Holidays are coming

October 7, 2010

Before we start, I am aware that it’s October.

Christmas is on its way here, and shops are beginning to get ready. This is fine, as busy as retail is, it makes sense for them to prepare for what is, without a doubt, the busiest time of the year. Similarly, it does make sense for those with large families to start Christmas shopping early, avoiding the rush. That solution is not for all of us, I personally prefer to do all my shopping on Christmas Eve.

Today, I’ve come to make a few corrections to some beliefs about Christmas.

  1. “I know it’s Christmas when I see the Coke advert/hear Fairytale of New York/get blinded by multiple lights reflected from tinsel.” This is incorrect. You will know it’s truly Christmas when you realise that you have 4 more presents to buy, and every shop is closed with the exception of a petrol station and a corner shop. Stuck for ideas, your girlfriend receives a bunch of flowers which smell oddly of petrol, and a copy of Asian Babes Weekly.
  2. “War on Christmas.” This is a lie. Nobody is declaring war on Christmas, nobody is offended by Christmas, nobody is trying to re-brand Christmas. Winterval? That was a marketing campaign, a marketing campaign which ran over ten years ago. Why does it still get mentioned? And why was anybody offended? Winter pre-dates Christmas.
  3. “We have to call them Holiday Trees now.” Considering the origin of Christmas comes from the birth of a carpenter in a shed 2000 years ago, and before then as a celebration of Winter, why should we care about trees when there are presents to be opened, custard based puddings to be consumed and a new episode of Doctor Who to be watched?
  4. “Here comes Santa Claus.” No. Santa is not coming. He is Father Christmas. Get it right.

And so the Pope has come over for playtime.

Seems strange doesn’t it, the ex-Hitler Youth Pope Benedict XVI coming to a predominantly Church of England society (The clue is in the name, England and all that). And now he’s arrived, everybody seems a bit miffed that he’s decided to insult atheists, possibly expecting him to be their friend.

And the news today, oh boy, is how he associated atheism with Nazism in a speech. The following is a quote from the BBC:

“However, the Catholic Church has moved to play down the controversy, saying the Pope knew “rather well what the Nazi ideology is about”

Whilst he has repeatedly commented that he found the regime in which he grew up monstrous, you can’t help but think this is probably a lie. After all, surely he would’ve given some or all of the fabulous wealth the Vatican gained from the Nazis to some form of charity.

“The Pope knows rather well what the Nazi ideology is about.”

Quote of the year, and it comes from someone who should be sharing a cell with Gary Glitter.

How to Travel With a Woman

September 10, 2010

About a week ago, I got back from Dublin, having been there with my girlfriend. Through this, I have learnt a few things about travelling with a woman. Here are those most vital things:

  1. Everything is your fault. If you’re walking back to the hotel and the Hubble Space Telescope falls from the sky, crushing the bridge you were about to cross, it’s your fault. If dinosaurs come back to life and consume the meal she was about to eat, it’s your fault.
  2. When it comes to picking a restaurant, it’s your job to pick. If the food is good, then you are lucky. If not, it’s your fault. You should know the place better than you know how to breathe, even if you’ve never been to the city before.
  3. When they time inevitably comes for your woman to complain about some small problem with the hotel, you will be the one actually vocalising the complaint to the poor sod at reception. It is recommended in this situation to get something for free in order to pacify the woman.
  4. You are not allowed to climb things. This is apparently childish.
  5. Cracking any joke at the airport is forbidden. In fact, talking is frowned upon, and customs turns into a modern day, chrome coated version of Colditz. You may give Name, rank, and serial number. Good luck Ginger.
  6. The woman will expect you to read the map. When you attempt to do so, memorise every street within 4 seconds. At this time the map will be snatched from you and all navigation rights will be removed.
  7. Be careful when it comes to waking up. This seemingly innocent act can severely anger your woman, and result in the removal of conjugal rights.
  8. Her bag will always weigh more than yours. Offer to carry it, but beware the inevitable hernia which will follow.
  9. When it comes to sightseeing, anything you find interesting will be deemed childish, pointless or boring. If it’s particularly good, it will be designated as all 3, and you will have to endure a shopping trip in which she looks at many things, and purchases nothing.
  10. Finally, when you are waiting at the airport to get back, don’t let her take you to baggage reclaim. She will walk straight past the brightly lit conveyor belt with a sign above with your flight number, and instead attempt to walk out of the airport without your luggage. This is of course, your fault.

Previously by Thomas P Flanagan:

All you girls out there, follow this handy information to send your man wild! He will be so happy that he may even cuddle you after your few minutes of disappointing loveplay.

Since posting that column, I have come under some criticism for the chauvinist aspects of the piece, and have been told I’m completely wrong. So here, for your entertainment, is the absolute reverse.

