Will Preston

Opinion

Remembering Rik Mayall: Bottom

by on Jun.14, 2014, under Opinion, The Palace of Wisdom

Bottom-620x350

Far be it for me to be impacted by a celebrity’s death, but we’ve had a fair few recently. Some rolled the changes in the world that shaped the ever-improving modern society. Some Were responsible for cultural revolutions. Others just simply made us laugh. Rik Mayall was one of them. Another icon in British comedy who has left their mark in our splitting sides.

Everyone will be in different camps to whom they associate this rubber-faced force of funny, from the hypocritical teenage whining of The Young Ones, the anarchic (sort of) children’s tale of Drop Dead Fred, or even that small cameo he played in the classic horror comedy move American Werewolf in London (He’s in there for about 10 seconds). For myself, I will always remember him for Bottom.

(Continued on The Palace of Wisdom)

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5 Classic games you can finish in an afternoon

by on Oct.12, 2011, under Opinion

Being a gamer can be a full time job at times. No, really. Whilst there are a few major releases each month, there are still the backlog of titles through the years that you’ll end up coming back to on a particularly dull Sunday. Sometimes, you might want to go back to the more retro era of gaming where graphics were cutting edge if they had an extra dimension and voiceovers where unheard of (no pun intended). Here are a few forgotten pieces of gaming grandeur that are not only great examples of electronic entertainment from days of yore, they can be conquered in a couple of hours.

Another World

There's a funny story about how he got into that situation

Cinematic atmosphere in a game was unheard of during the early nineties. When it came to story in a game, you had to read the instruction manual or watch the Saturday morning cartoon. Delphine Software were ahead in the field of cinematic gaming. Another World (or Out Of This World) was the first major title they released. During a lab experiment, Lester Chaykin is inexplicably zapped to an alien planet. Unfortunately this planet is exclusively populated by just about everything that can kill him. From bear-like beasts, to claw wielding blobs to a race of totalitarian hulks, there is never a dull moment. In terms of visuals, the animation is extremely flowing and feels like a movie. Although there’s a password system, you could easily beat this in under two hours. An ambitious game that doesn’t sacrifice gameplay for outstanding presentation.

Fantastic Dizzy

I also forgot to mention that he lives in a tree-top village.

Before all games starting using generic characters in games, imaginations ran wild. One particularly weird creation was an anthropomorphic egg who wore boxing gloves. The Dizzy franchise spanned around ten games and each one followed the exact same plot. Dizzy’s girlfriend (another egg, in case you were wondering) gets kidnapped by an evil wizard and puts a curse on the rest of his family. Why he does this is never explained, but with the twee approach to the game, it’s pretty clear that narrative isn’t going to be it’s strong point. The game is a series of item based puzzles across a large platform jumping affair. For some bizarre reason, Dizzy can only carry three objects at once, leading to a lot of backtracking. But despite this annoying flaw/challenge, the game is pretty big for a platformer with some fantastic and varied level design.

Desert Strike

Back in the day, this was the closest thing to 3D graphics

Subtle propaganda in games is pretty standard when it comes to military themed ventures. The bad guys are never American and everyone you kill is guilty by default. It’s about time someone made a game that made you test your morals to the extreme. But until then, grab that gun and salute a flag. Before Call of Duty blazed away the competition, war games were limited to flight simulators and strategy games. One of the earliest examples of semi-realistic action games was the Strike series. The first game, Desert Strike, is set in a fictional version of the gulf war, with a mock-Sadam Hussein controversially shoved in. Essentially, you pilot a helicopter with enough firepower to destroy an Eastern Bloc country. You’re given a set of missions to complete that mostly deal with blowing up various enemy bases. Other than enemy fire stopping you from doing this, the chopper needs to refuel at the most awkward moments. At moments it fills like juggling an exciting business schedule, but it doesn’t get in the way of the straightforward warfare. You aim the helicopter. You fire your guns. The enemy stops giving you grief. Nothing complicated here.

