Monthly Archives: February 2010

Deeds (good ones)

What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done? Helped an old woman across the road? Loaned a friend more than £12? Decided against shooting a baboon? Surprisingly for my cold, rough, sexy, aloof exterior, I have helped people out on more than one occasion. I’m not saying to the point of deserving a medal, or even that these things were particularly memorable, but it’s just something my mind goes back to when I’m reading the endless nonsense on news sites about kids being wankers, students being cockends who destroy civilisation as we know it and human beings in general not giving a shit about their fellow peeps.

I was walking along the streets of Preston with my chum Ben, admiring all the sights this wonderful town had to offer (the Jewel of Lancashire, as I often call it) when we came across a very slow-moving man who seemed to be struggling with his shopping. Being the great people we are, Ben asked him if he needed help (I, obviously, had walked ahead to scout for landmines and not – as might be assumed – because I wasn’t paying attention), and the slightly odd-looking fellow said yes. What followed was incredible, to the point where it may well have defied the laws of physics: it took us around an hour to walk all of 150 metres, while this man told us of how he’d been hit by a truck and could no longer walk very well. As if we needed reminding. He also told us of his desire to “get his cook on” (my words, not his) and that he was looking forward to “those small, round, green things” (his words, not mine), which we reminded him were called ‘peas’. Anyway, we got him to his house and we were on our way. After mugging him, obviously.

Another other time I’ve helped someone in distress was a few years before the last example. Arriving at my mother’s house after returning home from school, I encountered an old man who lived a few houses away from my destination. My powers of deduction led me to the conclusion that this man wasn’t in the best of situations, as he was face down on his front path, with blood coming from his head and a wheelie bin next to him, which was also lying face-down. Said powers of deduction also helped me fathom that he had been lying like this for a while, and that no one had helped him. I managed to figure this last part out as he was still lying there and hadn’t been helped. So, I took it upon myself to help up this large old man, who was unable to push himself up thanks to gout, or something. It was a fun wrestle, where I ended up partly-covered in old man blood and – after about twenty minutes of struggling – an upright old man. He negated to thank me, instead commenting that the blood he had just smeared on the front panelling of his house would “attract bluebottles” (his words, and mine), before declining an ambulance and shuffling off inside. Two things about this help-o-incident: one, a middle-aged, upwardly-mobile man who lived a few doors further down came out of his house to observe what was going on when I was mid-wrestle with old man. He did not offer to help, instead deciding a smile and a wave would be adequate before disappearing back inside. I would like to know what thoughts – or lack thereof – were going through his head at that point (“oh, it’s that young lad from up the road looking like he’s struggling to bum the old man from next door-but-one, who – as it happens – is covered in blood. Well, I’ve got crumpets waiting for me indoors!”). Two, I received a Christmas card that year with a tenner in it and two sides of shaky, old man writing thanking me for helping him in his “hour of need” (his scrawling, not mine). I assumed it was from the man I helped, and not a mystery suitor trying to get into my pants.

I don’t speak for everyone – that day will arrive, but for today I just speak for myself and everyone in a five-mile radius (by the Queen’s decree, no less). But I will say these here words: it’s easy to see that the news is filled with a lot of reactionary bullshit and that it’s skewed to present the world in a way it simply isn’t. As a result, it’s common for the news to be treated with an air of weariness – it isn’t trusted entirely. But even though that’s the case, I still feel that people buy the words they’re fed, even if they claim otherwise – I am guilty of this as much as anyone – and this is especially the case when it comes to slagging off ‘chavs’, ‘hoodies’, ‘students’ or ‘pricks’. We need to remember that the vast majority of people aren’t out to knife you and will, in fact, happily lend a hand should you need one. Especially if there’s the chance to get paid.

I am basing this entirely on the fact that I’ve helped a couple of people, mind, so it may not actually ring true in practice. Don’t quote me on any of this, and in fact don’t try any of it. You might end up getting stabbed by a teenager. They’re all cocks, after all.

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Things you should watch: Biffovision

There are many things I can talk about that you may have watched, that I might not have watched or that everyone has watched. There are also times when I can tell you what you should have watched, as you probably haven’t watched it. It involves being elitist about the most elite of practices: watching telly/films/listening to music/playing games. All fine things to be arrogant about, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Today’s entry was a comedy pilot from BBC Three that you most likely haven’t seen. I say this as the only people I know who have seen it are people I made watch it, and the only reason I watched it is because an ex-games writer (now “deceased”) created the show with Tim Moore (also ex-Digitiser, I believe), and I always loved Mr Biffo. The show in question was Biffovision, envisaged as a complete series to be shown on BBC3 and something that would surely confuse all those with an inkling of sense in their brainpot, as it was actually really, really fucking funny.

