Monday 31 March 2008

The Latest Magazines Reviewed!

The April issue of The British Philosophical Journal is about to hit the newsagents, and it’s as full of all your favourite philosophers as previous issues. The cover features prominent American philosopher John Searle, who talks inside about his favourite Girls Aloud songs, his tips for the upcoming European Cup finals and the best places to eat in his home town of Denver. Also included in the publication is a pull-out-and-keep guide to ontological proofs of the existence of God, the fourth in the series of Classic Interviews (in which Bertrand Russell tells us, over a game of pool, why he is not a Christmas card-sender), and a poster of Daniel Dennett. There is also a competition, the winner of which will be flown to Los Angeles, where they will get backstage passes to a talk on homuncular functionalism by William Lycan.

Also out next week is the latest issue of Teen Pop! magazine, a new publication aimed at teenagers who like pop music. In this issue, Rihanna discusses her views on Kantian ethics, while Leona Lewis talks to Russell Brand about her forthcoming biography of nineteeth century German painter Adrian Ludwig Richter. Also in this issue, win a chance to shoot the Westlife member of your choice in the knee, and Will Self compares the work of Mariah Carey to the written ouvre of Andrea Dworkin.

Blank Cassette Collector Monthly has a new format this month, moving to a Berliner size and having a guest editor for every issue. With Salman Rushdie at the helm of this issue, articles include Memorex in 1992: The Golden Year, The Blank CD: Why it is Shit, and How to Stop Your Children From Recording Things on Your Blank Cassettes. Also, Part 2 of Nick Hornby’s opinion piece The Other Side: Why it’s Good to Put Music on Your Blank Cassettes, with a counterpoint article by Grundy Macintosh, chairman of the Blank Cassette Collector Club.

Fans of the monthly serial Build a Chair will be pleased to find that the next issue comes with a cushion for the chair that they have very nearly finished building over the last 36 months. The final issue will be released in June, coming with a free pot of paint.

Finally, on a sad note, Casual Racist Magazine will no longer be in print after this month’s edition, but to celebrate three hate-filled years the publication will come with a free Bernard Manning joke book.

Friday 28 March 2008

Magic Book Review: Thee Necroholicus Asymptoticus Mordandum, 2008 Edition

In the wake of the clamour surrounding the Harry Potter franchise, many new books of magic spells have been published to cash in on the craze for wizardry and all things thaumaturgical. Thee Necroholicus Asymptoticus Mordandum (NAM) has been printed since the thirteenth century, when scribes of mystics wrote their favourite spells on leaves and bound them together in an attempt to trap a small genie. Since then, the book has been a favourite with serious magic practisers, but the increase in competition has seen the publishers resort to updating the format of the books (which are now printed with ink, rather than the blood of demons) and including many spells just for newcomers to the art.

My first reaction to the 2008 NAM was that it certainly matches its predecessors in aesthetics; nothing says “I’m a hard-arsed warlock, bee-yatch, so don’t mess with me” more than having a large hardback with demon faces poking out of the spine in one’s bookcase. If, for some reason, this doesn’t appeal, the new NAM is also available in paperback with a picture of Jennifer Lopez on the cover.

Many of the spells in the 2008 NAM are much simpler than the ones in previous volumes, including the famous ‘Invisible rabbit’ conjure and several small spells to create various amounts of bran. While these will certainly appeal to the beginner, many of the Mordandum’s existing readers will already be familiar with these basic tricks.

The book has fixes and updates for many of the bugs that were found in past editions, which is certainly a welcome touch. The spell for keeping dry in a rainstorm has been tweaked now, so that anyone using it should no longer find themselves covered in margarine when stepping inside. Also, many of the soul-selling spells will now get you at least 30% more value for your soul, which goes against all the current anima-trading trends.

That’s not to say, however, that there are no bugs in the 2008 NAM. When I tried to conjure a djinn using plasticine and buttons, the creature proceeded to impregnate my cat, despite my following all the directions perfectly. It should also be noted that a huge oversight during publication led to the unforgivable error that two spells – one for raising the dead, the other for making one’s windows clean – were reversed. My neighbours were not too pleased when my attempts to help them with their spring-cleaning resulted in them being attacked by zombies.

But overall Thee Necroholicus Asymptoticus Mordandum, 2008 Edition is a great asset for anyone wanting a cohesive collection of useful magic spells. I’m not sure that I would recommend it to beginners, as some of the latter entries are particularly powerful, and the temptation to try them may be too great for a na├»ve newcomer to resist. The implications of this could be disastrous for mankind. I would recommend a book more suited for beginners, such as Spellcasting for Dummies or Rosie O’Donnell’s My Wiccan Life, which has some great tips for aspiring witches and wizards.

Finally, a warning: At all costs, avoid the upcoming spoken word release of the NAM, as listening to it could turn you into a ham sandwich.

Thee Necroholicus Asymptoticus Mordandum, 2008 Edition, Published by Gandalf and Faber, priced Six Undin Entites and a piece of Scarletite. Paperback available for £9.99.

Wednesday 26 March 2008


The most popular baby names of 2007 have been announced, and it seems that names ending in –aden are the most popular, with Aiden, Braden and Kaden making the top three and Jaden at seven. Further down the list are Dwaiden, Schmoraden and Ninja Gaiden.

To celebrate the fact that in several years time school roll-calls are going to sound like a campfire song, I’m reviewing what are certainly going to be the most popular names for newly breached humans in years to come.

