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14/12/2002: Assorted Curiosities

Right. For once, I’ve got a topic lined up for this weekend. It’s even topical! But first, let me regail you with a tale of the surreal happenings that are all around us if we only look. Or hey, maybe they’re in my head. From my point of view, they’re just about the same thing.

So, on Thursday evening, I’m hanging around at a local secondary school (where I’m playing in a band; not even I enjoy the ambience of Local Government Funded Grey walls and Oh God, We’re Cheerful coloured displays), waiting for some bastard to finish taking a 30-minute dump and let me into the goddam bathroom, which is just a single stall, not a block.

Uneventful, you might think. Dull, even. But you’d be wrong. You see, it’s just then that I notice that whilst I’ve been hanging around here, for all appearances three people have entered, and not one exited. I look down the corridor, but there’s nobody coming. Clearly if these people are trying to escape the building through the bathroom window, they’re making a good job of it. I hesitate to try going in, as there are only so many activities that involve three people in a bathroom, and I’m not sure I’d be welcome witnessing any of them.

It turns out that my apprehension was well placed, as shortly afterwards, I hear furtive conversation coming from within. I creep closer to the door; this, I think, could be update-worthy material! Perhaps they’re secret agents, meeting in the least likely place! Or, y’know, perhaps they’re celebrities having an interesting time, and I can sell my story to a major national newspaper. Though come to think of it, "Celebrity Bog Threesome! Pimply Nerd Tells All!" probably wouldn’t shift too many copies of The Sunday Sport.

However, God’s not on my side today, and it shortly becomes clear that these two toilet-dwellers are in fact discussing their pay packets.

That’s not a metaphor, they’re actually comparing earnings, and, it would seem, one is trying to wrangle more money from the other. Here’s what it sounds like:

MAN 1: Look, it’s not like I get paid a lot either. We just can’t afford it.

MAN 2: How much do you get?

MAN 1: 28,000, plus bonuses.

MAN 2: Come on, we get almost half that. We need 17% at least to pay cost of living.

MAN 1: I said we can’t afford it. The most we can do is 5%.

MAN 2: Oh come on, I know you’ve more than that.

MAN 1: Look, I’ll discuss this later.

Now what the fuck is happening? Is this perhaps the rich-person equivalent of foreplay? (In which case, I could still sell my soul to the tabloids! Woo!) Or perhaps this is where plumbers meet to discuss business? Maybe there’s a whole underground lair down there, disguised as a pipe with shit in it. Or perhaps some unfortunate guy’s walked in on someone taking a crap, and is trying to make polite conversation as he frantically fumbles for the door handle.

My musings are cut short as their conversation ends, and it sounds like one or both are moving out. I walk down the corridor a little way, and try to look like I’m supposed to be here. Which of course I am, but I always look like I’m lingering with intent in any case.

Now this is where things take a turn for the surreal, as the door flies open, and a middle-aged woman exits rapidly, looking flustered and muttering something at me about how there’s a new Andrex behind the door. When she’s gone, I walk in, and look around, but my search yields no cowering suits, nor any other living creatures. Now what the fuck just happened? I’m left with three options.

1. My inner mind is rather disturbed, and fantasises about the furtive comparing of incomes.

2. This woman is in fact one of the pod people, and is capable of splitting down the middle to become two argumentative plumbers, and vice versa.

3. There is in fact a secret hideout buried beneath the floorboards, which quite possibly conceals the local branch of MI6, which would be quite cool.

I’m torn between a desire to turn myself in at the New Bedlam Home for the Emotionally Interesting, chase after the woman with an array of armaments, and quietly remove the fixtures in an attempt to get myself shot by real authentic spies. On further consideration, I decide that all three options are likely to end the same way, and make for the Home, but am distracted by a rather interesting billboard advertising the Peugeot 306, and forget about the whole affair, until today.

Interesting, no? Oh, hang on, I had a topic in mind when I started recounting this little lot. Um.

Erm. Well, don’t I just look stupid.

