Tuesday, November 29, 2005
A: I am still alive.
B: I'm aware the pictures on all my older posts have vanished, this is because the site that was hosting them exploded (for reasons too pathetic to go into here). Anyway, they should be back when I have the time and inclination to heft them all over to my new image hosting site. For now, you will have to use your imagination.
C: George Best died, and I fully intend to mark his passing by doing a celebratory Rumba on his grave. The media have wheeled out the usual dead-sportsman line on his death, proclaiming him a "hero," "genius," and other such superlatives incompatible with a washed up ex-footballer who killed himself with his own lack of impulse control, despite being given a second chance at life in the form of a liver transplant that really should have gone to someone who was actually ill instead a boozy cunt who happened to be famous. Conversely, we have seen almost nothing about the death of Alfred Anderson, one of only four remaining World War I veterans, right after Remembrance Sunday.
Still, while I watch actual news sidelined to make way for football pundits' ten-minute-long tearful farewells to the stupid dead old dogfucker, I am comforted by the fact that now he's corpsemeat, he'll no longer be a drain on the health system. George best was A National Treasure, and I've always thought the best way to keep treasure is to bury it.
This month also sees the sad passing of William Hootkins, the actor who bought to life the unforgettable character of Porkins in the first Star Wars film. Y'know, the big fat bloke who explodes by accident during the Death Star battle. I urge you all to light a candle for ol` Porky.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Fortunately this year my house has remained utterly unbothered by trick or treaters (who around here take the shape of sweatsuit-wearing four year olds out on their own without any kind of costume on, demanding sweets). Possibly word started to spread of the small, withered carcasses slowly drying on hooks in my larder, and how their ranks swell every October. The local children now know to steer well clear of the Meathook House.
On the way back home this evening I noticed a lot of lame costume choices walking the streets. Matrix outfits seemed to be a popular choice amongst corpulent adults, while the kids' favourite seemed to be Spiderman. How Spiderman and Neo are meant to be scary I don't know, although I concur that watching Tobey Maguire and Keanu Reeves act is quite terrifying. Right, gang?
Anyway, it prompted me to think up some "alternative" Halowe'en costumes. Perhaps the following suggestions will give people some better ideas for next year's festivities. A fat bearded white bloke dressed up as Morpheus is scary, but not in in the "fun" way.
From, of course, Shaun of the Dead. Affect a white shirt with red tie and name tag, black trousers and shoes. Complete the ensemble by getting some red on you, and wielding a cricket bat. A Winchester rifle is a possible alternative, but only if you are fairly confident you won't end up being shot to death by over-eager armed policemen. If possible, coerce an overweight friend into playing the role of Ed.
The ultimate badass horror film hero is bristling with Halloween costume potential. Blue longsleeved shirt, manly work boots and trousers, razor-sharp jawline and chainsaw for a right hand. If you own the special edition Evil Dead DVD in the spongy "book of the dead" packaging, carry that around with you, demanding primitive screwheads that you be returned to your own time. If you're really dedicated, actually saw your right hand off. A sawnoff shotgun rounds off the costume, and again makes you fair game for trigger-happy coppers. Also, throw copies of the awful Evil Dead computer games at people. That's a whole fresh kind of terror.
Dye your hair grey, get a set of gold earrings, and watch with amazement as you are magically transformed into Most Haunted's faux-psychic bullshit artist. Walk around "sensing auras", getting posessed by "robed figures" and calling up the spirits of the dead by inarticulately spouting half-arsed psychic bollocks in your utterly drab, non-mystical Liverpudlian accent. Bonus points for tricking gullible people into thinking they are talking to recently-deceased loved ones and then charging them a handsome premium for the privilege of being exploited by your bare-faced unapologetic charlatanry.
Indiana Jones Gestapo Dude
The chap with the terrifying coathanger from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Work on your vaguely pervy german accent, then walk around on Halloween night, heiling the crap out of some Hitler. If you're feeling adventurous, get your makeup out and recreate the "melt scene".
Big Trouble In Little China's levitating demon emperor. Especially good if you are actually Chinese or can walk through walls, or both (all Chinese people can do this, but they keep it a secret). Also, you get a choice of the two different Lo Pans - the little basket case in the wheelchair, or the twelve foot tall roadblock.
The punchline in many a not-funny internet nerd joke, this is one for people who like a challenge -the challenge being that to accurately portray Cthulhu, you'll have to design and build a costume that not only accurately resembles Lovecraft's fabled bat/squid/fat guy/god/whatsit, but actually drives people insane at the sight of it. Extra credit for squamousness and rugosity.
Derek from Bad Taste
The second Derek on the list. Yes, he's a Derek, and Dereks don't quit. Affect a Peter Jackson accent ("what are you dirty hoo-ers doin` on my plenet?"), get a long scarf, chainsaw and, most importantly of all, tie your belt around your head to stop your brain from falling out. For added impact, get some offal from your local butcher and periodically attempt to stuff it back into your ruptured cranium.
Invisible Huge Monster from Lost
Easy, this one. Just hang around in the woods, play some ungodly, horrifying roars on a powerful speaker system and knock over a few trees. But make sure nobody sees you, or you'll ruin the mystery. Are you a dinosaur? Are you a ghost? Are you God? Or are you a physical manifestation of all the survivors' subconscious fears and desires, suggesting that the series' creators owe quite a lot to 1950s science fiction film The Forbidden Planet? Does anyone give a flying testicle?
The Master Chief
I know the Chief is not in the least bit spooky, but I wanted an opportunity to make a "Halo-Ween!!!!" joke. Apologies.
That's all I can think of for now. Bugger off, you bastards.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Kakapo are superb. That's all you need to know about them.
A malicious rumour about me has been circulating recently - people are saying that I was raped by Howard from the Halifax adverts. This is total fiction. While I did rape an ape and then steal his cape (as a souvenir), I have never had any contact, sexual or otherwise, with that man. The only explanation I can think of is that he raped someone else and mistook them for me on account of his comically thick spectacles.
A Google image search for "Howard from Halifax" yielded this picture. This probably means something.
I am moderately drunk, on fortified wine. Seriously fortified wine. This wine's got a fuckin` moat and drawbridge. And like all drunks, I am inclined to tell everyone how drunk I am. Nobody is around for me to tell at the moment, so I am telling the Internet instead. I am also drunk on VICTORY, because I just slaughtered Mr. Jerky and his "insane" friend Mr. Beardo in four consecutive Unreal Tournament matches. I wore those fuckers like cheap cologne. I AM THEIR MUM, AND I JUST TOOK THEM TO SCHOOL IN THE CAR OF PAIN. Anyway, I am that kind of drunk where I giggle in an imbecilic manner at everything I type, believing it to be Comedy Gold, only to wake up the following morning, review, and realise that I have produced a bigger load of shit than Bernard Manning on laxatives.
I have been with Claudia for two years from tomorrow, which is brag-able. We spent the weekend being all cooey and lovey-dovey and generally disgusting and pissing off everyone around us, and it was splendid. Speaking of pissing people off, on the way back from town today there was possibly the most annoying girl who has ever sat in front of me on the bus sitting in front of me on the bus. She was one of those Crazy Students whose vocabulary consists of "how random!" and "actually". This one had the particularly annoying trait of saying 'et cetera' constantly and pronouncing it "IG-SETCH-RA". I bet she has a blog where she posts her "thoughts" which she thinks are in the slightest bit original. Oh.
I've been making aeroplane kits. It is incredibly fiddly and annoying, but ultimately it is deeply satisfying when I am done and can stick the finished model on my book shelf and wait for it to fall off. It's like an allegorical lesson that toil and hard work pay off in the end, even in iredeemably nerdy pursuits.
Plane fans will recognise this as a Chance-Vought F4U Corsair. Normal people will recognise it as a waste of time.
Right, enough. It's past my bedtime and my face is falling off. Goodnight!
Friday, September 30, 2005
Fergus Braemar Glennoggie McShortbread - Doomed Scotsman
My computer clock always runs fast. It’s been doing so for years. Every week I have to set it back about a half hour or so. Is there a way to correct this?
Garrgh! It's no good laddie, I'm done for. But ye might make it back, if'n I stay here an' watch yer back. Aye, ye go when the barrage is done, and I'll stay here with me gun and make sure none o' them German heathens follow ye. Just do me one favour, boy - when they find me, make sure they bury me with me tam'o-shanta.
I've got icons scattered all over my desktop, how do I organize them?
Gaaakk! Me number's up, bairn. Ah've stopped me last bullet and ah'm goin' fast. Ye'd better get on the noo, they'll be comin' this way afore long. Just don't forget yer old pal Fergus and don't forget what he told ye. An' don't ye forget what he died for, neither. Ah'll ask of ye one thing and nothing more - tell them to bury me with me sporran.
When I go into Windows XP, there aren't any file extensions, such as exe, jpg
or txt shown on any of my files. I'd like to change this, but how?
