Friday, 21 November 2008

How Deep Is The Mainstream?

[DANGER!!! Rant-o-Saurus Rex In Road. WARNING!! Bile Hazard Ahead]

Here's some amateur sociology/psychology based on a number of personal (is there any other kind?) obervations by me, Prof. Angry from the University of I'Llbethirtysoon.

As reported here not very long ago, Irony was brutally killed off by Fallon London in a self-induced epi-fit of mediocrity that was as painfully narcissistic as it was crowd-pleasingly shallow. Likewise, I've also mentioned around here that the serpent of advertising doesn't just swallow it's own tail, it often sucks it's own cock too.

And so with Irony laid to rest, and popular culture locked in a cycle of auto-fellating self-reference, is it any wonder that (for example) we now have a class of people over the age of 7 who genuinely, seriously, and un-ironically believe that Girls Aloud are serious, credible artists.

It seems the gap between high and low cultures, popular and sub cultures has never been so narrow. In fact, it's largely evaporated completely over the last 10 years. Even goths, the last bastions of a conspicuous (if somewhat pathetic) "alternative", have been reduced to burbling uncontroversially about how controversial and peripheral they still are. But the periphery barely exists anymore. The media is so flabby and pervaisive, that almost everything is mainstream. Everything is "normal" because the media inevitably normalises everything that's exceptional. Don't believe me? Just watch the news. Death, murder, war, bum-rape, foreigners; different, new, evil, nasty, extraordinary events and atrocities drizzle over us every day. Time was when the internet was a fucking feast of the exotic and the apocryphal. It was weird and dangerous and full of lunatics. Now it's just full of wikis and lists. Web 2.0, as a fuctioning object, aint much more than a German kunnstkabinett - a cabinet of curiosities. Or rather, it's many millions of cabinets for many millions of users, to fill up with holiday snaps and home videos... and ill-considered contentions like these...

And then there's Facebook: the world's biggest, naffest popularity contest come data-capture form. You can practically hear the wind blowing through it, it's so hollow. With a billion and one "wacky" people all being "wacky" to eachother, not one of them ever stands out. And when everyone is (trying to be) different, everyone is ultimately the same; chaos and homogeniety are interchangeable.

So maybe that's where I've been going wrong - I've been following the old signs and the signifiers. I was enjoying Girls Aloud for the chaos of choosing which one I'd like to fuck. But because Irony is dead I'm meant to take them seriously instead. And since everyone else wants to fuck them too, we all just agree, homogenously, that they're a very serious band indeed.

The Magical Wishing Wog - Part II

Hello children.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Good. Then I'll begin...

Once upon a time, there was a politically incorrect author named Enid Blyton.

Here's one of her books in which some children meet their German friends:

Last week, I decided it would be fun to write a politically incorrect children's story for Christmas, and serialise it in the run-up.

So. As promised, here's part two of The Magical Wishing Wog.

(Here's the story so far...)

