Wednesday, 27 May 2009

If You Read One Book This Summer...

...You're an absolute fucking moron. Why would anybody read just one book? Summer is, what, three months long and all you can manage is one measly 350 page novel? And why summer? You never see a promo for a book saying 'if you only read one book this autumn, make sure it's...'. Is reading a book an activity exclusive to sitting on your lazy lard ass in the sun or for taking your mind off just how shit Easyjet planes are whilst travelling to some sleazy Spanish resort? Is that what books have become?

Think about it this way, the sheer volume of hours a writer puts into their work means that the book is quite possibly the greatest example of individual human effort congealed into a physical form of any man-made object, meaning that even the worst book in the world is worth substantially more than the best song or the greatest film, yet it is socially acceptable to read only one book per season. Books might not be as social as the internet or as easy on the eye as films, but they are too good to be treated like this.

I blame two things for the devaluation of books: 1) celebrity authors, especially ghost written ones. If Katie Price can churn out three autobiographies, four novels and a series of children's books by the tender age of 31 no wonder the public think writing is piece of piss. And 2) daily freesheets. I don't quite know where to start with this phenomenon. I could get all self-righteous about the waste of natural resources, I could complain about the so called news these things peddle, I could rail at the advertisers who pay for the damn things by explaining to them that nobody takes a blind bit of notice of their ads, but ultimatley I lay the blame at the feet of the people of London. Why is it that if they haven't got a tatty copy of The Metro in their hands they frantically scour the carriage for one? What exactly is it that they think they're missing, apart from last night's news? As if the content wasn't bad enough by itself, there's an even darker side to the free-sheet. Does anybody remember that article on the BBC website about a bunch of scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who went about checking for bits of crap on commuter's hands? And does anybody remember just how much crap they found on people's hands? If you don't, the figure was that more than one in four commuters have traces of faeces on their hands. Now while you're smuggly reading your copy of the London Lite think about how many people read it before you. From observation I'd argue that by 8.30am at least four people will have read any given copy of a freesheet, which means that, yes, you definitely have somebody else's crap on your hands. Ponder that one as you chew on your nails. So not only are the freesheets full of crap, they're also covered in it (I've been waiting to do that joke, like, forever).

Okay, so back to books. How do we solve the problem of our literature reluctant population?
Well, here's my ingenious list of solutions:
  • People on public transport who are reading books should get priority seats, if you're going to listen to your iPod you can damn well do it standing up.
  • Celebrity authors should be forced to take public exams so we know just how illiterate they really are.
  • Amazon should reduce the price of P&P for books bought from their sellers (book= £0.01p, P&P = +275%).
  • Everybody should have a reading week twice a year, not just students.
  • WoW players shouldn't be allowed to skip the quest text.
  • Comics should count as books.
  • Men with masculinity issues should be forced to read Jane Austen's back catalogue before reading anything by Andy McNabb or Rubert Ludlum.
  • Journalists should regularly admit they need to work on their writing skills, bloggers should do this even more often*.
So there you go, one major social problem neatly re-classified as fixed. Any further additions to this list are more than welcome.

* I so need to work on my writing skills.


Thursday, 21 May 2009

Idol Threats


You've made the wrong person American Idol AGAIN!

Oh well. At least we don't have to hear Adam Lambert sing that godawful "winner's" song again, or see him straighten out and lose his "sparkle" - or whatever you call that Matt Bellamy-meets-Robert Plant-meets-Cher flamin' emo melodrama.

Hopefully my felt-tip fanboy picture will stop his guyliner from running. I'll send it to him along with a note warning him to avoid the inevitable draw towards musical theatre, and the peanut butter and painkillers that brought down the King he so resembles, and advise him to "do a Daughtry" (like that other legendary Idol loser) and form a band.

My Chemical Romance - watch your asses!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Mike Tyson: The Saddest Man on the Planet. Part 1

As one of the Manflet founders, I have been coming under increasing pressure to contribute to the blog in recent weeks (now months). I won’t lie; I’ve been struggling for inspiration. Then recently, the free London papers were filled with advertisements and glowing reviews for James Toback’s docu-film, TYSON.

One of my earliest memories is being about six years old and watching a young Mike Tyson beat Trevor Birbick to win the WBC (World Boxing Council) belt. At the time, I didn’t really understand the significance of this or why my dad got so excited. But as my fascination with Mike Tyson, a.k.a. Iron Mike/the Baddest Man on the Planet and Kid Dynamite grew, I soon realised that I had witnessed something special that early Sunday morning on November 22, 1986. To this day, Mike Tyson still remains the youngest heavyweight (aged 20) to become champion of the world. When I think back, it seemed like every Sunday morning there was a Mike Tyson fight on television that I would watch with my dad, obviously that was not the case, although he was a prolific boxer – In 1986, he had 13 fights, something which would be unheard of today.

