Friday, 28 October 2011

28/10/11 - Early Christmas

OK, don’t tell anyone, but last Sunday I went to Asda. Not just any Asda either, but the really annoying one in Clapham Junction that’s full of the living dead. Seriously, if your idea of an entertaining and stimulating retail experience is to constantly have doddering people suddenly stop walking in front of you for no obvious reason, leave their trolley blocking the aisle and randomly wander off somewhere, then this is the place for you. It happens so often, you wonder if Jeremy Beadle is about to leap out in a false beard and mock you. (Although there are certain practical factors that make this unlikely.) The piercing screech of teenage mums vehemently encouraging their howling toddlers to ‘fucking shut up’ is also a treat.
This is the best time of year to go to Asda though, and I recommend that you do so. Why? Because they’re incredibly confused in there at the moment. They’re having a seasonal clash and everything’s either red or green; half the shop is plastered in ghoulish Hallowe’en [why don’t people put an apostrophe in that any more...?] rubbish, while the other half has a festive yuletide ambience. It’s superbly perplexing.

When I was a nipper, Christmas didn’t commence until Coca Cola started screening their ‘holidays are coming, holidays are coming...’ ads in which a roaring fireplace turned into a massive lorry and, bafflingly, no-one was frightened by it. I may be remembering the eighties & nineties with rose-tints, but I don’t recall Christmas beginning in October; that said, I’ve whinged about the early start of the holiday season for some years now, and have recently reached the conclusion that moaning about it is totally pointless. The two-month Christmas is a commercial inevitability, so we might as well just embrace and enjoy it. After all, it’s an excuse to eat more chocolate and watch Elf, which can only be seen as a positive.

When you think about it, starting Christmas in October actually makes a hell of a lot of sense. It’s such a painfully expensive time of year that it’s a good idea to think about presents now, squirreling gifts away in a drawer or what-have-you, so that you don’t get hit with a massive shopping bill all in one go. You also have plenty of time to research your meat (fnar): Christmas dinner is the most important element of the whole season and you really need to get it right, so you can start thinking about whether to clear a bit of space and invest in a vast frozen turkey now, or pre-order something fancy from M&S or whatever. How about their three-bird roast? Yes, it’s forty quid, but it’s worth it, trust me. You’ll feel like Henry VIII (but without the suppurating leg-sores and spouse-culling tendencies, hopefully).
Arranging to see people around Christmas is always a pain in the arse too, as they’ll be busy. Obviously. Because they’re making arrangements to see everyone too. Why not do what my lot do and have a family xmas in late November? We started doing this about fifteen years ago on the closest weekend to Christmas that everyone was free, and have kept doing it ever since on the grounds that it’s a busy time and this keeps things free for other things in December. It also means you don’t pay the festive premium that every pub and restaurant seem to think it’s OK to tack on to anything with the C-word on the menu. (By ‘the C-word’ I mean Christmas. Get your mind out of the gutter, you’ll make the baby Jesus cry.)

I’m clutching at straws really, aren’t I? I’d love to relish and revel in the super-extended festive jollities, but starting Christmas in October is STUPID. Everyone can see that. I’m fooling myself with all this ‘research your meat’ nonsense.
Let’s get Hallowe’en over with first, pointless waste of time that it is, and see where we go from there, yeah? Then maybe we can think about Guy Fawkes Night? Then, er, Armistice Day, um, Children in Need... I dunno, other stuff. Two months is a long time, stop wishing your life away! Unless you’re actively religious, Christmas is basically just a day of eating slightly too much and watching telly. Much like your average Sunday, really. Why not eat some poultry and drink a load of sherry this Sunday? Might calm you down a bit.

Fox News @ #occupylsx

This makes me very happy indeed.

Fifty for Fifty

Design the new £50 note, get fifty quid for it. That's the concept in a nutshell. Click me.

Joey Quits

Hate your boss? Get the boys in...

Awkward Poses

...are awkward. Clicky.

Word as Image


Periodic Table of Swearing

This demonstrates a genuinely impressive commitment to swearing.

Dare to fight?

If you see a sword on the ground, for goodness' sake LEAVE IT WHERE IT IS!

