Thursday, 30 May 2013

A Cartoon About A Classic Movie

Casablanca Cartoon

A Cartoon About Being Dead

Dead on HolidayApologises if you can smell something. This one still stinks with rejection from 'Private Eye'... I'm beginning to think they're just testing me, making me work even harder. One week they will say yes but I really thought this one stood a chance.


The Duck Controversy: A Cautionary Tale for Web Marketers

 

Grab a pen and jail tattoo this information on your elbow. I have a new email address for this blog. My new email address is thespineblog@gmail.com. I encourage you to use it immediately. I don’t get enough emails from readers and I’m only about a third as evil as this blog would suggest.

My previous email apparently wasn't working, though I wouldn't know that because emails  have been going missing. So, if you’ve ever emailed me and it seemed strange that I didn’t reply when I reply to everybody, the chances are that I didn’t receive your email.

Webwindows

The only emails that have been regularly getting through are from the people at Web Windows who keep asking me for £525 to advertise my blog in the national press. I wouldn't advise you to click the link. Before you know what’s happening, you’ll have a web chat window open with one of their sales people. It happened to me yesterday and the poor woman looked so lonely that I felt obliged to ask something. I asked if she could name the biggest duck in the world. As you can see, she foolishly suggested it was the Aylesbury. Unfortunately, the conversation didn't proceed any further, which was a shame since the next thing I was going to ask was the price of six months advertising in ‘The Guardian’.

For me the duck issue was the deal breaker. As you know, I’m actually a financial genius with billions in the pot ready for the right advertising deal to come along. ‘Let’s run this up the flagpole,’ I was about to say as I stood at my desk with my hands-free on my head. I had already hitched up one leg, revealing my red cashmere socks as I gazed out over the London skyline. ‘Damn it! I want ballpark figures,’ would have been my next line followed by ‘Let’s close this sucker! I’m due in Paris tonight and want this deal put to bed.’

Instead, I wrote them an email to let them down gently. I didn’t want them to realise that they’d just let a reclusive and eccentric billionaire slip through their fingers. Naturally, there has been no reply.
To @ Web Windows

Dear Herbert Smalls

Okay, I keep getting your grovelling emails and I think it’s time we took this misunderstanding behind the kennel and put the poor bastard out of its misery.

£525 for an ad in national newspapers might be nose money to you high-flying marketing types but that’s the price of my left kidney on eBay. What kind of operation do you think I’m running? I’m not one of those bloggers doing the papers on Sky News and milking the Murdoch millions for some barely cogent ramble about the Duchess of Cambridge’s chin. If you said ‘£5.25’ then I might spit in my hand and offer to shake but even then I’d have to double check that I don’t need to eat next week.

Furthermore, do you realise how much of an insult it is when you suggest I might want an ad in the Daily Mail or Telegraph? I might have a small readership but it’s a mighty powerful one. We’re not talking about your C1 and C2 photocopier engineers and bathtub fitters. We’re talking upper echelon A’s with the occasional B to keep the gene pool fertile. These are CERN boffins, university types, lone wolves used to exploring the intellectual hinterland with nothing more than a compass and a splinter of rock. The Daily Mail and the Telegraph! We’re not the type to get excited at the thought of Katie Price in a bikini or Lord Tebbit in a thong. Come back to me when you can get me coverage in The Guardian or The Independent.

In summary, I write a small but excellent blog which is read by a very small but highly intelligent coterie, attracted to witty social commentary and drawings of hairy bottoms. If you could remove me from your list of easy marks, I would appreciate it enormously.

Bless you,

Pelinor Le Grew
Editor and Proprietor
The Spine

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Ralph Steadman Effect

Ralph Steadman

Few things give me as much pleasure as Ralph Steadman’s books yet they can also awaken certain feelings of self-loathing in me.

When I was still signing my letters as Stan Madeley, the UK’s top Richard Madeley lookalike, back when I was still hoping to get a second volume of letters published, I would very occasionally write one to some personal hero whose work I genuinely admired. I once wrote to Robert Crumb and sent him a bad parody I’d drawn of one of his Amazonian girls. I walked down the stairs one morning about three weeks later to see a large white A4 envelope sitting on the doormat. The handwritten address was a work of art in itself and almost as good as the drawing Crumb had enclosed: his own version of my version of one of his Amazonians. Days like that made the failures worth it. And there were plenty of failures...

It generally didn't bother me when certain people didn't reply. I've bothered enough big names so that a rejection from Will Gompertz was never going to upset me too much, even if he did get one of my better cartoons. The exception is when a letter happens to be one of the few I've written which were special to me. Those were letters into which I’d usually put real effort, perhaps taken days to get the wording just right. I wrote to Ron Mael of Sparks who completely ignored me, as did Gerald Scarfe both of which were real disappointments. However, many others replied. I have letters from comedy greats such as Bob Newhart and Alan Alda, film greats such as Roman Polanski and Shirley MacLaine. John Landis sent me a CD and Martin Sheen a bag of whistles.

Yet nothing quite matches my Steadman reply. I wrote to him when I was feeling particularly down one day. It was probably after another of the endless rejection emails from ‘Private Eye’ and I was really considering… Well, I might say 'giving' up but I'm not sure that's right. I love to write comedy and I love to cartoon. The thought of doing anything else... Well, I don't go there. Unlike my usual spoof letters, the letter I wrote to Steadman mixed humour in with genuine sentiment. I also sent him a copy of my book which he probably used on his log stove. I didn't expect a reply so I was over the moon when I received a handwritten letter two months later. I felt all kinds of stupid when he told me to sort myself out. Slapped by Steadman! It should be the title of a book… I present the original letter and reply here for the first time. You see before you one of my most treasured possessions. Both pictures are clickable in case you'd like to read them...

