Friday, 29 January 2010

iPad paddywhack, that deserves a groan.

So it’s arrived after much hype and rumour, the sleek, new, beautifully designed iWhat-the-hell-is-it?
Now I confess I am an Apple fan. I have a MacBook Pro laptop, an old iMac and an iPhone. If there were an iCar, an iHealth drink or an iPackage holiday I would probably get one of those too. But I just don’t get the iPad. What is it for? It seems like a product looking for a niche, rather than a niche needing a product. It’s not a replacement for the laptop, as you can only run one app at a time, and can’t run any programmes that would be of any use. You can send emails and surf the web, but so can my phone and I can do it without that nosy chap to my side seeing what I’m typing or looking at. You can watch films, but if I want to watch a film I’ll do it on my TV or while eating popcorn at the cinema. I don’t want to be watching Last tango in Paris on the train, thank you very much.

There’s a far more ebullient review here by Stephen Fry who enthuses as only he can. The main thrust of his text is that you can only really appreciate it once you have tried it. Well that’s all well and good if you have been flown out to the keynote speech and been given a test go by Apple, but most of us haven’t been afforded that luxury, so can only go by what we see. And what I see is an oversized iTouch that has no real purpose. A gadget for gadget’s sake.

Still, as I've said before it's all too easy to criticize, and this is only my opinion. So in the sense of fairness, I have included the views of another, impartial observer below.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Everyone’s a critic.

As I was stood on the train platform this morning I overheard a conversation about the film Avatar. As I am planning to see it soon I was interested to hear their views.

“You know, there was one thing that ruined it for me.” Said a young woman. “They have called the star system Alpha Centauri. Can you believe it? What a terrible name. What struck me was the lack of imagination!”

Hang on a minute. ‘Lack of imagination.’ Are you serious? I haven’t seen the film so can’t comment, but let’s exam a few facts:

1) James Cameron created an entire planet from scratch that matched the vision in his head.
2) He conceived the movie 15 years ago, and had to wait for the technology to catch up before he could make it.
3) It took four years to make and consists of 60% computer generated elements. To clarify ‘computer generated’ does not mean the computer had the ideas. They came from somebody’s imagination.
4) They invented an entire language, consisting of over a thousand words.
5) The critics said it would crash and burn in a ball of blue, CGI flames.
6) It is already the highest grossing movie of all time.

Now, what part of that suffers from a lack of imagination? Oh yes, the name. Alpha Centauri, how terrible. James Cameron should hide his head in shame, how dare he make so little effort. He was probably lying around all day on the settee, scratching his balls and watching Oprah, whilst being fed grapes by a small Polynesian virgin. What a lazy bastard!

I dare say the young lady who stood with us mortals on the train platform, waiting to be transported into our delightful capital had a far more imaginative day ahead. Perhaps she was going to re-examine the theory of relativity. Possibly she had been troubled by the artist André Breton’s assertion that Surrealism was first and foremost a revolutionary movement, and intended to spend her lunch hour developing an obscure, yet aesthetic and more temperate art movement of her own? One can only wonder at the sheer majesty and wonder of her imaginative and productive day.

It’s all so easy to criticize the work of others, and is usually done without thought or consideration for their endeavours. Everyone knows better than everyone else. It’s easier to criticize than to do.

It’s the same at work, down the pub, on the football terrace and in front of the TV.

Clearly not all criticism is bad. Constructive criticism is a good thing, and if you are reviewing something like the lyrics to a cheeky girls song, then even destructive criticism is a good thing.
Criticism is fine, just as long as it’s considered, considerate and justified.

Surely to accuse a film like Avatar of lacking imagination for the sake of one name, is a bit like suggesting the ceiling to the Sistine chapel is a bit unambitious.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Anyone want a cat?

Cat available to good home. Or bad home. In fact, doesn’t even really need to be a home. If you’ve got a shed, an allotment or even a small mat, it’s yours.

It’s got black fur, a six-inch scar from a recent operation; a blue hooded collar to stop it licking said scar, and an ever-excavating anus.

I can’t move for this wretched animal following me, sticking it’s wet nose in mine, or scratching at my leg. Wherever I walk, it’s right in front of my feet. If I lie down, it’s on my chest, clawing away. Turning in circles, so I either have its nose or arse in my face. If I’m in the house it craps all day long. However if I’m not in the house, it manages to hold it in until the second I walk through the door, and then runs towards me, so that I can trip over it, before immediately racing to its litter tray and depositing a lovely, aromatic present for me. Then it waits for me to clear out its tray, looks at me like I’m the world’s biggest moron and walks back over nonchalantly to leave another deposit.