1. Under no circumstances are you to ask for sex. This arouses contempt in the heart of your woman. Sex will be portioned out in direct relation to how much money you spend.

2. Take her shopping. By purchasing assorted things for your woman, she will repay by allowing your to put your penis somewhere warm.

3. Take her shopping again.

4. Cook her a meal. This strange role reversal operates a switch in the woman, where she begins to thing like a man and desires sex.

5. Don’t talk dirty. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t talk at all. Unless you’re saying thank you.

6. Take her shopping. Again.

7. If you’re enjoying yourself, she probably isn’t. Under no circumstances are you to have any fun. Ever.

8. Just do what she says. You don’t understand how anything on her body works. Use the manual.

9. Romance is your friend. Make wherever your moments of sex occur a nice place to be. Y’know, clean.

10. Under no circumstance are you to ever write a column explaining in various points that women are shopping obsessed sex haters. This will shit up your chances of getting laid for the next 17 years.

Californication

July 2, 2010

‘The thinking goes that if you watch the glittering world you’ll feel like a part of it, even though you aren’t of course, you’re just a pleb gawping at a box.’ – Charlie Brooker

There’s something about American TV which just follows the same formula constantly, usually portraying the wealthy and beautiful, with barely a glimpse of anybody vaguely normal looking.

Enter gruesome shitfest Californication, an American drama following the truly terrible life of Hank Moody (played by David Duchovny), a Bukowski-esque writer and womaniser.

Here is where we find the main problem with the show. It’s impossible to feel sympathy for Hank whenever anything bad happens to him, as the majority of his life consists of being a rich, unlovable prick who has sex with many attractive women.

It’s an increasingly common problem on English TV that American drivel is being pumped directly at us, Californication being a more recent example, and the current figurehead of aspirational TV.

Aspirational TV, the ultimate ‘Fuck you’ injected into the eyes of mainstream public. Portraying those with blessed lives is a great way of distracting us peasants from our dreary lives of work, rain, and not living in California having sex with nubile young women.

It can be easily compared to the girl-focussed arsepile ‘Sex and the City’, only the focus is on fake tits and booze, not latex dicks and shoes. Both centre around writers and their nauseating, unpleasant friends, and seem to assume that everybody will sympathise with the problems depicted, despite most of the issues addressed having all the inconvenience of having to buy Pepsi instead of Coca Cola.

Californication then: A great script ruined by the fact that everybody within the show is a dislikeable bellend.

Ugly Humanity

June 21, 2010

Unless you’ve been living in a cavern in Mongolia listening to The Beatles ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ over and over for the past few years, you may have heard of a popular show called ‘Ugly Betty.’

Whilst it numbers amongst the most grotesque attempts at a TV serial known to man, there is, beneath the myriad layers of cliché and skunk afterbirth, some small sparkle of substance.

There is a lot of debate around ethics in the magazine world, most of which ‘Ugly Betty’ is shoehorning in by the bucket load, as though it was the last day of the ethics January sales.

Episode 3 of season 1, ‘The Box and the Bunny’ decides to tackle the issue of airbrushing pictures. Despite the bile-spattered storyline generally regarding the treatment of the least ugly ugly person ever, a sub-plot of whether doctored photos should be published is brought up. This leads to a variety of questions about how truthful journalism, especially the hateful world of fashion journalism, really is.

As the TV Presenter within the show says: ‘Remember, we only make others feel bad to make you feel good.’ The world of fashion remains a dangerous warzone.

Take Daniel, one of the blander characters of the series, who edits the fictional magazine ‘Mode’ within the show. His major concern is the magazine and how well it sells, and throughout the episode he heavily advocates the use of fake images. The more venomous characters also advocate the images, and try to use original photos for their own vile ends, albeit with an ultra camp malevolence befitting an amateur dramatics Christmas pantomime.

The whole episode leads to a highly predictable conclusion. Daniel uses the false images after a sequence regarding truth telling about as subtle as half a brick through a shop front window.

The truth is a second ethical crisis within the episode. Should Betty reveal that it’s her fault the original images are in the magazine about to go to print? Should Daniel take the blame, as it’s his responsibility in the end? When the book (the final layout of the magazine before it hits the stands) goes missing, should Betty lie and say that she has it? In fact, should she have taken it home for safe keeping in the first place?

As Daniel himself would say, ‘Go with the vibe in the room.’ Roll over and play dead would be more appropriate, with the overtones of do what’s necessary for the magazine, despite personal opinion, a huge leap towards Utilitarianism. So maybe there are serious ethical and philosophical thoughts buried beneath the excrement of the storyline.

All of the characters have their own philosophies. Daniel is a utilitarian, looking out for the magazine. Betty is just trying to fit in and be helpful, and as a result is remarkably apathetic, a Christ-like view of ‘Do unto others.’

