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Recently, Ive been listening to the radio a lot.
Actually, thats a lie. Every radio station in my area broadcasts crap 24 hours a day, and however many days a week its producers can be arsed to switch the transmitter on, so I avoid listening to any of them if at all possible.
Lets start again.
Recently, Ive been thinking of a nice opening phrase to awkwardly segue into ramblings about radio advertising. You see, I recently heard the following on the least-under funded of our local stations, trying to sell me a hair-removal treatment:
MAN: Four ways to remove unwanted hair: shaving!
Well, I dont know about you, but I was sold the minute I heard those agonising screams of pain! Still, surely theyre being a little pessimistic about some of this? Since he does not appear to be sporting a 22 beard, I can only assume that my father shaves regularly, yet Ive never heard <bleeds heavily,> <writhes in pain> OR <spasms horribly> from his bathroom.
Well, not in connection with shaving, anyway. (Complaints to email@example.com please!)
Of course, this could just mean that my father decided to purchase some Hair-B-Gone after getting fed up with <bleeding heavily,> but this does rather undermine my argument, as it occurs to me about now that these advertising executives are missing a real opportunity here! If simple pessimism about the results of using competitor products will sell something, shouldnt that technique work for everything, and not just hair-removal products?
If any advertising executives happen to be reading, let me illustrate as I sell you a Zimmo-Chris DeathMower!
As anybody should know, there are three ways to cut your
lawn and keep that unsightly greenery to a minimum.
Not convinced? Lawnmowers not your thing? Damn. Alright, give me a chance. If youre not rushing out for a Block-o-Ice Coolage Unit after the following, well, frankly, I pity you.
How do you keep your foodstuffs fresh? Do you own a
clunky and dangerous old refrigerator?
Again, direct your complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org please.
I have a feeling I'm going to alienate myself even further with this article.
I'm sitting here at my keyboard, typing away, desperately trying not to think about the sausage I have cooling in the fridge.
It is a refugee from today's meal from the chip shop, wrapped up merrily in a paper towel blanket, obviously thinking how lucky it is to have escaped the earlier conflagration. Little does he know that his fate is to be the worst of all; the drawing out of his execution will be long and painful, following a period of being left alone in a refrigerator to contemplate his awful destiny in my tummy.
For you see, there is nothing I love more than cold chip shop sausage. Not sausage that is merely uncooked, mark you; sausage that has been quite soundly cooked, then allowed to cool to around freezing point. Only then may it pass my discerning lips. Yea, I love the cold chip shop sausage so much I will even go so far as to order one separately just for the purposes of cooling and devouring.
Trouble is that sometimes I just can't control myself. With the knowledge that a cooling chip shop sausage is waiting to please me like some concubine of pork in a chilled harem comes a great and yearning desire to seize and eat it, risking that the sausage may not yet have cooled to optimum temperature, or even (horror of horrors) be still slightly warm! There is nothing that offends me more than lukewarm sausage where chilled sausage belongs.
The best thing to do when I have cold chip shop sausage waiting for me is to forget about it entirely. Ideally for a few hours, maybe even overnight if I'm lucky, then to open the fridge for something else and be reminded of it. "Aha!" I will then say. "Cold chip shop sausage! I did quite forget about it! I do so love cold chip shop sausage!". So I'm not going to write about cold chip shop sausage today, for the sole purpose of forgetting about it.
Shame really, because the subject of cold chip shop sausage is ideal material for an update. We've got humour value, innuendo, and yet also a hint of the human touch. I'm going to sit here and type while thinking about neither sausage nor my crippling weakness for same.
6.00pm: So far, so good. I have passed the time thinking about yachting and catching up on the Gamespy Daily Victims. The word 'sausage' has not even crossed my mind for the last hour. Except just then, when I typed it. Oh, fuck.
6.15pm: I slipped up a couple of times. In fact, I almost mistook my mouse for an enormous fat weisswurst and consumed it there and then. A couple of broken teeth were the result, so now I'm going to think about the horniest sex scenes I have ever seen during my years of research into erotic thrillers.
6.20pm: Sex isn't working. I should have known it wouldn't. If there's one thing that certainly won't make someone stop thinking about long fleshy phalluses, it's sex. I blacked out a couple of times, and awoke to find myself lying on the floor next to the fridge, holding the still-warm sausage close to my body. Am now going to take my mind off it by trying to remember the names of all the James Bond films.
6.37pm: Stopped at 'The Man With The Golden Sausage'. Could go no further. Everything in this room seems aggressively sausage-shaped. Caught myself trying to eat my Beatles White Album. Am now going to take my mind off it the way one of my greatest fictional heroes, Sherlock Holmes, would. I am going to take a very large dose of hallucinogen.
