Monday, 28 June 2010

Another one

My friend is allergic to whipped cream, so when I saw him get some double cream out the fridge I went "Brian, no, don't whisk it!".

Not very good. Seemed funnier in my head. Enjoy.

P.S. This didn't actually happen. I don't even know anyone called Brian, that's a pretty specific allergy, and besides, Brian would have an Epi-pen on his person, or I literally could not be friends with him on the constant assumption he would inevitably consume a huge amount of Whipped cream and go "My Epi-pen, no, I left it at home, where I'm least likely to eat whipped cream! I'm a fool!" and I would have to watch this. It would suck for me.

Another little pun

When I started this, there were little puns. They have gone out of favour, but they're back with a cracker today.

I had an ice cream and the world ended. Damn Apocalypsos.

That is all. Begone with you.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

World Cup

Despite struggling through a chest infection almost specifically designed to make consumption-sufferers look like unrelenting pansies, I managed to drag my phlegm-coated carcass to a television screen to watch a football game. Boy, am I glad I did!

You see, the game I watched was England-Germany, a feud dating back from some World Wars. Sadly though, Germany are much more competent at football than they are at global domination, so this game was all set to be a rout.

England came into this game on the back of a disappointing draw with Algeria and a barely acceptable win over Slovenia (A country with a population of 2 million, near enough, which makes it about 30% of Greater London's population, so the playing group to pick from was about level), so expectations were high. After all, England didn't do well in the group in 1966 (Just had to google that to check it was right, after all, we literally never hear anything about it), and they still won it.

After the Algeria game, the England team were booed off the park. Rooney responded to the cameras, rather petulantly, "Nice to see your own fans booing you", which deserves, obviously the rebuttal, "If you weren't so crap, they wouldn't boo you off the pitch", but no-one offered it, because he's clearly making big steps with his grammar, and no-one wanted to knock him back.

Rooney was unimaginably appalling. If only he was as good at football as the adverts portray him as being. He managed to go an entire World Cup campaign without scoring, which is almost impressively bad, given that Jermaine Defoe only managed to play for 22 or so minutes against Slovenia before succumbing to the urge to score.

But the responsibility for consistently playing Rooney comes to Fabio "Fab" Capello, who was so heavily stuck in his ways that if I was in South Africa, I would find him, kick him in the testicles, and say "So sure of your decision now? Or do you want to change it up at half-time? Based on your record of never changing your plan, you have 15 minutes, then I'm going to kick you in the balls again". I'm a metaphor for the German team. He is symbolising his own stupidity and the England team. I feel the kicking in the testes metaphor is so abundantly obvious, if you don't get it, you're probably thick enough to play for England. Fabio will call you soon with your shirt number and tell you where you will start every match despite the fact you are losing consistently.

But that position won't be goalkeeper, the only position about which there should have been no uncertainty, and yet there was lots. David James was the standout hero of the entire squad, and yet, his position was given over to some young whippersnapper who promptly threw the ball into his own net with delight (Great pick, Fabio).

Anyways, to the game, and with my hopes artificially raised by a media who seem curiously obsessed with the notion that England are the best at football despite the 44 years of evidence to the contrary, England promptly conceded the sloppiest goal in a World Cup Finals.

However, fortunately, this record was quickly eclipsed by the next goal, which was, incredibly, even more embarassing. I haven't felt this ashamed in the England team since Barnes' rap.

Still, I persevered, because I am a man of iron resolve, and Mark Lawrenson's commentary is hilarious ("He got a decision right? He'll be writing home to his mum" - a classic) so I was still kicking around when England got an equaliser through the ever-present offensive danger of Wayne Rooney. No wait. Sorry, it was Matthew Upson, central defender. Just the man I would expect to have a better goal-scoring record than Rooney, what with playing less minutes than him, and also being a centre-back.

The nation was imbued with a sense of hope, and then, 54 seconds later, Frank Lampard scored! And the linesman didn't see it, which is incredible, given that I saw it, and I am several thousand miles away from South Africa (Luckily for a certain England manager's testicular region), and he was only 20 or so yards away.

Obviously, I could launch into a tirade about how goal-line technology is needed, but to be honest, Sepp Blatter is an imbecile, and I have the feeling he would allow shootings on the pitch on the basis that they'd make the sport unique and wouldn't interrupt the flow. "Player down for more than 25 seconds?" he thinks, "Must be a broken leg, put him down" (Actually, that's a pretty cracking rule I wouldn't mind being brought in, although Italy's team sheet would get a little shorter.)

Anyways, second half underway, England's centre-backs poured forward in search of the equaliser, as they were the offensive threat. However, this did leave the slight problem of "Being pretty open to an attack of a countering nature" which is a mistake against Germany. They ruthlessly finished the game by scoring two more goals in about 14 nanoseconds, and that was it. 4-1.