Ye've been a braw pal to me, lad. But noo I'm goin' where ye can't follow. The pearly gates be openin `afore me! Ah can see the wide, green glen! Me fair hame! Think kindly o` me when I'm gone, lad, and dinnae forget the deeds I did an` the things I taught ye. On a cold nicht, when the moon is broad, remember me, and raise yer glass to yer ol' pal Fergus. That's all I ask.
When I try to delete files, sometimes I see a message saying "this file is currently being used by Windows and can't be deleted". How do I delete these files?
Ah'll no hear another word about it, lad. Ah'm old, but ye've got yer whole life aheed of ye. Stay here, and ah'll go in yer place. Now ye make sure ye live through this, and ye go back home to yer wee bairn and live a good life. Just make sure they bury me with me pipes.
I wrote into your column last month about having issues with my CD burner and you suggested that I go on without you because you'd just slow me down. I'm humbled by your selflessness but it's not helping me change my priority settings. More detailed advice would be much appreciated.
I'm gutshot, laddie! Ah followed the skirlin` o' the pipes in tae the jaws o'death! Kiss me noo, then walk away and dinnae look back. Ye'll nae see me again.
My question is regarding a problem that occurred when I tried to copy a folder with all my MS Word files to my USB jump drive. I think I may have accidentally moved the folder instead of copied it, but the folder never appeared on my Drive E: for the jump drive. I then attempted to do a System Restore to a previous day to recover the files, but that did not totally solve the problem. I can now see the folder and the files within the folder, but I cannot open them. I get an error message that says the file is already in use. Is there any way I can recover my files?
Fucked if I know, lad.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Did I ever tell you about Titless Pete? He was titless alright. He was called that because he got caught in a friendly fire incident during the first Iraq war, whilst waiting for a bus in Dagenham. An Apache pilot mistook him for Baghdad and shot a Hellfire missile at him. His nipples were simply vapourised in the explosion.
By some miracle, the rest of Pete survived comparatively unscathed, but the experience left him deeply traumatised and to add insult to injury, the American government billed him for the missile to the tune of $600,000.
Anyway, the whole incident wrecked his marriage and he spent some time on the streets, before he got a job writing angry letters to Teletext. He specialised in demands for a return to capital punishment. You could always tell if a letter was one of Pete's if it ended with "and I'd pull the lever myself!".
Once he'd saved up enough money from his new job, he travelled to Switzerland to have
a pioneering restorative procedure to get his nipples back. It was a complete success to begin with, but unfortunately the nipples rejected him. Embittered, he returned home to his job, and started writing letters insulting cuckoo clocks, yodelling and Swatches, until one day he was found dead in his flat with a Swiss Army Knife protruding from his back. No arrests were ever made.
Many stories have a moral, but this one has two.
A: Nipples maketh the man.
B: Don't fuck with the Swiss.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
I went to an airshow at Duxford on Saturday with dad, Justin, Shane and his daughter, which was excellent. We were able to get in free by virtue of my brother's Mob Connections, which was also excellent. I filled my camera with images, too many to post here, so instead you can follow this link to aeroplaney goodness: http://www.maj.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=97511
Despite rain, it was a great day out for all involved, and there were some pretty amazing things to see, including a Tornado jet (loudest noise I have ever, ever heard in my entire life) 12 spitfires in the air simultaneously (first time I have ever been emotionally affected by the sight of some aeroplanes) A B-17 flying fortress (accompanied by the commentator's absolutely hilarious, incoherent ramblings about Those Barmy Brussells Beauraucrats and their devilish schemes) plus various other aerial delights. There was also a big market selling all kinds of aviation paraphenalia, and in among the endless stalls selling incomplete Airfix models, I found a couple of unbelievably cheap army surplus stalls where I got an ammo box, a hat for Claudia, and an old US Airforce jacket, with "U.S. AIR FORCE" written on it. At another stall I noticed there was a box full of old army and airforce name tags, possibly wrenched from the stilll-warm corpses of American servicemen. Anyway, they were only 50p each, so I got one for my jacket. I am now "FLYNT". Grr!
In other news, I heard "we" (the England cricket team) actually didn't lose the cricket for once, an event which has prompted thousands of people to flock to Trafalgar Square to pay homage to the "heroes" for doing what they were paid an absolutely jaw-dropping sum of money to do. Not that I'm having a go or anything. It's great that they won but the media is always so hasty to label victorious sportsmen as heroes, while the people who work constantly to save people's lives barely get a look-in. People like doctors, policemen, firefighters and refenestrators need to be paid their due.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
I drew hats.
Hello fartknocker. Under pressure of numerous requests and vague threats to update my fucking shit (motherfucker), I'm doing just that. The main reason I have not updated is because I've been experiencing a "creative slump" lately, bought on by the fact that I'm not really anxious or frustrated about anything. I'm feeling pretty great. As Klein observed when her artist friend encountered a creative block, "contentment is the enemy of invention". So I'll just rattle on and on about boring toss nobody's going to read. That ought to shut people up.
I turned 20 a week ago. I'm not a teenager anymore, but I can't say I feel much different. I am still jobhunting, still the same height, my hair is still atrocious and my back is still covered in agonising Black Death-style spots, and I still think you have a shifty look about you.
Business as usual, except I have a zero in my age for the first time in ten years. Cor, fancy that! Oh, and I'm also now addicted to flapjacks. Flapjacks are to me what TEH DONUT is to The Internet's Mark. You should try them, especially yogurt-topped Blackfriars flapjacks. They are sixteen kinds of dope, dogg.
It's an axe. Feel the weight.
I've been getting back into history lately and I have become a Viking fanboy. I can't get enough of reading about those guys, with their beards and bravado and debauchery and longships and healthily take-it-or-leave-it attitude to their excellent pantheon of completely fucking psychotic gods. Oh, and their capacity to kill stuff for basically no reason at the slightest provocation.
I might do a post totally dedicated to them sometime. Anyway, I had a Viking-themed birthday and recieved tons of Norse-centric gifts. Put together, my friends and family purchased me all but one of the sets in the gorgeous new Lego Vikings range, and my dad bought me a big, beautiful, goddamned Viking AXE, which is one of the best birthday presents I've ever recieved. It's properly weighted for fighting so it's a joy to swing it around, and the composite iron/steel blade can be sharpened if I so desire. I am praying for a zombie outbreak at this stage. I also recieved some neat books from my brother, including the Judge Dredd story 'America', which is now my absolute favourite Dredd book ever.
Claudia is suitably amazed
Post-birthday I paid a clandestine visit to Claudia in Birmingham for various activities. We visited various shops and eating establishments and generally had a gay old time, except totally heterosexual. I will not see her again for a month as she ludicrously claims to be going to "America", in the genuine belief that it is actually a real place. People will believe anything they see on TV these days. She has promised to buy me a load of tourist souvenir tat from Washington and New York, and she'd better, because I am not letting her back into England otherwise.
Joe lieks teh alcohol.
I then went to Little Joe's "manor" and we drank lots of alcohol but I don't think it worked because I didn't proposition a barmaid then vomit on her tits and wake up the following day feeling like I wanted to die, which I gather is what's meant to happen when you get drunk. Needless to say I was disappointed. We then watched Viking-tastic action film The 13th Warrior and went out and drank more. I really enjoyed seeing Joe again and also my new-fangled ability to drink ALCOHOL in PUBS with A FRIEND, but I still don't like the fact that one is quite literally pissing one's money up the wall on intoxicating liquids when one could be spending that money on DVDs and useless merchandise that'll last you a lifetime or until you get bored of it and take it down Oxfam. I passed an Oxfam recently and the window display was absolutely chock full of Star Trek videos, merchandise and spinoff books. Someone, somewhere, has died a virgin.
That same day, I visited Woolwich's newly-opened GameStation store, and braving the dense clumps of unmoving human refuse I am reliably informed are called "chavs", I discovered a copy of Max Payne 2 for £7. I think that's about the right price for it. I got through the whole game in less than a week and found it to be a sporadically enjoyable experience. Certain sections of the game were so much fun I found myself quickloading after I'd wasted all the goons so I could go back and do it again. But many bits had me biting holes in the upholstery out of frustration as I arbitrarily died time and time again. That is no fun. I find it oddly perverse to make a game that gives you the ability to slow down time and behave like a movie action hero but then discourages you from doing so with extremely unforgiving gameplay and skimpy amounts of health and ammo. The environments are pretty boring as well, with repeated visits to a fun house modelled on an imaginary Twin Peaks-style TV program that's all over the game despite the fact that exactly nobody is likely to give two shits about it besides the guy who came up with the idea and thought he was a right old clever clogs for doing so. Pah. The ragdoll physics are great fun though. Shotgunning some mook into a pile of boxes and watching them fly everywhere never, ever gets old.
Hunter S Thompson lieks teh alcohol too but he is worried because he has lost his hat.
