Friday 28 December 2007

The Imaginary Review Comics Review of the Year

2007 was probably the best year for comic books since 2005. Loads of exciting things happened, heroes came, heroes died, heroes became villains and some villains turned into dogs. The most talked-about event in the comic book world was Marvel's massive crossover, Civil Union. Readers were stunned when Captain America and Iron Man became the first super-powered same-sex marriage in comics history; all summer long the villains of the Marvel Universe tried to break up the union, including Kang the Conquerer, who ultimately died at the hands of Iron Man's mother. The X-Men got involved, baking some cakes and agreeing to help with the catering of the wedding, and Spiderman and Moon Knight provided the music. The shock of the event was when The Thing and Sleepwalker argued over who would read their speech first, and both killed each other. The comics world was shocked until it was revealed that the whole thing had been a dream all along.

DC had a pretty amazing year too. The most popular new series was Matter-Eater Lad's solo series, still going strong, despite the whole storyline being a dream. Best issue of the series had to be #4, when Matter-Eater Lad is involved in a hotdog-eating contest against that Japanese guy, with the fate of the world at stake!

The best new character in a comic book in 2007 had to be Dog Man. Dog Man is a man, with all the powers of a dog! People said Image Comics were running out of ideas, but Dog Man really does take the biscuit. The dog biscuit, that is! The best moment in Dog Man was the dream episode, in which Dog Man grows breasts (something that has now become company policy for every single new character in Image Comics).

Shock of the year was the return of Ectoboy, Clive Barker's rubbish super hero child thing. He died again after two issues, then the whole thing turned out to be a dream, and it was never spoken of again.

Worst idea for a comic book character? That has to be Window Man, who I just made up.

With more and more comic books being turned into movies - Ghost Rider, Superman Returns, The Fantastic Four, What If?: The Movie, Cry of the Ragman, Superman's Pal Jimmie Olsen Returns, Clive Barker's Hyperkind, Justice League Antarctica, Lois Lane: Superman's Girlfriend Returns and Dolphindroids: The Movie - 2007 was interesting as they were all crap, with the exception of Dolphindroids.

So, what can we look forward to in 2008? Well, Marvel have announced that all of the X-Men will die in March, with many of them returning in June (and then the whole thing being a dream). DC are expected to bring back every single one of their characters who has ever died. This may or may not be a dream (it probably will be a dream). Image are hyping up their latest hero, Boob-Woman; they're being very secretive about her appearance, however. And black and white comics will still be rubbish.

Friday 21 December 2007

The Top Ten Colours of the Year

Now that Pantone have announced their colour of the year for 2008, I feel it is my duty to reveal The Imaginary Review's top ten new colours for the past twelve months. I do these things because I care.

1) Cock-heap Pink

It was impossible to move this year without bumping into something that was Cock-Heap pink. Walls, t-shirts, foodstuffs, even hipsters starting dyeing their hair the colour of a heap of cocks. Developed by paint scientists in conjunction with Vivid Entertainment pornographic movie studios, Cock-Heap Pink is THE colour of 2007.

2) Gribbon

Gribbon is an entirely new colour unlike any other refractive light effect that the brain has interpreted by assigning a mental visual category to, ever. As such, it's completely invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen with a special camera that converts light into music, music into eggs and the eggs back into colours. While somewhat messy, Gribbon is now the national colour of Tanzania.

3) Avocado Suicide

Nobody has ever seen the colour Avocado Suicide, but it's always there, lurking behind sofas and inside volcanoes. Shying away from humans, this colour came to international prominence when it was detected by celebrity psychic Derek Acorah in March.

4) Mental Brown

Another laboratory-created colour, Mental Brown is 40% heavier than other colours and has a definite refraction index of around point 4. This means that it looks particularly nice in kitchens.

5) Wikihue

When the project to create a new colour using the collaborative efforts of internet users was announced, critics scoffed. And then the people acted, and added splashes and dashes of all kinds of different colours together in one giant month-long colour creation exercise. The result? A dirty black mess and some smug grins from the critics.

6) Parodius Purple

'Parodius' was a Japanese Super Nintendo game that was a parody of side-scrolling shoot-em-ups like R-Type. Parodius Purple is a colour somewhere between lilac and eggplant.

7) Yello Yellow

Crazed Teutonic dance music pioneers Yello, creators of 1980s hit singles 'Oh Yeah' and 'The Race' have moved into colour invention. Unsurprisingly, their first effort is a take on their own namesake, yellow. Yello Yellow is a fantastic creation with a catchy bassline and which samples 'Doctor Beat' by Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine. Ideal for window frames.

8) The Colour of Love

This year, scientists discovered the colour of love and bottled it. It's a bit like turquoise.

9) Rhymeswith Orange

Rhymeswith Orange is something of a paradox. Apparently nothing rhymes with orange, but here's something that is Rhymeswith Orange. When this paint was released in America, it was immediately removed from the shelves as it caused many shoppers' heads to explode. That's one reason why it made its way on to my list. The other is because it smells nice.

10) Omnigreen

After an explosion in a nanobot factory knocked over a wall in a paint factory, nanobots began inventing their own colour with which they proceeded to cover everything on the planet. For two days in August, everything was omnigreen until the governments arranged for giant sprays to clean everything. Even now the colour can be seen in areas that weren't cleaned, including house foundations and France.

Sunday 16 December 2007

The Imaginary Review's Christmas Toy Special

An Imaginary Review Special: The best new toys for Christmas! (Or Kwanzaa)

Tickle-me Donald Rumsfeld

The kids are going crazy for the Tickle-Me Donald Rumsfeld doll, priced 32.99 from some places. A lovable likeness of the former US Defence Secretary, when you tickle the doll his face goes all cross and he says 'no!' in a stern voice while crossing his arms. The doll also has a string which, when you pull it, makes him say his 'Known Unknowns' speech, or cry.


Board games will never go out of fashion (until the year 2030 when they will go out of fashion), and the best new one on the market is Pat-a-Cow, from Adolph Brothers Games. You play a cow, wandering around the board and trying to avoid catching BSE and foot and mouth, pooing in as many fields as possible. One player has the role of mobile abbatoir, and must capture all the cows before they evolve into butterflies. Fun and educational.

Penguin Hunt

Aimed specifically at younger kids, Penguin Hunt is a shooting gallery-style game. Small penguins slowly waddle across the screen and it's up to the player to throw their tomahawk at them. With realistic blood and gore rewarding the successful player, this is one unforgettable game. The makers, Shatner and Kremlin Games Inc. admitted in a recent press release that they 'totally misunderstood their target audience' and that they expect to file for bankruptcy soon.


For some reason kazoos are becoming really popular. Parents are stockpiling painkillers as we speak.

Barclays Bank Board of Directors Action Figures

Forget Action Man and She-Ra, the biggest action figures this year are faithful representations of the directors and officers of Barclays Bank. Re-enact exciting boardroom meetings and hostile takeover bids with all your favourite bank CEOs! Discuss corporate strategy and market segmentation in your own bedroom! Fans of these toys will be eagerly awaiting the Insider Trading Courtroom Expansion Kit, available next Spring.

Nail-Gun Frenzy Barbie

The Mattel Corporation were recently accused of running out of ideas for their flagship doll. Nail-Gun Frenzy Barbie is the company's answer to their detractors. With a snarl on her face and a working nail-gun in her hands (batteries not included), this doll really means business. The package includes a list of addresses of all the Mattel Corporation\'s detractors. Girl power!

Thursday 13 December 2007

2007: The Year in Films

In the next in my series of year-end lists, I assume you care about which films I enjoyed this year. Care, damn you!

1) James Bond and the Shadow of the Colossus

The best film by far was the new James Bond film, which came out in September. Based on the popular video game, Shadow of the Colossus, Bond is sent to a desert by Q as MI5 believe there is a terrorist cell training there. Instead he uncovers a series of giant monsters whom he must fight using magnetic pens and bomb-laden watches before saving the girl and driving around in an invisible flying car. Willem Dafoe is excellent as the main monster boss baddie.

2) The Quintessence of Despair

Apparently this period drama was conceived, written, filmed and acted with the sole intention of winning every single Oscar available. This goes some way to explaining how good the film is (The 30 minute 'weeping' scene was particularly moving), but it also explains why half of the film is animated and why Maria, the destitute beauty in love with a nobleman, is played by a CGI-generated dinosaur. In the end, the only Oscar that this film didn't win was best supporting actress, which was won by Meryl Streep in another film.

3) Stephen King's Planet of the Stephen Kings

The best horror film of the year had to be this one, in which Madchen (Twin Peaks) Amick and Mark-Paul (Saved by the Bell) Gosselaar wake to find themselves on a parallel Earth which is populated by millions of bespectacled best-selling horror writers. Apparently the story is based on the writer's view of what an ideal, Utopian Earth would look like. Either way, this is a great film, especially with the brilliant twist ending (it's all a practical joke).

4) Dptinh

The best foreign film of the year was Dptinh, a Latvian film about a spring. Starring Nsfvhrn Smivk and Higb-Paul Hoddrlsst, the story follows two people's quest to find a spring that they lost as children. The cinematography of this picture was enough to win several awards, some of them good ones.

5) Dude, I Saw Your Mom Naked

The highest-grossing comedy ever (in more ways than one!), Dude, I Saw Your Mom Naked has everything that a good film should have. Laughs, laughs, laughs and some vomit. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and featuring an all-star cast including Emma Thompson, Sir John Gielgud, James-Earl Jones, Lori Petty and Robert DeNiro, this chuckle-filled gross-fest is sure to be remembered for ever. Or at least until the next Scary Movie film comes out.

6) Dates and Quinces: The Movie

Few films have excited food lovers as much as this one, adapted from the yet-to-be-developed website of the same name. Salma Hayek stars as Alyson, a sassy cook who is determined to explore the food of a different culture at least once every month. However, an evil plan to steal the world's supply of garlic and cumin means that Alyson must battle robots made of butter and big yam monsters. A triumph.

