Couch Potato

My thoughts on TV, Sport, News, Politics and Film

The Voice UK S5 Blind Auditions 2: My Thoughts

voice-608180“You didn’t think I’d live that long” – Stevie Calrow

So who did we have this week, well: there was a rock and roll violinist with rhymes about Tchaikovsky, she joined Team Will; there was a boy with some kind of organism growing on his head and clown shoes, he joined Team Boy (what do we call his team? Boy, Boy George, George, BG, so many questions, so little time); there was an elderly gentleman who sang 3 songs with The Beatles, and hasn’t stopped banging about it since, by the way he sang 3 songs with The Beatles, he got no turns; there was a drag queen who left George bemoaning his failing “dragdar”, do you know something I have a sneaky suspicion he may be gay, just something about him you know.

Anyway onto the serious business was anyone actually good this week, yes there actually was. After last week’s damp squid of an opener, expectations were low but The Voice delivered a few decent acts in this weeks offering. There was Chase, an MMA fighter with an old school soul voice, he ended up demonstrating a move on Ricky (sadly Ricky wasn’t seriously injured). There was also Essex girl Lydia who was a redhead carbon copy of Essex girl Brooklyn from last year and just like her Essex twin she joined Team Will, maybe this year he’ll turn his Essex rapper into Britain’s Nicki Minaj or at least Britain’s Iggy.

Coachwatch: The new panel continue to reach new levels of annoyance. Turns out Paloma and Ricky are old friends and performed a “rap” twice on tonight’s ep, which was downright embarrassing, think middle age white man trying to be cool and you’ll be on the right track. Even Will the last of the original seems to have been nullified by the yawn-inducing other panellists, the rhymes have mostly gone, the unusual words have disappeared, he looks a tired man, watching the show slowly die. There were still flashes of the old Will though, like the look of horror when Stevie said that Will didn’t pick him because he “didn’t think he’d live that long”.

 

The Voice S5 Blind Auditions 1: My Thoughts

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“Brian Turner AKA Lyrical” – will.i.am

The Voice UK is back with yet another line-up change, if people are ever to take it seriously you need a consistent line-up for at least a little while but alas The Voice hasn’t been able to manage that, I mean just to remind those who have forgotten the original coaches were will.i.am, Tom Jones, Jessie J and Danny from The Script as the compulsory rock representative. The latest line up change has seen Rita jump ship to X Factor, which I heard she won and the legend Sir Tom was rather unceremoniously replaced by Boy George for no reason, ageism much? I mean I couldn’t name you a single Boy George or Culture Club song and the aforementioned defector was replaced by Paloma Faith who follow in the footsteps of 3 UK chart topping females, after a brief wiki consultation I have discovered this is a club poor Paloma is not a member of, which loses The Voice some of the little credibility it had, but enough of the politics, The Voice has always been about the music with the coaches and presenters, unfortunately the awful Emma Willis wasn’t one of the departures, being secondary. So without further ado let’s talk about the music.

So highlights of today’s auditions were um well there was um and there was oh no wait. Truth be told no one really caught my attention this episode, the first contestant thought she was Beyonce, she wasn’t, although I have recommended her outfit to my girlfriend, very fetching. There was the obligatory former TV star this time Bernie Clifton or something or another, Ricky knew him. Oh there was a weird funky guy called Brian Bennett AKA Lyrical, he was interesting, he’s on Team Will. The final act however a young lady called Cody, her look was sort of a blend of various subcultures of the last 40yrs, punk, emo, goth, certainly ecletic but her voice was intriguing she chose to sing Abba but Abba like you’ve never heard before it was unusual but it was certainly good. Overall though hoping for far better for the rest of the series.

Coachwatch: Not impressed with the new panel as you’ve probably already gathered. Paloma doesn’t have the stature and is very annoying and also doesn’t like Lion King, anyone that hates Lion King has no soul whereas George well I don’t have anything against him I just prefer Tom. I do think a problem this year will be you now have 3 oddballs on the panel. Will’s no longer the quirky one, George and Paloma have both made careers from breaking the mould but I think the more mainstream vanilla talent may drop through the cracks as the 3 “misfits” focus on fellow “misfits. Ricky’s blue-eyed charm is still fully operational and he had the moment of the episode when he continued to get his new acts name wrong. “Brian Turner AKA Lyrical”.

