May 29, 2008

Time to feel really, really ill....


Yes, I'm short on writing time. Another one from Flickr.

May 28, 2008

May 27, 2008

The soggy price of fame

I had a most unusual brand experience on Sunday when I had to drag my 14 year-old out of bed at 5 a.m. so that he could audition for the X-Factor. It was his idea, and I'd have much rather stayed in bed, but Simon Cowell's letter warned us to be at the O2 long before the cut off time of 8 a.m., and you don't argue with the man in the high-waisted trousers, do you?
We arrived at 6:30 and there were already thousands of soggy hopefuls there. It must have been the wettest bank holiday Sunday ever. How stupid are the great unwashed? So many of the hopefuls hadn't bothered bringing umbrellas or coats and, by 9 o'clock, were shivering.

"The ugly ones - you know who you are"

A producer made a noble attempt at jollying the crowd up by explaining the process "and if you're lucky and get picked for the second round - then congratulations! But if you're unlucky, then we're sor-- actually, no, we're not sorry 'cos it's not our fault you can't sing, is it?" and, to a cheer when he announced that Dermot O'Leary was going to climb that crane over there, "I'm glad to see that there are so many gorgeous young women in the queue. And there are quite a few ugly ones too - you know who you are."

A little wet Dermot on a crane

So, Dermot appears on the crane, talks to camera, waves and gurns to the crowd, and finally we're allowed into the O2.
Cue a further two hours of waiting as everyone took to their appointed seats, then another hour as the producer and Dermot got the crowd to wave and cheer for the camera.

While the rest of us were cheering, some pikey fuckers decided to tuck in. And eat. And eat. And eat.

It was explained that Simon, Sharon and co wouldn't be involved with the auditions until the third round. Today, the auditionees would be seen by one of around a dozen Sony BMG execs and assorted Cowell acolytes. They are sitting behind the black or white cubicles on the stage. You get three minutes to sing. If you're given a "Yes", then you get a golden ticket and go through Exit A, the Happy Exit. If you're told "No", then you leave through Exit B, the Sad Exit. Oh yes, and give it your best shot cos this is your big chance.
And then wait wait wait, the smell of damp clothes and desperation punctuated by thousands of mostly teenage girls practising their songs. Occasionally, someone would emerge from a cubicle with the golden ticket that ensured their progress to the second round. Much applause. It looked like about 1 in 20 were successful; about half of that 5% looked the part (young, extrovert, attractive) and the other half were (and there's no way to sound charitable about this) freakish. So when you watch the real judges, you now know that the weird ones that make Louis and Simon open their jaws in appalled dismay have already jumped through hoops to get there.
Chimplet was relaxed and didn't look nervous. A few weeks earlier, when I asked him why he'd applied, he had shrugged and said that everyone of his classmates had talked about doing it but never bothered applying so... why not? It seems he had one of those "101 things to do before you die" lists in his head.
"God! Just look at them - they take it so seriously!" This was about a line of crying teenage girls sloping towards the Sad Exit.

Hell must be something like this

3 p.m. and at last our line was ushered to the stage. The first sign of nerves. We could hear some of the other singers. Finally it was Chimplet's turn and the judge, a friendly 30-something glamourpuss perched on a stool asked him a few questions and invited him to sing. He didn't want me to watch him so I turned away and heard his almost-breaking voice falter through I Believe I Can Fly. A year younger and he'd have belted it out but adolescence was playing its cruel tricks. "I'm sorry but it's a No."
At times like this you have a large choice from the Dad's book of comfort words. "Well done - you gave it your best shot. At least you had the balls to try." He was quiet in the car, but revealed a small smile when he checked his mobile. A crowded inbox of texts from his friends asking how he had got on.

A spell on the road

If you can bloody well organise yourselves like this, then you can bloody well make sure you all pass on your bloody costs to your bloody clients, for fuck's sake! That's the joy of capitalism! And learn your fucking spelling and punctuation!