Wilhemina, the antagonist of the episode, has a distinctly Nietzschen view, that she is looking out for herself and nobody else. This leads her to become a Niccolo Machiavelli type, manipulating others to move herself higher up a social ladder so twisted it could be seen as the tapeworm in the fetid guts of society.

Betty, and to an extent her family, would count as the most virtuous characters in many people’s eyes. They look out for each other in a display of typical American sitcom family values, and share similar interests in fashion. The exception to this is Betty’s father, Ignacio, who seems to hold no interest in fashion, instead choosing to cook:

Ignacio: I’ll make you some eggs!
Betty: Dad! What is food going to do for me right now?
Ignacio: It’s a crisis – I cook.

The rest of the magazine team are essentially fillers, but the whole thing seems like an organism all of it’s own, living and breathing, and pondering whether to lie or to be truthful.

Compare this to real life. Looking through any cross section of magazines reveals either impossibly perfect pseudo people, or cheaper, grainier paparazzi shots with beer guts and cellulite allowed to roam free like herds of celebrity wildebeest on the African savannah.

Which of these is more ethical? The hated truth of imperfection? Or the doctored images which look better and lead teenage girls to size zero, crash diets and eating disorders? ‘Rest rooms for purging customers only.’

On the surface, the decision seems obvious.

But, of course, we come spiralling back, crashing headlong into ‘Ugly Betty’ like a Top Gear stunt gone wrong.

The use of doctored images is seen as right and good throughout the episode. Series troublemaker Mina says, in a speech so loaded with malice that it could rival Nick Griffin:

“Natalie, you are absolutely right, you look normal, wonderfully so, and if this was any other magazine that would be fine. But, this is Mode and we are not about normal – we are about aspirations. So why not, with the help of modern technology give yourself the opportunity to look as stunning as you possibly could.”

One of the lower ranking characters also has a point to make: ‘Perfection sells fashion. It’s all fake and unattainable, but no one seems to get it.’

Aspiration. A way of showing a public, who must be a dimwit collection of bleating lambs and castrated hounds, just what they must aspire too, what they must become.

The whole process is truly foul. The lambs see what the great fashion Gods want them to be, and line up to be shaved and slaughtered. In the end humanity is left with a butcher’s shop full of beautifully and immaculately laid out carrion, but the carrion is still dead. Mentally and ethically deceased, and abandoned to rot on a derelict catwalk.

According to today’s copy of The Sun, ‘Controversial full-body scanners’ will no longer reveal naked images of all passengers to airport security staff.’

So only the attractive ones then.

After protests from Civil Liberty groups, new software has been developed, which scans for weapons and explosives. Is it just me, or have we now just come completely full circle? We now have metal detectors, gee what an advance.

There must be something in the drinking water. Anybody who expected the full body scanners to go unnoticed must have been dosed up to the eyeballs on horse tranquillizers. It’s such an obvious problem, there can be no other explanation. Maybe they simply assumed that the fear and terror which has gripped the Americans will transfer over to the UK. But it seems we’re made of sterner stuff. Or at the very least, more dignified stuff. ‘Well yes, there is a small chance of horrible flaming death at the hands of a yelling extremist, but at least nobody’s going to see my tackle.’

There has to be a better way to do things. But until that is found, United Nudist Airlines will be laughing at us. They don’t have a problem with people smuggling weapons aboard.

You’ve got to wonder where they keep their passports though.

There’s something very odd about the world.

This is one of the weirder news stories to hit the web in recent times, and it’s difficult to see where to start with this.

The first thing you have to wonder is why somebody decides to moon a biker gang, and why they’d throw a puppy at them. Of all the things in the world to throw, a puppy seems to me to be a very strange choice. A pit-bull terrier would probably have more effect.

And then, what a strange and insane choice of getaway vehicle. Using a bulldozer to flee the Hell’s Angels is just mental, especially if you plan to abandon it and then hitch hike.

This isn’t the most troubling aspect of the story though. What’s more troubling is that this puppy thrower managed to get 5km away on a bulldozer, and then continue to hitch hike. What happened to the biker gang? Didn’t they have this massive desire for revenge? Did they just ignore him?

But then the end of the story tears into view. “The puppy is now being cared for in an animal shelter.”

We now have a caring, animal friendly biker gang around in the world.

You know we’re all fucked when a biker gang return a puppy to a shelter, while swarms of children are brandishing bread knives and cleavers.

How to please your man

June 16, 2010

All you girls out there, follow this handy information to send your man wild! He will be so happy that he may even cuddle you after your few minutes of disappointing loveplay.

1. Every once in a while, decide to badger HIM for sex.

2. Beer. Or whisky. Or gin. Or rum. Or cider. Whatever his tipple is. Provided this isn’t a quickie before work, get him a drink after sex. He’ll be happy and hydrated.