When I wake up it’s there, lying on top of me, purring, sounding like a Nissan Micra on a cold morning. The first thing I see are two staring, glaring eyes, and it’s wet nose that has no doubt recently been in the vicinity of it’s ever-active rectum.

Even as I’m typing this, it’s nearby. As my fingers tap out these words, it’s on the table next to me, walking over the keyboard so my heart felt plea turns into nothing more than a litany of Bolljkjjjvughfbydbygbsysghcpojjmcks!

This furnisher of feline faeces is available for immediate pick-up. Or I will deliver; anywhere in a two hundred mile radius. It answers to the name of “Oh, fuck off cat.” Or “Aaaaargggh, piss off you bloody nuisance.” Or Holly.

Unfortunately though, I suppose the children will notice if there is no smell of rancid cat shit to wake up to. They will undoubtedly miss the thing, and then there will be tears, and then recrimination, and then the guilt will set in, and then my wife will go out and get another one and then the whole sorry story will start again. So I guess I’m stuck with the bloody animal.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

It's not quite Slumdog Millionaire

Bombay Bankers Ballad

<a href="">Web agency Graphéine</a>

Friday, 22 January 2010

Anyone for Pizza?

Very funny prank call to a Pizza delivery shop. Radio one DJ Scott Mills had called the night before for a pizza and this chap had been very rude. This is his revenge.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Evolution not Revolution

Imagine the scene; you’ve just invented the wheel, and you’re as happy as happy can be. You take your invention to the elders who are sat around a roaring fire outside their cave. You explain what your invention is, and what it’s for. It can be used for transport and carrying things you tell them. The possibilities are endless.

‘I like it.’ Says one.

‘Me too.’ Says another.

‘It’s perfect for the job.’ Says a third.

‘Could it be better?’ Says a dissenting voice. ‘I like it, but have you thought about a better way?’

Now we have a committee, and the problems start.

‘Does it really have to be so, well…round? I use a horse for transport and carrying things, and a horse isn’t round.’

The others nod sagely.

‘The moon is round. The moon only comes out at night. Night is dark. Dark is negative. Won’t people associate a round invention as being negative?’

More nodding.

‘What about a square? I like squares.’ Says the chief elder.

‘But it won’t work.’ You say. ‘It needs to be round to go round, do you see?’

‘Hmmm. Got it.’ Says voice number two. ‘How about square with round corners?’

Everyone agrees this is a marvellous idea. It’s not square, but it’s not round either. It’s somewhere in the middle. Perfect.

‘But it won’t work.’ You repeat. ‘It’ll simply be an ineffective ornament.’

The elders take you to one side. They have many years of wisdom to draw upon, and they want to share it with you.

‘Our people are simply not ready for your round invention. Evolution not revolution is the key. Let them get used to the square with round edges, and then maybe, further down the line, we can put the wheel into research.’

‘But it won’t work.’ You protest.

You are slain and fed to the lions.

Now everybody is happy.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Just what are we all afraid of?

Why has there developed such a stifling fear of upsetting everyone? It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, there is always a Mr or Mrs X who are not allowed to be upset, and consequently there is an endless amount of work that is dull, tedious, safe and ineffective.

I happen to work in advertising and had an example recently. I had written a couple of radio commercials for a large German company, and they had been approved. Great. However, the account team wanted to change one small thing? I had proposed a couple watching the BBC’s flagship hour of nothingness ‘Casualty’ in one script.
‘We are worried that the client will associate Casualty with an accident’, said the account executive in all seriousness, ‘and we don’t have time to wait for them to ask us to change it. So shall we just change it?’
What? No, don’t be fucking ridiculous. Of course we shouldn’t change it. Let’s at least give them the benefit of the doubt of being sane. If they prove to be a bunch of muttonheaded morons, who can’t distinguish between a badly made drama show and a life threatening incident, then let’s talk again.

As it turned out, the BBC decided to be a little sheep headed itself, and wouldn’t let us use the name of one of it’s programmes anyway. So Casualty was a casualty and died within the script. I then changed it to the couple fighting over the remote control.
‘I think the client will associate fighting over the remote with being aggressive.’ Said the same account executive. ‘Shall we think of a back up option?’

I quickly beat her to death with a hat stand.

Okay, I didn’t really, but for the love of God where did this mentality come from? Firstly, can we not train people to think for themselves?
“I appreciate your concern Mr Client, but in all honesty you are being a complete ass. Not a single one of your customers will think like that. Now please stop worrying and get back to arranging the wedding to your own sister you inbred moron.”

It’s safe to say I would never have made a client facing account man, but really. Pick the bones out of the sentiment and deliver it with a benign smile.

