Friday, April 30, 2010

Manuel Noriega: Did the 14th Century Saint Catherine snitch on his whereabouts?

Manuel Noriega

It's not every day I get to write about the former dictator of Panama, Manuel Noriega, lately extradited to France from the US to face charges that he laundered $7 million in drug profits by purchasing luxury apartments in Paris in the 1980s. I have a strange tale to tell about him, so settle down... and stay quiet!

The respected American medium Elizabeth Baron has confided in her followers that it was she who helped the US military find Noriega in 1989. She writes in a monthly newsletter just released: 'Just after December 20, 1989, when the US invaded Panama, a US Air Force major showed up at Elizabeth's door. This Air Force major was part of Elizabeth's local meditation group at the time and he had just put some young soldiers on a military transport plane to go to Panama. He asked Elizabeth if she would tune in to find the whereabouts of Noriega. "This is urgent, Elizabeth. Could we have a session with St. Catherine? My General is waiting for help."'

The 14th Century St Catherine, I should explain, is Baron's spirit guide: her full name is St Catherine of Siena. Anyway....

St Catherine

'So they met later at her office to see if she could help. Elizabeth lay down on her couch, and began to channel St Catherine in hopes that she would help. She stated that Noriega was being sheltered in a large white building with a red slate roof on a beautiful lake or body of water. He is being hidden in this place where women wear long flowing robes (habits) and they are treating him well.

'The Major immediately knew that Catherine was talking about the Vatican Embassy in Panama. Within a few hours, according to what he relayed to Elizabeth, black hawk helicopters were surrounding the Embassy with foghorns, demanding Noriega to come out of his hiding. Sometime after, he was arrested and brought to Miami, where he served many years in prison.'

It's certainly true that Operation Nifty Package - the US Navy SEAL operation tasked to capture Noriega - found him in the Apostolic Nunciature in Panama City. It was perhaps unfortunate that though St Catherine owes her modern celebrity to the Roman Catholic Church, The Holy See back in 1989 was most put out by the raucous music played by the US soldiers in order to flush Noriega out - this included I Fought The Law by The Clash - and was not entirely helpful.

Is there any merit in Baron's story? I have no idea. But I'm not going to tolerate some newspaper moronic atheist censoring it.  Here's Elizabeth Baron's website.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Allison Pearson: Why is the conformist queen so depressed?

She's left the Daily Mail, as expected. So I read her piece on her depression, an implied reason for her departure. As you'd expect she sexes up her condition by locating it on a fashion wave band: she's one of the Blues Sisters. She's Sandwich Woman. More labels that may yet hook a gullible editor into a zeitgeist tsunami of publishing cash.

Because Allison is a newspaper columnist she has nothing useful to say about either depression or her inner life. A Thurderbirds puppet lulled into a Derren Brown hypnotic trance would reveal something at least as against Allison's spirit void. Newspapers by their nature, run in the main by male neurotic sexists, whose evolutionary tendencies have been stalled by workaholism and booze (if not medication and arrogance), are forums for mere borrowed theatrical soliloquy. Columnists gaze at the spotlight and just speak the lines encoded in the editor's head. It's a form of professional telepathy enhanced by hot monthly direct debits and a weekly picture byline. Columnist focus is on editor reaction as mediator for those whatstheirnames, the readers.

I'm no therapist, thank God. But a theme of Allison's life (as I understand it from her columns and novel) is a demented desire to conform. From an early age she sought the Right Way. She sought to tick the right boxes. Later, she tried to please everyone - men, parents, publishers, editors, generations, her reflection. To tick their boxes as she lay swaddled in precocious resentment. She donned her tutu, did a twirl, and then wondered why she ended up with a bruised arse. Allison is a woman of responsibility. She wanted to do well. She wanted to be loved by all.

Instead she became a Daily Mail columnist.

Her tragedy - if indeed she's not snickering in some post-modernist asylum as I write - is this demented idea that she must do anything or be anything. I see now why she hates someone like Fiona MacKeown, the hippy whose daughter was murdered in Goa and whom she abused in the Mail. MacKeown at least tried to make a life outside of mainstream expectation: she dared to advance herself on an adventure not supervised by accountants or style prefects. It ended badly. But she dared to try. Is Allison in a better place by her own account?

