Saturday, 27 December 2008
But in this rough year, some diamonds shone through. And while it’s easy to gripe about such shitefests as Satirical Movie, a satire of those awful, churned-out-by-the-dozen-and-guest-starring-Carmen-Electra satire movies like Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie, it’ll probably be better for my health to count down the few films that didn’t make me weep like a small child with no elbows. So let’s do it to it.
1: Three Men and Two and a Half Men and the Man in the Iron Mask and Five Children and It and It
After the huge runaway success of Three Men and Two and a Half Men earlier in the year, a big-budget sequel was quickly made, featuring Tom Selleck, Sam from Cheers and Corey Haim reunited with Charlie Sheen, the Fat Kid and His Ugly Dad. Together they travel to 17th Century France, rescue a mysterious imprisoned man, and save some Victorian children and a wish-granting pixie from a scary clown. This film had everything, and everyone I know who saw it was speechless for five days afterwards.
2: Moonlit Dusk
This heart-warming tale of a schoolgirl’s relationship with an undead werewolf was a huge hit with promise ring-wearing Jonas Brothers fans and hirsute paedophiles alike. Some liked it for the excitement, some for the romance; I liked it for the bit at the end when he eats her in a blood-crazed rage.
3: The Man Who Cried
My third favourite film of the year was sentimental weepie The Man Who Cried. In the course of 110 minutes, John Steward (played by John Actor) loses his lover, his dog, his parents, his son, his way to the funerals, his mind, his favourite tie, his keys, his ATM PIN, the use of his legs and his brother’s sundial. He cries. A lot. And so will you.
4: The Christmas Presence
A haunted Christmas tree terrorises two young parents (Jennifer Connelly and Mark Wahlburg) in this seasonal horror film. While the film itself wasn’t particularly good, it did win me the complete Monty Python DVD box set.
5: Ducks in a Bus
The animation of the year was this brilliantly funny film, which provides fun for all the family, except possibly Uncle Jim, who doesn’t really like this sort of thing. Four ducks (probably voiced by Jack Black, that fat one from Knocked Up, someone else currently de rigour and Ellen), find themselves in a bus. What will they do?
6: La Maison du Patrinibopp
A dead cert for best foreign film at next year’s Oscars, this French effort has weeping nuns, a prostitute with a heart of gold, a pair of men obsessed with the sound of their own farts and a whole lot of onion-scented loss and despair with glorious undercurrents. This film didn’t make a lick of sense.
7: CGI Man 2: The Explosioning
Fans of the first CGI Man film were not let down by the sequel, which featured explosions, bangs, big fights, shiny things, lights, loud noises, midriffs, and a hey! Look at that! It’s a funny dog! Look, it’s chasing his own tail! Ha ha ha ha silly dog! Where was I?
8: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Battle the Guy with the Really Loud iPod on the Subway
Prince Adam of Eternia, along with his cohorts Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko and the Sorceress find themselves pitted in mortal combat with a bloke playing Rhianna far too loud on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Chilling and, ultimately, cathartic.
9: Pregnant Teenage Bride Wars
Combining two of the most bankable assets that Hollywood currently offers – Pregnant teens and Kate Hudson – this film is full of laughs from start to finish, except for a brief chuckle-free section around minutes 63 to 65.
10: The Imaginary Review Movie
Sadly overlooked by both critics and the idiot general viewing public, this film was a tour of force, with brilliant performances from the cast, especially the lead actor (I. Reviewer). The story, revolving around one man’s quest to rid the world of evil local listings magazines who don’t reply to well-written and neatly-typed letters, is excellent, and the soundtrack is also very nice. I loved this film.
Monday, 22 December 2008
But to dwell on the scandals would do a great disservice to the music itself, so without further adieu, here are my albums of the year.
1: Cat Power – The Covers of Covers of My Songs Album
Having released two albums of covers in recent years (The Covers Album and Jukebox), Chan Marshall ran out of songs to re-interpret, so she got other musicians to cover her own compositions, and then covered these covers. The results are frequently astounding, with her cover of Arcade Fire’s cover of American Flag staying beautifully true to the intent of the Montreal band’s interpretation of the song. Another highlight is her version of Jimmy Eat World’s version of Nude as the News.
2: Tribulation – Death to the Masses
Hailed by the press upon its release as “the quietest heavy metal album ever,” Death to the Masses is the best rock CD of the year. The trio of Gunther (Triangle), Maximo (Glockenspiel) and Curly Jack (Vocals and cowbell), proved that guitars are not necessary for true bloodrushing, cockroaring RAWK. Tribulation are also a great live band, with Maximo’s Glockenspiel solos really creating a stir in the mosh pit.
3: John Folk – Songs I Wrote in a Field
The best folk album of the year came from one of the most controversial acts in the genre. But while many folk music fans were engrossed in the real beard/fake beard rumours, anyone overlooking the music itself was missing out. With gems like I did a Dance (and you did the Postman) and Nettles, Nettles for my Soup, this was the folk album of 2008.
4: The Websters – The Websters
The Websters are a band who are far too obscure and cool for you to have heard of. Don’t even bother looking for this record, you’ll never find it. You lowly music ignoramus.
5: Marcus Bragstaff – Genius: A Tribute to Marcus Bragstaff
It took some guts for this previously unknown singer/songwriter to write and record a tribute album to himself, but it works remarkably. With great singalong tracks like My Accomplishments are as Numerous as They are Impressive and All this and a Massive Cock, Too, this is a great album from an explosive new talent. And doesn’t he know it!
6: Poppy o’Tippett – Tha Wreckord
Fans and detractors alike scoffed at Sean ‘Puffy/Puff Daddy/P Diddy/Poppa Doodle’ Combs’ new look and name change, but he silenced all of them with this album of phat beats, kicking rhymes and other things that make me sound like an idiot when I write them down.
7: Johnny Triplet and the Doublets – Love Songs for Mary
8: Johnny Triplet and the Doublets – Songs of Hate for the Bitch who Cheated on me with Greg
What a great pair of releases by Johnny Triplet in 2008, both of which made my top ten! Who could forget such classic pieces of music as Your Eyes and Your Eyes (Stab Them! Redux)? And my song of the summer had to be Greg? Seriously? You Cheated on me With Greg? He has a Face Like a Stool Sample, For Crying Out Loud. Classic.
9: The Chucklefun Brigade – Enough Cuddles and Love to Kill a Donkey
While many people thought the Chucklefun Brigade were a super-sweet, saccharine pop band, I saw through their guise. This album is one of the darkest of 2008, and my dreams will be haunted by the visions of pure terror that emanate from songs like Let’s Be Friends Forever and Gosh, Aren’t Kittens Wonderful?
10: The Imaginary Reviewer – Songs for Swinging Reviewers
Of course I’m biased, but this was a truly fantastic album. Sure, the critics and buying public overlooked it, but what do they know? Nothing. I’m a professional toilet cleaner and a reviewer, and I think it’s ace. So there.
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
But last year, a gap appeared in the clouds of holiday party boredom, and the sunlight shone through in the form of the hit party game, Chickenhat.
For people who spent the last 12 months in a womb, I will briefly explain. Chickenhat is a game like Pass the Parcel: while music plays, a circle of people pass a roast chicken from head to head. When the music stops, the person with the chicken on their head gets to take a piece and eat it. The game continues until no meat is left on the bird, and everyone is full of fowl.
Chickenhat was such a resounding success last year that greasy hair became a mark of pride for some people, and it was completely normal to see people in the street with drumsticks behind their ears. The game was an international success, with fans including the Pope, Ricky Martin and the King of Gambia, who now refuses to eat anything that hasn’t first sat on his head.
Flushed with the success of the Chickenhat phenomenon, many companies have released expansion packs and accessories for the game, which I will explore for you now.
Possibly the most eagerly awaited Chickenhat product is the Official Extended Rules System Book, created and released by the Official World Chickenhat League. Several dozen new variations are included in this guide, from the much-loved Welsh Lladdybhoy Chickenhat (in which the bird is filled with melted cheese) and the Swiss version (in which dropping the chicken from one’s head to the floor is punishable by expulsion from the game and stoning). I loved trying out these different rules, especially Speed Chickenhat, which uses the smaller Scots Dumpy breed for ultra-quick games. A word of warning, though: Combat Chickenhat is for experts only. My friends and attempted to play this variation in my living room, and while it was fun for a while, the game had to be suspended after several hundred pounds of damage was created and one competitor became pregnant. That aside, the plethora of new games to try out will brighten any Chickenhat aficionado’s day.