13/12/2002: Hanky Panties

My latest offering for the ever-growing army of short stories, reviews and general rubbish that piles up inside my archives like so many bags of used loo paper is a piece of fiction I like to call The Don't Mention Panties Game. I honestly thought it was funny when I wrote it.

I'm back on Monday; tomorrow's update comes courtesy of your friend and mine Chris Smowton. In the meantime, your assignment is to start up a daily updated humour site that becomes irrationally popular and update it every single day with fresh, thought-provoking and original wit. Then give useless crap like this site a nice prominent link.

12/12/2002: Lucas Membrane

Recently ITV (or ITV1 as it sometimes prefers to be called) screened the first four Star Wars films (or rather more pedantically, the first one and the last three). I have now seen all the Star Wars a sufficient number of times to start slagging them off. Twice for the first three, and once each for the prequels.

My bestest friend in the whole wide world Nate 'Chefelf' Redcloud once shot to fame, noted in Entertainment Weekly no less, for his ground-breaking series of articles entitled 78 Reasons to Hate Star Wars Episode 1, and the follow-up, 64 Reasons to Hate Star Wars Episode 2. he received a lot of mail for both, and traffic for the site boomed, and I began to see an awful lot of 'Reasons to Hate Such and Such' articles spring up on the Internet. My friend Chefelf, setter-upper of my site, proofreader of my novel, had won his fifteen minutes of fame.

Which I now intend to ride upon, if a little late, by giving some of my own reasons why Star Wars was a bit poo. And just to prove I'm not biased in this field, soon I'll be giving Star Trek the same treatment. And what the hell, maybe Red Dwarf as well.

So, without further ado, my own personal reasons to hate Star Wars.

1. What, if I may be so bold, is so bad about the Dark Side anyway? Luke was such an idiot. Darth Vader was offering him to join the side that (a) was winning and (b) had all the cool gear. I'd have taken it like a shot, but maybe that's just because I would seek to get into the good books of anyone who could close throats with his mind. Don't give me that 'the dark side is immoral' crap. I'm betting Luke just didn't fancy that whole 'horribly mutilated body' thing, or felt that black wasn't his colour.

2. The three hundredweight of CG in the newer films. They say CG is top of the range. It can create very cool and realistic effects. If that is so, why can you always tell when something is CG? There's always just something about it that gives it away. No matter how well-animated that big furry fuck-off monster is, you just feel like you're watching an episode of Reboot.


Here's one way they could have improved the films for me!

3. I'm surprised Nate didn't make this one of his reasons in his big list: no-one except the veteran actors in the newer films can act worth shit. I was cringing in my seat as I heard little Anakin's mates discuss his pod racer - I can only assume they were all picked up from The George Lucas's Film-making Talent Memorial Kindergarten, as I have seen better acting in a primary school nativity play. For 'special' children. Even Ewan McGregor, normally the greatest thing you can put in a film, seemed more interested in trying out his Sir Alec Guinness voice than acting properly. Maybe that's just because of the dialogue he had to work with.

4. Okay, let's make Ewan McGregor's accent a separate reason. It slipped in and out like a whorehouse patron on his lunch hour. You know how you can tell when a person's fake voice is rubbish? When you can tell that he's faking it. I'm sorry, maybe he should have stuck to jamming needles in his arm, or growing a beard in front of a typewriter.

5. Jar Jar Binks. Yes, I know, done to death, he's annoying, get over it. But somehow, it's more than that. It's like he breaks the annoying barrier. In a million years time when a new, advanced civilization happens upon the unsold Jar Jar toys in some archaeological dig, they, too, will despise him, even though they won't know why. He's so annoying that the annoying actually passes down the timeline to our future generations.

6. After George Lucas's evil neck began to control his thoughts, it wasn't satisfied with just making the new films crap in a hat. It had to go back and extend its chaotic magic upon the first three, as well. Specifically, at the moment I'm thinking of that bit they added to Return of the Jedi, in Jabba's digs, with the singing monsters. I was so riddled with embarrassment and horror that I had to hit myself in the balls to stop myself from running off and drowning myself in vinegar.