?.??pm: Shing bobo la di wombat fassy farr. Kiklom doff doff vom. Wangly wongly schmompf blah Sean Connery (continues for several pages)
?.??pm: Have been staring at fridge for either two days or two weeks. Whichever it was, it was certainly long enough to write a 5000 page thesis on thermodynamics written in a language I apparently made up on the spot. Caught myself thinking about sausage. Will increase the dosage from now on.
?.??pm: Everything seems to be leaving vapour trails in front of my eyes. The sausage is still a little bit warm. In fact, it's so warm that I caught fire. The flame was bright green. It didn't hurt much. In fact, it was rather cozy. I want to be on fire for the rest of my life. I'm going to look for some matches.
?.??pm: Spent a little while trying to light what I believed to be a match, but it turned out to be an apple. Am now leaving the fridge open so I can keep an eye on the sausage. I think it's trying to escape.
?.??pm: The sausage keeps crying. I try to make it stop by cuddling it, but it just won't stop bawling. I promised it I won't eat it and it seemed to calm down for a few seconds, but I think it can read my mind.
?.??pm: Genuinely decided not to eat sausage, and it stopped crying. Have decided to release it into the wild.
6.23am: Woke up in bed, naked. The sausage was with me. I really cannot remember why I went to bed with the sausage. Now my girlfriend isn't talking to me. There is hair in my mouth. The dog is missing. These two facts may be related.
A lot of people commend me on my amazing ability to update a site every day. I modestly reply that very few of my updates I feel are particularly outstanding. There are some which make little sense and others which concentrate more on the ranting than the funny. But I guess we have to expect this when I'm practically forcing myself to squeeze out writings every day.
Sometimes I'll have an idea for an update in my head all day, and I'll be bursting to write it down when I get home from work and boot the computer up. Other times I'll look over my notes file for an idea that sets me off, and catch my ejaculations in Windows Notepad. And then there are times when I can sit in front of a blank screen for several minutes, not knowing where to start, not even knowing what to write about. I'd like to apologise for the stomach-churning metaphors two sentences ago.
Usually, on these days, I just fall back on one of my backup updates, which I keep in a folder entitled 'IN EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS'. Or I may put up a guest update, if one has been submitted recently. Today, I'm trying something new. I'm going to sit here and write everything that comes to mind until I judge that I've written enough.
One time at my old school we had a visit from some woman, I think she worked at a bank, and she gave us a talk on finances and banking and stuff. Not wishing to be cruel to the poor woman, as she was pleasant enough, I have to say we've had more riveting guest speakers. But what sticks in my mind is that at the end she wanted us to ask questions on banking, and said, no lie, that she would give free ballpoint pens in little presentation boxes to whoever asked good questions.
Immediately I shot my hand up, asked what the difference was between a bank and a building society, and bingo, scored a free pen. But in retrospect it seems an odd way to get kids interested in banking. They could have dressed her as a clown and got her to hand out free money, or sherbet, or spiders in matchboxes. If they're that keen on getting us into the exciting trade that is handling other people's money, at least don't try bribing us with fucking stationery.
At my school you had to pay for your own biros, you grabbed them whenever you could. And a presentation box, hell, hold me back. I'm saying this so you don't assume I gained a sudden interest in banking after being bribed with a pen. I didn't give a toss what the difference is between a bank and a building society. I still don't know; I didn't listen to her answer as I was inspecting my new pen. For all I know she could've said that banks look after money for you and building societies slash open your throat with rusty razors. I wouldn't have heard, or cared.
At school I had one of those crappy cheap pencil sharpeners that you have to hold over the bin while you sharpened. I couldn't be arsed to go over to the bin so I just sharpened my pencil into my pencilcase. I remember being quite cross to find that all my important school stationery was covered in grey graphitey shit. I didn't have much common sense when I was young.
I always felt that, somehow, I skipped ahead about twenty years when I was growing up. I listen to bands like The Beatles and loathe almost all new music. I complain vocally about all the low-brow 'yoof' crap on TV. I write almost constantly and am trying to sell comic fantasy novels, a genre dominated by old gits like Terry Pratchett. I wear slippers whenever I'm in the house. I hate clubbing, and pubs, gave up smoking after my first experimental try, and don't drink. I ignore modern fashion and usually wear unlabelled, unpatterned garments. I find I can watch historical documentaries with interest. I wish I'd grown up in the 60's.
The 60's and 70's had the misfortune of being the part of everyone's history on which they look back and say "What the hell were we doing?". And I have a funny feeling, when we're all middle-aged and reflecting back on our lives, we'll think something similar about the 90's and whatever the current decade is.
I hate it when people say the current decade is 'The Noughties', and giggle. Since every year in this decade is going to be called 'Two Thousand And Whatever', I put forward the suggestion that we just call this decade the Two Thousand Ands, but was swiftly overruled. Next decade we get to call everything Twenty-Ten or Twenty-Twelve, and I'd like to know what name we're gonna come up with for that one.