The setup was a simple pastiche of Saturday morning kid’s shows (should that have a possessive apostrophe? PUNCTUATION IDIOT), but that’s about as normal as it gets. But while the likes of the Mighty Boosh disappeared up its own self-referential, increasingly unfunny, in-the-same-way-a-13-year-old-girl-is-random “random” arse, Biffovision was a delightful mix of surreal humour, vague pop culture reference and genuinely unexpected non-sequiturs. Frankly, it easily ranks as one of the funniest things I have ever seen committed to telly-vee.

I’m not about to do another lecture on what is funny and why, as that would take time. Plus Biffovision is something you really have to see, as it falls so very flat on explanation it’s hard to believe how it ever got considered, let alone a pilot episode. “His hat is a baguette” must have been a tough one to explain to the execs, after all. Still, Mr Biffo was always an incredible comedic wordsmith (I’m sure he still would be, were he not “dead”. Still, this Paul Rose chap is quite good, so I hear), using sound, confusion of meaning, intentional misuse of grammar (“WHO DONE THAT?”) and some of the dafter-sounding words of the English language to fantastic effect.

As I indicated, I don’t want to go through scenes here, so instead I’ll just show you some from Youtube. Realise this: if you don’t laugh at Biffovision, I will not be your friend anymore.

Also: the title of this blog comes from Professor Derek Doctors’ use of the word “prattle”, which is delivered wonderfully.

But hey – at least with the BBC deciding not to pick Biffovision up for a series it left more room for the likes of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps to continue, as well as the mind-expanding shows like Can Fat Teens Hunt? and Swap My Baby for a Goose. We all know the world is a better place for the channel’s ongoing greatness.

Coming soon on Things You Haven’t Read: Mr Biffo’s ‘Confessions of a Chatroom Freak’. One of the funniest books ever written.

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Trian crush

I think things really do need to be made bigger than they are. I’m currently sat (at the TIME OF WRITING) on a train, where I am quite literally wedged into my chair. I’m not even sure if I’ll ever be able to get out again. In fact, if you never get to read this entry, you’ll know I never managed to wiggle my way free.

This isn’t a Kevin Smith-style rant about how public transport should cater more for fat fatty fat fats. Don’t get me wrong: I am a reasonable fatty, but I’m not on Smith’s level just yet. No, this is because everything is made for the ridiculous-sized humans that inhabit this world. The “average” sized ones and those who simply aren’t as big as me. I like being tall sometimes – in fact I’ve helped out at least three people in my life simply by being tall. Helps with reaching beans, you see. But generally speaking, it’s nothing but a bane on my existence. Aside from the furniture problems, I have banged my head on numerous doorways and am fairly easy to spot in a crowd, what with my size making me rise above the sea of morons surrounding.

I don’t understand the thinking behind these tiny seats, doorways, low tables and whatever other things they want to make tiny seemingly just to piss me off. Isn’t it scientific fact that people in the past were smaller? So, by that reasoning, people are still getting taller. In 30 years all the kids will be eight feet tall, and adults will hit about 50 on average. So why don’t we work on a constantly shifting scheme when it comes to furniture (and doorways)? Regular updates and upgrades in size would mean no one would ever be uncomfortable again, and while it would cost a fair amount this would be offset by the fact that I wouldn’t be cramped into shitty seats, having to make physical contact with people I hate (though, admittedly, I don’t know).

Just a suggestion. Get on it, British Rail. Or whoever I’m supposed to whine at.

(Yeah it’s a reused image. This week will be bad for images. No Photoshop or access to my original image.)

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Dumb or dumbest?

How much of what you were told as a child do you still believe? And how much of that you do still believe will invariably turn out to be bollocks, should you bother checking it? Probably more than you would expect. I still find myself reeling off “facts” to people that I was told in jest by my brother, or incorrectly-sold “truths” from some other sod I bothered listening to. It’s not until repeating these morsels of tasty untruth out loud that I realise how dumb they sound.

“Beans are made from silk!” I will proclaim to all within earshot, before my brain kicks in and I remember it’s actually a composite of hope and pure flavour that makes them so delicious. “Testicular cancer is actually a bona-fide hilarity with no compare!” I will cry from the top of the nearest high-rise (which, from where I’m sitting, is probably New York), or: “horses have knees on their teeth!” Basically, there’s a lot of stored up junk in my brain that I’ve never bothered to – or never thought to – clean out.