 

 

Heavyweight boxing is dead!

klitschko-furyOnce upon a time the heavyweight division was the blue riband event of boxing. You had champions that excited and inspired: Johnson, Louis, Marciano, Patterson, Liston, Frazier, Foreman, Holmes, Tyson, Lewis, Holyfield and of course the greatest of them all Muhammad Ali. You had golden eras like the 70s with Ali, Frazier,  Foreman, Norton and others producing some of the greatest fights in history.

Until a few minutes ago the post 2000 heavyweight seen has been dominated by one name, two brothers. The elder has now retired, the other has just lost his 3 world titles to Tyson Fury who we’ll discuss later. Now Wladimir the younger of the brothers, on numbers alone is one of the greats, no question. He was 2nd on the longest reigning heavyweight champs list sandwiched between Louis and Holmes. He’s beaten allcomers for his title. He’s dominated for a decade. He’s also robotic, boring, lacks charisma and  the wow factor that made people pay attention to guys like Ali and Tyson. But that was fine. He can go only beat who’s in front of him, right. Wasn’t his fault there was no Frazier or Foreman in this era, Peter, Ruiz and Haye was the best out there right. Right.

Today Klitchsko the king of the division, unbeaten in 10 years, legend of the sport faced Fury. A guy who’d fought absolutely nobody. A guy with no credentials. A guy with no pedigree. If Klitchsko was as great as his numbers suggest he’d of dispatched the arrogant, cocky, controversial Briton. Did that happen? Nope instead what transpired was one of the worst exhibitions of boxing I have ever witnessed. It was scrappy. It was poor. There were hardly any shots landed. And the great Klitchsko appeared scared to throw a punch. It was a disgraceful performance by such an esteemed champ and while Fury was certainly the best fighter on the night, he didn’t seem like the best in the world. However that is exactly what his newly gained titles suggest and I think that’s a sad indictment of the state of the division. Some argued that it died with the Klitchsko dominance and that may be true but the ease they have been toppled today it has definitely died now.

On a personal note I’m not a fan of Fury’s antics at all. I find his tendency to compare himself to Ali sickening and disrespectful. But even as a boxer I don’t rate him. He doesn’t seem to have much technique. He doesn’t have much power. And he’s never been tested. How do you become world heavyweight champ without being tested. And why was such a great champ so poor. The division is dead. I suspect Fury’s reign will be short but with such as dearth of talent who’s actually gonna beat him. It appears if you’re big and awkward you can be the best these days. I miss the days when you needed talent.

Corbyn is who Labour need and what the country deserves

If you believe what you read in even the left wing press (yes Guardian I’m referring to you) Jeremy Corbyn is dangerous, he’ll destroy the Labour Party, he’ll keep them out of power for a generation, he’ll send Labour back in time, his economics are loony, his policies are unrealistic even fantastical. So if you believe what you read god forbid Britain’s left wing party actually have a left wing leader.

Thankfully I on the other hand don’t believe what I read in the press and have formed my own opinion of Corbyn based on what I have seen and read from him and the other candidates and that opinion is that he’s exactly what Labour needs and what the country deserves.

Labour lost spectacularly in May, they were wiped out in Scotland and didn’t win enough in England, there has been much debate about why this was, there’s been gushing about the electoral genius of Cameron and Tories. No. Their majority is minuscule there was no genius. I admit they played the game well, using politics of fear over the SNP and immigration to turn England against Labour but Labour primarily lost cos it was too weak and too similar to the Tories they choosing to present themselves as the lesser of two evils. Rather than pick between the two, the public fragmented and voted UKIP, Greens and the SNP. The Tories “won” on 35% hardly genius. What Labour needed to do was be a genuine opposition to the Tories and oppose austerity. This is why they need Corbyn an anti-austerity candidate with genuine conviction in his belief. By being anti-austerity Labour would not only be a strong opposition to the Tories but a party that would reconnect with the disillusioned, who are already beginning to rally behind Corbyn in droves. There would be a clear differentiation between the two major parties and it’d be Labour that would be on the right side of public opinion. It’s a myth elections are won from the centre. What happened to the Lib Dems again? And the most successful pm ever she was really centrist wasn’t she?

