Saturday, December 29, 2007

What More Can I Say?

But man has given a false importance to death
Any animal plant or man who dies
adds to Nature's compost heap
becomes the manure without which
nothing could grow nothing could be created
Death is simply part of the process
Every death even the cruellest death
drowns in the total indifference of Nature
Nature herself would watch unmoved
if we destroyed the entire human race
I hate Nature
this passionless spectator this unbreakable
that can bear everything
this goads us to greater and greater acts
But even though I hate this goddess I see
the greatest acts in history
have followed her laws
Nature tells man to fight for his own happi-
ness and if he must kill to gain it
why then the murder is natural
We must reproduce we must destroy
The balance must be kept
Haven't we always beaten down those weaker
than ourselves
Haven't we torn at their throats
with continuous villainy and lust
Haven't we experimented in our laboratories
before applying the final solution
Man is a destroyer
but if he kills and takes no pleasure in it
he is a machine
He should destroy with passion
like a man
Let me remind you of the execution of Damiens
after his unsuccessful attempt to assassinate
Louis the Fifteenth (now deceased)
Remember how Damiens died
How gentle the guillotine is
compared with his torture
It lasted four hours while the crowd goggled
and Casanova at an upper window
felt under the skirts of the ladies watching
His chest arms thighs and calves were slit open
Molten lead was poured into each slit
boiling oil they poured over burning tar
wax sulphur
They burnt off his hands
tied ropes to his arms and legs
harnessed four horses to him and geed them up
They pulled at him for an hour but they'd
never done it before
and he wouldn't come apart
until they sawed through through his shoulders and hips
So he lost the first arm then the second
and he watched what they did to him and then
turned to us
and shouted so everyone could understand
And when they tore off the first leg and then the
second leg
he still lived though his voice was getting weak
and at the end he hung there a bloody torso
with a nodding head
just groaning and staring at the crucifix
which the father confessor was holding up to
was a festival with which
today's festivals can't compete
Even our inquisition has no meaning
Although we've only just started
there's no passion in our post-revolutionary
Now they are all official
We condemn to death without emotion
and there's no singular personal death to be had
only an anonymous cheapened death
which we could dole out to entire nations
on a mathematical basis
until the time comes
for all life
to be extinguished.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Assassin's Creed Review

In Assassin’s Creed you play as Altair, an assassin during the Third Crusade who is assigned nine key figures in the Crusades who have to be killed in order to end the war. Actually you’re not playing as Altair, you’re playing as Derek, a barman in the 21st Century who’s been kidnapped by some shady organisation who force Derek to access his assassin ancestor’s memories using a machine called the Animus. So you’re playing as someone who’s playing as someone who… whatever, eventually the plot makes sense as it unfolds in that tragically inevitable ‘here comes the twist and betrayal kind’ of way.

As Altair you’re pretty much an unstoppable one many army. Your time is divvied up between three cities: Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus with a vast countryside separating them that you travel through on horseback. The cities are, without exception, beautiful. Dashing through crowded streets, climbing up walls, leaping across rooftops, jumping through market stalls, it’s all an experience that leaves you panting. The detail and work that’s gone into every surface and making the cities real, breathing places with jostling crowds and loud markets is a triumph. It acts as one big playground for Altair to lark about in and bring death from above. And when it comes to killing Altair is the best.

There are a variety of ways to take out your targets. You can sneak up on them in the middle of a ground and silently plunge a dagger into their neck before slipping away unnoticed. You can charge up, leap on their back in full view and then leg it away as quickly as possible. Or, once you’ve mastered combat (which doesn’t take too long), you can stride in, slaughter all the guards and take your time beating your poor victim to a bloody pulp.

Unfortunately if you’ve done it once, you’ve done it a million times. The sense of freedom, of being a white-cloaked angel of death, takes a massive kick to the teeth when you’re forced, every mission, to do exactly the same thing over and over and over again. Here’s how every mission works: go into one of the three districts of the city. Pickpocket a couple of people to get information. Beat someone up to get information. Eavesdrop on a conversation to get information. Kill your target when you have enough information. There’s two problems here: 1) the information you get is largely redundant because it’s simply a case of getting close to your target and killing him. It doesn’t matter how obvious you are about it. 2) Once you’ve done the first mission, every single other one follows the exact same structure. There’s a criminal lack of thought and attention that’s gone into creating some variety. There just is none. Ubisoft have worked so hard at creating awe-inspiring graphics and an innovative free-running system that they’ve forgotten that the gameplay itself has to be next-gen as well. It’s the most bizarre mish-mash of genius and laziness in any game I’ve seen.

Inevitably the ending makes it hideously obvious that there are going to be sequels, which is a good thing. Assassin’s Creed was a demo, a chance for them to build the engine that lets the whole thing run. Now that they’ve got that down, they can maybe work on making the missions interesting in the sequels and truly create a revolutionary game. As it is Assassin’s Creeds many virtues are undermined entirely by the most unforgivable of gaming sins: repetition.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Oh, Get A Sense Of Humour This Christmas

It’s actually quite rare for people to have no sense of humour. Often the phrase ‘get a sense of humour’ is used by someone who has unexpectedly and rather fantastically sawed their foot off and stuffed it down their mouth by making some joke or comment that has resulted in him or her being called an evil and offensive bastard/bitch. As ‘get out of trouble’ phrases go it’s pretty weak. Most people have some kind of sense of humour. Osama Bin Laden is renowned for his dry wit. Hitler was a great fan of Chaplain. Even Mary Whitehouse, I’m sure, laughed at some things. Probably black minstrels being set alight by Wombles in Klan robes because deep down I have no doubt that she was a weird twisted bigot, but there was still something in that dark coal mine of her soul that tickled her fancy.

That’s a comment that may offend supporters of Mary Whitehouse. Although I’m probably safe on this one because it must be quite hard nowadays to find anyone who still believes in her radical views of what is and isn’t offensive. She thought that Tom and Jerry cartoons should be banned for fuck’s sake… But still, there’s the potential that some Mary Whitehouse groupie reading this may be offended. Which is the annoying thing about humour (yeah, that’s what this is…): it’s bound to offend someone. And the quality of the humour also has no relation whatsoever to the level of offence caused. Jim Davidson is statistically half as funny as cancer and obscenely offensive, while Derek & Clive recordings are some of the most obscene comedic tapes available and also some of the most hilarious. That’s what I think, but each person’s definition of what is and isn’t offensive can vary massively. The same person who is tickled pink by an anecdote about Jesus getting buggered by a crucifix will actively try to eviscerate you for laughing at homeless folk. Saying ‘get a sense of humour’ to someone who’s offended by what you say is pointless, they already have what they term a sense of humour and if what you’ve said doesn’t fit into that definition then it probably never will.

There are some people though who come pretty close to having no sense of humour. I know a couple of people who hate watching comedy. They take no pleasure in it, they never laugh at what the entertainers have to say, they just sit there getting angry and pissed off because what’s being said is clearly not funny and why is everyone else being so stupid and laughing along like the idiot sheep that they are? It sounds like quite a depressing condition, but the people I know who feel like this are themselves charming, lovely people who just have very high standards of what they think is funny.

The real freaks do exist though. People who actually have no sense of humour. Those who have no knowledge of what it means to be funny, what funny is, or how to react to something that is funny. I know only one person who suffers from this condition. Don’t worry, it’s no one you know. I’d be very surprised if she is reading this as she has the technical competence of a medieval maggot. It’s a crippling disease that harms all around her.

I recently finished watching the second series of Dexter. For those who don’t know, Dexter is an excellent show about a serial killer who only murders other killers. It’s a brilliant, dark and comic piece of television. Dexter, like all sociopaths, has no feelings or emotions. He is entirely blank inside, hence the reason he can kill so easily. But in order to fit in to the world around him he has to pretend he has emotions, to put on a mask of humanity so that people don’t suss that he is a psycho killer.

Watching Dexter, it suddenly became clear to me what this person (let’s call her Naamah because that’s a reference so obscure I’ll be amazed if anyone gets it) is. A humour sociopath. A humiopath if you will. Or don’t. It’s not an official medical term or anything. She has no idea what ‘being funny’ means. She observes it but does not understand it. She knows that laughing and joking are an essential part of human interaction, but she has no means of comprehending the ways to achieve this. The place in her brain where humour is processed is a complete blackspot, more devoid of activity than the Moon on a particularly slow day. So she attempts to fake it, to put it on. The results are nothing short of hideous.

She feels most comfortable attempting to be humorous when the rest of the room is laughing and joking along at that nice regular pace that banter (apologies if you hate that word) is sustainable at. Then, just as a topic is reaching its peak, in she will leap with a patently obvious banality that acts like a machete to the Achilles tendon of conversation. *slit* goes the knife, *smack* goes the conversation’s chin into the floor, spurting proverbial teeth and blood all over the shop. People try hard to muster a laugh or a chuckle, cos gorram that kind of silence must be embarrassing for her.

No, apparently not. Given that she doesn’t know what is and isn’t funny she has no way of knowing that her joke has fallen way short of its target. So she ploughs on with another ruthlessly bad observation. And another. And another. She’ll just keep filling the silence with crap observations and much-repeated anecdotes. Maybe this one will include some kind of stereotypical view, as she has half-observed that some people find stereotypes funny. And just to top it all off and make it clear that what’s been said is meant to be jovial and lighthearted, she’ll finish with a high-pitched laugh which tapers off into the phrase guaranteed to bring blood to the tear ducts, ‘oh dear…’, pronounced in as drawn out a way as possible, with an optional shake of the head and in the tone of voice that implies such phrases as ‘it’s just too funny for words’ or ‘life eh? Tch!’ but in my head is filled in with the haunting cries of ‘Despair. Despair. Despair.’

It really is remarkable how off suit her sense of humour is. I mean, the vast majority of people aren’t hilarious comedians, but almost everyone I know has amused me or made me laugh at some point. Not Naamah. I simply have to conclude that she doesn’t have a sense of humour. She is entirely clueless. Her comments and attempts at jokes cause the opposite physical reaction in me to laughter. My brain feels like it’s trying to implode in on itself, my muscles tighten, everything goes red and for a brief moment I want to take the nearest sharp object and plunge it into my bladder in some desperate attempt to make the pain stop. It’s extraordinary. Every single aspect of her sense of humour is wrong. The timing is, metre for metre, precisely off. Her intonation emphasises words in exactly the wrong way, making you cringe before the gag has even started. Her material is meticulously misjudged in its offensiveness, relevance and wit. It’s like someone’s taken a mirror to the souls of all the great comedians that have ever existed and shone their reflections on to this person, creating in the process a Devourer of comedy. A vacuum acting on all that is funny and rib-tickling.

