Friday, 21 December 2012

21/12/12 - The Miser's Cookbook

The festive season is upon us – a time for gluttony, slovenliness, drinking in the mornings and giving your digestive system a thorough workout.
To help you cope with the vagaries of yuletide catering and all of the complex political struggles therein, here’s a handy JuicyPips guide to Christmas cookery – I call it ‘The Miser’s Cookbook’: a list of seasonal dishes that you can throw together on the cheap.
…because you can’t spell ‘profligate’ without ‘rofl’.

Robin Skewers
I went to school with a boy named Robin Skewers.
Not really. That was a pointless lie.
The principle of Robin Skewers is a very simple one. You see, the holiday season is a social time; you’ll find that there are all manner of parties, get-togethers, mixers and what-have-you that necessitate a broad variety of finger foods. But you don’t have to slave for hours creating hoi sin duck canapés or making pâté de foie gras from first principles – this dish is one you can prepare (for free!) on the way to a party. Simply select a longish, straightish, sharpish stick and pierce a few festive songbirds as you go. The nature of the preparation - or assault, depending on your perspective - allows them to marinade gently in their own rich juices; a further benefit of this is that you don’t necessarily have to track down genuine Christmas robins for this dish. Any starling, thrush, chaffinch or tit will do – with a skewer through them, they’ll all be red-breasted. (To be honest, this is largely their own fault for forgetting to fly south for the winter. Easy pickings.)

Sprouts the way everyone prefers them
As Richie pointed out in the Bottom ‘Holy’ special, nobody likes sprouts but you have to have them at Christmas. So, here’s the best way to prepare them to make sure their inherent unpleasantness is minimised as much as possible:
Blanche 1kg of sprouts in a pan of boiling water for three minutes. Drain, then tip into a bowl of iced water to cool quickly, drain again, then set them aside. Sauté 100g of pancetta in goose fat until crisp. Add in the sprouts and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, sprinkling in sage to taste.
Then throw the whole sorry mess into the bin.
It’s Christmas, you made sprouts, well done. But no-one wants to fucking eat them.

Salt and pepper on toast
I hate it when the names of dishes make you work for the meaning. What the arse is Chicken á la King? Royalty-flavoured poultry? (Actually, I just Googled it – it’s got sherry in it. Eww.)
However, ‘salt and pepper on toast’ leaves little room for misinterpretation.
When I was a poor student, I used to have this for dinner quite often. It’s a quick ‘n’ easy snack that costs little, takes almost no time to prepare, and gives you a complex arrangement of flavours from across the globe.
Firstly, take two slices of bread and stick ’em in the toaster. Turn the toaster on, so that it’s ready to start toasting. Wait for the toaster to toast the bread until the bread becomes toast. Remove the toast from the toaster. Butter the toast (with real butter, if you’re feeling flush – otherwise Tesco Value Generic Yellow Spread Of Uncertain Origin will do). Sprinkle on a little salt, and a touch of black pepper. Eat the bastard.
Peppercorns are technically fruit, so this counts as one of your five a day.

Shit from Iceland
Everyone wants to make an ostentatious, rich, glorious meal on Christmas day. That’s what Christmas is all about. A huge turkey, roast potatoes, stuffing, parsnips, fucking sprouts, little sausages wrapped in bacon, honey-basted carrots, bread sauce, gravy, the whole shebang.
Unfortunately, many of us are absolute fucktards in the kitchen, and can barely knock up a microwave ready-meal without filling the house with billowing clouds of acrid, plasticky smoke. Christmas dinner is bloody hard to get right, and if you present a shonky spread to your family on what is supposed to be the happiest day of the year, they’ll all think you’re a wanker. And they’ll be right.
So if you’re resigned to the fact that everyone’s going to dislike what you give them anyway, you can save a lot of time and money by just buying some of the horrible festive shit that’s on sale in Iceland (the shop, I mean, not the country [In Iceland the country, incidentally, they eat hamborgarhryggur, ptarmigan, hangikjöt and möndlugrautur at Christmas – delicious, probably]). I’ve just had a quick squizz at their website and picked out a few options for you:
Beef Wellington: £10 – if you’ve ever tried to make Beef Wellington, you’ll know just how hard it is to get right. With this in mind, you can be damn sure that the ingredients Iceland have used here will be top notch. How could they not be? What could go wrong?
45 cocktail sausages: £1 – these may well be related to the sausages on offer at your local greasy spoon as part of the traditional Full English: reprehensible as an eat-at-home choice but, in context, actually kinda delicious. These cheeky little nubbins cost a little over two pence apiece, and are almost certainly made of eyelids and arseholes but still, there’s potential for deliciousness. Give ’em a go, see what happens.
25 chicken dippers: £1.50 - these claim to be 100% breast meat. Have a look at the price of an actual chicken breast in a proper shop. Make a weight-for-weight comparison. Draw your own conclusions.
Easy-carve three-bird roast - £10 – seriously? You can buy a turkey, a chicken and a duck, plus pork, cranberry & orange stuffing, for a tenner? SIGN ME UP! There’s no way that can go wrong.
12 bacon & sausage rolls: £2 – probably actually quite tasty, this. Although the description that the website gives (honestly, check for yourself) is ‘a mix of frozen button Brussels sprouts and chestnuts’. Bit odd.

Braileys
My mum invented this in the early nineties. There’s a lot of Baileys-related hoo-hah around Christmas time – Baileys coffee, Baileys cheesecake, Baileys sauce to pour on your Christmas pud, that kind of thing. Forget all that shit. Mix a sizeable measure of Baileys with an equally robust slug of brandy. Knock it back before it curdles or separates. Boom.
(Now, I know that mixing two pricey spirits is not really in keeping with the ‘miser’s cookbook’ idea, but look at it this way: Tesco Value Baileys [that’s not exactly what it’s called, but it is a real thing] is £4.50. Your nan’s probably got some brandy hanging around. Bingo.)

Christmas Crackers
This works on two levels: firstly, it’s a cheap and easy Christmas dish (which is what we’ve been talking about this whole time, obviously. Pay attention), and secondly it’s an amusing prank to play on your guests.
Ingredients required:
- one packet of Jacob’s Cream Crackers
- that’s it.
Leave one biscuit at each place setting, near the water glass. People will probably notice them, but won’t mention it. When it comes time to pull your crackers, they’ll notice that there aren’t any crackers to pull. Aha! Make them eat their biscuits instead! Oh, the japery. Cream crackers are bloody awful too, so they can use the bits they can’t finish as a rudimentary crumb hat. You’ll seem so whimsical and mischievous.
Actually, no, that’s a crap idea, don’t do that.