And finally, dear old dead Hunter S. Thompson was finally laid to rest last week, shot out of an enormous cannon as per his will. They cremated him first obviously, they didn't just fire a decomposing body into the sky and wait to get sued by the poor bastard whose front lawn gets splattered in maggot-riddled Gonzo giblets. Anyway, it was an appropriately unique sendoff for a unique man. I doubt we'll see his kind again any time soon. He was a product of a particular time in history, a one-off, never intended for mass production. Always wearing the right coat while travelling outside the realms of possibilities. He was old for a man of such tastes, and I knew he had to go sometime soon, I just wish he'd died in a more spectacular fashion. Blowing his face off with a shotgun has a suitably classical, Hemingway-esque quality to it, but I'd much rather he'd died in a hail of police bullets after a final mescaline-induced freakout or somesuch. I'm afraid Thompson may be remembered more for his drug-addled sociopathic behaviour rather than his journalism, and this would be a horrible shame.
Reading his work is like having your brain enhanced without the benifit of the substances which he himself regularly huffed, smoked, injected, drank or otherwise mutated himself with.
Ah well, If there's a Heaven, and I hope to God there is, I know he's up there, drunk off his ass and smokin` shit. I hope you enjoyed the ride, Doctor Thompson.
In other news I've heard that Mr. Jerky likes Orc Points:
Sunday, June 26, 2005
With Sheriff John Bunnell (retired)
Hi, I’m Sheriff John Bunnell. In 25 years as an officer of the law, I saw a lot of high-speed chases, bank heists, convenience store holdups, drug deals gone bad, and a lot more. But no matter how experienced you are, the job can still take you by surprise. That’s why I’m here tonight to provide you with an insight into your future, and perhaps the criminal mind itself.
All the horoscopes you are about to see are taken from REAL Tarot readings by REAL psychics in America and across the globe. Because on the streets, when the going gets tough, the tough realign their chakras.
These are The World’s Wildest Police Horoscopes.
Aries - March 21 to April 19
This week, you yearn for the strength to break free from your emotional cocoon and embark upon a journey of self discovery. But be warned - no matter how far you run, no matter how well you hide, if you make the mistake of running from the Baker County Sheriff's Department, you'll be making an altogether different kind of journey - a journey into the back seat of a police cruiser!
Taurus - April 19 to May 20
Busting through stop signs as if they were green lights, a sense of disaffection at work careens straight into your emotional meridian! As the heavy traffic of Rush Hour starts to kick in, Cops will have to work fast before this vague feeling of malaise snowballs into a full-scale catastrophe!
Gemini - May 20 to June 21
This week's scenario is highlighted by your ability to multitask and balance your act - a skill you're sorely in need of when these Georgia patrolmen administer the DUI test after you're clocked barrelling down the highway at ninety miles per! Later, it is discovered that not only were you driving at FIVE TIMES the legal limit... you were also high on a deadly cocktail of street-bought methamphetamines! Now these Virginia State Troopers have one less drug-crazed maniac to worry about, and you've learned an important lesson: You may try to evade the long arm of the law, but the further you run, the longer it gets!
Cancer - June 21 to July 22
Indecision, even when self-imposed, is not an easy place to be. You'll soon be faced with a choice of which way to turn. You can try the high way, the low way, or the freeway, but in the end you won't GET A-WAY from determined police officers! And soon you'll be learning all about another place that isn't so easy to be - THE COUNTY JAIL!
Leo - July 22 to August 22
Lazy Leo, this week your horoscope is dominated by the need to take control and accept responsibility for your actions. But luckily, you'll have a lot of time to think about responsibility - BEHIND BARS!
Virgo - August 22 to September 23
One by one, the blocks in your path to self actualisation are being removed - though you may be a little in the dark as to what lies ahead for you. These Sheriff’s Deputies prefer it that way - it allows them to lay down Stinger spike strips in the path of your destructive rampage! Moments later and the trap is sprung! Virgo speeds straight over the spike strips, popping all four tires! Running on rims only, with sparks flying from the back of the vehicle like the tail of a comet, you have a moment of clarity, doing the first smart thing you’ve done all day, and surrendering to the police.
Libra - September 23 to October 23
An upsurge of magnetism in your personal and professional relationships will see an old flame return to your life, T-boning a tanker and showering the stolen SUV with pure gasoline! Only moments ago, cops were attempting to bring this renegade to justice - but now they fight to rescue the culprit from the twisted remains the vehicle before it goes up in flames!
Scorpio - October 23 to November 22
Careening the wrong way down this busy freeway, it’s only a matter of time before inspirational Mercury misjudges, and when it does, the results are terrifying - the sedan ricochets off the side of this eighteen-wheeler like a pinball! Just listen to the sound the car makes as it hits the central divider! Incredibly, he’s still conscious, and take off on foot into nearby woodlands. However, the suspect’s courage runs out when K-9 units are bought into hunt him down. This renegade celestial convergence took police on a blistering chase spanning three separate counties, but dedicated officers took the fugitive off the streets - and into a holding cell!
Sagittarius - November 22 to December 21
Things in the workplace will move swiftly, and the time between proposal and action may be refreshingly short - but not as short as THIS Sagittarius' temper when he refuses to accept the ticket and takes a wild swing at Officer Pendlebury!
It started as a twenty dollar fine for a cracked tail light, but because this HOTHEADED culprit couldn't keep his COOL, he's going down for felony assault! He'll have plenty of time to COOL OFF now - IN THE COOLER!
Capricorn - December 21 to January 20
Mars in your emotional house makes you a mess of conflicting wants and desires, spiralling out of control and fishtailing on this dusty, unpaved desert road. Unless you learn to control your impulses, it's only a matter of time before your worst fears become fender-crunching, tire-shredding, rim-rattling reality!
Aquarius - January 20 to Febuary 19
Boxed in by the cruisers, Saturn barrels wildly across the front lawn of your Relationship House, narrowly missing a pedestrian! This horoscope just turned serious. DEADLY serious!
Pisces - Feburary 19 to March 21
Amazingly nobody is killed, and you survive to stand trial.
A PAUL STOJANOVICH PRODUCTION
Monday, June 20, 2005
My oversized collection of tat, in its full glory.
A happy Halo family. The Master Chief and attendant Spartan homies, plus one of the developmentally disabled Human Marines, a lovable Grunt and a chunky Elite.
Earthworm Jim! Through the soil he did crawl! Also Mulder & Scully, Robocop, some Quake marines, and a still-packaged Jesus Christ, probably "inspired" by Kevin Smith's Buddy Christ.
A couple of old Mister T figures which I had long before it was cool to ironically worship Mister T. This means I am better than you.
My childhood collection of Dr. Who guys. Note my rubbish taste in the Doctor's companions. Except for K-9, he was fuckin` harsh.
A selection of gorgeous Star Wars vehicles made by Micro Machines. Some of these have recently been re-released by Hasbro, but tragically lacking the tiny little pilot figures who could sit in the cockpits.
The baddest motherfucker in all of Middle Earth.
"Get away from her, you BITCH." Ripley tears the Alien Queen a new ovipositor. Mars Attacks Martian tries not to get involved.
It's just a flesh wound.
He-Man and Skeletor, plus Destro and a Cobra soldier guy. Cobra Commander has passed out.
Some of my Lego stormtrooper army, acquired via the magic of ebay.
There, I hope you enjoyed that. If you didn't you really should have, you ungrateful bunch of bastards. There's tons more to see but my uploading gland is aching after all that hardcore mouse clicking, so I'll save the rest for another day.
In other news, I've been reading about this "Freedom Awards" thing that celebrates FREEDOM of expression by way of presenting AWARDS to blog authors who go above and beyond the call of duty to whinge about how George Bush is evil and stupid. I think I should win an award for putting up with those people trying to pass off base political observations as PROFOUND INSIGHTS. I will accept this award in the form of a functioning solid gold space shuttle or a bottomless barrel of chocolate eclairs.
Monday, June 13, 2005
I don't know what kind of idiot thought it'd be a good idea to put a picture of the World Trade Center on a sign for an estate agent. It's not an image that's generally associated with structural durability. Also, I like how their web address spells the company name incorrectly.
It's reassuring to know I'm being experimented on.
I just feel sorry for the guy the "ICE" landed on.
This one's from the scum-infested council estate which I live on the edge of. For some reason the permanently intoxicated teenage mothers and their millions of illiterate rat-faced spawn just ain't interested in Family Fun Day.
Who left that there?
Sunday, June 12, 2005
STAR WARS: THE SERIES
grim, sobering stories of youth violence, terrorist attacks and genocide, punctuated by blatant psychological manipulation, randomly-insterted spooky "wooooooooo!" noises and a large trasparent cackling death's head flashing on and off in the middle of the screen throughout the entire programme. This week's edition takes a look at all the horrible things young people in hoodies might do to you, why you oughtn't to trust foreigners, and continues the countdown of 100 Greatest Reasons To Never Go Outside. Hosted by Nick Ross.
faux-memories include hiding behind the sofa from Daleks and why that Only Fools And Horses episode where Delboy falls through the bar is the crowning cultural achievement of the 20th century.
of herpes. Followed by:
reducing the show's running time of sixty-seven seconds. Followed by:
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Here's what I thought about various different aspects of the film.