It’s not her fault though. It must be difficult, seeing something that brings such joy to others but never being able to touch it yourself. So this Christmas, when people are sharing festive joy, japes and larks, spare a thought for those who can’t do the same. And also for those who are forced to spend time in their presence.

Pope Will Eat Himself

Here's the last and final note from back in July which ties in nicely with the inexplicable bile that can be found below relating to another person's musical taste...

And in other news, the Spice Girls have announced that they’re re-uniting for another tour. Even Geri’s coming along!

Yes, I know this piece of groundbreaking news was announced literally aeons ago, but it’s taken that long for my brain to digest this information and try to create some kind of coherent thoughts on the matter*. The problem is that I like to see myself as someone close to music. Not in a practical, real sense; I’m completely tone deaf, sing with a voice reminiscent of a banshee being skinned alive and, worst of all, I am a failed bassist.

Yet there is still an undeniable hold that music has over me. In my opinion it’s the most basic, primal and beautiful medium humans have for expression and enjoyment*. Whenever the aliens or any kind of Higher Power decides to make itself known, it’s through music we’ll communicate. And you can quote me on that when it happens*. And the fact that I don’t understand the intricate substance behind music, along with most of the rest of the world, doesn’t matter because there’s something powerful and inexplicable that just makes you feel like you.

It’s difficult to be objective for sure. Especially with the variety and the lifestyle that is associated with each and every kind of music. The fashion, above all else. I’m going to say this straight off because I like to be honest*, I wanted, nay, demanded the Spice Girls album for Christmas back in 1997. And why should I feel guilty about that? Surely music is meant to be personal, unique to yourself? It doesn’t matter what you like, the important thing is that you like it, that it says something to you. It’s inconsequential whether you like something everyone else likes or not, it’s purely subjective, there is no definitive answer.

Yeah… I get that, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the majority of pop music* can rationally be shown to be totally pope, viz culturally dead, suffering from delusions of grandeur, deceptive, responsible for the mass mind rape of the Western World* and often found in silly hats. As far as I can tell (which is about the distance from your eyes to the computer screen) music that is good is genuine. What do I mean by genuine? Whatever you want it to mean, I’m not a fucking dictionary. There’s a lot of music I dislike because of personal preferences but I can still appreciate that it’s doing something artistically. I can’t do that with pop music, not without inducing spasms.

I thought I’d worked out why this was: because the people singing the songs aren’t the ones who write them. It’s used as a badge of merit and authenticity if a pop star is able to muster the talent to write their own songs, mainly because so many pop stars appear pretty vacant anyway and assuming any initiative on their part is just too much. If you and the rest of your band just sing and do whatever’s written on a piece of paper then you’re not a musician, you’re a performer, a face to a product. A corporate whore if you will. Why are these faces and bodies the things that get the attention and adoration, when all the talent comes from someone else? I thought this was completely unfair, where was the due recognition/hammer in the face for the people who actually create this music?

Then it was pointed out to me that these people who write the music don’t want recognition. These foetus munchers behind the music churn out whatever’s in fashion, appeal to the world through marketing and the cult of celebdom, and generally sit about on a big pile of money laughing manically as they perform vivisections on puppies*. A machine that adjusts the pitch and sound of someone’s voice so they can be made to sing well. When their only job should be to sing. Is that not a sign of an industry slightly ka-fucked? I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to do it, I just don’t think their products should be stored in the ‘Music’ sections of shops.

I feel a lot of the blame lies with MTV. I still can’t quite get my head around the concept of watching music. Listening to music, yes, that makes sense. As far as you can apply sense to watching something that you can’t watch in the first place anyway. There is nothing to be gained from watching a song on television. Apart from money, lots and lots of money. I’ve nothing against money, on the contrary I’m an avid supporter of obtaining it, but not when it’s to nobody’s real advantage. You might as well make CD cases covered with spikes and coming in different flavours, give all five senses a thrill instead of just the one. People shouldn’t care what a musicians looks like, it’s completely superfluous to their music.

I saw an age old video of the Mamas and the Papas doing the seminal California Dreaming the other day. They were a bunch of fugly fuckers. Seriously, I thought they were all self-harmers who had regularly taken scouring pads to their faces. A Wikipedia test proved negative on this. Nowadays the song would have to be fronted by some buxom beauties, generally stripping or implying raunchy sex at all times but it wouldn’t make any difference to the song. Musicians are envied and adored because of their music, the music isn’t adored because of the imagery and packaging that comes with it.

Ha! Who’s being a moron now? It’s all about the image, what the music you listen to says to other people. It’s a way of feeling superior, to bond, to share, to be arrogant and 'right', whatever. And that’s all to do with the images surrounding the music as opposed to the music itself. Everyone does it, it’s one of the inescapable thing about music. If pop wasn’t labelled ‘pop’ and was sold instead as ‘Nice, heavy, groovy tunes’ I’d no doubt be hailing it as the greatest thing ever. It’s kinda sad that the Spice Girls need more money that badly, but people will go to see them, enjoy it and be happy as a result. I shouldn’t care, it’s not important, each to their own.

I just can’t shake that damn feeling of pope…

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We Don't Take Too Kindly To Your Kind Around Here

Adam Guettel; Norah Jones; Stephen Schwartz; Andrew Lloyd Webber; Shania Twain; Travis; Stephen Sondheim; Gerald Finzi; Claude Debussy; John Williams; Justin Timberlake; David Yazbek; Alan Menken; The Corrs; John Kander & Fred Ebb; Paula Cole; Delta Goodrem; Thomas Tallis; Wolfgang Mozart; Cy Coleman; William Finn; Dido; Jean Sibelius; Jennifer Paige; Savage Garden; Texas; John Legend; Gustavo Santaolalla; William Byrd; Jason Robert Brown; Scissor Sisters; Laura-Michelle Kelly; Frank Sinatra; Jennifer Hudson; Elaine Paige; Marc Shaiman; Mika; anything sung by Anna McAlpine.

Could there be a greater list of music that is insulting to general taste and decency? I’d be hard pushed to find it. Music is a purely personal thing and people can listen to whatever they want, but when I find a list of favourite music that is so chocker-block full of reeking excrement something in me riles up. I found this list by randomly clicking on a friend (I say friend, as far as I’m aware I’ve never met the man before, he added me as a friend of a friend) on Facebook’s profile and it just begs ridicule. I can’t believe one person would list quite so much drivel as their favourite music of all time. Let’s start at the top and work our way down this shambolic midden, shall we?

Adam Guettel: never heard of him and given the list of heartless fucks that follows, frankly, I don’t want to know. Yes, I know that you shouldn’t condemn that which you don’t know but in this example I cite the case of ‘ignorance is bliss’. Shall we move on?

Norah Jones: She can sing. Apparently this is something of a miracle in today’s talent starved pop public. Criticism should be reserved for her band who write her bland songs but given that I can name not one of them I’ll just say her voice could be used to induce comas and move on.

Stephen Schwartz: No idea who he is but he has a name like a cheap watch. No doubt his music is well in sync but sans soul. Next!

Andrew Lloyd Webber: Arhahahahaha… *cough* *cough* *splutter* sorry, I just half-ingested a cigarette whilst laughing at they very concept of giving Andrew Lloyd Webber musical credit. The man who did nothing but cheapen and whore out the entire notion of musical theatre and, alongside co-conspirator Tim Rice, create work that is schmaltzy feel good family shit that never should, and please God never will, be considered part of the great musical canon.

Shania Twain: She had big tits and a voice like a cat being strangled by Gary Glitter. I’m trying hard to remember one of her songs to mock but everytime I try my brain has a prolapse and I pass out for a few minutes.

Travis: These tosspots actually had the balls to sing ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ at LiveAid while videos of starving, suffering, drought ridden African children played in the background. Dreary fuckwits.

Stephen Sondheim; Gerald Finzi; Claude Debussy: I’ve clumped this lot together because I have no idea who they are. The name Debussy definitely rings a bell and ordinarily I’d go on Wikipedia to remind myself who he is, but given the standard of musical quality so far I think I’ll give it a miss. I’d rather not risk the chance of vomiting blood for a second time in one evening.

John Williams: Alright, here’s one composer with a semblance of talent. He did write one good score. But which score do I mean? Star Wars? Indiana Jones? Superman? Well here’s the trick… whistle any John Williams score and you can pretty much instantaneously switch to another mid-stream and no one will notice. All his scores sound exactly the same because he’s a one-trick-fucking-pony and should have been an extra in Schindler’s List, case closed.

Justin Timberlake: there’s nothing I can say here that Charlie Brooker hasn’t said with infinitely superior style and flair. Check out Brooker’s new book Dawn of the Dumb for evidence of this fact.

David Yazbek; Alan Menken: Fuck it, in one valiant show of ignorance I’ll just list all the cunts about whom I know nothing of and rest safe in the knowledge that their musical heritage will die alongside all those fucktards who think they’re talented: Paula Cole, Thomas Tallis, Cy Coleman, William Finn, Sibelius, Jennifer Paige, John Legend, Gustavo Santaolalla, William Byrd, Jason Robert Brown, Laura-Michelle Kelly, Jennifer Hudson, Marc Shaiman.

And bam! in one swift movement they all condemned to the annals of musical mediocrity. If you have a problem with my judgment then you're not alone.

The Corrs: Instantly fuckable. As long as they don’t insist on playing their music during lovemaking. If Jim did that I’d be forced to pop his eye out of its socket with my penis. Same goes for the girls.