At an age before I could really understand violence, I think Mike Tyson was my first hero/icon. Even when my dad would get annoyed at how quick his fights would end (11 of his first 15 fights ending by way of knockout in the first round), I was just happy that he won; plus the quicker he won the sooner I could go and watch cartoons.

Despite the remarkable public decline of my one time hero, I found myself excited about film’s release. However this soon changed. Just as I was crushed and left down-hearted by Tyson’s shock defeat to Buster Douglas in 1990, I was left deflated by the news that the film would go straight to DVD, which I discovered by adverts for the DVD in the paper on the same day it was meant to hit theatres. It would seem that the British public did not share my love for Mike Tyson. Sulking and refusing to buy the DVD, I console myself with articles, videos and documentaries on the Internet, thus reigniting my fascination with Mike Tyson.

Read Part 2.

Friday, 15 May 2009

The Signs of the Geek using X-Men Origins: Wolverine

As ever, I'm embarassingly late on the subject of today's blog post, it's not my fault, I've had shit loads of work to do (curse you!) and World of Warcraft to play (love you!) and on the plus side it makes me look a bit less like a band wagon jumping whore. So today's subject is X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Yes, i know everybody's talking about Star Trek now, but this isn't a film review, this is a review review. In particular it's a review of io9's review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Normally I love io9, sure, it has its fair share of 'George Lucas actually constructed a time machine using the billions he's forced from the movie-going masses, gone to the time and effort to find out where I lived when I was seven, gone back in time despite risks to the time-space continuum and his future fortune and savagely raped and sexually abused me in front of my gran leaving us both mentally scarred for ever' crew, but there are often as many sane voices as there are ravenous fanboys/girls who offer moderate commentary like 'well, it wasn't as good as I'd hoped' or 'perhaps my fanatical devotion to this film/TV series/comic book character is a little like a mental illness and I retract that death threat'. Surprisingly io9's writers often demonstrate that they are capable of offering relatively balanced assessments of up and coming sci fi based media, even if it's laced with the inevitable sarcastic undertones particular to the genre (see also T4 Presenters in a future blog post).

Sadly the io9 review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was all too predictable. Like Bruce Banner and his alter ego the Hulk, the rational side of io9 struggles on a day to day basis with its inner raging geek. For poor Bruce Banner (not the Ultimate Universe one, he's a twat) the warning signs are the white rage in his eyes, greening of the skin, rapidly increased heart rate, ripped clothes and unstoppable strength, endurance and invulnerability. The signs of the raging geek are only a little more subtle, but include misplaced belief that he/she is a much better script writer/director/CG animator etc. than those involved in the film, extreme passive-agressiveness, requirement to suffix any positive statement with something negative, closet conservatism that tends to become overt in discussions of media, feeble attempts to use humour to appear aloof and blatant disregard for proper use of hyperbole.

While the Hulk leaves behind him a trail of smashed cars and crumbling buildings the, the geek leaves behind him a trail of snide remarks, unfortunate allegories and the stench of simmering resentment so let's see if you can spot these signs in the field. It's important, one day your credibility could count on it. Read the review here and then see if you can fit the descriptions below to specific parts of the text. If you get them all right you win an exclusive Charity Edition Star Wars: The Clone Wars Blu Ray disc featuring commentary by select George Lucas' rape victims.
  • Metaphors that are supposed to sound clever butcome across like GCSE level creative writing.
  • Focusing on a non-plothole when there are plenty of genuine plotholes to pick apart.
  • Attempting to criticise an aspect of the film that inadvertantly makes it sound really good.
  • Implying that source material is infallible when it clearly isn't.
  • Saying something that at first sounds like a compliment, but, cleverly, is actually a criticism.
  • Not understanding certain plot elements but still criticising them (note that this thoroughly unacceptable for a so-called geek).
  • Monty Python reference.
  • Drug requirement reference.
  • Mistaking fictional characters for real people.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Target the Gay: putting the PC in The ApPrentiCe

At the risk of sounding like a Daily Mail columnist, last night's episode of The Apprentice was proof that political correctness has GONE MAD.

Mona was fired when her team failed to rebrand run-down seaside town Margate as a gay-friendly holiday destination. Ostensively for "not supporting her project manager" but really because the TV powers-that-be were worried that the audience might (incorrectly) think she, and by extension the show, is homophobic. And all because she didn't think her team should, as they put it, "target the gay".

