Friday, 22 May 2009

Pug, fug, dug, jug...

Inspired by funny poetry man John Hegley, My friend Lisa K Whalley and I decided to write some poems about dogs.

Here is one Lisa wrote:

Struck Off
Now that fox hunting is illegal
What will happen to the poor old Beagle?

So impressed was I by LKW's lovely little rhyme that I came up with one of my own, with the specific aim of reassuring LKW about the future employability of the Beagle, because I know she worries about it a lot, and I don't want it to affect her own work (in the field of laser-Science) in some sad cross-species employment-specific irony. Here is my poem:

Jobs for Beagles
Don't worry poor Beagle,
'bout the work situation,
You've always a job
in animal experimentation

Beagle: Between jobs/lazy?

I don't really advocate the use of Beagles in animal experimentation, but astronaut didn't rhyme with "situation" and I couldn't think of any other jobs at the time and my tea was nearly ready and it was fish fingers so I didn't want them to go cold. Also, before ruling out vivisection, one has to ask how hard has that Beagle been looking for other jobs in the last six months.

Job Centre Employee: So, Mr Beagle - can I call you Jeremy? - what sort of work have you actually been looking for?

Beagle: -

Job Centre Employee: It says on your form you had an interview at WH Smiths. How did that go?

Beagle: -

Job Centre Employee: Okay, well since you haven't actually found a job on your own in the last six months you're going to have to do one of the ones I offer you or face losing your benefits...

Beagle: -

Job Centre Employee: Okay, we've got vivisection or...let's see...can you operate a fork lift truck?

Why don't you go ahead and write a poem about a dog now? Have you anything better to do? If you do a really good one I might even publish it on this page: imagine the pride.
Tip: not much rhymes with Giant Schnauzer.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Embarrassing Cube

In case you haven't seen it, Embarrassing Bodies is a programme on Channel 4 where people who have an embarrassing body part, too embarrassing, in fact, for them to face the humiliation of showing to their local GP, instead go and show it to muckle-mouthed beefcake Dr Christian Jessen, who has the whole thing filmed for a primetime audience of 14-year-old boys who are hoping that this week's episode will feature a woman whose problem is massive boobs. Usually it is not, though, Usually it is someone with a blemish on his penis, which, it turns out, is just a harmless spot, but he did the right thing coming to have it checked out.

Anyway, at the risk of sounding hypocritical, I went to see Dr Christian with my own problem. Here's what happened.

CUBE: Hello Dr Christian

DR CHRISTIAN: Hello there. What seems to be the problem? Why are you embarrassed by your body?

CUBE: Well, Dr Christian, it is very kind of you to pretend not to notice, but it's my head that I am embarrassed about.

DR CHRISTIAN: And what exactly is the problem with your head?

CUBE: Well, as you can see, it is a perfect cube shape. And a drawing.

Christian Jessen; "Trust me, I'm a Doctor. On telly."

DR CHRISTIAN: Okay, if you just bend forward so I can have a feel of your head. Hmm, yeah, I think I see...

CUBE: Is it bad?

DR CHRISTIAN: No not at all. It's just a case of Drawncubehead Syndrome, which is a lot more common than you would think. Does anyone else in your family have a cube-shaped head?

CUBE: Well, my mother is a normal human woman, but I don't know my father. He left before I was born.

DR CHRISTIAN: Well, this being a hereditary condition, I would guess that your father was probably a drawing of a box. The good news is that this condition is completely harmless. You have absolutely nothing to worry about.

CUBE: But it is embarrassing, Dr Christian. Mean people say things to me like "Hey, cubehead" and "Oi, your head is a perfect cube", and "what have you even got a cube-shaped head for?". It is very hurtful sometimes, although I don’t cry.

DR CHRISTIAN: What you need to do is realise that your condition is something that should be celebrated, and that a lot of the people making those taunts are probably jealous of your head being a cube. And a drawing.

CUBE: Oh, alright. I suppose I'd never thought of it that way. Thank you Dr Christian, that is a huge weight off my mind. I wish I'd come to see you before.

DR CHRISTIAN: Glad to be of help. Would you like me to look at your penis before you go?

CUBE: No thanks: I am alright

DR CHRISTIAN: Would you like to feel my bicep?

CUBE: Goodbye

So I'm glad I went to see Dr Christian. I enjoyed watching his mouth go off in lots of directions as he spoke and his manner was only a bit patronising and mostly soothing/life-affirming. I recommend going to see him if you have got a manky toe or a wonky nipple or something.