It’s an interesting concept, as I consider myself fairly intelligent. This just means that at any given time I could have an utterly ridiculous thought swirling around in my head, waiting to be unleashed on the unsuspecting company I may be keeping. It’s why I’ve had to train myself to shut up most of the time, lest my actual stupidity be revealed to the world at large. Avoiding arguments, discussions, polite discourse – anything that could reveal me as the simpleton I am underneath it all, really.

It’s because of my reasonable expertise in this particular field that I would like to offer a free bit of advice to all of you out there who have heads filled with as much putrid gash as mine is: shut your trap. Clam up the pie-hole. Put a sock in it while sucking an egg. Not only will this mean none of us will ever say anything stupid ever again, but it will also mean I get some fucking peace and quiet for once you awful, awful, loud WANKERS.

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The gospel according to Peggle

Forgive me Father Bjorn, for I have sinned. Without thinking, I made the rash claim that it was a different Popcap game that held the title of ‘Best Thing Ever’. I wasn’t thinking. I was hyped up on caffeine. I had Plants vs Zombies on the brain. I repent – truly, I do. I did not wish to forsake Thee, nor did I intend to take Thy name in vain. For this reason, I think it is only right that, as penance, I recite the gospel according to Peggle in the hope that it will help others to see the light that only You can provide.

And so it came to be, on that day in 2007 (almost three years ago exactly, if Wikipedia – the other gospel – is to be believed) that You came into existence. Many rumoured that You had actually been watching us from afar for millennia, waiting for the right time to appear to us and show us the way in our hour of need. For that, we can only ever show You our unending gratitude. Before You came to be were the heathen Gods – for a long time we thought the Russian puzzler known as Tet-ris was the guiding light for our souls, but Your light shone brighter. Those that claimed the countless demi-Gods and pagan priests – the Lumines, Hexic and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machines of this world – showed the way were proven wrong with one fell swoop of Your ball cannon.

And because it’s You, we don’t even find anything remotely euphemistic about the term ‘ball cannon’.

Since showing us the light, the Gods of Peggle have sought to offer us solace and comfort wherever we may be. First You were with us on our PCs and Macs, allowing us to be bathed in your (Ode to) Joyous glow at home and in the office. Soon enough You saw it in your infinite wisdom to bring yourself to the home consoles of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, so those of your flock without a PC or Fisher Price computer would be able to feel Your loving embrace. But You didn’t stop there, oh no – You wanted the world to know the meaning of what it is to be a True Believer: You came to us through our iPhones, our iPods, our Nintendo DS handhelds and a lot of other platforms I don’t really understand. Basically, You spread like a (sexy, kind and giving) rash.

So now it comes to pass that there is actually no excuse for not having at least experienced the miracle that is Peggle. The Gods have made it so it is the easiest thing in the world to get hold of, and as a game* it is simple enough for a stupid, small child to understand and like. Or a girl.

Please, Father Bjorn, accept my sincere and heartfelt apologies for this astonishing lack of judgement and control on my part. I guarantee You – with my everlasting soul on the line – that I will never slight You in this fashion again, and I will smite all of those who seek to destroy Your name with claims of “it’s dangerously addictive” and “stop screaming at it, Anna, it’s just a game”.

For it is written, and so it shall forever be.

*Obviously we know it’s not a game – it is the True Way of Life For Us All.

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I can read!

I had to make myself read through the entirety of (an excerpt for) a novel based on the story of Assassin’s Creed 2 earlier. Normally, an excerpt of this size would take a couple of minutes to read through and even less time to dismiss and forget about. But this… this thing will probably stick with me for the rest of my life. See:

“They left the palazzo on foot together, arm in arm, and walked in the direction of the cathedral, to the small quarter near it where many of the artists of Florence had their workshops and studios. Some, like those of Verrocchio and the rising star Alessandro di Moriano Filipepi, who’d already acquired the nickname Botticelli, were large, busy places, where assistants and apprentices were busy grinding colours and mixing pigments, others, humbler.”

But I can’t slag it off. I can’t slate it. I can’t laugh at those who would buy this atrocity. Why? Because I have become as bad as the people who like this shit (and Dan Brown ‘novels’) and the twit who wrote it. I have, in recent months, started to read celebrity autobiographies. Well, I say ‘celebrities’, I mean Frankie Boyle and some wrestlers. Still, they’re more famous than you are, meaning they’re celebrities to me. People to be celebrated.