Why the country both needs and deserves Corbyn or at least someone of similar thinking is because austerity is a nonsensical, malicious doctrine that rather than being sound economics, simply punishes the poor and vulnerable for the actions of reckless, naive bankers in the top 1% wealth bracket, this is unjust and unfair. Yes the debt we accumulated from the crisis must be paid but we can do it slower and with a little more humanity. Instead of hiking up uni fees why not increase corporation tax for example, this is something Corbyn would fight for. Austerity if allowed to continue will cause greater inequality and ultimately destroy our country. In addition we deserve a genuine, honest politician with conviction in his beliefs, instead of the manufactured, stage managed,  soundbite politicians with no substance that have dominated since 1997. In short the country needs change.

Ok now to address the concerns of the press. He’s dangerous. Well if making the country fairer and more equal then yes he’s dangerous. He’ll destroy Labour. If winning the next election will destroy them then yes I guess he will. He’ll keep them out of power for a generation. Now it was Liz Kendall that said that. Someone should probably let her know that it’s the public, who are by the way clearly behind Corbyns ideology, that votes in elections not her little Blairite cabal, in fact if anythings gonna keep Labour out of power it’s completely abandoning its roots altogether to try and split the centre right vote. He’ll send Labour back in time. Well Blair won in 1997 so that was 18 years ago. Austerity began in 2010 so it’s quite new politics compared to the rest of the candidates. His economics are loony. Of course they are cos the ONLY way to cut the deficit is to slash the public sector and privatize the NHS meanwhile allowing Google and Starbucks to contribute nothing to the public coffers. Oh wait perhaps you could you know RAISE CORPORATION TAX. Finally his policies are fantastical. Yep cos we couldn’t possibly have a nationalised railways like Germany or France, we couldn’t possibly get rid of our cold war nukes cos the cold war didn’t end 24 years ago and we couldn’t possibly have a NHS free of private interests. Oh no so unrealistic.

It all boils down to a very simple choice, vote Burnham you get a soft leader who lacks the conviction to truly take on the Tories. Vote Cooper you get someone who doesn’t belief in anything at all. Vote Kendall you guarantee another Tory government. Vote Corbyn you get change for the better. I know who I’d pick.

Why are Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slams forgotten?

This is Margaret Court.  She was an Australian tennis player between 1960 and 1973 she amassed 24 slams more than any other player, she has a career win percentage better than any other player, a better slam win percentage than every other player. She has won every slam multiple times and completed a calendar slam. Yet as Serena moves closer to a 21st slam all that is mentioned is Steffi Graf’s “record” of 22 slams. Now this isn’t a debate about who’s the greatest female player that’s for people far more qualified than myself to argue. Instead this is simply a pedantic argument about the grand slam record and why Graf’s record shouldn’t be regarded as a record at all.

Ok so firstly we need to investigate Graf’s record and why it is seen as the target for Serena. Steffi Graf won 22 Grand Slams between 1987 and 1996. So why is it a record despite being 2 less than Court because Graf played in “the Open Era”. Ie the period after 1968 when professionals were allowed to play the slams. Court’s career happens to span both eras therefore here Open Era tally is only 11 slams. So if Court wasn’t up against the very best players prior to 1968 it is only fair that Graf’s tally is the “record” and Court is a victim of circumstance like Rod Laver her male counterpart BUT Court was playing the best players prior to 68 as there was no professional women’s tour. All the women players were amateurs. For example Billie Jean King was her main rival pre-68 and post-68 there was no change. So my argument is that while you can instill the arbitrary open Era starting point on men’s tennis records it’s not fair to instill it on women’s tennis records.

Humans S1 E3: My Thoughts

Another chilling episode of C4’s brilliant drama playing on the age old human fear of artificial intelligence. This week Niska fully embraced her role as psycho robot serial killer only choosing not to kill another man upon realising rather than being a cheat (itself not a capital offense) he in fact a father, and single fathers are not “bad people”, in Niska’s estimation. God knows what’ll happen when she realised some of her customers in that place were fathers, if I was to guess it’ll probably involve pain. Considerable amounts of it.