No one would disagree with James that the reason Deborah's evil Empire lost is that their posters were "cod-shit" and the leaflet a "botch job". Responsibility for the marketing materials lay squarely with Deborah and Howard. And overall responsibility for the task lay with the project manager, Deborah.  Who also happens to be a toxic, lying, flat-faced alien creature bully bitch-whore. 

But Mona committed the cardinal sin - not being "full square" behind the concept... which just happened to be pro-gay. This led Suralan to wonder "where you would fit into my organisation" and he aimed his fat firing finger at her, thereby pointing out that Amstrad don't produce no queer-bashin' technologies, sunshine. 

Now, as a resident of Kent, Mona may be an expert on the region, or she may be part of the provincial problem. But whether she was right or not is irrelevant - she was correct not to follow her team's flawed logic. 

Presumably one of them had read the phrase "pink pound" in a Sunday supplement. They assumed that gay people are most likely to spend more money and go on more holidays ("these guys DO IT more than anyone else"), and are therefore likely to do so right here in England. They clearly had a vision of, next bank holiday, the convoy of disco buses shuttling the nation's gays to Brighton stopping at a rainbow-coloured "Homos Welcome" sign pointing towards Margate and shrieking "LETS GO LADIES!"

Although it got lost among all the bluster, Mona's central point was that the gay scene is "not a big thing in Kent". NOT that there are no gay people in the county, or that they're not welcome there - just that, well, Margate isn't exactly Brighton. It's not incredibly open-minded but, as the most bigoted thing the producers could dig out, it's a far cry from "come to my home and I'll burn you at the stake you dirty bummers". 

Much has been made of what will probably come to be known as Trannygate. The writing was on the wall when yesterday's red-tops were reporting that Mona had offended a transexual by calling him/her a lesbian. But all she did was ask "can I enquire about your sexuality?", and if I'm not mistaken... flirt a little? Don't get me wrong - I'm not really a fan of Moaner, I mean Mona. She is more dull than dynamic, and doesn't make for great TV. But I hate to see anyone sewn up like this.

And the greatest injustice? She may have been right all along. As the town's marketeer put it, "what we've got to do in Margate is to attract the mass, general public back to the area". But that doesn't matter now does it? Public opinion is, she's a petty-minded homophobe who would do anything to avoid promoting gay values. In the words of a great man, you couldn't make it up.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Hand Baggage Hate

There are many pointless things I rage about, most of which I intend to cover in this blog, but a recent Easyjet ad, proclaiming 'We love luggage' that informed passengers that they can now carry up to 10 kilos of hand luggage, turned my simmering resentment into unhinged fury.

There are two rules air line operators need to know:

1. if it has wheels, it's not fucking hand luggage.


2. if you can't comfortably carry it in your hand, it's not fucking hand luggage.

Think about this Easyjet - who actually pays for the fucking tickets, the baggage that your loins burn for so or the passengers who have to store their genuine hand luggage seven rows away from their seat because the twat sitting next to them has filled an overhead locker designed to hold the luggage of three with a single bag matching their body weight and size?

If it was just Easyjet I might be able to let it go, but on a recent trip back from Rio (check me out) with BA, I was joined in departures by a gaggle of smug looking middle-aged businessmen, presumably on their return trip from the antarctic judging by the sledge sized volume of luggage they intended to take on board with them. It's a little known fact that middle-aged business men (or MABs as they're better known) are the most selfish creatures on earth, I've seen them steam roll the disabled to get a seat on the 6.15 to Epsom, but even by their standards the size of these bags were obscene. Just take the things that you need for god's sake. I'm starting to feel like passengers just take oversized bags because they can and if you were to actually open up there bags you'd find 7 pairs of pants, 7 pairs of socks and 9.99 kilos of sand.

Airports are way too stressful as it is without having to fight for overhead locker space with lazy shits who can't be arsed to wait the extra 25 minutes at reclaim.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Gay for Hugh Jackman

Hugh. Jack. Man. Such a bloody bloke, they gave him two men's names, and then stuck a "man" on the end for good measure.

Buff, bristly and brooding - he's exactly the kind of guy you wouldn't mind catching in bed with your missus because, hey, you get it. Hell, you might even try to steal a feel of rock-hard, molten-hot, battle-worn flesh...

Phew! OK, so this is partly an extension of our boyhood crush on Wolverine. In our pastel pink, pseudo-homo daydreams, Hunky Hugh will forever appear as the man's manimal from Marvel. He rides his chopper down the highway of our heart, clad in painted-on leather, whiskers flowing in the wind, with a heady musk issuing from his chewed-down cigar. 

And now, with the added emotional complexity injected into the character by the new X-Men Origins film, we can really picture him cradling us in his arms, watching the light fade from our eyes and vowing to avenge our deaths. Sigh...