Here is a short list of the usual lineup of weapons you get in most First Person Shooters. Bear with me, I'm going somewhere with this.
1. Fisticuffs which are for some reason fatal, or a knife with which to instigate stabbity death.
2. Crappy pistol you start with which wouldn't faze a small duck, even if it was an inflatable one.
3. Shotgun that you will use exclusively until you get the next weapon.
4. Chaingun, automatic rifle, machine gun, whatever you want to call it, which runs out of bullets after two minutes so you go back to using the shotgun.
5. Slightly more powerful chaingun which you keep forgetting about.
6. Grenade launcher.
7. Rocket launcher.
8, 9, 10. Some amazing miscellaneous ouchy-bang-splat weapons that you only get in the registered version and never use.
Now, I'm going to make a little statement here which may prove a little controversial, but it's a stance that I feel strongly about. Hold onto your hats and cross your legs:
FPS game developers: DON'T GIVE US BOTH A GRENADE LAUNCHER AND A ROCKET LAUNCHER.
Why do you insist on doing this? Personally, I never use grenade launchers. There are two types of grenade launcher: One that launches a grenade about as far as it would go if you chucked it by hand, and one that launches a grenade into orbit. Neither of which are particularly welcome in the heat of battle, and I'll tell you why.
On the one hand, we have the crappy grenade launcher that throws like a girl. You don't want to draw first only to watch your pitiful little grenade roll to a stop about two feet before your nemesis. In the film Fight Club, there's a bit where Brad Pitt throws a beer bottle without the use of a specialised beer bottle launcher, and it still goes a lot further than grenades from the Quake 1 grenade launcher.
On the other hand, there's the powerful grenade launcher. If you launch a powerful grenade immediately forwards, you might as well be firing a rocket launcher. If you launch it up into the air, you need a degree in geometric physics to work out where the bloody thing's going to land. If I wanted to make use of a degree in geometric physics, I'd go play Worms. I don't want to have to grab a notepad and pencil while monsters are using my lower intestines as party decorations.
When you have a rocket launcher, there is absolutely no point to having a grenade launcher. Unless you're a Christian fundamentalist and want to punish yourself for having unclean thoughts about your sister. There's nothing a grenade launcher can do that a rocket launcher can't do just as well. Oh, hang on a second, I think I hear the distinctive cry of the outraged gaming zealot.
"But Yahtzee! You can bounce grenades off walls to hit monsters that are lurking around corners!" it goes.
Well, I'll drop for the moment the matter that you also need a degree in geometric physics to do this correctly. There's another problem with this amazing feature I can identify. Let me see if I can put it into words you can understand.
The thing about monsters lurking around corners is that you can't tell that the fucking things are there.
I'm glad I could get my message across. Now, I think it's time for pie.
Here's some vaguely good news for people waiting patiently for Articulate Jim to get published. I've censored out the name of the company to avoid embarrassment:
Yeah, OK, it's a rejection letter. But it's a positive one! See, it says they liked the material but couldn't find a place on their list! This gives me renewed confidence. For a long time I've been suffering various crises, wondering if my work is any good at all and if I'm just fooling myself. Well, here's the very first letter from an actual publisher which mentioned they actually liked the stuff! Unprecedented in all the stuff I've ever been sending around!
Of course, taking another look at the letter, one would thing a respectable publishing company could have at least checked through the letter before sending it. Not that I wish to practise gift horse dentistry or anything, I'm just saying, y'know.
I mean, look at the first sentence of that second paragraph there. A comma right slap bang in the middle where no comma should be. Not that I want to be mean to my new friends at Time Warn - fuck - er, the anonymous book publishers I've been submitting to.
And what the hell does 'pursue with' mean? What made them stick that 'with' on the end? Are they mad?
Sorry, I'll shut up about their grammar now.
Also, they spelt my name wrong. I put it on the return envelope AND the header of my original letter AND on the title page of the manuscript. No matter how hard I try, people always put that fateful double-you in the middle of Croshaw. Is my family really the only branch of the worldwide family tree that spells it without the double-you? Sometimes I just wanna change my name to Yahtzee by deed poll, but you'd be surprised how many different misspellings of that I've seen in my time. Yathzee, Yazhtee, Yhatzhee, Yztaezhz ... For the record, people, there's a YA on the front, as in Yankee Doodle Dandy but without the nkee doodle dandy; there's an EE on the end, as in Once More Upon The Breach Dear Friends but without the Once More Upon The Brach Dar Friends; and in the middle there's HTZ, like Horrendously Mutilated Zebra but without the Orrendously Mutilaed Ebra.
Sorry, I shouldn't get so worked up about it. Er, yes, publishers liked the book. Hooray!
material not otherwise credited by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw