Friday, 31 October 2008

Brand new row

I don't really know how I feel about the whole Jonathan-Ross/Russell Brand thing that has blown up over the last week, and I'm too tired to try to write something coherent, so this'll probably be just bullet-pointed thoughts:

- I like Brand's style of humour. I think he's very funny most of the time.

- I wish people would stop referring to it as a "prank call", since by all accounts it wasn't a pre-planned exercise by Brand and Ross to call up and be outrageous. They didn't pretend to be anyone, and the call was expected and agreed upon beforehand by Andrew Sachs. Instead, you have two men trying to be both edgy and funny, suddenly put into an environment where they were not just being recorded by the forgiving studio, but by an external device. It seems unlikely to me that there would be such a furore if there had not been an answerphone involved, and if they'd just made jokes about Brand possibly sleeping with Sachs' granddaughter as part of the banter on the show itself - more offensive things have been said in the past, and will be said in the future, on the radio. If this is the case, then the problem is not with what was said, necessarily, but with the fact that it was piped directly into the answerphone of the person about whom the joke was being made. An embarrassing error, certainly, but not one, I feel, that necessarily deserved to cause such a storm.

- The BBC could have handled it better, by making far greater efforts to contact Andrew Sachs before the broadcast was released and check what his views were, which would probably have resulted in pulling that segment, and issuing an apology. Certainly there would not have been such an outcry.

- The outcry itself is interesting, since there were only two complaints initially, ballooning to thousands once the media got hold of the story. Complaints from people who did not actually listen to the show live (and perhaps, cynical though the thought may be, did not listen to it at all before complaining) must be taken as that. The people listening, the audience to whom the broadcast was made, and at whom it was aimed, by and large did not seem to be offended (or at least not until the media told them to be). Offence is a difficult thing to judge, and part of the point of having a surfeit of media is that the audience can pick what it wants to hear. The people who were offended by the broadcast would never normally have known it existed. I would suggest the BBC has broadcast more edgy and potentially offensive things in the past (MonkeyDust springs to mind, I'm sure there are other examples), but they didn't generate such a storm partially because there was no "answerphone issue" and partly because there was no media crusade. I would therefore suggest that the content of the show itself should not be something of concern.

- I think there were funny elements to the call. I liked Brand's little improvised song, and I liked the back and forth banter between the two of them. It wasn't immensely comedic but neither do I feel it was particularly more offensive than a lot of other media.

- I think the comparison to the Stanford incident in cricket is interesting too:

> Prominent media figure(s), check.
> Slightly embarrassing unpremeditated action.
> Recording of said action causing problem where otherwise there might not have been one.
> Apology offered and accepted by the party directly affected.
> Media reporting constantly referring to the financial aspects of the affair.

Anyway, that was all pretty stream-of-consciousness, so don't know how much sense it made. In general, I think there are questions to answer in the procedural handling of the show's production, but I don't believe that the performers are the people who should take the brunt of the media-stoked backlash. Anyone agree? Disagree?

Happy Halloween.

That's sooooo Emma and Julia!

Some pretty neat ads doing the rounds Stateside at the moment.

The first one is the best, but I quite like the punchy message and set up of these things.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Linkables 28/10/8

Be careful what you type, even un-networked computers might no longer be safe.

David Sederis on the lunacy of undecided voters.

A woman who's life truly spans the changes in racial attitudes in the US over the last century (and more).

Don't for goodness sake give Harry Potter books to your kids, because evil is all too tempting for their young minds...

For fans of zombie movies and/or fans of Charlie Brooker, Dead Set is a must-see. From the first episode it seems darkly funny, and very gory. Plus, it's Charlie Brooker, how can you go wrong? Watch episodes online on 4OD (assuming you have IE), and read Charlie's article about it. I'll probably write a bit more about it once the mini-series has finished (I believe they're doing one episode a day this week), but at a first look, it seems very entertaining.

And on the subject of zombies, I haven't watched any of I Am Not Infected yet, but with a guy wearing a dinosaur comics t-shirt in it, how awesome must it be? The answer? Significantly.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Miscellaneous bloggery

Some shorter stories, that didn't deserve a post of their own, but nevertheless seemed interesting enough to find some sort of existence on here...

I went to a Caribbean restaurant, where I was slipped a Jamaican $20 coin in change rather than a pound coin. They're pretty similar size and weight, but the dollar is worth £0.009, so I lost 98.2 pence in the transaction. Except that I then left the coin in a bar (I couldn't bring myself to use it to pay for a drink) so I actually lost the whole pound.

