Avatar Newsboost – Hunderground Housing cHaos

Controversial prime minister candidate in waiting and all round news buffoon Tub Barsley is causing further commotion down the food chain with his unusual and somewhat illegal approach to affordable housing in the UK.

Even though his constituency is based in the South of England, around the corner from Canterbury, his recently-drawn up plans are for a number of flats and houses in the North-East. It appears as though the urgency for finding new land to build properties on has caused builders and politicians to think outside the box. That said, even Local Authorities are questioning Mr Barsley’s proposed underground scheme.

“I really don’t see what the problem is,” blustered Tub Barsley in a press conference on Monday. “My good friend Church Bollywoggan, the conservative MP for North Tyneside, asked me for help with the issue of housing “up there” and it made perfect sense that if there is no land to build on the surface then the only solution is to go down there. Think about it; you’re closer to the earth’s core therefore it’ll be warmer and the heating bills will be less. The sewerage smells can always be masked by Glade plug-ins. I am one hundred per cent behind this; I think it’s the best idea I’ve ever had.”

Mr Barsley, whilst clearly completely off his rocker, clearly has not taken into account the health and safety aspect of building flats in the centuries old sewer system of England. In addition to how the Council would be able to keep these clean enough for people to live in, there is also the complications of rat infestations and the prospect of walking out in the morning to find a turd floating past your front door. These points were further pressed on Mr Barsley.

“As with any housing project there will be quandaries that need to be overcome. I am merely the muse, the idea manager who wants this cherished flower to bloom so that those people who need a place to stay have somewhere that is in the area they already live and, ultimately, is affordable within their limited income,” said Tub Barsley, owner of three houses in London, two ostentatious holiday cabins in Devon and a luxurious flat over in the South of France.

When asked the last time it was that Mr Barsley visited the North-East of England, he remarked that he had seen it on a map “within the last few years”.

Avatar Newsboost LATE EDITION – ‘Fat Ankles’ Strikes Again

Residents in the North-West part of England are under threat once again from the notorious local graffiti artist, Fat Ankles.

Photos obtained from a reliable source show the mysterious tagger going at various walls in the loveliest parts of Lytham St Anne’s. They had previously been spotted in areas of Preston, Blackburn and Kirkham, and seem to strike at random rather than following some kind of sensible pattern.

Members of the Local Authority are baffled by the exploits of the graffiti artist because no matter how many security cameras they put up they are still without any footage of the damage being done.

“It’s unusual to say the least,” rambled Audrey Rampart, head of the local police constabulary. “This person or persons leave no trace of ever being there apart from the aforementioned message of ‘Fat Ankles’. I mean, are they having a go at everyone with fat ankles or do they call themselves ‘Fat Ankles’? It’s not a great nickname by any stretch of the imagination. If it were me, I would use something much more imaginative like ‘Anal Jumper’ or ‘Florida Cottage Ski Jump’. Now those names are eye-catching.”

As well as the diverse locations of graffiti, there are no consistencies when it comes to font, font colour or punctuation. Sometimes they use capital letters, other times the message is entirely in lower case. Once it was even attempted with numbers with a ‘FAT ANK135’, written on the garage door of Barney Botham’s Limousine Rides and More, a profitable business from Blackpool, with no explanation for doing so.

It seems as though the rampage, if you can really call it that, will continue unless someone can step in and put a stop to the whole affair. You can bet that it won’t be Audrey Rampart. “I once did a stakeout and fell asleep five minutes in. Caffeine makes me sleepy rather than keeps me awake. I woke up the next morning with a coat hanger in my hair and glitter on my teeth. It wasn’t even really a stakeout, we don’t do those in this country. I was sat waiting for the drive-through at McDonalds to quieten down.”

If you have any information which may assist the police, please send it to the police.

