Thursday, March 31, 2011

Daniel Radcliffe on stage again - clothed this time!

Not just clothed, but singing in American. I'm awfully impressed. He stars in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (the 2011 Broadway Revival) and the video below will save you a few dollars and the nervous exhaustion of tolerating coughers, urinators, snoozers and sweet wrapper rustlers. Theatre musicals of this sort are so relentlessly vivacious that as a genre they all tend to merge into a screaming cacophony of indeterminate competence as legs are kicked and dust motes dance in spotlight beams, like sperm in fresh ejaculate. It's some time since I've been to the theatre. (Incidentally, if you prefer Daniel naked, click his name in labels.)

Fukushima and the rise of the media plutonium lovers

The media plutonium lovers are out in force as the Fukushima nuclear plant sizzles on - plainly an awful lot of people have skipped the brain-enriching spinach diet. The Sun's Jeremy Clarkson would be happy to have a nuke built in his underpants (plenty of space available for it, then) while the Guardian columnist and secular goddess (in a personal capacity) Suzanne Moore dismisses concerns about the nuclear option by lamenting the number of deaths in mines.

To this point I would just say: one is local, the other potentially global, in its effects. We all know this. And I for one am not prepared to take that risk just so I can bung oven chips in the microwave.

Saddest of all is nuke-adoring Lewis Page, son of 'distinguished journalist' Bruce, who appears to think a blast of radioactivity is no more a hindrance to a long life than a spray tan. He's under the impression that the Fukushima situation is 'winding down' as employees sport happily and healthily in radioactive pools before tucking into the elixir of glowing sushi. I wonder where he gets his information from. The Onion?

The Guardian's George Monbiot also would have us believe in a nuclear future - on pragmatic grounds. And yet in 2006 he gave the nuclear industry this rousing vote of confidence: 'I despise and fear the nuclear industry as much as any other green: all experience hath shown that, in most countries, the companies running it are a corner-cutting bunch of scumbags, whose business originated as a by-product of nuclear weapons manufacture.' I await his report on how leopards have changed their spots.

Meanwhile, Prof Brian Cox's science-adoring wife Gia Milinovich tweets hysterically to her 11,000+ followers on Twitter that she can't bear to watch the news because journalists are making a great fuss about nothing over Fukushima.

I take it neither the Coxes nor any of the above or their over-represented like-minded media peers will be holidaying in Tokyo this summer.

'Prince Andrew to be governor of New South Wales'?

Prince Andrew 'is to be appointed Governor of NSW by the new premier Barry O'Farrell, taking up his appointment in November this year when the current incumbent Marie Bashir retires,' claims the Australian website The Social Shuttle in an exclusive report. Read here. This seems a rather old colonialist way of dealing with the massage-loving British reprobate. Perhaps someone will kindly confirm or deny, as I'm busy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lester Middlehurst: Cointreau, celebs and the queen's English

The untimely death last year of the Mail 's showbiz hack Lester Middlehurst at a mere 55 (death by Cointreau it appears) was very saddening. Prof Roy Greenslade of the Guardian claimed that the poor poppet took his own life because of previous suicide attempts (nice of him to tell us), but an inquest in February put us straight. He died of oxygen deprivation arising from prodigious drinking.

To read Prof Roy's embarrassing obit from last December, click here. We all make mistakes, of course, but some more than others.

There can be hardly a sleb from lists A to Z who wasn't interviewed by Mr Middlehurst. I'm told that shortly after the late editor David English hired him at the Mail, Lester was caught in flagrante by cops in some Brighton bushes and carted off. Puritan English was appalled and inclined to get rid of him - but the contract was signed and sealed. Is this story true? Perhaps someone will elucidate.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Remembering Paul Foot and 'Lockerbie's dirty secret'

While Britain, America, France and other mighty nations play space invader games over the Libyan Desert, nudge-winkingly plotting the overthrow of the unloved Gaddafi, my mind keeps turning back to Private Eye's late and celebrated investigative reporter Paul Foot and his well-argued alternative view of the Lockerbie atrocity.

