Friday, 29 May 2009

It had to happen sooner or later

Imaginary Review fans! Remember last November, when I wrote the following review:

Well, have a look at the following from today's Onion:

BURBANK, CA—Executives at ABC announced Monday that the network will premier a new Lost spin-off series this fall based around that show's popular smoke
monster character.

The new series, a half-hour family-oriented comedy called Where There's Smoke, is
touted by ABC as the new anchor of its Thursday-night lineup.
"Somewhere between the smoke monster's first appearance on Lost— when it was depicted as a strange unseen force uprooting trees—and that episode in season three where it grabbed Mr. Eko and smashed him against the ground until he was dead, this character became the breakout star of the show," said Stephen McPherson,
president of ABC Entertainment. "And that's exactly why we're so excited about
Where There's Smoke. We get to see the monster's light comedic side in a show
about life, love, and good friends having good times."

"Because after all, Where There's Smoke, there's laughter," McPherson added.

ABC sources reported that the series will transplant the evil black cloud from the
island of Lost to the suburbs of Chicago, where it works as a sports radio host,
surrounded by "a whole new group of crazy characters." Actress Lea Thompson has
signed on to play the monster's long-suffering wife, who must put up with her
husband's screwball antics while raising the couple's two rambunctious children,
Tanner and Smoky, Jr.

Veteran TV producer Chuck Lorre, of Dharma & Greg and The Big Bang Theory fame, will helm the show, which he said will focus mainly on the deadly creature's adjustments to suburbia and fatherhood, and its comically contentious relationship with its boss, a fussy radio station manager played by Richard Kind.
"The whole concept began with us asking, 'So what happens to the monster after it kills somebody and disappears down that ancient temple vent? What kind of life might it have?'" Lorre said. "And what we realized is that audiences really relate to this character and would like to see it in everyday situations, shooting the breeze with buddies at a local watering hole or murdering its son's soccer coach and depositing his lifeless body in a tree."

"And of course, you'll be hearing lots of its classic catchphrase,
'Brrrrr, chk-chk-chk-chk, muuuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrhhh,'" Lorre

Lost producer Jack Bender has confirmed that the smoke monster will no
longer be part of his show's regular cast. However, ABC has promised that Where
There's Smoke will feature a number of guest appearances from Lost regulars.
Sources said the pilot episode will feature an appearance by actor Michael
Emerson as a slobby houseguest named Benjamin Linus who overstays his welcome,
much to the chagrin of the smoke monster's wife.

Though the project has been in development for almost a year, negotiations reached a standstill last winter when representatives for the mysterious, billowing actor expressed concern that their client would risk being typecast as "just a smoke monster" if the role were carried into a new series.
"We're always sensitive to these kinds of things, but we actually think this new vehicle will make people realize [the monster] is a sophisticated actor with a great deal of range," said McPherson, who agreed to pay the show's star $2 million per episode after scenes between the smoke monster and a nosy, ethnic next-door neighbor tested well with audiences. "People love the smoke monster, and people love to laugh. This series is a can't-miss."Added McPherson, "And I'm not just blowing smoke here." I being paranoid?

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

New Number Review: Eight (The Remake)

The number Eight has been popular for a great many years now, and has lots of fans in the worlds of science, astronomy and sports, amongst others. Our base ten system of counting has ensured a plethora of sequels to Eight, including Eighteen, Eighty and Eight Hundred and Eighty Eight. Each sequel has varying degrees of popularity.

In an attempt to cash in on Eight’s fame and prestige, the number has been the subject of a big-budget remake. Fans of the figure are divided between those who have excitement at the prospect of a worthy addition to the number pantheon and those who are scared that this new Eight will debase the essence of the original. I’ve had a look at the new digit, and I give you my thoughts here.

Due to a convoluted time-travelling plot involving the number Twenty Two going back in time to prevent the Square Root of Negative Four becoming an Imaginary Number, the Eight Remake is on a completely different timeline to the original. This is very important to remember, as it has allowed the makers of the new figure to take it in directions very different to those of the original.

These new directions vary between inspired and godawful. The new Eight is no longer divisible by four, and cannot be multiplied by twelve. These changes are definitely in the latter category, as they make using the number incredibly difficult. What if I have eight cats and I want to split them between four people? I can’t do that any more.

The good changes to the new Eight include the fact that its square root is now a whole number, and the number itself is more shiny. Also, raising any other number to the power of the new Eight is a lot easier, and provides the user with a picture of a shark.