Stan Madeley's letter to Ralph Steadman My reply from Ralph Steadman

But all that is back-story. I’m now sitting here wondering if I can make the STEADman@77 exhibition currently playing to lucky and no-doubt indifferent bastards at the Cartoon Museum in London. I’m itching to go but the small matter of a 400 mile round journey is getting in the way. The obvious answer is: if you really wanted to go, you’d find a way. Perhaps that’s true but the cost of travelling between any two points in this fine country of ours is getting out of hand. I don’t have a car and as much as I love cycling, I don’t think my old Raleigh X1 (and my even older legs) could make it to London and back. The train is pretty quick but it’s well outside the current finances of this humble pen scratcher. That leaves the coach...

My six foot two inch frame does not sit well on National Express coaches for a five hour journey. Leaving Warrington at 6.40AM, I’d apparently arrive in London at 11.40. Assuming the travel sickness hasn’t destroyed my insides by then, I’d have maybe five hours to find the museum, sob and drool over the Steadman exhibition, before I’d have to get the return coach that leaves at 6.30 and arrives home around 11.30. I feel nauseous just thinking about that trip. It was sheer hell the last time I travelled to London by coach but I’m beginning to feel like I’ll have to do it again or never see this exhibition…

When Londoners complain as they occasionally do on the rare occasion that an exhibition opens somewhere in the North, I wish they’d remember the thousands upon thousands of things we don’t get and never will get. Not that there isn’t adequate space to put on an exhibition. We have the damn Tate Liverpool which thrives on the abstracted junk they exhibit to American tourists and bored school kids. Last year they held an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ exhibition which ignored Steadman’s superior version in favour of some graphic design college nonsense. There is plenty of gallery space in Manchester when it’s not being used on some postmodern project that no bugger wants or visits. Would it be too much to hope that a collection by the UK’s most respected illustrators and cartoonists of the late 20th Century might actually travel this far north? I mean, Steadman was born in Wallasey, for Christ sake! A mere fifteen miles from my front door… Get a bloody blue plaque put up there or in in Abergele in North Wales which is where he was brought up and then bring his work up here. I can be in North Wales inside forty minutes...

However, it won't happen. I know I’ll have to overdose on Dramamine in order to pay homage in London. If I wanted to engage in pilgrimage, I’d have bloody well become a Catholic.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A Quick Cartoon About Tattoos

The Jimmy Savile tattoo

Eleven Reasons Why Nick Ross’s Testicles Are Not Like A Honda Civic

Nick Ross

Sarah Ditum’s well-aimed barb, ‘Three reasons why a vagina is not like a laptop’ (The Guardian, 26th May, 2013), should have made for tough reading, especially for Nick Ross, whose argument from his new book, Crime, had already been reduced to an extract published in The Daily Mail before Ms Ditum then reduced it to an edited selection and further cut it down for her eye-catching title. But she has to be praised for approaching his argument via a classic example of reductio ad absurdum, even if, for some readers, the result was in itself so very absurd.

As men know all too well, knee jerk reactions can be very painful, and this is especially true if, like Nick Ross, you’re the man standing with your crotch at full stretch over the rapidly rising knee. The Guardian piece was definitely a forceful knee and Nick Ross’s testicles took the impact like a Honda Civic dropped from the top of the Top Gear crane. Yet to compare Nick Ross’s testicles to a Honda Civic is itself to trivialise the pain that a man feels when kicked in that most sensitive of places. I shouldn’t have done it but, then, drawing analogies is always a business fraught with difficulty.

Analogies can be made between any two things and it was right that Sarah Ditum pointed out the weakness of the analogy Ross’s drew between a laptop left on show to a woman enjoying the freedom to express her own sexuality. His analogy carried with it all manner of overtone from the sin of objectifying women to that of comparing rape to theft. The issue then became a matter of deciding if those overtones were deliberate, accidental, or, as some would have it, inadvertently revealed some deeper truth about the way that some men think about rape as a ‘taking’ rather than an act of violence.

Yet if it’s always easy to play mischief and point out the problems with an analogy, as the novelist Samuel Butler once said, ‘though analogy is often misleading, it is the least misleading thing we have.’ Analogies simplify in order to advance an argument but they should not be confused with the actual argument itself. Attacking Nick Ross’s analogy is like destabilising a building by criticising the colour of the curtains. This is itself a pretty strong analogy but even that could be made weak, if, for example, you knew a building owner pathologically sensitive to criticism about her soft furnishings and had a way with dynamite.

That’s the problem with analogies: they always contain inherent differences, points of difficulty, and easy corridors of attack. A robin can be compared to a sparrow but it’s also very different. If there were no difference, a robin would be a sparrow.

I drew my own analogy between Nick Ross’s poor battered testicles and a Honda Civic because it seemed to me that some arguments are very vulnerable to attack. It has become somewhat fashionable for female writers to author articles that mock men, masculinity, and male culture. Rape rightly remains the most sensitive subject about which any person can write, so it seemed perverse that when a man did attempt to address the matter in an appropriately sincere way, based upon what he felt were ‘facts’, that he became subject to selective quotation and ridicule. Is Nick Ross an easy target or was he simply na├»ve for attempting to discuss an issue that polarises opinion so strongly? Was it right to humiliate him with a sharp knee to the groin? Did Nick Ross’s arguments really have all the structural integrity of a Honda Civic’s crumple zone?

I am in no position to judge but I hope my own argument doesn’t rest on the strength of my chosen analogy. Frankly, I know very little about cars but a little research now tells me that the Honda Civic has the full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. If Nick Ross’s testicles were as strong as a Honda Civic, then any knee would shatter upon impact and my argument would be doomed. And that, really, is my point. Arguments rarely rest of the strength or weakness of their analogies but on facts, reason, and the force of what we might intuit as ‘truth’. We can question his analogies but surely Nick Ross’s points still need addressing in a proper way. From this Crimewatch viewer, the greatest indiscretion the suspect has committed thus far is that of drawing a woefully bad analogy, as, indeed, I drew a bad analogy at the start of this piece.

Mock him, certainly, but then address his argument. But in the meantime, in the name of fairness, consider another ten important ways that Nick Ross’s testicles are nothing like a Honda Civic.

  1. The ability to handle Nick Ross’s testicles in wet conditions is not something Jeremy Clarkson is likely to be found boasting about.

  2. You can’t wrap Nick Ross’s testicles around a lamp post though some might like to try

  3. You can’t jump-start a bus from Nick Ross’s testicles

  4. You can’t carry four Royal Marines in the back of Nick Ross’s testicles

  5. A Honda Civic has never bulged in blue polyester trousers on an edition of Crimewatch

  6. You can’t scratch a Honda Civic from your trouser pocket

  7. You can’t pick up a week’s groceries with Nick Ross’s testicles

  8. You rarely need to dig Nick Ross’s testicles out of deep snow

  9. It’s not obscene to ask an mechanic to give a Honda Civic a 10,000 mile tune up

  10. Kicking a Honda Civic in its front fender wouldn’t make a feminist happy. You really do need Nick Ross's testicles for that.

Monday, 27 May 2013

How The British Bank Holiday Can Break a Man in 72 Hours or Less

It is a truth universally acknowledged among the swinish and brash that the first sun-blessed bank holiday of the year is the ideal time to pressure wash their garden decking, perhaps for hours on end, perhaps stopping periodically to mow their lawn or use a pneumatic jackhammer to chip a cherub from their imitation Trevi Fountain or a hair dryer to blow the winter dust from their atonal wind-chimes. What better time is there for homicidally-inclined couples to adopt vein-constricting swimwear over their jaundiced gooseflesh before they can argue with the force of an industrial sandblasting operation about who forgot to bring out the bleach or whether they should use deck cleaner on the stains from last year’s wine? Only then can she call him some degenerate name and he can bark back a sequence of four letters that might or might not remind you of how Keats once described the summer as ‘a sweet reprieve / From little cares; to find, with easy quest, / A fragrant wild, with Nature's beauty drest’.

There is sadly no truth universally acknowledged that might arm you against the porcine hordes other than the advice I can give you now which is to lock your doors, fall to your knees, and mutter dark threats to whatever god or gods exist in your theology so they might bring autumn forward by six weeks. There exists no pair of noise-cancelling headphones that can cancel a British bank holiday, just as there is no law in the land that makes it possible to escape Mr Bacchus and Mrs Dionysus (he works for BT and she's a school dinner lady). There are only laws written by cowards and fools that prevent a man from pumping untreated sewage through a knot in his garden fence and the police hold nothing but a dim view of anyone who makes their point with a very long stick with a nail gorilla-taped to the end, even if that point happens to be into the side of a fifteen foot rubber swimming pool that quacks like a duck whenever it is filled.

Yet I don’t remember bank holidays always being this bad. When did holidaying Britain become a nation ruled by a vocal few who are, for want of an adequate description, snorting jackals driven insane by bad meat and brain parasites that have infected their prefrontal cortex leaving them wide-mouthed, unsociable, and flapping around their decking in their flip flops, their reddening flesh exposed so the world can see that selfishness does indeed run through the entirety of their soulless selves?

There’s not even an easy way to escape them. They follow you to the emptiest beach and choose a spot twelve feet from your Lilo to hold their own open air rock festival. A sunny bank holiday in the countryside is nothing if it's not a celebration of dirt biking, quad biking, and sticking a 4x4 through a butterfly meadow. If you’re really unlucky, you’ll meet them at the only time in the day when they do demand a little quiet, which is when they’re pursuing the nation’s most rapidly growing outdoor participation sport: dogging. Stop in the wrong spot and they’ll either headlight-flash you into a catatonic state or grope you from the bushes. Is that the smell of summer in the air? No, it’s just the Lynx Effect rising from the post-coital taxi driver now emerging through the hedgerow with nettle rash in his underwear.

But enough tales of English fauna. You might be one of those poor bastards who actually hoped to enjoy your garden despite your neighbour’s trampoline capable of propelling a mean-eyed delinquent higher than you can grow a hedge. Forget Amazon and Google and their taxes. Who would sell a garden hammock to a person who lacks the skills to drive it? You wouldn’t put an infant in charge of a chainsaw so why give deck-chairs to people who believe that Genesis are as vital to a good tan as sunscreen and the new Dan Brown? Nothing – and I mean nothing – makes the blood run slower or colder than Genesis played loudly on a bank holiday. If your neighbours want a war, I say give them a war. Don’t let them to outgun you with their middle-of-the-road banality. Hit them with The Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey, or, if things turn nuclear, The Velvet Underground’s ‘Black Angel’s Death Song’. (Serious question: what is the best music to play during a summer music war? Crazy Horse or Wham? Tom Waits or Lady Gaga? Do you pursue victory through might or go for mutually-assured destruction? Those are tough questions that require cool nerves to answer.)

Finally, when evening falls, the smell of overcooked meat fills the air. Your eyeballs weep at the smoke drifting in on the breeze from the neighbour’s patio where they’re roasting the last of the world's giant pandas on their B&Q barbecue. But it’s too hot to close your doors and windows. Blinded, you sit in the gathering dusk, listening to the braying of deviant laughter. Her brother arrives packing the Tim Vine joke book and a Michael McIntyre box set. Wine is served and the jokes become coarser as the smoke thickens and casts a bloody pall over the light of their mock Victorian street lamp. A balloon pops as his overweight uncle performs Zorba's Dance before glasses smash to a roar of approval. Then it’s time for the fireworks, the disco, a quick game of touch rugby, and then it’s the midnight karaoke…

Around 4AM, the party breaks up. There are familiar songs of farewell from the street below; confessions of love, comradeship, eternal loyalty. And then, as the last solemn ‘god bless’ echoes down the sleepless streets, you enjoy the blissful respite as silence finally falls for all of five minutes before the dawn chorus signals the start of another glorious day in our semi demi paradise.

Another piece written in the hope of getting it accepted by 'Comment is Free' in The Guardian. It wasn't. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Naked People on Motorbikes

Dirt Bikes in ParadiseIt’s a most beautiful Sunday morning of a bank holiday weekend. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky yet it’s still not too warm. The air blowing in from the north still has a cut of freshness about it.

Naturally, such fantastic weather has other benefits: outside there are some kids screaming, some kid crying, the neighbour is using a pneumatic hammer to demolish a wall, there’s somebody using a petrol-powered strimmer further away, and from the fields beyond, there’s the truest sound of spring: dirt bikes illegally cutting their merry way along the local nature trail.

And who says we Brits can’t appreciate good weather?

In honour of the day, I've slapped my notebook down and scanned my morning doodle. I'm a great believer in predestination but not the Fall. If there was a Garden of Eden (and I'm pretty sure there wasn't), then our forefathers would have despoiled it long before they got to the apple tree. Blaming the snake sounds remarkably like how we go about things today except these days we have the media to take long lens photographs of the snake, interview other snakes that know him, snakes that have slept with him, and eventually the snake himself who would confess all for a six figure sum (donated to charity) and ask for forgiveness in one cathartic sob over Phillip sodding Schofield's collar followed by the lead role in some West End musical which would see his full rehabilitation.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

A Quick Cartoon About Haemorrhoids

A Quick Cartoon About Haemorrhoids

The Verbal Diarrhoea of Russell Brand

Russell Brand

Written very late last nightas a response to the sensible people criticising Brand for his inability to write and the fools who think he’s some kind of literary genius.

Avast, ye scurvy naughtlings! What bilious envy do you pontificate over the writings of that fine mustard of a man? Why, Mr Brand’s idiomatic yarns are but the simplest to unpick. Like a flea in th’codpiece, it is but a scratch and a wiggle before the meaning ‘tis squished between finger and thumb. Consider: ’tis one part fine manly prose, loquacious with an ear for the rambling uppings and downings of our linguistic land, another part which devolves thusly into a kind of streetwise strutting of the ordinary, you know, speech, winkle-picked and ready for the shell-like, with bits that just hang, like, off the drooping end…

For each questing for the lingual Jabberwock, as if to demonstrate ample learning of the English vernacular, we shall have one mention of a wookie, won’t we, and of sagely Alec Guinness, using the Force, giving it a good old go for Blighty and all that. And with this light-sabre thrust of pop culture, we show like Russell is one of the lads, which he is, ain’t he?

That odd old bird Anthony Burgess would have trilled most lively at words put into most periphrastic utterances of bubbling froth. Ah, sweet Russell, so long as the dirty rozzers don’t feel your collar for suspected homicide of the mother tongue, you shall find much riches, like dosh, in this handbill, this flyer, this chip wrapper of the morrow’s morn! Like a modern Beckett (Samuel) or Joyce (James), you shake the tree and the most chucklesome fruit does land on your bonce and having read ‘A Clockwork Orange’ one too many times, words spring forth like large ladies in Spandex doing interpretive dance in aid of the lactose intolerant. Does anybody see your trick? Do they bonkers like for ’tis a merry jest signifying, like Dame Bonnie last week, nil points or as near to nil as make a good old bird warble!

Lastly, The Guardian should be lauded for giving use to you in these meaningful issues of the day, for employing a geeza who sprachen our language, know what I mean? Well it is, aint’ it? The ladies love him too, his tight pants swollen hot like some well-busty member of Corrie, which I don’t watch but you’ve got to mention to inculpate one’s loyalty to soapland. But I fear I ramble on too far, though that too is the charm of our liege lord of the ringlets and curls, for he writes at lengh cos it’s a protracted old trajectory from Beverley Hills, swimming pools, movie stars, a reference, if you were twigging, to that old TV periodical, ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’, which (note to self), Russell should remake, but Cockney-like, perhaps playing young Ned in tight white jeans, sexy full of the honey for Miss Jane Hathaway, who was a proper plain bird but he wouldn’t mind having a go if it were played by Keira Knightley who he of course fancies.

But enough! Unlike some bewhiskered types I could eyeball, this humble player is not paid a dime a word. Nor can he find favour in the right places to put his skills to use. Alas, alack, and cor blimey!

 

Friday, 24 May 2013

Sally Bercow Responds to High Court Decision

Bercow

I know I said I'd do no more Photoshopping but sometimes you just can't resist...

The Woolwich Horror

Invasion of the vision snatchersI sometimes wonder what the hell we mean by ‘civilisation’. In the midst of the Woolwich horror, I thought I detected something like it in the action of onlookers who put aside all the miserably inanity of our media-consuming world to actually do something with real moral conviction. But it takes tragedy for people to find the best in themselves. Or perhaps it just takes a tragedy for the best among us to step forward and make themselves known. I wish I had that special kind of vision which could see those people among us, glowing and shining as they deserve to do, so I know who they are, so I could thank them as I also remind myself that I don’t live surrounded by cold lumps of flesh occasionally reanimated into action by the likes of Google, Samsung or Apple.

