The US also behaves like a hypocritical bully, making laws that others have to be tried by but ignoring laws that it deems annoying. For example: Kyoto, the founding of a International Criminal Court, Biological Weapons Convention, Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, Ottawa Land Mine Convention and of course, the ABM Treaty.
And then there’s the fervent patriotism that is so alien to a Europe, a continent torn apart by nationalistic confrontation, trying to subsume national identity into a coherent superstate. No one waves their flag more, or sings their national anthem with such vigour, or thinks that their culture is so much more superior to the rest of the world than the USA. It all ends up coming across as rather gauche, rather fundamental and far too crass for European tastes.
Nothing perhaps sums up the difference more than America’s frankly backward and barbaric treatment of prisoners. Mandatory minimum sentences not only criminalize large proportions of the population but also mean that criminals have no incentive to improve behaviour. Felons are banned from many jobs, denied housing benefit and 5 million of them aren’t allowed to vote. 600,000 people are released every year with 75% of them ending up back inside within three years.
Another area of divergence and one that never ceases to surprise me, is the American’s people’s loathing of not only taxation and the public services that it provides but of helping those in need through welfare. 34% of Americans support the idea of a welfare state (the average in Europe is 74%), while 29% think that the government has a responsibility to help the poor (the average across Europe is 60%), while on my own blog travels I have seen the mantra that welfare only breeds self-destructive behaviour and reduces the incentive to get back to work; when the constant stream of evidence coming out of Europe proves the exact opposite. America has no national health service, 44 million people without health insurance and 37.5 million people living in poverty. All this self-centred policy means that America’s life expectancy is the lowest of any developed nation in the world.
America is the greatest proponent of aggressive capitalism and nowhere in the world are people so enthusiastic and proud of making as much money as possible and living the American Dream. This leads to some disturbing examples of delusional thinking, with some 19% of the population thinking they are in the top 1% of earners and another 20% thinking they will eventually end up in the top 1%. So while the rest of the world uses legislation to keep greed under control and fight to balance fiscal gain with its socio-economic impact; America pursues a lassiz-faire course that although has great benefits to the economy means that the gap between the poor and the rich grows disturbingly bigger. The top 1% holds 38% of the wealth, it is no surprise that of developed countries, the US has the greatest inequality. In no other nation would Bush’s 2003 tax cut have gotten through, as it only benefited the top 6%, incidentally putting an extra $44,500 in Bush’s pocket and $327,000 into Cheney’s coffers.
America is the world’s oldest republic and oldest democracy, it will always be exceptional and it will always be to the right of the rest of the world. What needs to happen is for the rest of the world to recognise this and to treat America accordingly and for America to understand that its position on many issues is unique and that just because it stands alone doesn’t always make it right (or wrong for that matter). More importantly, the American model must not be forced onto other countries where is patently does not fit and in turn, respect must be given to the American brand of conservatism rather than wasting time dismissing it. By recognising our political differences we can form far stronger and more truthful bonds and thus, create a far better future for us all.
Friday, 11 August 2006
And it goes on...
Israel is asking the US for a 'speed' delivery (there's a lot of Lebanese children left to be killed) of short-range antipersonnel rockets armed with cluster munitions. These M-26 artillery rockets, which are fired in barrages and carry hundreds of grenade-like bomblets that scatter and explode over a broad area, are likely to be approved shortly, along with other arms, a senior US official said.
Brilliant, ceasefire on one hand but feeding Israel with more weapons to kill even more innocent people on the other. Fuck these hypocrites, these murderers, these cowards.
Both sides are now seriously impinging the ability of aid to get through to where it is most needed, causing unnecessary death and as the dead bodies pile up to act as a futile reminder to the rest of the world, we stand and watch and do nothing.
And as I've kept banging on about, in spite of all the doubters thinking that this was actually about the abducted IDF soldiers, Israel had been planning a war against Lebanon for at least a year and was doing so with the complicite of the Bush regime, building up large scale forces on the border. So you're telling me these troops did not leak into Lebanon in order to provoke action from Hezbollah? Of course they wouldn't do something like that...