Anyways, I have a feeling the papers will go "Well, yes, England weren't very good, but omg, referee, goal scandal!" rather than "Fabio Capello is a nonce" or, possibly, "Wayne Rooney subjected to exile: Queen utilises powers for first time in decades, in other news, John Terry seen talking to Wayne Rooney's girlfriend".

So, long and short, England were crap, as always.

P.S. In terms of technical details, if I were the England manager, which judging by the calibre of their previous incumbents, cannot be far away, I'd have played a 3-5-2 with Crouch and Defoe up front, Terry, Johnson and Cole in defence (Since we had no real centre-back options after King and Ferdinand were out) and Barry acting as the holding midfielder, with Gerrard and Lampard in the middle (Call me crazy, Fabio, but I like to play players in their positions) and then some actual wingers on the wing (I know Fabio, I'm crazy like that) like Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips, or possibly Joe Cole.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Lee Nelson's Well Good Show

Are you sitting at home, thinking "I miss the classic 20th century simplistic jokes with punchlines so easy to spot I wrote them down on paper and put it in an envelope before the show started and got them all right, because I, at times, like to feel like some sort of comedy Derren Brown."? Then I have some incredible news for you! Lee Nelson's Well Good Show, aired on BBC 3, delivers all of these demands and more!

"But," I hear you introduce your list of unusual, yet oddly specific demands that would make a serial hostage-taker proud. "But I haven't had an old woman pull funny faces at me since I was, at most, two years old. I feel the absence of this factor in my otherwise idyllic life has caused me to become emotionally repressed and socially awkward!". Well, help is at hand, because this show features and old woman gurning at the audience for nearly a minute, curing you of your crippling phobias and possible impotence instantly.

The show, hotly tipped to win the coveted "Misnomer of the Year" award, famously given to Alanis Morrisette's "Ironic" in 1996 (The award's peak, of course), features Simon Brodkin as lovable cockney Lee Nelson, and also features Simon Brodkin as unrelenting irritation with stupid cockney accent, Lee Nelson. Also, there is his best friend, Omelette, a man so gargantuan in stature he thinks about little but food. Indeed, when Lee Nelson asks him "What's it time for?" he responds with "Pudding?". "Ohohoho" I chortled maniacally, and not without a goodly amount of sarcastic hatred. You see, it's funny because he's fat. I say "Funny". I use the term loosely. A better expression would actually be "Not very funny at all". But then, if we were to be as specific as that, the show might lose its "Comedy" status.

The show also has a moment where an audience member (Read "Stooge") wearing a waistcoat has to pick from 4 women and gets 5 minutes in the disabled toilet with whoever he picks. They were facing with their backs to him. Stop me if you've guessed the punchline. Oh? Already? Yeah, me too. I know, right? Who would have thought it, these 4 people masquerading as gorgeous women weren't actually gorgeous women! Two were men, one was an old woman and the other was ACTUALLY a gorgeous woman put in there to pretend she would have been, and I quote, "Well up for it", and the audience member, nick-named Stoogey McStooge was really unlucky to pick the bloke with a beard and not her. Oh, how I laughed. "How unexpected!" I managed to splutter out with gasping breaths as I giggled with uproarious laughter, the room veritably thundering with my glee.

Apart from one brief glimmer with a character, Dr Bob. Possibly the only bit I found funny, I put it down to sheer chance. Unless you're showing me a gritty real drama or, perhaps, a documentary on the ravages of worms in Africa, I'll probably laugh at something, anything, once in any given half-hour period. Credit where's it's due, that was tolerable.

Then the show took a turn for the worse, impressively. The show was already classed in my mind as "Pretty abysmal" when, suddenly it plummeted in estimation to "Hand-crafted by some demons who clearly are out to wreak havoc upon my life" (Then I saw Russell Kane was a writer, and all became clear). This, obviously, happened with "Faliraki Nights", a sketch which so soured the whole show so much, it was like they'd announced that watching it caused blindness (Some might say a blessed relief, during this sketch. That's right. This sketch was worse than blindness). It was so bad I actually complained to the BBC. Obviously it was intended with great dollops of irony poured on a culture which glorifies drinking and sex, or "Club 18-30" as is its technical name. They tackled this with all the subtlety of a channel 5 shock-doc on the boy with no fingers , or whatever. "Hey, there's a certain group of people we could parody by showing them the extremes of their lifestyle" works within the laws of good taste, and this sadly fell so far outside the boundaries of good taste that, briefly, I toyed with the notion of hurling my own shoes at the screen to make it stop, as the remote was fully 6 inches away, and that was too much time to endure of it. Fortunately, though, I blacked out for 2 or 3 minutes, and can only assume I actually died of embarassment before coming back.