But that’s so hard. Everywhere I look, the things I took for civilisation are being corrupted by the slack-jawed bastards whose tastes run riot through our towns and cities, the Neolithic who have taken over the country and would make us a cultural void. But this isn’t just about the death of the bookshops, the collapse of the newspaper industry, the closure of our libraries, the destruction of our education system. It’s about the fast-food-dump-it-in-the-gutter attitude, plasticised mock-Americana, and the emergence of the precariat who are forced to live their lives under the old iron heel. Civilisation? What is civility in a culture obsessed with gimmickry, porn, war, noise, hypocrisy, violence, and anything that is trivial or banal? They won’t vote, can’t name a politician, but want us to celebrate some idiot drinking beer through her ear or a two-headed mongrel.

And when nobody cares, bad things usually happen. Politicians grimace and frown about tragic events but we know damn well that there’s political manoeuvring going on. Boris looked more like the PM yesterday whilst the PM was trying so hard to look like the PM. The night before, Theresa looked the PM, whilst the PM was PMing with the French PM… The media, initially spittle lipped with excitement, are now full of moral indignation. The left are predictably hang-wringing, cautious to adopt stereotypes, whilst the right predictably adopt stereotypes and are in the mood for neck wringing. They all ask: how do we stop these things happening among us? But we can’t. Things have gone too far. Neighbour rarely speaks to neighbour and communities are fractured with too many living their life in a meaningless void, disconnected from each other as they are disconnected from the culture around them.

We believe we are connected because we have technology to give us our Facebook updates, our Twitter feeds, our Google+ circles, but, in truth, it’s a lie we are telling ourselves to disguise the fact that we are completely disconnected. During the Industrial Revolution, such disconnects were intellectualised and became an ingredient in Romanticism, by which artists sought to return to an earlier time, to re-engage with nature. We need something similar today: a movement that encourages us to reengage with the people around us, to feel soil between our fingers, and the blood coursing through our veins. Because at the moment, we see violence and we reach for our phones. Freakishly, we record it, retreat to our passive state, go back online where everything is safe. And that’s partially the reason why terrorism is currently so potent.

People say we are desensitized to violence but have we actually become over-sensitized to reality? Approximately 20,000 soldiers died on 1st July, 1916. There were 40,000 wounded. Could any modern politician justify such loss, such suffering? We would laugh if asked that question, confident as we cry ‘no’, but that’s only because we can never envisage a situation when the stakes would be so high. But are we really that much brighter and less civilized than our parent’s parents, or their parents before them, or have we just forgotten how brutal the world can be?

To The Person Searching For 3D Pornography

To one strange yet rather pitiful pervert who visited the blog yesterday…

I’ve just read through my web statistics so I’m only just catching up on what’s new and depraved in the world of online freak sex but you were definately the first wrist athlete to view this blog on a Nintendo device looking for ‘3d pornography for the 3DS’!

Don’t think I’m not disappointed that I couldn’t provide you some. Damn! Nothing gives me greater pleasure than knowing that somebody is visiting my blog for the purposes of self-abuse but this 3DS porn development flew Dambusters-low under my radar. Wouldn’t you think that this is the sort of thing that Nintendo would include in their publicity?

So, just for you, I’m today launching my own range of 3D pornography viewable on suitable devices. Viewed on a 3DS, the following picture will pop out of the screen in its erotic glory. Hey, have fun! Go crazy until your knuckles turn blue. I’m not going to look… Sheesh!

3d porn for the 3ds

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Xbox One, Day One: The Confessions of an Antisocial Gamer

So here's my take on the way Microsoft think they'll take over your living room. For the uninitiated, there more on the Xbox One here.

MSteve Bellmer and the new Xbox Oney pj’s made a shock appearance on my doorstep at 7AM this morning. It was hellishly early, I won’t deceive you, but I didn't want to miss my neighbour before she went off to work.

'Good morning!' I shouted over herbaceous divide. 'The new Xbox One has just been unveiled. Exciting times, aren't they?'

Clearly impressed, my neighbour clutched her purse to her chest and quickly climbed into her Clio. The sound of the locks engaging encouraged me to wave my milk bottles but it was the screech of her tyres that told me that she too was very upbeat about the next generation of home games consoles.

Last night, Microsoft threw a rug over Steve Ballmer and unveiled their newest class presidents who looked good on the eye and nothing like a Mel Brookes comedy monster. They also unveiled their newest games console, though, as I type that, I realise I’ve already made a beginner’s mistake. We have to be very wary of mentioning games. Microsoft certainly was. Judging from the launch, the Xbox One is more about new ways of watching TV. And, no, that’s not another mistake. You remember TV, don’t you? It was that thing you used to watch before you discovered that games are actually much more fun…

From what we know so far, Xbox One is the biggest and best TV guide that you’ve probably never wanted. You can change channels with your voice (cue Alan Partridge: ‘Xbox, can you make pornography come on my telly please?’). You can access exclusive marketing hype about your favourite shows from within your favourite shows, thereby allowing you to miss your favourite shows. And because we are still very much in a post-Wii world where consoles are meant to be about families, connectivity, and being part of a larger social experience, the Xbox One will allow you to see what shows are ‘trending’ across the Xbox community. That’s right: more chances for the big boys to tell you to watch whichever overhyped franchise they’re currently selling.

‘Only on Xbox will TV become social’ was last night’s promise and that’s why, first thing this morning, I thought it best to grab a quick word with my neighbour. If we’re going to sharing TV planners, I think it's about time we moved to first name terms and we shared cupcake recipes.