Without the self-esteem I regained in my session with Dr Christian, I probably wouldn't have had the courage to write this blog. I've thanked him already. Maybe you should too.

Competition: Viagra Spam

When I get to work on a morning, nothing eases me into the day like opening my email and discovering the new and inventive ways that Japanese spammers are trying to sell me Viagra. I have been collecting these emails for a month or so and here are my top three broken English sales pitches:

1. Support your sweet bed event
2. Hoist your belove sexual times

3. The nervous thrill will leave forever during all your bed scenes

There are many others in my inbox, but, sadly, some of these bear enough of a resemblance to correct English as to not be funny. But there must be more humorous ones out there...

Viagra: "Make your big love bed show". For example.

So I turn to you, dear reader, and offer you the chance to win ONE WHOLE ENGLISH POUND, by entering the Viagra Spam Subject Heading Competition. All you need to do is submit your own Viagra spam subject heading, be it one you've actually received, or one that you've used the power of your imagination to make up. You've got till the end of the month to leave your efforts in the comments field of this post, and on June 1 I will announce the lucky winner. Just think: one pound. In these financially tumultuous times, who among us would say no to a cash prize like that? I know I wouldn't.

One entry per contestant. Prize money must be collected by winner. Prize money may be reduced according to economic climate on June 1.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Pixel Pervert

So I called up software house OCEAN to pitch my idea for Super Fire Marshall Man on the Commodore 64. The guy who answered sounded moderately interested but I could tell he was watching Cash in the Attic while he was speaking to me and I don't think I had his full attention. Anyway, he said something about it taking more than one new game to resurrect the fortunes a computer that has not been produced since 1994. He also said "sixty quid for a fucking candlestick?" but I think that was aimed at the television he was still watching.
So I decided I would devise a second game, and, taking inspiration from Cash in the Attic's very own ethos of
making money from old stuff, I thought I'd take a classic game, give it a 21st-century twist, and then make shitloads of money off of it.

So later that afternoon, after five hours and twenty-six minutes of intense programming, I came up with DoggerTM. In the screenshot below, you can see the main character, Dogger, waiting patiently by the side of the road for a sufficient lull in traffic for him to be able to cross over to the car park on the other side of the road, where some people from council estates are having sex in their cars.

Dogger: Stop, look, listen, peep

Once in the car park, Dogger scores a hundred points for every second he sucessfully peeps at the couple having sex without them noticing. For super high point scoring, Dogger can attempt to join in, by pressing the keys A to G to utter the following phrases.

A - "Hello, you have very nice hair. Can I touch it a little bit?
S - "Do you like my Mac? It's from Burton menswear."
D - "Who do you think was best on Countdown out of Richard Whitely and Des Lynam? I liked Richard best."
F - "Nice out tonight. They reckon it might rain later, though."
G - "I hope you don't mind but I have got my willy out."

I don't want to give the game away, but not all of those phrases will work, and if Dogger chooses the wrong phrase he may get a slap, and the resultant commotion may attract the attention of a passing police car. Dogger loses all his points in the event of his arrest.

If this game does not successfully resuscitate the Commodore 64 I will be very surprised indeed. The popularity of this video game, however, will inevitably see it blamed by the Daily Mail for copycat behaviour, so please, people, if my game fuels your desire to go dogging, be safe and use a condom. And probably take some Wet Wipes too: council estate people are dirty.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Russ Abbott saves lives

A lot of people used to come up to me and say "Isn't it a shame that Nick Drake killed himself", and I won't lie to you, it became a bit tiresome, especially since I didn't know who Nick Drake was (or who the people coming up to me were). But after borrowing Pink Moon and listening to him effortlessly guide his mellifluous vocals over flute-rich melodies like some beautiful sonic ninja, I now have to admit that it would be okay if Nick Drake were not dead (although there is the possibility that the standard of his future work may slip markedly and I would feel slightly aggrieved for having wished him alive again.)

Nick Drake: Deader Layter

I'll level with you, I can't bring Nick Drake back from the dead: I just don't have that sort of power.

But what I can and have done is combined good music technology with great British comedy to create an invention that may well make acoustic singer-songwriter suicides a thing of the past. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Russ Abbot MadcapOTM.

