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.