Or perhaps not…

Call me an unreconstructed dragon-slaying space marine with a Mario-complex but I've never really been that interested in connectivity, social networks, or having the family around to share an unfeasibly large sofa whilst laughing like escaped axe killers as we disco dance to Rihanna’s latest. Kinect seemed like a terrible idea when it launched and the ability to bark orders at my TV has not changed my opinion. I also have a terrible blind spot when it comes to that place where social media lives with its cats that look like Hitler. I'd much rather be in a tavern in Skyrim’s Tamriel filled with non-playable characters than any social hub where bright Californians can invent ways to allow my dog to Instagram me. And positively the last thing I want whilst playing an RPG set in some mystical land where I'm the only person able to communicate with dragons is to have notifications popping up to tell me that Alan Carr has just had his teeth fixed and ‘bird flu’ is suddenly trending on Twitter.

If I’m honest: I'm not even all that interested in being social. I have the real world for that and the specs are pretty good: persistent 3D without glasses, haptic feedback. When it works, it's even better than the business of virtual befriending. When it doesn't... Well, isn’t that why God/Peter Molyneux invented single player gaming? So, I suppose I’m not entirely sure why Microsoft wants to make an all-encompassing media hub so central to their future, or, rather, I think I do understand it but I resent their presumption immensely.

Their presumption is in believing that you’ll buy into this evolving world of new (usually chargeable) services, micro-transactions, and digital content stored on ‘the cloud’. They’ve called the machine the ‘Xbox One’ because they want it to be your ‘one’ console, your ‘one’ media centre, your ‘one’ companion in the living room. That’s pretty presumptuous in itself and we haven’t even got to the gaming part... Because for ‘gaming’ you should actually read ‘media consumption’ and for ‘consumption’ think ‘as aggressive as pulmonary tuberculosis’. Make no mistake, behind the friendly ‘this is about you’ message is a concerted effort to pull you into a cold business relationship that keeps you connected to their servers for as close to 24/7 as they can get. The advent of cheap 69p games on mobile devices has encouraged companies to look into dark places to increase their revenue streams. Forget the next Skyrim or Halo selling at £40 a time. The real money is down among the pennies where you find habit-forming devilry such as Candy Crush, games that might lack depth but wiggle deep into your brain like some South American blood parasite and encourage you to part with money in such small amounts that you hardly realise that they’re feeding off you. Microsoft is going back to square one by realising that controlling the means on consumption is everything. ‘Control’ should really have been the byword of the evening. Control what you watch and what you play. These are big ambitious plans to control your living room and that’s why Steve Ballmer’s absence from the launch felt so incongruous.

With the Xbox One, Microsoft seem to have virtualised their current leader: this machine is a big powerful personality that wants to push its way into your living room and change the way you watch TV, whether you like it or not. Myself, I can only speak as a long-time gamer who still treasures his Elite badge circa too many moons ago. I’ve seen great consoles fail (Dreamcast) and I’ve witnessed the Xbox 360 triumph, despite suffering possibly the most notorious design flaws of recent memory. I’ve also sat through enough E3 presentations to know not to get excited by 90% of the features the marketing people start whooping about. The bottom line is that I’m not sure that our viewing habits can be changed, even through a huge act of will on Microsoft’s behalf. It feels ominously like Windows 8, which also fixed many things that never needed fixing and attempted to change the way we work. For Xbox One, somebody has figured out how to do something before they’ve figured out if that thing needed doing. All the social connectivity guff might be great if you’re a fashionably chin-whiskered Californian cyberjock called Rick and you have hundreds of friends who you go meet in the coffee shop to play some ethical bluegrass banjo whilst drinking squashed coconut off the back of your Segway. If you’re a surely northerner after a grim day working in Manchester, you’d probably want to lose yourself in a world free of hashtags.

Consider that for a moment. One of the genuinely novel innovations that technology could yet offer us is the ability to simply disconnect. Nintendo understood that perfectly when they launched the 3DS. Glasses-free 3D is no gimmick when it presents possibilities of a paradigm change that takes you deeper into a game. The Xbox One, in contrast, seems utterly rooted in the familiar. It is also reminds me that consumers of technology exist in two discernible groups: those of us who genuinely love innovation and technology and people who think they love innovation and technology. Microsoft’s unveiling felt like sitting watching ‘Click’ on BBC News 24 when I often start thinking: ‘Do these people really understand what’s exciting in technology? Do I really want to change my TV channels by winking or have restaurant menus emailed to my washing machine so it can be sure to use the right detergent with my underpants?’ Microsoft has so far unveiled a great deal of gimcrackery and gimmickry, sock puppetry disguised as innovation. They must now begin to show us what we want rather what they want to sell us.

And with that: ‘Xbox off…’

So The Maplin Catalogue Arrived...

Every time I buy something from Maplin (click here for my latest Maplin update) they ask for my postcode. ‘So we can send you some vouchers,’ says the chubby dreadlocked guy who looks like a Game of Thrones extra. But what Olaf the Pieeater really means is: ‘So we can send you yet another of our sale catalogues.’ And the most twisted part of this whole deal is that I actually look forward to the bloody thing arriving.

The catalogue never varies, of course, which is perhaps why the Rainman part of me quite enjoys it. There are always bargains to be had on solar panels to power your caravan and glitter balls for your mobile disco. The last page will always have great deals on AA batteries and that satisfies me in a way that’s really so psychologically deep that I can’t really explain. It’s like looking at pictures of the early Bardot sunning herself naked on the Cannes beach. I know the reality will eventually become either a far-right cat woman or my Sky remote packing up after only a couple of weeks but I love both with the same inexplicable passion.