Avatar Newsboost – Worried Wizard Woes

The newest issue of ‘Magic Monthly’ has rated every kind or type of wizard in the modern world and it has left several feeling slightly embarrassed. The magazine had been threatening to do this for the last few months and it seems as if September, following a summer of misery for fantasy and everything else in general, was the best time to unleash it.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of the periodical that the usual crowd occupied the top five spots: magicians, mages, wizards of light, wizards of power and Dynamo in no particular order. In a shock turn of events though many that had previously rated pretty highly were left lurking in the lower numbers. This was the first time in twenty-five years that the novelty of Shit Wizards has not transferred into the popular levels of the top twenty.

“I don’t understand,” muttered Jack Hengly, leader of the Shit Wizard Collective, “everybody loves a shit wizard. I’ve made a career out of it. You go to pull a rabbit out of a hat and you accidentally spray mace in some kid’s eye. It’s a time-honoured tradition, especially in the UK. Quite what we did to earn number thirty-seven out of fifty is anyone’s guess.”

Lark Fonglebund, the representative of the Gangly Wizards, was also left similarly dumbfounded at their entry at number forty-four. “We’ve never placed anything lower than the late twenties. I was discussing this with my brethren last night via Skype and none of us could get our head’s around it. It feels very personal, I have taken this very personally. It’s practically bullying. They should feel ashamed of themselves.”

It came as no surprise to anyone when Chav Wizards hit number fifty straight away. There has never been any call for Chav Wizards, nor has anyone ever requested them, nor have they ever done anything deemed worthy by the magic community. In fact, nobody knows where they originally came from; it was as though they emerged during the night when everyone was sleeping and it was too late to do anything about them. This overall impression of those who can cast a spell to double their benefits in a matter of seconds hasn’t changed in decades.

“Look mate,” slurred Barry Scraggle, with a tab protruding from his mouth and a can of Newcastle Brown Ale in his battle-scarred hand, “we’ve had a bad reputation from day one. I don’t know why the f*cking f*ck cloud panty w*nkers have a problem with us. Yeah, all we do is drink cider and argue loudly in public places but that’s not against law. Well, part of it is. Some of it is. We know how to have a good time and those other hoity toity bookworm a*se cloggers are too busy making chapstick out of dragon’s earwax to notice.”

Not everyone hit the ground face first though. Animal wizards saw a surge in popularly, especially Weasel Wizards who landed the number nine spot a clear five places ahead of last year’s winners, the Beagles.

Avatar Newsboost – Zany Zoo Zig-Zag

Thailand has opened a brand new zoo and it is one that has garnered the attention of the world’s media for offering a different kind of experience.

The ‘Khop Khun Animal Sanctuary’ based outside of the city of Phuket is revolutionary in its approach to animal captivity, if you can even call that. The entire park is open with no walls or barriers keeping the animals in one singular place. Instead, in order to keep visitors safe, every member must wear their very own human cage, placed around their head, body and legs to prevent any unwanted attention from the most rambunctious of residents.

Originally the idea of billionaire John Cho, it was fully realised, albeit with the help of Cho’s money, by Anastasia and Lloyd Botham, a couple originally from Milton Keynes. It was these forward-thinking biologists who designed the layout of the attraction with the animals in mind, more than the people.

“We wanted it to be outside inside, or more appropriately, we didn’t want the animals to know they were being kept inside something,” wittered Lloyd, “Their sense of freedom is much more important than anything else. They need to believe that nothing is stopping them from living their best life and though it may not be the habitat they are normally used to, it is much more humane than tiny cages in dingy corners of draughty warehouses.”

Anastasia was the one who crafted the “human cages” as they have come to be known as. “I was inspired by robots. I love the movement of robots, the style and look of robots. It then occurred to me that when people get close to sharks they lower themselves into the water in a giant cage for protection. Why not do the same thing on land? Not with sharks though because they’d die, unless they were put in a giant tank. I reckon it wouldn’t be the same though.”

After ten minutes of waffling she returned to the point. “We have several cages available for use. The family cage (AKA the “Bernard Manning”) is our most popular, allowing two adults and two children to wander through the park in tandem. The couple cage (AKA the “Howard and Marina”) is another favourite, for those who don’t want to chance it on their own. The solo cages (the “Katie Hopkins”) are also available although you’d be surprised at how often they are not used. People would prefer to travel in groups.