Apple gifts: 1983

My word, you could buy some brilliant Apple shit in the eighties. Click here.

Masterchef innuendo

I don't watch Masterchef. But maybe I should, if this is the kind of filth they're getting up to...

Cain 2012: smoky rape eyes

Fucking hell. Srsly.

Friday, 14 October 2011

14/10/11 - Cold in the office

As the nights draw in and the mercury descends toward the part of the thermometer labelled ‘mittens’, we can forget about the talk of an Indian Summer and prepare ourselves for the other freakish weather phenomenon prophesied by the press: biblical snowfall. Pack the lightweight cotton garments away and replace them with chunky cable-knits and fleecey, behooded alternatives. The long British winter is coming, and it’ll be here until, ooh, April-ish.

The natural thing for the office workers of this meteorologically unfortunate isle to do around Octobertime is to complain about how cold it is at work. (Well, this is a year-round behaviour, really. But it becomes more pronounced when the ambient temperature plummets and frequency of rain/gloom increases.) We sit at our desks shivering, shuddering, growing increasingly irritated with the air-con, making mental notes to dress more appropriately tomorrow. When, of course, we’ll all be wearing eight layers, just in time to enjoy the heating which has been switched to max in response to yesterday’s complaints.
Let me make you feel a little better about this. Let me tell you about Unit 6.

I used to work at a place called Impress Publishing in Canterbury. It’s a charity Christmas card fulfilment house, which means that it’s the central supply hub for the customers of a number of those charity catalogues you get through the post or come across in glossy magazines; Macmillan Cancer Support was the biggest one when I was there in 2003/4, and there was also Breast Cancer Care, SSAFA, the British Heart Foundation and various others. (Including the House of Lords, weirdly – one of their designs, entitled ‘Portcullis’, was exactly that: a crimson card with an embossed gold portcullis on the front. Not very Christmassy, is it?) I’ve slagged Impress off a lot over the years, perhaps rather unfairly. I mean, they did employ me for eighteen months, so they’re not all bad. OK, their draconian clocking-in/out system meant that if you were a minute late you lost 15 minutes’ pay, their attitude to employing warehouse staff was basically ‘let the Job Centre send absolutely anyone down, and when they start nicking stuff or just don’t turn up, we’ll get some more of the same in’, the one staff jolly that I recall involved going to a cricket ground 500 yards from the office, but... oh, I forget the point I was making. Anyway, the reason I was working there was that I’d just graduated, I had a mate who worked there and I needed some ready cash before starting the jobhunting proper. It wasn’t Impress’s fault that I ended up working there for eighteen months. And they didn’t seem to mind having a fresh university graduate running their warehouse for the princely sum of £12,000pa. (To be fair, that worked out about thirty pence an hour above the national minimum wage at the time, so I was ever-so-slightly better off than the klepto eighteen-year-olds I was managing - tiny crumb of self-respect there. Although my unfortunate habit of clocking in at 8:01am every day [due to an inexplicable quirk of Canterbury traffic, it didn’t seem to matter what time I left the house - I’d always find that I was a little over sixty seconds late when I got there] ensured that I was docked quite a lot of that.)

Now, the nature of charity Christmas card fulfilment is that, of course, it’s quite seasonal. The first catalogues would go out halfway through the year, so there’d be an initial flurry of orders from mad old biddies who wanted cards in July to avoid the rush, and then from about September onwards it steadily increased into being ridiculously busy from late October through to mid-December, at which point it’d drop off again. The early part of the year was used for preparing, ordering and organising stock and systems for the busy season. And a key part of this was sorting out Unit 6.

Unit 6 was a storage unit on the other side of the business park. Throughout peak season, it was necessary to nip over there every now and then with a forklift and pull back pallets of cards to the main fulfilment area. (I have a full forklift licence, incidentally – gas and electric. Thanks Impress!) Naturally, given how busy it all was, any semblance of order in Unit 6 was quickly lost as you’d just shift things around, grab what you needed and run. So in January, in the aftermath of the festive season, Unit 6 was the big project. And it was something to dread. There would be pallets, half-pallets and random stacks of stock everywhere. The entire numbering system lay in ruins. It took days and days on end to shift everything out, re-pack it, re-label it and store it in a logical fashion on the racks.
That can’t be so hellish though, can it? It’s just a methodical ordering process, right? And isn’t it fun to operate a forklift?
Well, yeah – but this was in January. In an unheated warehouse, you may as well be outside. Every exhalation saw breath hanging in the air in a mocking mist. Fingers froze on levers operating recalcitrant, under-performing hydraulics. Icy winds whispered through myriad cracks in the walls. Minutes bled into hours at glacial pace. Bitter cold. Isolation. Desperation. Hopelessness. An ever-present dew-drop hanging from the tip of the nose.