Mince Pies
Come on now, admit it – you don’t actually like mince pies, do you? No, nobody does. They’re like sprouts, you just have to have the bloody things. The best tactic is to smother them in double cream or brandy butter so that you can sort of forget what you’re eating, by gumming up your jaws with artery-busting dairy produce.
This is no way to live. The time has come to reclaim the mince pie for purposes of actual festive pleasure.
Imagine this. Say it’s July, or another month that is far away from Christmas. (April is another. Or September. Use a calendar for tips.) You go into a branch of Gregg’s or some other deep-fried filth den and ask for a mince pie. They may well assume that you want some kind of savoury pie that has minced beef in it. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THE NAME IMPLIES. So that’s what you’d get.
The “mince” in a festive mince pie comprises such disappointingly un-meaty fare as chopped dried fruits, distilled spirits and spices. This is wrong.
Eat meat pies. You will be happy if you eat meat pies. My robust physique and cheerful demeanour are evidence of this. Eat meat pies. Eat them. Meat.

Snowballs
If we’re honest, Christmas is basically an excuse to take a load of time off work and spend the whole time drunk. So why bother with food at all?
Here’s what you need to do. Forget all of those robins and bits of toast we were talking about, and just blow your festive catering budget on a bottle of Advocaat. (If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a rich, creamy liqueur made from eggs, brandy and sugar. It’s basically alcoholic custard.) It’ll cost you twelve or thirteen quid but hey, you’ve just saved most of that by not buying the Iceland three-bird roast, right?
Now, you can use your Advocaat to make a tasty holiday cocktail called the Snowball. The ingredients are as follows:
- Advocaat
- lemonade
- that’s it.
So that’s basically your whole Christmas catering taken care of in one quick hit - you just need those two bottles, and ideally a glass (although this isn’t essential). Mix ‘em together, smash it all down your gullet, and push on through to 2013. Merry Christmas!


Mistletoe Kissing

That's one hell of a slap he takes there. A real jaw-loosener.

Crapping Paper

Not everybody likes surprises. Why not remove the tension from Christmas with this giveaway wrapping paper? Click here.

Slo-mo Fire

Google Zeitgeist 2012

Click here for Google's 2012 review.

Merry Christmas from Kim Wilde

The Big Internet Museum

Here's a handy little thing, and very nicely put together. Never again need you feel out of the loop when people reference PBJT, Lycos or the Numa Numa guy. Click here.

An easily scared man

It's not bullying because he seems to enjoy it. So that's OK.

The 1987 Innovations Catalogue

Goodness, the future (or, at least, the present) looked exciting in '87. Click here and see.

Girlfails

James Bond Travel Map

This is pretty cool - Empire have created a set of James Bond travel maps so you can see where he jetted off to in each film. Click here.

A festive message from Victoria’s Secret

Muller Corner XL

Another classic from Pimp That Snack - click here for a seriously large yogurt.

Friday, 14 December 2012

14/12/12 - Doubles & Triples

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the grand and swooping double album released by The Smashing Pumpkins in 1995, was a tricky thing to absorb. It was (and remains) a thoroughly listenable work, with moments of true brilliance throughout, and it’s one of the key musical touchpoints of my youth. Maybe it is for you too? But at twenty-eight tracks, it was just too complex and serpentine for me to take in at the age of thirteen.
Gish and Siamese Dream were slightly before my time, but Mellon Collie was a must-buy simply on the strength of lead single Bullet With Butterfly Wings. (If you don’t know it [why not?!], click here - http://youtu.be/8-r-V0uK4u0) I remember hearing it on Steve Lamacq’s Evening Session on Radio One – which, at the time, was the place for cool new music – and him talking about the single’s video which was due to debut on television that coming Friday night. My friend Chris and I (musical buddies from an early age) made sure we were home from swimming in time to see the opening of Top of the Pops when the new video was to be shown, and being blown away by the staggering intensity of it. I don’t mean that in a pretentious, artwanky way – I’d just never seen anything like it. And I still bloody love that song. (I also clearly remember Chris and I doing the same rush-home-from-swimming thing when we knew Oasis’ new D’You Know What I Mean? video was coming… we were supercool.)
But I had a short attention span. The album, split into two discs - Dawn to Dusk, Twilight to Starlight - was simply TOO MUCH AWESOME for my little brain to cope with in one hit; I’ve subsequently learned that the vinyl version was split into six sections, with the songs in a totally different order, which would have been a whole order of magnitude more confusing for me. My system wasn’t primed for such an onslaught, I was still young and green and simple. So I did what I did in response to pretty much any situation at that age: I made a mixtape. All of my favourite songs from Mellon Collie, smooshed together into a more easily digestible chunk. I forget the exact order I put the tracks in, but I can tell you for certain which tracks they were: Bullet With Butterfly Wings, Zero, Fuck You (An Ode to No-one), Jellybelly, X.Y.U., Tonight Tonight, Bodies, 1979, Where Boys Fear to Tread, Tales of a Scorched Earth.
So I know those ten tracks really, really well – I listened to them over and over and over. The other eighteen songs… not so much. I mean, I know them, but they’ll always be filed in my brain, somewhat unfairly, as ‘those songs from Mellon Collie that I didn’t think were good enough to go on my mixtape, for some reason’. What a peculiar child I was. What a peculiar child I still am, really.

There’s something in my brain that wants albums to be relatively short, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. This harks back to my teenage days when I was obsessed with making compilation tapes – the shorter the songs are, the more you can squeeze onto a C90. Obviously this could be circumvented if the songs were good enough; The Wildhearts’ album Fishing For Luckies is one of my all-time favourites, and that begins with a seven-minuter. (It also contains one of the greatest songs ever written, Sky Babies, which weighs in at a muscular 11m36s - http://youtu.be/rU9Ep4zYM40) And that other pivotal double-album of the era, Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I & II, is a massive musical menagerie that I know every second of by heart. But on the whole, brevity was key. This is what my brain tells me is right, even though it’s totally illogical, so the prospect of a new double-album by a band I like is both exciting and daunting in equal measure. On the positive side, it’s loads more new music by a band I like. On the negative… how will I learn it all?!

Like I say, peculiar.