Chalky peered into the grey light before him, desperately expecting to see some snow and chocolate or something like that. But instead there was nothing but an old, brown bedroom.
Pippa raced in, laughing.
“Haha, it's just Colonel Grandfather’s shit old bedroom. And you thought it’d be full of Christmas. Oh, Chalky, you fat hopeless idiot!”
Chalky sulked. “Shut up, Pippa. You thought it as well. Come on, let’s find that glove and get back.”
The bedroom was large and airy; south-facing, with an attractive view of the campanile and a duck pond. It was hard not to notice the balcony which, with the addition of some patio furniture, would be an ideal place to serve breakfast. The two children went to either ends of the room and began rifling through their grandfather’s personal affects. A hideous stench of age engulfed them. Everything seemed frail and brittle, and yet commanded respect.
“Pippa,” whispered Chalky, “what do you think this is?” and pointed towards a horrible, faded ornament of a bear selling balloons.
“I’m not sure,” she said.
“Could it be majolica, you think?”
“Oh, most certainly. Just look at that glaze.”
Chalky tilted his head to see. “Hmm, yes. And have you seen this chest?” Pippa reached inside her dirndl and pulled out a small pair of half-moon spectacles.
“Good Lord,” she said.
“Isn’t it exquisite?”
“That really is something.”
“I’d go as far as to say it’s probably the best example of japanning I’ve ever seen,” said Chalky, running his finger over the lacquer. Neither of them could believe their eyes. “Shall we inspect the construction?”
“Oh, yes,” ballooned Pippa. “I’d love to see inside a piece of this quality.”
The children pulled on their white felt gloves that they always carried lest in the presence of great and delicate antiquity. Pippa went so far as to earth herself on a nearby radiator, dispensing any surplus static-electricity which she knew would attract dust to the surface and fittings of the chest. Then, with a deft twist, Chalky deftly twisted the small brass key on the front of the absolutely amazing and breathtaking box. It made a pinging noise.
“Brace one end, would you. Lift on three,” ordered the corpulent young boy. Pippa moved to the end of the chest and grasped the corners of the lid. Chalky stared back at her, all steely and professional. Together they lifted the lid, which creaked a very small amount.
“What’s that?” spat Pippa.
Inside the chest they could see a large bundle or parcel. It filled the chest almost entirely and, swaddled in a heavy grey tarpaulin, smelt of stale bed clothes. Chalky gave it a kick with his massive foot.
“Whatcha doin, there!?” came a strange, angry voice. The children looked at each other and the whole chest suddenly came alive. The canvassy parcel flapped apart and a figure emerged. Recoiling in horror, Chalky and Pippa gasped and gulped for there before them, standing in the chest, was a very angry negro. Chalky was so frightened he breached his tweeds, whilst his sister’s face betrayed a cacophonous geometry of emotions, fluctuating wildly from fear to guilt, to rage and surprise to fear again. Finally and suddenly, this fruit machine of expressions landed on understanding and paid-out in full (figuratively speaking.)
“I don’t believe it,” yelped, Pippa. “I never thought it was true.”
Chalky stood by the radiator, drying the piss off his trousers. “What are you talking about?” he muttered.
“Who would’ve thought,” she continued. “After all these years, we’ve found it. Lying there, in the chest at the foot of grandpapa’s bed, is The Magical Wishing Wog.”
The negro eyed them both suspiciously. “Ya damn fool. I aint grantin’ ya no wish today,” he bristled, folding his arms over his naked, sagging body.
“Chalky! Pippa!” came a stern, sudden voice.
“Oh no, it’s Miss. Quosp. Colonel Grandfather’s glove!” trembled Chalky. “We’ve forgotten. Whatever are we to do, Pippa?”
“Crikey! Quick,” she said to the negro. “Do you know where my grandfather keeps his falconry glove?”
“Sure I do,” he stabbed. “Its in d’ drawer, o’er there. W’ere ‘talways is.”
Chalky, damp and shambling, plunged his hand into the drawer and retrieved the glove. “It’s here!”
“Good,” said the negro. “Now take ya damn fancy gauntlet and leave me alone.”
“Oh, thank you,” gushed Pippa. “You really are the Wishing Wog.” And with that, the children scampered and squelched out of the room and back down the stairs.

“Do you have it then?” said Miss. Quosp, a little bit overbearingly, screwing the lid back on a bottle of gin.
“Here it is,” chirruped Chalky, handing it over. “Splendid,” belched the maid, holding the glove up to the light. She turned it over in the air and the children noticed it had the word BITCH written across its cuff in rhinestones. “That’s the ticket. Now then,” she continued, “I don’t have time to air and press this glove, because the pair of you are late. However, I have informed your grandfather of the situation in anticipation of your arrival. You will notice your outdoor wear – Mackintosh, galoshes and so forth – have been laid out for you. Once in this garb, you are to take the glove and liase with your grandfather on the south field at once, where he is currently entertaining his guests, Lord Gnosher the Arch-Marquis of Leicester, The Duke of Doncaster and the extremely mysterious Professor Rafferty of the Royal Society." Like a camp fish, Chalky gulped.

To be continued...

Monday, 17 November 2008

Is it just me..?

Did anyone else watch the latest mimsying fucking M&S Xmas ad and think it was gonna turn into some kind of Funny Games-style siege..?

Just imagine: Twiggy pinned to the wall by Gary Barlow as Mark Owen strangles Lilly Cole with a pair of stockings; meanwhile Jason Orange mockingly strums/sings Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time.

Go on, watch it again and see if you can see it...

Yeah? No?

Oh, well. Maybe it's just me...

Dead Grandmother

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: This Kingsmill ad, it's nearly there. But, I think it just needs know... to lift it?



CREATIVE DIRECTOR: I mean, all this "good times" stuff is great...

ACCOUNT MANAGER: But the client's worried that that might exclude the "bad times"...


CREATIVE DIRECTOR: And Kingsmill's all about "all of the time" - good or bad.

ACCOUNT MANAGER: We thought maybe if you put a "bad time" in there, it'd - you know- balance it...


BROW-BEATEN, PISSED-OFF CREATIVE: Oh, what, like put a fucking dead gradmother in there or something..?

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Brilliant! That's it.

ACCOUNT MANAGER: And planning's got some research figures - if we stick it in at 34 seconds, no one will notice it. The negative image, actually becomes a positive.

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Shit-hot and gold! It's perfect: we'll cue the dead grandmother at 34 seconds into the ad then...