Delta Goodrem: Oh come on, seriously? Seriously?! She was one of the birds off Neighbours who looked kinda hot and thought she might do a classic break out of soap operas and into the much more lucrative pop world. No! Bad Delta! It worked for Kylie but that’s the limit, the rest just end up as sad druggies mourning the days when they were at least getting paid for being worthless. This town ain’t big enough for two hopeless soap pop bitches…

Wolfgang Mozart: Oh yah. Yah. I just farking love classical music, you know? All the classic composers like, Mozart and… err… yah… yah… classical music is just so deep, yah? The violin is just like, a window into the soul, y’know? Yah. Yah. So shall we have awkward Soho sex now? Such talk = cunt.

Dido: Have you heard the bitch talk? Amy Winehouse can get away with it cos she’s got a voice on her but when the two reasons you become famous are cos your brother is a member of Faithless and you were sampled in a Eminem track about an obsessive fan who kills his wife it’s probably best to die a musical death asap. Oh wait, she already did. Huzzah!

Savage Garden: They were big for two seconds in the late 90s. Then they broke up cos their gay marriage didn’t work out. I didn’t know people still listened to their hormonally charged horseshit. It’s kind of cute in an oh-my-god-pass-the-pills-i-want-to-end-it-all-in-as-painful-a-way-as-possible kind of way.

Texas: They were the support act for David Brent’s band. Whether that’s true or not, there’s not a lot more that needs to be said about them. Oh alright then, if you insist, they were voted in the top ten of things that Scots find embarrassing about Scotland. Now that’s shit.

Scissor Sisters: OK, I’ll admit, I quite like the Scissor Sisters. Their songs do have a certain boogie nature to them that’s hard to resist. But what they did to Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb irrevocably condemns them to musical hell where their flesh shall be shaved away everyday for all eternity.

Frank Sinatra: Now ol’ Blue Eyes had mafia connections and I’ve been watching the Sopranos a lot recently so I’ll be careful what I say here... He was a crooning, repetitive, schmaltzy, boring, ‘my penis is bigger than yours’, atonal arsehole who’s musical shall forever be burned on the pyre of the soulless. That’s kind of unfair I guess but fukkit, I’m on a roll and I ain’t stopping now.

Elaine Page: I vaguely remember hearing her name crop up somewhere. I think it may have been on the colour supplement page I used to wipe my arse with a few months back after a particularly nasty attack of the beer skwitz. I can’t be entirely sure though, the memory does tend to play tricks after a while…

And finally… Mika: he’s metrosexual. Oooh…. That seems to be about all people can say with regards to this rake of shit. His music sounds like the Darkness’ dirty pop leftovers. Go figure.

So there we go. Without doubt the worst possible list of favourite music ever composed. All that’s missing is a bit of Chris de Burgh and Barry Manilow in order to set this soul off on a particularly nasty one-way trip to musical Heaven where they have Smooth FM on constant play and all those with half a notion of musical taste opt to rock out in Hell. At least they have some musical testes down there…

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Walk Like a Woman, Talk Like a Man

There are two physical marks of hitting puberty, surviving and on the other side becoming either a fully-fledged man or woman: Breasts and beards. Most of the time men get the beards and women get the breasts, but Nature can be a cheeky fucker and does enjoy flipping these two around for an unfortunate yet hilarious few. There are other physical changes that occur during puberty as well, but they tend to involve excessive and regular bleeding, sacks dropping and spots erupting, none of which are particularly attractive or appealing.

Breasts and beards on the other hand are wondrous things. I have what could only be described as an entirely natural obsession with both. With breasts the reasons why are pretty obvious: I miss sucking milk out of my mother’s tits. Or something. That was a psychological reason I heard a while ago which for some dark deep down reason I never questioned but hey, to be honest I don’t care what the reason is, those jubbly, bountiful parcels will never cease to entertain me no matter how sick the reasons why are.

But surprisingly enough it’s not breasts that I wish to discuss in this here thesis (it’s not a thesis) but rather beards. Y’see, breasts are easy for women cos every woman gets them. Alright, some are bigger than others, a few look like someone’s thrown highly concentrated acid on to a baby’s face and having a particularly buxom pair can condemn you to a life sans eye contact with any male, but dammit, at least they are a guarantee.

Beards are much more trixy buggers. There can be no doubt that beards are a sign of greatness and maturity, just look at some examples: Santa Claus, Gandalf and God. What do all these people have in common? They’re all made up figures of respect and authority. This is entirely because they have beards. Without them they’d be nothing, simply laughable, pre-pubescent figures with no appeal whatsoever. Can you imagine anyone being scared of a God with a bare chin? Or believing that Gandalf could perform magic in any way shape or form if he didn’t have a beard that a hobbit could get lost in? Ha! The very thought of any of these figures not sporting a full chin-tickler is laughable.

It works in real life too. I remember as a 14 year-old trying to sneak into a pub and being constantly in awe of my peers who already had massive fuck-off sideburns and were shaving thrice a day. They would confidently breeze in to any public house where people would assume they were 50, 60, 100 years old at least. From that moment on I knew that a beard was something I had to procure immediately and without delay.

And yet… and yet… beards are still treated with ridicule and contempt by some. I had a mate who over the summer had to grow a massive beard for a role he was playing. It was a mighty beard, the kind that put one in mind of biblical characters on top of mountains ranting at the world. And was this man hailed as a bastion of awesome beardiness? No. He had to put up with daily ridicule and embarrassment. He had nothing but resentment for his beard because of the social stigma that came with it. I can’t help but wonder what kind of a society we live in when these things aren’t given the veneration and respect they deserve.

Which leads me to wonder why beards are no longer associated with things that are hip and groovy. On a base level it’s fair enough cos after all, what are beards? They’re pubes growing out of your face. Doesn’t sound too pleasant and it shouldn’t. Everyday pubic hair attempts to thrust itself out in little tufts through your face. But if you look at it like that then I refer you back to the reason for breast obession. There must be something more to it than that.

I think a lot of my obsession with beards is due to the fact that I can’t grow a beard of my own. When I try I just get something around about my chin area that vaguely resembles a scrotum that’s starting to get its first fledging pubes. On a testes it’s a beautiful sign of Nature at work (but not one other people want to see). On my chin it’s a fucking travesty. Not only that, I also suffer from bald spots. Where hair should grow in order to give the impression of a mature, readyforsex male, it instead gives the impression of someone undergoing severe cancer treatment. I’m not alone in this either, one of my brothers is also a sufferer of random and apparently inexplicable baldbeardspots. My other brother can grow a beard like nobodies business but fukkit, that’s genetics for you. And I know more than a fair few 'I'll shag anything that moves cos I'm a bloke, wah-hey’ males who are sadly lacking in the beard department.

And this, I believe (obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be typing this), is the fundamental reason why beards are so universally hated for no reason. The world is not full of bearded, happy and content with their lives individuals. It is full of males with too much emotion and not enough testosterone, jealous and bitter at those bastards who appear more manly than them because they can grow pubic hair from their face. Those spotty faced, red-cheeked individuals who have to rely on everything but their appearance to attract a member of the opposite sex. These fuckers are ruining it for the fair few that are blessed with facial pubes; what once was a mark of dignity and maturity has been undermined by those too young and immature who think it’s fair enough to take out their insecurities on those who can’t help their wholesome gifts from genetics. I'll bet you anything you like that George W. Bush couldn't grow a beard if his life depended on it and is subsequently taking it out on the more ably bushed Middle-East.

Well fuck them, fuck him and fuck those who discriminate against big breasted women in any way. They say you can’t help the way that you were born. And yet those who are born with more intelligent faculties are blessed. Those born with athletic abilities are praised. I say it’s time that those with impressive facial hair and buxom boobies were also venerated. Sure there’s no real reason to do so, but dammit, big beards and big breasts, deep down, impress everyone.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"great big sharp nasty teeth. look at the bones!"

when i read this article i felt like jesus was on his knee's blowing me with that special technique only the holy son of god can get his mouth around. let's strip this rent-a-christ down and see what goodness lurks beneath the loin cloth:

Word spread among the [Basra] populace that UK troops had introduced strange man-eating, bear-like beasts into the area to sow panic.

jesus christ! that's fucking terrifying! what the hell do this government and army think they're doing? they've created evil genetic freaks driven relentlessly on by the taste of human flesh. they will not stop until the last scrap of human flesh is devoured. flee! run for the ocean, the freak monster's natural enemy!

But several of the creatures, caught and killed by local farmers, have been identified by experts as honey badgers.

oh thank fuck for that.

UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area."

call me cynical, but nowadays i find it hard to trust anything the supposed uk military tells me. they're all norwegians dressed up as british troops. you'll see.

The director of Basra's veterinary hospital, Mushtaq Abdul-Mahdi, has inspected several of the animals' corpses. He told the AFP news agency: "These appeared before the fall of the regime in 1986. They are known locally as Al-Girta.*"

ok, that's more reassuring. the guy lives there and he has no reason to lie about it really, unless he wants to spread anti-british propaganda. which leads me onto the finest part of the article and the one that actually merits discussion...

But the assurances did little to convince some members of the public. One housewife, Suad Hassan, 30, claimed she had been attacked by one of the badgers as she slept. "My husband hurried to shoot it but it was as swift as a deer," she said. "It is the size of a dog but his head is like a monkey," she told AFP.

brilliant. absolutely superb. i mean there's just nothing you can add to that to make it more fantabidosedly perfect on so many levels. there are three reasons for this supposed eye-witness account coming about.