In 2004 he wrote in The Guardian: 'The Lockerbie bombing was carried out not by Libyans at all but by terrorists based in Syria and hired by Iran to avenge the shooting down in the summer of 1988 of an Iranian civil airliner by a US warship.'

This was the British government's view until 1989 when Mrs Thatcher received a call from President Bush (Snr). Foot continues:  'In 1989 British and US armed forces prepared for an attack on Saddam Hussein's occupying forces in Kuwait. Their coalition desperately needed troops from an Arab country. These were supplied by Syria, which promptly dropped out of the frame of Lockerbie suspects. Libya, not Syria or Iran, mysteriously became the suspect country, and in 1991 the US drew up an indictment against two Libyan suspects. The indictment was based on the "evidence" of a Libyan "defector", handsomely paid by the CIA. His story was such a fantastic farrago of lies and fantasies that it was thrown out by the Scottish judges.

'In Britain, meanwhile, Thatcher, John Major and Blair obstinately turned down the bereaved families' requests for a full public inquiry into the worst mass murder in British history.

'It follows from this explanation that Megrahi is innocent of the Lockerbie bombing and his conviction is the last in the long line of British judges' miscarriages of criminal justice.'

Now, this may all be lunatic nonsense for all I know. Or may be not. Whatever the truth, I'm more inclined to reconsider Foot's work and conclusions than to listen to the appalling and mindless propaganda currently churned out by the mainstream media in its glamorous and euphemistic coverage of the bombardment of Libya.

To read Foot's Guardian piece, click here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Free Lady horoscopes; and Molly Parkin on Elizabeth Taylor

If you're keen to sample my The Lady horoscopic wares for nothing then click here for the period starting March 29. Follow my prescriptions and you can't go far wrong.

The magazine's Elizabeth Taylor cover reminds me that my permanent fiancee Molly Parkin writes vividly about the late screen goddess in her memoirs Welcome To Mollywood. In the chapter 'The Elizabethan Age' Molly explores the fateful lockstep of their two lives based on certain similarities: 'Both beautiful, high-achieving, talented, foul-mouthed, alcoholic, over-eating, artistic, fag-hag, sex sirens,' she writes.

Moll describes herself as the 'Woolworth Edition of Elizabeth Taylor' and brings to vivid life the intimate power of Hollywood iconography: how super-celebrity can impact on the personal. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor RIP: Three encounters with Hollywood's most fabulous

Another sheet of my cultural wallpaper is stripped away with the death of Elizabeth Taylor; or, Dame Elizabeth as she called herself on Twitter. I had three encounters with her.

The first was remote. When I worked for the late old IPC cunties' monthly Woman's Journal I had to 'nogotiate' an interview with her. She didn't want a one-to-one it emerged but she agreed to a fax chat. The result wasn't that interesting. The Dame rarely spoke the truth about anything, but like her pal Michael Jackson, adopted a breathless, semi-cosmic pose suggestive of a deity bothered by mundane inquiries. Her most admirable feature was a merciless contempt for the media and a shrewd wariness of the public. In one TV interview she gave a few years ago she teased a journalist with personal allusions: when asked the direct question she said with a smiling scorn you couldn't fake: 'Wouldn't you like to know.' Perfect old Hollywood.

Anyway, I'm not one easily put off. I contacted the Dame's then agent Chén Sam in New York telling her the fax interview was crap. 'Well, come over and I'll talk to you,' she said, as if I were a neighbour. So I got on a plane. Chén, an Egyptian I think, received me in her office and over 90 minutes knocked back a number of alcoholic drinks while leaving me dry. She spoke so frankly, and mostly off-the-record, that much of what she said was unusable. At one point the Dame phoned and Chén said: 'Yes, he's here.' She replaced the receiver. All very unrehearsed. My eventual write-up was a masterly mish-mash of the faxed rubbish and slight betrayals of Chén. I heard that Taylor was a little displeased.