There have been two triple (yes, triple!) albums this year that neatly illustrate this idiotic mental hurdle I’ve set for myself: one is Ginger Wildheart’s 555% project, and the other is Green Day’s triumvirate of ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré!.
We’ll start with Green Day.
I was hugely excited when I learned that they were to release new material at the end of 2012, and not just one album but THREE. This is shithotawesome news, particularly given that the early reviews suggested they’d withdrawn from the grandiose likes of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown to record some stuff that was more akin to the Dookie/Insomniac era. What’s more, they were staggering the release; ¡Uno! came out in late September, ¡Dos! arrived in early November, and ¡Tré! was released a month later.
Now, this does mean that the lifecycle of each album is truncated, denied its usual gestation and absorption period as any regular album might enjoy. Think of a great album you bought, say, a year ago: you’d have a frenzied listening period when it was the best thing you’d ever heard, you’d listen to it over and over. Then you’d rest it for a while, so as not to over-expose it. Then a snippet of a song would pop into your head a few weeks later and you’d remember how much you loved it, and you’d go back to the euphoric listening-to-it-all-the-time stage. And so on. After a time, much of the album is second nature to you, you’re filling in and pre-empting as you go.
With this machine-gun frequency of album releases, you have to compress the story of each album, the manner in which you learn it and integrate it into your psyche, into a very short timeframe. Does this necessarily work? Well, time will tell. They’re bloody good albums though, and I’m extremely pleased by that.

555% is an ambitious and exciting project that Ginger Wildheart crowdfunded and promoted via social media. Using PledgeMusic as a platform, the recording of the album was funded by fans (me included) who paid for the record in advance before a single note had been recorded; the creation of the album was then drip-fed via Twitter, YouTube and email groups, with snippets of songs, footage from the studio and what-have-you all teasing and tantalising throughout the process. The name 555% refers to the amount of capital that was raised; Ginger set out a funding target which was quickly smashed, and as the money kept rolling in it was decided to curtail it when it reached a nice round number – 555% of the original target - so that the album would remain a relatively limited edition thing, and all of the extra money was used to tour and promote it. (He’s currently working on two similar projects – Hey! Hello! and Mutation. He’s the hardest-working man in music.) Now, I’ve been a Wildhearts fan for as long as I can remember, and I was chuffed to learn that a vast chunk of new Ginger material was being recorded. But a triple album? Was this going to be Mellon Collie all over again?

As it’s turned out, yes, kind of, but also no. The release of the album in its digital form was similar to Green Day’s approach; 555% consists of thirty tracks, and they were released for download in batches of ten on three consecutive weeks. But I’m an old-fashioned bastard, set in my ways, and am deeply cynical about downloading. I just can’t be arsed. Why spend my money and/or time on something so intangible? Particularly when so much effort has gone into the creation of a beautiful album sleeve? I’m very much of the mindset that if I want to listen to an album, I want to physically dig it out of the collection and feed it into the stereo, rather than keeping it all as files in an anonymous box. So I didn’t bother downloading 555%, I just waited for my magnificently presented triple-album to arrive in the post.
This, I maintain, was the correct thing to do. But thirty tracks is a lot to absorb in one go. Where do you start? Is the most sensible thing to treat it as three separate albums, and listen to them as freestanding entities? Probably, as it’s a real investment in time to power through the whole lot in one sitting each time; you find that you know the first twelve or thirteen tracks really well but then your attentiveness starts to wane.

This is, as yet, an unresolved issue. I don’t make mixtapes any more. Because I’m still basically a teenage wally at heart, my brain tells me that 555% needs to exist as a holistic offering rather than in fragmented, bite-size form, meaning that I don’t listen to it as much as I should. Which is something I’m going to work on, as it’s very good indeed. The Green Day triple, however, is rapidly weaving itself into my mental jukebox, simply because I’ve had slightly longer to separate it out and work through it at a logical pace. Does that make sense? I guess what I’m getting at is that I want to have loads of new music, but I can’t be trusted to manage my time and expectations correctly in order to breathe it all in at once. I need to have it doled out in neat little parcels, then be given time to inhale it at leisure. In a way, this is a metaphor for life itself.

Actually, no it isn’t.

Same Dress Disaster

Harvey Nicks' Christmas ad is really rather good.

Extraneous Lyrics

Budweiser Flash Fans

A beautiful, heartwarming idea from Budweiser Canada.

Disgruntled Brighton Christmas

Obviously not real, but very funny nonetheless.

Mario Warfare

Lovely little project - click here to see the full details on Kickstarter.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Bird Up

A great little ad for Wild Turkey.

Missed High-Fives

Without the ability to embed gifs, it's hard to explain quite how incredible the Missed High-Fives Tumblr is. But I implore you to click here and experience it for yourself. You won't regret it.

Snowman Surprise

Frightening people for the sake of it. This will always be funny.


Spurious Planning Notices

A wonderfully pure style of mischief, this. Click here.

Radioman

All the slebs love Radioman.

Bad Kids Jokes

A rich seam of peculiar comedy here.

Yoko Ono - Firework

It hardly needs reiterating that Yoko is as loopy as a vole's friend. This is very odd indeed.

The Stanley Steemer Variations

A good idea, brilliantly executed.

Friday, 23 November 2012

23/11/12 - X Factor: the also-rans

There’s a lot of buzz around X Factor at the moment. (Of course there is, that’s the point of it. But you know what I mean.) The will-they-won’t-they sexual tension between Gary and Rylan, the inevitable victory of James Arthur (probably), the baffling popularity of that cheesy Liverpudlian cackfest Christopher Whatshisname, the relentless use of the phrases ‘you made it your own’ and ‘your whole life has been leading up to this’ and ‘you remind me of a young [x]’ – the drama, the tension, the sheer nailbiting suspense of it all. Which one (or possibly, if they’re phenomenally lucky, two) of the acts will we actually remember this time next year? Which of the acts who have left the competition have we already entirely forgotten? (Carolynne Poole, anyone? No?)

I rather like X Factor, which is strangely at odds with my usual standpoint on reality television, i.e. that it’s all worthless shit. I have no interest in watching a bunch of strangers baking, or dancing, or performing ‘wacky’ tasks on a tropical island, or just sitting around in a house doing nothing at all. No fucking interest whatsoever, bunch of fame-hungry berks, peacocking for the cameras. Waste of time.
I’ll watch The Apprentice with enthusiasm, principally because the contestants are all such mindless, inept cretins that it makes me feel a whole lot better about my own life. (What makes this different to Big Brother or I’m a Celebrity… and the like is that in The Apprentice they’re actually pretending to be real people, rather than just shamelessly showing themselves to be the pricks they are. It’s an important distinction.) I only end up watching about 50% of it though – I miss the other half because I’m holding my hands in front of my eyes in horror, or cringing my face inside out.
But X Factor I’ll happily get on board with. The early auditions where they show a healthy mix of the brilliant and the bloody awful are always entertaining, and the week-on-week ridiculousness of the show, ever more overblown and elaborate, is increasingly compelling.
The most important thing to remember, of course, is that IT’S NOT REAL. Sure, there’s a public vote and a cast of rags-to-riches characters, but it’s basically just a soap opera. I don’t mean this as a criticism, merely that it’s not the ‘we’re doing this because we want to help give a good singer a break’ exercise they like to emphatically repeat. It’s scripted entertainment. And thoroughly entertaining it is too.

