Archive for February, 2004

Top 5 Elis

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Eli Wallach: A marvel in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly but, through a combination of poor judgement and worse luck will only be remembered as a character actor by film buffs and as a swarthy Hispanic with a flexible attitude to religion by everyone else. He made inconspicuous appearances in ill-fated sequels such as The Two Jakes and The Godfather Part III, and even had a role in Paradise Lost (although this is perhaps less spectacular when you realise it was a TV drama set in the Depression era rather than a film adapatation of Milton’s epic reworking of the Fall of Man).
Although he had several hits at the beginning of his career (including The Magnificent Seven, How to Steal a Million and The Misfits) he turned down the part of Angelo Maggio in From Here to Eternity – the role that made Frank Sinatra a star – and narrowly lost out to Arnold Schwarzenneger for the chance to play Mr Freeze in the lucrative, if vacuous, Batman and Robin.

Eli Hall: The unfortunate Yardie from Hackney who rose to fame for perpetrating one of Britain’s most pointless and stupid crimes at a sedate point in the news cycle. Mr Hall began a 15 day siege on Boxing Day 2002 by taking pot shots at people from a window in his Hackney flat and informing police that he had enough ammunition to “fill a bath”. The police refused to storm the flat even after Mr Hall’s hostage escaped and the career criminal eventually died when, in an attempt to keep warm, he asphyxiated himself by burning furniture with a high plastic content.

Eli: The high priest and judge from the Bible best known for having sons who shagged around with “the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” and for accusing Hannah, a barren woman, of being drunk because she was unhappy at her inability to conceive.

Elia Kazan: Not strictly speaking an Eli, but worthy of inclusion for being an astonishingly famous film director despite having a relatively low portfolio of memorable films. Of the 21 he filmed in a 40 year career, a mere two retain any kind of profile: On the Waterfront, obviously, and East of Eden, which wasn’t much cop but did launch James Dean’s brief career.

Miss Ellie: Well, if Elia Kazan can get in, then what reason is there to exclude the kindly maternal figure from the 13-year soap opera Dallas? To my recollection she looked a bit like Jilly Cooper, but she must have gone off the rails somewhere because the scriptwriters at one point believed her capable of shooting her own son during the “Who Shot JR?” saga.

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The bigotry drug

Monday, February 2, 2004

I sat next to a man recently at the launch of an art exhibition.

“Apparently,” he said, “the Roman Empire fell as a result of the Romans’ indulgence in cannabis.”

Really, I said. What evidence do you have to support this?

“None,” he replied. “But it’s a fact.”

I was reminded of this incident the weekend before last when Ann Widdecombe appeared on Radio 4’s Any Questions to voice her opposition to the reclassification of cannabis from Class B to Class C. She said that she had visited sink estates and seen the debilitating effects of drugs on the community, noting on the ground discarded hypodermic needles and detritus from other drugs (such as, one presumes, abandoned bongs and Rizla papers).

She concluded her argument: “For those who disagree with me, no argument is possible, and for those who agree with me, no argument is necessary.”

A better definition of bigotry I find hard to muster.

There is one other argument to consider in the infinite debate over the reclassification of cannabis, and it is a good one. Cannabis is known to induce, or exacerbate, the symptoms of psychosis in a small and poorly-measured proportion of the population (as researched by Robin Murray of King’s College London).

Should we, on this basis, ban peanuts?

Top 5 lesser known superheroes

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Name: The Credible Hulk
Special Powers: Empowered with the strength of a weightlifter and the speed of an athlete, the Credible Hulk can leap tall buildings with a single helicopter ride.

Name: The Amusing Spiderman
Special Powers: Simply heaven at parties when, after a few drinks, he will roll up his trousers to reveal his spindly and surprisingly hairy legs.

Name: Supraman
Special Powers: Diplomatic savoir-faire among bureaucrats of supranational institutions including the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Cremation Federation enables Supraman to distribute business cards at a rate of five per minute and spot a prawn vol-au-vent at 50 yards.

Name: Lieutenant America
Special Powers: Due to the limitations of cryogenics, Steve Rogers possesses the strength and reflexes of an all-American super soldier but shows no vital signs and refuses to respond to artificial defibrillation.

Name: Dr X
Special Powers: Potentially capable of telekenesis and astral projection, but currently working on his post-doctoral thesis.