Darling Allison Pearson, Telegraph-bound I'm sure. More social tribes to make up there. More generational neuroses to mull over, like her spiritual sister Liz Jones. Readers will lap it up and recycle Allison's crafted lines as their excuses. That's their funeral.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arthur C Clarke - a funny pong wafts towards me

Strange rumours swirl about the memory of 2001 guru Arthur C Clarke - I don't mean the fabricated nonsense that he was a paedo - and I hear newspapers are sniffing. I couldn't possibly repeat what I've heard, though I love a man who dresses well.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Do readers of The Lady masturbate?

Astrologer Eric Francis foretold on Madame Arcati that masturbation holds the liberating key to better relationships in the future. A sign that he must be on the right lines comes from Rachel Johnson in the Guardian today, invited for the umpteenth time to talk about her once genteel magazine The Lady: "I can't speculate as to whether Lady readers have masturbated," she says, "but my wild guess is they might have done."

I wonder if the magazine's stately owner Mrs Budworth has given the matter any thought.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Vote for Roger Lewis to be Oxford's next Professor of Poetry!

Esteemed Arcatiste, legendary memoirist and wit, Roger Lewis, has been nominated for the Oxford Chair of Poetry. Oxford grads such as Duncan Fallowell (can a knighthood be that far away?) Lynn Barber (a damehood?), Rachel "The Lady" Johnson (the sack?), and many Bright Young Things (pah!) in publishing / the media/ journalism, have rallied to his cause, God bless them.

Oxonians need to (a) register to vote by June 4th and (b) actually vote. Polls open on May 21st and close on June 16th. This can all be done online - click here. This is a new departure for Roger; I just hope he is not robbed of his comic ingenuity in the process. I shall be most displeased. Very.

In the past people had to turn up in person in Oxford, so the dons always had it all sewn up, the tarts. Madame Arcati won't be thwarted.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Astrologer Eric Francis interview: 'Self-sex is the sex of the future'

Eric Francis. Photo by Kristos Katzios on Mykonos

Eric Francis is one of the world's most influential astrologers - as well as an award-winning investigative reporter. A quarter of a million people follow his astrology websites Planet Waves and Cosmic Confidential every month (links below), and his periodic cover sun sign horoscopes in the Daily Mail and many other publications have reached far larger audiences worldwide. Based in New York, Eric talks to Madame Arcati about his stargazing work - and his belief that self-sex - or masturbation - has an important future role to play in building emotionally healthier relationships. 

Eric Francis! Astrologer extraordinaire! Tell us where you live, the most interesting vista from your home and how many hours a day you work.

I live in the world. Since 1998 I’ve written Planet Waves from about a dozen countries and lived long-term in half of them, most recently Belgium. I grew up in Brooklyn and I now make home in Kingston, New York. It’s a mountain town that’s the old capital of New York State, and it’s about two hours driving time north of New York City. It was burned down by the Brits in 1777 and I don’t think the locals have recovered.

I’m a restless person and I need a state of continuous change, although my Cancer ascendant wants familiarity and stability. Part of how I handle that is when I’m not traveling, I live and work between two different environments. I’ll describe the view from both. My apartment is on an ordinary city street but off the back porch is what looks like a rolling estate that’s been divided into backyards. It’s quiet and it feels like the country and has a secluded feeling. One cold night I found a possum on my back porch, eating the food I leave for my phantom cat.

My photo studio is a few blocks away, located in a business district that’s within the original 900-foot square bounds of a ‘stockade’ built by the Dutch in the 1600s to keep out the Indians. There, I live surrounded by my own artwork; that is the main vista. From one of my studio windows, I look out over a very old intersection in the middle of what appears for all the world to be an idyllic American small town. In some ways it is.

Most of the time I work about 12 hours a day, and depending on the time of year, that can go on five or six days a week. I’m a writer by profession but it happens that writing is also one of my passions. Photography is another, and when I’m involved in those things the creative aspect is more noticeable than the work aspect.

I first came across you when you covered for the Daily Mail's Jonathan Cainer -- he obviously thinks very highly of you -- and then I started reading your astrology websites Cosmic Confidential, Planet Waves and other sites. I understand the late Patric Walker inspired you to be an astrologer -- how did he do that and was he the best ever?