Fans of the original Eight will be interested in the cast of the new version. The digits that add up to Eight are now a lot more young and attractive, and two of them (I’m not saying which) actually have a chemistry that goes far beyond their counterparts in the original. Its impressive budget also means that the Remake of Eight has better special effects: eight explosions are now much more impressive than they used to be, and the same is true for a fight involving eight people.

Overall, the remake of Eight is highly enjoyable, and a fine addition to the world of numbers. I’d even go as far as to say it is worthy of the title of ‘Eight’, though some hardcore fans may disagree with me. True, it does diverge from the original Eight in many ways, not always successfully, but at the same time it is its own number, and that is to the new Eight’s credit.

Eight will be on widespread release in June. Previews are currently available to Jon and Kate, if they’re interested. If not, sod them. Seriously, if they don’t want the new Eight, that’s their loss, and I won’t shed any tears for them. The bloody ingrates. Now look what they’ve done. They’ve gone and made me mad with their New Eight Hating. Their hEighting, if you will. Just because they’ve got a crapload of kids they think they can dismiss a new numerical entity with an arrogant sneer and a wave of the hand? Well they’ve got a lot to learn. Ooooh, they make. Me. So. Angry!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Children's Magazines

I have always loved magazines, since I was very small. Even now, I read many magazines on a weekly basis, mostly to find their editor’s address so I can send them begging letters. Sometimes I even read the articles, and then I sneer at the amateurs who write them, laughing at how low the journal in question has fallen, and how much they need The Imaginary Reviewer writing for them, to bring them up to a high level of quality.

This week I decided to take a look at the children’s magazines on offer, and see if they’re as bad as all the other magazines that don’t even have the class to respond to my unsolicited submissions.

This month’s copy of Kid Blast! magazine has a wealth of features and news. For example, there’s an exclusive interview with Dora the Explorer’s former boyfriend. He tells of the popular character’s harrowing addiction to painkillers and sherbet. Many pages are dedicated to secretly obtained photographs from Lazytown, where popular stars Stephanie and Robbie Rotten have been romantically linked. Also in this fascinating magazine are questions about Maisy Mouse’s recent weight problem: Could it be due to a serious illness? And which of the Backyardigans is gay? Find out inside!

Kindergartener Quarterly features an essay by Umberto Eco on the multilayered empirical interpretations of the Spot the Dog stories, which I found to be both thought provoking and enjoyable. I especially liked the very pretty pictures. A new short story by Margaret Atwood about a girl and her favourite pony is also a good addition to this journal, as is the investigative report on the economics of transport and how they are affecting anthropomorphic tank-engines. On the other hand, the article which investigates the possibility of a future terrorist attack by the Grinch is nothing short of salacious hackery.

Finally, Martha Stewart Pre-Schooler magazine is jam-packed with great ideas for the average three-year-old. This month, she shows how to liven up any dolls’ tea-party by adding a wonderful blend of imaginary spices to the non-existent tea. There are also fun ideas for brightening up one’s Wendy house with recycled dummies and Lego bricks, and also the top ten ways to wrest Mummy’s attention away from that annoying new baby brother.

Children should be supervised at all times when reading magazines and books, lest their innocent brains become influenced by subversive ideas, and they learn that they’re adopted.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Heavy Metal Music Round-up

Heavy metal music is the best kind of music to listen to when you’re annoyed. When I’ve been standing outside the Now Toronto Magazine offices with my “Gizzajob You Bastards” placard for eight hours with no acknowledgement from the titwanks inside, there’s nothing I like more than listening to some Slayer or Angry Nun at high volume. Whether it’s Napalm Death, Brickshitter or Deadbolt Sandwich, the world of metal is a breeding ground for talent and innovation. Here’s my roundup of the latest grointhrust noisefests.

First off, there’s the long-awaited second album by Cause of Death: Seagull. Entitled Really Grotesque Pictures of Guts, it’s a solid successor to their highly acclaimed debut, Shocking Attitude towards Organised Religion. From the first throatyelp of the opening song, ‘I am in your Teabag’ to the final drum roll of ‘Lambast Memorial’, this is a good set of memorable songs. The only downside to the album is the fourth track, which consists of four minutes of gurgling, but other than that, Cause of Death: Seagull have released something to be proud of.

Cyanide Lollipop are a hot new band from New Jersey, in the good old You Ess of A. I hear that their live shows are amazing, which makes their disappointing debut, Soulchomp Gluttony all the more sad. I’ve often said that there are too many pan pipes and glockenspiels in modern metal, and CL have fallen into the trap of turning these instruments up to 11 to cover their awful lyrics and tepid guitar solos.