Streets of Rage

The closest simulation of Millwall you'll ever play

If there’s one genre that seems to have been rubbed out of the modern gaming scene, it’s the scrolling beat em up. Rather than restricting the combat to a mana a mano arena, it’s one man (or two) against a torrent of angry thugs. Streets of Rage was a fantastic example of beating up hundreds of people in one street. Set against a sprawling city and a thumping nineties dance mix (well, a 16bit one at least), you play as one of three policeman dressed to look like the cast of Fame. As you progress through the dangerous urban sprawl, you can use various melee weapons to beat down a series of foes; each of them ranging from spiked punks to ninjas. As far as fighting technique goes, it’s simply a case of punching the person in front of you until he stops fighting back. Whether you chose to use a broken bottle or a baseball bat to speed up this process is totally up to you. If you and a friend have a free evening in, Streets of rage and the other two sequels are a fantastic way to kill time.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles

It'll take you around ten seconds to actually realising what's going on here.

Oh, how mighty the Sonic legacy was back in the age of the Mega Drive. The early Sonic games are probably still amongst the fastest games you’ll ever play. Towards the end of the Mega Drive’s reign, a special cartridge was made for the game Sonic & Knuckles. essentially, there was a slot in the top for combining other games with it to make quote unquote brand new games. The idea flopped and history has never dared to repeat it. The only two games that worked with this idea were Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3. The idea was, that you could play as Knuckles in the older games and use his gliding and wall climbing abilities to find secret parts of the game. The only game this worked well with was Sonic 3. Basically, Sonic 3’s story ran straight into Sonic & Knuckles’ story. By combining the two games together, you could play both games in one epic adventure. Not only this, but by taking the perfect path of victory (collecting all 14 chaos emeralds), you were treated to a conclusive level that saw a charged up Sonic chasing Dr Robotnik (his nemesis) across the planet’s orbit. After this you were treated to the true ending to the saga. If you want high adrenaline platform action, take a step back in video game history.

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Five bands you should be listening to instead of Metallica

by on Sep.28, 2011, under Opinion

Ask anyone who is a huge fan of heavy metal and Metallica is usually in their top five bands of all time. After all, they were one of the big acts to bring thrash metal roaring into the mainstream market and have influenced countless acts in the last twenty years. Whilst the rust is spreading forth ever so on this behemoth, shouldn’t we take some time out to check out other lords of metal that we should be bowing down to instead?

Motörhead

Without Motörhead, there would be no Metallica. Simple as. With a front man more famous for his rock and roll attitude and look than the band itself, these riff hungry speedsters have cemented themselves as one of Britain’s foremost rock bands for over three decades. You may only just remember them as ‘That band that did Ace of Spades’, but their raw rock styling’s spread across twenty albums. Even Metallica couldn’t resist to cover four of their hits when times were hard in the nineties.

Clutch

More towards the blues spectrum of metal, but one to listen to if you prefer Metallica’s post-eighties hard rock sound. Clutch are consistently heavy without sacrificing traditional rock riffs. Think along the lines of Led Zeppelin and early Sabbath with a modern attitude and a manly image. Best served on a Harley whilst drunk on Jack Daniels and your own crushing ego. Forget Reload and load some Electric Worry into your player instead.

Megadeth

So Mr Mustaine is still probably sore about being politely escorted out of the band back in the eighties. But maybe if he took the time out to forget about Metallica and plugged into his own music once in a while, he’d have a happier outlook on life, politics and conspiracies. ironically, that stuff is fuel for this speed metal demon. Whilst Metallica got soft, Megadeth just got heavier. Possibly out of spite, don’t quote me on that!

Mastadon

Solid proof that all modern metal isn’t that derivative. Taking everything that has been done with the genre so far and launching it into the astral body, Mastadon go beyond hard. Like a charging ancient mammoth, this is an outfit that is powerful, uncompromising and hard to ignore. Their last album, Crack The Skye, is a progressive Metal concept album featuring songs based on Rasputin. Just goes to show that you can have both brains and brawn.

Pantera

Eighties metal really got shown the way out of the hall when Pantera changed the sound of metal for all time. Featuring one of the most talented guitars ever to spank a plank into ecstasy, Metal found a way to grove as well as mosh. Alongside Phil Anselmo’s bile ridden vocal styling’s, angry music got livid. Pantera dominated metal in the Nineties just like Metallica Dominated thrash metal in the Eighties. If you listen to Cowboys from Hell very carefully, you can almost hear the torch being passsed.