The dialogue, thank Jesus, has improved. Some of the jokes actually made me giggle. Ian McDiarmid gets some great lines to chew on, and everyone else does their best with what they're given. Unfortunately, there's been no improvement in the writing when it comes to Anakin and Padme's conversations. At one point Anakin utters this clunker: "You look so beautiful because of how much I love you."
Retch. That line is so awful wouldn't even make it onto a poorly-translated Japanese Valentine's Day card.
Yoda's forced backwards-speak is similarly annoying. In his original appearances, Yoda only did this occasionally - when he really had something important to say to Luke, he'd drop the speech impediment and talk properly. Now, however, it has grown from a funny linguistic eccentricity into the defining point of Yoda's entire frigging character. He does it ALL THE BLOODY TIME, including when he's ordering clone troopers around. Would you like it if you were in a huge chaotic battle and your sergeant was barking orders at you in incomprehensible reverse-English?
"Around the survivors, a perimiter create!"
Oh, and he doesn't do that crazy little squeaky chuckle anymore. Boo.
The plot has to be the best of the prequel trilogy. I thought Anakin's perversion to the Dark Side was written quite well, especially the way it stems from love rather than pure malice. It actually makes you feel sorry for Vader, casting his character in a new light.
The spectacularly nasty way Palpatine manipulates Anakin's feelings is well-played - he lures Anakin into the dark by exploiting his fear about his wife dying, and also by quite simply being nicer to the chap than his own fellow Jedi are. The one weak point I can think of is Anakin's strangling of Padme towards the end of the film. This girl is the reason he switches sides and turns into a bastard.
He does it all out of love for her, and so it makes no sense for him to do this, unless he's just disciplining her, trailer-trash style: "Why you always gotta make me Force Choke you, baby?"
It could have simply been that by this point he was so far gone and drunk on his own power that he no longer gave a shit about her, but after he's been encased in his trademark black armour, the first thing he asks the Emperor is if she's okay, which sort of blows that line of reasoning. All in all though, the events in this film are suitably epic, and a definite improvement on that whole “bunch of evil Japanese capitalist aliens blockades some stupid planet nobody cares about” affair.
I will not dispute that a lot of the computer effects in the new films are jaw-droppingly good - it's just that they're everywhere, all the time, when they really don't need to be. Even dialogue scenes which ought to focus on character interaction are jammed full of eye-boggling computer-generated bollocks going on everywhere and distracting you from what's going on in the foreground. To convey the sheer size of the kind of titanic battles the new films have played host to, CGI is essential - but Lucas uses it for practically everything else as well, including sets and costumes. Part of the attraction of watching the old films is that most of the stuff on screen actually physically exists - real sets, backdrops, model spaceships and iconic props and costumes which became the cinematic equivalent of holy relics. If you look at production stills from this film, it's almost exclusively a bunch of people hanging around in front of a completely bare greenscreen backdrop. Would it really be more expensive to create costumes for the clone troopers instead of rendering them on a computer? The technology to do Stormtrooper suits existed in 1977, and dedicated Star Wars fans knock up convincing outfits in their sheds, so why can't ILM? It just looks better. You don't have to use CGI for everything.
I'd say the two most grating incidences of superfluous CGI in this film are...
A) The head Clone Trooper taking his helmet off during his last conversation with Obi-Wan, which was so unconvincing it reminded me of the FMV cutscenes from the original Command & Conquer.
B) Obi-Wan cradling baby Luke at the end of the film. The kid appears to have been superimposed into Ewan McGreggor's hands using a 1980s Quantel Paintbox. Could they not just have him ACTUALLY HOLD A FRIGGING BABY? They're not so hard to find, afterall. You can buy them at competetive prices from any disreputable orphanage.
Yay, Chewbacca's back! For about three minutes. With the amount of assorted Chewie-oriented merchandise on the shelves out there, I was expecting these scenes to be a pivotal part of the film, but they didn't seem to serve any function other than an excuse to churn out Wookiee toys. Oh, and Lucas yet again blatantly contradicts his own backstory by setting the fight on Kashyykk's actual surface - it's meant to be incredibly dangerous and uninhabitable down there, this being the reason the Wookiees live up in the trees to begin with. It's annoying how Lucas tries to cater to to the fans by finally putting the Wookiee homeworld up on the big screen, but then drastically alters its topography in order for it to serve as the stage for yet another of those wide open battles with so many rubbish CGI robots clogging up the screen that it's impossible to tell what's going on. I thought a vertigo-inducing fight far up in the treetops would've been a lot more exciting.
Oh, and I wanted to see Chewie ripping arms out of their sockets. Wookiees are known to do that.
What is it with the villains' names in these new films? Their surnames suggest that George Lucas just looked up synonyms for "nasty" or "evil" or "not at all a nice sort of person to spend an afternoon with" in his thesaurus. Darth Tyranus? Darth Sidious? Darth Plagueus? General Greivous? They're all so unsubtle. It's a shame evil politicians in the real world aren't so obvious, because then we'd just know not to vote for the one who wears a black cape and cackles insanely to himself when callously executing incompetant henchmen.
It's a good job they didn't make the original trilogy now, otherwise we'd have had villains like Grand Moff Asshole, Jabba The Right Fat Evil Bastard, or Darth Never-Says-Thank-You-When-Someone-Holds-Open-A-Door-For-Him.
Still, Greivous looks pretty cool and it's a nicely bizarre motif to give a robot some sort of respiratory disorder. He's obviously been at the "deathsticks" again.
SAMUEL L JACKSON
Though the man himself seems ecstatic at getting to be in Star Wars at all, I thought it was a shame he didn't get many great Jackson-worthy lines to utter. Still, actions speak louder than words, and the guy with "Bad Motherfucker" engraved on his lightsaber gets an adequate send-off when he becomes a victim of the Emperor's order to kill every Jedi in the galaxy. Being mutilated, electrocuted, and thrown out of a mile-high skyscraper sounds like just about enough punishment to see off our Samuel.
I like to think that he squashed Jar Jar when he finally cratered.
Besides the fact that they're not blokes in costumes like they ought to be, I still have problems with clone troopers. Namely, are these Jedi-butchering supersoldiers the same guys as my dearly beloved rubbish Stormtroopers in the classic trilogy? From the marked decline in their fighting prowess between episodes 3 and 4, I'd say no. My theory is that the anorexic aliens who were cloning them in Episode 2 went out of business and so the Empire, faced with a manpower shortage, was forced to throw open the doors to any old bugger who can fire a blaster, and a fair few who can't. Either that or they accidentally cloned someone really stupid.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Welcome, kinder, to another exclusive selection of smarmy observations coated in rich milk chocolate, with a luxurious filling of sarcasm.
WARNING: May be unsuitable for those with an allergy to nuts or being bored.
Flake has always been marketed for its... well, flakiness. It begins to wilt and crumble away to nothing when you open the wrapper. It’s the nine-stone weakling that gets beaten up for its lunch money by the Snickers bars. Apparently we are meant to think this is a good thing, but why anyone actually does is quite beyond me - the fact that it disintegrates as soon as you open the wrapper isn't the strongest of selling points. After all, you wouldn't buy a new plasma screen television if its advert made a big deal out of the fact that it explodes the first time you plug it in, blowing a hole in your wall and crippling you for life. Despite its pointlessly infuriating design, Flake's continued presence in the nation's newsagents indicates somebody's buying it. I don't know who - perhaps people who have a fetish for disappointment - but it certainly isn't me. Whenever I have been unlucky enough to eat one of these things, I've only managed to get about 10% of the chocolate into my digestive system, the other 90% ending up as as a chalky brown sediment all over my trousers, making it appear that the aforementioned digestive system had gone very wrong indeed. Maybe this would be worth it if Flake was sufficiently scrummy as to offset its structural integrity shortcomings, but it isn't. The flavour is utterly standard. If you really like the flavour but hate the flakiness, just buy a Twirl instead. Identical flavour, you get two separate bars, and it doesn't melt into free-floating molecules if you breathe on it. Unless you are a dragon.
As synonymous with the USA as apple pie, Independence Day, cheerleaders or dealing in moral absolutes, Hershey is without doubt the definitive American chocolate (or "candy" as our transatlantic cousins wrongly call it). Hersheys are not widely available here in England, and as such certain upscale sweet shops charge premium rates for imported ones. In some outlets you can expect to pay up to £1 for a single Hershey. Whether they are worth the inflated price depends on which version you buy, for there are several and naturally you'll like some more than others. Make your purchase wisely. To my mind, the best variety is the one which contains ground-up bits of chocolate chip cookies. It's chocolate, with more chocolate in it. Where else could such a simple yet sublime confectionery concept spring but from the Land of the Free? God Bless America.
HEALTH FOOD SHOP CHOCOLATE
Hip, low calorie alt-chocolate bars come in many differing shapes and sizes, but all are united by these three characteristics:
1 - Holland & Barrett is the only shop in the entire world that will sell them.