Travel Chickenhat has been released by MG Games for Chickenhatters on the go. I will admit, I can’t see the appeal of playing the game while in a car, ferry or plane, but addicts may well like it. All the essential accessories are included in this kit, including gizzard net and giblet dice. Plus there’s an adaptor for in-flight airplane meals, which is rubbish.
Warner Brothers have made an official Chickenhat Compilation Album, featuring songs to play while engaged in a poultry headwear party. With songs such as Got a Chicken on my Head (Yay!) by Miley Cyrus and Pullet Frenzy by Parson and the Noses, this is a great collection of music to play – stop – eat some chicken – play – stop – eat some chicken.
A quick warning now, to be wary of the many different non-official Chickenhat knockoffs out there. Grousehat, Goosehat, Swanhat and Toasthat are all vastly inferior games, with vague rules, poor equipment and – in the case of Swanhat – the danger of serious neck damage. Avoid.
Finally, Chickenhat: The Fowl Play Board Game is just as much fun as the original game, and allows anyone to play Chickenhat, even if they are unable to play the game proper due to, for example, having a pointy head. Players roll the dice and move their chicken around the ‘head-board’ (get it?), answering questions and riddles while simultaneously trying to avoid the Spaniard who is chasing the chickens around the board so he can put them in a pie. The figurines are extremely detailed, with majestic, regal chickens and a realistically evil Spaniard. This gave my friends and I hours of fun and a genuine distaste for continental Europeans. Of course, it doesn’t match up to the fun of having a real roast chicken on your head, but it’s close.
Friday, 12 December 2008
People who are on fire tend to find things even harder around Christmas time. My own Uncle Norris spent over ten years burning like a bonfire, but he always said that the worst time was around Advent. The tree, the presents, shopping centre Santas: anything that he got too close to would go up in flames just like him, but with a more tragic air. That’s why it’s important to treat those of us less not-on-fire than us at Christmas.
A great gift for someone on fire is the latest self-help book by ‘Dr’ Phil McGraw, Incineration Nation: What to do if You’re on Fire. With a foreword by Travis Barker of Blink 182 and chapters such as ‘Overcoming the fear to ask for help (and a bucket of water)’ and ‘Hose yourself down metaphorically with praise and actually with water’, this book will give any walking inferno the courage to stand up and say “Yes! I am a human being, not just a human burning!” It also has a handy series of maps showing lakes, ponds, puddles and taps in North America.
Many people who find themselves being cremated before their time tend to forget about things like beautifying themselves and looking nice. Indeed, the single-minded desire to not be ablaze can make people omit many essential things from their daily routine. Moisturising, for example, is even more needed during times of being reduced to ashes; the skin can get so dry when the fire is removing all moisture from it. That’s why The Body Shop has released a special new skincare range for people who are being gutted by Lucifer’s kiss. The Sweet Relief facial mask could be just what a burning person needs to combat the effects of aging, daily wear and tear and, of course, being on fire. I tested the face mask on a burning bush, and it looked years younger after just a few minutes of use.
Nothing says ‘Christmas’ more than a humorous sweater, possibly with a reindeer on it. Of course, being on fire makes it very difficult to wear funny outerwear, so why not get a Kevlar Suit and paint it in festive colours? The added personal touch will surely go down a treat with your friend, loved one or resented offspring.
The latest CD by Casual Buttplug, Let us Burn Down the Orphanage With Our Love contains their top ten hit I’d Kiss You With Tongues (If I Wasn’t Afraid of Second Degree Burns). Given that the band only sing about spontaneous combustion, the record would be an ideal gift for music loving human pyres. Their music is a mix of ska, pop and frenzied screaming, so there’s something for everyone.
Finally, why not just get that special singeing someone as much water as possible in order to put out their fire? I’m just saying, it seems a bit sensible, that’s all.
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
With this in mind, many of us dread the possibility of getting a God or Godlike figure as a recipient in a Secret Santa gift exchange. Just what does one get for the omnipotent and omniscient creator who has everything? The new Hives CD? Hardly (Though Shiva is said to be fond of the Scandinavian rockers, She probably has all their stuff already). Today I’ll talk you through some of the best new gift ideas for deities.
Despite being all-knowing and all-seeing, many Gods find it difficult to keep track of all Their creations. With so many humans, animals and inanimate objects to look after, it’s often difficult to remember who to smite and who to blind with the power of Your glory. That’s where the new Microsoft DeityBase comes in. It’s a special new database for creators of worlds, with files for humans (believers and non-believers), animals and even rocks and trees. There are hundreds of useful reports and queries, so one can tell easily how many gays are getting married each day, with handy pivot tables showing how many heterosexual marriages are being undermined as a result.
The best thing about MS DeityBase is that it is compatible with many other Microsoft Divinity Software applications, such as PowerSmite and Word (Omen Edition). Using the information held within DeityBase, it’s now easier than ever to command an unhinged loner to kill them, kill them all, kill them all with spoons!
We all know what happens when a God is offended. There are plagues, maidens are tricked into bestial relationships, and things can get very damp for everything not atop Mount Ararat. That’s why buying clothes for a deity is big no-no. The consequences of getting something unflattering or in the wrong size can be huge. So why risk buying apparel when you can get something much better: a wardrobe makeover with Hephabulus, God of Fashion and presenter of hit TV show How to Look Good Sacred?
Yes, for one day, Hephabulus will come to the deity of your choice’s house (or temple), throw out all those ghastly togas and robes, and help them choose some great new looks! Even a plus size supernatural entity (I’m looking at you, Buddha!) can find stylish new clothes with Hephabulus, so there’s no excuse!
Anyone looking for an awesome stocking stuffer for their favourite deity can do a lot worse than checking out fitforaGod.com, the new online gadget and gizmo store for Holy Beings. From ‘Wandering Jew’ GPS systems to Flying Spaghetti Monster plush toys, there’s something for every non-corporeal postulated Creator. My personal favourite is the Intelligent Design Space Monkey set: watch the little creatures grow before your eyes, then use your powers to make them evolve! (Irreducible complexity not included)
So there you have it. A wealth of gifts for the deity in your life, and not a Richard Dawkins book among them. Of course, if you’re really stuck, you could always sacrifice a sheep. Some Gods really go for that.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
One of the best presents this year is the new KraQ line of luxury crack pipes from Nematode Gifts. Available in a range of colours and styles, your druggie friend will be the envy of everyone at the pawn shop with the Thoroughbred model, which features streamlined sinew detailing on the bodywork. The Marquis model comes in a dignified steel grey colour, and has go-faster stripes for better intake capacity. My personal favourite, though, is the Sensationale, which is ribbed for her pleasure.
If you’re buying a gift for a junkie who is trying to quit, a great stocking filler is the Russian Roulette Smack Pack. Sold in an attractive wooden cigar case, this gift consists of six identical small needles, five of which contain a wonderful dose of the finest quality heroin, just waiting to be injected into a nearby arm, leg, neck or eyeball. The remaining needle, however, contains a potent poison that will give the injectee as painful a death as it is possible to imagine. But which one is it? Recovering addicts will have lots of itchy, shivering fun trying to resist the call of the Smack Pack. It’s also great fun at parties. Available from Harrods and Bob’s Quality Things Emporium.
Nothing says ‘class’ more than a good snort of cocaine. Unless, that is, it’s a good snort of cocaine using the new Cavendish-Thwakbulb Bone China Cocaine Snorting Contraption. Made from the finest bone china and with a handsome display case, this really does beat a rolled up banknote. Indeed, the people at Cavendish-Thwakbulb claim that snorting the white stuff with their contraption can prevent septum damage by a factor of several percentages. Oh, and it has a nice swirly pattern on it that goes ‘wheeeee’ when my eyes glide across the lines and lines and lines and lines and oh my God I just saw Scott Blackula like a magic eye picture did you see it did you see it did you see it?
Anyone who is looking to buy for a really finicky drug fiend could do a lot worse than getting one of the CIA’s new Laboratory Vouchers. Available in a range of denominations, the vouchers entitle the bearer to early access to whatever new and exciting population-suppressing drugs they create. It doesn’t matter if you’re neither poor nor an ethnic minority; whatever whacked-out addictive pillcrazy headmash the boffins at the CIA can come up with, you’ll get it first. Be the first in your neighbourhood to try the next crack, smack or magic monkey juice!
Well, if you can’t provide Christmas cheer for your favourite hopeless prescription-stealing meth poppet from that selection, you’re just not trying hard enough! [Insert ‘cold turkey/Christmas dinner’ joke here. Ha ha ah ha ha ha! Alternatively, just leave the punchline and let the idiots make up their own damn setup]
Next time: Stuck for a gift for that special deity or God figure? Look no further than The Imaginary Review!
Monday, 1 December 2008
You see, dear reader, an hour ago I got an email from a man called Bill Wilson, President of a group called Americans for a Limited Government. The have invited me to ‘become a key member of the exciting new conservative “bloggers central,”’ which I believe to be an offer far too good to pass up. So with your indulgence, I’d like to run my response by you before I send it for truesies. Let me know what you think.
It is with fluttering heart and throbbing member that I read your epistle, such is the excitement that it gives me. Such praise! Such ebullient tribute! Such overdue recognition! Thank you!
When you tell me that I play “a critical role…in gathering, assimilating, and disseminating news and commentary,” you’re referring to that review of lovers I wrote for Valentine’s Day, aren’t you? Or is it the pet review from last year? It’s both, isn’t it? Yeah, I thought so. I remember writing them both and thinking to myself, “Imaginary Reviewer, that is some bad-ass disseminating, right there. The world had better ready itself for this dissemination. I’ve never disseminated this much in quite a while.”
Wait, forget that last part. I just looked up ‘disseminate’ in the dictionary, and it doesn’t mean ‘wank’. I take that last part back. Let’s move on.
When you tell me that you “personally, [are] deeply grateful to [me] for taking the lead in fighting some of the most important battles our country has faced over the past decade, and more,” I find myself nodding in agreement. It was a brave move, I think, fighting against the headwear industry in my imaginary hat review last year, and I know that I put a lot of noses out of joint when I gave a less-than-stellar review to Puff Daddy’s covers album. But one has to pick one’s battles, when one’s country is at stake, wouldn’t you agree?
By the way, when you say “our country,” what exactly do you mean? I only ask because I had assumed you were American, what with you being the President of a group called ‘Americans for Limited Government’. And, you know, with that whole part where I’m not American, I was given the – no doubt foolish – impression that you hadn’t done your research. But no, such an important man such as yourself would not send such a profound invitation without knowing that I am British. I’m sure your organisation’s title is ironic. You’re probably based near Newcastle or Carlisle.
By the way, the features of the website you have invited me to join sound incredible. Being able to post my own blogs? Interfacing with bloggers worldwide (and not just in “our country”)? Being able to customize my profile? Whoa there, Seabiscuit! You just blew my mind!
And if I may quote you again, you say that you “have asked ALG's Director of New Media, Adam Bitely, to follow up on this note with a letter of his own providing [me] the exciting details on how NRN can help [me] grow [my] own blog.” Grow my own blog? Really? I tried growing a Venus flytrap once and it died. Well, when I say ‘died’, I mean ‘never even sprouted’. I hope you know what you’re doing.
So thank you for your invitation, I can’t wait to join my fellow members of the “Conservative Blogosphere,” as you call it. I will do my best to help ‘our countrymen’ – nudge nudge, wink wink – limit the government through hilarious reviews of imaginary creations. I’m sure I’ll be able to push forward your aims of funding ballot initiatives throughout the US with my series of seasonal gift reviews throughout December.
So, in summary, thank you Bill. I promise I won’t let you, Adam Bitely, or the other ‘Americans’ down.
The Imaginary Reviewer
PS: Being able to post my own blogs? Seriously? Christ in a bathtub, this is going to be HUGE!
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
If the crowd at the preview shows is anything to go by, the answer is, emphatically, “yes”. Or maybe even “emphatically, yes”. Or possibly “yes,” but said emphatically, with a nod of the head, so that the emphasis is inferred, rather than said outright.
The story of No Limits revolves around Anita, a young Dutch shoe shop employee who falls for her boss, a young go-getter called Ray. But how will she capture the heart of her hard-working employer who seems to have no time for romance? Enter Cloggy, a mysterious wooden shoe creature who befriends Anita and sets out to help her find true love.
It’s a clichéd story, to be sure, but what brings it all together is the music. Like the Abba songs in Mamma Mia!, the Queen songs in We Will Rock You and the Wheatus songs in Teenage Dirtbag: The Musical, the sheer brilliance of 2 Unlimited’s music really does ensure a quality time for all.
Take the scene in which Anita is bemoaning Ray’s lack of social life because he’s always at the shoe shop. What better way to exemplify this than with 2 Unlimited’s excellent top ten hit Workaholic? This song had everyone dancing in the aisles, especially with its brilliant lyrics such as “Drinking drinking like an alcoholic/That guy is just a workaholic”! Why, it’s nearly as good as when Turbo D of Snap declared that rhythm was a dancer, and did so with all the seriousness of a terrible illness. Lyrics like this only come once in a lifetime.
Anita (left) and Ray, the main characters of No Limits. Cloggy not pictured.
Another excellent idea by the producers of No Limits was to have a screen behind the stage projecting the lyrics, like a giant karaoke machine. None of the viewers watching could resist joining in with Get Ready For This, and it was a joy to hear a huge hall full of people all singing along: “Are y’all ready for this?/ner ner ner neh neh neh ner ner ner ner neh neh neh ner ner ner ner/neh neh neh ner ner ner ner neh neh neh ner ner ner ner/nernernernernernerner yeah!/nernernernernernerner yeah!”
Of course, nothing is perfect, and No Limits does suffer occasionally from being a little too reliant on the songs in order to propel the story forwards. Magic Friend, one of 2 Unlimited’s least popular hits, seems to be the only reason why Cloggy is in the show at all. Also, an entire scene in which Anita finds herself trapped in a strange world where catchy European pop music doesn’t exist is only there so the producers can fit in the song Twilight Zone. But then, who am I to gripe, if the alternative is no appearance by this excellent piece of music? All together now! “This is the Twilight Zone/And you’re not on your own/Gonna take you to the Twilight Zone!” Hooray!
Oh, and just in case you were worried, the eponymous world-wide smash hit for which 2 Unlimited are most famous – No Limits – does appear in the show. Did you really think they’d leave it out? No, no. No, no, no, no. No, no, no, no. No, no. There’s no effing way they’d leave it out.
In summary, then, No Limits – The 2 Unlimited Musical is the best musical I’ve ever seen based around the songs of a much missed Europop band of the 90s. Well, not counting Pump up the Jam! The Technotronic Musical and The Culture Beat Beat Beats on: Featuring Mr Vain and all the Rest of Culture Beat’s Hits in the Form of a Stage Play Set to Music with the Songs Related (Sometimes Spuriously) to the Events Occurring in the Story. But then, those two musicals really are the benchmark for 90s dance-influenced musicals.
No Limits: The 2 Unlimited Musical begins December 1st at the Glasgow McUpChuck Theatre. Tickets are white, with black writing. The first 20 customers receive a free baby.
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Secondly, I thought I’d explain my choices in the most recent Green Monkey Music Project, in which the lovely Barbara asked contributors to select six songs that give them ‘eargasms’. I decided to join in the fun, and blogger extraordinaire Splotchy has them on his rather excellent blog. Here, I’ll talk you through my selection.
1: Maybe Tenderness – Gintare
Eargasm moment: 1:37
Gintare is an eastern European singer whose voice is like a cross between Bjork, Enya and an opera singer. I received her album, Earthless, to review for my University newspaper, and was blown away. It is beautiful. Quite a bit of the album is very dancy, but the song I’ve chosen is slow and builds up nicely to a wonderful long note that always gives me shivers (around 1:37).
2: Untitled #3 – Sigur Ros
Eargasm moment: 4.48
This was the first song I thought of when I read the criteria for this mix. For me, this piece of music is one long wave of anticipation for the moment at 4:48 when the key changes. The song starts with wave noises, a piano emerges and slowly, slowly, other instruments join in, and just when everything seems to be there, the piano goes up. Amazing.