Photo by Danielle Voiron in Paris

Jonathan has been extremely kind to me. If I told some of the stories of his generosity you might not believe them, though understating things considerably, he's a mensch -- Yiddish for authentic human being. I have never known someone with such fame and acclaim to provide so many opportunities for young people to show their talent and get a solid start. Truly, we need more of this in the world and Jon is an excellent example of standing up for who and what you believe in.

As for someone else who previously wrote for the Mail -- I knew about astrology for a long time before the Patric Walker horoscope (published locally in the NY Post) got my attention and proved that astrology is real. Patric spoke to me, and he spoke to the millions; he had that gift, though I think I heard him with unusual depth judging from the influence he had on my life. I followed his writing every day for a couple of years, astonished. I noticed he mentioned the positions of the planets in his interpretations; Patric would always leave his margin notes in the column. So over the years, I was thinking about the cosmos, using my daily horoscope as an ephemeris. Then one day I reached the boiling point and I had to figure out how he did it; so I bought an ephemeris and studied his column every night.

Patric was amazing. I think of him as the cosmic voice of reason. Part of what you do as a newspaper astrologer is you take up the voice of the cosmic order and you let it speak through you. Patric could to this beautifully, with true Libran elegance, yet he had the other part of Libra, which is a sense of justice. The precision of his timing and his ability to describe theme would evoke the sense that he was translating information from another realm, personally for you. He was always relevant, and never trivial. That was the hallmark of his column. I found this so compelling that I had to peer behind the veil of astrology and learn how to do it. In this way, Patric was the first astrologer I consciously adopted as a teacher. He is still my teacher today.

Unusually, you're an investigative reporter and you've written stories on Monsanto, General Electric, etc., for The New York Times, the Village Voice, Sierra magazine and The Ecologist. How did friends and family react to your career change? Did it affect your credibility as a journalist?

Investigative reporting and astrology writing have more in common than most people would imagine. For example, you have to sift through vast amounts of data and arrive at a fairly succinct description of the world. It’s necessary to write about complex matters in a way that people understand. Both call on the writer to be fair and broad-minded. The astrology I do requires the ability to understand science (particularly the subtle points of astronomy), and investigative journalism has helped greatly with that.

That said, there are important differences. At the time I took up astrology, I was ready to let go of the kind of hard-edged journalism I had been doing my whole adult life. I wanted to do something more personally meaningful to people on the human dimension. This required a deep commitment to change, since I had invested so many years and so much focus in my journalism career. I started at about 14 and was 30 at the time astrology called me. I was an up and coming rock star investigative reporter, handling serious issues and starting to get international attention. I could have gone anywhere I wanted from there, within that profession. Yet I chose something else, with full awareness.

Photo by Kristos Katzios on Mykonos

I’m sure it was confounding to people who had experienced me as someone so devoted to supposedly objective truth, and exposing the frauds of science, to take up something that is widely perceived to be a fraud. My feeling was, people might think that this reflects poorly on my journalistic credibility, but my journalistic credibility ought to be what reflects a positive light on astrology. I use my background to my advantage, if among skeptics.

How long did it take before you started practising as an astrologer? And what's your star sign?

After seven years of studying A Course in Miracles, and the other esoteric arts, I bought my first ephemeris on my birthday in March 1994. By April 1995 I was the author of an astrology column, in a magazine called Free Time. I am still writing that column today. I credit learning astrology so fast to the fact that I began writing about it for an audience early in my studies. I am a Pisces, though Aquarius is very strong in my chart. I have a Cancer ascendant, plenty of Chiron and a nice aspect between Mercury and Neptune.

What makes a good astrologer? Predictive ability? Most people just want to know about the future don't they?

I think what makes a good astrologer is to speak to people in a way people can relate to. You can be a great technical astrologer but if you cannot relate to people as people, what good is that? It’s vitally important to be judicious with astrology, and not the kind who thinks it’s about power. It’s true that people tend to have a future orientation, but I have noticed that this is often a distraction from their curiosity about themselves. I view my role as an astrologer as helping people stoke their self-inquiry, and to use the information coming from their chart to create the future rather than ‘have it happen’.

The problem is not that astrology is not capable of being used as a predictive tool, in certain hands; in my view it’s that prediction narrows the potential of the future when we can just as easily open up the door to better options. We can use the chart to see and create options for choice, rather than to pre-dictate.

Have you made a prediction about a world event you'd like to tell us about, or make one? Britain is in the throes of a general election...