3. Don’t wear socks during sex. He may not have a foot fetish, but he’ll still find it a bit strange. Stockings are ok though. Nobody knows why this is. Answers on a postcard.

4. Talking dirty. Just don’t take dirty talking to mean: “The kitchen’s a mess but we’re not going to clean it.” No matter how naughty it is, that’s the wrong sort of dirty.

5. Leave the lights on. Men are not rabbits, and have poor night vision. Unless you’re dating a member of the SAS, he won’t be able to find you. And as a result, he’ll learn desks are much less satisfying.

6. Don’t be too much of a couple around his mates. Seriously. Save “schnooky wookums cuteykins fluffy muffy wuv bundle” for when you’re alone. Unless of course your pet name for him is “Destroyer.”

7. Go on top. This leaves your man free to enjoy the sensations, and ponder the latest developments in the financial world. Or think about his football team.

8. Food. A common bit of fun, most men love this idea. After all, a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Just don’t drape yourself in steak.

9. Don’t dress up unless he asks. Whilst nurses are a common fantasy, in real life they tend to stab people with needles.

10. Imagine having sex on the beach. The stars above, the sound of the waves crashing on surf… Seashells scratching your bum, a dog taking a dump, and a nearby sailor getting his jollies watching you. Hmm.

Election swine fever

May 5, 2010

Amidst a gridlock of family hatchbacks, people carriers and SUVs belching smoke into the sea air, a Coupe crept along, two further people to clog up the beach, waiting for the sky to light up like some insane Vietnam flashback, all in the name of community, spirit, and an attempt at a world record, to be eternally remembered in the pages of a long since obsolete annual. Bournemouth would no longer be merely a town, but a paragraph.

All this, ten thousand people, the shouts through the summer night, in aid of the record. The most fireworks to be let off in 60 seconds, all to be launched from boats gathered round Bournemouth Pier like fans waiting for autographs. And all would come to nothing when one of the barges caught fire, unleashing its entire load at once.

It’s only months later, after the anger and disappointment have faded like gun-metal gray paint on a council wall, that anybody can seriously comment on this failure of a night, never mind the attempts of a man with nothing to show for the night but some hastily scribbled notes and a pair of sand-filled basketball sneakers.

The scene itself was insane; the masses in columns marching through Bournemouth Gardens lit by neon and led by the voice of an invisible god through a crumby PA system. The wannabe god was nowhere to be seen, but could probably see all, high above the crowd, doubtless sheltered behind the glass windows of the Pavillion Theatre.

The event rapidly became, in the minds of jaded twenty-somethings, a Nuremberg fantasy, with all ears tuned in to listen to one voice, whilst a show of power went on amongst balloon operators, using scarred machinery to ejaculate fire into the sky.

The beach was packed, the excited watchers shoulder to shoulder, belly to back, with no antagonism, just anticipation.

The police presence was far smaller than anybody would’ve thought, the grim possibility of violence obviously resulting in a mass rush for annual leave and a desperate clawing and grasping for desk jobs and easy beats. Nobody with a right thinking mind would’ve taken on crowd control for that gig, not if regular media claims of youth violence are to be believed.

And that was it. A few sparks, 6 seconds of the sky lit up by a barge on fire, and silence. The end.

Those at the waters edge were the first to see the boats slink away, tails between legs like freshly castrated hounds.

And maybe this was all we ever hoped for, the British desire of disappointment overpowering all common logic, drowning the desire for something to succeed.

Those dismal sparks in the sky from all that time ago are an effective analogy for the rest of our doomed nation. Some weeks ago, all would bemoan our impotent Prime Minister, a man who could make Ronald McDonald look like an effective leader. The recession, previously front page news is now a page nine blip behind a barely legal teen with her breasts out for the vast army of lonely old men out there to drool over.

Politics has only hit peoples radar now that an election is coming up, the rest of the four year cycle sees the whole thing ignored in favour of all that is worthless. Fake orange women falling from taxis, overpaid pretty boy footballers engaging in rampant sexual acts on the front page of our papers, and the constant threat of war looming over us from the right wing tabloids. This is the horror of the noughties, our lives are but the screams of the bored.

What’s a writer to do? Obsess over petty things, seeing them as important? Or fall to our knees for the rest of the country like a cheap whore, and tell the world that a pin-up girl is worth the same word count as a murder, a war, or the simple fact that any dream of peace and happiness lies beaten, f***** and bleeding at our feet.
Or maybe the dream just all failed, like so many fireworks blazing in a 6 second flash, like Haight-Ashbury, Kent State protests, or any protest at our current situation.

What left? Just flick through the channels, nestle down in that armchair with a plate of snacks and a six-pack of beer, and smile as hopefuls fail for your entertainment.

And then, occasionally, go out to watch the fireworks.