Monday, November 27, 2006

Pardon My Mensch

Not feeling all that well yesterday, I was languishing on the sofa trying to work out what Frank Sinatra was doing on the X-Factor. After a while it became clear that I had been unconsciously channel surfing and had alighted on a documentary about the blue-eyed one and the mafia taking credit for the election of John F Kennedy as president. They didn’t have blanket reality TV back in the sixties so they needed other means of selecting people to run the country and produce Christmas No. 1s. The ever patriotic mafia stepped into the breach.

Sam Giancana was the Simon Cowell of his day but without the bad hair. They had Brylcreem back then you see. It made for round the clock exemplary follicular behaviour . But it rendered the pillows very greasy indeed. They also had fedoras which acted as an effective camouflage for both baldness and bad hair and protected against sliding off the pillow in the middle of the night. It was difficult to sleep with a fedora on so the chances of sliding out of bed while asleep were significantly reduced. It was generally thought unwise for mafiosi to sleep anyway, especially at night.

Speaking of Brylcreem, X-Factor contender Ray should be the subject of an environmental impact assessment for the amount of product used to achieve his weekly quiff. He looks like Astro Boy. If he doesn’t win X-Factor, someone should make an Astro Boy film and get Ray to play the lead. The diminutive robot (Astro Boy, not Ray), started life as a Japanese comic book hero and was later the star of his own sixties TV show. There were over a hundred English language episodes made which explains how I managed to spend most of the sixties watching them. This could give Ray a lifelong career. He isn’t much of a singer, as the judges are at pains to point out weekly. But that never held Robbie Williams back. Simon Cowell could play the bullying circus owner Hamegg. That would not be much of a stretch.

It seems we like our heroes to grow old disgracefully so Ray could still be playing the titanium tot well into his dotage. The weekend press reports that sequels are planned for a brace of eighties action films starring the original six-packed heroes, Harrison Ford (64), Slyvester Stallone (61) and Bruce Willis, a sprightly but hairless 51. Perhaps our future holds such spangling allures as - Indiana Jones and the New Hearing Aid, Die Hard – Of Natural Causes, The Rocky Haemorrhoid Show and Rambo – Last Rites. It’s a shame there are no plans for Arnie to reprise some of his great roles. Imagine Terminator 4 – Judgement Day – The Appeals, Conan the Lollypop Man and Corneal Damage.

With sixty apparently now the new thirty-five, I finally feel at liberty never to mature, a sentiment seemingly shared by X-Factor front runner Leona who inexplicably chose to refresh the Labelle classic Lady Marmalade. Originally released in 1974 and rising to number one, the explicit lyrics of the song barely raised an eyebrow during the Mary Whitehouse years, yet Leona (21), for reasons best known to herself chose to purify the classic refrain thus,

‘Voulez-vous chanter avec moi ce soir?’

What gives? This is a song about a prostitute, n’est-ce pas? Leona would have it that Lady Marmalade is a choir mistress perhaps? Someone like Sister Sarah in Guys and Dolls – a tambourine rattling evangelist maybe? We go to all this trouble to fight censorship over hundreds of years so that someone on a singing show can re-embrace it of their own volition for no reason whatever? It’s not as if there haven’t been popular songs about prostitutes before. Cole Porter’s Love for Sale back in 1930 springs to mind. And La Bohéme – a whole opera about a prostitute is over a hundred years old. Come on Leona, let’s not be coy now. You’re going to have to get a bit jiggy-jiggy if you hope to compete with the bootylicious one you know.

I wonder why I can’t remember any of the previous series of X-Factor or any of its predecessors and then I remember – I’m not usually here this time of year. I should have packed up the flat and headed for the tropics by now. I will see this show to the bitter end. How depressing it all is. I will not miss the fright that was Eton Road. They looked like a row of scarecrow cut-out dolls all holding hands or, perhaps, wings.

Along with Astro Boy and sex-free Leona, the only X-ers left are the Scottish terrier MacDonald Brothers who would look at home on the parcel shelf of any Ford Anglia and Bryan Adams Meatloaf cross Ben. The MacDonalds should go this week and then we can forget all about the singing and just turn it into a hair flicking competition.

I’m left wondering whatever happened to ole’ blue eyes – I know that he died obviously - now he was old – I’m speaking metaphorically? How the ghosts of Sinatra, Giancana, Martino and Luciano ring. Show business was so much more exciting when there was some separation between gangster and singer. Can we not get the Sopranos in to liven the voting up a bit and maybe move the whole shebang to Vegas? Simon? Sharon? You’d be up for that surely. And Louis, wouldn’t it be easier than commuting from London to San Francisco every week just to play that leprechaun on Charmed?


Penless Artist said...

Leona, perhaps, is vying to be the new Weird Al Yankovic. We'll have to keep an ear open for her freshy-fresh remake of Weird Al's "Like a Surgeon".

Ms Baroque said...

I'm for Ray. Even more so now you've said Astro boy - that was it! (though he also is a little like an Astro Osmond - but we'll ignore that.)

Porny Boy Curtis said...

Ha, I have been spluttering about the pointless change to the lyrics as well. Ray as Astro Boy is the perfect description.

That's so pants said...

Penless - damn fine idea. You are wasted over there in Belgium.

Ms B - Ray also has a fair smattering of Eddie Munster too - I wonder if it's too late to cast him in the upcoming big screen outing.

PB - Just as well some of us have our ears to the ground. They'll be plastering fig leaves all over Turner Prize entries soon. We must be ever vigilent.

Anonymous said...

I love Die Hard - of Natural Causes.