All entries for June 2008

June 25, 2008

Glasto Twitter

Can’t sleep, so sod it.
Don’t really like Twitter but it sort of makes sense at Glasto so I’ll be trying to remember to do live updates at

June 24, 2008

Entry for the sake of it

Don’t really have anything to say, but haven’t blogged in two weeks and am off to Glastonbury soon so wanted to post something or it’ll have been a month by the time I next get around to it.

So – stuff I am going to try and watch at Glasto:

Jim Bob
Ben Folds
Frank Turner
Leonard Cohen
Phil Nichol
The Book Club
Stephen Frost Improv All-Stars
Steve Gribben
Marcus Brigstocke
Mitch Benn
Kate Nash (I don’t care what you think)
Brendon Burns

The rest of the time will be spent bumming around the Comedy/Theatre/Circus area watching weird and wonderful stuff.

I can’t promise another two-post 9000-word dissertation when I get back this time, but I’ll write up something.

June 08, 2008

Empire Movie Poster Quiz

I found this today:

Now I don’t really consider myself particularly up on movies, so looking at this I thought it was basically impossible. But I realised as I kept flicking back to it throughout the day I could remember some of them and ended up getting 12 of them. Which is sort of disturbing. How well the marketing for these film logos basically sears itself into out minds to the point where I can recognise a whole bunch from a single letter.

So yeah, see how you do. Don’t give up at first if it seems ridiculous, as I found the answers came with time and I’m shocked at the amount of crap that’s stored somewhere in the back of my brain.

June 06, 2008

The Apprentice 4×11 Round–Up

I’m sure you saw this rant coming, but before looking at this ridiculous ‘twist’ in more detail, some other observations.

Lucinda. The last likeable applicant left, but lets face it, she was never going to fit in if she won. She had to go. But the way she went left something to be desired. Much like Raef a few weeks back she was victim to Sir Alan’s revisionist version of history. “I can’t ignore the evidence of the last ten weeks, you weren’t successful when you weren’t team leader. Lucinda, you’re fired”. Lets have a quick look at that evidence. Apparently Lucinda was disruptive when she wasn’t leading the team, clashing with everyone causing untold problems. They were so bad, Lucinda was only on the winning team 8 out of 10 times, and one of those losses was when she was PM and everyone thought she did a great job and it was the closest task of the series. So it turns out that her disruptive tendencies when not PM won her team 7 out of 8 tasks. Hmm. Now, one or two and maybe they won despite her. But 7 out of 8? One starts to think that while it might wind people up to have Lucinda standing there pointing out everything you’re doing wrong, it probably also helped quite a lot when it came down to winning.
At least Sir Alan was nice enough to tell her the real reason after spouting all the ‘evidence of the last 10 weeks’ bullcrap “you’re too zany for me”. Yeah, fair enough Sir Alan, you’re something of an intolerant tit and you can’t relate to people that don’t share your world view. But at least have the courage to say that to start with and don’t go twisting the results of the past weeks around to suit your barmy logic. Please. We have wikipedia, we can check the facts.
Also it was somewhat amusing seeing the interviewer have a go at Lucinda for only doing contract work and being unemployable long term, y’know, in this reality TV competition where the prize is a one-year contract with Alan Sugar.

A missed opportunity:
“Isn’t a fluency in English pretty much a given?”
“You clearly haven’t interviewed Lee yet”

And proof that Helen is clearly a dunce:
“I wish I could be a fly on the wall in there” said without any knowing smile or indication that she realised what she was saying.

The interviews were as laughable as ever: “Hey Alex, you’re boring and have no hobbies or interests” “Hey Lucinda, you have a hobbies and interests, you’re clearly not a serious business woman.”

Still, it all pales in comparison to the final ‘twist’ where Alan decides he can’t be bothered to decide who wins himself, so sets an objective final task where he splits the final four into two teams, each containing someone he’d like to hire called Alex or Claire and someone else. It ruins the entire point of the show – of whittling them down until it’s the last two standing going head-to-head. How exactly is he meant to make a fair decision on the final two if they never compete against each other (well from watching them work for him for the 3 months before filming the last task and revealing the winner clearly). The show really is becoming a complete mockery of itself, and I think Sir Alan really needs to make his mind up what he wants from an ‘Apprentice’. Does he want someone he can teach and mould in his own image, or does he just want someone who’s no bother and will just do the job so he can get on with making Series 5 of The Apprentice.

Lets hope when they make it we can get someone that’s likeable and competent this time around.

June 05, 2008

Dear Apprentice Producers…

... please consult Mark Burnett before throwing in any more ill-advised ‘twists’ which ruin the entire format.