Southern Accents – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Eargasm moment: 2:20
My favourite song by my favourite band of all time. The eargasm moment is really for the lyrics, which always seem to get me. I could listen to this song forever.
Helicon 1 – Mogwai
Eargasm moment: 2:55
It was difficult to pick only one Mogwai song for this compilation, given that they’ve provided me with so many eargasm moments. For those unfamiliar with this band of Scottish post-rockers, their early stuff mostly consists of very quiet, repetitive guitar melodies that suddenly erupt into huge, loud cacophonies of noise. Helicon 1 is a good example of this, with the quietest opening ever and lovely loud part at 2:55. I have announced in the past that I would like this song to be played at my funeral.
Nandodemo – Dreams Come True
Eargasm moment: 2:52
Apologies for a song in Japanese, but this is the first song I really loved when I moved to Japan in 2004. The moment that gets me is when the chorus is sung two more times with different lyrics towards the end. It’s almost breathless and peps me up end. The entire song epitomises for me the very Japanese word ‘Ganbatte’: Fighting, striving, never giving up, no matter what.
Concerto De Aranjuez (Adagio) – Rodrigo
Eargasm moment: 9:15
This is my favourite piece of classical music. Again, a great crescendo, the highlight of which for me is the moment when everything rises, holds for a breath longer than I expect it to around 9:15, then carries on before fading out. Beautiful.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
The décor of AfM is how one would expect a restaurant owned by the frontman of Guns N Roses to look. Guitars and photos of the past adorn the walls of the eatery, though his public spats with other members of G’n’R mean that only pictures of Axl himself are to be found. There are framed gold and platinum discs around the place, and in one corner there is a display of some of Rose’s famous kilts. As one might expect, the music being played is a constant stream of Guns N Roses’ most popular songs, including that one from Terminator 2.
Looking at the menu, there’s a great selection of delicious-looking pizza meals, and I opted for the ‘Sweet Chili of Mine’, a pepper-based pizza with caramelised onions and olives. My partner went for the ‘Meat-Train’, a carnivore’s dream with more different sausages than you can shake a Slash guitar solo at. Really, we were spoiled for choice; from the fromage-tastic ‘It’s so Cheesy’ (with seven different kinds of cheese) to the vegetarian ‘Welcome to the Fungal’, a mostly mushroom-based pizza, there was so much on offer here. I was quite tempted by the ‘Paradise VoraCity’, a pizza that certainly lives up to its name by being 36 inches in diameter and earning a leather jacket for anyone who can eat an entire one alone.
With all these mouthwatering choices, then, it’s a shame that the service in Appetite for Mozzarella is so poor. It was over an hour after we ordered that we saw our waiter again, and when asked what had happened to our food he apologised but said that Axl had fired all his kitchen staff shortly after we ordered. He assured us that our meal would be ready once the new recruits had got up to speed with the kitchen layout and the menu.
I took this time to read a leaflet about the restaurant. Apparently it’s possible to rent out Appetite for Mozzarella for a special ‘November Rain’ wedding reception, complete with unexpected downpours, someone diving headfirst through the cake and a general feeling of foreboding until the third act when the bride dies and the groom wakes up, sobbing, as the whole thing has been a dream.
After another hour had passed our pizzas were brought out to our table, but before the waiter could set them before us, the chef ran out and told him to bring them back because he wasn’t happy with them.
It was at this point when I realised that nobody else in the restaurant was eating.
And this, then, is my main gripe with Appetite for Mozzarella. The food looks and smells wonderful. The smells coming out of the kitchen were to die for. We couldn’t wait for our food. But we had to wait. And wait. And wait. And despite being offered free Dr. Pepper for having to wait so long, it is simply unacceptable to have people wait for as long as we were before being served. When we discovered that our food wouldn’t be ready until April 2015, my partner and I decided to leave and find a more prompt meal elsewhere.
So I’m sorry that I can’t comment on the quality of the food in question, but with service this bad, I don’t recommend that anyone else try to find out for themselves.
No chefs’ hats out of a possible five.
Welcome to the fungal/we’ve got chanterelle/we’ve got every mushroom you want/even False Morel/and you’re a very hungry man/very hard to please/if you don’t like mushrooms well/we’ve got a pizza full of cheese/in the fungal/welcome to the fungal/gonna bring you your shi-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ke/shiitake/shiitake
Friday, 14 November 2008
Holy Smokes stars Jasper Haines as Joe Patrickson, a priest living with his wife and two children in California. Haines’s biggest role to date has been on the popular TV show Lost, in which he has starred for the past four seasons as the Smoke Monster, a large, swirling mass of black fog that consumes people and appears to be able to penetrate their memories. Before this breakthrough role, Haines had numerous bit parts, such as his appearance in Rescue Me as the ‘Smoke from Fire in Apartment B’ and in Without a Trace as ‘Smoke Coming from Kidnapper’s Cigarette’. This is his first starring role.
Jasper Haines, star of Holy Smokes
And boy, does he relish his time in front of the camera! Given that Haines is a giant pillar of acrid black fumes, people could be forgiven for having some doubt as to his acting ability, but he is definitely the man for the job. One of Holy Smokes’ senior writers has been quoted as saying that this is the role that Jasper Haines was born to play, and I agree with him. Well, I would, but I’m not sure that he was actually born as such. He looks like he fell out of a chimney.
Despite having no facial features to speak of, no voice except for a general ominous rumbling, and all the other drawbacks associated with being a big pile of wispy smog, Jasper does account for himself rather well. Indeed, when Joe’s attempts to put on his new priestly dog collar are thwarted by his lack of a physical neck, the actor is funnier than Jim Belushi in any episode of According to Jim, despite Belushi’s obvious advantage in the facial expression and voice area.
Content-wise, Holy Smokes does run the risk of being a little too samey for my liking. Most of the jokes revolve around the difficulties that Joe faces in his daily life as a priest who also happens to be a giant ball of smoke. The aforementioned inability to wear a dog collar, his misfortune when people switch on extractor fans, his unfortunate tendency to consume his parishioners, Lost-style: these are recurring jokes throughout the series. While they are certainly funny the first time, they do tend to grate as time goes on.
Joe’s relationship with his wife is a welcome element to the series, providing much relief from the obligatory “oh no, I just accidentally consumed old Mrs Gratt and her dog” jokes. Jenny Patrickson, played by Daphne Zuniga, provides a very good foil for Joe, and the running joke in which she repeatedly complains of her husband’s ineffectiveness in the bedroom is great. The accompanying uncertainty of the Patricksons’ children’s paternity gives the show a slightly tragicomic feel at times. Everyone knows that Joe couldn’t have got his wife pregnant; he’s a big ball of smoke with no genitalia!
In all, Holy Smoke is a fresh and funny new show, and Jasper Haines should go on to be a big star in the future. There are already rumours that he will be co-starring with Tom Cruise in a film set in WW2 Germany, and I think it will be nice to see him in a strongly characterised, serious role. But as a comedian, Haines still shines with a murky, foggy glory that really is unique, and Holy Smokes could well prove to be this year’s Everybody Loves Raymond’s Brother.
Holy Smokes, NBC, Thursdays at 9.30. Enjoy it while you can, it'll probably be cancelled after ten minutes.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
But for those of us unaffected by the recent economic shitslide, toy manufacturers are releasing some excellent new playthings to help us truly celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ (who died, for his sins).
One such new toy is Baby Sweetcheeks, a doll made by APL Toys. The company claim that this is the most realistic toy child ever created, a viewpoint with which I wholeheartedly agree. For a start, when buying this doll, the purchaser is not allowed to take it home from the store. Instead, the buyer pays for it, gives their home address to the cashier, and the doll is abandoned on their doorstep at a later date. When I got my special pre-release Baby Sweetcheeks doll in this manner it was very traumatic for my partner; she had no idea that a neonate would be delivered by this method, and she suspected for some time that I had fathered a bastard offspring that was now coming back to haunt me.
Baby Sweetcheeks is powered by some very advanced technology that means she must be fed on a regular basis, just like a real child. Failure to do this activates a small beacon in the toy, and APL employees will come and confiscate the doll from its owner. Obviously, this can be somewhat traumatic for a small child, but not as traumatic as the subsequent mock trial they are forced to endure, in which they are accused of neglecting their baby.
