Avatar Searching for a Nightmare

“As he entered the room, the air grew stale and cool. It was abundant that the door had not been opened for a while and neither had any of the windows. Not that you could tell there were windows given how greasy and dirty they were. Thin streaks of light tried their best to illuminate the room only to greet indifference and a smell that could only be unwashed clothes and unwashed hair.

Towards the back of the room there was a doorway without a door leading to what looked like a small kitchen area. Small grunts could be heard, awash with fear and sadness. Part of him didn’t want to know what was going on in there.

He blinked. It was starting to take shape before his eyes. Along the left and right sides were a sofa and a bed respectively upon which figures covered in blankets, jumpers and hoodies, anything to obscure their features, sat huddled. They were visibly shaking; no amount of clothing could hide that. Hesitant but also inquisitive, he crimsonly approached the nearest character and pulled back the mauve hood that separated the two.

Eyes as big as spoons stared back. Bags of a similar size hung underneath. The skin was sagging and the features were difficult to look at even for the morbidly curious. Nonetheless, he was sure that he was in the right place.

“Lycos?” he asked, “Lycos is that you?”

There was no response. Either it didn’t understand or it wasn’t there, long gone into the stratosphere with the rest of the junkies and the winos.

The heavy-breather next to it was a malnourished AltaVista.

On the opposite side of the room Webcrawler was on his knees, licking a damp patch underneath the coffee table. Clearly a spill of something important to them. He could have smashed his head with a lamp and it wouldn’t have noticed.

Most of them were accounted for except the one he had been looking to find the most.

The grunting was still coming from the back kitchen.

He took a deep breath and peered around the corner. An old man faced away from him, his hands looking for something or someone. The pile of newspapers he sat on had nothing beside it. The kitchen stank of sex and shame.

“Did you want to ask me something?” the old man queried. “You can ask me anything. I want you to, I want you to ask me.”

He turned around and the drool was let loose from his mouth. It pounded the hard flooring.

“If you ask me I’ll make it worth your while. I guarantee.”

That was all he could stand and so, with the answers he had sought, he bounded from the bedsit and slammed the door behind him never to return.”

Avatar A well-named business

We’ve talked before about how companies should always be named after the person who owns them and the thing they do. We’ve also talked about companies with terrible names who break this simple rule.

A leaflet dropped through my letterbox this week – a grubby, crumpled leaflet, certainly, but one I immediately trust because it comes from a company with an excellent and clear name. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Ron’s Collectables.

Ron has it all: a professional leaflet that addresses you as “Sir of Madam”; a big list of tat that is seemingly in high demand at the moment; and a suggestion that if you’re not entirely satisfied that this is a legitimate operation then you should hand the leaflet in to The Local Police.

I was, naturally, extremely keen to do business with Ron, and have sold him my house for £150 cash.

Avatar Personalised shopping recommendation

The internet is too clever. If you go over here to a website or something, and do a bit of searching around, you’ll suddenly find that other shopping sites and social media are offering you adverts for the thing you searched for. How do they know? How are they so effectively tracking me around the place? It’s crazy.

Sometimes the suggestions that come scrolling past your face are so uncannily pinpoint accurate that it’s scary. Other times you feel like maybe the algorithm didn’t have enough to go on and it’s making a wild stab in the dark.

Recently on Instagram (follow me if you like, I never post anything) I’ve been seeing the same advert coming up again and again, posted there by some robot working for Amazon who clearly doesn’t have a very firm grasp on what I want to buy. Its headline suggestion is this all-plastic portable bath with a lid. You can apparently poke your head out to look at something on a laptop, presumably while out and about. Perhaps it’s for people who have sudden irresistible urges to take an immediate bath while, I don’t know, in the car park at Sainsbury’s or half way up a hill in the Peak District.

If you then scroll right, the rest of the suggestions are a real mixed bag. There’s a green leather Chesterfield-style chair and a frog-shaped plantpot. However, there’s also a bed covered in Lego studs that you can build Lego models on, and it even has a display area for minifigures in the headboard. Now that’s something I really do want.

Avatar AI Knows you well…

Our robot overlords are coming, its only a matter of time, but they will come. For now though AI is still either used to sort through spreadsheets faster than a human, help robot dogs open a door or for titting about making pictures from text commands.