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Five bands you should be listening to instead of Muse

by on Sep.18, 2011, under Opinion

For nearly 10 years, Muse have been in the spotlight of just about every music angle. From metal mags to pop programs, the powerfully melodic three-piece have a fan base the size of a large Eastern European country. But whilst hits including Hysteria and Plug in Baby can be played over and over again, isn’t it time we branched out for something a bit different? After all, you might be missing such top acts as: –

Dream Theater

A little bit on the metal side for the average Muse fan, but stick with them. If you’re a fan of the huge sound of the Hysteria album then you’ll love Dream Theater’s take on progressive metal. Where Muse began to branch out slightly with the use of synthesiser and space age effects, Dream Theater have already woven a vast mix of instrumentation (including a full orchestra) into their back catalogue. A huge sound with intense melodies and talent.

Porcupine Tree

One of the finest modern progressive acts you’ll ever here. Marrying accessible contemporary rock with the extended moody structures of Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree are a must for any Muse fans collection. Created by British composer Steve Wilson, Porcupine Tree have been going since the late 80’s and have, so far, released ten albums (one of which was award a Grammy), each with it’s own definable sound. An intelligent group with a big imagination, but they won’t go over your head.

UNKLE

Genre defying, original and ultra smooth. UNKLE are a hard duo to describe, as their sound can change at a moments notice. Start of with trip hop and go towards post rock with random dashes of electronica and sampling and you’ll only be halfway there. The duo’s work features guest appearances Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Ian Astbury (The Cult) and Thom Yorke (Radiohead). With one of the widest range of styles within one album, UNKLE are not one to miss at all.

Ladytron

If you’re a fan of the bizarre electro path that Muse took in the last few years, you’d best equip yourself with a better example of the genre. Ladytron are the sexiest thing to inflicted upon electronic instruments since Nine Inch Nails. With a wonderful pop sound that isn’t afraid to stray behind the lines of robotic and quirky, this 15 volt foursome show how the future of music could sound. Who needs to pose with a guitar when a powerful keyboard will do?

Radiohead

It’s no surprise to see the legendary Radiohead on this list, seeing as Muse were unofficially dubbed as a Radiohead tribute act. Essentially doing what Muse did about six years before they really took off, this act has done just about everything that is possible for a modern pop act can do. They’ve had the number one’s, they’ve done one of the best albums of all time, and they’ve even had the guts to turn their back on the mainstream in favour of doing whatever they hell they felt sounded new and refreshing. More then just ‘that gloomy band’, Radiohead are one of the finest British Exports of the last twenty years.

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It’s like a bank holiday, but directed by Michael Bay

by on May.04, 2011, under Opinion

Bank holidays. Nothing really interesting about them, is there? Just a day where the weekend seems to go on forever (and a day) and most public services (shops/post office/drug peddlers) seem to put a spanner in it and catch a tan. Depending on the weather of course. But this bank holiday will probably be referred to as one of the most memorable ones and not for the best reasons. First of all there was the royal wedding. I’m not a wedding person myself. The rattling of chains as the bride walks through a church of worried family members makes me nervous. Considering the size of Westminster Abbey, the echoes of chains must have been heard as far as Brighton. And solid gold chains at that. This is the royal family remember.

Technically, they're defacing the flag...with their faces

Like all ultimately impractical news, people were split down the middle and were voicing anti-royalist spiel and redundant platitudes of such ooey gooeyness that I thought the whole country had turned into a Mills and Boon novel for the day. Even marketing executives grabbed the day by the ring and cashed in on the matrimony. The weirdest example I heard of was a PC World advert that somehow equated marital vows with buying a new laptop (refurbished and with Windows Married Edition installed). If you’re going to get married, it’s always best to have a laptop for when things turn sour. Or to google pictures of Kate Middletons sister instead.

90% of the male population felt it necessary to voice disturbingly honest views on the two Middleton’s and what Prince William must be planning to do with them when he becomes king. And they’re not even that amazingly hot, but they are amazingly rich. Which just goes to show how financial stability is an attractive quality in this day and age. At the Middleton’s level, their financial stability must give them the combined sexual allure of a hundred and twelve bi-curious lesbians covered in yogurt and hormones. I wonder if Prince William has considered re-enacting this after the queen has passed on.

