The upcoming redemption drama Father Stu, a film about a real-life boxer turned priest, stars Mark Wahlberg and features Mel Gibson—two actors for whom the word “redemption” must hold particular, perhaps desperate appeal. (Wahlberg was involved in some ugly racist incidents as a teenager. Gibson, well, you know.) “Gibson—at least judging by the trailer—plays a grizzled mechanic who hates God but, and this is only a wild stab in the dark, will probably eventually come to see the light,” writes AIR MAIL’s own Stuart Heritage in The Guardian. “If this had been a one-man redemption bid, there’s a sliver of a chance that it might have worked.” So why risk hiring Gibson as well? “It’s because the film was written and directed by Rosalind Ross. And Rosalind Ross is Mel Gibson’s girlfriend.”
The online gaming platform Roblox, rated PEGI 7 in the U.K.—suitable for ages seven and older—has been hosting virtual Nazi sex parties. “The sex games created by users on Roblox are commonly referred to as ‘condos’, where people can allow their avatars to simulate sex and talk about sex with other users in an instant messenger chat box,” reported The Times of London. The newspaper said that a BBC investigation also found “a strip club, avatars dressed in Nazi uniforms, and a naked man ‘wearing just a dog collar and a lead being led across the floor by a woman in a bondage outfit.’”
A Roblox spokesperson told the newspaper that it was unlikely a child would find the condos without looking for them, and that “we take firm and swift action to remove them from the platform, using a combination of automated machine learning technology and manual intervention by our expert team of moderators.” Sounds reassuring. Perhaps less reassuring is the fact that Roblox is regarded as a kind of proto-metaverse, and the metaverse is where we’ll soon all be meeting for work and play.
It’s as close as you’re likely to get to Lady Mary Crawley and Andrew Parker, Downton Abbey’s footman, recording an album: the actors who play them, Michelle Dockery and Michael Fox, have signed with Decca, and, billing themselves as Michael and Michelle, will release the results as The Watching Silence in May. “The EP consists of four original songs with Fox and Dockery singing and on dual guitars,” reported The Guardian. “Fox was in a number of bands ranging in styles from indie to folktronica and wrote his own songs. Dockery sang on various London stages, and was inspired by the music of Joni Mitchell, Alison Krauss and Indigo Girls.” Michael and Michelle will be gigging as well, beginning in June.
A public vote to choose a Siberian zoo’s mascot turned political when an ally of the imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny threw his weight behind an orangutan as “absolutely the best option.” The orangutan, Batu, “quickly started to receive a wave of online support as a number of journalists, bloggers and deputies rallied their online followings behind him,” reported The Moscow Times. One called Batu “the candidate of the people.”
Then the mayor’s office got involved. Allegedly. In any event, Shilka, a polar-bear cub, suddenly took the lead in the voting. Following which a snow leopard called Sayan “received 25,000 votes in four hours despite the voting Web site only receiving 1,851 unique visitors,” according to the Insider news Web site. At which point the voting was shut down. A mascot will be chosen later on—by the zoo.
Does e-commerce represent “progress” and “opportunity,” or “social and ecological degradation”? In Belgium, that depends which politician you ask. According to The Guardian, the Socialist Party leader, Paul Magnette, told the Flemish newspaper Humo, “Let Belgium become a country without e-commerce…. Why do we have to let workers work in those warehouses at night? Because people want to buy around the clock and have their parcels at home within 24 hours. Can we really not wait two days for a book?”
There was pushback. Georges-Louis Bouchez, a senator in the liberal Francophone Reformist Movement party, noted, for instance, that “the 19th century cannot be a model of society.” Incidentally, The Guardian reported that “75% of Belgians aged 16 to 74 made a purchase online in 2021, just above the average among the 27 EU member states. Denmark had the highest proportion of internet shoppers (91%) and Bulgaria the lowest (33%).”
Book covers and bed covers, that is. The television writer Georgia Pritchett’s memoir, My Mess Is a Bit of a Life, was published in June, but only recently has anyone reported on her scoop about President Biden’s mother’s sleeping habits. Yes, stop the presses, at last.
Biden told Pritchett how his England-hating mother, Catherine Finnegan (who died in 2010), while stopping at a hotel where she’d been told the Queen had once stayed, “was so appalled that she slept on the floor all night, rather than risk sleeping on a bed that the Queen had slept on.” According to The Guardian, Pritchett said that Biden “made the revelation when they met in the White House during his period as vice-president,” while the writer was conducting research for Veep.
Ricky Wysocki, a 28-year-old Frisbee phenom from Arizona, has already earned a half-million dollars in prize money “and the accolades of the Professional Disc Golf Association, which has made him its player of the year four times,” reported The Times of London. He does this by “driving crowds wild as they watch him navigate courses that wind through trees and over water hazards towards ‘greens’. The hole is a basket strung with chains that catch a well-aimed plastic disc.”
Meanwhile, regarding the barely commenced debate over the origins of disc golf: Did it begin (wonders the newspaper) in the mid-70s, “when ‘Steady’ Ed Headrick, the toy inventor, created the Disc Golf Pole Hole, a forerunner of the baskets now used in the sport”? Or do its origins “lie beyond the reach of the most dedicated disc golf historians”? Readers of AIR MAIL Diary will probably never find out.
George Kalogerakis, one of the original editor-writers at Spy, later worked for Vanity Fair, New York, and The New York Times, where he was deputy op-ed editor. A co-author of Spy: The Funny Years and co-editor of Disunion: A History of the Civil War, he is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL