>The Ladies Man

>Watched this last week with a French girl Emilie who I was travelling with. How we laughed and giggled!

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>Trouble with the Lady…???

>Italian kidnaps ex-girlfriend to get ironing done

An Italian man was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend from a pub, taking her home and forcing her to iron his clothes and wash the dishes, police said.

The 43-year-old man dragged the woman out of a pub in the port city of Genoa, shoved her into a car and took her to his home where he made her iron and wash dishes after threatening her, they said.

Police arrived at his house after being tipped off by a friend of the woman who watched the scene at the pub.

credit to Si.

The man, who was apparently furious at his ex-girlfriend for leaving him, was arrested on charges of kidnapping, police said.

Heading north

Just a quick one. In Wellington, the capital of New Zealand and the most cosmopolitian city here. Ha! But I’m here to meet a cosmopolitan man in Aaron Irving. Top lawyer. Top man. Should be fun.

Anyway, just arrived after a stunning jaunt up the West Coast of the South Island. I travelled with a French girl called Emilie. It’s a beautiful drive up that coast and we hiked up gold mine trails to waterfalls and up and over hills to viewpoints. NZ is a cracking place. Unassuming, yet brilliantly organised and stunning to look at.

It’s the rugby this weekend. I don’t hold that much out for England. The ABs aren’t that good but England has been decimated by injuries and it’s an end-of-season tour so the boys will be tired. About 12 of us will be there including Steve and Lucy and Levi. On Sunday, Levi and I are heading north to see the Bay of Islands.

But before, that I meet the Boss, Si in Auckland tomorrow for a gig and a few drinks. Always my favourite Boss, this is gonna be a cracking weekend of catch-up and fun.

I’ll get some pics up asap.

Many Russian rulers have been suffixed with the term the Great. Peter the Great is considered one of Russia?s greatest Emperors, expanding the empire and modernising the state to play an important role in the politics and coming wars of nineteenth century Europe. Russia history is littered with transformations from the empires of the Mongols, Ivan the Terrible, the Soviet Union to today?s resurgence. And Russians have an abiding love of dominating power. You saw it in their military and their Olympic weightlifters for decades and now like Rasputin pulling himself out of the Neva River, one of it’s favourite sons, Fedor Emelianenko, the greatest and most dominant fighter in the MMA era officially returns.

Fedor has had many detractors of late for his failure to face top opposition over the last 3 years. Initially the breakdown and faux-sale of the Pride Fighting Championship in 2007 to Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC left Fedor and many other fighters in limbo. In a mess of, let?s be generous and call it ?miscommunication?, much to the surprise of the UFC, Fedor turned out to be no longer under Pride contract and was able to negotiate as a free agent. He and his ominous management will cite the failed discussions with the UFC?s President Dana White which led to White bizarrely claiming Fedor wasn?t even a top 5 heavyweight. White doesn?t like or trust free agents and the negotiating positions proved insurmountable. Fedor has flirted with numerous organizations without committing to a long term contract. But that was the ultimate stumbling block with the UFC.

Despite the spite and contrary to the ranting, Fedor has been in the ring 5 times since 2005. Of course that isn’t enough and he has been certainly fairly inactive compared to his Pride days when he fought 13 times in 3 years. The real issue which has led to calls of Fedor ducking fighters or wasting his talent is the quality of opponents. The list of detractions is long; Apparent BJJ purple belt ‘Triple Sized’ Zulu who somehow got subbed by Butterbean, was crushed by Fedor in 26 seconds of brutality. The Coleman fight was painful to watch for all especially including his daughters. Coleman was desperately out of his depth. Granite-headed kickboxer Mark Hunt put up a decent battle, bravely attempting to kimura Fedor before suffering the same fate. An under-sized Matt Lindland battled well until his takedown was controversially reversed by Fedor possibly clinging to the top rope and proceeded to routinely armbar the Olympic silver medallist. Fedor’s last bout was at Yarennoka in Japan at New Year where he armbarred the out-classed Choi Hong Man in under 2 minutes. That’s under 20 minutes action in 3 years from the supposed #1 P4P fighter in the world and none of the opposition have been world class heavyweights.

But maybe times have changed. The Emperor has returned and for now is dressed in the clothing provided by Mark Cuban?s HD-Net promotion. This July 19, he will face recently released former two-time heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia. Primarily a stand-up fighter, the Miletich trained fighter has good takedown defence for a 6-8, 260lbs giant. Unlike the previous few years, Sylvia is not the forgone conclusion or the simple armbar victory we have been disappointed by with Fedor over the last few years. His size makes him dangerous and his record puts him in the top 10 heavyweights in the world. The former two-time UFC heavyweight champion has been in with some of the best in the division and come out victorious over Arlovski, Vera and Rodriguez. Even in recent defeats to Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, he has shown durability and guts not previously recognised.