He looks like a handsome Prince Charles, whilst she looks like a bland Katie Holmes

A few things bothered me about the wedding, but one in particular was the crowd’s bizarre anticipation for the couple to get married. Almost as if things would blow up at any minute. But as expected, the day trundled along in the same administrative process-type affair that all weddings tend to. This isn’t an episode of Eastenders, people: its real life! No way would Kate Middleton turn down the chance to become part of the royal family, and no way would Prince William give up the chance to marry a vaguely attractive woman with the amount of barnet he’s shedding. Baldness isn’t funny, but it’s like a disability when it comes to lady-ing. But then again, maybe the event was so boring and awkward to the point that people started to imagine that something could go wrong in a desperate attempt to add some suspense to the narrative.

But all that aside, it’s over now and we can all go back to work a normal calm society. Providing an Al-Qaeda retaliation doesn’t decide to blow us up whilst we’re still waving flags in the streets like we’re giving them a target to aim for. After nearly ten years as a go to bad guy, Osama Bin Laden hung up his title as world’s hardest man to find as the US government reports of his death. The same terrorist leader who decide to up David Copperfield’s game by making the World Trade Centre disappear instead of the Statue of Liberty was reported dead by the US government…before they buried his body at sea in case we got a good look at him.

All Osama ever wanted was his rug back...

Now all we do now is sit back and wait for the conspiracy theories to splatter all over the place like the back of JFK’s head. And it’s not like that marks the end of Al Qaeda. It’s not like Osama (pronounced Obama by Fox News) has an entire army brainwashed using a mind control machine and the minute he stops living, the rest of Al Qaeda put down their guns and vote for a democracy. If anything, it’s only a matter of time before we see an increase of terrorist activity in the western world as a reaction. Which is probably a good idea I’ve just started playing the online game World of Tanks, as I now have an excuse to cower indoors like a wobbling paranoid twat.

If all bank holidays end up like this, I’ll be having a heart attack by the time Prince William ends up divorcing Kate in favour of an ugly counterpart, before ruling a wartorn Britain as a despotic leader. Whether or not PC World will be selling laptops to mark the occasion, I don’t know.

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Seeing the word “unlocked” in a videogame is more precious than life itself

by on Jan.05, 2011, under Opinion

Addiction is nothing to be laughed at. No, really. Especially if it’s something unusual. And what better time to start an addiction than at Christmas. Regular routine gets put in a chryo-chamber until it is revived in the New Year. January. It’s the ‘Monday morning’ month of the year, don’t you know. This article will be the start of my 2011 routine of buckling down yet again after a couple of weeks of no university work, no job and a Johnny Vegas level of self harm. But beer wasn’t the only harmful intake. Last article of the year was on the latest Call Of Duty game and I refused to play the multiplayer. I do like the multiplayer, but it’s never changed. But people still pay half a week’s wages just to have a chance at getting that virtual medal after killing 500 people with the same gun. After a six hour binge on its predecessor, the thought struck me like a fifty calibre round ejecting my surprised brain out of my handsome head; it’s not the game that’s addictive, it’s the upgrades and achievements. This isn’t a new concept.

Some people are just boring and put their name

Back in the cretaceous period of gaming (when pixels were about as visible as Raoul Moat on a swing) the high score was the achievement. Granted, it was just an opportunity to graffiti the scoreboard with a three letter insult but the prestige was there. Then gaming came to the home and secret content was the focus. Some games such as the Super Mario series had secret levels hidden away in what are now referred to as ‘Easter Eggs’. Finding them didn’t reward you with anything other than the journey itself. As the ages of gaming passed, more content was concealed to the gamer unless they played the game through and ‘unlocked’ things as they went. The term ‘unlock’ in the video game idiom conjures up the game as a treasure hunt. An interesting example of the treasure hunt being executed in the literal sense happened in Grand Theft Auto III where throughout the compact citadel of Liberty City were several ‘Hidden Packages’. ‘Hidden’ meaning ‘drug’ in this case. Collecting enough of these unlocked more weapons for the character. Fast forward about ten years and every game has them. I mean it. Every one of them. Now you can’t start a new game without initiating five treasure hunts or an upgrade system.

The amount of people I've killed just to see those words flash up...

