MAINE OVAL

There have been strange goings on in East Belfast lately, most recently in Parkgate Avenue, where the entrances of The Oval have been painted …….. of all colours, blue.

Signage has gone up to indicate that it is the home of Manchester City.

Before you get excited at the thought of Pep Guardiola sipping lattes in Ballyhackamore, or consider setting up a shop in Connswater that sells inflatable bananas, it’s not what it seems.

The reason for this, is that The Oval is being used to film scenes for a forthcoming movie about Bert Trautmann and has been set up to replicate Maine Road in the 1950s and 1960s.

A sign has been left to explain this for any confused locals.

It’s not the first time The Oval has been used for filming. In the 00s, DoubleBand Films, a Belfast based film company used the venue for link shots when producing documentaries as part of the Football Stories series on Channel 4.

Glentoran and Manchester City fans have some things in common. Not only do they support teams living in the shadow of more famous and successful city rivals, they also have nightmares of when Alan Kernaghan was at their club.

Cliftonville are also in on the act, with their ground also being used to replicate Stoke City’s Victoria Ground.

Photo Album

Advertisements

HOLY BATBLOG!!!! : THE FRIDAY FIVE – BATMAN SPECIAL

Today sees the release of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, and it would be rude not to commemorate this with a tribute to The Caped Crusader.

Forget Christian Bale. Forget George Clooney. Forget Val Kilmer. Even forget Michael Keaton. There is only one true Batman. His name, is Adam West.

Before Family Guy, West saved Gotham City from Baddies and made all our lives better in a live action television series. I used to love watching repeats of this as a child, and still love watching repeats on weekday mornings on ITV 4.

So comical, so colourful, so wonderful. How can you not love Adam West?

Captions of made up words accompanied punches, while Chief O’Hara was a joy, always struggling to work out which master criminal based in Gotham City would taunt them with a joke. A joke!!! If only there was a criminal in Gotham City known for his jokes.

So here, are the Top Five moments of the 1960s Batman TV series (and accompanying Movie)

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Zoink!!!

There are so many great moments, that there are great moments left out.

LIBERACE CAMEO

Ker-Pow!!! Liberace playing a pianist under the pay of his evil twin brother, who plays a note which deafens people, allowing his evil brother to jump in and steal their belongings. He masterfully played both roles. #holyeviltwin

CHAD AND JEREMY

Biff!! A real band, believe it or not (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, and every other major band of the 60s must have been unavailable) who played themselves doing a concert in Gotham City, where Catwoman stole their voices.

The plan was to stop them making music, thus making money, and paying taxes to UK Treasury, and thus causing all world economies to collapse. How dastardly.

I imagine if the show was remade today, it would be One Direction having their voices stolen, though i’d like to think Batman would just turn a blind eye to that one. #holyworldeconomycollapse

JOKER JELLY

Splat!! In one episode, The Joker turns Gotham City’s water supply into jelly. I’d love it if that happened in Belfast just to see NI Water make a bollocks of the situation #holyjelly

RETURN TO THE BATCAVE

Urkk!! 2003 biopic starring Adam West and Burt Ward looking back at the show. It begins with Adam West getting ready for a charity function, lifting the head of a statue to slide down a pole to get change.

His butler, Jerry, asks if it is a nostalgic nod to the TV show, to which West replies “No Alfred, it came with the house”

After angrily pointing out that his name is Jerry, West replies “Sorry Alfred”

It continues being that funny. Well worth checking out. #holybiopic

EXPLODING SHARK

Eeee-Yoh!! This needs no introduction. The opening scene to the movie. Batman fights a Shark, which turns out to be and exploding robot.

Luckily, Batman has Anti-Shark Repellant Spray in his utility belt and manages to escape.

Lucky that. #holyexplodingshark

5. CHAT WITH SAMMY DAVIS JUNIOR

Plop!! A classic recurring gag, Batman and Robin climb up a wall, someone opens their window to see what’s going on, and engages in a casual chat with Batman and Robin.

