Thursday, 22 December 2011

22/12/11 - 2011 JuicyPips Guide to Alternative Christmas Grub

Well, ho ho ho! The festive season is upon us; the ground is crisp with frost, the shops are full of green and red things and the nation’s windows glitter with tinsel and hope. Tis the season to be jolly! Or, at least, less grumpy. There’s good stuff on telly, you’ve got a weekend pass to ingest shamefully gluttonous quantities of food and booze and, if you’re lucky, you’ve got a few days off work. Lovely. Hang your stocking at the foot of the bed and wait for him to come. Giddy excitement.
So, to ease your digestive tract through the festive season, here’s the 2011 JuicyPips Guide to Alternative Christmas Grub.

Bouncy Puddings
…is not the name of a Carry On film, but a delicious festive dessert. You may well have experience of making Christmas puddings before? It’s almost literally a piece of cake (in that it’s actually a whole cake; I was employing the colloquial usage of ‘piece of cake’ to imply something that is easy – you may have spotted it); get a load of raisins and chopped cherries and shit (not actual shit, I’m being colloquial again), mix it all up with some Armagnac and cake things, bosh.
The twist here is to trickle in the fresh secretions of hevea brasiliensis, the common rubber tree. It’ll add slightly to the chewiness of the pudding, but this minor discomfort will be more than compensated for by the increased practicality of the dish. Knock it off the table and it’ll bounce right back onto the plate. Perfect for visiting relatives who are a) old, b) smashed or c) both.

Spit-roasted Robins
Not what you’re thinking, get your mind out of the gutter. Little robin red-breasts make for a delicious festive snackette; the name itself indicates that they’re predominantly formed of tasty, tasty breast meat. They’re very easy to catch too, as they spend quite a lot of time sitting still. You’ve seen it on Christmas cards – no snowy scene is complete without a robin sitting on a pillar box, gate post or icicle-laden branch. Just get out there with a big net and catch a few. Once you’ve got a carrier-bagful, simply plunge a knitting needle through each one and rotate them over a tealight (try building a Lego spit powered by a Tamiya motor or a drill, shouldn’t be too hard); drizzle a little sesame oil over their feet and faces as they turn. Delicious.

Mince Pies
Put some actual fucking mince in them. You know, ground up cows. Stop the lies.

Christmas Crackers
Really tricky one, this, but worth it if you can pull it off. You’ll need an industrial quantity of Ritz crackers - or Tuc biscuits, they work too - and a bucket of Lego men; use the homeless ones you displaced when building your robin spit. You’ll also need some paper hats and a selection of terrible, terrible jokes. (Google ‘Michael McIntyre’ for inspiration.) With great care and precision, dismantle all of the crackers into their component biscuit molecules, and reform the mass into one enormous biscuit. Be careful to leave a cavity in the centre of your Christmas Cracker to house the paper hats, shit jokes and little Lego men carrying out various industrious Lego tasks. (You don’t need to worry about adding a snap like in a traditional cracker, as this kind of cracker has its own inherent crunchiness when pulled.) It’s a lot of effort to go to for quite a weak gag, but your guests will be impressed by your massive biscuit. And they’ll all be obliged to wear hats that are covered in biscuit crumbs. “lol”.

The Multibeast
A bird stuffed with various other birds is one of those ideas that’s been in and out of fashion for centuries. Personally, I love a turducken – a turkey stuffed with a duck and a chicken – although I reckon the naming strategy requires a rethink; starting the name with ‘turd’ isn’t a great idea for something you’re going to put in your mouth. Doesn’t ‘duckenkey’ sound more fun…?
No, forget all that ‘random selection of poultry and game birds’ nonsense. What you want to dominate this year, boys and girl, is The Multibeast. You start with a vole. (Fill it with earwigs so it’ll keep its shape once you’ve boned it. [Not like that, sicko. You’re going to eat this. I mean ‘taken the bones out’.]) Stuff it into a hamster. Stuff the hamster into a pigeon. Ram that into a stoat. The stoat goes into a cat. Continue in this fashion until you’ve ticked off all the pages in the Observer’s Book of Rodents, Larger Mammals and Big Jungle Bastards. By the end of the process you should find yourself standing proudly before a whole bison wrapped around approximately four hundred incrementally smaller creatures. Your oven won’t be big enough, so you’ll need to circulate slowly with a blowtorch. Or maybe break the door off your microwave and position it in front of its face or something, I dunno. Then eat the whole thing. (Then die, possibly.)