The controversy surrounding the sanctuary was deepened when several of the animals took it upon themselves to try and eat the paying patrons by pushing the cages over and clawing at the people like they were trying to scoop the last of the Pringles from the very bottom of the tube. Mike Sore and his fiancee, Klara Onspott, barely made it out alive.

“It was the most terrifying experience of my life,” rustled Mike, his wife-to-be shaking nervously at his side, “you never expect it to happen to you. There we were, laughing at the marmots when these two gorillas pushed over our cage and viciously swiping at us. Had we not flattened ourselves at the very bottom and called for help we wouldn’t be here today. Thank God gorillas have never had a box of Tic-Tacs.”

It’s fair to say that once the animal kingdom does learn about shaking that last chocolate-covered raisin from the bottom of the packet into the mouth in one seamless movement, the human race is doomed.

Avatar The tragedy of gimmicks

This is Bri4n.

Bri4n is a gimmick with only one main purpose in life, to sell insurance. He was created by some person, probably in a suit or a skirt, to steal people away from their insurance providers and their price-comparison websites, and lure them into the domain of the “look at this” and “you can get a free pen with this one, Nigel”.

When I found Bri4n he was hiding in a bag of charity shop clothes, right at the bottom in the hope that nobody would find him. At first I wasn’t sure if he was aware of everything so, cradled in my arms, I took him from the bag and placed him back in the real world. The light was bright in his tiny, robotic eyes, and his gaze shifted away towards the dark corners of the room.

Within a few days his temperament was more stable or, at least, stable enough to carry on with the conversation that had been dangling from my tongue. I told Bri4n that he was a gimmick and that the days of being a fixtures on television were long gone. I even told him that he was no longer a collectable and his brothers and sisters were being sold for nothing more than the price of a toaster on Ebay. This upset him greatly, I knew it would, but I needed to tell him the truth. It would sting like a bee in a hipster jacket, trying to convince his friends that baked potatoes smothered in strawberry jelly tasted better than it sounded. It was the only way he could move past this though and onto the next part of his life. I wanted a new start for Bri4n as it is something we all deserve when staring down the barrel of a downward spiral.

His recovery was carefully monitored over the next week. Bri4n remained silent for most of it, humming to himself in his lighter moments. I don’t believe that he will ever truly get past the facts that haunt his existence. I can see a great despair in his eyes that all the robot pornography and robo “road juice” can’t wash away. He is a great companion and, as a flat mate, other than not contributing anything towards the rent, nor attempting any of the various cleaning and cooking chores, he is ideal.

If you’re passing by my way you may see him, arms aloft, pupils blazing like the astro moons of Jupiter, cursing the world, lamenting his life, asking all of the important questions at the same time like a crazy old man shouting at a cloud.

Avatar Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!

I had two ideas for another post this month albeit they both stemmed from the same prospect of enraging Kevin and there is no way that I am going to post them within a few days of each other. I do like to space these things out so that Kevin’s wrath does not come down on my like a ton of spiky, explosive bricks. Also, you may as well milk this for all it’s worth because everyone loves winding Kev up as much as I do. With this in mind, let me present you with a little review of the Gameboy Colour game ‘Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!”

Hamtaro is a hugely popular Japanese series of anime, manga and video games. It follows the adventures of a group of SD (super-deformed and very cutesy) hamsters and it’s utterly insane. I want to pretend that this is completely normal but it’s not. I have played through the entire game and I am convinced it was designed by the deranged. Even I, with my bat shit crazy view of the world, found myself exclaiming out loud, not in my head, actual audible sounds, of “Eh?” and “You what?” whilst playing it. It is everything that I was hoping for and an extra box of chocolate carpets to boot.