New Chocolate Review!

or “This sort of post is why I struggle to be taken seriously as a writer”

KitKat Senses
KitKat hit the new flavour jackpot some years back with their Chunky Peanut Butter flavour, and have recently launched KitKat Senses. Apparently it’s aimed at young women, but sod it, I love Galaxy Ripples and if we’re going to start basing sexuality on your choice of chocolate bar then I should have been born an hermaphrodite dammit. I’m equal opps too: if you’re a girl and want a Yorkie, GO FOR IT. The raisin and biscuit flavour is rather nice, though once I got one with no biscuit in which was a bit weird. The KitKat Senses bar has plenty of biscuit in the form of your traditional KitKat wafer though, in fact it’s around twice as much as a Kinder Buneo which it rips off with impunity. As such, the Senses bar isn’t as tasty as its progenitor as the wafer and chocolate totally overpower the hazelnut cream. With a Buneo you can bite off the top and scoop out the filling separately on occasion for a varied taste experience (if you’re a a bit odd). Doing so with a KitKat Senses bar just gives you a small amount of bland, dry paste. The one thing they would have over the Buneo is that they’re more filling. Or they would be if there wasn’t only one in the pack, compared to the Buneo’s two individually wrapped bars. The latter of course, having the added advantage of allowing you to choose between either eating extra chocolate or giving one away to that pretty girl in the office in the hopes of fostering a future a romantic relationship. Or at the very least some kinky chocolate sharing ‘friends-with-benefits’ arrangement where she buys you Galaxy Ripples in exchange for Toblerone.

Kinder Bueno White
Not to be outdone, Kinder have hit back at at Nestle by going somewhere they can’t possibly follow, oh yes my friends, they made a Buneo White. Remember the KitKat White? I do. I still get gustatory flashbacks every time I bite into a piece of burnt toast. Nestle have a proven inability to ‘do’ white chocolate and have recently stopped trying. It’s telling that as far as I know Nestle still make the White KitKat (in the traditional, non-chunky, 4-finger design) but NOWHERE SELLS IT except one newsagents in Edinburgh just opposite the the Gilded Balloon. They also have Space Raiders and Irn Bru chewy bars.
Kinder can do white chocolate though, but since the texture and the filling were always the main draw and the drivers of the taste in a Buneo, and they went light on the chocolate anyway, there’s not really a big difference between the milk and white versions. Should you fancy a bit of variety, by all means try it out. It’s a little lighter and the chocolate enhances the creamy flavour rather than providing a sharper counter-point, but it’s mostly the same bar. If KitKat ever released a Senses White though… well lets put it this way: if you and Alyson Hanningan / Johnny Depp (delete according to sexual preference) are alone starving on a desert island with only a Senses White left to eat, forego a last night of passion before the final bit of food is gone. Instead, put a bullet in them and start the cannibalising there and then instead. Don’t make them eat the Senses White first though either, that’d be cruel.

Galaxy Dark
No, I’m not making this up. I’m quite aware the very title is a contradiction in terms. Remember when Wikipedia was down for a few days some months back? (of course they do Dean, because everyone else uses it for six hours a day like you do) That was because someone wrote an entry about Galaxy Dark and the servers all crashed like in Wargames when Matthew Broderick makes the computer play itself at Tic-Tac-Toe.
See, I’ve always believed there was a scale of chocolate, which had dark chocolate at one end, goes through Dairy Milk in the middle, and has Galaxy at the other end. As you move from left to right the cocoa decreases and the milk increases. Galaxy Dark smashes this to pieces by having a lot of cocoa and a lot of milk. Clearly the result is going to be… well fairly pedestrian actually. It’s not bitter like dark chocolate, so you end up with something like a particularly strong Dairy Milk with the traditional, slightly burnt, dark-chocolate after-taste. It’s certainly worth trying as there’s nothing quite like it, but you probably won’t ever eat more than one. It’s just too unremarkable.

Creme Egg Twisted
So we save the best until last. I love Creme Eggs. That four months between my Easter purchased stock-pile running out and them relaunching the following January is hell, if by ‘hell’ you mean ‘my only chance to lose some weight’. There was an attempt some years back when Cadbury were re-branding everything as “Dairy Milk XXX” (where XXX is Crunchie, Caramel, etc – it wasn’t some strange porn chocolate) to make Creme Eggs available all year round with the Creme Egg bar, which was a Dairy Milk with Creme Egg fondant in it. It was rubbish. As any Creme Egg fan will tell you “the ratios were all off!” – there was too much chocolate and not enough delicious treated sugar. Cadbury’s lack of understanding of the Creme Egg connoisseur saw it quickly disappear from our shelves, but just after Easter this year they gave it another shot. Creme Egg Twisted takes the Creme Egg bar, pulls it upwards and twists it a bit, getting the ratios a lot closer to an actual Creme Egg. In fact each segment of the bar is like eating a Creme Egg Mini, but with a slightly tougher texture to the chocolate. It’s not quite right – there’s still a little too much chocolate for me, though Cadbury appear to be attempting to fool us by putting more chocolate and less fondant in this years batch of Creme Eggs anyway, in the hope we won’t notice the difference. Well, I’m on to you, you… chocolate connivers. It’s still a bloody nice bar though, and certainly the pick of of the latest releases, if a tad dear at 46p.