7) Three Men and a Baby Whale

Last May, everyone was talking about the reunion everyone was talking about. Steve Guttenburg, Tom Selleck and Sam from Cheers were brought back together for the high-octane tear-jerker, Three Men and a Baby Whale. Who'd have thought the film would have bested its predecessors in every way possible? But if you thought that the three men struggled with the baby and the little lady, you had an absolute treat watching them struggle to raise a baby whale! Incidentally, check out the DVD (out later this year) which promises to feature special deleted scenes, including the tragic death of Guttenburg, squashed by his aquatic co-star in a stunt gone awry.

8) TVgoHome: The Movie

Charlie Brooker's scathing attack on mainstream television was brought to the big screen this year, with Jude Law playing the vitriolic writer. All your favourite characters from the website are rendered well (with the exception of Nathan Barley who had to be omitted for copyright reasons), and the scenes from Widdleplop Farm are quite disgusting. After the disappointment that was TheOnion: TheMovie, TVgoHome: The Movie was a breath of fresh air.

9) Project Dambusters

Another classic black and white film got the remake treatment this year. The Dambusters was a popular World War 2 film about a scientist who invents a bouncing bomb for destroying German Dams. In this version, set in modern day America, George Clooney plays a scientist who solves global warming by inventing a bouncing chicken. Some parts of the film are fairly indecipherable, but that's okay because George Clooney is DREAMY.

10) The Splendid Contraption

Of all the children's films released this year, only one of them didn't suck. That was The Splendid Contraption, our tenth best film of the year. The film, starring Agnes Moorehead and Jessica Fletcher involves a most wondrous machine. You could say it was a incredibly tremendous creation! Why, it was a zim-zam-zoomous contraption! Huzzah! Fun for all the family! Also starring Jenna Jameson and Masuimi Max.

Monday 10 December 2007

2007: The Best Computer and Video Games

Continuing my end of year list-fest, here is my top ten countdown of the best computer and video games of the year.

1) Despotic Vixen (X-Box 360 and Wii)

Despotic Vixen combines the ultraviolence of Grand Theft Auto with the world-building strategy of Sim City and the nudity of a late-night Channel 5 movie. It's a winning combination; the pace of the game is just right, and eventually the game becomes a spralling metropolis of carnage and sin. Your early decisions of who to bed or behead can determine things much later in the game, while the car-racing sidegames add even more excitement to the mix. Superb.

2) Fights on Skis (PC and PC Engine)

The sequel to the highly lauded Fights on a Train and Fights on a Plane, Fights on Skis is quite possibly the best computerised high-speed downhill fighting simulator since Winter Sports Massacre.

3) Wikipedia (PC)

Wikipedia is a massively multiplayer online strategy game in which players must add as much information as possible to an encyclopaedia without getting caught telling lies by other players. While it has been on the market for several years now, Wikipedia really came into its own in 2007 with the 'Complete list of Farscape Episodes' expansion pack.

4) Super Mario Dipthong (Wii)

Nintendo once again hit gold with their Mario franchise, this time with a game based around the Italian Plumber's quest to find words ending in '-ing'. While the controls were fiddly at first (pausing the game is only possible by doing a moonwalk), Mario Dipthong is a rewarding platform puzzler.

5) Cake Baron (PSP and PS3)

Ever wanted a pastry empire? Probably, right? Well, Cake Baron from Sony allowed millions of people to live out their dessert fantasies this year. From opening your first tart shop to crushing the neighbourhood meringue emporium and firebombing Dunkin' Donuts, this game had it all. British gamers were disappointed with the lack of jam tarts, however.

6) Extreme Chariot Racer (X-Box 360 and PS3)

Chariot racing games have been coming and going ever since the 8-bit revolution, but none have ever come close to Ben Hur Challenge on the Playstation, until now. With literally hundreds of courses (all of which are round), customisable horses and great AI for the other racers, this is certainly one of the best racing games set in ancient Rome ever. Plus there's excellent replay value too, with unlockable special playable characters including David Beckham, Ben (of Ben and Jerry fame) and BBC Royal Affairs correspondent Nicholas Whitchall.

7) Two-and-a-Half Men Fighter (Turbografix, Atari Lynx, Nintendo Dolphin and Mega-CD)

Two-and-a-Half Men Fighter allows you to beat up Charlie Sheen or any of the other cast members from the popular US sitcom. And while beating up the fat kid is fun, nothing compares to the visceral thrill that comes from punching Charlie Sheen repeatedly in the face.

8) Fraudulent Canoeist Fake Death House Hide Frenzy (PC)

A very late contender for game of the year, this topical adventure game allows you to play the role of John Darwin, the canoeist who faked his death five years ago. You are confined to your wife's house and you must find places to hide when friends, family members and police drop by. The game is played in real time, which means that it has literally years of gameplay value. If you play the game all the way through and make it to five years' worth of hiding, in 2012 you'll get to enjoy the final level, when you have to make your way to Panama, where you'll be reunited with your wife.

9) Maracas Hero (X-Box 360)

With the success of Guitar Hero and all those drumming games ringing in their ears, game manufacturers rushed to bring out more musical instrument-emulating games. While Tambourine-Shaker and Tuba-Warrior 3 were both excellent, nothing came close to this one. With music from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, this game brought people together in ways no other game has; indeed, this game is credited with bringing peace to the Middle East after the PLO challenged the Israeli government to a Maracas-off.

10) Owl Killer 3 (PS3, Sega Master System 2, Playstation 5)

The Owl Killer franchise has produced some good games, but this is the best of the bunch. Based on the bestselling novels by Penelope Lively, you play the role of Domenic Chevalier, the celebrated owl killer. Armed with your trust golden hammer and a whistle, you make your way through eighty-six owl-packed levels, beating the nocturnal birds to death. With music by Jarvis Cocker and graphics inspired by the paintings of Edward Gorey, this was one hot potato. Of a game.

Saturday 8 December 2007

Special Imaginary Review: Albums of the Year

It's the end of the year, and I'm a geeky male. Put those two facts together and what do you get? Lists! Here's my top 10 albums of 2007!

1) Broken Pelvis: Songs About Matthew Perry

If you'd have come to me a year ago and said that best album of 2007 would be 12 tracks of devotion to a former Friends cast member sung by an Australian band who were brought together in a snowboarding accident, I'd have punched you in the spleen and called you a bloody liar. But I'd be apologising to you now and conceding that you were right all along, possibly allowing you to give me a dead arm as compensation. This album was an emotional roller coaster, including such highlights as 'I Know You Didn't Really Love Courteney Cox' , 'I'll be Your Joey' and 'Could You Be Any More Lovely?' The first time I listened to this album, I cried. Now I only need to think about this album and I cry. I'm crying now, dammit.

2) Shatterstar: Got You in my Fridge

Shatterstar were the break-through band of the year, and Got You in my Fridge has to be the strongest debut of 2007. The album is a rip-roaring cacophony of noisy guitars and songs about homework and decapitation. Their live shows lived up to the recording, too, with the entire band playing on pogo sticks. Gimmick or not, this was music at its most exciting.

3) The London Philharmonic Orchestra with Einstruzende Neubaten: Unlistenable Tripe

Take a full orchestra, steal their instruments and give them a load of power tools. Now shoot their regular conductor and have them play the power tools while conducted at gunpoint by the German noise band Einsturzende Neubaten. What do you have? The third best album of the year, that's what. Somewhere amongst the wailing, the feedback, the unstoppable cacophony of drilling, breaking and weeping, you can literally hear the beauty.

4) Bleep: Bleep

The sound of the summer had to be Bleepcore, and the sound was epitomised by Bleep, whose album remains high on the charts despite being outlawed by the government. The critics called it 'dance music that you can listen to', and nobody is more right about everything than critics. I should know. I am one. Altogether now, 'Bleeeeeeep!'

5) Runny Egg Slippage: The Mauve Album

The Mauve Album saw Runny Egg Slippage reform after fifteen years. Nobody was holding their breath, however, as nobody heard of the band the first time around. The quality of songs like 'Tamboureeeeeeen' and 'Gruntflap' sent people flocking to second hand shops to find copies of their first album which was, unfortunately, shite.

6) Death by Dry Hump: Off Biscuits

From the other side of the pond, Death by Dry Hump made it okay to fall in love again, after it was banned by Puff Daddy in 2005. This is the sound of five men who know what they're doing with their instruments, doing their instruments. And doing it well. Fans of the band will be pleased to know that they are going to appear in the next Hostel movie next autumn.

7) Iggy Pop and Friends: Duets

While some of this album was teeth-grindingly awful, some of it was orgasmic. When Iggy and Tony Bennett sing 'Strawberry Fields Forever' together, you know that these are two men who have lived every word of this song. The uptempo cover of Aerosmith's 'Janey's Got a Gun' with rapper Snow always puts a smile on my face.

8) Bum Gravy: Self-Taught

Bum Gravy are a three-piece band who live down my road and who promised to brick my windows if I didn't give them a plug on my website. I fear them.

9) The Number Four: The Number Two

With all the hype surrounding The Number Four's follow up to their debut album, The Number One, it was easy to forget about the music. That was a shame, though, as the music was quite nice. Lead track 'Caisse Populaire DesJardins' was a stomping rocker that echoed Slade at their best, while 'Is it Wrong to eat Dolphin?' was raucous and fresh, if somewhat politically incorrect. Top.

10) There is no number 10. Sorry, I only listened to nine albums this year.

Sunday 2 December 2007

New Religion Round-Up

With the success of relatively recent religions like Scientology and Mormonism, quite a few other belief systems have sprung up from the metaphysical void. Who will be the new Jesus and who will go the way of Zeus? The Imaginary Review can reveal all in our fashionably fresh faith menagerie!

First off, Bastardisationism. This religion will definitely go far. Bastardisationism takes the best bits from all the popular existing religions and gets them horribly wrong. For example, Bastardisationists believe in the Holy Trinity of Father Dowling, Sonny Bono and the Friendly Ghost (Casper be his name). They believe that the world was created in seven minutes and that man was created from discarded barbecue ribs (which explains why communion usually takes the form of a cook-off). Bastardisationists are forbidden to get out of bed on Sundays and believe that all homosexuals must get married. This religion is getting more and more popular; celebrity adherents include Gwen Stefani and Vince McMahon.

Formbicism was started by a man in 1980. For many years the number of followers was eight, but then numbers grew and the religion hopes to have double figures by 2015. Proponents of Formbicism believe that early 20th Century singer/actor George Formby was God, and they sing ukulele hymns on the dunes of Formby, the town from where George got his name. Using a complex letter-substitution decoding method, Formbicists have revealed a series of hidden messages in popular George Formby songs, which they’ve compiled into the Gospels of George. According to these Gospels, the world was created on a Wednesday and eternal life may be gained by the judicious application of lip balm.

Another new religion that’s got everyone in a lather is Blendificationism. Blendificationism is based on the teachings of a goat in Hungary called Mister Giggles. Quite frankly, this religion is rubbish, as the main tenets are all based around eating inanimate objects, such as tin cans and carrier bags. Famous Blendificationists include Colin Powell and Daniel Radcliffe.

And finally, Shintoism is relaunching itself under the new name, ‘Happy Smile-ism’. While most of the central themes and teachings will remain the same, all of the rituals must be performed with an inane grin. Shinto deities will remain the Earth and all that is contained within, but now whenever considering a tree, large stone or mound of earth, these things must be mentally pictured with cute dotty-eyes.

Sunday 18 November 2007

Equipment Review: The new Tring 32X

The new Tring 32X from Garrulous Industries promises to be the most efficient gnawer of partikittens since Crepshaw manufactured the BD 303 (i) in 2003. While technology in the parallel fields of depth-panning and contrabouncing has improved remarkably in recent years, it is interesting to note that no new advances have been in partikitten-gnawing since the BD was released. Until now, that is.

The 32X improves on other hardware in this area by at least a factor of point seven. This equates in real terms to a whoft-capacity of up to a kiloboppet. You can imagine the severance that can be allotted with rail-bonds of this magnitude! Furthermore, while the 32X could certainly be more efficient in this area (lacking as it does the now-ubiquitous connective spleen that reduces Gabba wastage by up to an eighth), it does have a revolutionary tri-capstan adaptive matrix.

The addition of this T-CAM system means that all negative fallout from the disassociative membranes collects within a cognitive valve that converts them into dirigible velocipedes. These velocipedes give the 32X a top-down metalopez which works serially from the duck pins. In layman’s terms, this resolves all the ectopility compatibility problems while also allowing the 32X to emit a much greater protolaser screw. The boffins at Tring should be ecstatic!

There were some problems with the 32X, however. It has a tendency to overheat when tuned to a frequency between 8.3 and ‘G’, and without a ghetto socket there are some compatibility issues with the Robert Wagner Essiford 9. However, these problems are nothing compared to the massive improvements that this machine has over all of its competitors.

The Tring 32X costs $18,000 and comes in blue, black or yellow. The 32X Deluxe costs $1,200,000 and is invisible. All models are available from braches of DT Techniks, Alcom, Qwertylicious and Walmart.

Monday 12 November 2007

The New Collins Dictionary is out!

Just as the day is always followed by night, the release of a new updated Collins dictionary is always – inevitably! - followed by controversy. While the outcries that have come after recent publications have not matched the riots and uproar that occurred during 1976 (when the dictionary ruled that ‘cactus’ was no longer a word and that the past participle of ‘run’ was ‘graven’) there have always been a few out-of-joint noses whenever Collins go to press.

This year will certainly be no different. The Imaginary Review has got its grubby little hands on an advance copy and linguists everywhere are going to be affected by the contents. In fact, anyone who uses the English language on a regular basis will certainly need to pay heed.

One of the major changes to the English dictionary is the removal of the word ‘Because’. The reasoning behind this remains mysterious; we asked a Collins representative why they had deemed the word unnecessary, and they replied that they ‘didn’t need to explain themselves’. Our own guess at why this word is no longer part of the English language is due to the fact that people have stopped trying to explain and excuse things, they just pass the buck on to someone else. The lack of the word ‘because’ will certainly make things much more difficult for people to explain events.

A new word that the people at Collins have introduced is ‘Crotny’. It is an adjective that refers to the unpleasant feeling one gets when a commercial break arrives in a TV program and it only seems like two minutes since the last. Other additions include ‘flad’ - an attractive female who is often mistaken for a ladyboy – and ‘yopling’, an activity that requires as-yet uninvented equipment.

Collins 2008 has some interesting new prescriptions. ‘Terse’ can no longer be translated into Spanish, and not before time if you ask me. ‘Shower’ and ‘Hovercraft’ have now swapped definitions, a move that will probably cause more problems in Dover than anywhere else. ‘Buffoon’ now has the added definition, ‘a small area of carpet infested with estate agents’.

While the people at Collins claim to have the best interests of the English language at heart, it is somewhat unclear as to how their new dictionary will achieve any advancement for the language or its speakers. Removing ‘because’ from usage will certainly lessen the depth and clarity that English has. Furthermore, the novel new idea of ‘sin-binning’ some words for various perceived penalties is not without its drawbacks; what good can come of banning the words ‘hedgehog’, ‘alimony’ and ‘gumption’ for two years?

On the plus side, however, the book has some good new touches, including the inclusion of page numbers that advance upwards from ‘one’, and also some vouchers for reduced entry into various attractions. But these benefits are outweighed by some questionable decisions in the content.

The 2008 Collins Dictionary is out now, priced a few quid. If you want one with a thesaurus, you must provide a video of you kicking a Spaniard in the shins.

Saturday 10 November 2007

The 2007 International Public Safety Broadcast Festival

The 2006 International Public Safety Broadcast Festival only seems like it was twelve months ago. With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the 2007 International Public Safety Broadcast Festival was recently held in Guelph. We sent one of reporters there to witness the carnage.

The broadcast that had everybody talking throughout the festival was the public hygiene warning created by Jessops Martin Advertising. The fifteen-second ad is designed to be shown before the movie in specially adapted cinemas. Various people are seen preparing food while a grim-sounding voice intones, ‘Not washing your hands before preparing food is like throwing blood over your children.’ The screen then goes dark and the voice says, ‘Do you want bloodied children?’. Two cannon then fire blood and animal entrails over the audience from each side of the cinema screen, ramming the point home. This ad received a standing ovation from the back four rows of the theatre.

No less shocking was the anti-obesity ad from the government of New Zealand. For two whole minutes a bully stares at the viewer from the screen while letting rip a barrage of weight-based insults. He then pushes a Mars Bar into the camera, squashing it. Apparently, since it started being shown on television in New Zealand, several thousand overweight Kiwis have cried themselves thinner.

The award for ‘Most Puzzling Ad at the Festival’ if there was one (and there isn’t, but that’s beside the point, if there was one, which there is), would go to the Simonon And On Advertising Company’s public service announcement, ‘Stay Away From Pylons’. The ad lasts for 25 seconds and features footage of two rabbits sitting in a field eating grass while a guitar plays a soothing tune. At the very end of the ad the campaign slogan ‘Stay Away From Pylons!’ flashes onscreen. Bizarre.

Other noteworthy campaigns include the Mexican anti-smoking measures in which random smoking members of the public are set on fire by mobs, the eye-catching 'Wet Paint’ signs printed by John Morris of the Red Lion Pub, Leicester, and Microsoft’s famed ad campaign in which a series of Apple computers explode, killing their owners and eventually destroying the world.

Monday 5 November 2007

Nonsense Blast

The latest craze that’s grabbing the earlobes of today’s youth and kneeing them in the crotch is ‘Freeform Texting’, otherwise known as ‘Nonsense Blast’. It involves sending a normal SMS text message to a friend or loved one, but instead of typing out letters to make words and sentences, the person uses their mobile phone to create a string of random letters and symbols. Thus, a text message that is supposed to say ‘Hi Dave, pub @ 8? Ste’ might say ‘yaawkswt f3c@ 33pfpaamn’.

The person credited with the creation of this revolution is Philip Stirrup, a 19-year-old student from Tarby.

‘I was on the train, texting my girlfriend to let her know I was going to be late,’ says Stirrup of his moment of creation. ‘As I was tapping out the letters I kept thinking, “I don’t want to type this letter, I want to type something else.” So that’s what I did. The text ended up saying ‘Hey Jules, I’nnnn a gam majgd 00.’

From these seeds of jibberish and a held-up girlfriend, a phenomenon was created. Soon, the word spread of Nonsense Blast, and text messages everywhere started getting silly. Estimates currently place the amount of nonsense texts at around 20% of all text messages sent in Britain, and that percentage is set to grow.

‘It really is a brilliant idea,’ says Bobby Grotnik, Professor of Linguistics and Stargate SG1 at Durham University. ‘These young people are escaping the confines of their own language, even relinquishing the bonds of the slang that they’ve created! By refusing to follow the rules of spelling, grammar or even simple semantic meaning, they’re allowing us all to break free from the oppressive rule of language, flying free from prison to gahdfm ….safdsfdhurrrrrrrrr’ At this point our email interview is halted as Professor Grotnik starts to freeform type in order to prove his point.

But not everyone is as pleased at this new linguistic revolution. Parents who already found their children’s language difficult to understand are now up in arms because their offspring are now sending completely impenetrable messages. Molly Oldenstock of Parents Against Nonsense Texting (PANT) says that her group are petitioning mobile phone companies to make them stop sending texts that are incomprehensible. So far the group has met with little luck.

‘We are sick and tired of sending our children messages asking where they are and getting a load of random letters as a response,’ Oldenstock yelled at me down the phone. ‘We want our kids to send proper messages that make sense. Now, the phone companies tell us that they can’t prevent people sending messages that don’t make sense because a few French people here and there might not get their texts. But we know why they don’t want to do it; it’s all about the money. Well, as parents we’re not going to take it any longer!’

Oldenstock went on. ‘I don’t care what the eggheads say about Lewis Carroll and James Joyce inventing their own language and escaping from the restrictivities of accepted usage! They still followed semantic and syntactic systematization!’ At this point Molly banged her hand on the table for effect but did so a little too hard and was hospitalized. Our thoughts go out to her family.

And so, despite the naysayers, freeform texting is not going to go anywhere. Indeed, its usage will seemingly grow, as dorky kids start learning about it weeks after it was cool and start doing it in a feeble attempt to gain credibility. It looks set to cross over into everyday life too, as psychiatrists are starting to use it as an aid to psychoanalysis. Who knows, it may not be long before you are sending text messages that look like Croatian shopping lists.

Thursday 1 November 2007

New Fragrances

With December on its way, many perfume manufacturers are hoping to cash in on the Christmas consumerism cacophony with scents aplenty. The Imaginary Review has been made party to these seasonal nose-tinglers, so come forth and bow before the altar of odour!

Calvin Klein has been blazing a trail in the underwear, perfume and perfumed underwear markets for years, and if his new fragrance is anything by which to go, next year will be as strong as ever for the mysterious man-child. CK-Off has elements of strawberries, fields and eternity, with essence of sodium in the aftertaste. This fragrance (for men or women, but not both) rekindles feelings of happiness tinged with solemn regret at a lost childhood.

The latest celebrity to invent, release and then market a fragrance is British Olympic medal-winner Fatima Whitbread, whose new product Purificationism is to perfume what Dick Cheney is to ballet dancing. In a bottle shaped like an enormous thigh, this smelly stuff evokes thoughts of athleticism, purity and arson. Apparently the scent is inspired by a bottle of talcum powder that Fatima’s mother gave to her as a child and which contained magical properties.

The new kid on the Perfume block is the Italian fragrance collective, Youknow. Based in Pamplona, the collective (whose slogan is ‘Youknow: It Makes Scents’) consists of sixteen former art students who also have a sideline business in black-market passports. The Youknow range is more expensive - and therefore better - than most of its competitors, and each fragrance is based around a different bodily fluid. My favourite is the one made of tears.

Finally, Chanel’s new fragrance, Circumspect, harks back to a golden age of perfume when Audrey Hepburn was alive and Tommy Hilfigger was just a twinkle in an elder Hilfigger’s eye. Circumspect is a wonderful fragrance with elements of saffron, cocktail olives and tooth decay. It is a smell that brings forth emotions associated with small financial windfalls and being surprised by someone’s trustworthiness.

So there you have it. All the presents you could possibly need for that special person in your life who has an unfortunate stench.

Monday 29 October 2007

Book Review: Great Lists I Have Written by Seldom Hatchery

Great Lists I Have Written by Seldom Hatchery is one man’s love letter to lists, and the writing thereof. In this remarkable memoir, Hatchery, a professor of ergonomics and aesthetics at Coventry University, looks back over more than sixty years of lists that he has written.

The first thing that grabs one while reading this book is that in Prof. Hatchery’s hands, the lists have the ability to move us in many ways. They amuse, sadden, anger and warn us, all at the same time. Take one of Seldom’s earliest lists, written in 1951, entitled ‘Things I will do before I’m forty’:

1 Grow a beard
2 Write a book about ghosts
3 Buy a really nice desk
4 Shoot Mrs. Kilkenny
5 Read War & Peace

We are not informed as to whether Prof. Hatchery carried out the items on this list. However, we are given some poignant insight into the state of mind of a young man full of ambition, full of hope, and possibly full of anger towards a mysterious married woman.

While many of the lists are enjoyable reading in their own right, all are brought to life and given wings by Hatchery’s wonderful prose accompanying them. We learn the context of the lists; we learn of their place in time, we learn of their relevance to their own era.

This contextualisation of the lists is displayed incredibly well in the case of some of Hatchery’s most mundane minutiae. For instance, compare these two shopping lists, the first from 1965 and the second from 1997:

An egg
Corn Flakes
Bin bags

Two large rump steaks
Harvey’s Bristol Cream
Tabasco sauce
Stuff Magazine

Professor Hatchery deconstructs these two lists and uses them as a metaphor for his own life at the time. While once he was a man who purchased lard and dripping, now he was a man with a research grant who could afford corn, oysters and extravagant sauces. But yet throughout, at the middle of each list, persevering through time and holding up the lists like a spine or column are the eggs. The change from one egg to ‘some’ eggs (plural) shows, for Hatchery, a display of growth, of aging. In many ways he is the same, but at the same time, he is ‘more’.

Every list that Professor Hatchery has ever written is here, from the interesting (‘Venice Itinerary, 1972’) to the dull (‘Things I need to do this week, February 10 1980’) and from the exhilarating (‘My favourite break-up records, 1965’) to the embarrassing (‘A list of all my colleagues with attractiveness ratings, 1992’). They constitute a good read on their own, but with the author’s commentary to go with them, this book is an essential read.

‘Great Lists I have Written’ by Seldom Hatchery (pp 930) is published by Elemental Quaker Books and is priced £34.99.

Sunday 21 October 2007

I Review a Review of the Review of a Review I Wrote last month

Terence Spack, in the new magazine The American Review of Imaginary Things, has published a review of the review I wrote in September, in which I called David Trebuchet's review of Dippy Twilight's album Loving to Love the Love "another wonderful addition to Trebuchet's ouvre".

Spack's pedestrian meanderings into the world of reviewing have always been somewhat painful to read, even when one is not mentioned by name in them. For example, Spack's review from last year in which he referred to Anthony Betterbuy-Glottalstop's book 'Gender Divisions: Why Men Like Lists and Women Like Flower-Arranging and Kittens' was a terrible mish-mash of overlong sentences, wrought paragraphs and mixed metaphors. It is no surprise, therefore, that his comments about my own review are both wrong, badly-written and, I'm sad to say, a bit stinky. Like a pooey bottom. Like Spack's pooey bottom, which, I'm told, is full of poo.

Take this example: "[The Imaginary Reviewer] writes like someone who has never used a thesaurus; his prose is staid and his analogies are less apt than a grenade in a orphanage." What rubbish! My prose is fine, thank you! And a grenade could be apt in an ophanage. Did Spack ever stop and think whether the orphanage could be full of terrorists? Orphans can be terrorists too! And as for using a thesaurus, why on Earth would I need a dinosaur? Spack is obviously trying to be funny, and it isn't working.

That's not to say that Spack's review of my review of Trebuchet's review doesn't have its merits. He does mention that I have a 'nice way of using parentheses' and, in what has become his trademark, Spack has written his review in the form of an acrostic in which the first letters of all the words spell out a recipe for fried rice.

I can't recommend this review enough. Not for reading, though, but for burning! It's rubbish! Don't read it, and certainly don't read the magazine, either. Mine is much better.

The Imaginary Review apologises. He was drunk.

Sunday 14 October 2007

Photography Retrospective - Gunchen Maladroit: A Life in Frame

It is impossible to overstate the importance of Gunchen Maladroit's contribution to photography. Well, it's not impossible, so to speak, but rather ill-advised. The last person to play down Maladroit's artistic worth (Daily Schneisser art critic Justav Fliminim) was executed by German authorities using a giant pestle and mortar; his body turned to paste that was later fed to his children in baps. Such is Maladroit's sway over the art world.

Now the Tate Gallery in Lincoln is hosting a retrospective of the diminutive German's work, and the Imaginary Review was the first reviewer camped out at the gallery gates on the day of opening, beating Marina Hyde of the Observer by three minutes.

The earliest stage in Maladroit's career can be summed up by the stunning photograph seen right, 1956's Oh my God! It chafes! It chafes!

As the rest of Germany was struggling to get over the Second World War and that wall that was built, Maladroit focussed on more 'at home' problems, like the inability to purchase cotton underwear. When it was first displayed in 1958, Oh My God! It Chafes! It chafes! caused a sensation in Berlin and twenty-seven people had to be castrated.

The composition of the photograph here is less importart to Maladroit than the message, so there is somewhat of a naivety about it; rules of perspective are unknown and therefore disregarded with an unknowing glance.

The next picture that we have paid a great deal to reproduce is Track 5: Insect Royalty from Maladroit's 1966 series entitled Entschuldegung! (pictured right). The work is among some of Gunchen's finest, with pathos, bathos and pathetic fallacy all jettisoned in favour of some black and white stuff. It is said that Maladroit went to some of the most beautiful places in the world using his grant money, and then refused to take photos in those locations, instead enjoying watersports and nightlife. His reason for this, he claimed, was that 'life is not beautiful, so why just I represent it that way in my photographs?' His detractors asked why he would piss away his grant money in exotic locations, but once a few of them started disappearing, dissenting voices were few and far between.

1980's I Have Lost My Cat XIX shows a low point in the photographer's life, when he lost his cat and was unable to think of any pretentious names for his pictures. Despite this, his work from this period displays a wonderful sense of ennui and sadness, to which I'm sure anyone who has lost a pet can relate. The vivid greys, the stilted light blues, all point their fingers towards a cloud of despair, but in some ways the pictures themselves have clouds that are shaped like aubergines.

Maladroit's cat was found in 1982. It had moved to Finland to be with a postman named Maurice.

Between the years of 1982 and 1990 Gunchen Maladroit began his 'black period',
when he would arrange the most beautiful still lifes and reclining nudes (evoking the most ostentatious art of the previous few centuries) but photograph these scenes with his lens cap still attached to his camera. Most of these works are rubbish, but one from 1988 stands out: the quite atypical Gamera Hollow Chestnut Maxim IV: A Man Named Len Goodman Will Come and He WIll Judge A Dancing Competition. The black lines and crosses are from the Japanese symbol for 'poetry'; the picture was taken by accident when a small Brazillian child stole Maladroit's camera and, thinking it was a gun, tried to shoot his mother with it. Maladroit was so enamoured with the photograph and the child that he adopted the boy as his own son, and passed the picture off as his own.

In 1995 Maladroit re-emerged on the photography scene with a big bag of pictures and some scabby knees. Apparently he had been trapped underneath a fallen portrait of Casper Hauser in his living room for several months, and nobody had noticed he was gone. He survived on a diet of carpet dust and gin, but luckily his camera was with him at all times. Here is one of them, Won't Somebody Please Come and Get Me Out of Here? I've Pissed Myself Eighteen Times Now and I'm Really Cold. It shows Gunchen's marvelous eye for detail and dedication to his art; despite having been trapped on the floor of his house for many weeks by this time, he still paid attention to the composition of the piece.

Gunchen Maladroit has taken some more photos especially for this exhibition, and for the accompanying coffee table book. The one that we have been able to show here, Wikipedia Can Kiss My Arse, Non-Notable Artist My Foot (2007) again displays the versatility and talent of the artist. If only we knew what it was supposed to be. If you tilt your head a bit it looks like Cameron Crowe.

So, Gunchen Maladroit: A Life in Frame contains all the pictures that you need to see on a rainy Lincoln afternoon. Plus it's free to enter, so that's a bonus. But the food in the restaurant is extremely overpriced. So this exhibition gets four stars (out of five).

All the pretty pictures will be on display until 2011, when the gallery will burn down mysteriously. The book accompanying the exhibition, Gunchen Maladroit: A Life in Frame: The Book Accompanying the Exhibition will be available in shops priced twenty quid, or three hundred quid for the special limited edition which comes with its own coffee table.

Thursday 11 October 2007

DVD Review - Who Wants to Fuck a Goat? - The Entire First Season 8-disc Box Set

When Who Wants to Fuck a Goat? first aired on Channel Five in late October of last year, opinions were divided as the cultural validity of the program. Indeed, a show in which members of the public compete in various challenges for the grand prize of six hours' uninterrupted coitus with a goat doesn't have the hallmarks of great TV, like The Simpsons, May to December or Byker Grove. But for ten weeks, goat fucking was on everybody's lips.

The success of Who Wants to Fuck a Goat? was a surprise even to its creator, Gaviscon Bentley. 'I didn't think we'd get enough people to sign up for the show, to be honest,' he says on the DVD commentary, 'but in the end we had to beat off potential contestants with sticks. Literally. We beat them with sticks. Hard. One lost an eye.'

As the episodes of WWtFaG? unfold, we come to know and love the participants. Dave, the happy-go-lucky cab driver whose dream of fucking a goat is the one thing that keeps him alive during the long, cold, lonely nights; Sharon, who sees goat fucking as a way of getting invited to film premieres; and fan favourite Babted, the diarrhea-plagued mongrel.

'We talked long and hard over whether it was fair to have a dog as a contestant on the show,' opines Bentley in one of the interviews that come as part of the DVD extras package. 'In the end I tossed a coin and threw it at a pigeon. The pigeon died.'

What was it about WWtFaG? that electrified the nation for two and half long months? Was it the blossoming romance between Gavin and Debbie2 (Blonde Debbie)? Was it Sharon's wonderful way with words, spawning a silagetank full of colourful catchphrases? (Do you remember the days before everyone was saying 'What happens at now?' and 'Put the crayons where?'? Me neither!) But whatever made that Goat Fuckery popular, it's all here on an eight-disc goat-shaped special edition boxset.

From Dave slipping in the trail of Babted's wake during the Waiter challenge and getting his hair all pooey to the final triumphant thrusts into the lucky goat's orifices, you can relive all the moments from the show. And there are twenty-six hours of unseen footage, too, including a bit in a car when some of the contestants discuss crisps and six hours of people sleeping in a room. The DVD is jam-packed with goat-fucking extras, like a 'Pin the Goat on the Member' game and twelve hours of interviews with the makers, contestants and Twiggy, the goat himself.

Overall, this DVD gets a three-point star advantage, with heavy lilting for the extras, giving it a grand total of uneven camber.

Who Wants to Fuck a Goat? The DVD box-set is available in time for the Christmas rush, on December 23rd. To buy a copy, simply give some money to a slack-jawed infant in HMV and walk away tutting as his general apathy during the purchasing process causes you to briefly stare at the porn behind the counter.

Monday 1 October 2007

Theatre Review: The Magic Treehouse

Hot on the heels of Mamma Mia! and We Will Rock You, musicals based on the works of Abba and 5ive, respectively, comes The Magic Treehouse, a musical based on the output of the prolific Britpop band, Ooberman. Written by Danny Baker and Salman Rushdie with help from Ooberman frontman Danny Popplewell, the play is certain to become a hit with the millions of Ooberman fans out there, as well as members of the general public who don't like Ooberman because they're a bit wimpy.

The Magic Treehouse follows the misadventures of Jeremy Cock-For-A-Chin, a poor boy who 'Had a cock where his chin should have been'. It's truly gripping stuff. From the opening song, 'Sugar Bum', in which he is introduced by his lover, Jenny Sugar-For-A-Bum (who later dies at the hand of a gang of ants) to the last song, 'The Beauty of Your Soul', in which Jeremy finds acceptance and friendship by the Uberman (a God figure), the story rolls around in a cacophonic bellyhurt of wonderyay. And, of course, part of this wonderyay is the music of Ooberman, who formed in 1997.

Ooberman's music has been loved by all the generations that have come since their Shorley Wall E.P. graced the shelves of independant record shops everywhere in 1999. And the title track from that song is well used in the musical, following Jenny Sugar-For-A-Bum as she goes to the seaside and is attacked by a spoon-wielding Elton John impersonator. Indeed, this part of the show was so emotional that some of the other audience members were forced to walk out at this point. I wept so much that I had to discard my notebook, as it was covered in salt.

The story itself is amazing, and I'm especially impressed at how the writers have adapted all of Ooberman's best loved songs to fit the tale. Even Beany Bean, with its refrain of "Beany beany beany beany beany bean" shows up here, and the lyrics really do come to life in the story. Indeed, I was left aghast by the life lessons that I learned during this section.

All in all, The Magic Treehouse is the best musical I've ever seen, and I've seen at least eight. Or nine if you count that one with the cats. What was that called? Oh! And I've seen the episode of Buffy when they're all singing (it's because of Dawn) so I've seen ten. And this is best. Except for the one with the cats.

The Magic Treehouse is being shown somewhere in Bromsgrove. Ooberman will be playing student-infested shitpits all year, which is a shame because Shorley Wall really was a great song. I think it was called 'Cats', by the way. Or 'Miss Saigon'.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Television Review

The new sitcom from Ricky Gervais, An Annoying Full-of-Himself Man Gets His Comeuppance With Excruciating but Hilarious Results, is another triumph from the Emmy Award-winning comedian. It marks a new stage in the career of the funnyman, and shows that he is capable of an incredible range of talent.

The Imaginary Review has seen An Annoying Full-of-Himself Man Gets His Comeuppance With Excruciating but Hilarious Results and we can certainly say that it displays a remarkable departure from Gervais's normal output. As with his other comedies, Gervais appears in the main role, but here his character is incredibly different to those from his other shows. Unlike David Brent, who was irritating and arrogant, and the bloke from Extras, who was obnoxious and pompous, his new character is annoying and full of himself. Truly, Ricky Gervais is a man who can pull off any role.

The style of the new comedy is very different from those previously mentioned, too. In it, Ricky's character usually ends up getting his comeuppance, and the results are hilarious. But at the same time, they're also somewhat excruciating. Indeed, one could say that the comeuppance has Excruciating and Hilarious results.

Consider, if you will, the results of Gervais's character's comeuppance in the first episode. At times you - the viewer - will be cringing out of the sheer excruciation of the comeuppance. But you'll be laughing too, as the results of the comeuppance are also hilarious. Gervais has already won the British Comedy Award for actor, sitcom and genius of the year 2008, despite the fact that nobody else has seen the new show. Apparently he will win next year's Emmy for best actor in December, a month before the series begins on television.

Did I mention that his character is Annoying and Full of himself? Brilliant.

The Imaginary Review can't recommend An Annoying Full-of-Himself Man Gets His Comeuppance With Excruciating but Hilarious Results enough. We haven't actually seen the final episode from the series, due to a veil of secrecy from the producers, but we'd bet a tenner to a penny that it's hilarious! (And excruciating. And something to do with a comeuppance.)

An Annoying Full-of-Himself Man Gets His Comeuppance With Excruciating but Hilarious Results will be shown on BBC One after Christmas, shortly after you've been made practically orgasmic with anticipation by a series of idents that make it look different from all his other shows, but which will cause a crushing disappointment not unlike losing your virginity to a spotty premature-ejaculating adolescent at a party, with similar feelings of regret and betrayal.

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Art Exhibition Review: Saint Whopp's (CofE) Primary School

I attended the opening night of Saint Whopp's Primary School's annual art exhibition with my son, Monty, hoping that this year's festival of paint would be better than last year's godawful shiteshow. How wrong I was.

Take Tommy Chapstick's work, for example, if you want to see why St Whopp's school is famed for its laughable art. The thick strokes of blue, yellow and red are daubed on the paper in such an amateurish fashion that I initially thought someone had mounted dog vomit on the wall. If only they had. Chapstick (6 and a half) should be ashamed of the drivel to which he is subjecting the world. It was all I could do to stop myself from spitting on the painting, entitled, incidentally, My Mummy.

Suzie Bedknobs (5) is another artist whose work would be better off used as toilet paper in the elephant house at the zoo. While her vivid swirly circles are no doubt intended to evoke the spirit of Kandinsky, instead they evoke the kind of bloated indigestion that one gets after eating too many snails. Maybe the swirls are supposed to be snails. Who can tell? Who cares? Not I.

I have never felt as physically sick when looking at a work of art as when looking at seven year old Robert Fromme's painting, My House. Not even during Pierre Gabstank's installation that comprised of nothing but rotten eggs and deer crap. The shit on the paper was enough to make me shout obscenities at Fromme's father, Bill. Fromme Sr. became angry with me so I resorted to punching him for raising such an untalented child. Then I punched Robert for being so crap.