An upgrade system can make even the dullest games compelling. Start the player off with just a damp stick and a rag for a weapon and they’ll grind as much as they can until they’ve finally upgraded their arsenal with a multi-barrel rocket launcher with heatseeking ammo and fast reload. Call Of Duty is a great example of this sort of system. Online, players start at the bottom with barely any guns to wank about with and through sheer geek determination, they access all sorts of fun upgrades and ‘add ons’ for their assault rifle. In this way, the army issue M16 now comes across as some kind of Barbie doll, if you trade the swimwear outfit for an attached grenade launcher. And if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, the game gives the option to trade in everything you’ve upgraded and collected for a chance to…wait for it…do it all again. Oh, but this time you get a nice medal next to your name. It’s not the medal we’re going for, though; it’s the chance to see the words “You’ve been promoted” and “P90 unlocked” flash up on the screen.

Typical example of a 'Hidden Package'

If, during the normal course of a day, phrases like that flash up every time I completed a task, I would be a lot more proactive. Think about it. When having to do the hoovering, once you’ve finished doing the living room the words “Room hoovered (3/4)” flash up in front of you like some ghostly text message. What do you do? Rise to the challenge and give the bedroom a damn good go with the Dyson until a jingle plays and the words “All rooms hoovered!” ejaculate at your eyes. It’s still early in the day, so you decide to complete the challenge simply known as ‘No hands’ where you have to wee in the toilet standing up with no hands and not sprinkle the sides. You feel lucky and today’s the day that you deliver a flawless stream. As I have said, addiction isn’t funny. Neither is toilet nonsense.

No matter how monotonous or linear the game may be, it’s these little virtual achievements make up the game. No, they ARE the game. Even all new Xbox and PS3 games are required by law to set up pan-gaming achievements on Xbox live and PSN. That’s a double layer of virtual belly rubs there. But once you’ve achieved everything, you’re absolutely spent. Think of it as a long series of tickles with a looming great blowjob in the distance. And once you’ve walked the line and reached the big tempting lips and unlocked the (ahem) final achievement, you’re left feeling spent, ashamed and a tad sticky. Just like a blowjob. It’s an easy addictive trap to fall into, the biggest traps being World Of Warcraft. If it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t like the fantasy genre, I would be pronounced legally dead by now.

It’s not the little things in life, the little things ARE life. Just by reading this article, you’re probably one step closer to unlocking a massive achievement somewhere down the line.

[Achievement unlocked: ‘Finish 2010’]

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What happened to challenging games and split screen?

by on Nov.25, 2010, under Opinion

I’m disappointed. I’m not going to lie to you. Yesterday I hit a such a crippling brick wall when doing essay work, that I threw in my sweaty typing towel and decided to go back to working on my writers tan in a less productive way. It was pretty clear that gaming would help. It always has done. Well, I say help, I mean it in the same way booze helps. You hit a brick wall, or something important you are doing has stressed you out so much that you go for the little snippet of ale to calm yourself down and treat yourself. Overdoing this, though, just crumples all your plans like a paper house in a cistern. I thought that by merely opening my game drawer, I would instantly find something that I would be more than thrilled to play. I couldn’t find one.

My games drawer houses over 20 Xbox 360 titles and about 40 Xbox original ones and still I couldn’t find one that is worth a replay. Some of the 40 Xbox originals don’t work on the 360 due to the emulating department being as non-committal as Britt bloody Eckland. And these are the ones that ARE worth a replay. There’s a certain nostalgic value to some games and knowing I can’t play them without extreme difficulty just depresses me further. Now not only is there little news of a new Timesplitters coming out, the old ones won’t even work on my lovely up to date 360. Checkmate. And the reason I want to sacrifice the chance to play the new Call Of Duty to play a game that is half a decade older than it? Well it’s longer for a start, offers far more replay value and extra modes, and doesn’t feel tacked on to a colossal online dependent multiplayer mode.

This isn't an exaggeration, you squinted a lot

Multiplayer used to mean that you would need to buy at least another controller and have at least another friend. Offline multiplayer was the centrepiece of social gatherings in my life from playing Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Mega Drive at the age of 5 with a close friend, right through to having a group of close mates over to sneakily drink booze whilst playing endless deathmatches on the Playstation 2. Booze keeps popping up, doesn’t it. Don’t make any rash judgements on my intake, please!