And I guess that's all I can think of for now; anything else would be just treading old ground. I'll see y'all again in twenty-four hours, where I will continue to tear apart the fragile doll's house of your innocent childhood memories. IF I FEEL LIKE IT.

11/12/2002: Flash in the Pan

Forgive me for being nostalgic, but I've been spending a lot of time playing roms lately. Yes, I know owning roms for games you don't own is technically a little bit illegal, but most of the games I'm playing can only be found nowadays at car boot sales, the consoles likewise. And I can't afford new consoles or computer upgrades. I'm sure any decent judge would let me off.

So, what has been occupying my attention most lately?

At the moment, it's a little game called Flashback. I remember playing this on my Amiga many years ago, so it's sort of legal. You play a young whippersnapper by the name of Conrad B. Hart (the 'B' is for 'Biceps', ladies) who wakes up in an interrogation chair with no memory and scarpers on a motorbike, ending up crashing on a jungley world. From there, your task is to get Conrad's memory back and, amongst other things, save the world from alien invaders, blah de blah de blah. It's a little disappointing, really. The game is called Flashback, aka Flashback: the Quest for Identity, so you'd expect them to make a big thing out of the whole amnesia thing. No. Conrad gets his entire memory back at the beginning of level 2.

I don't know what those little shits are, but like everything else in the world, they're in the mood for a slice of Conrad Pie.

Gameplay-wise, it's a 2D platformer, but not in the same way Sonic was a 2D platformer. It's sort of like a future-world Prince of Persia, with the turban and curly shoes exchanged for a very smart leather jacket and white trainers.

The first thing you'll notice about Conrad B. Hart (the 'B' is for 'Badass') is that he's more difficult to control than a passenger airliner with two dead pilots and the seats missing. Our young Mr. Hart can walk, run, jump, run and jump, jump and catch a ledge, run and jump and catch a ledge, run and jump and catch a slightly higher ledge, climb down a ledge, duck, roll, pull a gun, walk with a gun, roll with a gun, shoot bad guys dang-blasted dead with a gun, and you have to learn how to do all this with just a couple of buttons and a D-pad. To say nothing of the 'use', 'open inventory' and 'use inventory' controls. If you're interested in a career as a Royal Navy bridge officer, this is just the game for you.

As you guide Conrad B. Hart (the 'B' is for 'Bollocks, I can't seem to make him grab that stupid ledge') through a jungle world, a delapidated future city, the streets of Earth and an alien world straight out of Wonka's Chocolate Factory, you'll learn many things about the future of mankind. Here are a few of them.

- In the future, all locations will be built on the 'three storeys' basis. Staircases, primitive and outmoded devices, will hopefully be fazed out. Everyone will get up and down with special lifts. Where there isn't a lift, you will just have to leap up, grab a ledge and haul yourself up. If you're not strong enough to do this an indefinite number of times a day then that's just tough titty.

Drinking is fun! It makes me feel horrible and sexy!

- In the future, if the main reactor is about to explode and decimate untold square miles of the city, DON'T send in a squadron of highly-trained agents to avert the disaster. Simply place an ad in the local job centre and hope some plucky youngster in a brown leather jacket will volunteer.

- In the future, the police force are extremely irritable and have been known to open fire on passers-by for no good reason, even if said passer-by has averted a dreadful explosion and/or is on a mission to save the world from shapeshifting aliens. The only defense is to put up your force field and blow that mother to hell, at which point every policeman in the world will sentence you to immediate death.

- In the future, alien planets are extremely fragile and will explode if you put a bomb the size of a pencilcase in or near the planet's core.

- Killer robots, killer floating bowling balls, killer police officers and killer clouds of green shit will turn up unannounced everywhere on the streets of Earth. For this reason, there doesn't seem to be anyone around except Conrad and a bunch of cops with itchy trigger fingers.

Hey, I guess it beats a post-apocalyptic nightmare world. See you tomorrow!

10/12/2002: Name Dropping

I'm back with the MOST TRUSTING COMPANY IN THE WORLD (they of the haunted bathrooms) while they need a few hundred more surveys well and truly databased. I'm back from a long seven hours of typing, and am now relaxing by doing some more. That's just the kind of kooky guy I am.