  1. she actually believed it happened.*

  2. she made it up as piece of anti-british propaganda*

  3. she's a very unpopular person in desperate need of attention*

don't get me wrong here, i'm not trying to ridicule just idiot iraqis here. no, i believe that it's for these three reasons that all myths start, be it werewolves, vampires, witches, whatever bullshit monsters you want to talk about*.

i live in a country where the greatest source of revenue (oh yeah, there is a number 4: making wad loads of cash) is the belief that there's a fucking immortal dinosaur camped out in a freezing scottish lake. hmm... unlikely. if it is there it sure knows how to hide from the best technology that these scientists can throw at it. but what does science know, right? it can hardly compare to these actual real people who have actually stood there and have actually seen a large blurry shape in rippling water. take that science. you joy-killer*.

the idea that she'd make up the story to spread anti-british propaganda sounds slightly paranoid to me and assumes quite a lot of stupidity on her part. but it's not unheard of for these kinds of stories to come about for political reasons. from what i know of the salem witch trials* most of those who were burnt as witches were killed for political reasons. i feel mrs. hassan was being slightly naive if she thought that spreading such a story nowadays would have a similar result. i suppose it does show the amount people there hate the british troops if that's the length they're prepared to go to in order to discredit them. but meh.

as for the third reason... well have you ever seen these scientists and geeks who study these myths and claim to have seen bigfoot or nessie? much like the creatures they seek for they are solitary beasts, rarely noticed or seen by any humans. in actual fact i think reasons 1 and 3 are actually one in the same thing, and making money is quite an important factor so the list should read:

  1. she actually believed it happened because she’s a very unpopular person in desperate need of attention

  2. she made it up as piece of anti-british propaganda

  3. there was an opportunity to make shed loads of cash

but you know, i'm flexible in my opinions like that.

on a serious note: these people are morons who are the kind that take an active interest in horoscopes. they must be educated, in as forcible and as disciplined way as necessary, in the errors of their ways. the imagination is a wonderful thing folks, but let's try and use it responsibly.

and pity those poor honey badgers who are as we speak being tortured and interrogated by both the americans and the iraqi insurgents. won't someone please think of the badgers*? take action, start a facebook group today, change the world!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Paths To Happiness and Omaha Beaches

There’s an old mantra repeated by the demented that drones, ‘Don’t feel down, there’s always someone worse off than you.’ Which is ridiculous. Happiness is entirely relative to the individual and concerning yourself with the deaths and suffering of others is rarely a bright road to joy. Besides, these same hypocritical bastards also claim that ‘money can’t buy you happiness’, an equally haemorrhaged sentiment that is rarely found outside of the batshit mad guilt-ridden middle class.

Money can buy you happiness. I’m writing this on my brand-spanking new MacBook, nicknamed ‘the Sex’, which I purchased after being the owner of a laptop with a big fuck-off crack right across the screen for a year finally drove me to tears. I couldn’t see half the screen, which made writing or viewing anything an interesting challenge for the imagination, and it had reached that point in its life when Windows was just too full of crap. Opening up a large programme was like watching a chemo patient pissing blood from the strain of moving. Hopefully this MacBook won’t freeze repeatedly at the worst possible moments and ‘fall down some stairs’ like the last laptop did. Apparently Macs are more reliable…

Anyway, I bought it with money and it’s made me bloody happy. As do most of the material things that I have purchased in my life. Just because some cheeky chappy who gets his kicks from sitting cross-legged on a barren mountaintop, chanting and brainwashing impressionable middle class teenagers says that a 52” HD-TV with full surround sound adds to nothing to his life doesn’t mean I have to agree. It just means that he’s a lonely man with no soul or appreciation for higher quality image and sound. Again, a slight hypocrisy I feel from one who claims to see things with such clarity.

One of the greatest material things for increasing happiness is television. It reminds you that there’s always someone worse than you. Not worse off or less happy, just worse as a person. It doesn’t matter who you are, turn on the TV and there’ll be someone who is more inept or incapable than you. Happiness often arises through tragedy and watching some poor bastard embarrass themselves without even realising what complete fucktards they are always makes me chirp up and say, ‘At least I’m not that’.

Take, f’r instance, this latest mass pile-up car crash of a show, Arrange Me A Marriage. In the episode I was lucky enough to get drunk in front of, 42-year old musician Trevor Stewart was being pimped out with a wife. By his mum, who was arranging the marriage according to traditional Indian methods. Now that’s pretty fucking tragic for a start. Arranged marriages in India, agree with them or not, are a long-standing part of the culture and more importantly are not used to hook up incompetent middle-aged loners with fat, barren harpies. A point BBC Two (yes, BBC Two is televising this horseshit) seems to have missed.

What really made the whole thing tragic though, and therefore curiously uplifting, was how big a cunt this Trevor was. He was one of those people who offends all the senses. Even though there was a major time/space barrier between me and him I could smell his arsehole nature through the screen. The thought of still being alone at the age of 42 with no meaningful relationship lasting more than 14 months is quite a worrying thought. But as long as you’re not as big a tool as Trevor you’ll probably be alright. He had the tact, wit, charm and social awareness of rancid foetus vomit. Dear old Trevor, four weeks after being introduced to his hopeless wife-to-be at a classically awful engagement party, had seen her twice. He blamed work commitments and ‘taking a week to recover from his stag weekend in a foreign country’ for his marked absence. Unsurprisingly she told him where to stuff it and walked off, proving that beggars can and will be choosers.

This concept of laughing at freaks on TV is now the main staple of reality television. It’s a sick Victorian freakshow but it does squeeze a chuckle from my ribs and gives these bizarre individuals a chance to be on t’tele. Not all tragic losers are funny though, as yet another nutjob proved in America when, in what will no doubt be remembered as one of the more violent comments on Christmas consumerism, he opened fire on a shopping mall, killing eight people.

Sometime these losers get it so wrong. The gunman Robert Hawkins, 19, sought fame through violence and a gun culture that is clearly designed to encourage murder. If only he had instead, like Trevor and all the other countless reality-tv losers, used his butt-end of the social ladder talents to appear on some Where Shall I Cut Myself? VOTE NOW! TXT 278373 show where millions could have laughed and basked in the joy of not being him. That way we could feel good about social awkwardness and borderline psychotics instead of feeling genuine nausea, shock and disgust with the way the world works.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bernard Manning: From Beyond The Graaaaaaaaaaaaaave

There are plenty of weird things in life. Eyeballs that secrete milk, salmon that travel thousands of miles for a shag, women who can fire ping pong balls from where the sun does not shine. But I think having Bernard Manning who is now dead presenting his own televised obituary has got to be at least up there with hermaphrodites. Apparently Manning gained some kind of psychic insight into when his demise was going to occur and so set about making a film about his life and saying goodbye to people for Channel 4. Or he might have known his death was imminent because his kidneys were playing up due to his diabetes, the programme didn’t make that clear.

What was made clear from the first minute was that this was going to be a bizarre fucking programme if ever there was one. Watching someone look down at themselves lying dead in a coffin and taking a chair at the funeral service, chuckling along as if the speakers were making birthday speeches through the magic of blue screen is a pretty unnerving way to kick-off a programme. It’s the televisual equivalent of arriving at a large scary castle in the middle of a dark stormy night and having the door answered by a hunchbacked Igor character.

The theme continued throughout as well with Manning being filmed picking out a coffin, cracking jokes along the way. And the weirdness didn’t even stop there. Oh no. Clearly Manning wanted to raise the ante in the surreal stakes so we were treated to him sat in a spot-lit chair in the middle of a stage answering moral questions about his life from a man in a box dressed as St. Peter. All very symbolic yes, but when you’re dealing with a man who even has to turn his obituary into a slice of entertainment you know that this is a mind already slightly askew to the norm.

These moments were interspersed with clips of his best gags (not all of which I was shocked to learn were racist) and a kind of documentary trying to answer the question ‘Bernard Manning: Fat racist bigot, or Britain’s funniest comedian?’ Not really a question in my eyes, there are 127.8 British comedians funnier than Bernard Manning, but I could see the point they were trying to make, and it is an interesting problem.

Unfortunately this is where the programme hit a bit of a snag. For a documentary to be good it has to be objective. And it was in places, there were honest interviews and footage that commented on a lot of issues surrounding Bernard Manning. However, it is a bit of a challenge to stay unbiased when a man is weeping into a camera making his final farewell speech to his family. And it jars horribly when there’s a clip showing Manning singling out and mocking the one black man in the audience, followed immediately by a real heart tugging moment with Manning close to death. I found myself thinking, ‘He’s a bit of a racist cunt… but I’m so sad he’s not with us!’ Confusing to say the least. Then again, humanising an apparent racist is better than labelling him and making him a symbol. Symbols be divisive.

At other times they felt the need to play totally inappropriate wispy spiritual music over the top of his gags, as if to remind the viewer that he’s dead. Like that wasn’t made abundantly clear from the start. It’s this ridiculously saccharine way that we have to venerate the dead which meant it was difficult to make as balanced a judgment as if it had been shown when he was alive. Which would’ve undermined the concept a little.

That aside, on to the big question: was Bernard Manning just a big fat racist and is there a place for his brand of comedy in the world? Well for starters his brand of comedy was first and foremost in his ability to tell a gag. Stephen Fry was quoted as saying that Manning delivered a joke better than anyone else. And as we all know, if Stephen Fry said it, it must be true. If something is said in just the right way it triggers off some bizarre involuntary spasm in the brain that produces a physical response. It doesn’t entirely make sense but it’s one of the nicer things about being of the species homo sapiens.

Gags also require a setup and racist characters are perfect for this. They provide a character that is different or ridiculous to laugh at. All comedy is based on someone else’s tragedy, or whatever the damn quote is.

This is why I wasn’t sure if Bernard Manning was actually a racist or just a comedian with an act. The programme wasn’t sure either. It flipped back and forth between implying that he was actually a racist, due to his upbringing and the time he came from, and then implying that it was actually just an act, just a joke, harmless and all that. There was a clip from when Manning went on the Mrs Merton Show in the 90s, when it all went completely tits up for him. She asked him directly, “Are you a racist?” to which he replied, “Yes” and went on to explain how there are “some people I like and some that I don’t”. Meanwhile, Future Manning was looking back on the incident saying that it was a show that set people up and he was trying to do that to her and, in his eyes, out funnying her. Then there was the one about when Bernard told a joke about policemen beating black suspects at a police event. I couldn’t tell if it was all an act aimed at offending anyone and everyone, or if these really were deep-seated racist beliefs.

I don’t think poor old Bernard did either. The lines between comedy routine and personal life blurred long ago. Which is fucking obvious given that he took part in this headfuck of a concept for a television programme.

If it was all just an act then there is something to be said for being controversial and saying things that society doesn’t necessarily see as acceptable. I am a firm believer in the fact that anything can be funny if presented in the right way. The problem for Manning was that his style of comedy was so out of date with every other modern comedian. When he first started out, it was ‘just a joke’. Comedians told jokes, they were there to make people laugh and so to certain extent it didn’t matter what they said. Nowadays though the role of the comedian has become much more one of social commentator. Manning’s excuse that it was just a joke and you shouldn’t take jokes seriously doesn’t hold water now when it comes to a topic like racism. Modern comedy aims to attack and ridicule racism, to mock it rather than use it to get a laugh. The likes of Gervais get away with being controversial because it’s done with a sense of irony, you’re laughing because he’s playing an idiot character, you know he doesn’t really mean it. When looking at Manning I was trying to apply that same sense of playing a character to see if it would fit. Doing that was a mistake, more likely than not he was just a good old fashioned racist, as were most people then. And probably still are.

