You think Donald Trump is as bad as it gets?
Up in smoke
BE careful what you wish for…The Paisley-born film star Gerard Butler is a big cheerleader for Israel. At the beginning of the month in Los Angeles he, and other Hollywood luvvies, helped raise $60 million for the Israeli army, the IDF. So enamoured of the country is Butler that on a recent visit to Israel he said: “I always love being here. One day I’ll come here for a vacation and just stay until I’m called elsewhere. I’ll ask someone to burn my house down in Los Angeles so I won’t have anywhere to go back to and I won’t have any choice but to stay in Israel.” Last week that wish came true.
ANDREW NEIL, also from Paisley, was getting pelters during the week for tweeting during one late night about journalist Carole Cadwalladr, a “mad cat woman”, and Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie, a “miserable Jock”, after Boab had refused to make a fool of himself by dad-dancing with the aged presenter on his show This Week. I have my own story about Andra’ and a ladder but, frustratingly, I can’t get it past the libel lawyers. The tweets have raised a predictable stushie about the alleged rightwing bias of “Brillo” when appearing on the BBC.
It’s well known he is a Tory, Thatcherite and a Brexiteer but I’ve always found his interviewing largely evenhanded. It’s just that you can’t envisage a left-wing journalist with mirror-image views getting a crack at it. But it goes too far when Neil gives subliminal messages on TV while wearing a £25 tie emblazoned with the logo of the Adam Smith Institute, the cranky right-wing think-tank.
Smith may have been a philosopher and a Scot but the institute is as American as a mass school shooting, with just a UK arm in Westminster. Its funding is opaque but it has taken money from big tobacco and various neocon and Christian sources. One of those, the John Templeton Foundation, gave $1.2m to fund a film on the Magna Carta, to be distributed free to schools and teachers. The company that produced it, WAG TV, is owned by Martin Durkin, a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who has moved as far across the political landscape as it is possible to do without falling off the edge (or perhaps he has?). WAG has brought us such lulus as “Storm in a D-Cup”, about how the medical dangers of silicone implants have been exaggerated, “The Rise and Fall of GM”, in favour of genetic modification, and the “Great Global Warming Swindle”, about, well, you’ve guessed it.
But back to Neil and those 3am tweets, which he has now deleted. A message. Andrew, as a man who went to fee-paying Paisley Grammar, where they pride themselves on their education, it really is inexcusable to drop an incorrect inverted comma into a Twitter diatribe – it’s Simpsons, not Simpson’s! – when slagging Karol Kodswallop.
Help charity cash in
IF you want to speculate a little and also help those affected by homelessness then you could buy some Scotcoins and also give to your family and friends this Christmas. The cryptocurrency that is negotiating to become our national one – and the recent Brexit events can’t have harmed that – has teamed up with Social Bite, the charity that hires homeless people for its cafes and restaurant. For every £20 spent on Scotcoin between now and the end of January a fiver goes to the charity. Those Scotcoin holders will also get a four-for-one bonus if they hold on to them until the currency moves to its own blockchain which, although it sounds like a medieval torture regimen, is apparently the doofur that buys and sells and protects it.
Taking the Mickey
IT’S 90 years today since Mickey Mouse made his first appearance in a cartoon called Steamboat Willie, which had nothing to do with the sobriety, or otherwise, of Bill, but the adventures of a rodent with a crackly falsetto voice – although
that voice wasn’t heard, from the pipes of Walt Disney, until a year later in the Karnival King. Curiously, I have known several Mickeys in my working life. It was the moniker of choice of print work casuals who signed in for their pay using it. Us hacks just forged receipts for expenses. Those days have gone of course, together with Linotypes, Underwood stand-up typewriters and three blacks (carbons). Regrets…?
Trump Mk II?
YOU think Trump is as bad as it gets? Another cracker is about to enter the race for the top job in the United States, apart from Hillary Clinton that is. John McAfee claims he will run in 2020, although he holds out little prospect of winning (but probably The Donald was saying that too, early on). McAfee is the man who formed the company that produced the eponymous and universally-used anti-virus software. He’s 73, ages with Trump, and was born in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. In 1996 McAfee sold out, with a reported fortune of $100m, and moved to Belize, where he started a company to make natural antibiotics.
It was in Belize it started to go wrong for him. In 2012 a US citizen called Gregory Viant Faull, who was McAfee’s neighbour, was murdered. His neighbour then became a “person of interest” to the police investigating the killing. McAfee fled to Guatemala and was later arrested for entering the country illegally and eventually deported to the US.
McAfee is an apostle for cryptocurrencies. In 2016 he became chairman and CEO of MGT Capital Investments, a technology holding company, which he moved into the mining of bitcoins. In September this year the Securities and Exchange Commission, one of America’s main financial regulators, launched an investigation into the company. McAfee and MGT are also being sued by investors who claim a group of MGT insiders made $27m by selling stock at artificially high prices, prices that were partly generated by the announcement of an illusory deal with a “cybersecurity innovator who had created a popular antivirus software bearing his name” (guess who?).
If all of this isn’t just a bit Trumpian then there’s McAfee’s views on women. “I don’t trust a woman who doesn’t charge money for sex,” he tweeted last week. This after he claimed a waitress handed him a note saying she wanted to bed him, in rather more crude and colourful terms. He followed this by, “Folks from my prior tweet don’t believe a beautiful woman would throw themself [sic] at a 73 year old man who looks like a shriveled testicle….It happens constantly – at conferences, many times a day. Every wealthy man – the same.”
He may have a real chance in 2020.
Art of the deal
DO you know what Klecksography art is? Neither did I until last week. It’s a fancy name for an ink blot. Think Rorschach Test without having to think about it. Think what a two-year-old does with a paint brush and there you have it. Johnny Depp has done one. He’s a big art collector, at least he was until the break-up of his marriage to Amber Heard.
And his blot, folded over and smoothed out, has led to 100 limited edition prints of it. It’s said to look like a pirate’s skull, or surely two?
And, together with a Depp photograph of him holding it and his signature on a certificate testifying to its Deppness, one can be yours for £300. Fifty pounds of each sale will go to the UK charity Rethink Mental.
Next year the original, together with others from celebs Orlando Bloom, Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran, will be sold off to benefit the charity. If asked, my ink well is primed.
Gerard Butler’s home was among those hit by the latest fire in California, above, while Mickey Mouse, opposite page, and Johnny Depp, top, are other Hollywood figures in the spotlight this week for different reasons.