Several months after releasing last year’s Eat My Lymph, Gruntfuck Episode’s lead songwriter Andrew Brentwood expressed dissatisfaction with the finished product. He claimed that every instance of the A minor chord on the album should have actually been a G suspended seventh, and the band have now re-recorded the album to these specifications. I’ll be honest, it sounds a bit shit.

My favourite of the recent releases is Marrrrgggghhhaaaaaarrrrghghghgghh by Finnish death-metallers Embryo Soup. First it’s got these great basslines that go dunduggadundun, and then he starts singing like this: “Raaaaaawwwwwwkkkkkk! Raaaaaaaallllllll! Grrrr!” and then the guitars go chugggachuggawawa and then my neighbours complained and I had to turn it down.

Finally, The Ian Malcolm Pants Explosion’s latest album, Wasp Factory Explosion, is so loud that it’s impossible to hear with human ears. For this reason, each copy comes with a free pair of animal ears (installation required). I wasn’t able to get my new ears grafted onto my head in time for this review, but I’m told by other people who have heard it that it’s not worth the agony.

The Imaginary Reviewer is not responsible for any hearing damage sustained while listening to heavy metal music. He is responsible for any hearing damage sustained while he punches you in the head.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Best New University Courses for 09/10

These days, everyone goes to university. People don’t start their first full-time job until they have enough letters after their name to earn a thousand points on a Scrabble board. But for every Business, Law or Philosophy and Psychology degree, there’s a useless one, like Surfing, Klingon or Applied Mathematics. And even more new degrees are being opened every year. I took a look at some of them, like a voyeur in an exhibitionist factory.

First off, Paris Hiltonology at Dundee University is an excellent degree. Obviously it leads to a BSc, being a highly scientific program. Classes include Canine Shrinkage: The Fundamentals, Vacuity 101 and BFF Selection. An extended Press Manipulation module lasts for two semesters, with the first being a general introduction and the second looking at detailed ways to promote your sex tape. Having read through the course materials, I can see this being a very worthwhile and interesting course. Many people believe that by 2020 the most common job in the developed world will be ‘Vacuous Celebrity’, so this qualification will be a boon to all interested. A warning, though: this will be a tough course to be accepted into. Anyone with a grade average of C or above is unlikely to be considered.

Both Oxford and Cambridge will this year begin offering an MA in Running Around in Circles. This is definitely going to be an advanced course, with both practical and theory elements. Of the two universities, I’d recommend Oxford’s programme over Cambridge’s, as the former has invested £27million in a new circle-running stadium and wind-tunnel.

The Online University of North America and Europe is offering a new course, entitled Making Money Using the Internet. There are no entrance qualifications needed, just send a cheque for $1200 to their PO number and you’ll be enrolled. I wish I could say more about this course, but I still haven’t received the materials yet, and I was accepted over six months ago. Sorry!

For those of you who are in full-time employment but who wish to expand your brainclout, there are also many exciting and interesting night courses available. I highly recommend the Toronto School of Continuing Studies’ Certificate in Wife Appreciation. From full-bodied to slightly fruity, this course will let you appreciate wives of all varieties. Course fees include samples of the wives and a book to make your own notes in. I really enjoyed this course, having had very little experience of wives in the past; from the first class to the last, I found myself learning more and more while having fun (and testing a lot of wives, too!).

Finally, MIT has a new course entitled Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Studies. With one class taught by Ty Pennington himself, this course covers such subjects as Being as Pathetic as Possible to Get on the Show, Shelves: How Many is Too Many?, Bullying a Neighbourhood into Working for Free and What to do When the Truck Breaks Down and Won’t Move Out of the Way of the New House in the Big Reveal. This is a terrible course with no redeeming features. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. And not just because they refused to decorate my apartment on the grounds that I’m “not tragic enough.”

Bloody students, with their long hair and their alcopops and their Jean Paul Satre and their low-cut jeans…in my day it were conscription or you’d work down t’ mines.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

New National Holidays

Right now in Japan people are just getting back to their normal work and school routines, having just enjoyed Golden Week, a period of several national holidays in the space of seven days. Canada, the UK and the US all have at least one national holiday this month, while Turkey celebrates “Cannon Day”, a day in which anyone who owns a cannon is allowed to take the day off, so long as they tend to their weapon.

But people are greedy, lazy little creatures, and we always want more days off work for eating beans in our underwear and laughing at videos of other people’s misfortune on the Internet. For that reason various governments are currently considering the initiation of several new national holidays. If I didn’t review them you’d call me a charlatan, so without further ado I’ll get on it like a Swedish postman gets on a bike.