And then we have the EXPLOSIVE LIQUIDS TERROR PLOT! (OR THE NEXT 9/11 AND OTHER SUCH HYPERBOLE)
You'll not be surprised to know that I think this is pile of scaremongering nonsense, rooted in an effort to keep us frightened and thus under the thumb, never mind distracted from how badly things are going in Iraq, Palestine and of course Lebanon. A scared population is an easier one to control and this fake terror has happened before: tanks at Heathrow, the Ricin plot, the Stockwell plot and the Forest Gate plot.
Bush spewed out the usual rubbish about how this is "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation," and it looks like the UK government rolled out its stupid, US-style, terror-o-meter just in time folks. Phew, thank baby Jesus for that...
I don't believe you. You don't scare me. Fuck you.
Thursday, 10 August 2006
A young lady, aged 16, walks in and in her hand she is clutching a typed letter, it is from her parents and they have addressed it to their daughter and it said that she has consistently broken house rules and that they would like her to leave the family home as soon as possible.
It was signed by both parents under the heading: "Yours sincerely" and "Wishing you all the best for future".
I don't ever want to understand how a parent could've sat down and typed that, or what they must have felt like when they signed it and worst of all, I have no comprehension of what it must feel like to be so fundamentally rejected by your parents.
This is the world we make.
Monday, 7 August 2006
Thanks to one of the best bloggers in the world, Scott, I am now turned on to the cause of We Are The Web who are fighting US policy makers and big business and their efforts to make the web more expensive to use.
So go to We Are The Web and learn all about the fight for net neutrality and join in if you can!
Off to Nottingham today as I've got an audition and meeting up with some mates, staying with Marie at her parents and their PC is broke so unless I can fix it, bloggage will be very light. Back on Thursday, by which time I hope the situation in Lebanon is improved, if not, they'll be hell to pay...
Sunday, 6 August 2006
- "When I really like someone, I try and get my tongue out in photos with them to show how much they mean to me, its lost me some good friends but people need to know where I stand on such matters; life is too short."
- That fire, that fucking fire. I can't get you any closer to me but I'm going to die trying.
- "All my colours bleed for you."
- "I fancy you with a passion, you're a Topshop princess, a rockstar too."
- There's something about you that reminds me of all those stars but I'm just thankful to be facing the day and now there's poetry in an empty Coke can; now there's majesty in a burned out caravan. The best things come from nowhere and I can't believe you actually care. And the beautiful symmetry in your Southern grin means I can see myself in the refill litter bin.
- Stupidly amazing...
Friday, 4 August 2006
France has circulated a revised resolution calling for an immediate end to hostilities and spelling out the conditions for a permanent ceasefire, no doubt it will take some time and by then even more people will have been added to the coffin counter.
Today, Lebanon was further cut off from the rest of the world when Israel destroyed four key bridges north of Beirut, blocking a vital aid supply route. Thus the WFP convoy, carrying supplies and emergency personnel to Beirut, was stuck. As were the UN trucks, so aid shipments would be slowed and add to this that UN teams have so far been refused permission to assess the damage caused by the bombing, means that further unnessasary loss of life is happening.
Israel also attacked the airport under false pretences and four Israeli missiles hit a refrigerated warehouse where farm workers were loading vegetables near the Lebanon-Syria border, killing at least 33 people, with at least 11 other workers were wounded in the attack and more were likely buried under the rubble.
Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of war crimes: "In some instances, Israeli forces appear to have deliberately targeted civilians ... the failures cannot be dismissed as mere accident and cannot be blamed on wrongful Hezbullah practices. In some cases, these attacks constitute war crimes...Israeli forces have fired with war planes and artillery on dozens of civilian vehicles, many flying white flags"
As many as 900 Lebanese have been killed by Israel's three-week onslaught, and one million, a quarter of the population, have been forced to flee their homes.
Thursday, 3 August 2006
I don’t know whether it was the enormous grotesquery of the images or the deluge of simulacra-emotion but that winter I moved into a new place and I decided that I was going to try and live without a TV.
Five years of a TV free existence has been a good one, plenty of reading, plenty of sitting listening to good music and of course, plenty of time on the damn internet. It amazes me that people still got thrown by it, as if I’m making a comment on the fact they still the watch the idiot box in the corner of their living room (or perhaps taking up an entire wall like a flat screen shrine). It usually sparks a discussion about how little they watch TV, like they’re trying to compete but I know that if you still have one, you still have a reliance on it. The conversation then goes to “How can you be an actor if you don’t watch TV?” which personally, I love the logic of.