A delicious cocktail is a traditional way to start Christmas day, is it not? When I was growing up, the Snowball was the eye-opener of choice – Advocaat and lemonade – whereas these days it’s more likely to be the wholly appropriately-named Christmas Morning; a splash of sloe gin topped up with Champagne. But why be traditional? Take the advice of a couple of naughty girls I know and try this: the Patented Emily Holl & Katie Peden Ballbag Smasheroo. It goes like this…
Wake up on Christmas morning. Stagger to Oddbins. Notice that it’s closed. Ignore this fact. Launch a bin through the window. Steal every bottle of Buckfast. Drink the lot.
It’s what Jesus would have wanted. It makes his little angels look more, er, angelic.

Horrible food that you don’t like
C’mon, that’s what Christmas is really all about, isn’t it? Eating food that doesn’t taste very nice? There’s a reason that Christmas pudding and mince pies are traditionally associated with the yuletide season and not any other time of year: nobody actually likes them. Stop lying to yourselves and pretending to enjoy it – if you all just admit that you find the bitter taste of weirdly pulped fruit unpalatable, we can stop the madness.
Sprouts? Nobody likes bloody sprouts. Name one occasion this year that you’ve cooked or ordered them by choice. It just doesn’t happen. Vile little things. Eat Me dates? People only buy these because they have a funny name. They taste rank. Toblerone? OK, Toblerone is very tasty, but it’s not a natural shape for a food; the harsh, solid triangle is not conducive to oral health in a species with comparatively weak gums. Too pointy. Yule log? Looks like a massive shit. Bread sauce? Delicious if prepared correctly, but invariably ends up looking like someone’s already eaten it.
Yeah, ignore all of that. Start with the robins, pound through The Multibeast, have a crack at a bouncy pudding, then just nail the Bucky. Winner.

A Brief History of Santa

...or Father Christmas, or Saint Nick, or whatever.

2011 in pictures

A lot happened this year. Prepare to be heartwarmed and depressed in equal measure by some typically beautiful photography from the Boston Globe - click here and here.

Best fails of 2011

Twelve minutes of pure comedy gold. And lots of people really hurting themselves, obviously.

Homeless Are Copywriters

Click here.

Giant festive zoetrope

Lovely. Just lovely. The old-school fairground clickety-clackety sound is particularly endearing.

Kim Jong-Il dropping the bass

Let us remember him this way. Click here.

Wintry Words With Bill Bailey

Railcard rejects

It was exactly a year ago that we looked at this chap's rejected Railcard photos. Click the image to see how he got on this year...

Advertising With Bells On

Startled browsing at 0:54 is pure class.

Why do sprouts make you fart?

Because of this, that's why.

Wander Monster

This is very cute indeed. Man draws half-finished cartoons and leaves them in his son's lunchbox. Son finishes. Click here.

Call of Duty in real life

Friday, 16 December 2011

16/12/11 - Studio 54, 2007

Last night was the office Christmas party. (I’m writing this on Monday, so what I really mean is ‘the office Christmas party is in a few days’, but that won’t be the case when I click ‘send’ on this. Phew – confusing, isn’t it? The linear passage of time conflicts no end with my inner DeLorean.) So, in the recent past, but actually in the present, but preparing to send this in another present, I’m guessing I’ll be a little bit hung over. [Friday edit: This turned out to be true. Fucking hung over. Want to die.] Given that I presumably won’t have the wherewithal to relate stories from Thursday night - er, last night, that is - here’s something that happened at the 2007 Christmas party.

The theme was Studio 54, which immediately led people into debauchery before the night had even begun. How could it not? It was filthy. There was an ice sculpture/vodka luge that ensured that everybody in the room was liberally saturated with Smirnoff. There were dwarves circulating with canap├ęs. There were bikini-clad Valkyries smeared in gold paint. To be honest, I can’t remember that much of it, except that it was in a venue on Drury Lane so I was making lots of Monty Python gags and laughing slightly too much at myself. As usual.
I remember walking for a very long time through frozen London in the wee small hours, ending up at an after-party at Jenni Cowdy’s place. That girl knows how to drink. And I don’t recall much of what happened there either. Then I woke up on Patrick Cooke’s floor in Pimlico. I was in a very bad way.
The hangover really was a problem. I staggered from Pat’s flat at about midday (he’d gone into the office at 9, the swot) and managed somehow to bumble to work without being sick on myself, which was no small achievement. I was wearing last night’s retro suit – soaked, of course, in vodka and absolutely reeking of the stuff – and some quite thick eyeliner which I couldn’t work out how to scrape off. I nibbled tentatively at a sandwich, gave up and went home. I’d been in the office for about half an hour.
I was living in Redhill at the time, and by the time I got back there it was about three in the afternoon. This is not a good time to be wandering around Redhill reeking of vodka and wearing eyeliner; if I wasn’t swaying so dangerously, I may well have been violated by the locals, or chased out of town with pitchforks and fire. But thankfully I got away with it. I went straight to bed, obviously.

At about 6pm I was awoken by the sound of the telephone. It was my friend Sam, suggesting we go out for a few beers in Reigate. I did not want to do this, but he’s a very persuasive man. His sister was there too; she is also very persuasive. She made us drink loads of tequila.
I was experiencing a second wind, so I thought it was all fine and dandy. I knocked back shot after shot like a trooper, then I went home to bed at about 1 or 2am.
I couldn’t move the next day. Well, I could just about crawl to the bathroom to wee, but that was all I was capable of. The agony! The chaos! The weird blinking lights! I just lay in bed, retching and whimpering. I certainly couldn’t take in any solids or fluids. It was like the cold turkey scene in Trainspotting.
The next day wasn’t much better.
The day after that I got a taxi to Gatwick, boarded a plane to Toulouse and went to my parents’ house. I gave them a cursory hello and went straight to bed, calling back instructions to bring soup. I told them that I had flu and, bless ‘em, they didn’t remark upon the fact that it was clearly a serious case of alcohol poisoning. I stayed in bed for a week.

That’s what our office parties do to you. If you’re reading this, it means that I’m still together enough to copy/paste; if not, then I’m too introubulated to send JuicyPips and this will languish forever in my drafts folder.
Pray for my soul. It’s got sick on it.

Dubstep Snowman

Better than it sounds.

Twitter by post

A really lovely idea, this - click here.

Cello Wars

Devastating Explosions

This is, somehow, an extension of the Old Spice 'the man your man could smell like' campaign. Click the image and see if you can work out why.

Improbable catch

Surely not...?

Your Best Shot 2011

Flickr users' favourite photos of the year. Eclectic.
Click here.

Pulp Fiction in chronological order

Now we just need this kind of treatment for Memento and we'll be all set.

sKate Bush

God bless you, internet. Clicky.

Friday, 9 December 2011

09/12/11 - The Dolphin

Underage drinking: scourge of Britain, destroyer of communities, embarrasser of parents. But from a teenager’s perspective: awesome.
There comes a hairiness/shrillness-diminishing tipping point where you can just about get away with getting served in pubs, but it takes years of being kicked out of places having taken slightly too long to answer the ‘when were you born?’ question, or made some (literally) schoolboy lexical mistake at the bar like asking for ‘a glass of beer, please’.
When I was about fifteen or sixteen-ish, we used to hang out on the Tankerton Slopes – so called because the land slopes down toward the sea, of course - in the evenings drinking cheap cider. Is that a normal age to start that kind of thing? Too early? Too late? Whitstable was a small town, stuck in the eighties; not the boho arty hub it seems to have morphed into now.
We tried to get into the Tank – a.k.a. The Tankerton Arms, now sadly bulldozed and replaced with flats – where the sixth formers used to drink, but it was always humiliating to have to slink out past the cool kids having been once again turned away from the bar. So we used to send Simon to Threshers.
Simon was, and still is, an enormously hairy creature. This isn’t such an impressive boast when you’re hurtling towards thirty (or in Simon’s case, bullishly headbutting thirty, smashing it to pieces and collapsing in a sweaty heap on the other side), but at such a tender age the facially hirsute hold a tremendous advantage.
As is generally the way with chain off-licenses in small towns, the Threshers in Tankerton (on the roundabout near the tennis courts, you know the one…) was run by an affable, short-sighted old buffer with a heart of gold and a severely diminished sense of reason and the law. We used to send Simon in with a list – a list! – of booze to buy and a handful of cash. Eight cans of Stella for Will, here’s six pound coins. Lesley wants a bottle of the best white wine you can get for four quid. Eight cans of Strongbow for Dan, there’s a crumpled fiver here somewhere…
There is actually a lot to do on the beach at night, principally because there’s no-one else there. Much of it revolves around trying to convince/force one another into the sea. The rest, though, I can’t tell you about. (Largely because I can’t remember.) Although, due to a complex web of lies spun out over a number of years, I can shamefully reveal that the beach hut we occasionally annexed that belonged to the parents of one of my friends – let’s call him Mr Pantsonfire – actually belonged to, er, someone else. So when we were breaking in because he’d ‘forgotten the keys’, we were actually just breaking in. Sorry, random stranger. We did always tidy up afterwards.

Gradually, more and more of the group – thank Christ – began to look slightly less ridiculous and out of place in the context of the public house. And, for reasons that escape me, we took to going out regularly in Canterbury. Yes, we had the caravan (Google ‘JuicyPips caravan’ for that story) as a cheap hangout, but for pub life Canterbury was where it was at. I guess it was because we were all satellited around the city in Herne Bay, Whitstable, Faversham etc, so it was the most democratic place for us to go; that way, we’d all have to travel. Or maybe it was because there were loads more pubs there, and a couple of clubs too.
No, wait – it was because my friend’s older sister’s boyfriend worked behind the bar at The Dolphin and we knew we’d probably get served. Yeah, that was it.
In the early stages - Simon was the only one with a full beard (he’d had it since he was eight), but the rest of us were starting to look a little bit stubbly and were talking less squeakily, like that other Simon from The Inbetweeners - we found two Canterbury pubs that were happy to accommodate the kind of patrons that were only just old enough to hold driving licenses (which were crudely doctored with Tipp-ex and pink highlighters with a general nod at playing the game; if they’d asked for ID and we’d supplied something semi-credible then it was our fault and not theirs); namely The Dolphin and The Cross Keys, although we weren’t altogether welcome in The Cross Keys after the tequila/hospital incident (Google ‘JuicyPips drunkenness’ for details). [n.b. this was in the late nineties; for legal reasons, I'm obviously not implying that these pubs serve underage people now...]
The Dolphin embraced us as their own. On a Friday and Saturday night, it was pretty much an unspoken rule that we’d have the big tables out the back, offering easy access to both bar and pool table. We trained them in obscure drink orders; the Ladyboy, for example. This was a time when I’m Alan Partridge was still fresh and new, and they enjoyed learning that ‘a Ladyboy’ meant a pint of lager, a gin & tonic and a Baileys. They even started to give them to us on a three-for-two deal; buy a pint and a g&t, get a Baileys free. It was our place – a sticky, cheap, dirty little pub full of questionable characters, yet weirdly very much our scene.
By the time we were old enough to go to nice pubs, of course, that’s exactly what we did. Just like our actual homes, the opportunity to fly the nest was one to be keenly looked forward to and was the subject of much discussion. A whole city of pubs, and so much to explore. Live music in The Three Tuns? Lovely. Poteen on special in The Beer Cart Arms? Super. Shepherd Neame mini-festival in The Old Buttermarket? That’ll do nicely. Tom’s got a job at The West Gate Inn? Maybe he can slip us a peanut…

The summer after our first year of university, when we were all eighteen or nineteen and very much allowed to go there by law, officer, we went back to The Dolphin. Y’know, for old times’ sake.
It was bloody horrible. I haven’t been back since. If you Google them now you’ll see that their website proudly boasts ‘The Dolphin: it’s a pub’. Tells you all you need to know, really.
Never go back, children.

Misery Bear: The Teddynator

The most powerful photos of 2011

...courtesy of Buzzfeed. Click here.

Real-Life Nyan Cat

Rapping Paper

Why not start the festive season with an obvious pun? Your little gangstas will appreciate it. Click here.

Celebrity Siblings

As the name suggests, Celebrity Siblings is a blog about the siblings of celebrities - click here to see. Some are more bitter than others...

Extreme Christmas lights!

Fucking hell. Imagine living next door to this guy.


I know nothing at all about fashion. The only conclusion I can draw from this site is that everyone in Helsinki is slightly unhinged.

Vietnam Timelapse

Friday, 2 December 2011

02/12/11 - Travel systems

‘Pushchair’ is one of my favourite words. It’s the only word in the English language that contains the letters ‘shch’ consecutively[citation needed]. So you can imagine my glee when I started to research a pushchair purchase recently; a complex consonant cluster and an opportunity to buy something with four wheels? My two favourite things smooshed into one activity, that.

So, a pushchair is quite a simple thing, right? It’s just a quite small collapsible chair on castors. That’s gonna be, what, twenty quid? Thirty?
No. I was, and remain, an utter fool. This kind of gear is a) really complicated and b) surprisingly expensive.
First of all, we’re not buying a pushchair at all. We’re buying a ‘travel system’. This involves choosing an appropriate chassis (another word I love – it amuses me that Americans are unable to pronounce it correctly) upon which to affix a sort of Moses basket thingy that allows the little ‘un to lie flat. After six months or so, you can swap this bit out and clip in a seat that angles them up properly – most travel systems have clever adaptability that allow you to have the baby facing you or facing outward, presumably depending on how likely they are to be projectile vomiting on any given day. You also need some kind of compatible car seat, which in turn may require some form of adaptor to work with your car’s ISOFIX points. Then you’ve got all of the associated sun-shades, changing bags and what-have-you that, of course, all have to be made by the same company or they won’t fit properly. And it’s all stuff that you kind of need. Once you’ve added it together, you’ve spent about six hundred quid.
My first car cost me £250. In fact, a lot of cars I’ve owned cost rather a lot less than £600. A travel system doesn’t even have a bloody engine, you have to push it with your own human hands! This smacks of an overspend, but the baby paraphernalia industry has you by the balls: ‘you used these to make the baby, now we own them wholesale’.

My two key criteria (bearing in mind that it was going to be an eye-watering sum whichever one we ended up choosing) were weight and size – specifically, narrowness. We live on the first floor, and our staircase is precisely one centimetre wider than a standard-sized washing machine (go on, ask me how I know this), and thus it had to be something thin so that we could actually, y’know, physically get the baby into the flat. Little bugger’d get nippy living in the porch. And lightness was key too – carrying it up and down the stairs will be cumbersome enough without the added irritation of turning it into an impromptu workout. What we’re really after here is the 1958 Lotus Elite of travel systems.
I said this to the woman in Babies R Us. ‘What we’re really after here’, I said, ‘is the 1958 Lotus Elite of travel systems’. She looked at me like I was the unstoppably befuddling cretin that I’m increasingly convinced I may well be, and opted to talk to my wife instead. Wise move. The two of them discussed folding techniques, accessories, wipe-clean-ability and sturdiness of construction while I systematically worked through the systems one by one, seeing which I could fold down into its smallest possible format with one hand and with the least blood loss, and steering them at high speed around the store to test the handling. (I may, at this point, have been poking my tongue out of the corner of my mouth and/or been making ‘vroom vroom’ noises.)

We live in Wandsworth, parts of which are very much Yummymummyville. The de rigueur travel system for poshos is the Bugaboo Cameleon, although there seem to be two key requirements for owning such a statement system: firstly, at least one of you needs to be a city trader or a lawyer or something. They’re frickin’ pricey. Secondly, you need to have a Range Rover to carry it around in. We’ve failed on both counts, so the Bugaboo’s out.
A friend of mine recommended the Quinny Buzz on the grounds that it folds up small enough to get in the boot of his Triumph Herald. I was excited by the prospect of the Buzz, I have to admit; it’s a three-wheeler, so the potential for Trotter-related hilarity is strong. Or you can wheel it around backwards and pretend it’s a Morgan. But tested alongside its rivals, the Buzz is pretty heavy, so that was off the list too.

I could reel off all of the models we tested, but I suspect that it would make for rather dull reading. The upshot of all of this is that we’re probably going to get an Oyster. My wife likes it because it’s very narrow, impressively light, super robust and can be folded up with one hand. I like it because the chassis has mighty torsional rigidity so you get a bit of cocked-wheel oversteer in fast corners, like a 205 GTi. Horses for courses.

The other dads-to-be gave me disapproving glances throughout my testing procedures. I suspect that this was because they weren’t allowed to run around the shop going ‘vroom vroom’…

Street Talk with The Beards

A hilarious bunch of hirsute bastards.

Batman Running Away From Shit

The below still doesn't do the concept justice - click it and you'll see what I mean. It rocks.

November fail compilation

Eight-and-a-half minutes of schadenfreude, compiled by TwisterNederland8.

Texts From Bennett

I really hope this is real. Bennett sounds like an absolute looper. Clicky.

Retro warfare

Rebranding baby girls

An interesting little project from Fast Company - click here.

Halfords ad: alternate ending

lol, etc.

Self Pop Tarts

Self-explanatory, really. Clicky.