Whatever, it doesn’t matter. Comedians become big and famous because they’re saying what people want to hear. Once the crowd want to see something new, the comedians fade into the background. Manning wouldn’t have become big when he did if racist jokes weren’t acceptable and funny at that time. And if he didn’t have racist jokes he still would have succeeded because he was a funny guy, but then he would have faded out into obscurity. It’s just because everyone cares so much about racism that we’re still talking about him. Why? His views used to be the majority, he said them because he was a comedian, they’re not relevant now, let’s move on.

Manning knew he could stay in the public eye if he kept up the racist act, and everyone allowed him to do it despite changing attitudes because they wanted to stare in at him in that curious way that people have observed social freaks through the ages, be it Imperial Games, Freak Shows, or Big Brother. Everyone wants fame, Manning was no exception. The most damning part of the whole show was when Manning was trying to defend himself to a comedian and the director of a comedy school. When he got in a tight corner he started getting angry and saying that these two were nothing, he’d played the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, what the fuck had they done? As if being famous and talking to lots of people makes your view better and right. Yeah, the Nuremberg Rallies were pretty well attended too (fuck Godwin’s Law and fuck you).

It seems some people will do anything for the attention; even play up to the fact that people think you’re a racist if it keeps people talking about you just a bit longer. No one wants to fade out and be forgotten; the proudest thing about Manning’s life to him was that he would be talked about for a long time, that he’d live on past other comedians. Which said more about him and everyone else than the rest of the programme put together.

Bernard Manning’s final words to the people of the world were, “Get fucked the lot of you.” At least I can agree with him there.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

al-qaeda: slightly less scary than timid moles

Once again, this post was at the cutting edge of relevance on the 2nd July when I originally wrote it, but given that there haven't been any terrorist attacks since I guess it's still true.

if i were in a position of command in al-qaeda right now (which i'm not in case any of you mi5 people are watching) then i'd be seriously considering putting all the british cells on indefinite hiatus round about now. the point of terrorism is, surely, to win your case through fear and terror. not to make yourselves look like a bunch of incompetent nincompoops.

9/11, 7th July, both terrorist attacks that genuinely shocked the world and changed a lot of what we now take for granted. since then... well, it hasn't gone so well for those dippy terrorists. everytime another bomb fails to go off or a plan gets foiled, as it has done repeatedly since 7th july, they start to become less and less scary. blowing up a car must be one of the easiest things in the world to do. lots of petrol, a bit of fire, ba-da-bing ba-da-boom. they manage it in baghdad on a daily basis. obviously their basic explosive training is at a slightly higher level in iraq.

i begin to worry (actually, not worry, hope is probably a more accurate word) that the uk is the craggy island of the terrorist world, where all the big thickos are sent because they keep embarrassing themselves in front of all their other terrorist buddies. the buck-toothed ones who keep tripping up over their robes and setting their beards on fire by accident while osama mutters, 'this is another fine mess you've got me into al. why i oughta!' is it just me, or was the image of a bumbling idiot stumbling out of a burning jeep the kind of thing you'd expect frank dreben from naked gun to do? it's not scary it's just a bit... well, sad really.

i'd love to have seen the look on those clowns' faces when they realised it had all gone pete tong, frantically pressing the detonator, wondering why the bomb's not going off, realising that, d'oh!, they've left the plastic in the oven and now they have a group of angry glaswegians kicking the shit out of them. although the look on their face would be difficult to spot given the hideous burns. come on, glasgow airport? it's got to be the hardest fucking airport in the world! they should've known they were entering a world of pain before they even started.

well, they probably did realise that, but assumed it would be followed by eternal paradise once they detonated the bombs. arhahahahaha!! fucktards. al-qaeda is meant to be the biggest threat to this country and they can't even make a bomb that explodes. the irish could manage it and they're the butt of all the idiot jokes. and they're doctors as well! the fact that fuckwits like this are allowed to operate on sick patients worries me more than their aborted feotus attempts to cause panic. they shouldn't be shipped off to some unknown prison to face torture, they should just be shoved in the stocks so that people can walk by and laugh at how utterly rubbish these evil cunts are at doing the most basic of all terrorist activities. they are idiots.

well done al-qaeda, you have succeeded in making me not so much scared, more tickled pink with your complete incompetency at scoring more than a couple of lucky hits. consistency is what's important in life, and it's something these dippy tarts seriously lack. thank fuck.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Zombies Ate My Neighbours

Last night a worrying thing happened. I was sitting quite calmly looking at Facebook, hitting ‘refresh’ repeatedly, when all of a sudden the lights went out. Not only that, my speakers cut out, the TV died and I could hear shrieks of terror from flats above and below (they might have been mine, I can’t remember. Trauma does terrible things to the memory). My worst fears had been realised, it was a power cut. It was emergency time.

Some people may have wondered about their loved ones, others may have gotten out the candles they had specially prepared for such an event, a select few may even have used the dimming of lights to make an inappropriate move on a loved one. I have to confess my initial thoughts were how to best plan for the oncoming zombie invasion.

I immediately ran a sink full of fresh drinking water and started searching for weapons. The best I could find were a few empty wine bottles for projectiles, a guitar for close range combat and a gun with a single bullet if worst came to worst. Next I pondered food. Obviously a supplies run to Scotmid was necessary for survival, but was it worth the risk of taking on extra zombies by heading up to Waitrose and having an all round more satisfactory ration supply?

A few sirens blared past the window and I sat tensely, waiting for the screams of people running down the street, away from those with no desire but to tear flesh from innocent faces with their teeth. Those neither living nor dead, with no goal but to consume every living thing within their bloated guts. The only beings that may very well bring about the end of humankind.

It turns out my intense paranoia was slightly misplaced. T’was merely a power cut that had affected various patches of Edinburgh and caused no end of anecdotal trouble for various Edinburgers (stupid stupid word). The news that it had been caused by a fire at a substation did nothing either to alleviate my worries at the time though. I had recently watched an episode of the West Wing where Russia covers up a nuclear missile blowing up in a silo by claiming that it was a fire in a substation. If those ruskie bastards thought they were gonna fool me over the invading pinko zombie hoard by using one of the oldest Cold War tricks in the book then they had another thought coming.

No, I was definitely wrong. There were no zombies approaching, the end of days was not here, we were all going to be fine. The worrying thing about the whole episode is that I wasn’t the only one with such paranoid delusions. One of my flat mate’s biggest phobias is the zombie attack scenario, so she too was planning our best means of escape and survival. Oh how we laughed at our unique sense of humour.

Nope. Turns out that most of my friends had had similar thoughts. To the majority, a zombie attack was the most logical assumption to make. Mentioning to one comrade via text that sleeping with a cricket under their pillow wouldn’t be such a bad idea was met with ridicule at the very notion of not being fully prepared with an EMP bomb for the robot armies that were at this very moment descending on our nations.

I think it’s safe to say that we all watch too many movies. More worrying than that though is the extent to which we rely on electricity in order to live a normal existence. Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years of human civilisation has been living without electricity. It was simple: you went to bed with the sun, you got up with the sun. In between you’d fill in the time by banging rocks together. I’m guessing. Well what else was there to do to keep yourself entertained? I suppose you could pray for some kind of device that would keep you and your family amused.

Then some bright spark came along and invented electricity. Which is awesome and everything, but we really are dependent on that stuff. The reason myself and everyone flipped out when the power went down was because we saw ahead of ourselves the ultimate bleakness that lay in the abyss where there was no internet, no television, no computer games, no light, no cooker, no radio, just the endless black. No entertainment, nothing to shut out the tedium of life. These visions of zombies and robots flooding the streets were just the natural reaction of a species being plunged into the unknown. Of course some poor bastard panicked because they were working on their essays in the library and made the rookie error of not regularly saving their work. For shame.

The nice thing that came out of this was whole sorry mess was that despite our jonesing for electricity and the automatic reaction in the Edinburgh consciousness that a simple power cut = Armageddon, at least we were all prepared and knew what to do in the event of a zombie infestation. And if you didn’t know what to do, start drawing up emergency plans that you can follow in the case of an outbreak of zombies, robots or velociraptors. It’s not if, it’s when.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Homeless On The Streets of Edinburgh

Tramps fascinate me. Not so much in a ‘Ooh, fascinating! Let’s a don an old jacket, grow a beard, grab a bottle of White Lightning and join their tribe in order to learn their ancient and mystic noble traditions’ kind of way, more in a ‘What the hell…?’ kind of way, where the blank can be filled with such phrases as ‘is he drinking?’, ‘is he doing?’ and ‘is he saying?’.

Outside Bedlam Theatre there is a bench that is dedicated to the memory of a student who died a few years ago. This bench is set in concrete and raised about two feet from street level on an extended wall that runs around the front of the theatre. If you sit on it you get a beautiful view all the way up George IV bridge, with the striking dome of New College in the distance. It really is a lovely bench, the perfect kind where you can sit comfortably, relax and watch life happen around you.

In tramp circles it is known as The Bench (emphasis entirely necessary). When tramps arrange to meet up and achieve whatever goal they have set themselves, they meet at The Bench. It is a beacon, a focal point which pulls any tramp within range inexorably towards itself. Fair enough, it is a lovely spot especially for those whose lifestyle means they spend a lot of time outdoors, and it adds a nice effect to the name Bedlam. This is why at any hour of the day The Bench can be found draped in tramps whose goals today seem to be the same as yesterday.

Given that I spend a lot of time at Bedlam I regularly come into contact with these folk. They’re all harmless enough, they stick to themselves, drink and occasionally stumble into the building whilst looking for some kind of mysterious object. Divining anything more about their habits is a challenge due to the lack of the most useful human skill: communication. When a flaky, bleary-eyed, reeking (sorry but they do have a certain fragrance about them) individual lurches towards me and garbles a few sounds, sniffs a bit, rinses and repeats, I normally respond with a few half-hearted ‘Yeah mate’ replies while smiling vaguely, until one of us sort of wonders off. It’s not exactly a melting pot for stimulating conversation.