As if TV is some guide to good acting, as if it is the be all and end all of what it means to be a professional performer. I can honestly say that not watching TV has probably made me a better actor!
I’ve become a bit of an ex-smoker in that I’m quite disparaging about my old habit, I see TV as a narcotic, something that stops people communicating and limiting the field of discussion (when people talk with me, they can’t use TV as a small talk, which makes for better conversations), I think it can kill human relationships and the quality of much of it is little more than exploitative rubbish.
If any readers out there are thinking of getting rid of the TV and trying a life without it, you have my full backing, kick the habit, GO FOR IT!
Wednesday, 2 August 2006
In a nutshell: too Southern, too greedy, too contradictory.
Take Trent Lott and his racist gaff…and there lies the contradiction because Bush quickly removed him and has taken many steps to make the GOP more multi-cultural and mostly, he personally refuses to play the race card (clearly, still a vote winner with some backward types).
It says a lot about the strength of will and discipline of the conservatives that they are able to control and deal with their many contradictions without destroying the GOP; which after all is a party full of extremism, intolerance, a weakness for vested interests and a history of government spending mismanagement.
The success of modern conservatism and why it dominates America so successfully is that it is a broad church, the Democrats would kill for such diverse support but it comes with its problems. There are 3 main contradictions that threaten to tear modern conservatism back into the political Stone Age: traditionalists vs. libertarians, religious conservatives vs. business community and free market principles vs. heartland values. These diversions have to be managed and at times, the strain is visible. If the liberals can unpick the unlikely alliances then they have a chance of success.
Then there is the incompetence with money, an area in which Bush broke his pre-election promise and instead of the predicted $5.6 trillion surplus, the American people are saddled with $5 trillion debt. And its not just the executive branch which is overspending, Republican state legislatures outspend their Democratic counterparts by a whole 1%. Conservatives are many things but frugal ain’t one of them and people like their government to get more bang from their tax buck.
When the dust finally settles on the Bush regime, there is no doubt that their relationship with corporate America will not be looked on fondly by historians. It has been one of the worst governments in living memory for exploiting vested interests and lining the pockets of big business. Like the steel and lumber tariffs of 2002 that made the companies concerned very happy but did little for the conservative idea of free trade. Or the 2002 Farm Bill which retained government involvement and therefore massive government subsidy to go directly into the pockets of the very rich, some $180 billion of taxpayer’s money. A real low point was when the energy industry wrote the government’s energy policy, rather like letting lawbreakers re-write the laws; these kinds of acts alienate and anger the average voter.
Last and by no means least we have the conservative reputation for intolerance, which stems from GOP taking the South but having to also take its religious and racial extremism. This, quite simply, scares off more moderate voters and provides and endless raft of gaff-ridden media fodder.
If the conservative movement fails to keep control of these factors, or the woeful liberal movement can seize the moment and strike at these very real weaknesses, then we may see some cracks start to appear in the façade of “The Right Nation”.
Tuesday, 1 August 2006
SS-Gruppenführer Jürgen Stroop on the resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto, 1943.
This is how it works.
Israel eventually bows to world (excluding the US/UK axis) pressure and agrees to the ceasefire that never actually was, which lasted all of 24 hours and now things are back in full swing. But get this...
Israel are now going to step up their activities, they are going to increase the aerial bombardments and also begin a larger scale ground war.
Senior Israeli officials said the government wants to pursue its military offensive until an international force arrives (in other words, get as much killing done as possible before the UN turns up) and Israeli officials also acknowledged that the United States was under mounting pressure and that it was unclear whether it would let the offensive continue until peacekeepers arrive.
That speaks volumes, the United States is complicite in this atrocity and if it was willing to totally condemn the actions of Israel and make demands for a ceasefire I have no doubt Israel would comply. As it is we have 750 dead Lebanese people with the serious threat of even more murders and the war crimes of the Zionists exploding beyond all reason.
And now for some food for thought...
Anyone remember Gilad Shalit, that Israeli soldier abducted by Hamas on the 25th June? Well, funnily enough the day before the IDF had abducted two Palestinian civilians but did we hear about that? Or are we hearing about Gilad Shalit? It's rhetorical, so I'll move on to say that it seems Israel really is the mini-me of the United States; in that it can carry out any unlawful act it wants but when someone else returns the favour it cries foul and uses it to justify its terrible punishment.