It’s not actually so bad sitting at your desk, is it?

Plot Device

Ah, see what they did there. Clever.

Special Bored

The specials board of Vinnie's Pizzeria, Brooklyn is special indeed. Click here.

Caption Fail

Witness the fallibility of YouTube captioning...

Shit That Siri Says

Obviously this will only make sense if you know what Siri is. Clicky.

'I wanna hear everything...'

Blackboards in Porn

The classroom is a staple porn venue. And what do classrooms have? Blackboards.

This excellent blog analyses what's written on these blackboards... click here.

Bulgarian X Factor

Quite simply, the greatest audition ever.


No, I didn't know what it was either. Click below, it'll please the pedant in you...

Catch-22 Skidoo

An accurate portrayal of teen life in the fifties.

Fuckin' Tea

Friday, 7 October 2011

07/10/11 - X Factor 2010: where are they now?

It’s easy to knock Louis Walsh, the Eddie Jordan of X Factor, but the man knows what he’s doing. Yes, he has a habit of putting through the most absurdly unlikely acts into the final stages of the show, to a social media shitstorm of ‘why’s he done that? [contestant x] will never win!’, but this isn’t because he’s an idiot. (I mean, he clearly is an idiot, but for other reasons.) What you have to remember is that he’s not playing to win. Look at 2009: there was no way that Jedward were going to take the gold - Louis knew that it would never happen. He also knew that there was a buttload of cash to be mined from publicising such a novelty act; you may hate them – you probably do – but you know who they are, and they’re frequently in the public eye in some form or another. No, they’re not topping the charts, but then which X Factor finalist is?

That’s a good question, actually. What are all of last year’s finalists up to? Let’s investigate... (and if you need a little reminder of who these people are, here’s the 2010 JuicyPips X Factor special:

One Direction
Ah. We’ve fallen at the first hurdle here, haven’t we? They are topping the charts. They prove the point that SyCo know what they’re doing – Wand Erection were smooshed together from a variety of entrants because the puppetmasters saw a viable boy-band there, and less than a year later it’s come true. It’s not my kind of music at all - by a very long chalk - but I did find myself accidentally humming ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ in my kitchen the other day. It’s a bona fide pop hit. Good for them.

Matt Cardle
Apparently he lives in Imperial Wharf, Chelsea Harbour, and he’s still wearing that fucking hat all the time. After winning the contest, he wound up with a £1m SyCo contract and a Christmas number one with ‘When We Collide’ (which annoyed Biffy Clyro fans will tell you is actually called ‘Many of Horror’). He’s been a bit quiet since, although his debut album’s due out in a couple weeks. Meh.

Nicolò Festa
He’s kept up quite a following on Twitter, and started recording new material in April. Given how much he tweets stuff along the lines of ‘I’m so hung over, I wish I was dead’, one might imagine that being kicked out of the X Factor has driven him to drink. Look:!/Nico1o

Aiden Grimshaw
Fuck knows. Looks like he watches a lot of football, and not much else.!/Mr_Grimshaw

Paije Richardson
We heard Paije so frequently slagging off the cinema where he worked, saying that he hated it and never wanted to go back. Then he got knocked out of the X Factor. Did he have to go back and work in the cinema? Dunno. Probably. I like to think so. Imagine the awkwardness - I bet they lock him in the projector room all the time.

Treyc Cohen
In June, she starred in ‘The Wiz’ at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, a re-telling of the eponymous 1978 movie which was itself a cult African-American re-telling of The Wizard of Oz. She played Dorothy, which is actually a pretty good role, isn’t it? Nice lateral move.