My next meeting with the Dame was in Paris. She was launching one of her Diamonds scents and a small group of us was flown over in a shaky propellered jalopy. One seagull collision over the Channel might have finished us off.  I was stunned by the sight of Taylor, for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps because of medication, her head was now pumpkin-like, quite swollen and out of proportion to the rest of her. She reminded me of a Thunderbirds puppet. At the press conference I infuriated her people by asking whether her scents and cosmetics had been tested on animals. Furious denials. I was only asking. Compliant newspaper hacks snickered behind me.

Our last encounter was in London at the Dorchester. Here again I managed to annoy her. I forget what she was pushing this time but whatever it was I wasn't interested. Instead, I asked her why she didn't produce her own movies to stay employed - she had moaned that she couldn't find film work because no insurer would touch her; not with her health record. 'What?!' she screamed to my question. 'Me, produce? I'm a film actress. I don't produce.' She expertly made the word sound like 'shit' or 'clean up'.

The most beautiful Hollywood star ever? Most certainly. One of its most gifted actors? I'd say so. She understood the value of under-acting on camera. Unlike Burton.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Andy Coulson recruited by organisation that wants media to 'protect truth'

Sheer bliss that Andy Coulson, lately of 10 Downing St's spin dept (and ongoing cynosure of phone hacking claims [denied] arising from his tenure as editor of the never-boring News of the World) has been recruited by the One Young World organisation as a media consultant. No, I'd never heard of it either.

Apparently it encourages young people to think they are world leaders and arranges conferences where they can meet actual world leaders, like Desmond Tutu, to talk about whatever. Provided you were born in or after 1985 and have €3,000 to spare, you, too, could attend its Zurich summit in September if lucky to talk about whatever.

Its global aims appear laudable. With Coulson in mind, I was particularly drawn to its media mission statement which reads: 'In the belief that freedom of speech promotes a successful society, we call upon: The media to use its influence and power to help protect truth and personal freedom.'

Protect truth? Ah yes, Coulson will know all about that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Lady magazine and its (first?) astrologer

This week I make my debut in The Lady as its (first?) astrologer. My weekly horoscope column is terse and prescriptive and will (probably) improve your life. It is accompanied by my feature on why astrology is not rubbish - an idea suggested by editor and Virgo Rachel Johnson.

If there's one thing I've learned in the past few weeks on Twitter about the doubters, sceptics and preachy knockers of astrology (such as Prof Brian Cox, the very touchy Piscean who cannot bear criticism) is that complete ignorance of the subject in no way hinders blinkered ridicule. Science has sired a generation that just 'knows' things without research in the same way priests of old heard voices.

I hope you find my column entertaining and true. For a flavour of the magazine, click here The Lady. The digital edition sets you back £1. The print copy £2.

Peter Simon and a most embarrassing mucus malfunction on Bid TV

Arcatistes know of my inexplicable admiration for Peter Simon, one of the hosts of shopping channel Bid TV. The other day, while attempting to flog some bling, the poor man suffered what might be described as an on-air 'mucus malfunction'; or, a spontaneous snot bubble episode caused possibly by a sneeze or the release of a nasal blockage. It's hard to tell. I'm sorry to lower the tone. But sometimes one must. Here it is, click arrow once when you're ready....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Libya and the cosy language of assets-speak

While I couldn't care less about the fate of togaed Gaddafi and his open-necked colleagues, I am intrigued by the new language of the UN's war against Libya. 'Military assets', 'naval assets', 'intelligence assets': I don't recall any 'assets' during the Iraq invasion when the the lingo of the fairground for mass destruction gained common currency ('shock and awe' etc).