So, just for fun, I’ve been doing a little investigating. What does become of the contestants who make it through to the live shows but get knocked out early on? Do their dreams come true? Do they sign extravagant record deals and luxuriate in new-found wealth and glory, or do they just go back to shelf-stacking in the local corner shop and spend the rest of their days cursing Simon Cowell’s name, refusing to talk about what happened? I’ve been lurking, stalking, and buffing my telephoto lens to find the story behind these poor unfortunates. Oh, and Carolynne Poole? She now sells eggs at the side of the road in a layby off the A12, just outside Hatfield Peverel. She seems happy enough.

Diva Fever
Never let it be said that in-your-face campness and excessive use of luminous polyester cannot go hand-in-hand with academic pursuits. 2010’s Diva Fever can today be tracked down under the names of Josef Al-Smadi, MEd, and Dr. Craig Saggers, PhD. Josef is now the headmaster of the historic Charterhouse School in Godalming, where he spends much of his time encouraging pupils to build their education around a solid foundation of the classics and the sciences rather than chasing whimsical dreams of fame and glory. Dr. Craig has written numerous papers on the subject of mass-appeal-versus-substance, and is currently on a lecture tour across Northern Europe offering wise counsel on how to be brainy and yet still have great hair.

Wagner
You may remember Wagner as a sort of mental, sub-Meatloaf lunatic with long hair and a Napoleon complex.
After the broadcast of the 2010 series in which he featured, it came to light that Wagner didn’t have a single mirror in his house, and had never in fact seen his own reflection; an encounter with a Brazilian gypsy in his youth had led him to believe that he was part-vampire, and thus had no reflection, so looking-glasses had never blipped on his home décor radar. Having bought a shiny new television upon which to watch his weekly performances (lovingly committed to VHS by an elderly neighbour), he saw himself for the first time. And he was not pleased. What he’d taken for style and mystique appeared to others as embarrassment and idiocy. He became deeply melancholy, and had a good hard think about his life choices.
You may think that you haven’t seen him since, although it’s entirely possible that you have. He now presents the ITV weather under the pseudonym Becky Mantin. You’d hardly recognise him. Lot of surgery.

Diana Vickers
An interesting fact that emerged after the conclusion of the 2008 series was that Diana Vickers never actually existed. All of that weird behaviour of wringing her hands in front of her face, always appearing on stage barefoot and having exceptionally messy hair should have been a giveaway – she was in fact an animated Disney character, hastily scribbled each week until the animators got to a point where they couldn’t be arsed to draw her any more, and just stopped doing it. So she effectively hasn’t been doing anything at all since X Factor 2008, beyond existing as potential energy in palettes and paintbrushes. It’s not much of a life. Still, at least we don’t have to bloody listen to her any more.

You’ll notice that all of these people so far are in some way notable for their hair. This says much about the substance of the average X Factor contestant.

Aiden Grimshaw
He may not have won X Factor, but I’m pretty sure every single viewer awarded him their own special prize for Most Needlessly Intense Performance.
Those of a hipster bent may have noticed a remarkable similarity between pop poppet Aiden and his radiotwat namesake Nick Grimshaw; in fact, they are one and the same. The Radio 1 DJ successfully hoodwinked the judges via that age-old military tactic of hiding in plain sight (using the same name, looking basically the same, being just as annoying) to pursue X Factor glory – he claims that it was a post-modern attempt to subvert the nuances of the fame machine, although he actually just wanted to sing some songs and have a laugh. (Well, not a laugh, more of a prolonged intense stare.)
He got bored of it all after a while, and went back to his everyday pursuit of being a nauseating arse. His bow has one string. A shit one.

Same Difference
When this brother-and-sister duo hit the screens in 2007, they creeped everyone out with their weird, inappropriate-seeming relationship and touchy-feelyness. Siblings shouldn’t look at each other that way…
There was much ribald speculation about their grubby, incestuous lives behind closed doors, and it all turned out to be true. Of course it did. Sean and Sarah in fact spawned a freaky little child, a baby that looks remarkably like Krusty the Clown, who they keep chained up in their attic. They’re hoping it’ll grow up to be a key part of their future entourage, like Animal from The Muppets.

Cher Lloyd
Oh, who fucking cares?

Frankie Cocozza
Another urchin in the cast of X Factor characters who can’t stop buggering about with their hair, Frankie Cocozza took it one step further and opened up a hair salon in Soho. The thinking was that he’d knobbed everyone in a two mile radius, and would therefore have a steady stream of customers who’d want to come and pay him a nostalgic visit, and at the same time have one of his army of stylists rework their hair into something approximating his own hairstyle; a kind of fibrous, greasy helmet.
Unfortunately, no-one wanted to come to his salon, because he’s such an obnoxious little berk. It’s a cut-throat business, hairdressing. (Not literally. [Well, sometimes.])

Ben Mills
Remember him, from 2006? Of course you do, he’s so memorable. Well, he’s actually achieved something genuinely impressive in the years following his fifteen minutes of warbling: he made it his mission to create the world’s greatest milkshake. You may scoff, but his newly-founded company, Ben’s Mill, is a groundbreaking endeavour – he’s crossbred Guernsey cattle with lithe little goats to create a milk that is both fulsomely creamy and piquantly light, and a tie-in with Innocent will allow each of his splendid milkshakes to provide two of your five-a-day. Imagine that: a tangy raspberry milkshake, or smooth strawberry & banana, or exotic kiwi & pineapple, all rich and creamy but also genuinely good for you. Seriously, the man’s a visionary.
Just don’t point out that milk isn’t milled and thus the company name doesn’t make a lot of sense. Years of excessive calcium intake have given him a fierce temper.

And the remaining X Factor also-rans? What became of them?
I think you know the answer to that. THEY ARE ALL FAMOUS POP STARS.



Dumb Ways To Die

Beautifully done, this. (Click here and here for more.)