In the early Nineties, games felt longer, even if it was a perspective thing. Games such as the Sonic The Hedgehog series on the Mega Drive were expected to be completed in one session, but they seemed to take a long time to complete. Could it be the unforgivable arcade ethos of ‘no saves’ and ‘lives remaining’ making these games seem longer? This handicap made these games worth playing through again as they were more of an endurance challenge rather than say a book that you could close at any time, come back and resume at the last page you left on. I say book, I really mean film. Games today are about the same length as a film. Well, the flashy mainstream ones anyway. The recent Call Of Duty games are the biggest culprit. Modern Warfare ‘s ‘story mode’ could be completed in 4 hours. As a film, that sounds pretty long, but as a game its short.

There is no score system, no ‘lives remaining’, but it has a very persistent save game feature that bookmarks your page pretty much every time you kill something. Not only that, but it points you where to go, what you need to do to get there and makes sure you’re never out of supplies. There is no feeling of desperation and there’s no figuring things out for yourself. In this sense, playing in a modern warzone feels more casual and doesn’t really get the heart pumping like it used to do. It’s this brand of casual gameplay that needs a shakedown.

In this mode, numbers are more important than explosions

The first Modern Warfare had a fantastic option to replay the story mode, but with most of these bad traits removed. It was simply labelled Arcade Mode. You had the choice of playing a single level or go through the whole game in one massive antisocial afternoon. Just like the older games, you now had a limited amount of lives as well as a lovely score and kill combo system. And once the lives ran out? Well…that was it. You had to start all the way back from the beginning. There was a feeling of intense pressure of making sure you didn’t do anything stupid. Just like if I was in real warfare, I was too scared to move from cover in case a rogue barrage of bullets cost me yet another life. No longer did the game feel like casually strolling through a supermarket of death; I had more reason to really think out what I was going to do next. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been done again for the rest of the series.

The N64 equivalent of Modern Warfare 2

What can make a game seem longer is not the amount of content, but what you do with that content. Play the content from different angles. Move things around. Allow the player to go through the same game again with it being an unexpected gauntlet of surprise rather than playing to a strict script. Games need more attention on giving a replayable single player experience; not a massive online multiplayer system. No one is giving a shit about split screen. Sure it crushes your massive TV into a squinty portion, but playing Goldeneye back in 1997 was a social event on multiplayer. It was part of an evening with your friends. All four of you squinting at the screen together. Besides, with big screen high definition TVs being cheaper and games more clearer today, surely split screen would be no problem? Maybe some AI controlled blokes to play around with as well? A good idea would be to do the best of both worlds and allow a group of friends playing split screen to connect online anyway. You get the best of both worlds then; a social gathering AND a large amount of people in one game. Call Of Duty 3 managed this to some extent and it worked. It bloody worked and the idea of bringing friends back to mine to play games was saved.

But noone has really done it since. It’s mostly online with nearly bugger all games letting you play with squinty split screen. It’s like it’s an embarrassing member of the family and every time they have a social occasion it gets locked under the stars with a plate of crust for sustenance. And if it means sitting in the dark hearing the other guests having a good time whilst me and split screen spend our time sitting in the dark in or own isolated little game, then I’m more than happy to get my wankers tan on!

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The Three Stages of The Mighty Boosh

by on Aug.10, 2010, under Opinion

I’m crap with new comedy’s. Not in watching them. That’s easy. I mean finding them. When shows like Inbetweeners, Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother get quoted incessantly by my nearest and dearest, I retract further into my cave that I’ve fashioned for myself. A cave lined with the obvious classics. Python. Blackadder. You know where I’m going with this. Through this bombardment of funny moment quoted unfunnily out of context, you can understand why I’m not rushing out to hunt down the newest ‘hip’ comedies farting out from the TV. Most of the time I’ve made the right choice, but a few come by that prove to me that I should really give new things a go. And then some others prove this to me and then grow old very quickly, almost debunking my lesson learnt. And they say there’s suffering in the third world, eh? To explain the latter, I’ve come up with a three stage system that describes a new comedy that doesn’t attract you at first, slowly becomes your favourite of the month and then slowly descends from your opinion when you notice that it might actually not been as good as you thought in the first place. A clear example of this is the fairly recent Goodies rip-off The Mighty Boosh. So here we go with: –

Stage one – What’s the fuss, really?