In one episode, they were climbing up a building where Sammy Davis Junior was rehearsing, and engaged in casual natter with the Dynamic Duo.

Davis suggests that Batman and Robin see him in concert, by way of mutual appreciation as “I did your act”

I imagine if the show was filmed today, it would probably involve some rapper, talking street talk, and Batman talking street back to him. Sigh. #holyratpack

4. HOLY TAXATION

Blurp!! Batman and Robin park outside the baddies lair, but before jumping in, proper order first, Batman pays the parking meter.

“But no Traffic Warden would give the Batmobile a ticket!!!” cries an over-eager Robin, to which Batman replies “This money goes towards building better roads, we all must contribute” prompting Robin to utter “Holy taxation”

That’s what stops me being a masked vigilante in Belfast, bloody Traffic Wardens wouldn’t hesitate to give me a ticket while i’m saving the city, especially around Ormeau Avenue and Botanic. #holycivicduty

3. LONDINIUM EPISODE

Whap!! Not just a moment, but a whole (three-part) episode, set in Ye Merry Olde England (Or England, as Americans view it)

Commissioner Gordon is attending a conference in “Londinium”, where there is a crime spree, and the “President Of London” asks Batman for help.

Just imagine a modern remake of that, Boris Johnson starring as himself asking Batman to help stop a crime spree in London.

Batman travels to London, conveniently at the same time Bruce Wayne (with his Ward, Dick Grayson) travels there on Wayne Foundation business, as does Barbara Gordon, as a guest of her dad.

In London, Robin gets captured by a gang of sexy females and hates every minute of it. Batgirl goes to the Cricket Club where he is held to rescue him and gets captured, and locked in the dungeon.

Batman goes to the dungeon to rescue Batgirl, but gets locked in, but uses an Indian Rope Trick for both of them to escape by climbing up and out of a window.

All three of them then stop a robbery of the Crown Jewels, and Ye Merry Olde England returned to being peaceful and crime free. #holyapplesandpairsguvnor

2. THE BATUSI

Vronk!! Batman (Robin is too young to be allowed in) visits a nightclub to investigate some crime, where he gets involved in conversation with a woman who asks him to dance. Ever the perfect gentleman, Batman dances. Not just any dance, but his version of the Watusi ……… The Batusi. #holystrictlycomedancing

1. TRYING TO GET RID OF A BOMB

Bam!! Batman goes to a bad guys lair, but it’s a trap, they’ve left a bomb for him. He can’t let it explode as there’s a full pub underneath, so what does he do?

Everywhere he tries to go, he meets obstacles : Marching bands, Nuns, women pushing prams, A young couple on a boat, Ducks

Eventually, Batman utters the immortal words “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb”

Luckily he did, just in time. #holybombdisposal

HOLY OMISSION SKY MOVIES!!!!

This week, Sky Movies are launching the ‘Batman Boxset’, where viewers can watch all Batman movies, which are being broadcast at various intervals.

Eagle-eyed Batfans will notice that there is one shocking omission, the 1967 movie spin-off from the TV series.

Sadly, the TV series and associated spin-offs appear to be written out of Bat-History by Warner Brothers, which is sad, as it’s the one thing I often associated when I think of the portrayals of the caped crusader.

It’s a show which brings back memories from my childhood, which is probably why I love it so much.

When the Tim Burton 1989 movie was released, it gave the TV show a new lease of life.

For some random reason, my dad used to always record it for me, as it was on during the wee small hours, as part of ITV Nightscreen, and I would then watch it the following day after coming home from school.

I used to love Chief O’Hara struggling to work out which criminal they were dealing with, despite it being so blindingly obvious.

“They’ve left us a clue ……….. in the form of a joke, who could it be?” he could be found screaming at the crime scene, painfully trying to work out which criminal in Gotham City specialises in jokes, before Batman suggests that it is possibly the work of The Joker.