Star Wars snowflakes

A comprehensive, downloadable guide to making Star Wars snowflakes. Super. Click here.

Posh Off

A regular sight on the streets of West London.

U OK hun? *hugs*

Urgh. Disgusting. Clicky.

Whatever Happened To The Dire Straits Video Guy?

Fenton redux

EE have remade Fenton. Not sure how I feel about that.

Getting into trouble with a laser pointer

What is Thanksgiving to Brits?

Really, we have no idea.

Friday, 16 November 2012

16/11/12 - QEGS Pantomime 1999

There’s a frisson of festive spirit in the air. I’m not overly keen on the idea of Christmas beginning this early and lasting two whole months, but if my local Tesco decide that November 1st is the appropriate time to put up the holly-encrusted signage then who am I to argue? TV ad breaks are infested with yuletide cheer, there’s a Coca Cola Christmas truck begging for retweets on Twitter, and the mince pies are unashamedly on sale in all good retailers [expiry date: December 1st]. Well, if the tinsel’s everywhere then I guess we’d better try to bloody enjoy it.

One of the key elements of Christmas when I was growing up was the school pantomime. Every year, the week before we broke up for the festive holidays, the upper sixth would perform a pantomime of their own creation – written, acted and staged by members of the sixth form, under the watchful, slightly nervous eye of the English department – which was basically an excuse to make a lot of noise and mess and say racy, scurrilous things about the staff. Each year the benchmark of cheekiness was raised, and there were always rumours (never true) about who’d got into the most trouble afterwards. ‘Umm, I heard that John Jones got expelled for calling Mr Majzlik a bummer.’
Everyone involved in the pantomime was, for one day at least, a campus hero. It was always something to look forward to as it would always be absolute chaos. We couldn’t wait to be the big kids who got to put on the show. It was something everybody wanted to do.

Inevitably, of course, our time came. That’s how time works. Aged seventeen or eighteen, we found ourselves being briefed by the English teachers: no swearing, no violence, nothing unsuitable for an audience of children as young as eleven, no misbehaviour of any kind, for goodness’ sake set a good example. A chorus of ‘yes miss, of course miss’ sang back, but we were already hatching malevolent treasons, stratagems and spoils. We knew what the deal was with the annual Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School pantomime, and we knew that ours had to be more outrageous, more shocking, more naughty than any that had come before it.
We set about divvying up the responsibilities – what the rough plot would be, who’d play who, who’d design and build the sets, who’d be in charge of costumes, who’d control the music and lighting, who’d write the thing and so on and so on. I had the task of writing one of the scenes, although I cannot now recall a single word of what I wrote. But then, I was staggeringly drunk. We all were.

That was the crux of it, you see. When we were younger, we just assumed that the big kids on stage were being mischievous and daring. It never occurred to us that they were smashed out of their minds on Tesco Value vodka. But cometh the hour, cometh the spirits – we had little choice but to get kidney-pulping shitfaced. How else could we have got up in front of the entire school and faculty and done the things we did…?

The writing process was a brilliantly clandestine one. In fact, we wrote two entirely separate scripts for Austin in Wonderland (for ‘twas the title; as you can imagine, it was a mash-up of Alice in Wonderland and Austin Powers) – one script to submit to the teachers for approval, and another containing the terrible, shocking things we were actually planning to do. Much of it would be lost to the collective memories of a cast who were too jiggered to recall the affair and a staff body who presumably still cringe when they remember what happened that day, but thankfully some bright spark had the wherewithal to video it, and that crackly videotape has now been lovingly transferred onto DVD for the sake of posterity. Lest we forget. When I’m old and grey, I could show my grandchildren the production I was involved with that featured full frontal nudity, a Stephen Hawking impersonator and a live horse. I could do that, but I won’t.

What’s all this, you say? Full frontal nudity? Yes indeed, my good friend Clive (surname deliberately excluded, he’s a teacher himself now, poacher turned gamekeeper [his name isn’t even Clive, it’s Chris]) was playing the role of ‘The Naked Chef’, an entity that Jamie Oliver had recently debuted and we were hilariously lampooning. His role in the play was to bake the Queen of Hearts’ tarts. He was totally naked. Well, he was wearing an apron but it was really very small; when he turned around, the whole school saw his bum. When he crouched down to retrieve the tarts from the cardboard prop oven, his brown eye winked at every one of them. And when he stood up and swished back around to face the audience, the apron juuuuuuust didn’t swing around quick enough. It was magical.

A Stephen Hawking impersonator? Yeah, that happened too. I’m at pains to point out that really we were subverting the expectations of the audience rather than mocking motor neurone disease. It was all very post-modern.
…at least, that’s what I tell myself. The reality of it was that there was a spoddy boy in our year, Peter, who was exceptionally nerdish but also rather a good sport. He was like a walking talking Hawking, all NHS specs and slack jaw. So we put him in a wheelchair and rolled him out onto the stage whilst playing Radiohead’s ‘Fitter Happier’. The audience was, possibly for the only point throughout the pantomime, entirely silent. That is, save for a single child, somewhere deep within the darkness, who quietly breathed this timeless and cutting analysis of the scene: ‘Oh my god. That’s awful.’
I can only hope that their god has forgiven us.

A live horse? Hell yeah, we did that.
Jessica was a friend of the animals, nobody could deny that. She was our very own Doctor Dolittle. So when we hit upon the idea of having some kind of small live creature to bring out onto the stage at a certain point in the narrative, we knew that she would provide. Something like a piglet or small dog, we were thinking, a fuzzy critter that could be carried out, provide a bit of cuteness to the scene in question, then be quietly spirited away so that the play could continue.
She arrived shortly before the pantomime was due to start with a fucking horse. A real, proper, actual horse.
Now, any sensible direction team would have said ‘that’s ridiculous, it’s too big’. But we’d been drinking heavily all morning, and the idea of a horse seemed too hilarious to pass up.
The trouble was that the access to the backstage area was via the sports changing rooms, along numerous corridors and staircases and what-have-you, a route too serpentine and convoluted to lead a whole full-size horse. So we had to sneak it through a side door into the assembly hall itself, lead it among the audience (who were mostly small children, let’s not forget, sitting cross-legged on the floor), up the five or six polished wooden steps at the side of the stage and hope for the best. Brilliantly, the preceding scene had seen two boys dressed in Men In Black get-up drilling the audience with high-powered Super Soakers, so the floor was really quite wet. The sight of a horse trying to climb a wet staircase, scrabbling for grip and nearly tumbling to the ground over and over, sent first-years screaming and running for cover. In hindsight, it’s incredible that the headmaster didn’t call a halt to the whole thing there and then.
After a good few minutes of sodden clippety-clopping, the beast made it onto the stage. But we hadn’t written any stage directions for a horse – it was a fucking horse, why would we? – so Jess then had to lead the befuddled creature back down the stairs, through the terrified audience and out into freedom, leaving a roomful of children bewildered and scared. It was priceless.