When a new comedy comes out, it becomes the shout around the streets. You will have half baked lines barked at you from all directions. Depending on the quality of lines, context and quality of impression; you’ll either hunt out this exciting new comedy or start physically repelling this perceived horde of TV parrots. It’s like this with every successful comedy. If the comedy is indeed a classic, you’ll take the first choice. However, if the comedy is pretty generic or is flash in the pan, as with a lot of ‘hip’ comedies aimed at you young devils, you’ll start carrying a chainsaw in public as a safeguard. When The Mighty Boosh started getting referenced more and more, I decided to cave in and try it. What was there to lose? 30 minutes it turned out. The jokes were there, they just felt used and flat. And then the singing started. True fact: I am not a big fan of musicals. On the very first episode when Howard Moon started singing about loneliness (Julian Barrett turned out to be my favourite cast member) I almost switched off. It wasn’t funny, it didn’t entertain and wasted a few minutes where they could have been cramming more filler jokes in before the next big gag. Finishing the episode disappointed with the show and my contemporaries taste in comedy. For a year I refused to try it again.

Stage Two – Actually, I see how it’s funny!

More choice quoting later and I grew interested and decided to break my vow quicker than one of Rod Stewart’s marriages. It was time for me to try it again. I prepared myself for more. I could now see the funny side of it. Howard has fantastic dry wit and Vince plays the stupid character very well. Stupid with a touch of narcissism. At least there’s some self deprecation here. In time, I learned to zone out the songs. No matter how bizarre the songs got or how weirdly designed the costumes were, they were still unwelcome. They felt like they were unwillingly tacked on due to a dodgy contract deal. Being a pay monthly mobile customer, I could completely understand this. Eventually I plucked up the courage, got down on my knees and picked up a box set from a particularly low shelf at HMV. I was laughing later that night. No more chainsaw wielding in the streets as I now could join in the joke. Choice moments mainly came from the second seasons, which has been often regarded as the best one. It’s not hard to see why. One particular favourite of mine was the character of Kodiak Jack. He never outstayed his welcome and was funny to listen to as well look at. To this day I still laugh at his claims of having a mountain goat grab you by the scrotum, run away with it and selling it on eBay.

Stage Three – Really?! what’s the fuss?!

Thus completes the cycle. You bleed a show dry until you’re a ravenous gargantuan slug bleeding everything you can from this new comedy show. If the show can keep providing, they you will go away full to endanger a toilet nearby. However, if not, then it becomes like a burnt down Co Op; you start to come away empty handed apart from residue of what once was. For me, this happened around the time I watched the live show for the first time as well as some of season three. My rule of three applies here. They had ran out of genuinely good material by the end of this series apart from half arsed pop culture references that people who read NME find cutting edge comedy. And the live show was a travesty. There was nothing new whatsoever to see. Nothing. Just a rerun with a couple of tag nuts of sniggering ad lib parts. It was like having Noel Fielding bend over and guff in your face. Speaking of which, I started to find him more annoying. Not so good as he was now popping up all over the place like a zit with a haircut. I just felt sorry for Julian; he was playing second fiddle to a one dimensional chimp with a penchant for getting by unscathed. I found myself getting more annoyed when people quoted it relentlessly and referred to it as nothing less than “epic” and “greatest thing ever.” You know, the kind of exaggerations that brainless teenagers say about everything, because they have no concept of concession and middle ground. Only binary opposites. So there I was; rejecting this flash in a dustbin and retreating into my cave, only coming out when armed with a chainsaw.

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Survivor of the Portsmouth Blackout

by on Jun.30, 2010, under Opinion

Portsmouth Blackout - 1

Whilst this isn't my desk, it could easily have been mine or yours. Feel the fear!

Yellow lights scraped my eyes with an unwelcome swipe. A second later , I was kissing a shop doorway in the least dignified way possible.

Full pucker, but no passion; my nose flattened a quarter. My leg was more aware of my house keys in my pocket then ever.

Walking in a straight line was no longer a challenge, but an unreachable quest. Keeping my head down, I avoided the glance of onlookers and giggled
to myself.

Reaching home, I had no restraint of consuming what I hoped to be sustenance. But it could easily be a charred organ.

Either way it was down the hatch. A greasy treat. Tanning my face with the LCD monitor, I moved onto the tube of sugar nice. A can of Pepsi.

This would be the best can ever. The next can would be the best can ever. No sooner had I began to stare again at the screen something wasn’t right.

Within a second I realized what I was perceiving; the world switched off.