May 23, 2008

Look into my cold dead eyes and obey my diabolical command

Dear Smiling Evil Scary Killer Doll Woman from Planet Lypha, I think your name is Jan and I've seen your babies.
This frightening ad screams "Kill! Kill! Kill!" every time I log into my Statcounter.

Why we love elephants

Remember this classic by Ammirati Puris Lintas from 1996?

It appears that there may be some truth in the story...

May 22, 2008

Sing for your supper

I find myself overcome by WTFness at this extraordinary story from the Philippines, which illustrates the sometimes vast cultural divide between East and West.
My interpretation is: Mum wants daughter to look good on the X-Factor. Mum pawns ring. Mum buys gown. Daughter scrubs up well and sings to great applause.
The real-life UK version would be: Daughter wants to wear nice gown for X-Factor. Mum says: get a fucking job, you spoilt lazy cow.

May 21, 2008

You are surrounded by armed BASSTADDS

There, my excuse for a mangled Gene Hunt quote from the best BBC drama in the last decade. Odds-on that it will have been disembowelled in the interests of keeping US audiences within their comfort zones.
UK trailer:

US trailer:

If it's even half as good as the original, I'll eat my Datsun.

May 19, 2008

Smarties' condom terrorists

You can tell that the economy’s drying up when brands start to play the nostalgia card. The Starburst name is making way for Opal Fruits, and Snickers (always a shitty name that sounded a bit like the word Americans use for sports shoes, in one fell swoop subliminally linking the chocolate bar with the taste of rubber) reverting to Marathon.
So a big boo to Smarties, for reintroducing the blue sweet a mere two years after its rejection for health reasons, and forgetting that the real selling point of the brand was its sturdy round tube, abandoned for the hexagonal tube three years ago. My research is quite limited: the two youngest chimplets liked the old version and now prefer M&Ms. My patented infallible Chimpmetrics weighting measure translates this to represent 67% of UK 6-10 year-old children, which is damning evidence.

In the interests of research, I dispatched a brace of scantily clad monkeygirls to Widnes to find a typical ad numpty, and ask her opinion:
"What a delightful horror story. You know, this reminds me of something that happened in the park last week. There we were, Ethel and I, sitting on a bench when a man ran up and flashed us! Deary deary me! Ethel had a stroke, but I couldn’t reach. Why are those people dressed like condoms? Why are they running away? This looks like the old woman who lived in a shoe. Wait a minute. That blue chap has a rucksack. He’s heading for the tube! Is he a suicide bomber? Are you allowed to do that nowadays? I found a penny yesterday."

May 15, 2008

Gwyneth: mwi-mwi-mwi

Of the dozen or so podcasts I listen to each week, my firm favourite is BBC Radio 5 Live's film reviews by Mark Kermode (grumpy rockabilly weirdo with a doctorate in filmology and a wife who's a published authority on trash porn). The show can also be watched live, which is how a YouTuber has helpfully intercut last week's review of Iron Man, complete with Kermode's mocking impressions of the three main stars, with footage of the film. It's short and stupid but tickles my funny bone. I'll never be able to watch Gwyneth Paltrow with a straight face ever again.