Now I’ll admit to not being the most natural at making conversation with people I don’t know, but I think of much of the communication problem lies with the gallon per hour intake of White Lightning that your average sized tramp will get through. That much booze can’t be good for you…

It’s not uncommon for those of us who may occasionally and responsibly enjoy getting pissed to be struck with a mind-numbingly brilliant thought that everyone else must hear. In your head you’re coherent, urbane, insightful but for some reason your audience don't agree and start wondering why exactly they’re friends with you. Thankfully you get a good night’s rest and the next day brings the terrifying eye of sobriety and past mistakes are swiftly rectified or ignored.

Not so for the tramps. A constant intake of alcohol means that they never break out of that drunken state. It must be confusing for them. Inside their own heads they are a sparkling font of witticisms but for some reason no one will listen to them, and I can’t help but feel that might be a little frustrating for them. But that’s not really a problem because they pretty soon forget it all anyway.

Memory loss is huge when you’ve drunken that much alcohol. I worry that these tramps are like Guy Pearce in Memento, without any ability to formulate new memories. The last thing they can remember is leaving the house, saying ‘I’m just heading out for a quick drink.’ As far as they’re concerned they’re still on that same bender, any chalk that falls onto the slate that passes for their memories is wiped clean with a healthy dose of alcohol every 12 hours. They go to sleep and wake up bright-eyed and bushy tailed, looking forward to that day off work they promised themselves ‘yesterday’. Of course, after a while they must cotton on. Become aware at the back of their head that they’ve been living the same day for a while now, they've met all these tramps before and their clothes are getting a tad scruffy. That’s when the switch flicks and they embrace the psychosis induced by their ethanol-rotted brains.

Possibly. I don’t know. I’m probably insulting some group of people when I imply that all tramps are insane preachers of some drunken gospel. This is not my intention. There is of course a veritable rainbow of folk who make the homeless community such a vibrant place, from the smiling Big Issue seller trying to get their life back on track right through to the hard to identify mass in the gutter. And the alcoholic tramps probably have sad stories and they should be sympathised with, not mocked by some arrogant cock who’s never had to worry about spending a night on the streets or being dependent on alcohol to such a horrible extent.

Fair point, but I still find the insane lifestyle of the tramp an enjoyable curiosity.

Technicians: The Unsung Villains

This article was originally printed in Noises Off, the daily magazine for the National Student Drama Festival and was written in response to an article 'Technicians: The Unsung Heroes' by Joseph Coates. As you can tell, it angered me somewhat...

Shakespeare was more of a genius than I realised. Not only did he write some of the most beautiful and influential plays in the history of literature, but he did it all… without tech! That’s right, he was happy for his plays to on at venues where the concept of the gobo hadn’t even been considered. Somehow he felt that a stage in the middle of a field was sufficient for the full weight of his plays to come across. What a fraud. That’s right, a fraud! At least that’s what Joseph Coates would have you believe.

Alright, it’s a facetious point to start with, theatre has moved on leaps and bounds in the last 40,000 years since Shakespeare’s time. Tech is now as an integral part of theatre as any other aspect. I’m not interested in belittling tech. No, instead I’m interested in belittling the moaning, pathetic, pre-pubescent, hormonally confused excuses for people that disguise themselves as techies of varying descriptions. But it’s unfair to talk about all techies like they’re one homogenous blob of angst. The word ‘techie’ is far too broad a term that applies to too many different people. Instead I’ll divide them into two categories, for simplicity’s sake let’s refer to them as the ‘talented’ and the ‘shits’. And it’s these ‘shits’ that are fucking it up for the rest of us.

I’ve had enough of hearing the same childish and unnecessary complaints from these people. Let’s have a look at just a few of these ‘shit’ comments: “Without us there would be no light. Literally.” Think someone’s got a bit of a God complex going on here… perhaps there’s a missing part of Genesis where it mentions that first God invented techies who were then graceful enough to invent light but I’ve yet to hear of it. Besides, I’m not a genius but I know how to flick a fucking light switch. Fair enough, it wouldn’t be the most impressive tech in the world but since the age of two I’ve literally been able to turn on a lightbulb.

Another typical ‘shit’ comment: “We technicians are the glue that hold you actors together.” Arrogance on this scale is so mind boggling it must be genuinely retarded. Actors get together months before a show, they rehearse and work together over a long period of time and this probably goes a long way to making them the self-obsessed luvvies (I’ve got to get some balance in here) that they are. But it’s the job of whichever poor bastard is directing them to make sure that they are a cohesive an functioning whole, the ‘shits’ a) don’t want to get involved and b) wouldn’t have the first idea how to communicate with someone from then outside world.

Please don’t think I’m talking about all techies here. Some of my best friends are techies (although unfortunately they’re not also gay, black or disabled). Let’s take a moment and consider these ‘talented’ individuals. The most important thing to say about them is that these ‘talented’ are competent. They know what they have to do and they do it quickly and efficiently with no dicking about and without that high-pitched whining that attracts dog-bitches on heat to the theatre. They have ideas, imagination. They communicate well with the director, they take an interest in the show from an early stage, they’re amicable to all the cast.

Tech runs, usually a source of immense pain to all involved, are relatively painless under the guidance of the ‘talented’. Whatever they’re spending their time doing you can rest safe in the knowledge that they’re doing it for a reason. They know that good tech is subtle. When an audience is trying to concentrate on the emotional context of a naturalistic play they don’t want to be distracted by garish and out of place lighting that happens to be ‘cool’ according to some ‘shit’. And when the ‘talented’ have done a good job they know it. They don’t seek praise like some three-year old begging for acknowledgement for the fact that they’ve managed to eat their food without spilling it down their bib. A nod and some words of praise from one professional ‘talented’ to another is enough because theirs is an art too subtle and complex for most laymen to appreciate.

Not for the ‘shits’ though. Faith in a job well done is not enough for them. Let’s have another look at the Gospel according to Coates: “When was the last time you heard someone say, ‘Who did those lights? They were cool! What about that sound? It was beautiful!’” Just because no one’s said it about your tech, doesn’t mean it’s never been said. In a recent production of Iolanthe I saw, a huge functioning waterfall at the back of the stage got one of the largest and most appreciative rounds of applause of the night. In a production of the Cosmonaut’s Last Message To The Woman He Once Loved In The Former Soviet Union the tech were brave enough to suspend two actors playing cosmonauts 30 feet above the stage. In another play, Sour Heart, there were at least 15 televisions spread out and around the stage that at various intervals played videos, images, etc. and all at separate times.

All of these plays got countless praise for the bold directions that the tech had taken from members of the public, even if they didn’t quite understand how much work went into it. And these are just three of the most recent shows I’ve seen. The ‘shits’ moan and complain as an excuse. It’s a mask used to disguise the lack of self-confidence they have in their own work. The fact is that when tech is exceptional people do appreciate it. When an actor is good people appreciate it. When an actor is appalling everyone knows who they are and will single him or her out. When the ‘shits’ completely bollocks up a show they have their anonymity to hide behind from the public.

Things have to change. No longer should actors be stuck in 10 hour long tech runs and abysmal first night performances because the ‘shits’ are too lazy and unskilled to get the lights and sound rigged properly. No longer should the ‘talented’ be tarred with the same brush as the ‘shits’. And no longer should we be subjected to the same repetitive ramblings of those with delusions of grandeur.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hell Ain't No Bad Place To Be

An article from June 2007. After going back over things I wrote a few months ago, I'm starting to notice some recurring themes...

I love the BBC website. Whenever I’m feeling particularly drained of ideas I just have to make a short trip there and I know I’m going to find an example of cutting edge, hard-hitting journalism which will inspire me to put fingers to keyboard and voice my opinion on the most important of current affairs. Or not, as the case may be with this article which makes the shockingly obvious claim that six out of ten of us Brits are opportunistic criminals.

Yes, it’s time to face facts and realise that when someone receives more change than they’re meant to they’ll keep it anyway. The dastards! Or when given the opportunity to take cash-in-hand for a job so as to avoid paying tax* most people will choose that option. Who would’ve thunk it?! Clearly these groundbreaking researchers are correct in saying that there is no “law-abiding majority” and that the respectable middle-classes are a “seething mass of morally dubious, and outright criminal, behaviour”. Maybe now this problem has been highlighted we can all join hands and combat this problem together.

Alright, enough of the crap sarcasm. I honestly don’t know why they bothered wasting billions of pounds on this survey when they could’ve just paid me a £5 million consulting fee so that I could tell them that people are, in general, opportunistic bastards. The fact that there was even the suggestion that middle class people are more morally upright than lower class people is a view which is frankly insulting, na├»ve and belongs in the Bronze Age when it might conceivably have been true*

Actually, no. Not even in the Bronze Age could it be said that people wouldn’t commit a ‘criminal’ act if it was advantageous to them. It really gets my goat when tossers make this comment, which I’ve heard more times than, “Fuck off Richard”,

“People talk about not having to lock the door in childhood, and I remember that myself. There is unquestionably more opportunistic crime. I would have to say that behind that lies a decline in belief in God, and a culture of hedonism, self-fulfilment getting on, and materialism.”

Such a statement is horseshit* through and through. The reason no one used to have to lock their door was because they lived in small, isolated communities where everyone knew each other. A criminal would have to be pretty fucking desperate/mentally challenged to nick something from a mate’s house and then try and flog it back to them down the pub. And if little Maddie went missing in a small Gloucester village, everyone would know who the local paedo was and a short lynching later everything would be gravy. Now that we live in an age where people can ship stolen goods on without breaking a sweat, it’s hardly surprising that you have to lock your door*.

Since when did a belief in God lead to better morals? Since when did being an atheist lead to better morals? Catholics rape small children, Muslims blow themselves up in crowded areas and atheists commit acts of genocide. Sure I’m generalising, but so are these pricks who constantly generalise about the world going to the dogs in the face off rapidly improving health care, technology, social equality and falling crime levels. So fuck ‘em.