O’Hara would then usually ask “Why didn’t I think of that?” as Batman politely ignores the opportunity to point out that it’s because he’s a complete idiot.

I suppose that’s why Chief O’Hara is such an endearing character, because we all know someone like him.

We’ve all work with a ‘O’Hara’, someone who has managed to get into a position of authority, despite seemingly being a halfwit who can’t even spot a problem when it is staring right in front of them.

O’Hara however, has a heart of gold, as he once stated during the show that he is “Violently opposed to police brutality”

With this guy the second most senior police officer in the city, it was no surprise that Gotham City was over-run by criminals, especially with criminals being released seemingly every six weeks going by the recurring nature of the casting.

To combat this, the producers began inventing characters such as Egghead, played by Vincent Price and whipping up an array of bad egg-based yokes, sorry, jokes.

There was once a simpler age when you would put your coat hood on your head, using it as a cape to recreate the slapstick fight scenes (The A-Team had by now replaced as the TV show to recreate in our school playground)

This wasn’t case of children copying something violent they seen on TV. It wasn’t violent you see, as made up words such as KER-POW!!!!, BIFF!!! and ZOINK!!!! would appear on screen.

It might have been violence, but it was comic violence, like Stan and Ollie, especially as Batman and Robin were usually defeated by their own stupidity, but never violently.

Having scored an own goal through their own stupidity, the bad guys usually left them in an easy to get out of trap before leaving them unsupervised in order to escape, and them having the cheek to be shocked, usually asking “I thought you were dead”

Batman’s escape was usually aided by one of the various bat-branded products in his utility belt, with Robin usually exclaiming “Holy ………”.

He might have been generally useless when it came to fights, but at least he had a way with words and a “Holy ………..!!!!!!” for any occasion.

Comedy was an essential part of the show, and the worse the punchline, the better.

To rank alongside O’Hara’s remark about police brutality, Batman once memorably declined the offer of a VIP table in a nightclub (where he was staking out a criminal) as “He didn’t want to attract attention”, because a man dressed in tights and cape wouldn’t attract attention.

Incidentally, for that scene, Robin was outside as he was too young to be in the nightclub. Despite being a masked crimefighter, Robin has to obey the laws of the land, it’s called Good Citizenship.

Memorably, Batman once took time out after parking outside a villains lair to pay the parking metre despite Robin pointing out that no parking attendant would dare to give the Batmobile a parking ticket.

That wasn’t the point, Batman was using the facility, and felt obliged to pay for it. After all, his money would go towards building better roads and improving the transport infrastructure in Gotham City.

Thanks to a combination of Batman and Mr T, I don’t speed, I pay parking tickets, I stay in school and say no to drugs. Ahh, the power of television.

The legend of Adam West lives on with his cameo appearances on Family Guy, playing himself as the O’Hara-esque Mayor of Quohog, lampooning the Bruce Wayne character in the role.

An under-rated Batman movie is ‘Return To The Batcave’, where Adam West and Burt Ward player their older selves in a biopic of the TV show.

West demonstrates his comic ability which made him so loved as Batman by constantly called his butler ‘Alfred’ when his name is Gerry..

After having this pointed out, West apologises, saying “Sorry Alfred” before using a switch hidden underneath a statue to open a book cabinet which revealed a pole.

“A nostalgic nod to that TV show you were in Mister West?” asks Gerry, before Adam West replies, with a straight face, “No Alfred, it was part of the house when I bought it”.

Genius.

Some actors often battle typecasting but Adam West thrives on his fame. For many people, Adam West IS Batman, not Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney or Christian Bale.

As Adam West asked during his Simpsons guest appearance, why doesn’t Batman dance?

Where is the fun? Where is the colour? Why do the Batman movies have to be so dark?

And most importantly, why do the marketing men feel the need to write Adam West and the 1960s TV show out of Bat-History?