This sort of thing is fine, provided it's funny. If it's hilarious, but in poor taste, I don't mind. If, however, it is appallingly unfunny and in poor taste, it amplifies the "Poor taste" thing by a factor of about 62,312. "This is meant to be funny?!" you find yourself thinking, rhetorically, because you know it is, but you can scarcely believe it. Anyone who found this section of the show funny should claim a refund for their lobotomy due to the unwanted side-effects.

Seriously, who at the BBC stood up, cutting a lone figure across the office floor, and yelled "I've got it! A solution to the disenfranchised youth population! We'll lure them back in with a comedy sketch where people race to ejaculate! That's what young people like, right?". Rather than this man being gunned down (As would be the logical thing to do), for some reason, I can only assume the entire office burst into applause. "God bless you, sir." they said with their eyes welling up with tears of joy tinged with admiration, "For you have surely saved the BBC!"

Anyways, finally, Lee's Nan, a small white woman, sings us out to MC Hammer. You see, it's funny because she's a small white woman, and not an angry black rapper. Almost as hilarious as the rest of the show.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Grapes of Wrath

I don't mean to alarm you with some surprise literary analysis of a text that's already been so heavily critiqued that most people know of the book, without having read it. And really, that's how they should have left it. Steinbeck's greatest work, apparently. Having read both Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, I beg to differ. Caution, spoilers, but since you've had 71 years to get round to reading the book, you probably don't care about it.

In order to spare you the tragedy and weeping agony of reading the book, I have done so in uncountably many short bursts, before frustration took over and I hurled the book away in a blind rage. This book may unquestionably have been "Of its time" in 1939, but, kindly it has aged badly. Less kindly, it is more outdated than the Amish.

First of all, a note to authors. Don't actually type dialogue as it would be spoken. It makes English a confusing mess of apostrophes, surrounding lone letters deemed too important to the main word to be dropped. It is like reading a book in 1940's text-speak. There is a character called Rose of Sharon (Of course, you already knew this, you well-read audience. you were probably just waiting eagerly for me to get to specifics, weren't you? Of course you were.) who is referred to as "Rosasharn" in every speech. First off, Rose of Sharon is a stupid name, but I would forgive 1930's America for this if I didn't have to spend at least 5 minutes wondering who "Rose of Sharon" was when she was referred to in non-dialogue prose, and if she was related to Rosasharn. Just tell me they have an accent. I will imagine the accent, and you can write it properly, to avoid confusion. You're right Steinbeck, I knew they were from Oklahoma but I gave them all West Country accents in my head. Thank God you wrote it out properly, or who knows how different the book might have been! Might have been briefly interesting, and you clearly don't want that.

Secondly, John Steinbeck, accomplished author, deemed it a valiant effort to randomly insert generalised chapters into an otherwise tragic story. The few moments where the story became engrossing, a random chapter appeared telling you about a turtle's struggles (Yeah really. Tom Joad picks up the turtle, so I thought the turtle would become a complex running metaphor for the struggle of the working man, but apparently Steinbeck forgot Tom picked him up, so that was that) or perhaps, the viewpoint of a car salesman, selling cars to poor people for as much as he could get, that heartless git earning money for his family. What an utter monster.

Obviously, these chapters are great for literary analysis (Turtle - working man, etc) but they make the reading tedious at best, and downright frustrating at times. Fundamentally, the story should come first, and the surrounding overtones should come second. This book is decidedly the other way round. "Look at these poor people!" it bellows at you. "Look at their plight! Isn't it tragic?!" it hollers across the empty expanse of your brain, while you go "Well, a bit, yeah, but shouldn't there be a story here? I mean, I know they're going to California to get a job, but...but..." and then you peter out because it's a classic and, CLEARLY it must get better somewhere. It doesn't. No really. I couldn't believe it too.

It tantalises you with the idea of an uprising from the moment they get into California. The oppressed workforce in appalling living conditions who all have rifles. It couldn't yell "Uprising coming soon!" if it tried. There is a moment where they tell a tale of a town where the workers had a turkey shoot, marched through the town with their rifles, and got no bother from the cops since then. "Perhaps we should have a turkey shoot" is the speech (Written in English so you could understand it. If you want to read the real thing, look at Woodstock's speech bubbles (From Peanuts, it's not all high-brow literature in my life). Then you go "Ooooooh, uprising and story development soon!" and the Joads MOVE AWAY. Rebellion quashed, the book continues in a depressing manner.

It was at this point where I finally snapped, and began reading it to the end purely as an exercise in willpower (Akin to giving up smoking and heroin at the same time in terms of difficulty), and to show off how brutally masculine I am. "I read Grapes of Wrath by choice" should be a special sticker they give to people who have. Perhaps a certificate to stick on the wall, next to their other manly achievements, like "Has chopped down a tree with a chainsaw" and "Once repaired his own car".