Once in the summer of 1996, I was writing an article, and I saw that Chiron was about to go over the North Node in Libra. I thought: this looks like it has the potential for alien contact. I don’t usually write about alien contact and truthfully, it seemed a little out-there. So I took that statement out of the column! Then that month, Nasa called a press conference to announce for the first time they felt they had proof-positive of life on another planet — bacteria found in a Mars rock that had landed on Earth. I know this is not ET or Mr Spock, but it was certainly on theme. After that I learned to trust my perception and be bolder in my writing.

As a result of that policy, some years later I inadvertently predicted an earthquake the day of that horrendous quake in Haiti. That said, I do my best to avoid prediction and rather prefer to present my readers with a map of the world, which shows us some of the better routes we can take to the future. As for England: I am less concerned about this one election and more concerned about the fear and narrowness that I see gathering on your island, a place I hold dear to my heart.

I may be wrong on this, but why do so many professional astrologers have such disastrous love lives? Patric pined for the love of his life, actor Richard Chamberlain, and I hardly know of a stargazer who does not seem afflicted in the emotional department. (This is one way of asking you about your sex life, btw).

I don’t know enough to confirm that astrologers go through what you say, disproportionately from the rest of the population. But let’s imagine that’s true for a moment. I could see, and I’ve experienced, a few reasons why. We are constantly exposed to people's relationship troubles. They’re why most people come to astrologers, and frankly we do a lot of post-mortems on failed love affairs. And I think there are risks, to astrologers, in facing too much of this day-in and day-out for years. Also, astrologers tend to be exceedingly independent people. There are not a lot of relationship modalities that offer both intimacy and independence.

Photo by Danielle Voiron in Paris

I’m grateful that my background in Gestalt therapy has led me to focus on my relationship to myself. As a practitioner, I try to guide people toward closer relationships with themselves, rather than encouraging them to be hung up on whether someone loves them or not. I can tell you that my growth in relationships is a central focus of my life, and of my artwork (I am a photographer and fiction writer, at work on another project called Book of Blue).

Now, how would I sum up my sex life? The first thing to know is that I’m my own lover first, and every relationship extends from that. I think that on some level, I consider everyone my lover; I don’t think that intimacy or sexual awareness is supposed to be reserved only for ‘special relationships’. I’m curious about the eroticism of any woman I am close to, and of some men. I have a love of experimenting and exploring, though in a clear-headed and ethical way. I tend toward long-term associations that morph between friend and lover and back.

For me it’s a great pleasure to experience and be aware of the full spectrum of someone’s sexuality, not just what they experience in their relationship to me. That is to say, if you’re my lover, or a close friend, I’m going to be curious about the content of your fantasy life, how you feel about other people, and what you do, or want to do, with them. I’ve found this draws me closer to my lovers and is a reminder that we’re all phases or aspects of one another’s stories on Earth; that we represent facets of one another’s existence.

That said, I could easily see myself very happily settling into a monogamous situation, if the right one presented itself. I think that sex in any form is about being real in the moment, and that would count.

You wrote a controversial sex piece on Planet Waves which included the lines, "I have an idea that masturbation is truly feminist sex"; and, "Men who embrace conscious masturbation can relax their demand on women as their only possible sexual or emotional outlet, finding their centre and easing the pressure for sex that many women feel." Is self-sex the future?

If we want some equanimity in our sexual relationships, and our social relationships, I think that self-sex is the sex of the future. We have so much we can learn, and let go of, by sharing masturbation consciously. True, it’s not exactly romantic — and that is precisely the point: to call back all those dreamy projections and reveal ourselves for who we are; and to see others as who they are. Many people are concerned about the potential adverse consequences of sex, and I think that they would find a dimension of erotic intimacy opening up through sharing self-sex — which is the ‘safest’ sex there is.

For many, self-sex is the present: it’s the only or most easily available sex they can find; the most trustworthy; the most frequently experienced; and for some (though most would not admit it), the most satisfying sex they have. I suspect a lot of people have taken a step back from relationships as being too challenging and complicated for the pleasure they provide. There is a wide middle ground, which is inviting others into the intimacy we normally share only with ourselves. Exploring this changes all of our relationships.

For plenty there’s still guilt and misgiving in any form of sex, with self or other. I would guess that most people feel they would benefit from some kind of sexual healing process. But where do you go for that? Well, we go toward ourselves. I would say that most of our ‘stuff’ in relationships is actually about our relationships to ourselves, and I think we know that intuitively.