The only saving grace in the entire show was the wonderful work by brilliant genius child Monty Reviewer. The beauty of the subtle, gradiated colours in his painting, Daddy, were enough to put tears in my eyes. That the hands of the figure in his painting had seven and ten fingers, respectively, was unimportant. The child really caught the essence, the spirit of his subject. This work alone is more than enough to make up for the rest of the dross on display here. So come and see for yourself!

Saint Whopp's Primary School's art exhibition is on until their next art lesson, when the paintings will be sent home with the kids. To discourage nonces, all male visitors to the school must leave their testicles with the bursar.

Sunday 16 September 2007

New Pet Review: Ted the Unknown Species

I bought Ted from the local pet shop because he had very impressive plumage. I figured that such a magnificent-looking creature would also have some intelligence, or at least be able to do some tricks. Not so. My new pet is as dumb as a tree.

I am unsure as to what species of creature Ted is. The man in the pet shop was unable to tell me, he said he specialised in dogs, which makes sense to me because he looked like a dalmation. If any readers can tell me what kind of animal Ted is, I would be very grateful.

Getting Ted home, I was very excited to show him to his hutch. I sat him in front of it, but he showed little to no emotion at his new home. Indeed, he made no attempts to get into it. I wondered if a basket were more appropriate for Ted's species, but he wasn't interested in that either. All he seemed to want to do was sit and look at his new digs.

I took Ted's lack of enthusiasm to be typical of an animal moved into new surroundings. He was probably being a bit shy, so I left him where he was, hoping that he would settle in while I slept in my bed (which is a double as I move about a lot in my sleep). However, when I got up the next morning, Ted had not moved.

I have tried to teach Ted all sorts of tricks, but to avail. I have sat in front of him repeating the phrase 'My name is Ted' for six hours, but he still hasn't spoken to me. This is more than can be said for my neighbours, who have been round to see why I have been claiming to be someone else all afternoon. Ted is a troublesome creature.

Incidentally, I'm a little worried for his health. He hasn't eaten the bowl of food I left out for him after I got him; he's starting to look a little ill. If I can't get him to eat something soon, I'm scared he'll pass on. And I don't want the Animal Welfare people on my heels.

Ted refuses to sit, although for all I know he could be sitting already. I'm not entirely sure what his legs are. He's probably hiding them. Needless to say, he won't come on walkies with me, despite the nice new leather lead I got for him. Begging, giving me his paw, rolling over...he won't do any of them.

All in all, Ted remains a rubbish pet. He does no tricks, he shows no interest in his master and he is not cute. On the plus side, he does let me dress him up in hats. But that's it. To be honest, for all the enjoyment I get from this pet, I might as well put him on a shelf and leave him there to look nice.

Like a plant.

Ted, wearing one of my hats, ignores the water I left out for him.

Friday 14 September 2007

Film Review - Evil Blood II: The Hurtening

The latest directoral masterpiece from Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) comes just in time for Hallowe'en. Evil Blood II: The Hurtening is the sequel to the popular 2002 horror film in which Eliza Dushku and Sean William Scott were chased around an abandoned quarry by a ghostly quantity surveyor. This film, set three years after the events in the prequel, sees the quarry once again possessed by the spirits of the damned, but this time they mean business!

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.

Thursday 13 September 2007

Music Review Review

David Trebuchet, the highly regarded music reviewer from the San Francisco Corinthian newspaper, has done it again! He recently turned his erudite pen and scathing wit upon the latest teen-marketed pop sensation, and the results are nothing short of genius.

The first sentence in his review of Dippy Twilight's forthcoming album, Loving to Love the Love, gives us a foreglimpse of the wonders to come. "Let's face it," he says, "Nobody thinking of buying this album is going to be reading this review, so why don't we have some fun?" This reviewer couldn't agree more.

Trebuchet then launches into a damning attack of the popular music scene in general. He is most famous for his cynicism in the face of manufactured pop artists, so the fact that Dippy Twilight is actually two people who were fused together by the Sony Music Group definitely angers him. "When there are so many great musicians and bands on the scene (Casket of Geese, The Spasms, Adam Youell and the Bedford Vans, for example), why would Sony need to find two vaguely attractive young women and stitch them together in order to create anodyne music?"

The reviewer is just as scathing when it comes to the songs on the album, with his dismissal of the title track being particularly amusing: "'Loving to Love the Love' sounds like a cross between a children's party being attacked by a race of helium balloons and a baboon farting in my ear. The lyrics sound like they were written by a blind epileptic in charge of a box of magnetic fridge poetry. The music is as vapid and tasteless as a Fox News diatribe."

The only flat point in Trebuchet's review is his unfair comparison between the music of Dippy Twilight and the music of Peter and the Test-Tube Babies. It's well-known at the moment that Trebuchet has co-written a Broadway musical on the career of the punk band, so his constant mentioning of the band in his reviews is an unwelcome intrusion. Otherwise, the review of 'Loving to Love the Love' is another wonderful addition to Trebuchet's ouvre.

In conclusion, I will again quote Trebuchet, this time in his discussion of Dippy Twilight's forthcoming single, 'Amy Used to eat Newspaper': "If anyone ever asks me to listen to this shit again, I'll strangle them with a barbed-wire fence."

Saturday 8 September 2007

New Hats!

Wow! There are so many new hats available this week that I had to review some of them! Huzzah for hats!

The first hat that I will review is a blue hat. It is about six inches tall with a furry bit on the top. The furry bit is slightly darker than the rest of the hat, which is lighter than the furry bit. The blue is a very nice colour. This hat is a nice hat!

Ooh! Next I've seen a small hat. I don't like the small hat. It won't fit on my head! Why is this hat so small? What were they thinking? Stupid hat. Too small.

Round red hat: The round red hat looks funny, so I like wearing it. It has a lovely tassle on the top for swinging the hat around your head. The round red hat with tassle can be thrown at cars, donkeys or clouds. Hat!

My favourite hat of the week is the Woolen hat. The woolen hat is very warm in winter, and makes for a lovely centrepiece in summer. You could use it as a teacosy! Woolen hats are good for the environment because removing wool prevents sheep from getting too big and taking up all the fields. Woolen hats save the planet! (Earth)

Today I saw a man wearing a Baseball cap with a funny slogan on it. I can't remember the slogan but it made me smile and forget all the bad things that have happened to me recently, like the dog that gave me a funny look and the earth-shattering despair that has grabbed hold of my soul and is squeezing the life out of me. The cap was, therefore, my favouritest cap ever, since the woolen hat, which I already said was my favourite.


Friday 7 September 2007

Gourmet Flour Round-Up

The latest craze that’s hardening the cocks of top chefs everywhere is gourmet flour. While it’s possible to make decent cakes and pastries using bog-standard supermarket self-raising or all-purpose, no self-respecting Michelin-starred cook would be seen dead with a bag of Hovis on their shelf. The Imaginary Review decided to give you the dilly-o on the newest bags of overpriced cookery powder.

Bratislavan Dilmouse Flour is available at the Shitfor Deli in Highgate. The Bratislavan dilmouse is a small shrew-like creature that secretes a fine powdery substance after coitus. This powder, believed to have magical properties, is gathered by children and added to flour and sold to idiots in overpriced shops. The flour, priced at £23.99 per cubit, has a slight tangy quality, like a collection of lemon rinds swimming for freedom in a castle moat made of Fanta. There’s an almost pungent aftertaste with inklings of peat, almond nuttiness and despair.

The Sennopod Bakery in Greater Mavisham has obtained a crate of Tinkerbell Plumrose Flour. Made in 1932 by the Microsoft Corporation (before they turned their attention to computers and evil), the antique flour has traces of black forest ham in the nose, with a swilling of aromatic rosemary on the tongue. When added to pastry, this flour makes sweet pies savoury, but not vice-versa. £210 per furlong.

Steven Denman’s Topical Yeast has nanobot-sized time capsules added to it. While not affecting the taste in any way, eating anything containing this yeast has the effect of causing feelings of nostalgia when it is pooed out. Two and ha’penny a bag, from Waitrose.

Fresh from South America, Columbian Sniffing Flour is available from a man who hangs around the end of my street. Adding this flour (in small quantities, mind!) to any food creates feelings of intense confidence and swirly glee. Thirty quid a bag.

Sunday 2 September 2007

Book Review - From Arthur to Betty II: Tables of the Royals

Erwin Q. Blatt, author of such popular history books as The Communist Revolution from the Point of View of a Nomadic Herder in Mongolia and Node of Honour: A History of Lymph, has written a new book about the British monarchy and their infatuation with tables.

Entitled From Arthur to Betty II: Tables of the Royals, the book covers the famous and the little-known dining-room furniture of English royals. Blatt's research is astounding; very little seems to have been left out in this thrilling survey.

The book begins with the most famous table that British royalty has to offer, King Arthur's round table. While many people believe the reason for the shape was to prevent anyone from being 'head of the table' (and thus seeming more important than the others), Blatt has discovered that the real reason was that Arthur and his knights were all fans of Chinese food, and regularly shared banquets. A round table with a large Lazy Susan was the most efficient way of doing this. Indeed, one of the many instances of magic attributed to Merlin was the creation of the Lazy Susan, something that seemed otherworldly to the Knights' primitive minds.

While the table habits of some Monarchs warrant entire chapters, some require no more than a few paragraphs. Henry VIII was particularly scathing of tables, and is said to have attempted to destroy all serving surfaces in the kingdom; when this was deemed impossible by his advisors he instead started a crippling table tax, rendering table ownership incredibly unattractive to Britain's poor. The section in the book on this is mercifully short.

However, other Kings and Queens have been shown by Blatt to have been instrumental in the advancement of table science. James II, for instance, had an octagonal table in honour of the shape, discovered by British mathematicians during his reign. Queen Victoria was for some time obsessed with tables, and in 1887 ordered the creation of a spectial spherical table in honour of her Golden Jubilee. When the table was unveiled at a special reception in Westminster Abbey, however, all of the guests' soup bowls fell off the impractical table, resulting in several burnt laps. Victoria's love affair with tables ended that day.

