Saturday 27 December 2008

Films of the Year, 2009

Let’s face it, 2009 was an awful year for movies. Hardly anything good came out. The multitudes flocked, sheeplike, in their millions to see utter tripe. More than once, I was moved to vomit by the cinematic felchmess on the big screen. Many of the films I saw this year were so bad that I walked out of the cinema after just a few minutes, telling the establishment’s owner what I thought of their ‘entertainment’ with a well-thrown bag of excrement.

But in this rough year, some diamonds shone through. And while it’s easy to gripe about such shitefests as Satirical Movie, a satire of those awful, churned-out-by-the-dozen-and-guest-starring-Carmen-Electra satire movies like Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie, it’ll probably be better for my health to count down the few films that didn’t make me weep like a small child with no elbows. So let’s do it to it.

1: Three Men and Two and a Half Men and the Man in the Iron Mask and Five Children and It and It
After the huge runaway success of Three Men and Two and a Half Men earlier in the year, a big-budget sequel was quickly made, featuring Tom Selleck, Sam from Cheers and Corey Haim reunited with Charlie Sheen, the Fat Kid and His Ugly Dad. Together they travel to 17th Century France, rescue a mysterious imprisoned man, and save some Victorian children and a wish-granting pixie from a scary clown. This film had everything, and everyone I know who saw it was speechless for five days afterwards.

2: Moonlit Dusk
This heart-warming tale of a schoolgirl’s relationship with an undead werewolf was a huge hit with promise ring-wearing Jonas Brothers fans and hirsute paedophiles alike. Some liked it for the excitement, some for the romance; I liked it for the bit at the end when he eats her in a blood-crazed rage.

3: The Man Who Cried
My third favourite film of the year was sentimental weepie The Man Who Cried. In the course of 110 minutes, John Steward (played by John Actor) loses his lover, his dog, his parents, his son, his way to the funerals, his mind, his favourite tie, his keys, his ATM PIN, the use of his legs and his brother’s sundial. He cries. A lot. And so will you.

4: The Christmas Presence
A haunted Christmas tree terrorises two young parents (Jennifer Connelly and Mark Wahlburg) in this seasonal horror film. While the film itself wasn’t particularly good, it did win me the complete Monty Python DVD box set.

5: Ducks in a Bus
The animation of the year was this brilliantly funny film, which provides fun for all the family, except possibly Uncle Jim, who doesn’t really like this sort of thing. Four ducks (probably voiced by Jack Black, that fat one from Knocked Up, someone else currently de rigour and Ellen), find themselves in a bus. What will they do?

6: La Maison du Patrinibopp
A dead cert for best foreign film at next year’s Oscars, this French effort has weeping nuns, a prostitute with a heart of gold, a pair of men obsessed with the sound of their own farts and a whole lot of onion-scented loss and despair with glorious undercurrents. This film didn’t make a lick of sense.

7: CGI Man 2: The Explosioning
Fans of the first CGI Man film were not let down by the sequel, which featured explosions, bangs, big fights, shiny things, lights, loud noises, midriffs, and a hey! Look at that! It’s a funny dog! Look, it’s chasing his own tail! Ha ha ha ha silly dog! Where was I?

8: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Battle the Guy with the Really Loud iPod on the Subway
Prince Adam of Eternia, along with his cohorts Teela, Man-at-Arms, Orko and the Sorceress find themselves pitted in mortal combat with a bloke playing Rhianna far too loud on the Bloor-Danforth subway line. Chilling and, ultimately, cathartic.

9: Pregnant Teenage Bride Wars
Combining two of the most bankable assets that Hollywood currently offers – Pregnant teens and Kate Hudson – this film is full of laughs from start to finish, except for a brief chuckle-free section around minutes 63 to 65.

10: The Imaginary Review Movie
Sadly overlooked by both critics and the idiot general viewing public, this film was a tour of force, with brilliant performances from the cast, especially the lead actor (I. Reviewer). The story, revolving around one man’s quest to rid the world of evil local listings magazines who don’t reply to well-written and neatly-typed letters, is excellent, and the soundtrack is also very nice. I loved this film.