I watched two gentlemen (slightly the worse for drink, it appeared) at a bus stop arguing over whether they had time to go and get some food from a newsagents before the bus arrived. One of them crossed the road and entered the shop, but shortly re-emerged, revealing that his wallet was with his comrade at the stop. Said comrade found the wallet, and rather than cross the road, decided to throw it across to his friend, allowing them both to watch as the clasp came undone in mid air, scattering the entire contents of the wallet across three lanes of traffic. I believe they may have missed their bus while trying to locate all the constituent items.

A while back I got some actual physical spam. It's really rather exciting. I don't think I'll be sending my details to the "El Gordo Spanish Sweepstake" despite the fact that I have apparently won 615,810 euros, but it's nice to see that even in the internet age, some people are committed to badly-printed, cheaply-produced mailshots as well. Thank you, Diego Lupe, vice president of El Gordo, for making my day a little brighter, with your distressingly obvious scam.
I can't remember from whence it came, possibly with some mail-order train tickets, but I also recently received some free samples of chewing gum in the post. It may just be me, but the idea of receiving unsolicited foodstuffs in the post seems somewhat creepy, and needless to say, I will not be eating them anytime soon. If anything, it's slightly put me off buying trident gum in the future, which is pretty much the worst thing an advertising campaign can do.
Ordering a drink in a pub + being served the wrong one + asking for it to be replaced + watching the ice from the old drink being carefully returned to the ice bucket, piece by piece = a certain unwillingness to return to the pub in question.

I may need to cut my hair, or regrow my beard, having entered a restaurant with a female friend, only to be greeted by the waiter as "Ladies!".

Does anyone have any idea how Pret A Manger can authorise bank card transactions without needing a PIN or a signature? According to them, they do it to save time, but it seems massively insecure.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Linkables 22/10/8

I don't want to keep citing busyness as my reason for a lack of posting, but I've spent hardly any time at my computer recently. I've got a few 'proper' posts in the works, but until then, have a look at these:

How does the most popular social networking site differ as you go around the world? Looks like it's updated monthly with the "gains/losses" in the style of a political campaign.

And speaking of politics, what's not to love about the Sarah Palin Debate Flowchart?

And, still on politics, anyone convinced by this anti-Obama video should probably have their vote taken away.

Classic photographs recreated in Lego! The set-up shots are great too.

Finally a brilliant webcomic that's been around for ages but which I've only just started to read: Wondermark. These are just a few that made me laugh, but I haven't even scratched the surface of the archives...

Read it. Read it now.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Linkables 17/10/8

It's a slow month on the blogging front apparently, but what better way to kick it into shape than with a good old fashioned links post. A lot of these are from a while back, but they should still be relatively good selection.

Possible Disney take on The Sarah Palin Story.

Thinking of buying a writing device? With all that choice out there, probably best to check out a review or two first.

I disagree that it's a definitive list, but The 150 Best Online Flash Games certainly provides a good number of diverting time-fillers.

And if you think you've got a good eye for geometry, test out your accuracy with The Eyeballing Game.

Cyanide and Happiness can be hit and miss as a webcomic, and sometimes relies too much on crude humour, but when they hit the mark with one of their surreal or witty comics, they really hit it.

It may be a sponsered page advertising some sort of networking site, but the 8 phases of dating, and types of bad kissers are pretty funny...

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

25 things I did this weekend rather than blogging.

Spent 7 and a half hours on trains over four days.

Watched 10 episodes of Coupling on my beautiful little laptop while travelling on said trains.

Discovered that despite being mostly very innocuous when viewed without sound, there are a few scenes in Coupling that one maybe does not want random commuters watching over one's shoulder.

Spent 5 minutes exchanging chirps and tweets with a very cute and personable red-feathered bird in an aviary.

Spent 30 minutes or so causing various kinds of harm to a laptop in the interests of humour.

Took numerous potentially-career-damaging photographs.

Ate a pub dinner and a petrol-station breakfast.

Ate two entire packs of haribo and innumerable mini-chocolates.

Walked halfway into Stoke before turning round, walking back to the house and getting a taxi

Took a video inside an 80s bar that I have been forbidden from showing anyone.

Lost a piggy back race outside an 80s bar.

Watched two people who had never met until that evening comparing sexual conquests using facebook.

Ran for a train and made it with seconds to spare, without knowing if it was my train or not.

Became increasingly frustrated with the inability of Arriva Trains Wales to announce which stations the train you're on is stopping at, even as it rushes you closer and closer to the wilds of the Welsh countryside.