This month’s exciting addition to the Maplin lineup is a Mobile IP Spy-Camera Tank. Why the hell I would want a Mobile IP Spy-Camera Tank I’m not sure except, perhaps, to recreate those scenes from the Moore-era Bond films when Q usually locates 007 lathering up a tall blonde Russian spy in a bathtub. However, since I’m lacking a blonde Russian spy, £109.99 seems a bit extravagant for a camera on wheels that would probably end up being used to annoy the neighbour’s cat. I wouldn’t pay more than £70 to annoy the neighbour’s cat. Maybe £75…

Apropos of nothing: I notice that they've got a new male model in this month’s magazine. Facially, he’s a bit Ross Noble but in the waistline he’s more Peter Kay. What message does this send out? I’m not sure except I think they’re acknowledging that the people who shop at Maplin might not spend very long hours in the gym, which makes the obsession with disco equipment all the more surprising... I just can't imagine this guy dancing disco.

Maplin catalogue

And apropos of something else: I still see they have the cheap Ultrasonic cleaner on sale. I sure fell for that ‘better buy it before the sale ends’ line that Sven the Pimpled sold me a few months ago. Not that I’m complaining. It’s been a godsend unblocking my Rotring Isograph nibs and clean my dip pens… Sorry. That did sound a little too enthusiastic and I don’t want to put you off from coming back... And I was doing so well disguising the fact that, yes, I have very little of interest to talk about today.

I’m actually a bit 'written out' having dashed off 1,300 words with accompanying cartoon about the new Xbox One which was unveiled last night. Tomorrow, I’ll post both the article and cartoon which this morning I sent to ‘The Guardian’ for possible inclusion in ‘Comment is Free’. I really don’t know why I put myself through that ordeal… Why do I put myself through that hell? Thoughts, please, in the comments below. As long as it doesn’t include the word ‘penis’, ‘pill’ or ‘pump’, I’ll publish them. Hell, I’ll probably publish them anyway… In the meantime, he's a old cartoon from my notebook.

Batcave

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Too Much Guano For Just One Rock

Nigel Farage and Alex Salmond

Times are tough for some of the UK’s oddest birds which until recently had been quietly stockpiling their guano among the more secluded outcrops of these northern isles. Notoriously fearful of strangers and always happy to mistake your finger for an anchovy or rain all manner of anal hell from upon high, these noisy birds are suddenly snapping at each other with a new anxiety as they struggle to attract mates. Yet, despite their clamorous screeching, there’s still much to love about these strange creatures that otherwise bring some much needed colour to our drab landscape.

But that’s enough talk about UKIP and the SNP. In unrelated news, a puffin laid an egg this week…

If the dwindling numbers of puffins are suddenly a concern, the strange hostilities we witnessed between the Razor-Snouted Farage and the Three-Chinned Salmond are an even more potent reminder of what happens when one breed of bird attempts to colonise the roosts of another.

The territoriality of our seabirds is notorious. On our rocky cliff tops, there’s barely enough room for one alpha male with a big personality to produce his copious guano. This week, the disputed nest was the Canon's Gait Pub on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. It all began with the usual ritual display from the Alpha Farage who had no sooner landed than he began to puff up his chest and knock his characteristically chinless bill against a pint of warm beer. When the locals turned restless, he squawked that there are ‘some parts of Scottish nationalism that are akin to fascism’ but that just put the war pheromones in the air. The Alpha Salmond immediately regurgitated a mackerel and waddled into the debate with a well-timed peck at his opponent’s rear facing quills, suggesting that ‘when the obnoxious views of [Farage’s] party are put to him then his bubble deflates very quickly’. What followed was a spectacle of Mother Nature at her fiercest as things quickly turned feral. Feathers flew, nests were smashed, and the stench of half-digested election promises filled the news agenda.

The truth, however, is that this kind of territorial dispute will be short lived. There’s no room this far north for both breeds of bird and, although their plumage might differ, there’s too much similarity between the two. Both alpha males have struggled to a greater or lesser degree to overcome the perception that their parties exist to address one issue. Both Farage and Salmond are also the charismatic figureheads of their respective broods and both have some pretty stiff things to say about their migratory habits of others species: Europeans in the case of the former, the English in the case of the latter. Yet the biggest problem they both face is that they will only ever attract mates of their own kind. The Salmond is rarely comfortable in the warmer south whilst the Farage is solely native to England and would struggle to breed anywhere where it couldn’t also find pub lunches, the latest Test score, and busty Cockney barmaids who still appreciate the mating rituals of the 1970s.

Meanwhile, back with the puffins, we’ll have to wait to hear news of the latest census before we know how well they survived the winter. Yet I don’t fear for the birds as much as I fear for the health of the volunteers who will soon be sticking their hands into puffin nests. Not because the puffin isn’t a notorious snapper and not because groping thousands of seabirds won’t eventually lose its novelty. Those unlucky wardens will be stuck on a lump of rock hundreds of miles off the coast of Scotland, filled with savage beasts and rich with the smell of mature bird droppings. It will be as bad as if they’d never left the mainland in the first place…

Monday, 20 May 2013

Ten Jobs For Beckham: What Can David Do Now That He’s Retired From Football?

Beckham possible jobs after retirement

My nose twitched an inch from the card that read ‘trainee gas fitter’. Something didn’t smell right and it probably wasn’t caused by a failed solenoid in a Greenstar boiler…

I was in my local job centre perusing the latest opportunities to barnacle myself to the great listing hull of British industry when I’d felt a greater presence standing to my side. There was also a new sense of urgency in the room, as if somebody amongst us found a sudden determination to change the world and to change it quickly.

I looked up and there he was: David Beckham.

Carbon-monoxide poisoning was my first thought. I was clearly hallucinating some filthy manifestation of my fear of telesales jobs but, as the other symptoms failed to develop, I began to realise that this was indeed the great man: six feet of contemporary culture, tanned by history, and his impeccable hair held in place by the Brylcreem of gilded fate. The only things out of place were the tears running down his cheeks and his Hollywood eyes red and puffy. As would any true Englishman, I felt compelled to act.