Monday 22 December 2008

The Imaginary Review’s Albums of the Year

It’s been a great year for music, from Incontinent Stoat’s long-overdue retirement from the industry in January to David Bowie releasing a CD made of ice last month. It’s been a year of controversy; who could forget Tina Turner’s shocking episode in Rio during which she dangled a goldfish from her hotel balcony as terrified fans looked on below?

But to dwell on the scandals would do a great disservice to the music itself, so without further adieu, here are my albums of the year.

1: Cat Power – The Covers of Covers of My Songs Album
Having released two albums of covers in recent years (The Covers Album and Jukebox), Chan Marshall ran out of songs to re-interpret, so she got other musicians to cover her own compositions, and then covered these covers. The results are frequently astounding, with her cover of Arcade Fire’s cover of American Flag staying beautifully true to the intent of the Montreal band’s interpretation of the song. Another highlight is her version of Jimmy Eat World’s version of Nude as the News.

2: Tribulation – Death to the Masses
Hailed by the press upon its release as “the quietest heavy metal album ever,” Death to the Masses is the best rock CD of the year. The trio of Gunther (Triangle), Maximo (Glockenspiel) and Curly Jack (Vocals and cowbell), proved that guitars are not necessary for true bloodrushing, cockroaring RAWK. Tribulation are also a great live band, with Maximo’s Glockenspiel solos really creating a stir in the mosh pit.

3: John Folk – Songs I Wrote in a Field
The best folk album of the year came from one of the most controversial acts in the genre. But while many folk music fans were engrossed in the real beard/fake beard rumours, anyone overlooking the music itself was missing out. With gems like I did a Dance (and you did the Postman) and Nettles, Nettles for my Soup, this was the folk album of 2008.

4: The Websters – The Websters
The Websters are a band who are far too obscure and cool for you to have heard of. Don’t even bother looking for this record, you’ll never find it. You lowly music ignoramus.

5: Marcus Bragstaff – Genius: A Tribute to Marcus Bragstaff
It took some guts for this previously unknown singer/songwriter to write and record a tribute album to himself, but it works remarkably. With great singalong tracks like My Accomplishments are as Numerous as They are Impressive and All this and a Massive Cock, Too, this is a great album from an explosive new talent. And doesn’t he know it!

6: Poppy o’Tippett – Tha Wreckord
Fans and detractors alike scoffed at Sean ‘Puffy/Puff Daddy/P Diddy/Poppa Doodle’ Combs’ new look and name change, but he silenced all of them with this album of phat beats, kicking rhymes and other things that make me sound like an idiot when I write them down.

7: Johnny Triplet and the Doublets – Love Songs for Mary
8: Johnny Triplet and the Doublets – Songs of Hate for the Bitch who Cheated on me with Greg
What a great pair of releases by Johnny Triplet in 2008, both of which made my top ten! Who could forget such classic pieces of music as Your Eyes and Your Eyes (Stab Them! Redux)? And my song of the summer had to be Greg? Seriously? You Cheated on me With Greg? He has a Face Like a Stool Sample, For Crying Out Loud. Classic.

9: The Chucklefun Brigade – Enough Cuddles and Love to Kill a Donkey
While many people thought the Chucklefun Brigade were a super-sweet, saccharine pop band, I saw through their guise. This album is one of the darkest of 2008, and my dreams will be haunted by the visions of pure terror that emanate from songs like Let’s Be Friends Forever and Gosh, Aren’t Kittens Wonderful?

10: The Imaginary Reviewer – Songs for Swinging Reviewers
Of course I’m biased, but this was a truly fantastic album. Sure, the critics and buying public overlooked it, but what do they know? Nothing. I’m a professional toilet cleaner and a reviewer, and I think it’s ace. So there.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Special in-depth Chickenhat Round-up

Now that we are firmly entrenched in the holiday season like a puppy in quicksand, the average person will find their party attendance rising by a factor of at least plenty. Family get-togethers, New Year’s parties, work shindigs and soirees held by desperate religious organisations are just some of the possible evenings out that Christmas holds, and historically these have been terrible, depressing affairs.