But what makes Fedor so special is his handling of various different kinds of fighters. The old adage is styles make fights but Fedor, along with Anderson Silva has proved you can train for any stylist and beat them as long as you are good enough. Few other fighters have shown they can do this; Frank Shamrock being the latest to fail. Fedor has beaten dominant wrestlers in Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman (Fedor legendarily surviving a monster slam that would have crumpled King Kong), world class kickboxers like Mirko ?Crocop? Filipovic were out-struck and even the great Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the present UFC HW champion and submission master was out-grappled on the mat.

Most of this versatility comes from Fedor?s training base. He is a reigning world champion in Sambo, a Russian form of judo, as well as holding a black belt in judo. Fedor is also willing to diversify his training and train with the best to be the best wherever that might be. He moved to Amsterdam to train in kickboxing with Golden Glory. The Dutch are at the vanguard of modern kickboxing, best seen in K1 and aided Fedor greatly in his destruction of K1 veteran Gary Goodridge and dominance over K1 grand finalist Crocop. When a submission isn’t likely, Fedor has redefined ground and pound to a brutal degree. Adding to Fedor’s aura is his calmness before and during a fight. Fedor sticks to a gameplan throughout, clinically taking apart the opposition without regard for the man. Maybe it’s indicative that the only fighter who disrespected Fedor was Ogawa and he lasted under a minute until he was…yes you guessed it, armbarred. Does he have a weakness? Only physiologically. He has been cut a few times, leading to his only defeat by Kohsaka, later brutally and easily avenged.

At present Fedor has only agreed to a one fight deal with HD-Net but it maybe the start of Fedor’s Big American Adventure and undoubtedly an aid to the fledgling competition to the UFC. Whether HD-Net, Elite XC and Strikeforce can build on this kind of exposure, time will only tell. I suspect the longer term aim is a match-up with former UFC HW champion Randy Couture whose attempt to leave his UFC contract appears to have failed. According to unconfirmed reports, his UFC contract runs up in October 2008 granting us the opportunity to see a Fedor v Randy match up in late 2008. That would settle any doubters and cement either or more probably both fighter?s places in the annals of MMA history.

The fervent speculation and chatter on the boards is an indicator of much. He may only have last fought last year but we have missed Fedor. There is no ‘will he be the old Fedor’ to worry about here. This is Fedor USM, the Unstoppable Stoppage Machine. In many ways, he is the best example of modern MMA. His rounded skills along with his stony ‘Russianness’ led some to jokingly compare him to a machine. No need to worry. His quiet yet smiling demeanour and his courtesy to his opponents both before and after the bouts assure his humanity. Fedor is all class, all world class. Welcome back Emperor.

приветствуйте обратного чемпиона – welcome back champ.

I salute you, Louis Theroux

I’ve come to love this guy’s shows. We’ve seen 4 of late, where Louis innocuously attempts to probe into the weirder, slightly controversial or dark sides of man’s psyches.

First he started with plastic surgery in California, visiting 3 doctors and their patients. The doctors are all pure professional, deeply interested and impressed by themselves. The patients fell into 2 categories; the addicted and the troubled. Most placed their unsteady feet in both camps. All the patients had the surgery to feel better by looking better. One German guy later told of his stepfather who he clearly had issues with; one woman feared ageing; and one final patient had just broken up with her longtime boyfriend and consistently broke down as she went through the process. It was pretty saddening.

The process was merely commercial. Little attention is paid into why the patients wanted surgery. This was a commercial make over, not a psychological save. The doctors openly admitted as much, some gloomily, others with matter-of-fact. Louis probed inoffensively but always aiming at a certain truth. He even underwent some liposuction on his stomach, to try to understand further. But he confessed to feel guilty over it, for taking the easy option rather than exercising or just smiling with a little belly.

A second program was fairly shocking. Entitled ‘The Most Hated Family in America’, for two weeks Louis followed and interviewed the WestBoro Baptist Church in Kansas, headed by Fred Phelps and consisting of mainly his family. Phelps was an ageing, debarred lawyer who became a pastor and used his Church to preach what seemed like pure negative hate. His twisted logic led his church into confrontation with just about every group. He believed the world was controlled by non-believers, other religions and especially homosexuals. Almost every famous person who didn’t hate gays were fag enablers, allowing gays to fester and ruin God’s world. US soldiers in Iraq were fighting for a pagan America and were drawn in by God to die. The preacher sends his church followers to picket funerals of soldiers, informing the victim’s families that they deserve such grief.