There were a number of other exciting features within the panto that, in hindsight, seem ill-advised, but were hilarious in context - the context being that we were drunk teenagers figuratively slapping our teachers in their faces in front of the entire school. There was the Backstreet Boys segue which was basically just a striptease. There was the increasingly inebriated lad playing Austin Powers, who kept forgetting the innuendo-laden insinuations of what he wanted to do to Alice that were in the script, so just resorted to boisterously describing a series of sexual acts in explicit detail, making it up as he went along. Everybody enjoyed the S Club/Steps-style pop routine by our very own home-grown troupe named Oral Fun. (They were originally called ‘Oral Six’ but our English teacher, Miss Williams, saw us rehearsing that bit and told us that under no circumstances were we allowed to use the name ‘Oral Six’. ‘Oral Fun’, however, was apparently fine. [Their routine ended with them simulating fellatio. It was pure class.]) The scene with Hannah from Neighbours – played by a girl in a t-shirt that said ‘Barbie is a slut’ – chatting to Steve Irwin was an innuendo extravaganza: he was wrestling with a vast snake that the props department had knocked up which, if I remember rightly, was called ‘the Enormous Deadly Purple-Headed Trouser Snake’. ‘Oh no,’ cried Hannah, ‘he’s spat his deadly white venom all over my chest. And hair.’
The pièce de résistance, however, was the grand finale. It was a monstrous dance routine involving the entire cast and crew – far too many people to fit on the stage at the same time. It began with the head boy & head girl (who walked out onto the stage to the tune of The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ – a masterstroke, that) being introduced by my (now) brother-in-law who was playing the part of Jerry Springer – it was a very confusing plot – who in turn introduced everybody else, until there were over a hundred people crammed onto the stage, most of them pissed out of their brains, trying to dance in sync and failing spectacularly. Then, my friend Sam – who I chose to be my Best Man a couple of years ago, largely because of this very performance – who had finished off the best part of a litre of ropey vodka, just fell off the stage. It’s incredible to watch the footage back; one minute he was gurning and gyrating, having the time of his life at the front of the stage, and the next there’s just a void where he was standing and the sound of screaming. He landed on several kids, I believe.

We fled straight to the pub at that point. It would have been very, very foolish to stick around. The changing rooms were ankle-deep in empty bottles.

And that’s what Christmas is all about.


Cow & Gate Supergroup

Twilight: Abridged!

GOLDaid - Remède contre le rhume

Rollercoaster Chess

An XKCD cartoon sparks a fantastic new trend. Clicky.

The 10 year-old takeover

Grip Limited Presents: The 10-year-old Takeover from Grip Limited on Vimeo.

Windows 95 Tips

This is marvellous.

Social Media Facts

Well, they might be facts. See what you think.



...and here's rather a good parody:

Great British Inventions

...some of which aren't actually that great. This archive from British Pathé is pure gold - click here.

A bookcase designed for FUCKING LUNATICS

Select magazine archive

Mecca for indie nostalgists - Monkeon is archiving his 1990s collection of Select magazine. Click here.

Friday, 9 November 2012

007 Movie Deathmatch

IMDB’s top 250 – condensed

Efficient, this.

Rap Colouring Book

The perfect thing for developing better hand-eye co-ordination in your little gangstas. Click here.

‘Can we make the pig sexier?’

Shitty client feedback, manifested as beautiful posters - and all in a good cause. Click here.

EE, RAC, Brother, John Lewis

Four cool ads that caught the Juicy eye this week.







Adam Buxton’s Obama victory speech

Professional Clicking

Marvellous.

'Are you tired of your viral videos not going viral? With Buyral, you'll get millions of clicks every time. And it looks like real people are watching your videos! Learn more at http://buyral.ca'

Cellphone Crashing

A charmingly harmless prank.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Cassetteboy vs. Obama vs. Romney

'My Celebrity Portraits'

Twitter is marvellous, isn't it? Anyone could draw pictures of random celebs, but now it's easily possible to send said pictures to the celebrities in question and await their nervous responses. Which is exactly what this chap is doing - click here.

#airnzhobbit

A brilliantly odd in-flight safety video from Air New Zealand.

Real Sandy/Fake Sandy

Hurricane Sandy inspired all manner of photo-sharing - some images more legitimate than others. The ever-fastidious Atlantic has been sorting the real from the fake. Click here to see.

The Sixties

'From the creators of Mad Men...'

When He-Man Met Lion-O

It's the high-five that makes it.

OctoberFail

More Darwinian retribution.



...and as a special bonus, here's a demonstration of how money doesn't buy talent.

Symphonic Smells Like Teen Spirit

Nevermind is 21. That means it can drink.

Surveillance Man

A total lack of shame. Marvellous.


Friday, 26 October 2012

26/10/12 - Student Loans

I received a letter from the Student Loans Company last week. It said ‘Important information – you’ve almost finished paying back your student loan!’
I wasn’t entirely convinced. I have a deep, contemptuous distrust of the Student Loans Company, and take any apparently good news from them – indeed, any communication whatsoever – with a hefty fistful of salt.
A phone call to the SLC revealed that ‘you’ve almost finished’ wasn’t entirely accurate; what they should have said was ‘you will have finished paying back your student loan in January 2014, which is fifteen months from now’.
The reason they were writing in such a chipper tone was that they wanted me to switch my payments to Direct Debit, rather than having them come straight out of my salary every month, which has been happening for as long as I can remember. Otherwise, in their words, I ‘will definitely overpay’. This isn’t something that’s my or my employer’s fault, but would occur because of the inherent shitness of the SLC’s accounting system: they send one letter a year, in October, telling you how much you still owed them back in April. That’s the full extent of anyone’s interaction with them. So they’re basically saying that I need to switch to a Direct Debit now, to stop them sending me a letter in October 2014 that says ‘oops, you’ve accidentally overpaid by hundreds and hundreds of pounds – you can have this back next April, or possibly next October’. Obviously any interest I felt like charging them for holding my money throughout this period would be ignored – the vast charges only work in one direction.