Thankfully, none of this happened to me while I possessed the toy, as I managed to bottle-feed it throughout the reviewing time. Incidentally, bottle-feeding is now the only way of feeding the Baby Sweetcheeks dolls; the prototype versions that could also be breastfed were shelved after an outcry from consumer groups, children’s charities and Mormons.
All of this should give you some idea of quite how realistic Baby Sweetcheeks is, while at the same time conveying how unpleasant that makes the toy. Add to that the crying: the incessant sobbing at night, during the day, before feeding, during feeding, after feeding, after taking it for its shots - and don’t get me started on that one - when out in the stroller…all like the sound of Hell itself emanating from a plastic child-shaped shell. Then, when one has recovered from this ear-splitting hellwail of Beelzebub, there’s the never ending stream of shit that pours forth from her prosthetic arse-hole. Seriously, this child spouts more crap than Bill O’Reilly. Oh, and if you’re worried that the bodily fluids end there, stop where you are: Shit. Piss. Vomit. It’s all there to ‘enjoy’.
So, in conclusion, while APL Toys are to be commended for developing such a realistic doll, they seem to have forgotten the most important aspect of toy ownership, and that is that the toy itself must be fun. Baby Sweetcheeks is so much like the real thing, nobody in their right mind is going to want it. It’s practically no different to having a baby of one’s own, and everybody knows that the best thing about babies is making them.
Baby Sweetcheeks, made by the Abstinence Promotion League, is available from all good toy stores and several crap ones. Puke refills sold separately.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
As the Imaginary Reviewer, I get invited to lots of soirees hosted by people who wish to curry my favour. Of course, my opinion on music, film or literature can’t be changed by sausages on sticks and after-dinner Armagnac, but this doesn’t stop people trying. My evenings are all full with black tie events and charity fundraisers, so much so that my tuxedo hasn’t had a night off in three months, and the Union of Formalwear Garments are threatening me with legal action.
And yet, my favour remains uncurried. The hosts of these parties have not managed to influence my reviews in any way; the only effect they’ve had on The Imaginary Review is fodder for my reviewing eye. So here are some reviews of some of the recent shindigs I’ve attended.
The evening at the Witheringham-Smythe’s home in Marylebone Square was a resounding success on all levels. Firstly, the other guests were all wonderfully interesting people. Mister Chatterstoft, a widower from Stoke-on-Trent, regaled us all with a rousing tale of his exploits in Bangkok. How we laughed at his witty anecdotes about cases of mistaken identity, slapstick police chases and missing prophylactics! And the food, laid on by the Witheringham-Smythes’ catering staff was to die for. The roast suckling duckling bathed in a reduction of its own tears was particularly delicious. Reverend Simms’s erotic shadow puppetry rounded off a delightful evening.
Lord Arse-Tebbit and his intriguing man-friends hosted a charity fundraising auction at the Blatherwick Manure Museum Hall on Tuesday. To raise money for the building of a new gallows in Blatherwick Town Centre, Lord Arse-Tebbit was auctioning off his daughters, all twenty-three of them. Bidding was quite frenzied at times, with some lots being decided through fist fights in the car park. A great time was had by all, especially Lord Arse-Tebbit’s daughters, who enjoyed the attention. I ended up winning Gladys, who now has pride of place on my mantelpiece until Saint Swithin’s Day, when I have to give her back.
I wasn’t particularly fond of the wine tasting hosted by Terence Flanagan at the Devonshire Hotel in Upper Wapping. A series of lapses in the evening’s organisation meant that no wine had been provided, and so our group of eager connoisseurs had to make do with a tap water tasting instead. This was far from ideal, especially after Mrs Killorphan caught diphtheria. We did, however, attempt to make the best of the situation, and I can reveal that – from our novice tastebuds, anyway – the upstairs gents’ toilets tap had the worst tasting water, while the best was in the third-floor staffroom.
Finally, Steve Capshaw had a wonderful soiree at his parents’ house while they were in Portugal for a week. A delightful time was had by most of his guests, especially Mark Jones who snogged Debbie Bradshaw in Steve’s parents’ bedroom, with many rumours circulating that she let him cop a feel as well. The food was excellent, and the good people at Kebabs! Kebabs! Kebabs! Takeaway down the road are to be commended. Sadly, the abundance of refreshing beverages seemed to take its toil on some people, with Johnny Murphy throwing up in the kitchen sink. Also, regrettably, somebody defecated in the hall, and Steve had to clean it up himself, as the culprit never admitted to it. All in all, this was a superb party, and I for one can’t wait until Steve’s Mum and Dad go to Prague for Christmas.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Since the age of the document is no longer in any question, translators and religious scholars have been hard at work assessing the content of the now-famous tome. Being no stranger to the Christian religion myself (we were introduced at a party in Kent fifteen years ago), I decided to look at The Gospel According to Richard, and see what I could deduce myself.
The Gospel is quite small when compared to many of the other books of the Old and New Testaments, but what it lacks in size, it gains in clarity. It mainly features Richard outlining his devotion to God, such as in the most widely quoted segment, which appears several times:
And God spoke unto Richard, “How do I know you will continue to worship Me?”The Gospel According to Richard, Chapter 2, verses 1-9
And Richard spoke unto God, “My Lord, I just want to tell you what I am feeling. I have got to make you understand, for you are the Lord, my God.
I am never going to give you up.
I am never going to let you down.
I am never going to run around, nor will I ever desert you.
I will not give you reason to weep.
I will not say goodbye.
And I will never bear false witness
And hurt you.”
This section, which has influenced many people since the new gospel was unearthed, is very powerful. Indeed, the first time I read it to my cat, she was moved to tears. And my cat has been dead since I was a child. Such is the potency of these verses.
This main message of Richard’s Gospel seems to be that Richard is pointing out that religion is a two-way street, that if God scratches my back, I’ll scratch his. Or I would, if he was corporeal. Consider the opening chapter of the Gospel:
Richard spoke unto to God,The Gospel According to Richard, Chapter 1, verses 1-5
“We’re no strangers to theological devotion.
You know the commandments and so do I.
A full commitment is what I am thinking.
You would not get this from any other religious follower.”
With a message so full of love and devotion, it is a shame that much of this book is damaged. Water damage seems to have been the cause of much of the ink running in this manuscript, leading to a section consisting of nothing but “Never going to give. Never going to give. Never going to give you up.”, repeated for several pages.
Theologians who question the veracity of this as a genuine Biblical book mostly refer to Chapter 5, verse 2, in which Richard says to God, “…don’t tell me that you are too blind to see it.” The nay-sayers quote this as theological balderdash, given that God is omniscient, or all seeing. Referring to Him as ‘blind’ constitutes a gross underestimation of His powers. The true believers counter with the argument that this verse should not be taken literally, that Richard is showing an early appreciation of irony, or that he is indicating that he knows that God is testing him, and by accusing Him of blindness he is having a joke at God’s expense. That wouldn’t be something I’d necessarily do myself, but there’s nowt as queer as folk, as my Mum would always say.
Indeed, The Gospel According to Richard is a goldmine for anyone interested in the apocryphal books of the Bible and the history of the Christian religion. From the opening verses (quoted above) to the final line (“And Richard spoke unto God: “Lord, call me ‘Rick’. It’s less formal, you see”), this contains lots of interesting things for theologians to ponder upon.
At least until we unearth Richard’s follow-up Gospel, Together Forever (With God).
Monday, 3 November 2008
Moustaches and beards are big business these days, with the facial hair industry growing faster than the stubble on a shipwrecked sailor’s chin. The moustache wax lobby is rumoured to be one of the most powerful pomade protectorates in the US, lacing the pockets of many senators with beeswax and petroleum-earned money. And now, Beard Shows are really taking off in the fashion world, with London Beard Week, the New York Beardstravaganza and Milan’s Beards! Beards! Motherfucking Beards! Festival all pulling in crowds of men with tickly faces.
Upside-Down Goatees are giving beard-lovers hairgasms as we speak. They’re like normal goatee beards (with moustache attached), only they’re upside down. The inverted nature of this beard gives it a more playful look, and the addition of a Zappa-esque Soul Patch adds a touch of gravitas, like the facial hair equivalent of an endorsement from Ryan Phillippe. The only downside to the upside-down goatee is the possibility that unfettered growth can result in strangulation.