Rather than read the piles of crap from authors who some might say are respected, I am instead – as seems to be the norm – taking the path of least resistance. This time it’s by reading things that don’t make you think at all, but instead make you coo a bit like a fool and inform you of a life you have no experience of, nor will ever.

Actually, when I put it like that, it makes sense. I think I’ll re-read Bobby Heenan’s book now.

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Commitment issues

I cannot commit. Well, that’s a bit of a lie – it’s more just something I want to say so I can have a WITTY headline. I can commit, I’m just not daring enough to start something new, to get into a new life adventure and to bring myself fresh new experiences. HILARIOUSLY, I’m talking about films and TV shows, and not – as you clearly thought – relationships! Hah! Who’da thunk it?

I have a fair few series under my belt, don’t get me wrong. I finished The Wire before most of you had even been told by the Grauniad to watch it (indeed, I listened to Brooker years before the paper starting NOT SHUTTING UP about it), I’ve been through all of Deadwood multiple times and comedy series get rinsed on a regular basis. Sunny series one was famously watched in its entirety three times in the space of a week, back in ’08.

So why do I find it so hard to put something different on? Why have I got Generation Kill sitting on my PC, still waiting? Why have I got about three dozen films that aren’t likely to be watched soon? Though admittedly I did strike Universal Soldier: Regeneration off that list the other day. Dolph! Jean-Claude! Mediocre film! And, most confusingly of all, why have I got Battlestar series four sitting waiting to be watched, when I finished watching the first three series years ago? It’s not hard to finish things, I’m clearly just a mental.

So I’ll set myself an incredibly difficult challenge: watch some things I haven’t watched before. Some things I’ve been meaning to watch. Even some things I want to watch. Crazy, I know – and difficult too. But with the help and support of my friends and family, I reckon I can get through this one.


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Repetition and avarice

A quick bash on Borderlands starting at around 9pm last night – an hour or so, before Match of the Day and a bit of progress for my Brick character. Or so I thought. The addition of two chums (and a few interchangeable randoms) and you have the recipe for roughly seven hours of play. Seven hours. And this is exactly why Borderlands is pretty much better than you.

It’s absolutely compulsive stuff in single-player, of that there’s no doubt. But it doesn’t really smack of any kind of genius; it’s just a well-made title that appeals to the hoarding part of the brain, for those who actually have that part of the brain. Obviously. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s almost boring – annoying, even – when you play Borderlands alone. Hours of running backwards as endless streams of irritating, snappy enemies run straight at you. It’s not so much fun as it is outright addictive.

But then you throw in a couple of mates, and you end up playing the bloody thing for about seven hours, forgetting to eat, drink, visit the toilet or talk to yo’ woman (SORRY ANNA). What changes? Well it actually adds enemies the more players you have working together, so surely that should just make it more annoying? Well, yes, on paper. But then, on paper Borderlands should be a bag of shit anyway – a game where all you do is run about killing roughly three types of enemy for dozens of hours, picking up thousands of pointless items. But just like Communism, what’s on paper doesn’t necessarily translate to the real (virtual) world. More people = more fun. You can actually use character classes as they’re meant to be used, work together as a team and – probably best of all – spend ten minutes standing in a circle throwing weapons onto the ground in the middle for the group to peruse. Sod your MMOGs, your MAGs and your OTHER UPPER CASE ACRONYMS: Borderlands, four (or three) people and a bit (lot) of spare time is all you need.

Oh, plus it helps when Rich is a big flaming prat who kills everyone for you. Makes things less irritating, at least.

Problem is, now I’ve got to remember to avoid a “quick bash” on Borderlands today, as I have work to be getting on with. Stupid time, gets in the way of everything.

(Today’s entry brought to you by: not saying everything you want to say about a game; the need to get some work done dominating your mind; really wanting a cup of tea; tiredness; hunger; AVARICE)

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Social networking? More like SHITcial networking! HAHAHA! AAAAHHHH!

Myspace ruined the word ‘procrastinating’ for me –  I’m sure it did the same for many others out there too. Aside from those who were using it every other day, obviously. They just thought it was a word that made it sound more intellectually stimulating than admitting the truth: ‘I am sat in my pants stalking someone I fancy on this thing, while listening to Hoobastank and crying’. They were so dumb they opted for a knock-off Incubus rather than some real emo shit. Fools.

