Posts from 3rd August 2005

Aug 05

Money Back Guarantee

Do You SeePost a comment • 380 views

Imagine if films had a money back guarantee. Well, Cinderella Man, the Russell Crowe depressingdepression boxing movie is being re-released with one. But that’s an actorly film, and this is the studio trying to back a film they think should not be a flop. Now imagine you could get a money back guarantee on these films: Hollow Man, Vertical Limit, A Knight’s Tale, The Animal, or The Patriot.

Well, you can. Or at least you can if you went to see them in the cinema way back when, and you can prove that your decision to go see them was down to the reviews of Mr David Manning. The level of proof required seems minimal, to non-existent if the claim form is to be believed. This is because David Manning never existed. Instead it was a way of Sony puffing their own lousy pictures. And Sony got taken to court and lost. And looking at that list, lousy barely describes them*.

I just wonder exactly what David Manning COULD say to make me see a Rob Schneider comedy about a man given rubbish animal powers. Or a mountaineering film where you are willing Chris O’Donnell to fall off a mountain constantly. Or a Mel Gibson film where he single handedly wins the US War of Independence by painting his face blue or something. Or a film which posits the reason anyone would want to become invisible is to watch girls undress. He had to be some sweet talker.
(Clearly I wish that this offer was available to me, as I have seen all of these films.)

*With the honourable exception of A Knight’s Tale which is a much better way of getting kids into Chaucer than this.

Good At Games

Blog 7Post a comment • 376 views

I was officially good at games as a kid. Note, that is games with a lower case g. Which means, in hip-hop parlance, games which were less dangerous, less likely to get me killed and generally played on a board. Or at least had plenty of garish, brightly coloured plastic involved. Until I discovered the arcane (in so many ways) of role-playing games in my teens, games were simple affairs which whiled away an afternoon, where sibling rivalry could be put to proper use.

There are two kinds of kids games really, if we are going to talk about boxed up stuff. There are board games which take forever (monopoly, Risk, Swindle, Top Secret), and were generally made by Waddingtons. And there were games which were over in twenty minutes, and often involved noise and cheap plastic (Downfall, Connect Four, Ker-Plunk, Guess Who?), generally made by MB or Ideal.

It was the cheapo plastic games I was particularly good at because they tended to fall into areas of skill I was good at. Skill one was a steady hand: Ker-Plunk, Buckaroo, Operation. I still have to this day a remarkably steady hand. I assume it is looking for a tiller.

The second skill was logical thinking. Connect Four, Guess Who? Mastermind, Cluedo* all favoured the player who could make the logical deductions. I later procured a degree which had a large chunk of logic as its syllabus, that’s how much I liked logic.

The third skill, and the skill I liked using the best, was cheating. For some reason, the garish plastic games were surprisingly easy to cheat at. You could rig the tiles in Guess Who? (the opponent always knocked down their own card), palm a couple of the counters in Downfall. All basic stuff, but as the games did not take long to play, the risk of discovery did not spoil the experience for everyone.

The risk of discovery is the reason why I never cheated at Monopoly. My sister was once caught by my grandparent with a few ’500 notes under the board (the classic cheat). She was sent instantly to bed and not spoken to for a couple of days. It meant she missed the cocoa with the horrible skin given to us before bed, but that is a story for another day. No, I was good at games, but that never turned up on my school report

*Despite being a Waddingtons game, and packaged like Monopoly, only a bunch of idiots could make a game of Cluedo last more that twenty minutes.

Experimental Radio Comedy

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 285 views

An experiment to determine which decade produced the best cult comedy radio programmes

Time spent travelling on public transport and not otherwise reading books and news or listening to new music.

BitTorrent is a marvellous thing. Over the last month or so I have managed to download loads of Goon shows and the entire runs of both Round the Horne and the Mary Whitehouse Experience. It didn’t take me long to get through all 40+ MWEs and now I’m some way into RtH. So I only have preliminary results for you… (SPOILERS) TMWE is coming out of this very poorly.

It surprised me. I was an avid listener at the time – I was a student, so the target market – and of course everyone remembers what a seismic effect Newman and Bladdibab had on britcom now over 10 years ago. I mean FFS, they did a comedy gig at Wembley Arena! Newman then vanished, and Baddiel descended into flatsharing with Frank Skinner.

Nevertheless the radio shows (89/90) stink. For those of you too young to have ever heard of this, here’s how about 3/4 of the material used on the show starts: “And now it’s time for the [OBSERVATION COMEDY SUBJECT] experience. The problem with OCS is that everything about OCS… is crap.” audience shits itself laughing.

Now obviously comedy is a fashion thing, and i listened to it trying very hard to recast myself into the correct context, and recall my own experience, i.e. enjoying this stuff. This re-framing proved oddly difficult, and in this way the show felt like “Comedy: The Rock and Roll Years”. Blimey, the things going on in the world in the late 80s! The Stone Roses! Manchester! Howe resigning! Betty Boo, etc. They make jokes about all-but-forgotten political scandals and have a bit of fun with the annoying ads of the day.

Lots of the “supporting cast” are terrible: Skint Video (comedy songs with acoustic guitar strumming), Jo Brand, Mark Thomas (really not very good here), Donna McPhail. Mark Hurst is the one exception that got a laugh out of me. Rob Newman’s contributions are largely stock impressions of Jonathon Ross, Top Cat/Officer Dibble, and Johnny Morris. Johnny Morris hadn’t even been on telly for about 10 years by then. Odd that he has come out of this as the intelligent one.

At the end of series 1 they (finally) have a go at Radio 1 djs. This came as a slight shock as I was reminded of the content of Radio 1 back then – and proved that my re-framing hadn’t been very effective. Maybe it was entirely in contrast to the rest of the stuff coming out of Radio 1, i thought, that this show seemed/was ground-breaking and entertaining stuff. Yes, “The problem with Radio 1 is, that everything about Radio 1… is crap”.

(Partial) Conclusion
The stuff that people remember about MWE on telly (which was MASSIVEly succesful) are things like the History Today sketch – childish and silly playground humour, that only starts to creep in by the final series. Nostalgia has been overplayed in comedy since then, but simple name calling and smut is something that will survive through comedy fashion. Which listening to Round the Horne confirms, as I’m laughing much more at that already. About four laughs i think.

More Edible Garden Snack Fun

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 416 views

Got a cough?

Slime it away!

I am not sure of the efficacy of using snail slime in cough mixture. But I am certainly not sure that Strawberry and Avocado is a proper flavour for a linctus. But further research shows that action the snails trail is a regular Lily The Pink: here is a BBC report from five years ago about how it could heal your bones.

They Do Exactly What They Say On The Title

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 189 views

There is little novelty now in food blogs which take a single, tiny area of the nosh world and plough them into entertaining furrows. Nevertheless two blogs by Russell Davies take the art of obviousness and raise them to truly stupendous heights.

a good place for a cup of tea and a think
Which catalogs tea-shops, coffee houses etc (and whose title, whilst reminiscent of a nice cup of tea and a sit down does specify that it is much more about the place than the produce)
which has terrific photos of some caffs and their plates of, um, eggs, bacon, chips and beans. Which is as good a standard as you will get.

(Found when looking for a caff by Marylebone Station for breakfast before the Cricket tomorrow: Gino’s looks the ticket.)