Secondly, this fear stems from somewhere, and I’m not innocent enough to think all these concerns are unfounded. Fear breeds fear. And the people our account team are afraid of, are in turn afraid of someone else. They are probably afraid of the board, which is afraid of the shareholders, who are afraid of the public. But the inescapable truth is that the public nine, times out of ten, simply doesn’t give a shit!

If you mention Casualty, then I as Joe Public do not immediately think your company is going to be responsible for a calamitous disaster. If I hear the term ‘fighting over the remote control’ I do not presume that means fighting to a slow, painful and graphic death. I’m sure I’m not alone. But a blame culture has led to an accountability culture. If something goes wrong, someone is to blame. So unfortunately we have to cater for the lowest common denominator to ensure there is never any risk of anyone being to blame, and therefore no one ever being upset.

‘A Mrs Smith in Coventry recently complained that her cat was upset by the loud noise emanating from her television set when Emmerdale starts. Apologies have been issued, staff have been sacked and every episode from now on will carry instructions on how to lower the volume.’

Unfortunately, this now means that members of the lowest common denominator often end up holding very senior positions in some very large companies, and the rest of us spend our working days trying to appease them. I would suggest we try and rid the world of these soul-destroying cretins, but I’m worried somebody might take offence.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Grandma and Granddad. Bless!

Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age. Nothing does - except wrinkles. It's true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place.
Abigail Van Buren (1918 - )

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Thistle in my side

I had to stay in a hotel last night to ensure I made a work commitment. (A Thistle Hotel, near the Barbican if you’re a detail person) The country had been brought to its knees by the snow, and the concern was that if I took the train home, I wouldn’t get back into London again. So rather than rely on East Midland trains, who have taken to running their service on a ‘special occasions only’ basis, I would stay near by.

Now, I have nothing against staying in hotels; the prospect of being away from my family is usually offset by the extra hour in bed the following morning, and leisurely start to the day, which is in stark contrast to the bedlam of a usual morning getting myself and the kids ready. If it’s only for one night, I have nothing against hotels at the cheaper end of the market; I can survive at a push without haute cuisine, marble floors or infinity pools. I don’t really have anything against dreary seventies décor, or unpleasant carpets. What I do have a problem with, however, is being taken for a ride.

However, I arrived at the reception desk and was greeted by a young, camp looking Mediterranean man who said without, taking a breath “Hellomynameisirrelevantcanitalktoyouinacondescendingmannerforamoment?”
I smiled meekly and thrust my booking form into his hands. “Thankyouiwon’tbeoneminutesirpleasestandtherefeelinguncomfortableamomentlonger”
Eventually after my introduction to the hotel and the new language, I was off to my room. It was the usual undersized, lazily decorated fair that chain hotels do so well. The air conditioning unit sounded like it was powered by midgets banging the inside with a lump hammer, but not to worry, I would drop my bag off, quickly log on to the internet for a bit and then pop downstairs for a bite to eat.

Oh no I bloody wouldn’t. £6 an hour for internet access. How the hucking fell can anybody justify £6 an hour for internet access? £6 an hour! If I was after hard-core pornography, or browsing was accompanied by a massage from a young lady called Candy, then fair enough. But £6 an hour just to check emails or youtube is surely taking the piss. So, no internet for me. I headed downstairs to check the bar snacks. I’m sorry, but how can bar ‘snacks’ start at £17? Possibly Heston Blumenthal might charge that for a snack, but I would expect a crispy red squirrel cooked in Nitrogen for that.

I took my custom elsewhere, and returned later that evening and settled down for the night to be entertained by the choice of five, yes five, channels and the air conditioning team drummers. After a sleepless night I attended breakfast the next morning, which fortunately was included in the bill. But when I was handed the courtesy receipt I noticed that if I had paid, it would have cost £15.90. Wow, I thought, this should be good. It’s probably a bit early for caviar and champagne, and I shall forego the foie gras on moral grounds, but hey, why not. The reason why not was that for £15.90 you got cold scrambled eggs, cardboard hash browns, ‘value’ sausages and soggy mushrooms. They might as well have dished up a dollop of gruel and been done with it.

I left the Thistle hotel with a rather unpleasant taste in my mouth, and it wasn’t just down to the beggars breakfast, but more down to a feeling that chain hotels are doing very nicely out of their guests unsatisfactory experiences. Next time I shall take ear-muffs, a picnic and a wireless router.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


I would imagine the foreman's rant following this little incident would have been worth hearing!
(Ok, I know that's tenuous, but the video is definitely worth a watch if you've not seen it before)