I always laugh at those piss-poor anti-piracy adverts that ruin the first 30 seconds of whatever film you’re watching. “You wouldn’t steal a purse! You wouldn’t rob a bank! You wouldn’t rape a granny, defecate in her mouth and make off with her savings! Don’t steal our films!” it confidently states. Err… yes I cocking would if any of those crimes were as easy and consequence free as downloading an mp3 or the latest episode of Heroes*. Of course I don’t commit these crimes because I have respect for other people and don’t want to live in constant fear of vigilante OAPs. My moral compass is pretty straight but I won’t not do something that will benefit me and not harm anyone else significantly just because it’s against the law.

“If I thought something was OK, then found out it was against the law, I wouldn't do it. I would think it was wrong.”

It’s that kind of opinion I’m talking about. Laws are an integral part of society but I don’t think there’s a compulsion to obey them blindly. Take cannabis for example. I have no qualms with admitting that I regularly smoke joints, even if it is against the law*. And I don’t say that because I think it makes me cooler than those who don’t*, but because I personally enjoy it, I’m not harming anyone else by doing it and I think to apply the law to me and send me to jail for it would be a waste of everyone’s time and money. Speaking of drugs and petty crime, if you want to get rid of what I’m assuming people refer to as ‘lower-class’ crime then let’s tackle this whole issue of sick addicts turning to crime to fuel their addiction.

Anyhoo… I know I’m not alone in my views. After all, 6/10 people can’t be wrong. Right? We’re all ‘criminals’, we all take advantage of laws that are in place but aren’t a matter of life and death, so what? People are ‘allowed’, according to the law, to dick people over and do things to their advantage all the time. That makes them cocks, and also human. Taking more money than perhaps the government says you’re entitled too, whilst it is technically illegal, isn’t as bad in my sincere opinion as breaking up with your partner by spit-roasting their mum. Which is legal. Thank God.

Once again it all comes down to common sense. Something you and I have an abundance of and everyone else is in desperate need of in order to make this world a sensible place to live in. Don’t worry, they’ll catch up eventually.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Working On My TV Tan

There’s a piracy advert that always makes me laugh. It is not, as you may think, a recruiting video aimed at encouraging young students to join the pirate navy. There is no such thing. It is instead an advert that is designed to discourage people from buying pirated vitamins or downloading copyrighted minerals from the internet by equating these actions with such moral wrongs as stealing an old lady’s purse, shoplifting and flying a plane into a New York skyscraper because piracy apparently funds terrorism.

Unfortunately, rather than guilt tripping the public into giving up their immoral, barbaric ways and paying for their entertainment like they should, the advert has highlighted how certain rogue members, that make up the vast majority of the moral whole, will quite gleefully break the law without any ethical considerations or legal concerns if they think they’re going to get away with it.

‘You wouldn’t steal a car!’ the advert reminds us. If breaking into a car and selling it on cheap was as big a challenge as clicking a mouse once, twice, maybe three times in order to download a song, then there would be no cars left in the world. There would only be an endless, never-seen stream of stolen cars flowing like credit around the black market.

The internet is by its very nature an absolute bastard for copyright law enforcement anyway. The anonymity of the millions involved makes policing or controlling file sharing in any effective way as pointless a task as asking Sisyphus to push a boulder up Mont Blanc. It just can’t be done.

Radiohead’s recent decision to release their album on the internet for free/a charitable donation (if you feel that you’re the kind of person who just can’t bear to see these millionaire rock stars go without cash) wasn't a brave step in a new direction. I've been able to download albums for free for the past ten years now. It was just a sign that bands and labels have started to give up and realise that they can’t win the battle against the millions who are downloading their songs for free. They're going to have to adopt some new tactics to deprive us music fans of our cash, which is why more and more bands are starting to exploit t'internet for cash prizes.

Even Cliff Richard is using the internet to promote his new record. The more people that pre-order his next shitsandwich slab of fetid drivel online, the cheaper it will be when it’s released. If, for my pre-order, I received a section of Cliff’s vocal chords that had been forcibly torn from his throat then I would be more inclined to being seduced by such an internet bargain.

At the moment though the music industry is still a long way from using the internet properly to promote, sell and spread music to the public at large. In the meantime hopefully the TV industry will cotton on quicker to the advantages of internet based media. It doesn’t look good though given that they’re arresting internet pioneers like the 26-year old man from Cheltenham who ran TV Links.

TV Links was a magical place, full of joy and wonder. Where childrin could skip through a vast library of links to TV shows, cartoons, documentaries, anime and movies, a bottomless pit of visual entertainment. Almost any TV show you'd care to mention, from Red Dwarf to Louis Theroux and back again via QI, was available to all who ventured into that domain. And for free!

Now I like TV a lot. There are amazing shows out there, both old and new, a lot of which in recent times have come from America. From dramas such as the Wire, Deadwood and the Sopranos, to South Park, Heroes, 24, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, the list never ends. There is not a chance I would be a fan of any of these shows or many others were it not for sites like TV Links.

Living the hectic nocturnal schedule I do, I’m never consistently in at the right time to watch television. This is why I missed 24, Lost, The West Wing and the Sopranos when they first came out. I simply could not guarantee seeing every episode and these shows are like newspapers, miss them for a couple of weeks and any reality outside your own becomes a distant blurry memory. If it weren’t for internet TV I would not know about these shows or many others because I would never have watched them in the first place. The internet has reinvented what it means to watch TV shows, a method which is far more liberating and accessible than any previous system.

The BBC’s World News channel YouTube and Channel 4’s On Demand program, which makes much of the Channel 4 archive available to watch for free online, are signs that the industry is waking up and using the internet the way it should be now that it’s possible to instantly stream near DVD quality videos, but it’s still not enough. It’s a stubbornness on the part of the TV networks not to see that this is the way a lot of people watch their TV now, and the number is only going to get bigger.

What NBC should be doing, for example, is hosting every new episode of Heroes for free on their website, surrounded by advertising, and with a guaranteed good connection. They would get millions more hits, they would know exactly how many people were watching it thereby making the horseshit ratings system a thing of the past, a whole new legion of fans would be available to watch the shows, and I wouldn’t have to trawl around loads of different websites trying to find one with a working, albeit illegal, link to the episode.

The entertainment industry needs to realise that it can’t win against the internet. Sure, TV Links was taken down but there were already another bunch of websites ready to take its place. One of the main reasons it was taken down was because of the links it had to pirated movies. But the thing is, pirated movies are rubbish. If given the choice between watching some shitty, grainy handheld camera version of the latest epic on my laptop screen, or the 50 metre screen, surround sound cinema version that will blow your head off, I’d always go to the cinema because that’s an experience you can’t recreate at home. And blockbusters still makes x hundreds of millions so they can’t be too badly off.

With music and television, however, the advantages of using computers and the internet to access the media compared to the traditional methods are numerous, just like the advantages of supermarkets over having to go out and gather all your food yourself from the wild. Instead of waving their hands about and complaining about how the ol’ grey mare she ain’t what she used to be, the music and TV industries should be at the forefront of internet entertainment, leading the charge and surpassing all the other sites that offer a vast range of TV shows for free. If only to save themselves the hassle further down the line.

Monday, October 29, 2007

An Alternative Drugs Experience

Drugs are bad. Apparently. This is the never ending, incessant view of drugs shoved down our throats at every available moment by all those shady individuals who make up 'they', as in 'they' told me so. In the first place I'm uncertain about assigning moral values to an inanimate object, it is after all those who can't control their habits and vices that are bad and even then 'sick' is a more appropriate term, but more importantly these people seem to be missing another key point. Drugs are fun.

Drugs have been fun for a long time. One of the few constants through the evolution of human civilisation has been the people getting wasted on some kind of chemical substance. It is the unfortunate case about every aspect of human life that things which are bad for you will inevitably be more fun than things which are good for you. There are a million and one things that are potentially lethal to human life and serve no purpose apart from recreation that are perfectly legal, and yet most drugs are illegal and anyone who takes them is damned. A little unfair I feel.

Taken to my idealistic extremes I will quite happily argue for the legalisation of drugs based on personal responsibility, safety and tax revenue. But more importantly than that, and before we get close to coming up with a solution to the drug problem, we first of all need to take a much more mature and intelligent look at drugs than the bipolar 'these things are bad because we say so' argument that has so utterly failed so far.

The worst kind of hypocrites when it comes to drugs are those who will condemn any kind of drug use and yet quite happily sit there and sip their wine. It is an obvious point to make but it’s one that some people clearly can’t get their heads around: alcohol is a drug. An extremely dangerous drug. It’s highly addictive, causes major damage to your body and kills tens of thousands of people in the UK every year. And yet so many people drink it because it’s a highly enjoyable habit to have. Those people who say, ‘You don’t need to drink to have a good time’ are just bare-faced liars.

Alcohol is a drug that has class A written all over it, but I’m not concerned with the alcoholics who die from alcohol abuse. Nor am I concerned with the 48 people who died from ecstasy in 2006, or the 54 people who died from cocaine in 2004. Drugs are not perfectly safe, anyone who claims they are is a moron. If you develop an addiction to a substance, for whatever reason, then it’s more than likely that it’s not going to end well for you. That’s obvious and doesn’t interest me.

What interests me is the millions of people who drink alcohol who are not alcoholics. Those who have responsibility and mental stability, who know their limits and when it is acceptable to drink. You can see them everywhere, people whose lives are not ruined by drinking, who go out for a drink and still manage to be a normal, functioning part of society. It’s not that big a leap to realise that there are people who use other drugs in a similarly mature and measured manner. Just because the story of the person who took some cocaine to celebrate a promotion, partied all night, had a great time and woke up the next day and got on with his life doesn’t make the front pages doesn’t mean it never happens.

It’s patronising and insulting to the rationality and personal freedom of human beings to be told that you’re allowed to choose to take mind altering and damaging chemical substances in the form of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for your own personal enjoyment but none of the other drugs because… well, because… er… ‘they’ say so? If as a rational thinking adult I am free to make the decision to have a few pints for my own personal enjoyment I should be allowed to say that I want to have an ecstasy tablet because it makes clubbing more enjoyable, or a joint because I want to relax with some friends and giggle inanely at youtube videos. It’s my body, my responsibility, I’ll do what I like with it. We allow pregnant mothers to commit infanticide based on the argument that it’s their bodies and their right. Can I please have the right to lie on the grass, take some shrooms and feel happy and content with the world?