‘Pull yourself together, man!’ I snapped as I grabbed Beckham in a headlock and began to jostle some sense into him. ‘What are you? A metrosexual or a mouse?’

That seemed to calm him. He slipped his larynx from under my knuckle, gave one last sob, and then blew his nose into his Adidas handkerchief as he looked again towards the ‘Secretarial and Administration’ vacancies.

‘So,’ he said, his voice that clipped falsetto that women seem to find adorable. ‘This is what unemployment feels like, is it?’

‘What it feels like, son, is like a long waterslide into a fetid pool ruled over by spastic colons. But don’t let that stop you looking for work. Not until you’ve found something non-seasonal and at least minimum wage.’

With that, I took my newspaper and I sat down on the Department of Work and Pensions seats with their green scotchgard covers that bring the rashes out on your thighs. From there I watched as David began to scribble job titles onto the small patch of skin on his left hand that wasn’t already inked with religious tableaus and I began to wonder what was might be in store for the poor lad.

Beckham has chosen a bad time to re-enter the jobs market. There were 15,000 more of us looking for work just last week, taking the total to 2.52 million. Only now it’s 2.52 million plus a significant number 7 and I found myself wondering what David Beckham can do now that he no longer pretends to play football for a living.

Luckily, having now observed his job hunt at close hand, I’m delighted to report that there were suitable jobs catching his eye. Perhaps smirking Osborne is right and that is the smell of economic upturn in the air. If a man with Beckham’s limited qualifications and non-transferable skills can find a job, there may be hope for the rest of us. It might pay us just to consider his chances…

1. Boots Perfume-Counter Assistant

The poor lad is certainly ambitious but, if he’s going to start anywhere, I suppose he might as well start at the top. Competition is snarling down among the lip gloss and eyeliner booths and Beckham will have to fight like a self-tanned hellcat to get his chance and keep it. Some of those girls are Cherry Sunshine Red in both tooth and claw and they only take prisoners to experiment later with the cheap mascara. It’s deviant work on the shop floor and you need the eyeballs of a beaked whale to withstand the pressure of all the perfume in the air but Beckham knows his moisturisers and his chances of putting the ball in the net are definitely a good 8 out of 10.

2. Puffin Census Counter

Sticking your hand into the nest of a razor-billed herring addict might sound like tough work but Beckham at least has the arms for it. Imagine you’re a puffin and an elaborately tattooed scene from Ovid suddenly descends into your nest. Faced by a tattoo of Cupid carrying Psyche up to heaven, the average puffin is likely to forget to peck and reach for the nearest edition of Brewers Phrase & Fable. 7/10

3. Spice Girl

There’s enough nepotism in the world but if Victoria’s heart isn’t into it and the others are keen to keep the Spice brand going, then what better compromise than have David take over the reins as Posh? Actually, this makes a great deal of sense. He’s sportier than Sporty, looks younger than Baby, has gone into tackles with more malicious intent that Scary, and he’d probably carry off the ginger locks better than Busty Spice. 4/10

4. UK Ambassador to Hollywood

With property in the area actually larger than the Embassies to most nations, Beckham would fit right into the social scene and now that he won’t have as much use for his gym, he’ll have plenty of space to run MI6 agents from his basement. His friendship with Tom Cruise will also pay dividends, especially if he can get access to that Mission Impossible hardware. 2/10

5. UKIP Councillor

I noticed that his eyes lingered a little longer over this vacancy. I attribute that to the red, white and blue font the UKIP recruiters used. One of the most astute political operators in the game, David has never expressed a political opinion in his life which means that he’s the stuff of dreams for Nigel Farage. A possible poster boy for UKIP, Beckham looks good in pinstripes, proudly wears his patriotism on his sleeve tattoo, and it’s hard not to laugh whenever he opens his mouth. 5/10

6. Swivel-Eyed Loon

It might sound a little too close to the previous job but this one comes with the added advantage of actually influencing Conservative government thinking. David has enjoyed having the ears of Prime Ministers and Presidents for decades so he seems aptly suited to this important role, if only he can finally find something useful to say in the ears of Prime Ministers and Presidents other than explaining how to do the Cruyff turn. 7/10

7. Minister for Education

Gove’s days are numbered so why not get somebody in there that teachers and pupils might actually listen to? Beckham as Minister for Education would bring proper emphasis to physical education, improving the current two hours of sport a week to a much healthier twenty two with extra classes after school to practice free kicks and penalties. There’d also be no foolish gaffes about using the Mr Men to teach about World War 2 when Beckham’s in office. Not until Victoria has finished with the books so he can finally get a chance to see what all the fuss is about. 2/10

 8. Spokesman for Google

Beckham became quite animated at the prospect of putting all his training to some use. He can finally become the spokesperson for a global brand with a reputation for doing evil. He’s worked for Boris and Seb Coe, so this should be like a walk in the Olympic park but without all the derelict buildings. 5/10

9. Prince of Wales

I hate to throw a Republican note in here but isn’t it about time we upgraded the current royal family? The Beckhams are the Charles and Camilla of the Now Generation: generally ill-informed about most things, never happier than when they’re shaking hands and grinning, and happy to do it all for the knockdown price of ten million a year. I personally think it’s a bargain but I suppose there are some who will complain that we could get Chris and Gwyneth for that kind of money. 1/10

10. National Lottery Compere

We’re finally in dream job territory with this one. The BBC has been careful to appoint no full time host for the Saturday night numbers. Now we know why. David has the looks, he has the ability to read from an autocue for up to twenty seconds at a time, and then there’s that big red button he can press whilst beaming his life-affirming smile in the living rooms of the nation. He was born to make us millionaires. The chances of him bending one into the top corner: 9/10.