2 - They are eaten exclusively by new-agey upper middle class dullards who feel a sense of vague guilt when they eat real chocolate and are inclined to fill their houses with as many health food products, dream catchers, I Ching mirrors and sustainable-source pine furnishings as they can get their hands on, because that's what their horoscope told them to do.
3 - They all taste like plywood.
An ordinary KitKat finger, afflicted with the terrible curse of gigantism. Shunned by the normal KitKats for their freakish appearance, these unfortunate chocolates banded together and formed their own sub-sect of KitKat society, and thus the Chunky was born. Though it is big, blocky and satisfying to eat, The Chunky bar probably contains exactly the same amount of chocolate and biscuit as the traditional four-finger type, but it feels more filling due to the fact that it's chunky. Nestlé seem to specialise in using this kind of subtle manipulation of your perceptions in order to make you feel like you haven't wasted your money on a bar that isn't actually any bigger than the cheaper variant. If the company were as smart as wot I is, they would have long ago realised the awesome market potential of a four-finger KitKat made to Chunky scale. I would say the odds of this actually happening at some point are pretty good, but will probably be restricted to one of the "limited edition" releases they're so fond of these days. What's the point of limited edition sweets? Are you going to stick them in the fridge for twenty years and wait for them to appreciate in value? Decades from now, will Sotheby's play frequent host to auctions of antique limited-run chocolates? Will their new owners, having just shelled out fifty thousand space credits on the finely-aged goodies, decadently scoff the lot at illicit high-class subterranean orgies? Of course not. They're past the sell-by date already.
Lindor are, effectively, Malteasers without the biscuit. Little balls of Belgian chocolate individually wrapped with love and care by specially selected Belgians, stuck in a box, and sold to you for a stupidly high price, which is justified by the fact it's Belgian and therefore sophisticated and posh, making it popular with bourgeois people who are throwing a party and don't want to go down the all-to-familiar Ferrero Rocher road, because that road leads to some comedian doing the "you are spoiling us" speech, which means everyone is obliged to be politely amused whilst temporarily ignoring the fact that cretins have been doing that at parties for twenty years. Lindor is unassailably delicious, but we must work for our choccy bliss - ergo you must unwrap each and every one before we eat it, unless you enjoy the taste of cellophane. Having to do this over and over again wears away at the sanity, in the same way that individually polishing every piece of shingle on Brighton Beach would. After about ten or so balls, you start to get the feeling that you are in fact being subjected to an eerie Pavlovian "effort = reward" experiment, by a group of men in white coats standing behind a two-way mirror and taking notes on your behaviour. Be aware of these factors before comitting yourself to a Lindor experience, and decide whether it’s worth the effort to get at that fine chocolate, or if it’s all just a load of balls.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Two of my companions have already arrived. Brave souls who, against all reason, got night buses. I consider myself a fairly bold chap, but even I balk at the idea of using public transport at this time of day - this hour belongs to the drunks, drug fiends gibbering demihuman things that shun the daylight and make their warrens in the darker recesses of ancient London - so I err on the side of safety, and safety costs me FORTY COCKING QUID. I hate my job.
Perhaps I should explain why I and my colleagues are in this place at such an hour, and not snoring the wee small hours away in our beds. I and they are film extras. We are waiting here to be picked up by a coach which will take us somewhere in Sussex, where we'll assume the roles of soldiers and civilians milling around a Paris railway station circa 1916, midway through the First World War. The film is called Flyboys and apparently features Star Wars alumnus Hayden Christensen, he who so sublimely portrayed Anakin Skywalker in the towering cinematic achievement that was Attack of the Clones and, come May, Revenge of the Sith. I would relish working with such a talent in any capacity, even as a lowly extra. Maybe I can get his autograph.
I'm joking of course. If I see the little puke I'll ruin those good looks of his faster than he ruined Darth Vader's street cred by playing him as a stereotypical whining adolescent attention-whore.
Here are the coaches. Anxious to get out of the cold, we pile into the smaller one, driven by a kindly-looking fat man, and make ourselves at home. The bad-tempered cockney driver of the other coach enters, furious at our fat guy. Apparently he shouldn't have let us in, because nobody's taken our names yet. Logically it's out of the question to do that whilst we're inside the coach, because that would be a considerate gesture - Cockney doesn't want that, because he's in a bad mood and so everyone else should be too. We object, but not to his face. He probably has the power to fire us. That's the thing with being an extra, even the bus driver can pull rank on you. We are ejected from Fat's coach, and transferred to Cockney's.
We're off, hurtling down the M25 en route to Sussex. Cockney, as if we needed any more proof of his status as a moody little bastard, refuses to turn the heating on. Well, he doesn't so much refuse as blatantly ignore multiple requests to turn it on from freezing passengers. Cockney, if you're reading this, you're a gobshite. And your penis is small. And you look like Most Haunted's psychic charlatan Derek Acorah.
Perhaps idle chit-chat with the others will warm me up. The conversation throws up this nugget of information: Ricky Gervais, of Office fame, is making a sitcom about film extras. Kudos to him, it can't be easy trying to make this job funny. I'm trying, seriously.
We are disgorged into a field in the middle of nowhere. It is still dark. There are no immediately apparent signs of there being a film crew encamped here. Was this all a trick? Are we going to be herded into this field and coldly machine-gunned as an example to other petulant extras, a-la The Great Escape? Thankfully no, the unit base camp was just hiding in the murk. We enter the wardrobe tent, and get suited up. I and several others are playing wounded French soldiers, bandages, dirt and all. After putting our uniforms on, we're escorted outside and presented to a crew member holding some curious-looking hand cranked device. Any speculation as to the thing's purpose is ended when the man starts cranking it, showering us head to toe with foul-smelling sticky theatrical mud. We will spend ten hours covered in this filth. Some of the clean people come over to mock us in our muddy splendour. We respond by attempting to hug them. No further remarks are made.
After breakfast, we're on our way to the location, a train station on the Bluebell Railway, which is a fully functioning vintage steam railway. For the first time in my life I see a real steam train puff its way into the station. I immediately want to ride on it. No time for that now though, someone has just called out for all the soldiers to come to the props trailer to be armed! Fantastic! Two years doing this job and finally I get some artillery.
Wrong. None of us French losers gets a gun, because we're losers. All the black guys in our group, dressed up as Algerian soldiers, get neat bolt-action rifles. Man, I wish I was black. What do we get? Hats. Christ, no wonder we lost.
Filming begins. Action! Apparently. I can't really tell because I can't see. I have been arbitrarily picked to be a blinded soldier, and have a bandage over my eyes. I am assigned a guide, a very likeable extra named John. John is neat. He talks gibberish to me during the filming, attempting to make me laugh. He succeeds. I turn the laughter into tears, and give a powerful performance. I'll get him back later.
A train full of ordinary tourists pulls into the station. None of them have prior knowledge of the filming, and so look suitably dumbfounded when they see a station populated by people from 1916. We wave. As the train leaves, steam fills the air on the platform. In one of the most cinematic moments I've ever experienced outside of a cinema, a French policeman in a long coat strides from the fog like a ghost from the past, and for a few seconds I'm hundreds of miles away, eighty years ago. I like my job.
Lunchtime! Drinks all round. Sitting outside in the sunlight sipping apple juice and listening to the birds sing, I forget for a while that I'm weighed down by coat and boots and tin helmet and covered in shit. Wait a second, is that Bob Hoskins? It is! It's Bob Hoskins! With a beard! He's been cornered by a female American extra, who is banging on at him about how children aren't bought up right in this country. She obviously doesn't realise she's talking to the dramatic powerhouse who bought Super Mario to life. She's lucky he doesn't jump on her head and kill her, then collect a powerup from her corpse. As it is, he's being very tolerant. Then, the resident on-set lothario, who I will call Ugly Short Guy Who Tells Unfunny Jokes, inadvertantly comes to Bob's rescue when he attempts to put the moves on Whining American. Bob uses the distraction to leg it, with a "rather you than me, mate" expression on his adorable, pudgy little face. I like my job.
Back on set, myself and John team up with a smartly dressed chinese guy whom we dub Inspector Crowley, after one of the trains. We embark on hijinks between takes, and plan to serruptitiously insert a kung fu fight into the film. During one of numerous takes, I manage to make John laugh, with the aid of my grotesque front teeth. Revenge! I successfully rid myself of my blind-guy bandages. When quizzed about their absence by the wardrobe man, I deny everything and say he must be looking for another extra who I have just cunningly made up and looks a bit like me. He falls for it. I am the master of deception! Ugly Short Guy Who Tells Unfunny Jokes continues to work his slimy magics with Bob Hoskins' American nemesis.
I'm now put on a stretcher, which is a mixed blessing. On the one hand I get paid for lying down, but on the other I'm plopped down on the platform with my head perilously close to where the trains come in. It is quite an experience to have one's head several inches away from a huge moving steam train. The sound of the engine is beyond deafening, and the steam engulfs me. To make it worse, I really need the toilet. Badly. Still, I can use the discomfort to dramatic effect - I am, afterall, meant to be wounded and in horrible agony. Still, I hate my job.