I eventually made it to the end. Or at least, where the pages ran out. There was no end, the book just STOPS. Briefly, I thought I had gotten a faulty copy of the book, but apparently that really is it. It is singularly the most unrewarding book I have ever read. I think I would rather bludgeon myself to death with it than read it again. And it's so depressing, I might just do that to make a point.

Apparently this book is comprehensively studied across America by most High School students, and, oddly, I can't think of many popular American authors from the last, say, 20 years. Stephanie Meyer excepted. I could be harsh and scathing about Twilight, but I have never read it, so based on popular opinion; "ZOMG Twylyght 4 lyf".

Anyways, if you have a choice, go read Of Mice and Men instead. It is equally depressing, but at least the book is interesting enough to finish without requiring the willpower of a Grecian Adonis.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Radio versus Television

I feel morally reprehensible, as I haven't updated this thing in a while, but I did have to bury two lambs. My family briefly opted to turn the art of grave-digging into some sort of surreal spectator sport. I felt like some sort of key character on a particularly morbid live episode of Garden Force (This wouldn't actually be any less inappropriate than the episode where they redid Mandela's garden, although the jaunty tune would perhaps seem a bit out of place, but they could do a "Neighbours" and play the same tune, slowly). I half-expected Tommy Walsh to pop up and offer to put in some decking (I wonder if they put in some decking for Mandela? A lovely set of railings round the edge?) for me, and Charlie Dimmock to suggest a water feature.

Anyways excuses aside, I haven't seen anything shockingly bad on television, or anything I haven't commented on, so I've been listening to the radio. Radio 4 to be precise. I'm pretty certain that comes with a free subscription to The Guardian, but I thought "Hey, I like it, and The Guardian isn't bad!". Previously, I listened to copious amounts of Jon Richardson (Briefly Russell Howard too, and of course, Matt Forde) which I will kindly link you to to peruse at your pleasure. I am the epitome of generosity at times.

Anyways, he left and I panicked. "Where will I get my radio sustenance?!" I squealed meaninglessly into the night, my cries unanswered until, quite by chance, I found myself staring at a radio playing a Radio 4 comedy and enjoying it. Since then I have been hooked, listening to at least one show a night (Last night's gem was The Very World of Milton Jones, a fantastic, yet hit and miss radio adventure) before I go to bed. At 11, like every other radio 4 listener in the land.

The man to thank for my new escapades in radio-land is Charlie Brooker, and his frankly magnificent "So Wrong It's Right" show. I particularly enjoyed the episode before this one. Sorry. I'm too late. But if you caught it too (You won't have. It's on the RADIO.), wasn't it great? And that bit with the swimming pool? Haha, yeah!

Perhaps this will teach you, you television addicts. Radio can be good. Disgustingly, radio is seen as a portal into television, no more, no less. A testing ground for shows. If I were to be bold, it's like a circus, where a tiny audience of producers watches each act, then picks some, and takes others out the back to be put down. "So Wrong It's Right" would be picked. The Archers has not been, but the Queen said she liked it, once, about 30 years ago, and now everyone looks into its little sad old eyes and can't summon up the strength to put it out of its misery. "Stop making me dance for television executives" it cries, hopelessly, "They'll never pick me! They have Emmerdale now!". Disgustingly, that's the most popular thing on the iPlayer Radio beta site. That means your nan has found the internet and found The Archers and installed flash more often than you have bothered to listen to a radio programme.

The equivalent for television would be a Panorama special on the rising price of haemorrhoid cream being the most popular thing on iPlayer. "

"The Archers is the most listened to Radio 4 non-news programme, and holds the BBC Radio programme record for the number of times listened to over the Internet, with over one million listeners." - From Wikipedia. The radio is amazing, why is it only for the elderly?! I refuse to believe anyone under 80 listens to The Archers.

This has descended into a personal attack against The Archers. It's not really that appalling, but I feel it's indicative of a vastly under-utilised BBC Radio, dedicating 150 minutes a week to The Archers, which could probably be used on more magnificent radio like Civilisation. Sadly, although it was great, I only caught the last of the series. On Radio 7, because that's their comedy channel (No, I didn't know the BBC had a comedy channel either. I thought it was Radio 1, since that's a JOKE. Boom, that's a zinger. I listened to a brief interview between Eminem and Fearne Cotton, before I nearly deliberately crashed my car to make it end).

This isn't really television versus radio, they are vastly different mediums, but the BBC really should invest more heavily in radio. Stop just making more stations (1, 2, 3, 4, 5live, 6music, 7, 1extra (one Radio 1 is enough, thanks) and then BBC Asian and stuff) and make higher quality radio. It's really quite cheap to do, and really lovely.

And YOU. Yes, you. Listen to the radio. It's good. Honestly.