Saturday 26th June 2010 – 0110

I needed no vision for this task. As if attached to a wire, my arm retrieved my phone and reached for contact with my housemate.

“Powers out everywhere, you’d best get some sleep.”

Sleep now? Well, maybe. I had become very tired and I don’t want to deal with whatever disaster could be whilst sober. The world became darker
and drifted away as soon as I became horizontal.

Saturday 26th June 2010 – 0820

My head! This is not good. My electricity! This is just bad! I can’t get out of bed. This is horrible. Why is the world…drifting….

Saturday 26th June 2010 – 1102

Well that was a random nap. No power? No shops? No food…

Well best finish me book.

Saturday 26th June 2010 – 1421

Book finished. George Orwell’s ‘1984’. Now I’m angry at the world. First it was due to lack of power, now it’s also due to the society system that keeps a constant enemy for the sake of progress and renders the proletarians to a powerless mass. That and I can’t play my XBOX. Best get up and get my pajamas on. No one wants to see my willy. Not even my own willy could stand it’s own reflection.

Saturday 26th June 2010 – 1500

Bass playing. Haven’t done it in a while. Well had to play in a quiet area and prick my ears up as I can’t use an amp. Or an effects pedal.
Or a backing track. Life is pathetic.

At least I got some new riffs out.

Saturday 26th June 2010 – 1600

This is like a zombie movie. The shops are boarded up and everyone around me is hungry and confused. The only thing I could get was a can of relentless, a baguette and some crisps. This is too odd. Some of the shops are still on and the traffic lights are working. It’s a conspiracy!!!

Saturday 26th June 2010 – 1712

I give up! I might as wells tart cleaning. It’s the only thing I can dot hat doesn’t completely depend on electricity.

Saturday 26th June 2010 – 1800

Sigh…

Saturday 26th June 2010 – 1830

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Saturday 26th June 2010 – 1831

The power is back on! God exists! Everything is good in the world.

The rest of the day was spent playing the XBOX.

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Patriotism in Football

by on Jun.13, 2010, under Opinion

World Cup 2010

People wear flags just in case they get lost so they can be posted back to their country of origin. Rooney needs extra reminding.

Coming every four years like a comet made of chanting and disappointment, the World Cup football tournament extravaganza (Turbo edition) is finally here again to prove that 1966 will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. I’m not particularly bothered about this obviously clear fact as I’m one of the five people in the country who couldn’t give more than two mundane shits about what looks to be the worlds biggest drinking game (You drink when nothing;’s happening, which for me is 85 minutes of the match).

I’ve tried on many occasions to enjoy football, but I just can’t enjoy what essentially is overpaid product models indulging in a game that’s too vanilla. Too ready salted. Two sugars and milk. It’s bog standard gaming that could use some explosions or gunfire to liven things up. Tradition is an aspect I’m not concerned with, obviously. And it’s not just the game itself that puts me off; a lot of the hardened fans tickle my repulse gland with grace.

Why does it matter whether people from YOUR country win the cup? Will it solve economic problems? Will cancer be cured? Or as soon as that bekicked ball bounces into the box will Jesus himself raise from the centre of the field (wearing a football as a halo, obviously) and save the teams country from the impending biblical flooding that scientist simply refer to as ‘Global Warming’?

Believe me, should that be the case, You’ll find me at the front covered in red and white body paint and screaming for the English team so hard that I’ll start to sound, and look, like a swan that swallowed a nail bomb. But even then I’ll be yawning every ten minutes.

Patriotism in a sport is something I can never understand. War, yes. Sunday kick-about, no. Even our own players are starting to lose passion for it – we drew to USA. They don’t need a world cup. Should they win it they would squint at it from a high angle before going ‘Nah, we got a bigger one at home’. In a monotonous and deflated tone because they probably don’t even have their own world cup song.

And that’s another abomination for anyone with ears: football songs. I don’t mean the chanting. I’m not talking about ‘You’re not singing any more (in B Major)’, more along the lines of ‘Footballs Coming Home’, a song that gets more sarcastic every time someone brushes the play button and will always be the theme tune for morons. Seriously though, a high produced song dedicated to football? It’s like writing a ballad about stamp collecting essentially.

Actually that would be more interesting to hear. First one to write a song about stamp collecting and sends it into will@takeheednow.com wins a sausage! And an English one at that. No use restricting patriotism to just football.

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