Blatt writes with passion on the subject of tables, something that must be due to his own obsession with the furniture (he is rumoured to own at least three tables himself!). While some of his descriptions of the tables themselves occasionally become weighed down with technical jargon, there is no denying his vast knowledge on the subject.

This is the ideal birthday or Christening present for anyone who is interested in tables, royalty or bears (as there is a bear in the ninth chapter).

From Arthur to Betty II: Tables of the Royals by Erwin Q. Blatt; Artichoked to Death Press; pp639; $49.98

Sunday 26 August 2007

Special In-Depth Review: The Cheeky Manifesto

As an apology for the lack of reviews of late, I have now written a rather long and in-depth review of The Cheeky Manifesto by The Cheeky Girls. I hope you all enjoy it.

When The Cheeky Girls released their first single, The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum), many people dismissed it as throwaway manufactured pop. Moreover, the fact that two identical twin sisters were singing a song written by their mother imploring the listener to fondle their rear end, made it seem all the more sinister.

Yet, at the same time, postmodernist disassociationist writers saw the Cheeky Song for what it really was: a richly layered philosophical treatise, written in the only language that the modern Westerner understands, pop music. Now the Cheeky Girls have put their political thoughts onto paper, and the results are stark, clear, and brilliant.

The most important part of the Cheeky Girls’ philosophy is that of identity. They remove any semblance of solipsism or existential doubt by the forceful definition of what they believe to be the limits of their physicality. ‘We are the Cheeky Girls/You are the Cheeky Boys’ they say, drawing a line in the sand between what constitutes ‘themselves’ and ‘the other’. Delving deeper, their language indicates a belief in a plurality of matter; ‘You are the Cheeky Boys’ [emphasis mine] shows that the Cheeky Girls consider all that lies without themselves to be more than a single substance. By saying this so early in their writing they distance themselves – the writers – from their readers, while at the same time making us aware that we are all as one, all cheeky.

The next part of the Cheeky Manifesto is pure genius. To quote: ‘We are the Cheeky Girls/You are the Cheeky Boys’. It is nothing more than the previous line repeated, but contains no mere repetition of meaning, but so much more! By phrasing their previous thoughts in exactly the same way but at a later time, they prove that their views persist through the fourth dimension! The truth of the separation of Cheeky Girls (them) and Cheeky Boys (us) continues through time; it is not a mere momentary thing!

Having proved the persistence of their beliefs through time, the Cheeky Girls get into the meat and potatoes of their philosophy. Again, to quote: ‘Come and smile/Don’t be shy/Touch my bum/This is life’. How much wisdom of the world is contained in this four line stanza! How many philosophers would have given their lives just to utter such profound a truth in so few words! Such breathless veracity!

It is best to take the lines one by one, such is the depth of meaning contained within. Firstly, ‘Come and smile’, deceptively simple in its message of hope. But, this being a Cheeky Girls writing, there is far more than meets the eye. The ‘smile’, as the Cheeky Girls mean it, has layers of meaning that peel away like an onion. Firstly, there is the meaning inherent in the smile, happiness and contentment. Next, consider its physical shape. A downward gradient, evening out and then rising, symmetrically beautiful and mathematically useful. The ‘smile’ for the Cheeky Girls represents mathematical purity; the arc, the arch, the bridge, the valley, the mountain, the parabolic certainty of circadian rhythms…all are welcomed and thrust upon our consciousness by this word. Finally, the smile sits on one’s face, like a harlot. The Cheeky Girls are asking us to consider and appreciate the purity of mathematical form, but not to trust it, as we would in the case of a harlot sitting on our face.

This brings us to the next line. ‘Don’t be shy’. To be shy is to be somewhat afraid in the face of new things. What new things can we possibly be facing? The truth. The Cheeky Girls are showing us the Truth, and they want us to be brave, to stand eye to eye with it and stare it down, like two metaphysical boxers about to exchange epistemological blows in the ring of knowledge. For only then will we overcome our ignorance in the face of certainty.

Next, the line ‘Touch my bum’. For the uneducated layman – and there are many – this is nothing more than a vulgar invitation to caress the Cheeky Girls’ posteriors. But for those acquainted with the history of philosophical thought, the line harkens back to centuries’ worth of profound thinking. The Cheeky Girls’ bums have both the mathematical attractiveness of a smile (indeed, isn’t a bum two smiles?), and also a huge amount of symbolism.

For example, the Cheeky Girls’ bums, resembling peaches as they do, can be seen as the fruit from the tree of knowledge. By tasting this fruit (by ‘touching the bum’) we can learn truth. Moreover, the fruit provided by the Cheeky Girls comes in pairs (pairs of pairs!), which is more than can be said for the mythical pomegranate of Genesis. The truth of the Cheeky Girls’ bums (an a posteriori truth, as Kant would have referred to it) is both mathematically true as well as corresponding to Tarski’s T-Scheme of Truth.

And this brings us to the final line in the Cheeky Girls’ Cheeky Manifesto: ‘This is Life’. And what is this, this ‘this’ that is life? The truth. The truth of the mathematical beauty inherent in a smile, the truth facing you when you jettison your shyness, and the truth of the Cheeky arses. These truths, and all truths like them, they are life.

And there you have it: The Cheeky Manifesto, the Cheeky Girls’ Cheeky Song in philosophical tract form, has solved the meaning of life. It took a pair of politician-seducing Transylvanian twins in hotpants to do it, but at last the meaning of life has been found.

God help us all.

Sunday 5 August 2007

Message for all my loyal readers

Hello everyone.

Apologies for the lack of recent reviews. I'm currently in the process of moving and I am spending a lot of time in a place with no Internet access for weeks at a time, so for the past - and next - few weeks, updates will be few and far between. Normal service will be resumed in September.

I promise.

Friday 27 July 2007

Special Report: London Rug and Mat Week

Welcome to a special Imaginary Review, coming to you fresh from the biggest shows at London Rug and Mat Week. In the last few days we’ve seen more rugs and mats than a paraplegic postman, so come with us and listen to our reports, as common folk would listen to bards in days of old!

First up was the wonderful show by the Mat House Blendissimo, home of homewear haute couture. This show was typified by some wonderful avant garde creations, such as the ‘Vertical Blue’ welcome mat (both blue and vertical) as well as the Gypsy Kings rug, a ten feet by four feet rug featuring all of everyone’s favourite foreign yodellers, the Gypsy Kings.

From the fabulous to the functional now, with the great display of rugs and mats by Ichython. Their new Summer range really stuns, and some of their new works are wonderfully useful, too. Consider, for example, their bold new take on the ‘Welcome’ mat. Otherwise identical in shape, size and design to the classic entryway adorner, it is designed specifically to be placed upside down, so it can be read when leaving the house; it’s a must for agoraphobics everywhere!

Not all the things on offer were as good, however. After witnessing the show by up-and-coming Barcelona-based rug emporium Honest Kev’s Smashing Rugs, Inc., I purchased one of their flying carpets, to find that it didn’t fly and nobody was around at the store to give me a refund. I’m starting to think that it wasn’t made by Belgian virgins, too.

But one can’t end such a wonderful festival of rugs on a downer, and so let’s concentrate on the marvellous things at Shrapnel and Hyde’s stunning show. Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Peter Sissons and the gay one from Boyzone gasped in amazement at the beautiful tartan rugs that are going to be so popular this year. My particular favourite was the all-white tartan, in which all of the stripes were the same shade of white. Tubular!

London Rug and Mat Week was due to continue until Friday, but an outbreak of lynchings has forced it to end prematurely.

Wednesday 25 July 2007

Uncle Review: Dave’s Uncle Ted

Being an uncle these days is hard work. It’s not a job that anyone takes lightly, and the recent uncle shortage in the UK has shown us that demand for uncles is as high as ever. Who could forget those harrowing images of children and young people forced to advertise for older male relatives who would poke fun at their Dads, and the reports of one uncle selling his services on eBay for fifteen thousand pounds?

With all this in mind, then, it’s good to see that Dave’s Uncle Ted is, in many senses, a typical uncle. He sends Dave a ten pound book token for his birthday and has invited Dave to two football matches, both when Ted’s mate Eric was sick and didn’t need his season ticket. It’s a shame he lets himself down in so many other areas of unckling.

Last year, I am told, Ted travelled to America for a two-week holiday with his girlfriend, Barbara. As with many people his age, Dave was overjoyed at this, telling his friends how his Uncle was going to bring back all the latest video games and as-yet-unreleased-in-the-UK DVDs from the States. The gift he received upon Ted’s return? A bag of peanut M&Ms.

Unlike most uncles, who enjoy past-times such as snooker, car racing and petty thuggery, Dave’s Uncle Ted has very dull hobbies. It’s a shame because the love of football, while a good start, is not enough to propel him into the ranks of great uncles. A love of gardening, amateur HAM radio and opera, however, are enough to make his nephew dread the prospect of a prolonged conversation with him.

But let’s not dwell on the bad. Ted does have other plus points, and scores highly on the longevity scale because of them. His former problems with alcohol, for example, mean that Dave does have bragging rights with his friends in that regard. In university, Ted played bass in a band who would have opened for Deep Purple, had their lead singer not caught gout. And let’s not forget, Dave’s Uncle Ted has never worn a dirty mac and hung around the park, talking to himself, a trait that is all too rare in today’s Unckling world.

To summarize then, Uncle Ted is a purely average uncle, nothing major to write home about, but at least he’s not a kiddie-fiddler.

Tuesday 24 July 2007

At Last! Spoolight is here!

The button-nosed So Cal cheerleader looks into the sky and one word passes her lips. The Japanese businessman looks up towards the clouds and says a single word. The British postman, cycling on his round, stops, steers his face towards the heavens and utters one word. That one word is the same for all of them.