Recieved a swift (and accidental) kick to the balls.

Entirely failed to take pictures of several groups of geese, which deliberately flew overhead at the worst possible moments, camera-wise.

Made an emergency 8pm Sunday night trip to a petrol station to buy 4 kilos of sugar. And a bottle of diet coke. And some chocolate chip biscuits.

Boiled up 5 litres of crab apple jelly.

Watched a pan of sugar and crab apple juice boil over onto a red hot ceramic hob.

Tried to clean boiling hot crab apple syrup off a red hot ceramic hob with a damp tea towel.

Spent 20 minutes waiting for 3 pans of syrup to come to the boil before realising that the cooker was switched off at the wall.

Burnt my tongue on delicious crab-apple napalm straight from the pan.

Enjoyed First Great Western's delightful first class service - leather seats and all the tea you can drink, for just £14.

Took nearly 300 photos on my new compact camera.

Left myself unable to move this morning, and certain that taking a few days off to recover was the best decision I could have made.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008


seriously... is this not the shitist thing you've ever seen?

And this came out this year!!!!!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Signs of The Times.

You may have seen a variety of posters with THE TIMES and a random image stuck between the two words. I was initially confused by this and not really sure what it mean, mainly because the one I kept seeing was of some fat kid, which is a little perculiar. Anyway I noticed a few more, one of Putin (I think) holding a model of a nuclear missile (again, I think), Mr Barrack Obama and most recently of Niko from GTA IV, which gave me the answer to the "riddle". The are displaying the times. Our times. These times. The issues of today. And clevely, purhaps, they are signs of the times in both senses of the word, hence the title.

So anyway, you may have already realized all this, if so well done, if not, now you know.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

I love nature!

Sneaky sneaky POUNCE!

It's just far too cool, wish I was a lion!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Linkables 10/3/8

Apologies for the lack of blogging activity from me recently - I've had a very enjoyable, but also very busy, week, and unfortunately blogging has taken a temporary back seat to more pressing issues.

Nevertheless, a few pieces of web miscellanea:

Bête de Jour's "The Morag Situation" posts are a great read - the story of a relationship told through IM coversations. Some background might be needed, but even if you're not a regular there, they're worth a look.

For fans of Dr. Horrible, the Evil League of Evil is now open for business.

Custom yarmulkes? Linked primarily for the name of the site. Which is awesome.

A selection of world map projections from the Telegraph based on various statistics.

The fight to save little used words, at the Times.

And finally, the transcript of a press conference with new Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear in which he confronts the journalists over alleged twisting of his words and of the situation. May require some background knowledge of the (admittedly confusing) situation up there, but an interesting read for anyone who's been annoyed at the manipulation of the truth that can occur in news publications from time to time.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Facebook for thick people

The picture on the new front page for Facebook. I'm guessing it's not to explain anything to people already using it, seeing as they already know how Facebook works. So the only other function I can see is to explain what Facebook does to anyone that doesn't already understand. Also known as thick people.


That got your attention right?

Now, I have mixed feelings about Ann Summers.
On the one hand, I think it's great that we have a mainstream, high street sex shop chain in this country. I think sex is nothing to be ashamed of and people should be free to exercise their personal desires without fear of censure, so long as it's with consenting adults, they're not forcing their choices on anyone else and no one gets seriously or permanently hurt. I've made purchases there, for myself and other people, and have been more than happy with the results.

But on the other hand, I find a lot of what they sell tacky, badly made, cheap, nasty and not worth the money. If you're going to buy sex accessories, you need to be sure you're getting quality merchandise and with our society's collective squeamishness about sex, it's not always easy to complain about the quality of a product. And in some cases, it's obviously pretty impossible to return it. Second hand vibrator anyone? Thought not.

One of my other other problems with Ann Summers is the tone of the sales pitch on their website. It's all so knowing, but still incredibly euphemistic. This is not an exact quote, but a paraphrase "Wear this sexy little number and you'll have him asking for more and more..." More and more what? Coffee? Come on people, let's not be squeamish, we're talking about sex. Sex. SEX. SEX. The coy nature of the site still seems to indicate that sex is something to be vaguely shy of and ashamed about. Even Ann Summers can't call a spade a spade.

And quite frankly, some of the merchandise bemuses me. I maybe fortunate enough to be blessed with a graphic imagination and overly inquiring mind, but if you need a board game to have interesting and fulfilling sex, then I have to say, "ur doin it rong."

But when it comes down it, where they have really lost me is with these.

I mean Double-you-tee-eff indeed.

I don't care if they are re-usable, I've already got some!