My assumption is that someone in PR dreamt up 'assets' for the ongoing purpose of sanitising and propagandising instruments of war. 'Asset' is a word that customarily belongs to business and investment: it connotes something of economic value. In the general sense, an asset is a valuable item. Rather than focus on the purpose of a tank, rocket, submarine, what have you, someone has decided instead to emphasise value; and to have something of value one must own it. So, all these killer assets are first and foremost property - it is this euphemistic line of thinking that our leaders would have us follow when we listen to the news. Think assets, think house, car, garden... Tomahawk Rocket? Almost cosy.

The current air attacks on Libya sound more like a gentlemanly business takeover than a lethal military campaign.

Broadcasters and journalists have of course demonstrated their usual independence and eagerly picked up on the assets-speak. It is probably the case that if a BBC News report relabelled an asset as an aircraft carrier or fighter jet it would be accused of undermining the worthy cause. It is this bovine subservience to authority which is the modern hallmark of TV and newspaper journalism: as inclined to be used as propaganda machines as Libya's state TV channel.

I have yet to hear of Gaddafi's military assets.

Friday, March 18, 2011

World Penis Size Map: A guide for international size queens

And so from the dickhead Prof Brian Cox and his nuclear energy-loving touchy wife Gia, the mind thought associates onwards and towards... the World Penis Size Map. I am indebted to Duncan Fallowell for incidentally drawing my attention to this. I have no idea how reliable it is - the measurements do not identify condition of cock, a glaring omission - but you may as well know the French, Germans (5.7") and Italians are better endowed than the Brits (5.5"). Americans average a measly 5.1" (that explains Bruce Willis, then) while Venezuela soars to 6.7". Cambodia manages 4".

Madame Arcati disapproves of size queenery of this sort. But newspaper agony aunts may find this info useful when answering anxious cock-size letters they themselves have written.

World Penis Size Map

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Prof Brian Cox's wife, Gia Milinovich, bans Madame Arcati!

Prof Brian Cox more famous than wife
Ooh, diddums. I notice that Prof Brian Cox's delightfully outspoken wife, nuclear energy-loving Gia Milinovich, has banned Madame Arcati from joining her following on Twitter. I do hope it wasn't something I said. She describes herself on the site as 'married to that mindless pretty idiot from a pop band @ProfBrianCox.' It enhances my sense of romance that she aids self-definition by reference.

I do like her sense of humour. While tolerating certain fans' foolish suggestions that her husband is gay - I fear he is too unimaginative for that lifestyle option - she is happy to reveal, 'My last tweet was about how my chance to shag David Tennant was foiled by Paul McCartney sleeping on my hotel room floor.' Anyway ....

I can understand Gia's sensitivity to my trenchant criticism of her husband who is now the BBC's licence fee-paid voice of secularism and unelected, self-appointed scourge of all faiths. Criticism can be a painful thing, even for one who engages in pre-emptive self-laceration and larky asides. Oh, the pillow laughs! But is divisive opinion much tolerated chez Cox? I sleep alone.

Certainly Gia and Brian are one on nukes. She writes (see link above): 'Nuclear Power Is Not Nuclear War.' He writes (in the Sun): 'Nuclear reactors ... cannot explode like nuclear bombs.' Aren't they just adorable?

Still, I'm not one to bear grudges. Enjoy Gia's blog; laugh at her post-modernist, astutely framed jokes. And read her heart-rending description of being turned into an Invisible Wife by Brian's fame.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Philip Levine and Headism: Time we were all baldazzled

Philip Levine's Tsunami. Daniel Regan's
and Kat Sinclair's body art
Though I boast a luxuriant and stylish head of hair, shiny and bouncy with each toss, I do recognise that bald can be sexy. And this is almost entirely due do to the work of cultural entrepreneur Philip Levine whose pate is his canvas.