Meanwhile Dr Millican who now possesses the only synth more terrifying than Niska I mean seriously who sanctioned a synth that didn’t take orders. Practically taking away the guys human rights. I guess it’s one of the messages of the show. How far is too far with regards to  government interference in individual lives. Anyways Dr Millican managed to escape his new synth and go on one last road trip with surrogate son Odi, stupidly letting his faulty synth after their shock crash. Not. Millican left Odi in the woods but safe from the dreaded recycling. Peter the synth investigator got suspended as Niska’s murder was covered up, do love a good cover up, don’t you? By the man trying to track down the sentient synths and it’s only a matter for time before he takes his anger out on his beefcake synth. Who does seem to be a bit hands on with his missus, although he probably has to be.

And finally Anita didn’t get taken back yaaaaay! The dad saw her naked and settled the debate about whether there was stuff under her scrubs. There is! Although I do wonder why she never changes clothes when other synths seem to. Laura and the daughter continued to be suspicious as Anita continued to basically excel at motherhood exposing Laura’s glaring human imperfections.  Leading the daughter to post Anita (or should that be base code) online, which sets up a nice showdown with the family and Colin Morgan (Merlin) next week. One final point synths are supposed to be better than humans at chores etc right? Because I have to say Anita’s oven cleaning was a bit lacklustre. Need to grit your teeth, girl!

Is Left wing v Right wing politics dead?

In this brilliant piece in the The Independent, Amit Singh calls out one of the great myths of this election, that Labour was left-wing, they wasn’t, well their manifesto wasn’t anyway. Since the election several Blairites have risen from their slumber to denounce Miliband for sending the party “back to the 80s”, this actually wasnt the case when you look at his policies but that is perhaps the public perception. Ask SNP or Green voters, such as myself why they didn’t vote Labour and they will tell you Labour was not left-wing enough. Labour’s policies on austerity and immigration would support this viewpoint, however Labour did not lose this election in Scotland, they lost it in England to the undoubtedly right-wing Tories, where people perhaps believed or perceived Labour was too left-wing. Campaigning against the poverty creating plans of the Tories should have been an open goal for Labour, but here enlies the issue, the election was not fought in the left v right manner we have become accustomed, it wasn’t about the NHS or the economy, instead it was about fear and nationalism. Fear of the SNP and fear of immigration. I argue that the left-right political spectrum is a dying dichtomy, Labour was perhaps defeated in Scotland because it was not left-wing enough, yes, many in Scotland believe that New Labour abandoned Scotland and Miliband failed to convince them otherwise but it was effectively beaten by nationalism. The SNP were deemed to better represent the views of the people of Scotland than Labour that were seen to have ignored Scotland in the New Labour years in order to court the middle England vote. In England, it most definitely wasn’t defeated because it was too left-wing, because Labour most certainly wasn’t, at best they could be described as centrist, perhaps it was defeated because people trusted the Tories more with the economy, but Labour planned to cut the deficit, they didn’t plan to borrow, in my opinion their economic plan was far fairer than the Tories and would spread the pain rather than shameless attacking the most vulnerable in society, however perhaps this lack of trust was because Labour broke several promises in their last spell in government, the Lib Dems defeat could certainly be atributed to lack of trust. In my opinion however Labour in England were again defeated by nationalism with a side-order of fear, two-pronged this time, nationalism from UKIP which targeted the traditional Labour working classes with its anti-immigration rhetoric, which effectively made UKIP the official opposition to Labour in the North, and a real threat to the Labour power base next election. Combined with the more potent nationalism from the Tories, their allusion to the “SNP threat”, this idea that the Scots were Guy Fawkesesque coming to England to steal our money, and break up our country, it was the threat of these “radical left-wing insurgents” being part of a Labour government that persuaded shy Tories in their droves to vote Tory and deliver a sensational shock majority. What does all this mean, well I think it means our politics have become more about stoking nationalism v fighting nationalism rather than left v right because policy wise there is only very slight differences between Labour and the Tories (and there would be less still if the next leader is Blairite), instead the defining difference was that the Tories chose to stoke up nationalism whereas Labour tried and failed to fight against it. My prediction for the next election, providing we are still the UK and have the same voting system, will again be fought on nationalist lines, with Labour moving further to the right, meaning the two main parties will be practically have the same centre-right stance, and Labour’s complete abandonment of the working class will cause major losses in the North but perhaps a couple of Tory gains, the result though will be another Tory majority and another another SNP landslide in Scotland.