Two hours later, salvation. It's time to get cleaned up, get paid and go home. We file into the wardrobe tent, and disrobe. I frantically strip off my mud-caked clownsuit, don my real clothes, then go to makeup to get my filth removed. I later find out I was the only person who actually realised we were getting this stuff cleaned off - I see other people quite casually walking to their cars to drive home still covered in blood and muck. Perhaps they mean to scare the living daylights out of other motorists. Ugly Short Guy Who Tells Unfunny Jokes appears to have won the heart of the Whiny American - they are exchanging digits. I wish them well, and hope they run off together to produce a litter of Ugly Short Americans Who Whine And Tell Unfunny Jokes. I bid farewell to John. If you're reading, John, thanks for keeping me sane. And keep your beard, it's rugged and manly. Back on the coach I go, homeward bound. On the journey home, I mull over the day and the memories I've gained from it, but also the regrets: A) I didn't get to ride on a train, and B) I didn't get to beat up Anakin Skywalker. Oh well. I get home and collapse on my bed, and do not get up until an hour ago.
It occurs to me that I haven't actually looked at my payslip yet, so I fish the crumpled document out of my bag and see how much money I earned for a day's honest toil...
I like my job.
- © Benneth isnit.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Twix bars employ a brilliant yet simple brand of psychological manipulation. Within a single Twix wrapper is contained just as much chocolate-y goodness as you'll find in any other leading bar, but thanks to the genius two-finger device, it FEELS like there's more. Simply by dividing it into two individual sections, the mad scientist behind Twix has managed to create an impression of great value, and the deal is closed with a tantalising gold-effect wrapper. It all SCREAMS "this is some fine fuckin` chocolate, my friend", and you just can't resist the over-and-under chocolate/toffee/biscuit/chocolate configuration. I used to eat my own bodyweight in these every week when I was about 10, so it's a mystery why I am not now an utterly fat bastard. Oh well, I'm not complaining.Top Twix Tip: Try biting out the biscuit from underneath the toffee, working your way down the bar, until you are left with a long thin strip of toffee which can then be rolled into a ball of unequalled confectionery bliss. Then do the same with the other one. Excellent!
Galaxy is marketed as a high-class society girl of a chocolate bar, promising exquisite taste and smoothness of texture, the kind of chocolate a 1980s Yuppie Power Couple would enjoy with vintage wine and candles.However, once you have committed to your Galaxy tryst, cracks start to appear - chiefly, its stale aftertaste. Galaxy's sophisticated exterior has served a dual purpose - to dupe you, luring you in for the kill, and to cover up the fact that it has been around the block a few times - a fact you only realise when the bar is eaten and it's all too late. The experience of eating in itself was not unpleasent, but once the wrapper is binned you come to the realisation that you have taken part in a tawdry liason with a tarted-up chocolate trollop. There is a bad taste in your mouth, and you realise that while Mars or Snickers may be aesthetically unappealing, working class chocolate bars, they are dependable, earthy and have great substance. Galaxy is merely an aloof tart which has just ticked your name off on a list of many, many prior conquests. Eat one and you may well enjoy it for the duration, but as soon as that bad aftertaste sets in, you realise you have compromised your tastebuds, yourself, perhaps your very soul. In spite of that aftertaste, in spite of yourself, you can't say you didn't enjoy the experience - but once was enough.
Aha, Yorkie, the bar that's "NOT FOR GIRLS". It's the world's very first gender-specific chocolate bar! Everything about Yorkie is masculine. Brick-like chunks of solid chocolate, probably WELDED together in a big factory by hairy men with beer guts, with the "YORKIE" legend stamped down the length of the bar in enormous block capitals. You could only make it more manly if it was molded in the shape of a big erect penis.Unfortunately for all its bravado, the standard Yorkie doesn't quite satisfy. It may be chunky in extremis, but it is about two chunks too short to really be worth it. The King Size model overcomes this inadequacy, but at such an inflated price the average-income family may work hard to justify such an expenditure on chocolate, however chunky it may be.
I'll not bore you with the old "WHY DID THEY CHANGE THE NAME TO SNICKERS FROM MARATHON" routine, because it's been done so many times already that even Ben Elton doesn't use it anymore. The chunksome toffee/peanut bar Snickers is a lot like the Yorkie in its masculine nature, but unlike Yorkie it walks the walk as well as talks the talk. It has the substance to back up the boasts. Eat one of these fuckers and you feel like you've just demolished a large bag of monstrously fat chips. Whether this is a purely psychological effect bought on by its thick consistency or if they put appetite suppressant drugs in it I don't know, but it works. Boost sells itself as an energy bar, but personally I'd need to ingest about four of those lightweights in order to keep myself going during a long walk - but on one Snickers, you could run a marathon - which is why its original name made a lot more sense than bloody Snickers. Oh crap, I said it afterall...
KING SIZE DAIRY MILK
Cadbury's Dairy Milk is the lord of all chocolate. It has no gimmicks and no clever packaging, for it needs none. You know what Cadbury's is. Everyone does. It's just one of those things you know, like how to walk or who the first man on the moon was. It's part of The Culture. One of those things you take for granted, something you just can't comprehend might one day stop being made. Cadbury's is such an old, well-established brand that it scarecely needs to advertise itself - its mere existence is enough. This lack of widespread marketing made the recent emergence of the King Size version all the more surprising, because it was just there one day. Intrigued and delighted, you bought it, you ate it, and you loved it, because it was Dairy Milk except there was more. More than the standard Dairy Milk, yet sufficiently less than the REALLY big version that you don't feel disgusted at yourself for wolfing down the whole thing in one go. And now, just like its slimmer ancestor, you have absorbed the King Size into your confectionery landscape, and it feels like it was always there.
I have not eaten a Mars Bar for a long time, for one reason - THEY DRIVE ME INSANE. During a family holiday to Devon in 1993, I was in the middle of a terrible Mars addiction which was turning me into an obnoxious, foul mouthed VIOLENT little sod, posessed with a kind of goblin-like manic energy, single-handedly pissing everyone off and being the sole nuisance in an otherwise wonderful fortnight in idyllic pastoral surroundings. Although I was only 8 at the time, I still look back at that summer and feel ashamed of myself for not having greater self control, and thank God that I had the willpower to break the Mars habit before it consumed me fully, and move on to the mellower waters of the Twix. Mars is sold as "pleasure you can't measure". But for me, Mars was PAIN, maaaaaaaaaaaaaan!
In these days of chocolate plenty where the average newsagent carries more confectionery than a whole sweet shop would have in the 1950s, your chocolate bar needs a cunning conceit to set it apart from its innumerable peers, lest it simply be lost in a sea of identical competitors. Aero's gimmick, which has kept it going for years, is that it has bubbles in it. Lots of bubbles. For some reason this is a tremendously appealing concept, which is bizzarre seeing as effectively it means that a good percentage of the bar actually consists of... nothingness. Empty space. The ether. So Aero is probably highly popular among Goths, who find great delight in the world's only nihilist chocolate bar. If you want to terraform Mars (the planet, not the chocolate, fool), just ship a few billion Aeros to the planet then crack `em open - the sudden influx of free air contained in all the tiny little bubbles will quickly generate a breathable atmosphere. We can then weave teepees out of all the leftover wrappers and raise the first generation of extraterrestrial children under a blue, delightfully cocoa-scented sky.
© Ben Rainbird, and all that jazz.
Saturday, February 05, 2005
As most gents' toilets are only tended to once every five years, toilet paper is a rare sight. Typically you only notice its absence directly after frantically running into the toilets to evacuate your bowels, then have to wait until nobody else is around and quickly dash to the next stall, a process you may have to repeat once or twice to find one with any bog roll left in it. Try keeping your morale up by whistling the theme from The Great Escape whilst furtively flitting from bog to bog, you'll feel like you're dodging Nazi guards whilst searching for secret weapon schematics or something. If your quest proves fruitless, you must shuffle home in shame, getting odd looks from people who are wondering why there's a swarm of flies following you. If they ask questions, tell them that the flies made you their God Emperor. That'll throw them off the scent, so to speak.
A technological marvel restricted exclusively to public toilets, nowhere in the world will you find one of these machines apart from the humble public convenience. This is because they are as effective at drying your hands as a rubber band is at downing an attack helicopter. The standard push-button model is fairly straightforward to use, but are a dying breed - most shopping centre lavvies now use futuristic Minority Report laser-activated dryers which you activate by gesticulating vaguely in their direction, causing them to blow hot air for approximately two seconds before they turn off again. Regardless of how long you hold your hands under the dryer, you'll still be leaving the gents drying your still-clammy hands against the back of your jeans, which to the casual observer makes it appear that you never got to the toilet in time at all.