Dean has a strong stance on journalistic integrity but he also really likes chocolate. So if you want to send him free chocolate to review then he’s willing to negotiate. The ‘contact me’ link is up there. Dean would also like to assure people that he didn’t just spend an hour or so writing this purely to wind up his friend Kate who has given up eating chocolate

June 03, 2008

Comedy Review: Simon Amstell – No Self – Warwick Arts Centre Sat 24th May

I’ve put off writing this review for so long as it’s a really hard one to write. See, I really enjoyed Simon’s show, but something about it just didn’t hang together quite right and I’ve been trying to figure out what it was.

I’ve never seen Simon Amstell do stand up before, I just enjoy him on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, and it’s somewhat telling that his biggest laughs and most natural routines come from the age-old technique of taking the piss out of someone on the front row, just as he does the guests on Buzzcocks. But that’s only a small part of the show, he also packs in anecdotal material, misanthropic angry ranting, observational stuff – and that’s what’s weird about the show: Amstell doesn’t seem to have any defined style of his own. He seems to flit from one to another and so the show doesn’t really work as a cohesive whole, and the attempt at a theme is some laboured. There’s even one part where he seemed to be channelling Stewart Lee. I think it’s quite likely Amstell was plucked up from the stand-up circuit by the media for Popworld and Buzzcocks before he was quite fully developed as a performer, and so on his return he lacks a distinct, consistent style of his own. Still, each individual bit is funny, and it gets surprisingly misanthropic and world-hating at times. And to his credit, Amstell isn’t afraid to go after stuff he was involved in: “They asked me to write an episode of Skins, and it did, and it was shit. Because I wasn’t having sex and crazy parties when i was 15, I can’t relate”.

But along with some brilliantly original stuff, he also ventures into territory best defined as ‘hack’. He manages to be the 187th comic to do a variation on the “Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can. Well that’s crap” routine, and dredges up the audience-interaction standard of making a male/female non-dating couple feel slightly awkward. And when the audience reaction, while sizeable, isn’t quite as loud as you’d expect from around 2000 people, he drops into the years old Kitson routine on how he’s not for everyone and wants to slowly narrow down his audience size till there’s just one person left. None of these are direct lifts, but they’re all variations on themes that have been done before; it’s what you’d expect from someone starting out or even doing their first full-length show, but not from someone as ‘established’ as Amstell.

And maybe that’s the issue. Expectations were too high. You expect the superstar TV comics to be exceptional and effortless, as the likes of Bill Bailey and Dara O’Briain often are. Amstell, while judged on his own merits and against other touring comics does a damn good job. But in the first half of the show he was visibly nervous on stage (which is especially obvious when his brilliant support act Arnab Chaunda oozes confidence) and the show as a whole felt like an incomplete, un-tuned Edinburgh preview, rather than a honed and focused tour version of the previous year’s show. It feels like Amstell knows he needs to be doing something special, beyond what’s expected of your average comic due to his TV ‘stardom’, as the show uses all the right tools and has all the elements of a 5-star show. But Amstell doesn’t quite know how to use those tools to their fullest yet, so it’s all a little clumsy. For example there are some great call backs, but also some that don’t work and he certainly over-uses them (his final one, to end the show, is atrocious, though that may have been done on purpose). There’s a theme, but it never really goes anywhere. He presents his material well, but not in a consistent style.

Like I say, this is a hard review to write, as I really enjoyed the show and had a good night. In essence most of the above is nit-picking. But when you’re charging £19 a ticket and playing massive rooms to sell-out crowds the weight of expectation is far greater and it’s far easier to disappoint. Having seen Bill Bailey and The Boosh play that room it was quite clear that a decent proportion of the crowd were disappointed. The flip side of course is that when you’re that popular another portion of the crowd will laugh at absolutely anything you say! Would I recommend this show? If you’re a fan of stand-up comedy, absolutely. Amstell is a great performer. But if you’re not, if you’re the sort of person that goes to one or two comedy gigs a year to see famous people off of the TV then this might be a little outside of your comfort zone.

June 02, 2008

Terrorists Fallout With Daily Mail

I don’t normally post silly things from elsewhere on the Internet here, nor do I mock The Daily Mail much, but this was just so special and not particulary widely reported that I had to share.

The Mail piece in question is here

So far, so weird yes:

“This computer generated image posted on terror forums depict what would happen if a nuclear attack took place in Washington D.C”

The article leads you to believe that the terrorists have created this piece of artwork in order to further their terrorists aims.

Turns out though, it’s a little familiar to a certain bunch of geeky PC RPG gamers that were around in the mid-90s. Specifcally, the ones that played post-apocalyptic RPGs Fallout 1 and 2. More specifically, those following the development of the long awaited sequel Fallout 3.

Here’s a preview image from Fallout 3 from popular gaming site (please give me a job) IGN


June 2008

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