Labour were not responsible for financial crisis or the recession

I consciously made the choice not to blog during this election campaign mainly because I need to revise and also because there’s been way too much to pass comment on, but today in the special leaders edition of Question Time one question and questioner of Ed Miliband really grated with me. Now I’ll be voting Green on May 7th and I have no shame in admitting I’d much prefer Ed as Prime Minster for a number of reasons but I’d prefer him to shift more to the left hence the green vote. Now the question I took issue with related to the financial crisis, an event I have researched extensively for my dissertation,  and the questioner apparently worked in “financial services”, he seemed to believe that banks were benevolent, faultless institutions that have only brought growth to the economy and seemingly believed that all our economic woes were caused by labour overspending. While it can be argued that the last labour government maybe spent too much that’s not what caused the crisis, recession or the deficit what caused all 3 was banks pure and simple, US investment banks caused a crisis which hit us particularly because since Thatcher our growth has been almost exclusively built on financial services. The crisis effectively forced the government to bail out the banks (something which was supported entirely by Cameron and Osborne) or face a collapse of the UK banking system and it’s this bailout that plunged us into the massive deficit and debt Cameron inherited. The questioner meanwhile seemed to reject claims that our almost unique exposure to the financial sector and the crisis had any role to play in the economic mess, and that someone that actually works in the sector is so naive is worrying. Of course labour weren’t blameless, had the questioner brought up that Brown’s economic policy was too reliant on banks exponential growth or that banks were too lightly regulated I’d of accepted his valid points but instead he chose to take a childish, naive approach of continuing shouting at Ed that they spent too much money. Economics isn’t that fricking simple and it’s a real shame this tory myth of labour deliberately bankrupting the country has gone entirely unchecked. It’s also a shame that the drubbing Ed took tonight will likely lead to 5yrs of austerity max from Cameron and whoever he can trick into office with him.

Revenge S4 E14-16: My Thoughts

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Time to check in on the Hamptons, starting with Emily, well she’s gotten together with Ben, rejected Jack and still has the upper hand v Margaux’s vendetta, or she did it seems by targetting Jack, Margaux might have found Em’s weak spot. Margaux’s obsession is slowly eroding her humanity, a typical Revenge trope. Nolan and Louise are happily married, more or less, well it’s pretty rocky, Louise was disappointed at Nolan’s lack of attention and Nolan was disappointed about the lack of attention (from suitors lol). Either way I’m sure Louise’s murder of her brother should help smooth out the ruffles, right? And finally Victoria, and David well they’re moving on with their lives, Victoria’s nicely settled into a nice feud with the new Grayson, Natalie, the wife of Conrad’s father. After the losing the will contestatation and hiring and firing Louise’s bro, Victoria eventually came out on top as David, who happened to be dating her, discovered she was with Conrad, and after Natalie tried to set up David, Victoria managed to catch her admitting forcing Teddy to change his will. I believe that’s match point, Miss Grayson (Victoria that is!).

Stalker S1 E13-15: My Thoughts

3 episodes, 3 unexpected stalkers. Stalker remains epic, I’m not sure what CBS are waiting for to hit the renewal button. So the progression of the story arc over these eps was pretty slow, Brody met with Beth’s original stalker, they teamed up, holed themselves in some motel room and the original came up with the idea to take out Beth’s “family” ie. the team. The main focus though were the individual stories, up first was a TV news anchor who’s stalker was an obssesive fan of one of his colleagues, she wanted her fave to get promoted essentially. 2nd was Aussie lifeguard hottie who, was being stalked by her best friend who was suffering from a particularly psychotic case of hero worship and the victim of E15 was a dreamy high school basketball coach, who turned out not to be the real victim at all instead it was one of the students and her mum who were targeted by the abandoned child of the mum. That last one was my fave of the 3. Stalker’s making it pretty much impossible to guess the stalker nowadays but that’s not going to stop me trying.