But last year, a gap appeared in the clouds of holiday party boredom, and the sunlight shone through in the form of the hit party game, Chickenhat.

For people who spent the last 12 months in a womb, I will briefly explain. Chickenhat is a game like Pass the Parcel: while music plays, a circle of people pass a roast chicken from head to head. When the music stops, the person with the chicken on their head gets to take a piece and eat it. The game continues until no meat is left on the bird, and everyone is full of fowl.

Chickenhat was such a resounding success last year that greasy hair became a mark of pride for some people, and it was completely normal to see people in the street with drumsticks behind their ears. The game was an international success, with fans including the Pope, Ricky Martin and the King of Gambia, who now refuses to eat anything that hasn’t first sat on his head.

Flushed with the success of the Chickenhat phenomenon, many companies have released expansion packs and accessories for the game, which I will explore for you now.

Possibly the most eagerly awaited Chickenhat product is the Official Extended Rules System Book, created and released by the Official World Chickenhat League. Several dozen new variations are included in this guide, from the much-loved Welsh Lladdybhoy Chickenhat (in which the bird is filled with melted cheese) and the Swiss version (in which dropping the chicken from one’s head to the floor is punishable by expulsion from the game and stoning). I loved trying out these different rules, especially Speed Chickenhat, which uses the smaller Scots Dumpy breed for ultra-quick games. A word of warning, though: Combat Chickenhat is for experts only. My friends and attempted to play this variation in my living room, and while it was fun for a while, the game had to be suspended after several hundred pounds of damage was created and one competitor became pregnant. That aside, the plethora of new games to try out will brighten any Chickenhat aficionado’s day.

Travel Chickenhat has been released by MG Games for Chickenhatters on the go. I will admit, I can’t see the appeal of playing the game while in a car, ferry or plane, but addicts may well like it. All the essential accessories are included in this kit, including gizzard net and giblet dice. Plus there’s an adaptor for in-flight airplane meals, which is rubbish.

Warner Brothers have made an official Chickenhat Compilation Album, featuring songs to play while engaged in a poultry headwear party. With songs such as Got a Chicken on my Head (Yay!) by Miley Cyrus and Pullet Frenzy by Parson and the Noses, this is a great collection of music to play – stop – eat some chicken – play – stop – eat some chicken.

A quick warning now, to be wary of the many different non-official Chickenhat knockoffs out there. Grousehat, Goosehat, Swanhat and Toasthat are all vastly inferior games, with vague rules, poor equipment and – in the case of Swanhat – the danger of serious neck damage. Avoid.

Finally, Chickenhat: The Fowl Play Board Game is just as much fun as the original game, and allows anyone to play Chickenhat, even if they are unable to play the game proper due to, for example, having a pointy head. Players roll the dice and move their chicken around the ‘head-board’ (get it?), answering questions and riddles while simultaneously trying to avoid the Spaniard who is chasing the chickens around the board so he can put them in a pie. The figurines are extremely detailed, with majestic, regal chickens and a realistically evil Spaniard. This gave my friends and I hours of fun and a genuine distaste for continental Europeans. Of course, it doesn’t match up to the fun of having a real roast chicken on your head, but it’s close.


Friday 12 December 2008

The Imaginary Review Holiday Gift Review Series, Part 3: Presents for Someone on Fire

So I’ve been through the best presents for drug addicts and deities, and now you’re satisfied that you have the right gift for Brahma and troubled cousin Tarquin. “But, Mister Imaginary Reviewer, sir,” I hear you cry, “what about crazy Aunt Mavis? The one who is always ablaze with the fires of Hades? The one who resists all attempts at dousing? What can I get for her?” Well, you rascally young scamp, let me tell you.