Self-sex is the future in terms of a journey of reconciliation with ourselves. Self-lovemaking can be vivid and passionate in a direct, loving and forgiving way. Imagine if we entered our sexual relationships from this space. There is also something basic here about turning jealousy into something really beautiful, which in a word is compersion. Couples can learn a lot through masturbating together, including the unfettered sharing of their fantasies. It's a way to cultivate deep erotic empathy.

Did business boom for you when the banks nearly collapsed? I understand many of your clients are entrepreneurs and business people. How many people all told read your horoscopes and astrological reports?

As the recession has progressed, we’ve been growing steadily as a company and my work is in greater demand; bless. There seems to be more of a call for my individual reports and private sessions currently, and a retreat from an interest in news astrology, though this is cyclical, and I am aware that we are about to experience a huge burst of curiosity about ‘the world’.

The recession takes world affairs and makes them deeply personal. In all aspects of my work, I emphasize the connection between people and the world; between our private and our public lives. One of the operating concepts of Planet Waves is, "The personal is political," and we are going to be seeing a lot more of this as the 2010-2012 alignment develops (with a major peak of energy in early June, by the way). Every aspect of life is going to call us to get more involved, and we will need the tools do navigate that involvement with clarity. Astrology is one of those tools, and it leaves room for many others.

I prefer to work with people who strive to make a contribution to the world. I strongly prefer working with people who have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, who have creative vision, and who need to participate constructively. I am often surprised who these people turn out to be, which I can tell, in part, from the vacation email replies that come back from certain subscribers when they are on holiday -- people I never would have dreamed knew about me, much less pay to read my writing.

As for numbers, lately I would put my average readership through all venues at about a quarter-million readers each month. This is a little daunting, to think that I can influence that many people's ideas about life on a regular basis.

Don't you think Sun sign astrology (the horoscopes in papers and magazines) gives stargazers a bad name? It's just showbiz, right?

If it was just showbiz, it would be easier, and it would require little in the way of ethics, or study, or talent. Part of the problem is editors, who strain to tell good astrology writing from bad, or who want horoscope writers to play down to their audience and give fashion advice. The very best newspaper astrologers also happen to be the best trained: rigorously, and gifted with a certain something extra which cannot be acquired. Writing horoscopes requires precision of both language and interpretation. Intuition counts for a lot, and vitally, so does imagination. Then you need to write as fast and prolifically as a political correspondent at the peak of a campaign, always keeping the sense of personal contact. Heck it’s so easy, anybody can do it.

And finally Eric, do you believe in an afterlife?

Well, after all this, there better be one! Yet I believe in this life more than any other and I know we have a purpose for being here -- humanity collectively, that is. Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that life is cyclical, based on my experience with nature and also with reincarnation. After you’ve looked at a few hundred birth charts, and then a few hundred more, you start to see that people are coming in with a story, and that story came from somewhere. I have significant memories certain of my own past lives, and I am conscious of who I was in some of them. So that addresses part of your question. I’m aware that there are parallel dimensions to our own, and we do a lot of crossing back and forth between them. I’ve heard some very moving stories of out of body experiences and near death experiences.

And an extraordinarily kind astrologer with a soft British accent sometimes whispers in my ear. The answer is yes.

Eric! Thank you so much for your time.

Eric's sites:
Planet Waves
Cosmic Confidential
Book of Blue
Message to Arcati readers from Eric

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Independent's new look: Madame Arcati review

Certain darling Arcatistes have messaged me privately imploring me to cast my eyes on the redesigned Independent. It's not as if I haven't other things to do. I'm busy. But as I sit here drinking a lunchtime latte mocchiato from my Tassimo coffee machine - barcoding has never been put to better use - I succumb to blandishment and compromise by summoning up the front page. Only.

To quote the No 1 single of the moment: omg! I am utterly appalled. Return editor Simon Kelner simply has not a clue about visual seduction. The Mail grabs and molests and you yield against better judgement; the Telegraph emits a tractor beam with its high-low mix of hoity-totty. Even the ghastly Express catches your attention with a waggle of a varicose veined pin before you hurry past. But the Independent! I just don't want to look at it. It makes me feel all Hannah Montana and want to go ew!