See also: The BBC's resident grumpmeister

May 13, 2008

Sacla bleu

It’s best to ignore TV cookery shows, mainly because the chefs are evil. Estate agents are going out of business because of the housing slump, and its about time the gastronautical parasites suffer a penthouse defenestration. I have two beefs with these bastards. One is the fly-on-the-wall restaurant kitchen footage of them flinging good grub into the bin because it’s too runny/grey/cold etc. This is where the Victorian in me shouts "there are people starving in Africa!". Lo! The quest for artistic perfection!
The second is less profound, but more annoying. It’s when Gordon/Gary/Marco etc. chop a fucking onion at lightspeed. What the fuck’s that about? Haven’t they heard of food mixers? The trouble with that is that it forms a challenge in the mind of the viewer. Wouldn’t it be just so cooool to be able to chop an onion like that. With real force. While talking. Nurse!
There was an eSure survey getting the PR treatment last week which claimed that more than "one in 10 people in the UK have had a cooking accident or caused damage to their kitchen as a result of copying professional cooking techniques of top TV chefs". And that’s despite three quarters of them describing themselves as "amateur", "novice" or even "useless"! (The best bit of the survey said that a third would use a DIY blow torch instead of a special culinary one, the fucking idiot numpties).
Which brings me to this, the current TV ad that I hate most. Each time this tosser appears, I pray that there’s an accidental dismemberment, so much do I loathe his effort at cooking green worms. It does achieve its aim of hammering the brand name into your skull, so job done, I suppose.
The idea behind it isn’t original. Here are two arty experiments that played with it, and I’m sure there are more.

See also: Gordon, get out of my F-ing face

May 12, 2008

Woo! Land Rover Man demands cocksuckage

Here’s another attempt at making a car look cool and macho. Sadly, it succeeds in making the driver look like a twunt. If you sit behind the wheel of a motor in the frame of mind required to jump off a mountain, dismember imaginary opponents, or skid across a frozen lake, then you should lie down in a dark room until the urge to be Anakin Skywalker passes.
Park your arse in a car before driving down aimlessly winding roads in a desolate landscape? Evidently, the propellerheads at RKCR/Y&R have never been to Widnes.

May 11, 2008

Fantasy Sixties

After running a Sky+ series link on Mad Men, I finally started catching up on it last week, with about another 4 episodes to go before I'm up to date with the UK schedules. I thought it was going to be crap, but it's really rather good, and is right out of the Dick Van Dyke Scriptwriters School.
If you're watching series 2 of Heroes, you'll know what I mean: we see the US idea of Telly Ireland Gangsters. Begorrah ohr shet ets fecken rainen t'besure. The same school is responsible for Telly London, where St. Paul's is a stroll away from Greenwich Park, which nestles beneath the Tower of London, and has pubs under fog-shrouded bridges where the locals wear flat caps and red neck scarves and raise a pint to the portrait of the Queen behind the bar. Have I mentioned that I live in a castle?
These phenomena exist because of a simple unifying fact: the writers have never bloody well been there. Thus with Mad Men, the central character is a well groomed cold-hearted shit, cast from a JR Ewing template. The storylines are compelling because they are set in a Telly Sixties world combined with a Reading Level Z version of what the ad world was like back then. Still, it's oddly compelling. I hope that at some point someone, anyone, twats that Donnie Darko or whatever his name is, firmly on the nose, for the sake of his poor missus.

May 09, 2008

May 06, 2008

Citroen, shut it

My initial pleasure at the beginning of Citroen’s current campaign is changing into bafflement. It was good to see the usual numpties complaining about national stereotyping, hilariously nailing the Germans into the No Sense of Humour pigeonhole.
A problem arises with the continuation of the campaign, where the supporting press and poster ads employ some painful puns.
Modern cars are uniformly dull, especially the German ones. Mechanically superb, the driver is almost an afterthought. A baby Audi looks like a small grown up Audi. French cars, on the other hand, retain a unique character throughout their range. The particular Citroen model advertised here is top of the range, where you’d need to spend some serious money to acquire one. I can’t see how turning the car into a joke improves the brand.

May 01, 2008

Today's new word: clunge

I'm mortified that I had to look this one up, but "clunge" is one of the myriad of slang words referring to a woman's toilet bits. I hope the IT monkeys don't spot that search in their url log.
This emerged from another Private Eye article ripping into Sky News' lazy use of viewers' photos to enhance its website (ref: the glorious e-vandalism surrounding the Spring storms coverage).
So... here we go again. Here's another gallery of rogue images that Sky posted on its website, unaware of the photoshopped mischief. The theme this time: The London Marathon.

Beyond the minge

Fergal probably has a beard too


One foot in the grave

Some images pinched from a rather good journalism blog; others ripped from bulletin board cache files.