Friday, 14 November 2008

The Magic Wishing Wog - Part I

I know there's 5 weeks to go yet, but all the Christmas ads are making my Yule-gland itch. So....

Here's part one of my thrilling festive tribute to Enid Blyton and all that; a Dickensian pot-boiler set in the politically incorrect days of Empire (as in Queen Victoria, as opposed to the magazine. Obviously).

[insert drum roll and sleigh bells]

It was a dreary afternoon and throughout the house a dismal winter gloom sapped happiness and spontaneity from its inhabitants, slowly and surely reducing them, one by one, to nothing but an iron grey cinder of ennui.
"It doesn't feel like Christmas," said Pippa, gawping at rain through the leaded bay-window. "I'm so bored."
"Me too," sighed her brother, Chalky.
"I think my chakras need cleansing."
There was a pause as the children's melancholy pressed down even further. Things really were dreadful. Chalky put his hands in his pockets and rattled some change, then suddenly threw himself on the floor. Pippa looked down and saw her brother gently head-butting the herringbone parquetry.
“We need a plan, Chalky. Before we go mad.”
Miss. Quosp the maid came by. “Pippa,” she nudged, “What’s wrong with Chalky?”
“He’s ever so bloody bored, Miss. Quosp.” And with that, Pippa softly wept.
“Oh dear, oh dear. Whatever are we to do? You children really are bored. Come on. I’ve got an idea!” said the maid, optimistically. Pippa pointed at her brother.
“Look Miss. Quosp. He’s catatonic.”
“No, not yet he aint. Now come on. Help me get him off the floor.”
Chalky was a fat but frail child, often taken by fits and giddy spells. Hence, it was thought that the open country of his grandfather’s house would do him some good. Now, steadied on Miss. Quosp’s harsh but solid bosom, he tut-tutted himself for having scuffed his breeches.
“Now then you two,” barked Miss. Quosp, “how about I give you a little job to do?”
The children’s eyes exploded with delight. “Oh, yes please!” squeaked Pippa, who loved doing jobs even more than her fat and servile brother did.
“Very well. I shall give you a job to do. But there is one proviso,” she said pretentiously.
“Ohwhatyesanythingmiss,” oozed Chalky with a trot and a simper.
“The job I shall give you is only a small one. A very small one, in fact. Nevertheless, it is one that needs doing.” Pippa wretched and almost vomited she was so excited, whilst swallowing the sick made her belch. “As you will both know,” continued Miss. Quosp, “your grandfather is a very fastidious man. This afternoon he has an important falconry demonstration to attend. Do you understand?”
“Wmm,” whimpered Chalky.
“I want you both to go upstairs and fetch me your grandfather’s falconry glove so that I may press and air it in preparation for this afternoon.”
A look of hesitation crossed Chalky’s hideous face. “But… but where is it kept, Miss. Quosp – grandpa-papa’s falconing glove?”
“Why, Chalky. Amongst his personal affects, of course,” she sneered. “Now, come on. Run along and fetch what I asked for.”

It was a long way up the stairs to their Colonel Grandfather’s rooms. And it seemed even further for all the wonderful sights along the way. Up and down the staircases and halls, their Colonel Grandfather (as that was what they were told to address him as) had displayed all of the strange, unusual, odd, different and curious things he’d collected from his travels; things from all over the world and the globe.
“Look,” pointed Chalky. “A one-legged Chinaman.”
“Yes,” gasped his sister. “And there see – the world’s loudest trumpet…! And over there, look….”
The list of things seemed endless. Every corner and cranny was filled with wonder. They saw an electric horse and a rare type of grape; a beautiful spider and an old leather penis.
“How could we ever have been so bored?” said Pippa, gazing intently at a strange looking object. Underneath it was a brass plaque that read Hitler’s Breast, 1934. “To think all of this was just upstairs.”
“It… its magical,” quaked Chalky.
“Come on,” said Pippa, remembering their job. “Lets get that glove and then we can spend the rest of the day here.”
Chalky promptly agreed and the children toddled off down the hall, their eyes bulging like ripe puppies.
A flight of stairs and approximately 60 yards later, the children stopped dead in their tracks. A huge oak - or possibly teak – door lay before them. Flanked by two enormous Christmas trees, their Colonel Grandfather’s family crest glowered down from above the door. Chalky blinked his pig eyes, and mentally sketched the coat of arms. Later, he thought, he would consult his book of heraldry and, unbeknownst to him, spark off a lifelong interest in the genealogy of the English aristocracy. But for now, his puny child-mind trembled before the door, which stood tall and resolute before them. Leaning in closer, Pippa reached out and gasped. It seemed the door was covered in strange markings.
“It seems the door is covered in strange markings,” she said, violently.
“Those aren’t markings!” bellowed Chalky, and slapped his sister across the face with the back of his hand. She crumpled before the wainscoting. “Look!” he seethed. Seizing her hair and chin, he thrust her face against the door, making a knocking sound, a bit like a potato hitting some floorboards. “Carvings!”
Pippa winced, and rolled her eye towards the surface of the door. Sure enough, it was covered in carvings, albeit ones that were a bit more like engravings. Chalky let go of her and she stumbled backwards, putting the door into perspective. She could see a sleigh being driven by a fat, anthropomorphic robin and above it a turkey holding a candle. The entire door seemed to be covered in depictions of Christmas; an angel on a rocking horse waved at a snowman giving a tangerine to a nun, whilst elsewhere a boy in pyjamas poured a goose a drink.
“I wonder what’s on the other side of it?” croaked Pippa. “I’d climb the highest metaphor to find out!”
“Why, Christmas of course!” gushed Chalky. “Don’t you see! This is the door to Christmas. This is why we’ve been so bored, because Christmas is locked up, behind there!” he said, raving and consumed. “We’ve got to open it!”
“I bet its locked,” sniffed Pippa.
“Well, let’s find out.”
Arrogantly striding forth, Chalky gripped both the holly-shaped handle and his sister’s hand. Flicking her a final glance, he snapped the handle down and pushed the door away from him. To their morbid astonishment, the door swung unremarkably open and bounced slightly off an inside wall. “Wha…” went Pippa, slack-jawed and oafish. “….” But her words wouldn’t come. She was amazed. As was her brother.