Do catch his debut exhibition 'Headism', featuring his best head designs, at the NL Gallery 40/42 Riding House Street, London, W1W 7E, May 3-9. Photography by Daniel Regan, documentary by Viviane Castillo and sculpture supported by Lifecast. All his designs are in collaboration with body artist Kat Sinclair. There will be a published book of these images.
Philip Levine's baldazzled head,
 boldly going.
 Daniel Regan's
 and Kat Sinclair's body art

More details on his site (link above) and on Facebook. Philip will be an exhibit during the Friday Late evening at the V&A on 25th March 2011. There will also be an estimated 10 posters of his head images displayed on the London underground from 11th April 2011 in a build up to the gallery show.

He first caught Madame Arcati's attention in 2009 when I laboured a pun on giving head and his work to caricature my apparent obsession with cock. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I shall know Philip Levine's genius has touched cultural base when yet another useless cock-cunting British PM enters No 10 baldazzled.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Men whistling in public: 25 year-old male volunteers his guilt

In 2009 Madame Arcati ran a short item titled 'Why do men of a certain age whistle tunes in public?' After all this time, a 25 year-old man has volunteered the horrible news that he, too, likes to whistle in public. I can't tell you how distressing this is to me. I had hoped that this revolting anti-social act was confined to old scrotes near their graves. But no! Apparently a new generation of whistlers is bursting forth, filling our streets/shops/air space with unsolicited tunes; or more accurately, with sad attempts to Find That Tune. That birds in the sky do not swoop down and try to mate with these noise polluters is a modern wonder.

This is the offending letter ...

I love to whistle and I am 25 so does this mean it is ok?

I don't whistle in public often but if a nice tune comes into my head I may start quietly whistling it to myself.

I think only the happy whistle and people who do whistle don't intend to invade others space.

From what I have read here it would seem you can't even smile in public without someone being uncomfortable about it or at least having a good reason to smile.

We don't ALL walk around with a chip on our shoulder

Dear Tom
Ugh! When I hear some old goat whistling I am tempted to happy slap him. Whistling is a hostile act and intended to annexe adjacent territory and cause misery to the space occupiers. I call on decent taxpayers to happy slap male whistlers. If the tune whistled is the product of musical theatre, repeat the happy slapping.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Prince Andrew and a confusion of dukes at the Spectator

Though I hardly ever read The Spectator these days, I am always happy to scan its weekly emails informing me of what I'm missing. This week, the mag's editor Fraser Nelson - who aspires deludedly to best Madame Arcati's prophetic skills, given his love of making predictions - is a-huffin' and a-puffin' about what he calls Andrewgate: the appalling demolition of Prince Andrew at the hands of anti-royalist knockers, 'unnamed advisers' and other plotters.

I may be missing something here but midway through his advert he writes: 'For my part, I look into the politics behind Andrewgate. Cameron, I understand, was shocked to see how quickly these unnamed advisers laid into the Duke of Edinburgh... '

Does he perhaps mean the Duke of York aka Prince Andrew? Juicily, Nelson adds, 'And Taki has some new gossip about the duke's American host, Jeffrey Epstein.' Since I have no intention of reading Mr Nelson's doubtless invaluable insights into the 'deeper, darker forces' behind the royal scandal, nor Taki's, I shall never know which duke he was thinking of. I fear it matters little.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Jam magazine - brings nothing new to the Charlie Sheen nightmare

The News of the World launches men's supplement Jam - what a very sad and tired retread of masculine fetishes it is. The title alone is a pre-Loaded memento mori - y'know, bedroom air guitars. Nasty lank hair. Wanking.

Cover boy Liam Gallagher is a '21st Century Boy' when the b/w pic harks back to the mid-90s. Yellow-toothed David Bailey snaps the portrait, sooo 60s, darling.

The John Lydon Glenda Slagg page snarls into sundry confusions: he tells us that he calls the Royal Wedding the Royal Weeding - 'because there will be a bit of cross-pollination in the family for once.' Gardening question: what has weeding to do with cross-pollination?

Did someone edit this magazine or was it thrown together by celebrity bookers weathered by eye-rolling riders?