Why can't Kelner simply steal some ideas from other papers if he can't master the idiom of sexy look?

Now, of all the papers, the Indy is my least unfavourite. Its mind is in the right place, it does not demand the return of the Coliseum, it doesn't hire tomb-toothed loony James Delingpole; atheistically, it's on the side of the angels. The case for the Indy is a good one. New owner Alexander Lebedev potentially has a great asset here. So why the hell (to use a Carole Malone-ism) can't it get its face right?

Where to start? First, why all that white space to the right of the headline? How many trees were felled for that art statement? A front page must demand our instant interest; there's no time for lolling. If a paper wants stylised it must commit not omit. The only case for white space on a front page is a signposted area for reader shopping lists or moustache doodling - a playpen for idlers. And is "Goldmans" literate? Is the plural accepted use for Goldman Sachs? It just doesn't read right.

And what's with the fancy font for the new Viewspaper? You expect to see those squiggles on wedding invites or Valentine's cards or in a movie starring Margaret Lockwood - for lickle sticky-out finger occasions when silly tarts dress like Jordan and the men breathe in for the cummerbund.

Logically and aesthetically, the front page makes no sense. The Indy primarily is a read paper. One way to signal this fact is to have plenty of words on the page and several stories. What we have instead is the one story body copy squashed down at the bottom in favour of a hideous great plane and a dumb monster screamer (with tabloid exclamation mark). The overall sell is basically tabloid though the product is broadsheet all but in size. What is Kelner thinking of?

The only thing going for this front page is the come-on for Gauguin's Girls in the bottom right hand corner, featuring a patch of female pubis: an advert for the editor's cock-cunting inclination no doubt because it would be hard to imagine, say, a naked Alex Reid here with his flaccid four-incher hanging down like a rotten corgette.

Oh no. Must do better. The overall impression is that of a local newspaper with airs. This may work if the paper does go freebie. But not if you're looking for cash.

Monday, April 19, 2010

And now for the volcanic ash denialists

You can hear the murmurs already. Where's the research, the evidence, that Europe had to close down its air space all because of some piffling volcano in Iceland? An Italian on Radio 4's Today this morning blustered against the "theoretical models" that caused airports and airlines to shut up shop. Told that a Met Office plane had encountered  dangerous levels of ash, he said he knew nothing of it. So let's ignore it?

Any minute now Andrew Neil will be galvanising the idiotic Spectator kids to cast doubt on the existence of the volcanic ash or its destructive effect.

These self-described "contrarians" will also be doubling as the climate change denialists who've gone quiet since the scientists at East Anglia University were cleared of misrepresenting research on global temperatures.  It's curious how the Church of Science has bred a new generation of secular flock uninterested in objective evidence. You can see in motion how religions spark to life.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

James Randi's coming out at 81: ever soooooo peculiar

I am of course delighted that "professional sceptic" James Randi finally got round to telling his public that he's a cock-cocker - and my thanks to the Social Shuttle for bringing me up to speed on this important matter. Unprofessional sceptics - of smug sceptics - such as myself may wonder why he left it sooo late: after all, he is 81. Still, here's an opportunity for his godless fans to swoon on the messageboards about his (belated) "courage".

Yet I shouldn't have thought anyone ever doubted it. Years ago he told the world that he had been the victim of harassing, obscene phone calls from New Jersey youths. The miscreants were apparently caught and arrested after he'd taped his chats with them under the direction of the cops - though the content of this tape subsequently became the matter of controversial interpretation, notably in a case brought in vain against Randi by Uri Geller.

At a public lecture in California, Randi punched an unnamed man who repeated certain claims arising from this tape. Or as Randi puts it, "I took the opportunity of flooring a nasty chap who had made similar accusations about me, and had been boasting about it loudly. One shot, to the chops. He went down, and was carried out. VERY satisfying, I assure you."

Such pugnacity has its advantages (a short, sharp, shock treatment, etc) and is - in my experience - an exceptionally odd attribute in someone who waits till he reaches 81 to tell the world of the trivial matter of his closeted cock-cockery.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The First Election Debate - it's a tie!

The camera loved the wearer of the gold tie because the face is narrow like the new Doctor Who's and he held your gaze. The blue tie was incorrigibly smooth - and I couldn't help wondering how those Old Etonian velvet vowels would work on porned-out proles (eg bankers, lawyers, ennobled benefactors) once the Number 10 honeymoon expired. The pink tie neither held your gaze nor peered anywhere in particular thanks to one dead eye and one nervous. TV is cruel like that. The medium is trivial.