In it you play the titular Hamtaro, a lovable hamster with a heart as huge as his eyes. The boss of your hamster clubhouse has tasked you with locating all the other twelve hamsters and bringing them back for a special surprise. As a small rodent, the human world is big and full of items that would appear normal to you and me. How are you to convince your peers to abandon whatever they’re doing and head back to he clubhouse? You do this using Ham-Chat. Ham-Chat is the secret language of the Ham-Hams whereby instead of using sensible words to describe and communicate they use slight variations or muddied portmanteaus of colloquialisms. It does seem rather odd that this fully-grown hamster does not understand basic words for ‘happy’, ‘tired’ and ‘hungry’; how has he been getting by all this time? Has he been writing down words on a pad and showing them to friends and family? Where did he buy this pad of paper, from a tiny WH Smiths? Who designed and built a WH Smiths so small only small animals can get in? There are so many questions.

So you get given a few to begin with and set off into the world to learn more words. The more words you learn the more puzzles you can solve. When I say “puzzles” what I mean is… what do I mean? You meet other Ham-Hams and they tell you things such as stories or other Ham-Chat words. You pass these on to other Ham-Hams to help them with whatever problem they’re dealing with. Occasionally you won’t be able to proceed in the area you’re in until you find the right word and backtrack to that point. Occasionally you’ll go through every word you have until you do the right thing. Occasionally you’ll have to play a mini-game where you position Hamtaro in the right place so he can head a strawberry like a football. Fruit sports.

The game is relatively open so you can wander around until you find the right thing for the right place. It’s a series of fetch quests hidden behind a brightly-coloured world of absurdity. There are eighty-five words to find in total. As this is a kid’s game, you are also given the choice of purchasing clothes and items for Hamtaro from specialist shops hidden in the game. Fancy yourself a bit of a dance guru? The words from the back of the box say it all:

“You can create dances with Ham-Chat. Every word gives you a dance step – string words together to make your own original Ham-Jam dances then link up and share with your friends.”

I didn’t get this. I mean I understand hamsters dancing but I didn’t see the point of it meaning I ignored this aspect of the game completely and went back to picking up acorns and rocks.

Though I am a little ashamed to admit it, I am still to complete my Ham-Ham Notebook having only found seventy-six of the eighty-five words in total. I appear to have hit a bit of a block where it seems as if I need to do the tiniest of little things before carrying on with the rest of the game and my poor eyes, all sets of them, don’t have the energy to go scouring through the same levels again and again trying to find whatever it is I need to do.

That said, it is a very engaging and silly game, and I enjoyed the majority of it. I first learned of it at the turn of the century and it took me until this year to play it. Twenty years of anticipation. Twenty years of sometimes looking for it on Ebay and then getting distracted by a box of hammers. As it is quite rare I could only find the game and instruction booklet so I bought a reproduction box from Etsy to house it in. Now it looks all complete and shiny the way it should. Look at it, Kev, bask in how great it looks. That repro box was well worth the money. I only wish everyone could experience the comic mischief of ‘Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!” although the chances of an HD remake or remaster are practically slim to none.

It’s a good job then that there are three (count ’em!) three other Hamtaro games on the Gameboy Colour for me to source and play. Life is good.

Avatar Dear John

Good morning to you wherever you currently are in the world.

It is a shame when things have to move on. Times change for all of us and I don’t know about you but I always struggle to cope in some way, shape or form. You have been the presenter of Newsround, the presenter of Countryfile, you’re a household name and you never once seem to have given in to the excesses of wealth and fame. That is a shame because everyone needs to let off steam every now and then. Have you never felt as though you had more to give the world, like there was a career waiting in the shadows for you to do something about it?

Have you ever given any thought to a career in rap music?

I believe that you have the raw talent to succeed as Britain’s newest / oldest rapper. You may not have had any experience whatsoever which is fine. Did you ever seen that episode of Louis Theroux where he went to America and tried his hand at rapping? Anyone can do it. I put my hand firmly in the air to be your second in command, your “hype man” as they call it. What this means is what I will start every song by telling everyone how great you are at what you do, setting the stage for what rhymes you start spitting. I reckon that you have a viewpoint which is unique in the world of rap. We can rap about whatever you want: countries, files, antiques, rounds, news, ravens, whatever you like.