Here in Canada, they’re considering making the third Wednesday in June National Hump Day. On this day everyone in the country will get the day off work to celebrate the fact that we’re already more than halfway through the week. To commemorate the day, people with humps on their back will be entitled to discount shirts at selected outfitters, and humpback whales will be sold by the kilogram in the street by men on scooters. Of course, having a day off in the middle of the week negates the whole idea of hump day; by the end of Tuesday, you’ve only got two more days of work left in the week, so this is a very silly idea and whoever thought of it should be shot.

In America, they’re thinking about creating Gatorade Presents National Local Pride Day. This day will be located on the third Monday after the second full moon before the Vernal Equinox. Nobody knows when this is. What nonsense.

Back in England, Tea Appreciation Month is on the cards, with a National Tea Drinking Day being the culmination. This is slated to occur in November. As part of the celebrations, the Queen will personally select twelve dangerous criminals to be drowned in Oolong, while failure to drink at least one cuppa a day for the month will result in chemical castration. I think there is nothing wrong with this plan, and I shall write a letter to my MP forthwith demanding he sign a petition.

Australian politicians are right this moment debating the wisdom of National Cake Day. Can you imagine a day dedicated to cake? It would be the best day ever! There’ll be free cake giveaways, streetlights will be covered in icing for the day, and a genetically engineered man-o’cake will roam the streets, trying to hide from the general public. Once he is found, everyone will be able to eat him alive, and his screams will echo into the night as a sign of National Cake Day’s success. This is the best idea yet in the history of the world and I will move to Australia if it comes to fruition.

National National Holiday Day is going to be the third Friday in April every year in Belgium. Everyone will celebrate their love of national holidays by reminiscing about national holidays past and making plans for the next national holidays to come. Babies born on National National Holiday Day will be given an ice cream. As everyone loves national holidays, I think this is a great idea, and I am only sad that Belgium will not be a country for very long and that the residents won’t get to appreciate the day to its full potential.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Imaginary Drug Testing

Firstly, thanks to everyone who sent me messages of goodwill last week with regard to my unfortunate malady. The silver lining at the end of this cloud of roomspinny earbuzz is that while in the doctor’s office I was able to avail myself of some prescription forms without being caught. Like a child in a sweet shop I found myself able to try any drugs that the pharmacist had in stock, and so I picked the most interesting ones and have my findings for you now.

The first such medicine was Xexox Palatoxox, from Dimaxahat Chemicals. This didn’t do anything for the symptoms of my ear infection, sadly. But it did increase my sense of smell by a factor of about five million. I can now detect an unopened box of granola bars from within the next building and by smelling a person’s breath I can tell what they had for dinner before they’ve eaten it. Also if someone farts in my general proximity it affects me so much that I have to scrunch up my face to the extent that I look like a Star Trek alien. Apparently this drug is intended to treat eczema.

Peroxibucket Formaldehyppo was amazing for my problematic ear canal woes. When I took this drug all the pain and discomfort fell away; sadly, this was because I had lost all feeling in my head, face, neck and brain. I was able to walk and act normally, but I had no consciousness above my shoulders. As a result, I can only recommend this drug for anyone who wants to simulate being a host of E! Entertainment News.

The best drug in terms of flavour was Trioxybelieveitsnotbutteryoumoronsdiazemine. It tasted like strawberries mixed with sunshine and pep. I waited for it to have an effect on my wellbeing but when nothing happened after two hours I read the instructions and it turns out there was a mistake with my prescription and I’d been given Skittles instead. Brilliant!

Doctor Fforbes’s Ecstatic Medicine will make you forget your troubles and dance the afternoon away. After taking some of the pills, the ticking of the clock on the wall provided me with a highly effervescent rhythm and I was moved to perform the Jitterbug, the Charleston, the Mop-Shaker and both the Hootingale 2-step and 4-step, all in my own living room. After this I became quite dehydrated and was moved to imbibe some dandelion and burdock. What larks!

Finally, I should also mention the worst drug I prescribed myself. Nearoin is supposed to be as close to Heroin as it’s possible to get legally, but I found it to be nowhere as good as the real thing. In fact, after shooting up a vialful of this rancid stuff, I found myself craving the Vietnamese Horse-Downer that I’d had on my last jaunt to Asia. I’d write more about Nearoin right now but I’m mashed out of my skull on Morotgana.

The Imaginary Reviewer would like to remind his reader that winners don’t do drugs (and get caught).