But no disasters except for the dark suits - sing-song tributes to the maypole of masculine tradition. The suits eloquently reassured us that all three ties were token in their variety. It's odd that mature democracy demands such conformity. The cock still rules.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reward Showbiz™: The 10 most pointless celebrity books and TV shows

I'm a great follower of reward showbiz™ (© Madame Arcati 2010) - gigs bestowed upon slebs only because they have a name. Many showbiz or media projects are dreamt up simply as an excuse to get a star to front them. Such projects have three essential characteristics: 1) a star; 2) a journey, quest or list; 3) pointlessness. Here's my latest top 10 rewardees:

1. Joanna Lumley for Joanna Lumley's Nile, a new four part series on ITV1 starting this week. No earthly reason why the Nepalese goddess should be associated with this river, but it's an opportunity to wallow in cultivated mellifluousness as she bears her polished teeth at familiar sights - such as a lookalike camel - in various gurnings of rapture. Oh look, there's a pyramid.

2. Quentin Letts for his throwaway read 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain. The Daily Mail's right-wing attack dog is a professional frother who appears to favour a return to Feudalism and the use of the rack. An utterly pointless addition to the listerature genre - he is after all part of the problem.

3. Michael Palin and his various TV/book tie-in travels, from the Sahara to his Hemingway Adventure. Nothing in Palin's career quite prepared us for the unedifying sight of a perfectly credible comic actor turning into a Phileas Fogg freebie tart. If he has shed new light on any part of the globe do let me know.

4. Andrew Marr for History of Modern Britain. Any excuse to get this gesticulating barker on the box. Rest assured, his "history" will be referenced by no serious scholar; it's just a loafer's guide to event whatnots, the sort of crap Reader's Digest might have once published for leisurely reads.

5. Jeremy Paxman for The Victorians: Britain through the Paintings of the Age (book and TV series). What does he know about art? The book was substantially written by someone else in any case. A great vanity juggernaut to keep a familar face on the screen.

6. Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman for Long Way Round: TV series and book. A chance to ogle at two leather clad arses in different international locations. Shamelessly the book's publisher writes on Amazon "The fact that those men are figures with notable film connections ... may be the reason the book got written ... but so what?" How sad are the punters?

7. Richard Hammond for all his TV shows but Top Gear. TV looks for any excuse to have him either blowing up things or testing things that may blow up, all because he nearly got himself killed once. Each promise of doom leaves us cruelly tantalised.

8. Sophie Dahl for Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights (book/TV show). A Nigella Lawson copycat  - famous surname + food erotica. The book boasts Dahl's "Matisse-like line drawings" destined for no public exhibition. Only two years ago or so she was presented as the great white hope of literature after a spell as a waif on catwalks.

9. Peter and Dan Snow for 20th Century Battlefields (book/TV series) - lanky father and son become visibly excited in the historical presence of slaughter. Where's a swingometer when you need one?

10. JLS - for all those fucking endless music rundown shows they've been fronting since they didn't win The X Factor but went on to become the show's biggest boy band stars. Testicle hugs and downward spastic finger thrusts conduct their guides to Michael Jackson and others. The tiny one especially requires treatment.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Omg! Your chance to breathe Anna Wintour's air!

Oh, hand-fan your face, girlfriend! The legend that is Anna Wintour has created an "opportunity" to meet her at American Vogue on the 12th floor of 4 Times Square, NY. You don't just swan in for ritual humiliation, natch. First, you must make a bid for the chance in an online charity auction - here's the link - and the price to beat as I write is $12,000.

I'm surprised that only 16 bids have been placed; the deadline is April 29 - plenty of time to butter up daddy for the dosh or whatever. Aside from meeting Anna you get to do unpaid intern work at the magazine - y'know, do the coffee runs, push clothes racks and watch Grace Coddington pull faces behind Anna's back. All cash goes to the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, but more important, "Just Being Near Her [Anna] Will Make You Chic," as organisers Charity Buzz put it.

How common.

Duncan Fallowell: Graham Greene and Goan ghosts; Patricia Highsmith and love

Two literary giants interviewed by Duncan Fallowell ...