Another 90s-looking relic, in the shape of Prof Brian Cox, boldly recycles his old uni notes to tell us about a star that blew up 700 years ago. Nothing more recent from the atheist campaigner? The accompanying eye-like nebula photo would be better placed in a Specsavers ad, with Cox as the 'before' case study.

Jam being a cliche-in-progress, the feature on organised crime groups inevitably follows. With street crime rates on the rise, this is just what the world needs - another magazine crime polish for the enlargement of mirrored scrotism.

It's just as well the publication is a giveaway: anyone in mags will tell you dark covers don't sell. And a near-monochromatic inside, with bits of spot colour (in the few ads mainly), associates dreary notions of fantasy machismo with psycho cellar dwellers. If you want to give someone a nervous breakdown in this fragile little world suggest a piece on trannies and whether they dress right or left in drag.

I once wrote apropos of Tony Parsons, and an idiotic piece he disgorged in GQ about his soldier daddy and his (Tony's) love of guns, that cultural masculinity thrives on the degree of harm it causes: the more others are deprived of something the more the depriver - the hapless male catalogue reader - feels valued as a man. Jam brings nothing new to this Charlie Sheen nightmare.

One bit of hope is in the editor's letter, pre-written in spirit in another age by aging scrote James Brown, the founder of Loaded, now proud owner of the Sabotage Times website: 'Most men [don't read magazines],' writes Mark Hayman. The poor chap must be a professional masochist.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Prof Brian Cox: A TV evangelist for the nation's telescope strokers

The monumentally smug Brian Cox has released another fashion book on astronomy. The Wonders of the Universe is a blissful repainting of the universe, a cosmic dye job to make galactic smudges seem coherent, constellations appear pretty. Photogenic diagrams reconstruct astronomical systems for lovers of Lego and Meccano: the universe is nothing but an awesome Cartesian building site that's 93 billion light years wide!

Recycling his old university notes for his fabulously successful series The Wonders of the Solar System (oh, and for the Sun, on which, along with Mystic Meg, he's a regular) has turned him into quite the TV star. It's hard to know whether all this fame has gone to his head because one suspects he's always had the air of a know-all. A hard-geeing northerner geek, with a super trouper centre parting - which by a happy accident is suddenly catwalk fashionable again - Professor Cox disarms us with a smile that rarely leaves his face. When it does, when he's thinking of astrology, for instance, a rather bitter and sulky countenance is glimpsed. Then he looks like a cry baby.

I suspect he has never quite come to terms with the fact that other people are not Professor Brian Cox.

The cover of The Wonders of the Universe is itself a wonder. Thanks to some studio Caravaggio, Brian (or Brain, as we should call him) appears to be the personification of the universe itself: colours have been retouched for a harmonious blending of man and cosmos, as if he were the Crab Nebula come to life. For once he is not smiling, but pensive, if not posing. Is he perhaps absorbed in planning yet another space show for his propagandist mouthpiece, the BBC?

It's a quasi-religious cover. Which is unfortunate given that his adventures in particle physics have left him an atheist; or, a 21st century cliche. If you transplanted the artwork minus the words onto some god-loving pamphlet, you might imagine yet another messiah is among us. In a sense you might imagine right.

As one of his telescope stroking followers writes on Amazon, of the iconic centre parting: 'I'm throwing out my hair gel and getting a nice tortoiseshell comb. God bless you Brian.'

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

William & Kate's wedding invitation wording: A little too with-it?

Click invite for engorged version
I meant to say sooner but one small detail of the Lord Chamberlain's invitation to the wedding of William and Kate interested me. The grammar. Guests are invited to the marriage of the prince with Kate. The traditional wording would normally employ the preposition to, although 'with' is not incorrect and is now customary in more fashionable circles: 'with' does enhance the suggestion of a meeting of equals.

However, it should be said that Debrett's, which I find quite common, is very much a to-ist  (click here) and appears to part company with the increasingly modish Royal Family, eschewing the with-ism in its formal wedding invitation template. Perhaps grammarians would care to comment.