A lot of the problem lies in the intensely personal nature of the affects of drugs. Most people know what it is like to be drunk, and how they behave after a few drinks. Some people become more aggressive, some become more confident, some think it’s the best time to burst into song and tell everyone just how lovely they are. Alcohol affects everyone differently because people are many and varied in their personalities. And other drugs are the same. They bring out different aspects of people’s personalities. While the physical process in the brain may be the same the mental effects will vary from person to person.

Despite this there is a perception that illegal drugs have a homogenous effect on everyone that takes them. It’s a ridiculous thought that just goes to show how little these people, who have a knee-jerk ‘All drugs are Satan’s sperm’ reaction to drugs, respect the individuality of humans. Taking an ecstasy tablet doesn’t transform you into some pre-defined ecstasy robot whose functions are dictated by the drug. The pill will temporarily affect parts of your brain, but how these affects manifest themselves depends entirely upon the personality of the individual. That’s why some people enjoy some drugs, some people enjoy others, and some find the whole experience too weird and off-putting. That’s their choice to make, the state can’t say how drugs will affect everyone and therefore how illegal they should be in the same way it can’t say that football is a better sport than rugby.

Drugs are a nightmare topic and there really is no easy answer. The idea of legalisation seems too ridiculous for many people to even begin to comprehend and there would be some serious consequences to such an act, not all of them good. But there is no doubt in my mind that our current attitude to drugs, from treating users as criminals to presenting only one side of the drug culture in the media, is fundamentally flawed and until there’s a more open-minded and even-handed debate on the subject the problem will never get close to a resolution.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Irrefutable Proof of God's Existence

I’ve always been a hardcore atheist. I’m not exactly sure what a softcore atheist is, but whatever it is I’ve never considered myself one of them. To me the world of religion was a world of fantasy, an ancient method of explaining the unexplainable that was no longer relevant or necessary in these modern times of rationality.

If there is a God, I thought, why has he abandoned us? Where are the miracles, the signs of his existence which seemed to be so common a mere two thousand years ago? Now my life has changed. I have witnessed a miracle. A sign. Proof from God that he is there watching us and cares for us.

I refer of course to this Countdown video.

On the surface it is nothing short of hilarious. Through apparent random chance and happenstance, Carol Vorderman has spelt out the word CUNTFLAPS on the board. There is nothing about this that isn’t comedy gold. However, if we scratch the surface of this comedy nugget we come to realise something of much greater importance on a spiritual level. God has sent us a message.

The two contestants playing the game are vicars. Or priests. Or some kind of religious morons anyway. They are the ones who are constantly telling us to search for God, to look for his actions. Well now I have. My eyes are truly open. Allow me to explain.

The Book of Daniel in the Old Testament contains this story about the feast of King Belshazzar of Babylon. In this story Belshazzar is an arrogant, power hungry king who believes himself to be invincible. Then at one drunken party, a hand appears and writes on the wall,
God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

Clearly God’s vocabulary is different but his method is the same. God has sent us a message, using a most classical device. The clergy are a bunch of cuntflaps who have angered God and seek for nothing but to act like a bunch of twats and lower the universal consciousness of this planet. God be not pleased. That is what he is trying to show these priests. That they must mend their ways or lose themselves forever.

We must take strength from this miracle. It proves that God is not ignorant or blind to mankind’s suffering at the hands of the clergy. He is all too aware of how they have raped his good word and done all they can to hold back humans from advancing into the unknown possibilities of the Universe. Through Countdown, he has given us a sign that change is on the horizon. Not only that, but clearly God has a cracking sense of humour to boot.

All I can pray for now is that the clergy will heed this message from our great saviour and change their ways. For surely they will not be so arrogant as to claim that this event is mere coincidence. That is the way of the heretic atheist. When God sends a message as clear as this you’ve got to be a pretty big cuntflap not to realise its true meaning…

Stop The Madness

Again this is another article from a few months ago, I'm still transferring them all across slowly but surely. The message is, I'm sure, still relevant though...

So Manhunt 2, the new computer game from Rockstar, has been banned for sale in the UK by the BBFC. If your first reaction to that sentence is, “Oh it’s a video game, I don’t care about that kind of mindless entertainment” then reconsider for a moment. This isn’t just an issue over video games, this is an issue of censorship and as soon as that word appears everyone should take notice.

The reason given by the BBFC for the ban was the high level of “casual sadism” in the game, apparently the fact that you spend the entire game going round committing unspeakable acts of violence means that it’s not suitable for you, me, or anyone to play. I’m so sick of hearing this whole ‘violent computer games create a violent society’ argument that I now instinctively reach for a blunt instrument to bludgeon myself with every time it’s mentioned*.

The first thing to make clear is that computer games have been violent since their inception. In Space Invaders you weren’t playing the role of Ambassador of Peace to the first extra terrestrials to make contact with Earth. Instead you were the Ambassador of Dread, launching endless missiles at E.T. and the rest of his goofy buddies who had dared to stray on to your turf. And the trend has continued. Nearly every computer game involves fighting, destroying, capturing or blowing up some kind of enemy. For fuck’s sake, even Mario enjoys setting fire to any innocent turtle that strolls his way*.

The reason for this is that computer games rely on action. The reason they’re called computer games is because, wait for it, they’re fucking games*! Games of all types are based around competition and action. There needs to be something to compete against, to beat, to overcome. It’s hardly surprising then that when playing as a computer game character you have to attack or defeat something else that’s in your path. It’s possible to have non-violent games and concepts, the likes of the Sims and most point-and-click adventures, but they’re some pretty narrow genres.

But, and this is a really big but, all these people that keep pointing the blame at computer games for causing violence are grabbing the end of the stick that’s unfortunately been dipped in bullshit. Society isn’t violent because of computer games; computer games are violent because of us. Violence and death are two of the most intriguing and compelling things to humans. They are what intrigues and entertains us.

Just look at every form of entertainment if you’re unsure. Art, music, theatre, television, film. All of it involves violence or death in it somewhere. People live their lives constantly thinking about their mortality and the unanswerable question of death. Who has never walked over a bridge and felt a strange compulsion to throw themselves off, just to see what it’s like?

A combined desire to compete and a fascination with death and mortality are pretty much the two most powerful forces in nature*. It’s not surprising we’re so easily engrossed by these things and we enjoy them to the extent we do. It’s why when people play Tomb Raider they sometimes enjoy making Lara Croft hurl herself off a 100ft cliff to a messy, explosive end on the craggy floor below for no apparent reason. You do it not only out of curiosity but also because you know that a short loading screen later Lara’s going to be safely back on the top of that cliff ready to go for another 9.0 score from the judges for her triple somersault swan dive into solid ground. No consequences, no repercussions, nothing.

It’s why when playing Grand Theft Auto it’s hilariously good fun to smash over pedestrians with your car for no good reason. Why blowing a zombie’s head off with a shotgun in Resident Evil is enough to keep you chuckling for years. And why I’m sure sawing a hooker’s arm off with a hacksaw in Manhunt 2 would have been so enjoyable. Because it doesn’t matter. Never once have I paused and questioned my moral actions in a computer game. Not once have I felt genuine guilt for levelling a village of innocent people and slaughtering them and their livestock.

The fact that these violent decisions are so easy to make is what proves how little effect they have on people. The very idea of actually battering a stranger to death * with a metal pole is morally reprehensible and unquestionable. I wouldn’t hurl myself off a cliff Lara style*; I certainly wouldn’t actually run my car into pedestrians on a whim. This is the real world.

Just writing that sentence makes me feel like a fucktard for pointing out the obvious. We all know the difference. Honestly, we do. And when I say ‘we’ I’m talking about all 6,603,487,066 of us. Everyone can tell the real world from a fucking computer game. There isn’t anyone who can’t. Not even the most off-the-wall psychotic braindead Texan* could confuse a video game with the real world. If we couldn’t then surely we’d show a little more emotional connection when the body count hits the thousands as it does in some games.

But when the first Manhunt was released that kid got stabbed and the 14 year-old who stabbed him was obsessed with playing Manhunt, therefore Manhunt made him do it!

A convincing logical argument for the period it takes for the optical nerve to transmit the image from your eyes to your brain. What these special people are saying is that a kid who was violent and mentally unhinged enjoyed playing a computer game where you can be violent and mentally unhinged. So far so groundbreaking. But wait! their deductive powers don’t just stop there; using this evidence they firmly conclude that video games are what made him violent in the first place.

Now since I’ve been alive there have also been computer games, so I don’t know for sure what the world was like before then. I’m starting to worry that I missed out on some golden age that lasted from the dawn of mankind until 1971 where there was no violence. People suppressed their more aggressive instincts and didn’t lash out at anyone. Then game computer games were invented and Pandora’s Box spewed forth hate and violence into the world. Why Pong? WHY!?!

But then I stop worrying because I’m not a complete muppet. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. We were violent before computer games, we cause the violence in computer games because it’s entertaining to us simple humans, and it’s ok because we all know the difference between the magical Xbox world and this world we can actually touch. When young people go on killing sprees it’s tragic. So tragic that everyone feels guilty because everyone knows deep down that the responsibility lies with the rest of society to identify those people who are out of sync with the rest of us and treat them. It’s shockingly apparent that parents have a huge responsibility to look after their children and provide them with a stable upbringing. When these things don’t happen, sad things are often the result. But just because you feel guilty about your inaction and want something easy to blame, don’t try to ruin my innocent entertainment you pathetic cunt.

And part of being a parent is keeping your children away from overly violent imagery that may affect them. That’s why we have the BBFC and the whole rating system. These are adult games. For adults. If you don’t think your children should be playing these games then don’t let them. And campaign harder to make sure retailers are more stringent at checking IDs. Do whatever you want to fill the empty void in your lives where your sense of fun once was, but don’t let it get to the stage where we’re being told what, as rational and free-thinking, sane, balanced adult individuals we can and can not do for our own personal enjoyment in what is fast becoming the most exciting and revolutionary form of entertainment. If we start censoring now, it’s only going to get worse.

I’m off, if you want me I’ll be decapitating something helpless and innocent.