People who are on fire tend to find things even harder around Christmas time. My own Uncle Norris spent over ten years burning like a bonfire, but he always said that the worst time was around Advent. The tree, the presents, shopping centre Santas: anything that he got too close to would go up in flames just like him, but with a more tragic air. That’s why it’s important to treat those of us less not-on-fire than us at Christmas.

A great gift for someone on fire is the latest self-help book by ‘Dr’ Phil McGraw, Incineration Nation: What to do if You’re on Fire. With a foreword by Travis Barker of Blink 182 and chapters such as ‘Overcoming the fear to ask for help (and a bucket of water)’ and ‘Hose yourself down metaphorically with praise and actually with water’, this book will give any walking inferno the courage to stand up and say “Yes! I am a human being, not just a human burning!” It also has a handy series of maps showing lakes, ponds, puddles and taps in North America.

Many people who find themselves being cremated before their time tend to forget about things like beautifying themselves and looking nice. Indeed, the single-minded desire to not be ablaze can make people omit many essential things from their daily routine. Moisturising, for example, is even more needed during times of being reduced to ashes; the skin can get so dry when the fire is removing all moisture from it. That’s why The Body Shop has released a special new skincare range for people who are being gutted by Lucifer’s kiss. The Sweet Relief facial mask could be just what a burning person needs to combat the effects of aging, daily wear and tear and, of course, being on fire. I tested the face mask on a burning bush, and it looked years younger after just a few minutes of use.

Nothing says ‘Christmas’ more than a humorous sweater, possibly with a reindeer on it. Of course, being on fire makes it very difficult to wear funny outerwear, so why not get a Kevlar Suit and paint it in festive colours? The added personal touch will surely go down a treat with your friend, loved one or resented offspring.

The latest CD by Casual Buttplug, Let us Burn Down the Orphanage With Our Love contains their top ten hit I’d Kiss You With Tongues (If I Wasn’t Afraid of Second Degree Burns). Given that the band only sing about spontaneous combustion, the record would be an ideal gift for music loving human pyres. Their music is a mix of ska, pop and frenzied screaming, so there’s something for everyone.

Finally, why not just get that special singeing someone as much water as possible in order to put out their fire? I’m just saying, it seems a bit sensible, that’s all.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

The Imaginary Review Holiday Gift Review Series, Part 2: Presents for your Favourite Deity

The Holiday season can be a difficult time for deities, creation myth figureheads and invisible sky beings. With so many people paying attention to Christmas, a lot of religious icons feel understandably left out; add this to the Seasonal Affective Disorder and many of them can get quite upset during December. It’s not much better for Jesus, either. Sure, He’s getting all the attention, but with His birthday falling squarely on Christmas Day He can’t help but feel that He’s only getting half as many presents as all the other boys and girls in Heaven.

With this in mind, many of us dread the possibility of getting a God or Godlike figure as a recipient in a Secret Santa gift exchange. Just what does one get for the omnipotent and omniscient creator who has everything? The new Hives CD? Hardly (Though Shiva is said to be fond of the Scandinavian rockers, She probably has all their stuff already). Today I’ll talk you through some of the best new gift ideas for deities.

Despite being all-knowing and all-seeing, many Gods find it difficult to keep track of all Their creations. With so many humans, animals and inanimate objects to look after, it’s often difficult to remember who to smite and who to blind with the power of Your glory. That’s where the new Microsoft DeityBase comes in. It’s a special new database for creators of worlds, with files for humans (believers and non-believers), animals and even rocks and trees. There are hundreds of useful reports and queries, so one can tell easily how many gays are getting married each day, with handy pivot tables showing how many heterosexual marriages are being undermined as a result.

The best thing about MS DeityBase is that it is compatible with many other Microsoft Divinity Software applications, such as PowerSmite and Word (Omen Edition). Using the information held within DeityBase, it’s now easier than ever to command an unhinged loner to kill them, kill them all, kill them all with spoons!