To be continued...

A Blog Is For Life

Just paid a visit to my old pal Goldie. I'm pleased to say she's doing just fine.

Thanks to Angus for reminding me of her and for not calling the RSPCA.


Tuesday, 11 November 2008

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Friday, 7 November 2008

We're Hiring!

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This is a unique opportunity for a writer to join a close-knit team of uncooperative designers and fat account handlers in a deeply unpleasant environment. Working closely with a letcherous and slightly sinister MD/CD, you will provide sales copy for a range of cheaply executed and ill- conceived flyers and thin catalogues. The ability to concentrate with Radio 1 on is essential.

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Oh Lord, Please Do Not Burn Us...

It's official: there is no God. If there were, I wouldn't be feeling as shit and ill as I do now. I'd be leaping around singing "hallelujah" (the Leonard Cohen version, obviously) and giving thanks.

But that'd be silly wouldn't it, all that dancing and singing. It's all just a bit -you know- weird isn't it, that "religious" stuff. A man in the sky with an indestructible son and a virgin mother? Ha! I mean, it's a crackin' yarn but we've got telly nowadays, haven't we. I guess it's a bit like the theatre is'nt it, "religion", or the opera - something that's a bit quaint and anachronistic that only repressed, pretentious people have an interest in. It's quite popular at the moment though "religion", because it gives people the sanctimony of hindsight when things goes wrong. Oh, and you can defer all responsibility to your Great Zargox in the sky or whatever the fuck he's called.

No, come to think of it, "religious" people are the worst people in the world with all their snotty finger-pointing, funny dancing, and shit music. Which is why it's great to see good old Scamp's offered to help out the atheists with their proposed London bus campaign. Not only did it need a bit of professional help because the original line was feeble, but I've had great fun all morning watching the comments section deteriorate into shitty, partisan squabbling.

Scamp's taking suggestions from the floor so if you fancy a fatwa on your head be sure to have your tuppence worth. It's a crackin' brief actually, but I'm just too misanthropic to be a proper humanist. My idea was to have two aliens in a spaceship, with Earth on a monitor in the background. One of the aliens is reading the Bible and saying "Aww, how cute they still believe this superstitious bullshit!" And the other one says, with a tentacle on the button "Ha ha, yes! Let's destroy them all!" Or a church with a dinosaur squeezed into it and it's head sticking out the bell-tower and it's tail hanging out the window and the line "Atheism: It's the dinosaur in the room"...

...Or a gravestone that says "R.I.P God - it's what He would've wanted" and post his obituary in all the newspapers: "God. Dawn of time - 2008. Metaphorical creator of the universe, worshipped by billions, died suddenly after a long battle with reason and logic. He leaves no family because he wasn't actually real, and will be commemorated with a lavish and outdated ritual, after which we can all get on with choosing a new Dr. fucking Who. "


Dear Mrs. Blogreader,

Please excuse John from blogging this morning as he is poorly sick with a bad cold and is very grumpy.

He will be blogging later today, but doctor says he needs to take it easy. Matron has put his wheelchair on the lawn with a blanket over his legs so he can take the air and cough into a hanky.

Hope it's not catching.

John's Mum