It could be best summed up, as Heath Ledger once remarked when playing The Joker, Why so serious?

BILL HICKS, AN AMERICAN HERO

Something that caught my eye recently when flicking through the listings guides was not one, but two, events commemorating one of the greatest comedians of all-time, Bill Hicks.

If you know about Bill Hicks, no doubt you will have already opened up a new window to find youtube clips of him.

If you don’t know about Bill Hicks, google him. It will be the best thing you do today.

I first found out about Bill Hicks during the summer of 2002, purely by fluke.

I was sitting at home, channel hopping in the hope of finding something good. I clicked onto the Paramount Comedy channel, thinking that, as I like comedy, I might see something I like.

The show just starting was ‘Bill Hicks : One Night Stand’. I’d never heard of him, but I thought i’d give it a try. By the time the first ad break came, I was in stitches, trying to store his one-liners in my memory bank, so that I could shamelessly steal and use them at an appropriate moment.

I was instantly in love with his sense of humour. As soon as possible, I went to HMV in the City Centre. I knew they had a section for audio CDs, so I thought i’d give it a try. I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw all of his CDs for £5. I bought three of them, took them home and gave them a listen.

And what a decision it was, laugh after laugh, and one-liner after one-liner.

By this point, it was now my hope and dream that he would do a date in Belfast. That night, I logged onto the internet to find out more about him.

After typing ‘Bill Hicks’ into google, I reached his official website, then it just hit me, like a kick in the you know wheres.

I got to the homepage, and it said ‘WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF BILL HICKS, 1961-1994’. Gutted. The comedian I had just found out about, whose routines I fell in love with, and whose live show I wanted to see, had been dead for 8 years. Just gutted.

I consoled myself with the fact that I had a collection of CDs which Bill had recorded, that I could listen to. The best thing about Bill Hicks was that you didn’t know which direction the routine would go. One minute, he is talking of going on a killing spree, taking out Debbie Gibson, NKOTB and Kenny Rodgers, then joking about starting a career as a children’s entertainer called ‘Beelzebozo’, before sharing us his thoughts on American politics.

For those who know about Bill Hicks, the name Dwight Slade will be familiar. Slade was the best friend of Bill Hicks and a funny comedian in his own right. I saw him perform live in 2003. Very funny indeed.

You can’t help but think what sort of jokes Hicks would have come up with in the 15 years since his death, especially with Bill Clinton’s tomfoolery with Monica Lewinsky and George W Bush, being …….., George W Bush.

Many comedians have done funny jokes about such subject matters, but Hicks would have blown them away. The tragedy is, we never got a chance to hear it.

Hicks was a smoker, and proud of it. One of his famous lines was “I’d quit smoking if I didn’t think i’d become a non-smoker”. A man with his stored-up rage having his favourite pastime taken away from him by legislation would have been comic gold.

No point moping about what we didn’t get to hear, but rather celebrate what we did get to hear.

Looking forward to the showing of one of his live performances as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, and the screening of The Bill Hicks Story, at the QFT

See Also :

AM I A FOOL THAT SHOULD BE PITIED?

Yesterday saw the release of the trailer for the new A-Team movie.

I really don’t know what to think. Part of me is excited because it’s the A-Team, but part of me is fearful after seeing the promo photo released a few months ago that it will be absoultely shit.

It just brings back so many childhood memories, I loved The A-Team back in the day. I had an A-Team duvet, ate A-Team crisps, and in the playground, we pretended to be The A-Team with me being Murdock.

That is why I dread this movie being shit.

No doubt, this will put the original surviving stars enjoying a second helping of fame, with an ironic Facebook campaign to get ‘Mother’ by Mr T to Number One in the charts being an inevitability

The day it’s released is the day the World Cup starts. I could take the day off work, watch The A-Team in the morning, then the football later in the day.

It sounds like a plan, and I love it when a plan comes together.