So far, the ghost that haunts the men's bogs hasn't bothered me yet this time. Although it did occur to me that the incident where I selflessly climbed over a toilet partition wall to unlock a haunted cubicle door would be a good thing to mention at a job interview.

Anyway.

In case you haven't already ascertained this, Holmes-like, from certain pieces of information revealed above, the company I'm working for at the moment is a surveying company. They are paid to go into other people's houses, say "Yep, this all needs replacing at tremendous expense", and go out again, whistling jauntily. After that everything they wrote down on their little papers during the process comes to little old me, and I enter it all onto a computer. In doing this I accidentally learn certain things. For instance, I now know exactly what most of the drainpipes in Saffron Walden are made from. I also know some rather silly place names.

I don't know what it is with the human race that almost every name they can think of for a town or village eventually becomes embarrassing. The room I'm sitting in has a poster detailing the names of several Native American tribes, and one of them is called Shinnecock. Dwell on that for a few moments, and if you don't find yourself imagining masturbation, you're obviously too young to be reading this site. Kindly fuck off. And by the way, it IS your fault that mummy and daddy shout at each other.


Silly names = comedy gold!

There's a street I was entering data for called Bedwell. Dwell on that for a few moments, too. It sounds like one of those vaguely suggestive names female James Bond characters have. I feel sorry for whatever poor sap has to admit to the government that they live at 69 Bedwell Street. Every time they set up a bank account, or applied for unemployment benefit, or went for a job interview, they'd have to wait ten minutes longer than everyone else while the person at the reception desk stops laughing. This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly how terrorists are made.

And I haven't even told you the name of the village in which Bedwell resides. It's called Ugley. UGLEY. Now the hypothetical occupant of 69 Bedwell Street has to wait another twenty minutes while everyone laughs and he quietly strokes his machine gun. What is it that goes through the heads of whoever came up with these place names? I have personally considered the three possible reasons why Ugley would be so named.

1. Local Celebrity

With the characteristic unoriginality of the time, the shit-stained peasants just named their town ingratiatingly after the lord who ran the local branch of the feudal system: Lord Ugley of Uttsbridge. This was back when the dictionary could be written on the back of a shopping list in really big writing, of course, so they wouldn't know what Ugley meant. Maybe Lord Ugley's fearsome countenance is where the word got derived from. This was, after all, the time when the only defense against disease was a sharpened stick and anyone who didn't have sixteen weeping sores on his face was burnt as a disease-immune witch.

2. Old Languages

So many words and names come from words in old languages, no-one has any originality anymore. Maybe 'Ley' is an old Gaelic word meaning 'terribly nice', and 'Ug' an old caveman word for 'rock'. The whole meaning 'terribly nice rock' stems from when a caveman first came across the field where Ugley would eventually lie, and found in the middle of it a great big rock which was, for a rock, terribly nice.

3. Brutal Honesty

One day, Celtic Bob and Celtic Jeff became too tired to walk all the way back home, and decided to found a village. At first they just called it 'Bob and Jeff's Kickass Village', as there were only two houses in it, but as a few more people joined it was decided that the name lacked accuracy. Reluctantly, Bob and Jeff spent some time trying to think of a cool new name for their village, but for the life of them could not think of a single thing. Eventually they decided to ride to the rim of the valley and look down upon their little village to get inspiration. They stared quizzically for a few seconds, then Bob spoke.

"You know," he said. "I never really noticed this before, but that is one ugly fucking shithole of a village."

And so was a legend born.

9/12/2002: Buy Shit

I finally bit the bullet and got myself a Cafepress store, after I eventually decided on a design I liked. After all, Sniper Smiley was just born for t-shirts, don't you think? So I guess that's your update for today. Maybe you could use whatever time you would have spent reading a full-length update going to my new store and buying t-shirts for yourself, your immediate family and the entire population of Indonesia.

See you tomorrow!

Updates Archive

All material not otherwise credited by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
Copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved and other legal bollock language