Anyway, this got me thinking about other things the social networking revolution of Myspace, Facebook and all the other ones I don’t know about has ruined. For one, it’s ruined me as I use terms like ‘social networking revolution’. Before I would have just said ‘them sites wiv pichurs on HUHU’. Anyway, I’m going to break it down into a handy bullet-point format because I’m nice like that:

  • Mystery. No longer do you wonder what happened to people – you just know. And no longer can you make up some fun little thing in your head about how they moved to Namibia to live with an 85-year-old courier named Nigel. No, instead you are confronted with the truth.
  • The truth. It is often a horrible thing, especially when it comes to old school friends. Though at the same time it’s quite heartening to see that your paying attention at school has actually made it so you don’t come across as having the IQ of a puddle.
  • The past. None of us realise we looked like that in the past. It’s nice – tying in with mystery and the truth – to have an element of nostalgic glee about the size of your gums ten years ago, and simply rely on rooting out an old photo every few years to look and laugh at. Instead, Facebook sees these pictures on display all the time forever. Though my Umbro shirt is rather fetching in the fourth year junior school photo of my class.
  • Boredom. This doesn’t actually apply to me so much, as I have another go-to when bored in the form of videogames. But with other people it has had an interesting effect: they no longer seek out other things to do when bored. Rather, they trawl Facebook for hours, intermittently Tweeting about how bored they are. This in itself is an act designed to stave off boredom, which opens up a whole world of interesti discussions that I can’t be bothered thinking about right now.
  • Confusion. Girls you once knew turn up again and have done that stupid thing of getting married, thus meaning you don’t know who they are anymore. It’s not like I can recognise faces – I only know surnames.
  • Blog entries. Blogs now have a disgusting habit of talking about things like Facebook in a semi-serious manner, dissecting their societal impact and offering what is essentially a throwaway distraction much more attention than it deserves. They also use lists related to these invented issues.
  • Haircuts. Sigh.
  • The Grauniad. Not every story has to have a quote fromTwitter you hessian-wearing pricks.
  • People. I don’t want to go to that event, I don’t want to join that group, I don’t want to read your shitty blog, I didn’t realise you were a massive racist, you aren’t funny, you’re ugly – not pretty, re-tweeting someone famous doesn’t mean they’re your mate and JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Anyway, I hope this has been inspirational.

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Good, honest prattle

Walking to work today I was confronted by the sight of a market stall in the middle of Bournemouth town centre. Nothing amiss there. It was selling pies, pasties and other such tasty treats – how I managed to control myself and not devour the lot, I do not know. But again – nothing amiss there. What caught my eye was the banner for the stand, which proclaimed the proprietor was selling “good, honest food”. Forgive me for being crass, but that’s just fucking nonsense isn’t it?

I can understand where the phrase is coming from, obviously. We live in a world where we are constantly fed things that are made from 99 per cent ground-up irradiated colonoscopy equipment mixed with one per cent emulsified matter. But when you have companies like Pedigree marketing dog food as “good, honest food” then you can probably see my problem with how far it’s gone. I’m assuming their ‘honesty’ doesn’t stretch to in-depth ingredients listings, stating just how many cow knees and chicken ani (plural for anus, natch*) go into each tin of tasty goodness. Plus this marketing probably doesn’t take into account the fact that it is neither “good”, nor “food”. Not that this would stop a dog, obviously, but I don’t like the thought that my (imaginary) pooch is being lied to. Damn you to Hades, Pedigree.

While I am seemingly against the notion of honest food, I would actually like to see a world where lying food existed. Imagine the potential for hilarity – you buy a punnet of clementines, and when you open them up at home it turns out to be a tin with one giant bean in it – that would be a hoot and a holler,  no doubt about it. Still, a man can dream… a man can dream.

I do think it’s a sorry affair when food has to be marketed with the caveat that “it really is food, guv” – and I don’t think it’s just the evil food companies that are at fault here, even if they do mince up the fingers of orphan babies, tightly pack said mincey-fingers up in hard, sugary coatings and sell them as “Smarties”. No, I also blame the good, honest people out there for their unending quest to ruin everything by complaining about it. Who here had a problem eating Frankenstein apples the size of your TV before we were told we had to have a problem with them? Then Prince Charles got involved, and now everything has to claim it isn’t GM. I’m sure I could come up with a witty, recession-based joke about General Motors containing no GM, but I can’t. Instead I’ll just write that thought in the blog, like I just have done.

Anyway, there was a train of thought here but it seems to have been lost. It must be all the radioactive Nik Naks I’ve been eating recently. They’re definitely good, honest food.

*I know they don’t have an anus, they have a vent. Shut up. And yes, it really is called a ‘vent’.


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