I’m very grumpy about paying back the student loan at all, to be honest. Yes, I did borrow it and spend it and it’s only fair that I give it back, but it all seems so ridiculous now. I wouldn’t have minded if the repayments had been slightly higher to begin with, and I wouldn’t have complained if they’d started taking it from me when I got my first post-uni full-time job (in a warehouse, with a £12k salary – my mum was proud) instead of waiting until I’d crossed their arbitrary income threshold when I was, effectively, still equally poor. Because at least I might have paid the bloody thing off by now. It’s a millstone. I graduated a decade ago. A decade! I can’t even remember what I bloody spent it on.

Actually, yes I can. I spent it on these things:

Cars
Obviously, I spent a lot of it on cars. But not buying loads of different cars, that didn’t start in earnest until after I graduated.
I’d sold my car - a metallic orange 1982 Ford Escort 1.3L five-door, resplendent in XR3i spoilers, rally spots and Orion pepperpots - shortly before going to university. This was on the advice of my uncle Alan, who said ‘you won’t need a car at university – you’ll always be too drunk to drive it. Sell it, and use the money to buy beer’. He’d never steered me wrong before, so I trusted him. But it turned out to be bollocks – cars are a) useful and b) ace. Having driven myself down to Portsmouth in my mum’s mkIV Escort estate with all my stuff in the back, it was a pain in the arse to then have to drive back to Kent, give her car back and then get the train down to uni. It was also really annoying to have to bring my groceries home on the bus every week, this being way before the days of friendly home grocery deliveries. Plus I just really like driving.
So the next term, when my mum had replaced her Escort with a Peugeot 309, I borrowed it to take to university… and just never gave it back. It was a 1990 309 1.6 GL (oooh, posh), and I didn’t hesitate to spend vast swathes of my student loan on GTI alloys, spoilers and bumpers, as well as blowing pretty much every penny I had on making it the lowest 309 in town. (This is actually relatively easy to achieve with Peugeots of this era – they have torsion bar suspension at the rear, so you just need to wind them down a few splines. [I wound it down all the way so that it was sitting on the bump stops; there effectively wasn’t any suspension at the back.] The expensive part was finding shocks and springs short enough to have it equally low at the front, so that it didn’t look like I was driving round with a bag of cement in the boot.) Then there was the stainless steel exhaust, the beefy stereo… loads of money poured into my mum’s car to ensure that she wouldn’t want to drive it. It worked. She signed the V5 over to me. That’s how you do it, kids. The way to get a free car is to, er, spend way more than the value of the car on monkeying around with someone else’s, until they find it too embarrassing to drive.

CDs and videos
I’ve always been a music collector. It seems somehow frivolous and inauthentic to seasoned vinyl enthusiasts to position yourself as a CD collector, but that is what I am; while my schoolchums used to read Match, CVG or Loaded, I could generally be found leafing through Record Collector magazine, cross-referencing their listings with the latest Xeroxed price lists I’d had mailed from dealers like Esprit and SisterRay, sniffing out obscure Bluetones demos, Kula Shaker white-labels and Wildhearts bootlegs. And this all spiralled out of any sense of reason when I went to university. Every Monday morning I used to get up (it was actually the only day of the week where I would get up in the morning, if I remember rightly) and stroll into town to check out the new releases at HMV. I’d buy the latest albums by any band that I liked, plus a number that sounded like they might be good – usually somewhere between five and ten albums a week. In hindsight, this was a fucking expensive habit. It would have been significantly cheaper if I’d got into heroin. But, of course, I wouldn’t then have found myself at the age of thirty with a frickin’ shamazing CD collection. When I’ve paid off my student loan, I’ll still have that. Brilliant.
I bought a lot of movies on VHS as well. This didn’t turn out to be such a good idea. The years have not been kind to video-tape as a medium. Having gradually replaced them all with DVDs, I couldn’t even sell the videos when I tried a few years ago. I gave them all to a charity shop in Redhill. They’re probably still there.

Questionable clothes
Fashion is, I’m afraid, not my business. I usually just stick with a hoodie, jeans and skate shoes because I like baggy clothes and that makes me sort of anonymous. It’s become my signature look by default, just because I can’t be arsed to put any thought into what I wear. My favourite jacket is an Adidas track top I bought second-hand when I was seventeen – it still sees regular use. Looking cool or fashionable or trendy has never been something that’s occupied a great deal of my time, because I don’t really understand it.
…I had a go at it when I was a student, though. Picture me in a pair of the widest, most ostentatious flares you can imagine, paired with a green top with ‘suck my discotheque’ written on it in huge blue letters, and a pair of shimmering gold Nike Air Max. What a tit. A lot of that kind of thing went on.

Drinkin’
Obviously, this is where the bulk of all student money goes. During Freshers Week I signed up for as many clubs and societies as I could in order to meet people and whatever, and didn’t actually get beyond Freshers Week with most of them. The Ultimate Frisbee Club, for example – I went out with them the night before my first ever lecture; there’s a dim recollection of lying on a bar with someone pouring a bottle of Smirnoff Blue Label into my mouth with a funnel, and then I woke up the next day in all my clothes with crisps in my shoes. I never actually went and played frisbee. But I can tell people that I began my university career by running out of my first lecture to be sick.
It was the Snakey B Challenge that really did it for the overdraft. The student union (which was just a weird old wooden building from the sixties in my first year, but was replaced by some ultra-futuristic multi-level über-club for the second year) sold snakebite & black for £1.50 a pint. This, if you’ve not tried it, is half a pint of lager mixed with half a pint of cider, with a squirt of blackcurrant squash in it – some call it Snakey B, some call it Red Beer. Guaranteed fally-over juice. The rules of the Snakey B Challenge were simple: to drink ten pints of snakebite & black over the course of a night out without throwing up or passing out. It got easier over time, but the potential for sabotage was huge; the drunker an opponent was, the less likely they were to notice that you’d slipped a couple of shots of blackcurrant schnapps into their pint. And so our livers eroded.
We weren’t totally irresponsible though. We always had a keen eye on value. There was a club on the grandly-titled Winston Churchill Avenue that was called ‘Uropa’ – on a Tuesday night, you’d pay £7 entry with all drinks included all night. All-you-can-drink (or was it drink-as-much-as-you-can?) for seven pounds? No-one can argue with the logic of that.
You can imagine what sort of quality the drinks were. The next morning would be spent scraping the chunky fuzz off our teeth with screwdrivers. Although that may also have had something to do with the vast ropey pizzas we’d get from Ken’s Kebabs on the way home. A 15” pizza for £4.50? No, I don’t care if the “meat” is local cats…

Ah, good times. I guess it was all worth it. And there’s only another fifteen huge payments to go!