Louis talks with the family, the followers which includes a former documentary filmmaker who originally met the family to expose them and the kids of the family. While as individuals and a family, he finds them pleasant and even normal, preacher Fred Phelps exhibits no such charm. His hate is clear and logic skewed. Clearly an intelligent man, he calls Louis, Screwy Louis for his interview style, a claim which is just. But it’s Phelps who has messed with his family the most, so much so that 4 of his children have left or as the Church says, ‘fallen away’. It’s a program that leaves you openly amazed and awkward.

The third show involved Louis visiting the private national parks in South Africa where animals are bred to be hunted as trophies, mainly by American tourists who wax illiterately over their deeds. Animals from giraffe to hippos and even lions are lured and then hunted with high powered rifles. Truckers, mechanics clothed in combat camouflage and baseball caps tell Louis how their heart was pounding as they take the shot through the shoulder bladders, punctuating the lungs and killing the animals within seconds. Their obliviousness of the brutality of the act when questioned is fascinating. It almost seems an illogical question to these working class men.

It’s not lost on the South Africans breeders and game wardens. With the South African economy struggling and the Rand so weak, the South Africans are ruefully trying to make a living. They fail to enjoy the hunts themselves, trying to protect certain species for compassionate rather than ecological reasons. One game park owner won’t allow giraffes shot, for he likes them. For these men, growing up in the bush was a challenge and hunting season maybe meant one kill a season. Now as payment is per animal killed, the hunt is deliberately eased for these tourist hunters to kill as much game as possible. Now multiple animals can be shot by these tourists a day, a fact that saddens the locals. Like in the plastic surgery episode, Louis attempts a shot on a warthog grazing a waterhole deliberately created to give easy access. But he couldn’t do it. It just wouldn’t be a positive action.

The last show I saw recently involved Louis spending two weeks in San Quentin Federal Prison in California. He didn’t live there but went down all the wings and talked fairly openly with the prisoners who ranged from the scary to the bizarre but always insecure and saddening. The prisoners were locked up for up to 23hrs a day and locked in single cells. only about to socialise during meal breaks and gym breaks when they immediately move into prison gangs denominated by colours; be it White, Blacks or Hispanic.

Theroux interviewed many different group and hilariously the homosexuals. As
prisons are single sex, gay men were at a premium and considered a rare treat. Homosexuals found it was easier to be more feminine inside the walls. They were treated better and were threatened less. Louis interviewed ….., a tranny who had been in and out of jail for 20 years. She was basically a hooker and so was fairly used to the system. While he portrayed female mannerisms naturally and had made some cosmetic changes, his aura felt desperately vulnerable. He was due out a few weeks but had no illusions he could be back in. We met his boyfriend of the last few weeks, a bare chested rocker of the 70s variety who wanted them to stay together despite the fact he was awaiting sentencing for multiple crimes.

That was a consistent fact in the show. There was a gentle denial of the facts of their existence. These guys weren’t getting out soon and if they were, at least 40% would be back in in a few months according to a prison guard. Because of that reason, there was an affair of familiarity between the guards and the prisoners. While there was a strict hierarchy, the guards and prisoners held conversations and laughed together. Another homosexual couple involved a former white supremacist gang member and a Jewish tranny who had just got together but had yet to make any noise. When Louis pointed out their curious relationship, the former white supremacist informed Louis he had a wife and two kids outside. What was striking was how clearly they spoke. These weren’t rednecks but people who had crossed a few lines and found it more comfortable to stay on that side.

And the intelligence streak continued with a prisoner called David, sent down for over 500 years for a series of home invasions involving torture. He ate, lived and exercised alone. Louis asked about his crimes and why he had done them. He answered thoughtfully and honestly, stating at the time he felt he needed to act that way to commit his crimes. Louis asked if he thought he made had some psychological problems but David negated. He knew what he was doing was wrong and immoral. He was no animal and was sorry for the torture imposing on his victims. He fully acknowledged they may never recover from his actions and for that he was sorry. When talking about how he’ll survive in prison, he believed you just have to change your mindset. It would no longer be about seeking love or appreciating the sunsets but changing your goals to get something extra from everyday.

Like many Louis interviews, it left you astonished. Louis has specialised in the weird, the other sides of life but he always finds the human; average joes living in tough circumstances, simply trying to get by.