Naturally unique to the gents', the urinals should only be used when all of the enclosed stalls are occupied or if you don't mind exposing your genitalia in front of the large tattooed psychopath who is inevitably also using it. When making use of the urinal it is imperative you look directly forwards and don't let your gaze wander onto one of your neighbours' "Esteemed Members". Doing this will either get you a kicking or an undesired boyfriend. The trough-style urinals contain inexplicable bars of horrible-looking yellow soap called "urinal cakes". Their true purpose eludes me, as all they ever seem to be used for is a target in whimsical games of urinary marksmanship between football supporters. Also known as urinal "pucks", for some damn reason. Maybe the toilet attendants play a disgusting version of ice hockey with them or something.
Prostitutes' phone numbers
Not content with filling every phonebooth in the world with calling cards and thus drawing suspicious glances upon any innocent gentleman who has to use it for a legitimate call, hookers also advertise in gents' toilets, with phone numbers hastily scrawled on the wall tiles in felt tip. Some are for males, but the great majority are for ladies of negotiable virtue, leading one to wonder if they themselves stealthily dash into the men's toilets to write them down. If so, do they claim they're transvestites when they inevitably get caught by the male patrons? And more importantly, why the hell am I devoting serious thought to this?
Modern public toilet sinks appear to be designed by the same person who thought up the laser-guided hand dryers, as they share their hot-breathed cousins' gleeful impracticality of use. To use one, you are required to hold down the tap with one hand to make it release a pathetic trickle of water, so you have to juggle between hands, washing one at a time, because taking pressure off the tap for a microsecond immediately cuts the modest flow of water. This mechanism is probably one of the many employed to make public toilets "retard proof", the idea being that you can't just turn the tap on and absent-mindedly leave it running until the entire washroom becomes flooded. Be forewarned that the water itself will either be uselessly cold, or hot enough to melt a hole through RoboCop. A perfunctory soap-dispenser thing is usually included, which is for display only. Don't attempt to use it, as it's either permanently empty or has been filled up with caustic lime by some anarchists.
Helpfully placed above the sinks, gents' toilet mirrors provide the clearest, most unflattering image of oneself since the Portrait of Dorian Gray. Looking into them will reveal and accentuate every single pock-mark, zit, solitary inch-long unshaved facial hair and acne scar that your horrific zombie face has to offer the world. As a result your ego will go on holiday and you'll spend several weeks lurching around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, scowling with bitter envy at the walking examples of physical perfection which accost your vision at every step.
The gents' toilets would of course be incomplete without the "gents" themselves. The term "gentlemen's toilets" originated in the Victorian period, when toilets were wonders of steam-powered Imperial enterprise probably only used by eccentric members of dignitary, the working classes being too ignorant to make use of them, instead humbly relieving themselves into tin pails or out of open windows onto someone's top hat. But since that time the toilets became an equal-opportunity environment, accessible to anyone with a central nervous system. As such most are now the seedy domain of rentboys, muggers, psychopaths, and advertising executives. Thus, the term "gentlemen" no longer really applies. However, there is hope for the future of the public convenience, in the guise of the railway station pay toilets. Which are glorious.
By the simple method of charging people 20p if they want to spend a penny, most undesirables are filtered out of the toilet equation by the principle that they'll be put off the lavvies by having to pay, instead taking their business elsewhere. Unlike almost everything else relating to the rail system, this appears to work perfectly, and thus station toilets are again exclusively the realm of the dedicated urinator.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Men! Buy the new man product! As you can see from this shoddy CGI
mockup of the product, it's all streamlined and stuff, like a jet
fighter plane, which, according to our half-arsed psychological
profiling of your beergut demographic, is what still appeals to you, as
you seem to have ceased to develop emotionally somewhere around the age
of 14, and relate to everything in terms of shiny things that kill
Look at this guy who's using the product right here. He's really big
and buff, and has a standard issue bland FHM underwear model for a
girlfriend, BECAUSE OF THE PRODUCT! He wouldn't be worth shit without
the product, and neither are you, so quit being a homosexual loser and
buy it. Also, from the same manufacturer, try out our new power tool!
It's a cheap piece of shit manufactured for pennies in a Far Eastern
country whose name you probably couldn't pronounce, but hey, it
purports to be made out of the "same metal as the SR-31 spyplane" and
IT LOOKS LIKE A GUN! A gun, which you associate with power and
virility, because it, in turn, looks like a penis!
And look, the battery pack sort of slots into the handle as well, just
like the magazine on a gun! So, you have exactly NO right not to
confirm your heterosexuality by buying this product. As a matter of
fact, if you do not buy it within a randomly set time limit, we will
have the government officially change your sexual orientation to gay.
There is no other way this can be avoided.
It's a weekday, it's noon, and you're at home watching Channel 5. If
you were a productive member of society, you'd be too busy working
right now to be watching repeats of Magnum PI, so we can only assume
you are a Ben Elton-style poor student, debt-wracked unemployable loner
or old person with nothing to do other than while away the uneventful
hours of the only life you'll ever have by watching Tom Selleck ponce
around Hawaii in amusingly outdated clothing. You derelict.
Anyway, look, we're offering you the chance to be free of your
debt/insurance worries by way of this really shittily produced advert
with no production values, starring a failed used car dealer who
couldn't sell nukes to North Korea. Call this number now and be treated
with palpable disdain by our telephone operators.
Yeah, they're poorly-trained no-qualifications scum, but even THEY can
get a job, unlike you, you fat fucking failure. Anyway, they will be
happy to help you pay their frankly slave-level salaries by keeping you
on hold listening to shitty synthesizer music for minutes at a time,
each and every second of it chewing up what precious little coins you
have left, as you sit there patiently waiting, hoping, praying that we
can help rebuild the life and the dreams you so hilariously demolished
with your gambling and your drinking and your good old down-to-earth
Well, we can't do that, we aren't fucking miracle workers, but we're
more than happy to take your money away in order to make you feel like
there's hope. Which there isn't. Face it, if you actually weren't
scared off by the awful production values of this advert, you fucking
deserve it, don't you.
Hello, we are The Benign Phone Company, and we are here to inform you
that your mobile phone - whichever type or however recent it may be -
has reached its programmed obsolescence is now officially out of date
and sad, and will self-destruct in four minutes.
You risk immediate social ostrasication and exclusion from local
nightclubs unless you upgrade to a newer, shinier model with more
exorbitant-price-justifying extraneous features that you don't fucking
need. Look, our phone can play shitty Java games and send out pictures
and stuff. Can yours do that?
Of course it can't, it's rubbish, just like you. See, just like your
hideously overpriced clothes and £80 haircut, your phone is an external
indicator of your worth as a person, so if people see you walking
around with that shitty World War II field telephone of yours they will
immediately know you are sad and worthless.
Anyway, buy the fucking phone because if you don't, all your mates will
think you are gay and nobody will fancy you and the sky will fall.
Also, you can now show what an individual you are by being like every
other cunt and spending large amounts of money to have the privilege of
downloading ironic bleepy renditions of the signature themes to 1980s
television series, so that next time your mum calls you to ask what you
want for dinner, everyone in your immediate vicinity (IE, the luckless
twats who have to put up with your mindless chattering for an entire
bus journey) will know what a groovy, irreverent, postmodern
being you are, as the distinctive tones of the theme tune to The Fall
Guy are piped out cheerfully from your little box of joy.
Either that, or they'll think you're an intensely aggravating prick,
and then secretly entertain cathartic fantasies about shoving the
sodding phone down your stupid little gullet and tightening the
hands-free wire around your neck, you fucking sheep. Jesus, you so
utterly deserve the brain cancer we're giving you with these things.
Hello, demographic. We are here to sell you back the self esteem that
we've been robbing you of for years with our images of unobtainable
physical perfection and lifestyles you couldn't possibly dream of
Come, buy our vastly overpriced toxic slime, daub it on the relevant
bodypart, and feel the glorious warmth and sureness endemic to being a
fit-in identikit clone with as much individual worth as a brine shrimp.
Remember, you're shit without us, so show us some gratitude, even
though we're the ones responsible for the total lack of self-worth that
you're now trying to alleviate by throwing money at us to have the
privilege of squirting harmful chemicals all over yourself. By the way,
we've craftily formulated this stuff so that over the years it makes
your skin prematurely pallid and wrinkly, so we can sell anti-ageing
cream to you. Yes, we really are that cynical.
Frankly, it's like we're repeatedly bum-raping you with a molten iron
rod and then expecting you to be grateful when we sell you
anti-inflamation cream for your horribly swollen ringpiece. But hey,
what else are you gonna do? NOT FIT IN?
GIRL POWER AD
News just in, female drones! Our executives have informed us that
you're now culturally allowed to be independent and empowered and gutsy
and butch and empowered and powerful and gutsy (as long as you conform
to pre-determined gender stereotypes at the same time).
So, there's never been a better time to show how independent you think
are by buying our shit merchandise in order to help you look like every
other shrieking airheaded highstreet-blocking tracksuit enthusiast.