We all know what happens when a God is offended. There are plagues, maidens are tricked into bestial relationships, and things can get very damp for everything not atop Mount Ararat. That’s why buying clothes for a deity is big no-no. The consequences of getting something unflattering or in the wrong size can be huge. So why risk buying apparel when you can get something much better: a wardrobe makeover with Hephabulus, God of Fashion and presenter of hit TV show How to Look Good Sacred?

Yes, for one day, Hephabulus will come to the deity of your choice’s house (or temple), throw out all those ghastly togas and robes, and help them choose some great new looks! Even a plus size supernatural entity (I’m looking at you, Buddha!) can find stylish new clothes with Hephabulus, so there’s no excuse!

Anyone looking for an awesome stocking stuffer for their favourite deity can do a lot worse than checking out, the new online gadget and gizmo store for Holy Beings. From ‘Wandering Jew’ GPS systems to Flying Spaghetti Monster plush toys, there’s something for every non-corporeal postulated Creator. My personal favourite is the Intelligent Design Space Monkey set: watch the little creatures grow before your eyes, then use your powers to make them evolve! (Irreducible complexity not included)

So there you have it. A wealth of gifts for the deity in your life, and not a Richard Dawkins book among them. Of course, if you’re really stuck, you could always sacrifice a sheep. Some Gods really go for that.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

The Imaginary Review Holiday Gift Review Series, Part 1: Presents for your Favourite Drug Addict

With the festive season now approaching at breakneck speed, the need to buy presents is more pressing than a six ton steam iron. And while it’s easy to get fun, meaningful gifts for little Jimmy or Uncle Ted, what about the people who are a little harder to shop for? Well, have no fear! This Christmas, The Imaginary Reviewer has been investigating the best presents for those people in your life who are a little tricky to buy for. Today it’s Part 1, with everything you need for that special drug addict. Just follow my advice, and you too can spread seasonal cheer to the family smackhead!

One of the best presents this year is the new KraQ line of luxury crack pipes from Nematode Gifts. Available in a range of colours and styles, your druggie friend will be the envy of everyone at the pawn shop with the Thoroughbred model, which features streamlined sinew detailing on the bodywork. The Marquis model comes in a dignified steel grey colour, and has go-faster stripes for better intake capacity. My personal favourite, though, is the Sensationale, which is ribbed for her pleasure.

If you’re buying a gift for a junkie who is trying to quit, a great stocking filler is the Russian Roulette Smack Pack. Sold in an attractive wooden cigar case, this gift consists of six identical small needles, five of which contain a wonderful dose of the finest quality heroin, just waiting to be injected into a nearby arm, leg, neck or eyeball. The remaining needle, however, contains a potent poison that will give the injectee as painful a death as it is possible to imagine. But which one is it? Recovering addicts will have lots of itchy, shivering fun trying to resist the call of the Smack Pack. It’s also great fun at parties. Available from Harrods and Bob’s Quality Things Emporium.

Nothing says ‘class’ more than a good snort of cocaine. Unless, that is, it’s a good snort of cocaine using the new Cavendish-Thwakbulb Bone China Cocaine Snorting Contraption. Made from the finest bone china and with a handsome display case, this really does beat a rolled up banknote. Indeed, the people at Cavendish-Thwakbulb claim that snorting the white stuff with their contraption can prevent septum damage by a factor of several percentages. Oh, and it has a nice swirly pattern on it that goes ‘wheeeee’ when my eyes glide across the lines and lines and lines and lines and oh my God I just saw Scott Blackula like a magic eye picture did you see it did you see it did you see it?

Anyone who is looking to buy for a really finicky drug fiend could do a lot worse than getting one of the CIA’s new Laboratory Vouchers. Available in a range of denominations, the vouchers entitle the bearer to early access to whatever new and exciting population-suppressing drugs they create. It doesn’t matter if you’re neither poor nor an ethnic minority; whatever whacked-out addictive pillcrazy headmash the boffins at the CIA can come up with, you’ll get it first. Be the first in your neighbourhood to try the next crack, smack or magic monkey juice!