It has been three months since Spoolight first came into our collective consciousness, but those weeks have seemed like an eternity. Now Spoolight is upon us, and the verdict is awaited. Does Spoolight live up to the hype?

Well, the hype was always a lot to live up to, but it comes close. Without wanting to give too much away, it does everything it said it would do and more. Will everyone get as much out of it as they had hoped? That remains to be seen. But no matter what people think, Spoolight will be a part of our lives for a long time to come, although my initial reactions to it are not 100% positive.

My main qualm with Spoolight is that the emptiness that pervaded beforehand is still there, albeit in a much smaller amount. After several days experimenting with Spoolight, I lack the gapes, but my colander soul still occasionally leaks tears as small as gunshot residue. Is that intentional, maybe? Is it possibly to truly appreciate being hole-less when one is whole?

More questions arise: Will the children bend iron like the commercials say? It’s a big possibility. But what price iron-bending children without the knowledge of the iron which they bend? Is Spoolight giving us too much too soon? Twenty dollars is too much to resist for even the strongest weakling.

Spoolight takes away our need for the things we don’t need, which, like the things we do need (and the things that give those things to us), we need. Especially in the current climate, when the world is full of asbestos burns, cyanide flatulence and Tom Cruise exhaustion. Will Spoolight leave a residue? I cannot see how it cannot; for history will repeat itself upon us should we totally forget it. And historic acid reflux is the worst kind of temporal gastropain.

We do need Spoolight, like the admen, adwomen and adchildren told us. Thankfully, for Spoolight is here to stay.

Monday 23 July 2007

Book Review: The Logic Problem Puzzle Compendium

The Logic Problem Puzzle Compendium is the latest in a long line of popular books, though, having read through this one in the space of an afternoon, I am unable to say from where their popularity arises.

More like a series of short stories than an actual narrative, I was bemused by the events making up the book, and could not find a way to connect them. Indeed, they seem like nothing more than a disparate series of situations and comments about them! On one page I read of children doing different things in order to make money (selling lemonade, babysitting, mowing the lawn, etc), and then, when I turned the page, eager to see how the events unfolded, I was confronted with an entirely new situation, about Christmas presents being bought for family members at various locations. What happened to the children? What became of their money-making schemes? Presumably the author (un-named, I hasten to add) wishes us to guess the outcomes for ourselves!

The laziness of the author does not end there. There is no semblance of character development or literary technique in this book whatsoever. In chapter six, for example, we are told that “John did not go to the party with Mary.” Why not? What had Mary done for John to spurn her party invitation? More to the point, who are John and Mary? It continues: “Nigel (who isn’t a banker) attended the party with the Estate Agent.” What kind of scene setting is that? How are we, the readers, expected to use this sparse description to come up with any sort of interior picture of the story?

And don’t get me started on the so-called ‘illustrations’ adorning most of the pages. Almost identical childish grid-like structures appear almost everywhere within the book. Presumably this is the author’s idea of a suitable accompaniment for a publication that lacks content, narrative structure and any merit whatsoever.

A truly awful book from start to finish.

Thursday 12 July 2007

Music Festival: SwampAid

The SwampAid music festival has now reached its eighteenth birthday. Since the first concert in which founder Sinclair St Claire played banjo on a soapbox in front of twelve apathetic goats, the festival has gone from strength to strength. The aim of SwampAid is raising money to have the Bennibjorn Swamp in Annifridagnethaville dredged, in the hope that Sinclair will one day recover a bicycle that was thrown in there by an angry spouse.

This year promised to be one of the highlights of the North American festival scene, which includes Canada. Many top acts performed throughout the two-day event, and the Imaginary Review pulled up a lawn chair and got in the way of some dancing hippies.

The first band to really strike a chord was Death by Dry Hump, a hot up-and-coming rock band from Deepstain. They had a lot of support from their loyal fans (Sandra and Michael), who had heard about the gig on MySpace. DbDH played their major-label debut album, Great Scott!, in its entirity, including their latest single, I Can't Find My Plectrum (Oh, There it is by The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers). The band's sound is best described as plump, with acidic overtures and a lean downbeat. Their twenty-minute wigout version of their breakthrough hit, Nnng, completed their set magnificently. Death by Dry Hump: Watch out for them!

Next up on my list of bands that I saw and enjoyed was the more established Teddy Trio and the Sextuplet Duo. Their unique cello-drums-acoustibass metal sound has been well known in the Gartersnake area for some time now, and they certainly pleased the crowd with covers of Megadeth's Symphony of Destruction, Slayer's Seasons in the Abyss, and Enigma's Sadeness (Part 1). Unfortunately, the band's set ended in tragedy when Trio attempted to crowd surf while carrying a glockenspiel.

Punch the Baby's set was cancelled, as their gig at the Dallas Rhododendron cannot be stopped. The band have been playing constantly since they came onstage at 7.00 pm last Tuesday, and if scientists cannot find a way to get them to cease playing, all members of Punch the Baby will be dead before the week is out, due to exhaustion.

Snippets of Plenty wowed the crowd with their own brand of progressive electronica, despite a power cut halfway through their set. The highly professional group continued their set through barber-shop quartet-style harmony singing. In fact, their recent hits, Don't F*ck Wit Da Bassline and Sh*tting Da Beats into Your Ears both improved greatly from this change in style. Dolly Parton, guest vocalist on forthcoming single Force-fed a Gallon of Funk, came onstage and joined in the fun for their grand finale. Inspirational!

Unsurprisingly, the biggest pull of the festival were headliners Regrettably Eggy, who showcased their new guitarist, eight year-old Sammy Wonders, in his first gig since taking over from the sadly missed Ian Leviathon. Wonders really managed to fill his predecessor's shoes well, playing the complex solo from Welcome to the Bureau of Foreign Affairs with gusto. All of Eggy's hits were there, in a set that was as crowd-pleasing as it was amiable. Fledgling Parrot, Bag O' Tits and the massive hit A Bucket no More were accompanied by other, lesser-known tracks, as well as a cheeky cover of Ini Kamoze's Here Comes the Hotstepper.

SwampAid was, once again, a wonderful event, full of great music of all types. Sadly, the money raised by the show wasn't enough to pay for the hire of a dredger, so it looks like Sinclair will have to put on another great festival next year. Never mind eh, Sinclair!

Wednesday 4 July 2007

New Wine Releases: Pinot Gris Roundup

The new Cabernet Sauvignons are out, but let’s forget about them! It’s summer, so we all want to be sitting on the roofs of our sheds with a rose between our teeth and a bucket of Pinot Gris between our legs, right? Right! Onward!!

Fleeting Gannymede (by the good men and women of Shattered Flask Vinyards in Western Australia) is a queasy, flaky panhandler of a white wine, with a few extra balustrades added to the tannins for good measure! It loses a few points for being a little sentimental, body-wise, but overall it has a quaffability-to-furtiveness ratio of at least three quarters! I give it a Seventy-Two!

The Pig that Died (Bonus Beats Vinyards) is nothing if not contagious. And it’s not contagious. So it’s nothing to me! You hear me? You’re NOTHING TO ME! Forty-nine points.

Sir Elton John has acquired some grape fields in southern Italy, and the first release is Rocket Man Pinot Gris. Like the man himself, this is a short, tempestuous wine that doesn’t age particularly well. Best enjoyed around 1978. Sixty-six points.

Pinot Gris is well-known in the wine world for going very well with salads, particularly when eaten off the back of a leopard. This has never been more true than in the case of Waįn Sweaty Barrel Select from McVinYards Vinyards. The addition of ball bearings to the drink really emphasizes the middle eights and suspended sevenths, but watch you don’t choke on them! This gets my best score of the day, ninety!

Wines available from the following stockists: Strangebins, Felchers, Talladega Nights and Ron’s Top-Notch Wine Emporium by the Seaside.

Tuesday 3 July 2007

Theatre Review - Snickerthon

When he revealed his ideas for a new musical to them, Dwayne Borsnapp’s friends told him he was mad.

‘They said, “You’re mad!” and then started hitting me on the knees with shatterproof rulers,’ quoths the gung-ho theatre producer, adding, ‘and then some of the rulers shattered, which shows you how hard they were hitting me.’

Well, it’s fair to say that Borsnapp’s friends are probably laughing on the other side of their measuring instruments now, because Snickerthon, his new musical, is about to become the toast of the West End (in London!)!

Snickerthon relates the story – familiar to all people in Britain who were there at the time – of how the popular chocolate, nougat and peanut bar called ‘Marathon’ was rebranded and called ‘Snickers’, and the very devastating fallout that this was to cause.

Getting the project off the ground was not easy. Says Borsnapp: ‘Potential investors were slightly dubious about the money-making potential of a three-hour musical extravaganza chronicling a chocolate bar’s name change. But I showed them. Oh yes, I showed them.’

At this point in the interview Borsnapp started rubbing his hands and staring into space, and no amount of prodding or nose-hair singeing could stir him. I decided to leave him and sit in on the final rehearsals.

Beginning with Britain in a golden age of chocolate bar heaven, where Starburst were still called ‘Opal Fruits’ and where Secrets and Pyramints still existed, the musical moves on through the initial decision-making process to the promotional material and finally to the world as it is today. As the events move on, things on the homesphere get worse and worse, until we arrive at the apocalyptic shitheap of today’s Planet Earth. International terrorism, bird flu, global warming, Mel Gibson….could all the wrongs that exist be due to ‘Marathon’ becoming ‘Snickers’? The play never really answers the question, but it puts the question in your head and that’s almost the same, isn’t it?

Musical highlights include the song It’s Political Correctness Gone Mad and What the Fuck is ‘Oil of Olay’? which cover the plethora of changes to products’ names that have occurred since, and Weren’t Frazzles Great Too?, a paean to the nostalgic snacks movement of comedians like Peter Kaye.

Snickerthon is a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment for anyone who enjoys chocolate, or, perhaps more appropriately, for people who used to like chocolate a lot more than they do now. Superb.

Snickerthon is running for the next two weeks at the Odium, Central Place, London. Tickets are outrageous.