Rebecca Ferguson
According to Popbitch, she’s currently recording her debut album in London and is ‘being driven in a much bigger and much shinier car than the one Olly Murs gets’, so we may well be hearing a lot more from her in the near future. She was alright, she was.

Cher Lloyd
‘Oh my darlin’, oh my darlin’, oh my daaaaaarlin’ Clementine...’
So, what do you think of ‘Swagger Jagger’ – post-modern pop genius or a soggy pile of old goat shite? I’m saying nothing.
(Except that her music is hilarious. Still, she’s making money.)

Katie Waissel
We’ve got another Katie Waissel this year. Her name’s Kitty. But what about the original? Funnily enough, she’s been leaping to Kitty’s defence in the press, along the lines of ‘you should judge her on her voice, not because she’s a phoney berk; I know how she feels’, or whatever. So, Katie – after all the bluster and the ‘I’m going to be the biggest pop artist in the UK’, how well have you been doing in the charts in 2011? Errrr, yeah...

John Adeleye
Um, well, he apparently had a single out in July, but I can’t find anyone who heard it.

Mary Byrne
Her album, ‘Mine & Yours’, came out in March. Missed opportunity really, as she’s a genuinely good singer but evidently nobody felt they needed yet another CD of the same old covers. She tried to flog it on QVC too, which is hardly the mark of the credible musician. Shame. I liked her.

Storm Lee
Ha! I bet he’s doing something awesome, right? Snorting PCP from the glistening thighs of sixteen year-old groupies or something.
Or just eating a cold Pot Noodle in a Kings Cross bedsit, glaring out of the window with increasing bitterness, slowly building up the grit to stalk through the streets with an automatic weapon.
Maybe I’m being a tad unfair. One reviewer on Amazon described his album, ‘Soulfillapopkilla’, as ‘the best album in forever’. That’s quite an accolade.

Diva Fever
Well, their name’s been hijacked by ‘a professional and versatile 5-piece function band covering the very best of funk and soul’ in South Wales, so the likelihood is that those lads’ pop career has faltered somewhat.
Google tells me that they’ve played pretty much every gay pride event throughout 2011 though, so they’re sticking with it.

...didn’t turn out to be the next JLS. In fact, I can find very little info about them. They should really have chosen a more Googleable name.

...who failed where Jedward, by their own wonky standards, succeeded. No-one knows what he’s up to these days, not even his cat. I wonder if he’s still fraudulently claiming incapacity benefit?*

Belle Amie
OK, so here’s Belle Amie’s video.
Is it just me, or at 0m31s do they sing ‘...and that her man just wants some asshole’ whilst provocatively licking a cake? Odd.

So, they haven’t all disappeared into obscurity, although they’re maybe not all quite where they’d thought they’d be twelve months after the SyCo circus. There’s eight acts out of sixteen there that, if you were being generous and kindly, you might say had managed to make something of the colossal cash-encrusted springboard of Saturday night telly fame; if those are the numbers we can expect, who do we reckon will be successful beyond 2011? Let’s say there’s going to be one properly big act and seven others dotted along the fame scale.
At this early stage, I’d say Misha Bryan’s going to be the biggie, and the other seven will be Janet Devlin, Marcus Collins, Sophie Habibis... oh wait, actually, they’ve already got a One Direction-esque band that they’ve thrown together, haven’t they? The Risk. They’ll be the successful ones.

That’s all sorted then. Now you can get on with your lives.



Click here for a selection of Steve Jobs tribute ads by a variety of agencies.

Looping like a boss

Bullseye contestants

What can we learn from this collection of screengrabs of Bullseye contestants? That they were all AWESOME.

Russian Car Crash Compilation

In Soviet Russia, car crashes you! (Or something...)

No Breasts, No Requests

Signs from the DJ booth - click here.

500 people in 100 seconds

...using actual photos, like from the past. Lully!

Google Beer

Bringing beer to life, with the help of some internets.

How to get a seat on the train

Excellent. And full marks for Partridge-esque use of the phrase 'theatre of conflict'. Click here.

The Mini Band - Enter Sandman

These are the coolest kids in the world, bar none.

The new rules of work

...courtesy of Division of Labor - click here.