Ladybeards are beards for ladies. Coming in a range of colours and styles, they are affixed to the face using a combination of glue, Velcro and magic. There are some interesting looks available, with my favourite being the FemiGaribaldi, which scores highly due to its jowl coverage. Overall, though, I’m not particularly fond of the Ladybeard, as it covers the cheekbones, my favourite part of Halle Berry.
The Literal Muttonchop is the biggest sensation in the Western side of the South-East corner of the Northern bloc of the westernmost town in East Shropshire. It involves getting actual cuts of mutton and affixing them to one’s face with crocodile clips, and while it doesn’t look particularly good (on the contrary: it looks shit!), Literal Muttonchops taste fantastic. Big thumbs raised.
Artsy boho types are going ape for the Tricorne Beard, which aims to emulate the hat of the same name. Tricorne beardies use vast swathes of hair gel to create a concave, three-pronged face bowl that can be used to store corn and grapes. While I like corn and grapes, I don’t want to store them in my facial hair! Ha ha! Seriously though, this is a rubbish beard. It looks like crap. Get it away.
The best new development in facial hair is Edible Stubble. Advanced gene therapy has allowed scientists to grow stubble on subjects’ faces that is both nutritious and tastes like blueberries. Nicknamed ‘BlueberryBeards’ by unfunny morons, Edible Stubble is the perfect healthy snack for anyone with a fast-paced on the go lifestyle; just pick a few bits of stubble and chew! Plus, you get to shave with whipping cream! Genius! (Government warning: Edible Stubble is not recommended for oral consumption).
Please remember that a beard is not a toy. Care for your beard, groom it, clean it, tend to its needs, but don't mess about with it, or it may become enraged.
Friday, 31 October 2008
And what business they do! Lee's fine direction brings a wonderfully thrilling sense of aesthetic pleasure to the many death scenes. The garroting and facial slicing of one character is particularly gruesome, but with Lee's keen eye for colour the blood, puke and eye fluid have a gloriously vivid beauty. The settings, too, are stunning; in the wrong hands a cabin full of pig carcasses and human corpses stuffed with offal could look grotesque and unpleasant. But in The Hurtening this building is rendered with such feeling, such sensitivity, that it is almost chapel-like in its gothic beauty.
Lee's talents don't end there. He has managed to wrangle the most moving performances from his cast. Dame Judy Dench, for example, is simply remarkable in the role of Brenda. I really did believe that she was a high-school dropout caught between the whims of her parents and the desire for rebellion. Also, the role of Sherrif Bick was perfect for John Hurt, who can convey so much disbelief in the stories of children with a simple gravelly expression. Dame Thora Hird also shines as the evil ghosts' leader.
The story itself is rich with allegory and laden with hidden meaning. Ostensibly a tribute to the works of Luis Brunel and Ray Harryhausen, there are too many different interpretations in each stab wound and red-hot poker through the stomach to mention here. There's also a subtle nod in the direction of the US government in the form of a brief side plot in which a load of soldiers attack a foreign country and get their arses kicked by a load of terrorists.
To summarize then, Evil Blood II: The Hurtening is another glorious entry into the annals of cinema, all made possible by the genius of Ang Lee. I await his next picture - a live-action adaptation of the Thundercats cartoon - with bated breath.
Evil Blood II: The Hurtening opens on October 19th in several cinemas in London and fuck all else. Ang Lee will be appearing at an in-store tit signing in HMV, Great Yarmouth on the 21st.
And to say sorry for the repeat, here's my favourite scary video. Enjoy!
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
1. Link to the person that tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs
5. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website
6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up
So, here we are, six non-important Reviewing-based things about The Imaginary Reviewer:
1: My first published review was for my high school computing and video games magazine, Flipback, when I was 11. It was a review of a game for the ZX Spectrum called Kwik Snax, in which you controlled a boxing glove-wearing egg called Dizzy and had to push objects around a room to kill enemies and collect fruit. I gave it an excellent review, as it was my favourite game at the time.
Flipback magazine was universally hated due to the fact that it was written by six of the most uncool people in the whole school (myself included). It ran for two issues before internal strife caused the magazine to implode. I played Kwik Snax on a Spectrum emulator two months ago and completed it on my first go.
2: As a music reviewer for my University newspaper, I wanted to write as much as possible, so I volunteered to review the stuff nobody else wanted. As such, my first published piece for the paper was a review of a single by Chris De Burgh, called ‘A Woman’s Heart’. I gave it one star and used the CD as a very dangerous Frisbee in my back garden.
3: I gained notoriety in my student newspaper for writing scathing reviews, to the point where the editor would refuse to give the utter shite stuff to anyone else but me. I will never forget the announcement he made during one such editorial meeting: “Okay, next up for grabs is the new single by Tom Jones featuring the Stereophonics, a cover of ‘Mama told me not to come’. I think you’ll all agree, we need to give this to [The Imaginary Reviewer], as he can give it the treatment it so sorely deserves.”
As a result of this, I still have a large collection of terrible CDs, including singles by the Moffatts, the Motorhomes and Remy Zero.
4: The best review I ever wrote was an informative review of a Noh Theatre performance I attended when I lived in Japan. I’d reprint it here but this isn’t really the place for reviews of things that do exist. If I ever start the Maginary Review (?) you can read it.
5: My hero in the world of reviewing is the former NME writer Steven Wells. In the January 26, 2001 issue of the New Musical Express, he reviewed the single ‘Always: Your Way’ by the band My Vitriol thusly:
“Fuck bollocks wank fuck shit AAAAAAAARGH!”
Clearly, the man is a genius.
6: The precursor to the letters I have sent to Now Toronto and Eye Weekly magazines (reprinted on this blog) was a letter I sent to the makers of Kit-Kat chocolate bars, nearly 5 years ago. I related an incident in which I had eaten a Kat-Kat bar in which the wafer was missing from half of each individual finger. I adopted the voice of an aging professor and the letter included a diagram of the bar in question, made using WordArt. I received a lovely response which outlined the manufacturing process and how it can occasionally lead to such events.
7: I can say, with all honesty and forthrightness, that I, the Imaginary Reviewer, have a fantastic arse.
I know I was only required to do six facts, but that last one was sufficiently important for me to break the rules.
I now have to nominate some other people for the meme. I think just about everyone in the world and their mum has either done this or been nominated, so I'd like to nominate The Sausage Lord, who used to comment on my blog and who didn't have a blog of their own then. Where are you, Sausage Lord? Who are you, Sausage Lord? What are you doing now, oh Lord of the Sausages?
I miss you.
Sunday, 26 October 2008
My disappointment at Now Toronto Magazine's utter shiteness has subsided, and I have affixed my gaze on one of Now's competitors in the world of free weekly listings magazines based in Toronto: Eye Weekly. I have sent out a very nice letter, which I reproduce below. Please keep your fingers crossed for me, I need to eat and soon.
(Clicky = biggy)
Friday, 24 October 2008
So, the question on everybody’s mouthpieces is: has such dominance made CeteraPeter Industries lazy? Will the Gravalax series perform as well as the Di-partichokes? Or will it be another Cropule NgwyTwentyTwenty, the ill-fated Waveform Collectivizer that was removed from shop shelves after users couldn’t find the ‘on’ switch?
Actually, those were the three questions on everybody’s mouthpieces. Many questions! And only one Imaginary Reviewer to answer them! To it I go!
On first use, the 43M has a luxuriant freebase potential with regard to the esses and exes, with particularly high cromulence in the upper echelons. I couldn’t find a way to remove the white noise around the infinity-plus-one ratio, but that’s not unusual in seaweed-powered machines like this. I hear that CeteraPeter Industries have recognised this problem and plan to release a free patch that will fix all kelp-based errors by Smarch, so this should not remain an issue for long.
Another observation about general use with the 43M: I was unable to perform a Capstan Furrow Analysis with the machine unless I removed all of my clothes. This is not necessarily a complaint.
One of the main tests of a good Waveform Collectivizer is how well it adjusts the suspended sevenths with regard to negative equity in the poop-shute. With some tweaking I managed to eke out a turnaround of point two five, but the default setting is negative goose, and nobody wants to lose a goose. This is probably the biggest weakness of the device.
Also bad: if you use the 43M for more than three hours straight, it will start to attract Dickensian urchins. I think this was also a problem with the Di-Partichoke XL5, and it seems that CeteraPeter have been unable to fix it as yet. My recommendation for dealing with this problem involves a crossbow and a shovel; you may find a better method.