I’ve even been thinking about names and even though it could be a cartoon character desperate for a cigarette, how about Craver Crave? Or even Kraver Krave if you really want to knock it out of the park? I will be MC I because everything is a play on words, and it’s kind of like my name but not. It doesn’t have to make sense, nothing makes sense anymore when your’re in a world of giant clocks, money and lurid sex.

If it would help, because I know that you are a happily married man, I can take all the excess that you’d rather not deal with (mainly the groupies, I suppose) and put it in a box away from you. This means you can focus on the important part; the words. I bet you know all the words, I do mean ALL the words, and you’re going to hammer them down like concrete hailstones. This is going to be the best thing you ever did and it would be a supreme honour if you let me help you achieve your goals.

If you are happy to jump right into this I shall include a stamp addressed envelope with this letter so you can write back straight away. You may be a little nervous about this, you may have doubts about your rapping prowess but trust me, you were born for this. You are ready for this. We are ready for this. Now, more than ever, the world needs heroes to shoulder the burdens the others are not prepared for. You’re a good man, John Craven, and I know you’ll make the right decision.

Avatar War of Science

There is a war on the horizon.

If you squint for long enough you can see them, dressed in their white lab coats, wafting beakers and bunsen burners around like slices of cheese. Science is in the air, an unmistakable smell that burns and pleases the nostrils in equal measures. There are three factions battling for the lauded position of Kings and Queens of Science. It will be long and it will be bloody. Not everyone will make it through, oh yes, there will be casualties. You best call your loved ones now because you’re definitely going to be late home tonight.

Real science has no place here. That’s a whole different category of its own so it’s staying on the sidelines, cheering on the pretenders and secretly laughing to itself about the whole affair. It’s brought a bag of Haribo and it doesn’t plan on sharing it with anyone else. Behind a veil of thin mist, and a long black trench coat, it nibbles on fried eggs and cola bottles without the surrounding crowd realising what is going on.

So who are these people, these candidates of coercion and comprehension? Pull up a beanie and let’s get started:

  • We Are Scientists

    Not only making a bold claim in their band name alone, ‘We Are Scientists’ are also in the running for best album cover ever for their debut ‘With Love and Squalor’. It’s got so many kitties I lost my shit several times writing this post. So there’s a lot of moxie coming from these Californian power pop masters, the only problem is that none / neither of them are actual scientists. The name was chosen after being mistaken for scientists after taking a rental truck back to the depot. Pop music was never the place a ground for things that made sense. There’s no truth in any of this but, damn, can they write catchy as hell songs.

  • We Are Science

    I actually made a bit of a mistake here. I was under the impression that comedian Marcus Brigstocke had a short-lived science program called ‘We are Science’ which lampooned science for laughs. It was actually called ‘We are History’ and had nothing to do with it so they’re automatically disqualified for not being the thing that I thought it was. Bastards.

  • Nina and the Neurons

    Kids TV can’t keep up anymore which is why the BBC and ITV gave up on it in the afternoons and shoved it onto either early morning slots that nobody knows about or digital channels that you can stream at any hour of the day. When Reuben was small, we would occasionally watch ‘Nina and the Neurons’ because it had bright, colourful graphics and was educational in a non-boring way. It also had, because you cannot get past my troubled history of fancying women on TV, a very attractive host in the guise of Katrina Bryan who, with her Scottish accent and being in front of my eyes, kept my attention. After a very quick check on the good ole’ Google pegs, I cannot see any scientific qualifications to her name. This is further cemented by the fact that she played a pregnant lady in a banned advert for Irn Bru where the dad is slowly coming around to the idea of calling his daughter Fanny by drinking the aforementioned drink. She played a character who was a scientist; good actress, bad science. The only things here are japes and sex appeal.

  • Me and Kev

    I got a ‘D’ in my Chemistry A Level.

    Kev has a Twitter account called ‘Wrong Science’.

I think we know who won this.