Graham Greene - "There were ghosts [in Goa] ... "

Patricia Highsmith - Has she ever been in love? ...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cheryl Cole consults Dustin Hoffman's psychic!

Jusstine Kenzer

Honestly, I don't know why I bother. A few weeks ago I advised Cheryl Cole and her promiscuous cock-cunting footballer husband Ashley to donate all their marriage bling to Haiti now their merger is on the rocks. It was PR Mark Borkowski's idea, bless him.

Now I see that instead of listening to my (and Mark's) good sense she has been consulting Hollywood psychic Jusstine [not Justine!] Kenzer about whether to dump her husband - is Cheryl into kinky emotional masochism or something? Oh well, her live burial.

Jusstine charges $200 for a half hour consultation (phone, IM, Morse, etc), $100 for a follow-up. You ask her the questions (eg "Should I leave Ashley?") and she gives you instant answers ("Well, actually he's your soulmate ..."). Among her clients are Dustin Hoffman and Ellen DeGeneres. She predicted all five Emmy category nominations one year for a US TV channel.

If atheist propagandist Derren Brown ever pulls off a similar trick, do let me know. Predictions, mind, not "telepathic" mind games in an auditorium full of gullible 30-something Guardian readers nurtured on Ian McEwan novels.

But talented as I'm sure Jusstine is (I may book her for a psychic party in London this summer hosted by Molly Parkin and me at the Chelsea Arts Club), she should listen to Madame Arcati: Donate your engagement ring to a worthy cause - don't let £100k go to waste on a bony digit.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

PMQs and the hee-hees and the ha-has

I listened to Prime Minister's Questions yesterday - by accident. Nick Clegg had just got up and targeted both Brown and Cameron for an electioneering savaging, referring to them dismissively as "he and he". This provoked a flurry of "hee-hees" as both Tory and Labour MPs engaged in mock laughter at his presumption. This touched a Tudor memory.

To mark his marriage to Anne Boleyn in 1533, Henry VIII had their initials HA entwined on tapestries. Many Londoners were unimpressed and took the piss by crying "Ha! Ha!" at the much despised wedding pageant, in a manner reminiscent of the Commons. For a moment history came to life as politics suffered a concussion.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mark McGowan's 10,000 prostrations to David Cameron

Mark McGowan plans to prostrate himself 10,000 times in front of a "large photographic image of Conservative leader David Cameron on (election day) May 6th, 2010, opposite number 10 Downing Street."

He explains: "The prostrations can be seen as a sign of reverence to a noble man, David Cameron, the man who can lead this country out of the problems we are in. It should take me about two-and-a-half days to complete, I will start at 10am on Thursday 6th May and finish on Saturday 8th May, by which time this country will see a new leader. Gordon Brown, the Labour party and champagne socialism is over."

So, over to champagne Toryism instead. Except of course you can't get into Downing St these days without an invitation and the police won't allow him to loiter about outside for long. I just hope Mark doesn't end up with sciatica.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Matt Smith and Doctor Who: Dildo head is inspired

How narrow is the new Doctor Who body type.

A perfect childbirth-friendly oblong makes up Matt Smith's head: no wonder his mum adores the poppet. She wouldn't have needed an epidural with a dildo bonce like that sliding out between her legs. And but for a sliver of nose bridge, he'd be cycloptic, or Prince Charles. The big hair forms a steeple that falls in compressive well cut waves, rendering a rubbery face trapped between exotic lift doors. The Tardis' interior has expanded into a 70s basement nightclub with railed galleries and dayglo mezzanine, drawing attention to the lack of horizontal space the new Who incarnation takes up.

In other words, Matt Smith is an inspired choice.

In addition he delivers us from the panto theatrics of his predecessor David Tennant, also narrow but not this narrow. Tennant is so peculiarly tall that his height compensated for lack of screen spread.

Smith's physical singularity complements a precocious gravitas. The good doctors are always old - in spirit if not body - and Smith pulls off the trick of fresh agedness: a 16 year-old going on 26 going on 906 with no sticky wet dream interlude. An oddity, then, but not an alienating freak: voice modulation speaks educated but celibate cock-cuntedness, as in the better cartoons about male loners (eg Bugs Bunny).

Madame Arcati is most enchanted. The last decent Doctor was of course Tom Baker. The ones in between were unfortunate errors.