All in all, the Gravalax 43M has some interesting new features that make it stand out from other Waveform Collectivizers, such as the Bifurcation Ray and the Snooze Button. It’s probably the best in its class, but doesn’t really warrant an upgrade for anyone who owns a Di-Partichoke 900 Series and above. At sixpence per metric ounce, the 43M is cheaper than a platinum hippo, but not by much. I’d wait six months, and hope for a price decrease or lottery win before purchasing.
The Gravalax 43M from CeteraPeter Industries is available from all branches of Qwertylicious, Megabyte Barn and Binary Ferret. You can get it in any colour, so long as it’s transparent. Sorry, I’ve not been well this week.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
In her blog earlier this week, Becky tagged several people with the One Wonders meme, in which bloggers must respond to single-word prompts about their likes and preferences. Craig was one of the people tagged, and I’ve decided to have a look at his responses with this critical eye I’m so fond of using. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Unsurprisingly, Craig begins very poorly in his responses, wasting no time in making terrible attempts to impress the object of his affections. For the first word, ‘Clothes’, Craig answers as follows: “Obviously, Calvin Briefs, lol! Seriously though, whatever’s comfortable…jeans and a band t-shirt usually.”
This mention of his underwear in the first question is Craig’s attempt to get Becky to picture him as a Calvin Klein model, standing before her in his briefs with his massive package looming and his washboard abs glistening in the morning sunlight. But really, it comes across as desperate and embarrassing, despite his attempts afterwards to answer seriously.
For the second word, ‘Furniture’, Craig quite obviously tries to look like a metrosexual guy in touch with his inner interior designer. He pulls non-existent furniture brand names out of his ass, saying things like ‘I’m a big fan of Gabsack futons’ and ‘If I could afford one, I’d get a Dipthong lamp’. A cursory Google search will show that this is fibbery of the highest order, and Craig ought to do some research if he wants to impress Becky with his furniture knowledge.
Craig’s answers are all so incredibly self-conscious, so obviously done with Becky in mind, that when reading his blog it feels like stumbling across a poorly-written love letter in meme form. And it’s so confused: For the ‘City’ question, he writes about his love of the ‘beauty of the cherry blossoms in Washington’ like a big girl, but in the next question, ‘Drink’, he attempts to make himself look manly by bragging about how many pina coladas he can slam.
Then we get to the pop culture questions, where we see what Craig’s favourite music, TV series and films are. In order to show off his vast knowledge of every band, movie and show out there, Craig lists about nine hundred of each. If Becky is anything like I am, she’ll have glossed over this entire section altogether, pausing only to note with a bored shrug that the poor dickhead likes Massive Attack and Harvey Birdman.
Craig is so eager to look like a suitable boyfriend for Becky that for the next question he claims to work out three times a week, but doesn’t specify how. I was tempted to leave a comment on his blog that said “wanking doesn’t count as a workout, dickhead”, but I thought better of it, as I don’t like mocking the afflicted too much.
For the final two words, ‘pastries’ and ‘coffee’, Craig blatantly copies what Becky wrote, in a vain attempt to seem more compatible with her. He even mentions it at the end of his post, pretending to be surprised by how much they have in common. I’ve seen better acting in a nativity play at a school for hearing-impaired children.
Once again, Craig has managed to embarrass himself tremendously with his awful attempts to woo the lovely Becky. His responses to the One Wonder Meme on his blog were very poor, and he’ll have to up his game if he’s going to be within a shout of getting his friend to play Hide the Sausage.
Thanks to Suze for tagging me with this meme. In case you’re wondering, my responses are: Jeans & T-shirt, Papasan chair, brownies, Kyoto, Scotch whisky (preferably from Islay), Mogwai, Pushing Daisies, Amelie, Walking 6k to and from work every day, Cornish Pasties, and black with sugar.
Thursday, 16 October 2008
By far the most impressive thing on display in the Fruit Quarter was the Daily 5 Encouragement Fruit, designed and created by Dave and Yvonne Williams Organically Genetically Enhanced Produce, Inc. The Williamses have managed to alter the genetic makeup of several types of fruit, so that when you cut into them, the seeds inside the fruit are arranged to form that day’s Dilbert cartoon. By growing the fruit this way, Dave and Yvonne hope to encourage people to eat their recommended daily intake of five servings of fruit. They are currently in talks with various other cartoonists, and soon we may be seeing Garfield when we bite into a pear and Sherman’s Lagoon when we cut an orange in half.
The Bubble-wrap Tree was grown by a man from America after he cross pollinated a sycamore with a daschund. It should prove to be one of the most sought-after new trees in the world, as its seeds are just like plastic bubble wrap, and after around five years of growth this tree will, if tended properly, yield around a ton of the stress-relieving packing material per annum. I tested some of the bubble wrap and it was highly satisfying to pop, with a great finger sensitivity ratio but merely adequate popping volume. Overall, it’s between Grand & Toy and Staples on the quality scale.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Monsanto Corporation’s Upside-Down Corn, in the Monsanto-sponsored Innovations Zone. In order to save space they’ve managed to make corn grow underground, with the roots sticking up out of the soil. They had some of this new corn for people to taste, and to me it was a little too earthy. When I approached a Monsanto employee to discuss this with them, I was tasered repeatedly until I was a blubbering heap on the floor. Apparently this is a new PR practice, so they’re in my Big Book of Bad People Who do Bad Things to Nice Reviewers.
The Farmers’ Market at the show was a big success, and I managed to pick up two wonderful farmers, Greg and Philip, who now live in my shed. If they’re good I let them in the garden where they dance and play and sing and tell hilarious stories about wheat.
Finally, the Interactive Virtual Reality Vegetable Experience is the latest hi-tech invention from the Canadian Agricultural Association. Using up-to-the-minute technology they let you experience what it’s like to be a cucumber, asparagus or broccoli, from the moment of conception until being put into a supermarket salad. While the growing stages were a little boring, I really did feel like I got a sense of what it’s like to be a vegetable, and to be honest I was a little disoriented when it was over. I found it very hard to walk, as I thought my feet were still planted in an allotment. The Interactive Virtual Reality Vegetable Experience is not recommended for pregnant women, small children or Belgians.
The Guelph Annual Flower, Plant, Fruit, Vegetable and Other Things That Grow Show will run until a week on Tuesday, but you won’t be able to go after this weekend because of that thing you said you’d help your sister do next week. Yeah, I know it’s an inconvenience, but you said you’d do it and she’s relying on you. Well, you shouldn’t have said you’d do it, then, should you? Hey, I’m not going to tell her, you can tell her yourself. Tell her yourself. No, tell her yourself. Tell her yourself. You shouldn’t have said you’d do it, so tell her yourself.
God, you’re so selfish sometimes.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
I’ve been looking at the latest in new number findings, and I’m going to write them down like a crazy person with a quill.
Fingma is a slightly irrational number, but not too irrational. It’s about as irrational as taking two umbrellas to a PTA meeting. Fingma is divisible by twelve, but only on weekdays. On weekends it’s known as Cassandra and frequents bars of ill repute, where it cannot be divided by any number, as they’re all too scared of the doorman. This is a shoddily made number, with an unfortunate vagueness around its median, mean and mode.
Named after the genius who discovered it, Seventy Ian comes between seventy two and seventy three. It was found by bisecting a triangle number horizontally, to form a parallelogram number and a smaller triangle number. This latter number was accidentally discarded with some potato peelings and probably will never be seen again. Seventy Ian does not behave well with others, and has anger issues.
NASA has decided that the negative numbers are not being used enough, and are rebranding them in the hope of increasing their popularity. The first such rebranded number is -8, which will now be known as Negative Decadence and will be covered in diamonds. Negative Decadence will be very similar to -8, just a little bit more shiny. I can’t wait to use this negative number, and I plan very big things for it. NASA will release the second new negative number, Negative Sexy, in spring.
Some men with long white coats and bad dandruff problems took the number six thousand, translated it into Japanese with an online translator, and then translated the result back into English. The result, Happy Young \(^o^)/ Go-Chan!-Thousand, is a much better version of six thousand. It can only be multiplied by numbers after they defeat it in hand-to-hand combat and it tastes of squid. Sadly, Happy Young \(^o^)/ Go-Chan!-Thousand has the unfortunate tendency to get drunk on weeknights, and so it adds and subtracts inconsistently after 6:00pm.