And if that doesn't float your boat, here: some comedic images of men
being stupid, fat and innefectual! Haha, they are mentally inferior to
you, and clumsy, and cannot satisfy you sexually, so show them how much
more intelligent and sassy you are by buying our product. You
Don't get us wrong or anything, we're GLAD that society pretends you
egg-carriers are equal now, as that means you are now just as open to
exploitation as your dick-having counterparts, and we can explore a
whole new marketing dimension in selling harmful shit to you at
obscenely inflated prices in order to make you think you're making some
sort of right-on, proactive feminist statement about yourself, ignorant that you are merely filling our coffers whilst demonstrating the concrete fact that you're just as fucking moronic and open to suggestion as the slope-browed halfwits you claim inherent superiority over and yet allow yourself to be violated by every night.
Individuals! You're edgy and cool and you don't dance to ANYONE's tune,
save for the recording artists we've informed you are not entirely as
mainstream as the many thousands of others we own.
Anyway, if you think you're badass and independent and soforth, check
out this way-cool new product, designed specifically with YOU in mind,
which for the first time ever allows you to assert how Acceptably
Different you are whilst the product's nice shiny corporate-approved
label shields you from social exclusion on the grounds that while the
product is percieved as making you DIFFERENT, that difference is
APPROVED OF by us and therefore must be "okay".
Afterall, it stands to reason that we - a bunch of fat balding boardroom jockeys in our fifties - tell the young people what's cool. Of course, there's not
just one Individual Product. There's thousands, all of them tailored to
appeal to the tastes we've assigned to you.
For example, here's some "power ade" drink or whatever, targeted
directly at Extreme Sports fanatics, accompanied by footage of really
cool Vin Diesel clones surfing down mountains in much the same way as
we surf the zeitgeist we ourselves have engineered, by associating our
silly drink with extreme physical exertion, though we know that you'll
most likely end up drinking it on the sofa in order to keep yourself
awake long enough to watch late-night ice hockey on Channel 5.
The more critical-minded among you might cluck your tongues in right-on
dissaproval of this sales pitch, but don't worry, we've thought up a
way of exploiting you too! You can rail against us and still consume
objects, as one of our many millions of subsidiaries peddles a range of
products with super-ironic "anti-establishment" slogans plastered on
them, so you can enjoy the euphoria of making consumer purchases safe
in the misinformed knowledge that, by paying an sizable extra chunk of
money for the Che Guevara picture on your T shirt, you are somehow
battling against consumerism. Ain't it great? We've manipulated the
very fabric of human society so that to have your opinions on our
bloody-minded market strategies actually heard, you have to give us
MORE money than if you just kept quiet!
Sorry pinko, but you've lost already. Just accept it, knuckle down to a menial job, and life will be far less painful.
FAILING MULTINATIONAL FAST FOOD CHAIN AD
Hello! We've been plugging up you and your children's guts with
densely-packed meat products for 30 years, and unfortunately we're now
facing financial ruin because you've gone and started thinking about
what you eat, and realised that shovelling forty pounds of cow into
your gaping mouths every day might consign you to an early, very wide
You're right of course, we've been indirectly thinning out your ranks
(if not your waists) all this time, and now that you've finally
cottoned on, we're buggered if we don't come up with a fresh sales
So here's a selection of images in which bunch of thin, impeccably
dressed, impossibly beautiful and ethnically coordinated young people
dancing to sodding Justin Timberlake whilst deriving orgasmic levels of
enjoyment through buying ghastly-looking comestibles from a ludicrously
idealised vision of one of our outlets - instead of being halfway
realistic about it, ergo hate-riddled bovine Kappa-wearing dimwits in
place of the cool teenagers and instead of the perfectly clean, sterile
food-o-matic, a poorly-managed rat colony staffed by slave-wage Orcs
who are entirely willing and able to contaminate your food with any
number of their own byproducts in order to derive a fleeting spark of
spiteful enjoyment in their otherwise hopeless, hate-soaked lives. Frankly, we deserve to crash and burn like the soulless evil scumfucks
we are, don't we.
POST-CHRISTMAS DETOX AD
Hey there, bloodbags! Now, you've been very greedy over the holidays
haven't you. You've been obediently shoving your face full of our
food-like products like we told you to throughout the festive season,
but OOPS! you've gone and developed a noticeable moon-belly, which of
course is unacceptable as it doesn't fit in with the image of physical
perfection you're meant to aspire to.
It would be remiss of us not to exploit the poor physical condition
we've imposed upon you, so here's a selection of dietary/exercise
products we've had lined up since before Christmas. Look, for example
here's that Atkins Diet that everyone's still using even though they
KNOW it ends up fucking killing you, and over there's a ludicrous
"exercise belt" device which we PROMISE will let you shed the pounds
without having to actually make an effort - and more where those came
from! Soon, you - yes, YOU can look vaguely like the contrived
pod-people whose social interactions you vicariously live through
whenever you watch your preferred soap/drama/docusoap/docudrama/Big
And won't that be GREAT?
Of course it will be - you'll be happy for a while because you think
things are going to get better, and we'll have made a fuckload of money
off you in exchange for exercise and diet programs which not only don't
work, but ACTUALLY DO YOU GENUINE PHYSICAL HARM!
Don't worry, you'll sweat off the extra pounds over the year performing
your Assigned Physical Labour, so you should be back to the way you
were before last Christmas just in time for NEXT Christmas, so we can
make you fat again and then sell you the same shit slightly repackaged
until the endless gorging makes you die.
Oh, don't worry about our market dwindling. By the time we've killed you, we'll have conditioned your children to want the same bullshit. That's presuming you manage to breed. Isn't much chance of that if your trouser size stays like THAT
eh? Nope, nobody's gonna want to shag you while you're in that state.
Better get buying quickly or you're never gonna get any! No rutting
until you've paid us for the privilege, lardo. Happy new year!
THAT BLOODY BBCi ADVERT WITH JENSON BUTTON
Hi everyone! Ain't TV just neato? I mean, you're watching it right now
and aren't you enjoying yourself just watching this advert for the
millionth sodding time? Sure you are! If you weren't, you might be
moving or thinking and that'd be intolerable. So, what if TV could
somehow be even BETTER? Well, hold onto your seats, `cause here's the
Formula 1 driver voted "most likely to be mistaken for a bit of
plywood", to tell you: YES! SLIGHTLY! And look, we've kindly written
his name on the back of his chair so you know who the hell he is if you
don't happen to follow sports.
Yes, it's Jenson Button, the man with a voice which still sounds robotic when compared Stephen Hawking's voice synthesizer. He's here to exhort you to use our silly new "teletext-with-pictures" BBCi service, and we're aiding him in his mission by giving him a script which absurdly compares the experience of watching the telly with that of being in a Formula 1 race, on grounds that both activities involve sitting down and looking directly forwards.
He's a celebrity and therefore a VOICE OF AUTHORITY. He knows what he's talking about!
Well, he doesn't really. If he had any kind of self-respect he'd have
rejected the script outright as absolute fucking bullshit of the
limpest kind possible, but big heavy bags with pound-signs on the side
have a tendency to loosen people up.
So just sit back and enjoy as he sits in front of the telly and mumbles his way through his lines in earnest attempt to make it all seem high-tech and sophisticated, even though he apparently farts halfway through the advert.
This is to fool the more gullible among you into thinking that by
sitting in front of the TV and growing your beer gut, your life will
miraculously become as eventful and exciting as Jenson's, without
having to have any specific talent or make any kind of effort, like he
I mean, Jesus... sure, he can't really talk and he's more bland
than a stack of ceiling tiles stapled to Ben Affleck, but
at least he can do something obscenely dangerous and do it competently.
You people make me sick. What do you want from us? Happiness? Sorry
love, it isn't that easy.
Give us some credit, it's a bit difficult trying to make YOUR life seem
exciting. It's the best we could do. You want true excitement? Go out
and look for it, you pissant.
Hello, we're clued up and funny and clever, so instead of trying to
shill our product to you by saying it's great, we're making fun of it
in order to make it appear that we have a sense of humour or even a
Of course, we don't actually have either of these, we've worked
in marketing for 20 years, and our humanity has long since been
replaced by a nigh-instinctual obligation to stuff our collective
gaping maw with as much of your paltry wages as possible. Anyway, here's
our product in an amusing/unusual situation, isn't it hilarious?
Hahahaha. Oh, hohohohoho. Hoho. Hah. Wah. Waaah. AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGH.
For Christ's sake, I want my soul back. Get me the hell out of
marketing. What the fuck have I done with my life? I can't even
remember the last time I looked at a bed of roses or a wisp of cloud or
a giggling child and thought about it in terms other than how I'd stamp
it with an ugly logo and sell it to you in order to add a few more
zeroes to my annual income. Yes, I am rich. Yes, I have a big house, a
Ferrari, a wife half my age and a mistress half HER age, but I am no
longer capable of relating to anything or anyone in human terms. I am
vacant. Utterly empty. I could have been an artist, or an explorer, or
a great thinker, but instead I sold my soul to the church of Capitalism
and for my efforts I have been stripped of all that makes me a person.
Forgive me, mother. (Sound of muffled sobbing followed by single gunshot and dull thud of body hitting floor)
Buy yogurt, cunt.