Capo: Functional, not fun

Above you see a standard capo, which is used to alter the pitch of a guitar, in case you didn't know that already. In the picture below you can see the Russ Abbot MadcapOTM, the result of over 1,000 man hours, reams of blueprint, countless meetings with people of science, endless vats of coffee drunk, and too many "eureka - oh no, wait, that doesn't work at all" moments to count.

Russ Abbott MadcapOTM: Potential lifesaver

By simply attaching the Russ Abbot MadcapOTM to a normal acoustic guitar, not only is the key of the instrument changed, but also the mood of the player. To put it another way, the fretboard is immediately transformed into a don't fretboard. Had the late Nick Drake looked down to see the cheeky face of comedian Russ Abbott, all thoughts of suicide would surely have dissipated in an instant to be replaced by the giddy excitement that comes with wondering what zany antics Russ Abbott is going to get up to next (on your guitar).

If you'd like to order a Russ Abott MadcapOTM, please send me £10.99 + £4.99 p&p. I take PayPal and envelopes of cash.

Advantages: Zany, madcap, a good laugh, will reduce suicide rate of singer-songwriters, probably to zero.

Disadvantages: Quite difficult to play A minor, E minor and several other chords while attached

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

I'm the Fire Marshal, twisted Fire Marshal

As well as being the most prolific employee in my office of work I am also entrusted with the deadly serious position of Fire Marshal. I hope my use of capitals has instilled in your mind exactly how important this position is. In the event of the fire alarm sounding, my duties are:

1) Wear yellow hi-viz tabard
2) Tell people to go out of the door at the back of the room, not the front
3) Find the Chief Fire Marshal in the car park and tell them everyone is out of our room

I'm pretty brilliant at all these tasks, except I usually forget to do the third one and one time some people went out of the wrong door too.

My position as Fire Marshal is hard/rewarding but also very exciting. So exciting, in fact, that I think it should be the subject of a Commodore 64 game in the 1980s. Come to think of it I think I will call up OCEAN and pitch them my idea for Super Fire Marshal Man.

In the screenshot above, Super Fire Marshal Man is pointing his panicked colleagues in the direction of the correct fire exit. To point right the player must press the P key. To point left the player must press O, although on the level depicted, this would be a move with fatal consequences. Pressing the Y key makes Super Fire Marshal Man instruct his colleagues to walk, not run, and the R key makes him warn them to not even think of picking up any valuables and not even put their coat on or anything. The keys X through to N instruct Super Fire Marshal Man to use one of a number of different fire extinguishers according to the different types of fire, if, after assessing the situation, Super Fire Marshal Man believes the blaze to be at an early enough stage for him to tackle himself. Unfortunately, due to the number of advanced commands used, Super Fire Marshal Man may not be played with a joystick.

Although when released Super Fire Marshal Man will doubtless be the most fun game ever invented and will resurrect the fortunes of the ignored-of-late Commodore 64, I can only hope that the serious message of fire safety is not lost amongst all the excitement. I will probably have a warning sticker but on the box saying "Remember, in the real world you don't get three lives. And don't throw water on chip pans."

Monday, 4 May 2009

Two Pints of Lager and a packet of Space

About ten years ago I wrote a script for the BBC that was pretty shit hot. Okay it wasn’t, it was just pretty shit, but I was bound by the stringent rules of the BBC Talent write-a-sitcom competition, which said that unless you wrote a sitcom about a bunch of twenty-somethings living together they’d not only refuse to read your script but they’d also do a shit on a kitten. So I wrote a pilot called Phil's Palace (which you can read here if you really want to) and it was rubbish and I missed the deadline and the competition was won by what ended up being Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. If you’ve ever been beaten at conkers by someone with Parkinson's, you’ll probably know how that felt.

"What have I done? I was Jambo!"

A decade later, Two Pints has gone interactive. Fans this week have been presented with a dilemma. To quote the BBC website, “Donna and Gaz have divorced, so he can now be with Janet. But he still has feelings for Donna. So what should he do?” Those who care need only put down their Aldi crisps for long enough to click “Donna”, or “Janet”, with the most popular answer actually informing the actual ending shown on the actual television in your actual house! I know, never have comedy and technology fused in such an incredible way. Sadly, you can’t vote on how many jokes about wanking, shitting and eating kebabs there are, so one can only hope that standards are maintained without viewer input both in this series finale and in the many many series to come.

I have made a video of what Two Pints might look like a thousand years from now, when the talented cast have long since died and the humour has been obliged to live on through future people in space.