Babies eating lemons

Possibly slightly cruel, but totally worth it.

Guardian Truncation Team

This is a work of utter brilliance: a collection of Guardian headlines that are amusingly truncated on the mobile app to turn them into Day Today-esque comedy gold. Click here.

Eton Style

You've seen Gangnam Style. Well, this is how shit goes down in Windsor.

Hipster TTOI

An inspired concept, this - quotes from The Thick Of It, laid over entirely inappropriate backdrops. Click here.

Lego Stratos

007: cost to taxpayer

How much is it costing us to keep James Bond up to his Seamaster in Martinis and loose women? Click here to see...

Powers of Ten

Star Wars, the Sex Pistols, the death of Elvis... what did 1977 mean to you? To IBM, it meant this: fucking with your head with SCIENCE.

Ikea - Playin' With My Friends

Every second of this ad is dripping with cuteness.

Hate Mail

Twelve-odd minutes, but well worth your time.

Mr Bingo from Glug Events on Vimeo.

007 in 70 seconds

Clearly all faked, but very entertaining nonetheless.

Friday, 12 October 2012

12/10/12 - Blank Canvas

If you gave me a set of comprehensive instructions, all of the correct component parts and the equipment necessary to carry out the task, I still don’t think there’s any way I’d be able to make a functioning human kidney. So it astonishes me that my wife managed to perform such a task from scratch, using little more than her warm, accommodating mid-section and a liberal dusting from my gentleman’s dandelion clock. And not just a sole kidney, but an entire person – knees, corneas, fingernails, alveoli, the works. It’s incredible. What’s more, she’s able to make delicious, nourishing food for the little scamp which just squirts out of her knockers, a set of cushiony delights hitherto merely enjoyed for their aesthetic qualities that have suddenly found a new life as an on-demand dairy bar. Amazing.
She’s a thorough and methodical soul, my wife, and dashed pretty to boot, so when our nipper popped out, I was most pleased to discover that the enormous drag factor of my own ham-fisted cretinousness and gargoylish features hadn’t carried through in too obvious a manner. Indeed, we were both gobsmacked to discover that we’d created something so perfect, so flawless. Still are. We’d never made a person before; we’d made Ikea shelves and cheesecakes and holiday plans, but never a functioning creature. Incredibly, we nailed it on the first attempt.

Being a dad is ace. I really like it, and maintain that the project was a Good Idea. (Just as well really – after seven months or thereabouts, she’s got a bit too big to push back in.)
The interesting thing about babies is that they don’t know anything. They’re not stupid, they just aren’t aware of such useful things as context or precedent. This is still taking me some time to wrap my head around. Every now and then while we’re hanging out together on the living room floor, as I babble on to her about nothing in particular – she’s pretty much the first person not to tell me to shut up, meaning we’re now firm friends – I’ll catch myself making some cultural reference which needs explaining, and every one of them ends up in an encyclopaedic knowledge spiral. Let’s say, for example, that I point out that one of her toys looks like Bart Simpson’s head. She’s never seen The Simpsons, so I have to explain who Bart is and what shape his head is, then give some context of the family and the show overall, then explain that it’s a cartoon and try to illustrate what a cartoon is, then move on to what television is (its history, its place in society, its place in the corner of our living room), until I discover – after quite some time – that I’m going into tedious detail about something entirely inconsequential and unrelated, and the poor little lamb is borderline comatose. Or, more likely, clawing at my eyes and bashing me in the face with a small plastic train in a desperate attempt to stop the irritating droning noise. 

The fact that she’s never seen The Simpsons is, in itself, a bit of a mindblower. We grow up communicating with our peers about the new things we’re discovering which, at school age, is a bit of an arms race – if you haven’t heard the latest single by [insert contemporary reference] then you’re shunned by your classmates; by the time you’ve reached adulthood you have many years of ingrained cultural references to call upon. Starting from scratch with a whole new person is, frankly, a bloody daunting task. Where do you start? I mean, everyone’s seen The Simpsons, it’s always on. But, of course, my teeny-tiny daughter is a blank canvas. She’s never watched The Simpsons. She’s never seen Goodfellas or Back to the Future either. She’s never heard of Justin Bieber or Arthur Scargill or Amelia Earhart or Madonna or Jesse Owens. She’s never eaten a hot dog, seen the Eiffel Tower, attempted to operate a skateboard, wound the tape back into a cassette with a pencil, got Blu-Tack under her fingernail, put tinsel on a Christmas tree, tried to wash biro ink off her hand, played Tetris, scratched the soft wood of a beer garden table with her thumb, torn a sheet of paper (deliberately), popped a balloon, jumped on a trampoline, iced a cake, fallen in the snow, hidden in a cupboard, peeled the paper from a Black Jack, scraped burnt rice from a saucepan, operated a petrol pump, spun a coin, thrown a tennis ball at a wall, or even said ‘hello’. All of these things are a total mystery. So with this yawning vacuum of knowledge and experience, where do you start? How can you impart wisdom when everything has to be explained by something else, which has to be explained by a further thing, which… we’re back to the knowledge spiral again. It’s a life’s work.

But anyway, back to the living room floor. As I’m babbling away merrily to her about everything and nothing, it may as well be white noise. Without language, all of my explanations are basically meaningless, because until she learns to process these sounds as individual nuggets of reason and logic, it’s just clusters of sounds. And I think that’s my favourite thing of all right now – the sounds that she gives back. She hears us bigger people making noises at each other and assumes that this is how people communicate, by simply making noise. ‘Waawaweewoahwoahwoah,’ she’ll say, ‘ha! Woahwoahwoahwaaa’. It’s enormously cute, and immediately disarming. And all I can do is stop banging on about carburettors or Kevin Spacey or whatever subject I’ve ambled into, and just echo the sounds back at her. Which is, of course, far more fun. Yes, her first words will be momentous, thrilling and spectacular, and will represent a massive step-change in perception and cognition, but for now I’m happy with the random noises. And the day she realises that her toys aren’t also sentient beings that may respond to the ‘woahwoahwaawoah’-ing will be a sad one indeed.

I love that she doesn’t know anything. I’m really going to enjoy helping her figure it all out. What a brilliantly weird project.


Wake The Fuck Up

MulticolorEngine

This is a lovely idea- image searching by colour. Click here.

First World Problems

...are not problems.

27b/6 Appraisals

More wonderful bile from that disgruntled man. Click here.