Kumquat, Soybean, B’Nuffin: In the wake of such high-profile fruitily-named people like Peaches Geldof and Apple Martin (the daughter of Chris Martin and Steve Jobs), names based on fruit and food products are coming into fashion. The most popular is going to be Kumquat, which has already been used by several American politicians as the names for their offspring, and which goes well with the middle name Melony. Soybean is going to be very popular with wealthy middle class British people who read the Independent and buy boxes of organic nutmeg. B’Nuffin, a portmanteau word, combines ‘Banana muffin’ to make a splendid name for someone who likes baking. If you are unsure as to whether your neonate likes baking, simply buy them an apron, and see if they like wearing it.

Spider-Pig, Batman, Suitcase: A huge number of groups that have recently popped up on the Facebook website are in the style of “If 100,000 people join this group my wife will let us name our child ‘Spider-pig’”. While the sanity of the people behind these groups may be questioned, experts have estimated that as many as 60% of all children in the future may be named this way. Also, the same experts claim that by 2020, any child with a traditional name will be shunned and ridiculed in school by the other students (who will presumably have names like Mister Fantastic and Barbarella Matchstick), because the normally-named children’s didn’t have many Facebook friends. For this reason, giving you child a name like Iggy Pop Swanson or Crossword Jones is probably a good idea right now.

Daniel: Daniel is the worst name in the world. If you name your son Daniel he will turn into a wretched little shit who can’t count and who bullies other children. He will be an absolute loser who leaves school with no qualifications, having spent all his time picking on nice, quiet, sensitive boys who spend all their lunch breaks writing reviews. I hate Daniel.

Monday 17 March 2008

This Week’s Cookery Programmes Reviewed

A host of new cookery programmes have recently been airing on various channels, and the Imaginary Review caught a glimpse of several of them at the weekend. Here’s our guide to the forthcoming highlights and low points.

Wednesday sees the third instalment of Delia Phones for a Curry (BBC1, 7.30). Opinion has been divided for the last two episodes; has Delia Smith sold out? Or is she providing a valuable resource for those of us too lazy, stupid or handless to cook a hearty meal every day? This week’s episode is certainly better than the previous two, showing us the best poppadom-to-curry ratio and giving advice on what to do if your order is messed up. The sight of Delia calling the restaurant and requesting that they come back with her Lamb Korma is a wonderful vision of impotent fury.

Delia enjoys the fruit of her labours in Delia Phones for a Curry (BBC1, Wed, 7.30)

Less successful is Gordon Ramsay’s new show. It seems that with all his shouting at chefs and bullying waiters he’s forgotten how to cook. Episode 1 of Gordon Ramsay is Telling You to Cook, So Cook, You Maggot (ITV, Thursday, 10:00), is simply half an hour of the chef staring at the camera and shouting at you, the viewer. Admittedly, the sight of Ramsay telling me to “Get the fuck into the kitchen and beat some bollocking eggs” did make me feel like doing some cooking, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience. At the end of the episode I had made a delicious cake, but I was weeping heavily and felt the need to shower afterwards.

Late Night Nigella (C5, Friday, 11:30) is a similar show to Ramsay’s, but is far more enjoyable. Billed as ‘a cooking show to get men into the kitchen’, the show features Nigella Lawson sat at a dinner table dressed in a negligee and slowly intoning the names of the rudest-sounding foods she can think of. After watching Nigella saying “…melon…smoothies…rump steak…cocktail sausage…” and so on for half an hour made me want to have a shower afterwards, only a cold one.

Finally, Jamie Oliver continues his culinary crusade on BBC2, at 7:00 on Monday. Jamie Fixes the Osmond Family sees the fat-tongued star forcing a family in York to eat lettuce and pasta instead of burgers. Next week, Jamie will be visiting the Morrison Family of Troon, and the following week he’ll be at your house.

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Celebrity Fragrance Update

The big craze among celebrities these days is the release of a perfume with their name on it. Sarah Jessica Parker has released ‘Horseface’ while Christina Aguilera spent hours in a lab making her eponymous fragrance. There are many fictional characters who have their own perfumes, too, including Miss Piggy, Jade Goody and Paris Hilton. The Imaginary Review decided to have a sniff and see what the new additions to this list are like.

Alan Cumming released ‘Cumming: The Fragrance’ last year, and has spent all his time since then trying to follow it up with another. Now, he has finally finished his work, and the result is 'Cumming: On Your Neck'. The perfume smells a little wheaty, with a saltiness and bitterness to it that brings to mind memories of my teenage years. It isn't the most pleasant smell I've encountered, but not the worst, either.

The second fragrance that we tried was 'Lockhart', from a fictional character, Tifa Lockhart from the video game Final Fantasy 7. This scent is both playful and sincere, with a heavy emphasis on crude oil and bone marrow. Tifa herself has commented that she had a large hand in the creation process, and that the smell was designed to resemble the smells that she remembers from inside the womb. One problem that I noted with Lockhart was that the scent attracts weasels, and when wearing it I could not escape from the onset of small mammals. Otherwise, this perfume made me feel special, like a beautiful woman, which is nice because I am an ugly, ugly man.

Ad for Tifa Lockhart's new Fragrance, 'Lockhart'

Finally, dancing singers The Pussycat Dolls have released their own set of fragrances which come in a box set of six bottles, one for each member of the band. To be honest, when I first tested the scents I thought there had been a mistake, as only one bottle contained perfume; the other were all full of water. But when I contacted the distribution company, they confirmed that this was intentional. It seems that only one of the Pussycat Dolls' fragrances actually does anything, much like the band themselves. The smell is quite nice, but as soon as I had stopped smelling it, I couldn't remember anything about it. My notes say that it had elements of cinnamon and angst, but I have no recollection of it.