Finally, Bwelve is Twelve’s evil identical twin brother who recently admitted to locking his sibling up in a shed for the last three years and assuming his identity. Mathematicians around the world began being suspicious of the number when it uncharacteristically tried to seduce Thirty-Five and was caught attempting to smother Sixty-Six. Twelve has now been returned to action, but any transaction made using the number Twelve since July 2005 will have actually used Bwelve, and must therefore be made again.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
At 6:00 I watched America’s Funniest Home Videos on ABC, and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed as people fell over. They fell into pools, off tables, off tables into pools, off pool tables, off pool tables into pools and out of pools and into tables. Oh, and there was a cat that could open doors. And then the cat fell into a pool. Brilliant stuff.
7:00 saw the first episode of an excellent new show, America’s Prissiest Waiters (NBC). Security camera and home video footage captured some of the most outrageously prim and proper food servers in the US. I watched with awe as a guy with a pencil-thin moustache wearing a waistcoat told a child not to throw meatballs around an Italian restaurant. I gasped as a man with a ridiculous combover informed a couple that there were no remaining specials, and laughed as he then came back to apologise for the fact that there was, after all, a single serving of vegetable soup remaining. Hosted by Jon Favreau, this is a superb program.
America’s Youngest People (8:00, E!) was a very watchable and shocking tale of those forgotten children of the nation: children. Nothing could have prepared me for the sight of these babies, some of whom were just minutes old. Indeed, these had to have been America’s Youngest People. How they sleep at night, I do not know. Lullabies, probably.
One of the best shows of the new season has to be America’s Americanest Americans (9:00, ABCBABC). Hosted by Ted Nugent, this program highlights Americans living in America who epitomise being American in the most American way. This show has more stripes and more stars than the Republican Convention, with eagles and apple pie and a CGI animation of Jesus kissing the Statue of Liberty while simultaneously shooting Arabs. Do you really need me to tell you how awesome this was?
At 10:00 I switched over to CNN, where I watched America’s Currentest Events, and then before I sank into a cold, passionless slumber I caught the first two hours of America’s Adjectiviest Nouns, a show in which the most adjectivey nouns were shown on CCTV, phone camera and home video doing those verbs that make them so adjectivey. To be honest, this was a little formulaic for my liking. I’m not sure what it was, but I felt like I’d seen this all before.
I’ll see you all next week after Thanksgiving, when hopefully the morphine will have started to work on the crippling agony that floods my very being! See you then!
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Given this loyalty to the cause of clause applause, I think I am more than able to analyse some of the latest new words and phrases that are hitting the streets like suicidal bankers. Here are my findings!
Chump-trumpet is the new slang word for a mobile phone that is hopelessly outdated and doesn’t even have picture taking capabilities, let alone a terabyte-sized storage space for Panic at the Disco songs. (Example usage: “What’s that brick you’ve got there, John? Oh Christ, that’s a chump trumpet and no mistaking”)
This is a great phrase, with a pleasing almost-rhyming sound and wonderful mouth movements that feel like kisses. I’ll be using this phrase to put down all of my friends who aren’t at the bleeding edge of technological attainment, like me. Rating: A-
Gibbonning is the name given to the practice of employing attractive people to canvas for charities and religious cults in busy shopping centres. Now illegal in many parts of Europe and Australia, Gibbonning typically involves a young man being approached by a gorgeous and friendly young lady. He stops, gets talking and realises too late that she is about to force a copy of The Watchtower on him. (Example usage: “Stay away from that girl over there; she gibbonned me into becoming a Scientologist”)
The word itself is somewhat awkward, and is a little misleading given the context of the abuse of beauty. Rating: D+
Panty Banjo is the impressive skill of removing one’s underwear without affecting the outer garments. While this has been a party trick for many years when done with a bra, young people these days are becoming increasingly adept at panty banjo while wearing jeans. It has to be seen to be believed. (Example usage: “How did he manage that panty banjo while he was wearing leather trousers?”)
Panty banjo is a great little phrase, as the ‘banjo’ part evokes both images of a deftness of fingers and a useless skill. It sounds nice to hear, but saying it can be cumbersome, especially for someone whose lips have a rubber index of more than 8. Rating: B
Gnapply refers to the state of being irritable and bad-tempered after drinking too many carbonated energy drinks. Known in some US states as a ‘judder spasm’, this condition has been known to have caused at least one death since 1998. (Example usage: “Sorry for kicking your aunt last night, mate, I was a bit gnapply”)
I’m somewhat ambivalent towards this phrase. I’m not sure why. The silent ‘g’ really gives it a kick from the start, but by ‘ly’ at the end I’ve lost interest. Plus it also has the potential to be mistaken for ‘nipply’, which, as we all know, is what happens to ladies when it’s cold and Orlando Bloom is on TV. Rating: C+
Monday, 6 October 2008
The DVDs are arranged chronologically by half-decade. For my money, the best parts of the box set came in the latter years, once the Time-Life team had reached the peak of their talents. The wonderful and much-missed 2002 commercial for the Time-Life Best of Gangsta Rap compilation is a personal highlight for me. Hosted by Patrick Duffy, this is pure gold from the gunshot-strewn intro to the news that calling in the next seventeen minutes will earn the buyer a set of free commemorative plates featuring Dr. Dre, MC Ren and KRS-1. Everything is beautifully produced: the five-second song snippets segue flawlessly, the font used to display selected titles is superb and Duffy’s interaction with co-presenter Coolio is jovial and not at all forced.
Similarly, the ad for 1995’s Time-Life Presents: 6 CDs of Songs about Forests is a marvellous example of the pseudo infomercial. Set in a wooded glade and hosted by Fabio, the commercial is ten minutes of pure poetry set around the leitmotif of a totally unnecessary musical compilation. Fabio is an excellent compere, switching effortlessly between serious (when describing the first time he heard a song about a forest and closed his eyes and actually believed he was in a forest!) and playful (when he’s dancing around, pretending to be a wood nymph). When he looks into the camera and excitedly informs us that the first fifty callers will get their reward in Heaven, well, I truly believe it.
Earlier commercials are less impressive. The first DVD, showcasing the first Time-Life CD box set adverts, has a naive charm, but the anthology’s compilers could have omitted everything on the DVD without missing anything special. Rock n Roll Classics, Doo Wop Legends, Rock n Roll Classics Volume 2: The EnRockening, Rock n Roll Classics Volume 3: This Time it’s Rock!!, Doo Wop Legends 2: More Doo, Even More Wop and Rock n Roll Songs That Aren’t Quite Classics But We Ran Out of Classics so Have These Instead: All ads for these compilations lack that special something that makes the later ones so enjoyable. Where are the bonus offers for early purchasers? Where is the grainy stock footage of 50s dancers cutting a rug? Where is the photo of young Elvis pointing at the camera and winking? These details are what make future ads great, and these early attempts are done no favours by their omission.
But the joy that can be had from the other DVDs is really what stands out from this anthology. Take the sight of Marilyn Manson breaking down and crying while telling the viewer about the CD collection Songs Your Grandfather Would Play as You Sat on His Knee and Looked up at Him with Wide-Eyed Wonder. Take the tripped out brilliance of the ad for Psychedelic Drug Party 4, which consists of a brightly coloured spiral spinning on the screen for 18 minutes. Take the majesty of the boudoir set where the ad for 200 Songs to Play while you’re Trying to get a Girl to Sleep with You takes place.
But wait! That’s not all! The first one hundred – yes! One hundred! – people who order this anthology will get an extra DVD featuring bonus material such as behind-the-scenes making-of featurettes! Interviews with the ads’ presenters and producers! Outtakes! A classy cardboard carry case! And much much more!
I would give the Time-Life CD Commercial Anthology collection four stars out of five. It's not perfect, but then again, who is? Apart from me, I mean. Yeah, exactly.
Postage and packing for this DVD box set is available in twenty easy instalments beginning with your first born son. The Time-Life CD Commercial Anthology DVD box set is not available in any shops, online, or through mail order. It is not available anywhere. Not even in space or in Honest Ed’s, where they’ve got everything else in existence. Your home is at risk if you do not keep up payments on a mortgage or other loan secured on it.