Well, if you can’t provide Christmas cheer for your favourite hopeless prescription-stealing meth poppet from that selection, you’re just not trying hard enough! [Insert ‘cold turkey/Christmas dinner’ joke here. Ha ha ah ha ha ha! Alternatively, just leave the punchline and let the idiots make up their own damn setup]

Next time: Stuck for a gift for that special deity or God figure? Look no further than The Imaginary Review!

Monday 1 December 2008

The Imaginary Reviewer Writes a Letter: Part 6

You’ll forgive me, loyal readers, for being unable to contain my excitement; The Imaginary Review, after 18 months and more than 150 reviews of things that don’t exist, is finally going places. I’ve finally got that big offer. I’m finally able to blow this popsicle stand and move on to the big bucks.

You see, dear reader, an hour ago I got an email from a man called Bill Wilson, President of a group called Americans for a Limited Government. The have invited me to ‘become a key member of the exciting new conservative “bloggers central,”’ which I believe to be an offer far too good to pass up. So with your indulgence, I’d like to run my response by you before I send it for truesies. Let me know what you think.

Dear Bill,

It is with fluttering heart and throbbing member that I read your epistle, such is the excitement that it gives me. Such praise! Such ebullient tribute! Such overdue recognition! Thank you!

When you tell me that I play “a critical role…in gathering, assimilating, and disseminating news and commentary,” you’re referring to that review of lovers I wrote for Valentine’s Day, aren’t you? Or is it the pet review from last year? It’s both, isn’t it? Yeah, I thought so. I remember writing them both and thinking to myself, “Imaginary Reviewer, that is some bad-ass disseminating, right there. The world had better ready itself for this dissemination. I’ve never disseminated this much in quite a while.”

Wait, forget that last part. I just looked up ‘disseminate’ in the dictionary, and it doesn’t mean ‘wank’. I take that last part back. Let’s move on.

When you tell me that you “personally, [are] deeply grateful to [me] for taking the lead in fighting some of the most important battles our country has faced over the past decade, and more,” I find myself nodding in agreement. It was a brave move, I think, fighting against the headwear industry in my imaginary hat review last year, and I know that I put a lot of noses out of joint when I gave a less-than-stellar review to Puff Daddy’s covers album. But one has to pick one’s battles, when one’s country is at stake, wouldn’t you agree?

By the way, when you say “our country,” what exactly do you mean? I only ask because I had assumed you were American, what with you being the President of a group called ‘Americans for Limited Government’. And, you know, with that whole part where I’m not American, I was given the – no doubt foolish – impression that you hadn’t done your research. But no, such an important man such as yourself would not send such a profound invitation without knowing that I am British. I’m sure your organisation’s title is ironic. You’re probably based near Newcastle or Carlisle.

By the way, the features of the website you have invited me to join sound incredible. Being able to post my own blogs? Interfacing with bloggers worldwide (and not just in “our country”)? Being able to customize my profile? Whoa there, Seabiscuit! You just blew my mind!

And if I may quote you again, you say that you “have asked ALG's Director of New Media, Adam Bitely, to follow up on this note with a letter of his own providing [me] the exciting details on how NRN can help [me] grow [my] own blog.” Grow my own blog? Really? I tried growing a Venus flytrap once and it died. Well, when I say ‘died’, I mean ‘never even sprouted’. I hope you know what you’re doing.

So thank you for your invitation, I can’t wait to join my fellow members of the “Conservative Blogosphere,” as you call it. I will do my best to help ‘our countrymen’ – nudge nudge, wink wink – limit the government through hilarious reviews of imaginary creations. I’m sure I’ll be able to push forward your aims of funding ballot initiatives throughout the US with my series of seasonal gift reviews throughout December.

So, in summary, thank you Bill. I promise I won’t let you, Adam Bitely, or the other ‘Americans’ down.

The Imaginary Reviewer

PS: Being able to post my own blogs? Seriously? Christ in a bathtub, this is going to be HUGE!