With that last option in mind, I headed over to a text-to-image AI tool and typed in our usernames, and I think you can see that the AI mind has synthesised us perfectly.

A request for images of “Chris5156” gives us the all familiar images of Chris going about his business as some sort of train, or as we often see him, adorning the cover of some sort of sports magazine.

Searching for dear old “Ian ‘Mac Mac Mac Mac’ McIver” brings us similarly familiar results. We all know Ian is a keen lover of football, ominous framed symbols and his ginger hair is the envy of many.

“Kevil” meanwhile returns results of bizarre bird creatures and bald businessmen… spot on!

Just to round-out the set, I checked in on what the computer brains had to show in its databanks for “Pouring Beans“. I wasn’t disappointed. It nailed the pouring rooms at the back of the beans perfectly, right down to the floating sieve and the denim uniforms…

Avatar The worst three

Last weekend, me and the boy decided to live it up and catch the showing of classic cyberpunk anime ‘Akira’ at the local cinema. The cinema was so hot that I struggled to stay awake during the second half of the film; it didn’t help that the one we were in was on the top floor and, as all good little scientists know, hot air rises. I did stay awake but you would think that the combination of psychic children, exploding people and the end of the world would be enough to keep my brain and eyes functioning.

Before the film started, we discussed what would be the three best films we would like to see at the cinema. The conversation then inevitably came to what three worst films we would want. Having been witness to some of the abject atrocities of cinema from the last forty years, I believe I may have an insight into this that most people wouldn’t. I therefore present to you my choices for the three worst films I want to see on the big screen

Paycheck

John Woo was an excellent director from Hong Kong when he started his career. He ended it tucked away in Hollywood directing bollocks like this. ‘Paycheck’ is a personal favourite of mine because it wastes a story by Philip K. Dick, the acting talents of Ben Afleck and Paul Giamatti and features hilarious one-liners that aren’t meant to be funny including ‘I was eating pie!’. I used to own five copies of this however after moving around a few years ago I had to cut down to only two. If you can see this I strongly recommend it if only for Uma Thurman being horribly miscast as the love interest and displaying barely enough chemistry to boil a kettle.

The Jerk Too

As a child I was introduced to Steve Martin films through my siblings. I owned a copy of ‘The Jerk’ on VHS and watched it repeatedly. It’s not his best but it was his first and puts most modern comedy films to shame with the amount of ideas and general lunacy. What I wasn’t aware of was a made for TV sequel done some years later which only involved one of the cast from the original film (his mum). Steve Martin played the title character, Navin Johnson, as a sweet and misunderstood good-natured person. Mark Blankfield, however, plays him as someone with learning difficulties. It was quite unbearable to watch at times. If you need an example of this (it’s not on Youtube, I checked), try and find the poker game in the shack and the scene where someone mentions lemon merangue pie; you’ve never heard someone ejaculate a noise mixed in with an as worrying as Mr Blankfield does in your life. Throw in some bad guys who make The Little Rascals look like the cast of a Guy Ritchie film, a bizarre musical number in the middle for no apparent reason other than a homeless woman to serenade Navin and an opening credits scene that shows you the entire movie before you’ve seen it and you’ve got a perfect recipe for nonsense.

Bula Quo

You all knew this was coming. The cinema could be decorated in hula flowers and coconut drink cups and… hang on, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Primarily funded by the Fiji tourist board as a way of enticing tourists to visit Fifi, ‘Bula Quo’ is a film that’s not a film because it’s a terrible rock band who can’t act running around Fiji being chased by the least threatening gangster villain since I put a fake cigar in my mouth and did an impression of Al Capone. The music is awful, the humour is awful, the acting is questionable and the whole thing stinks, no, reeks of desperation. Fiji should know better. I wouldn’t be surprised if tourism went down after this “film” was released. The only legitimate way to enjoy it is to be absolutely hammered or… no that seems to be the only way to enjoy it.

There were a lot of runners up: The Quest was a strong contender, Reuben in particular chose “Die Hard on Ice” (see ‘Sudden Death’ starring Jean Claude Van Damme), the Doom film, a parade of Adam Sandler films and anything starring Kevin James. Given how Chris has only ever seen one film I expect it will be a difficult question to answer but what would YOUR three films be?

Avatar Fear the return

Fear. That burning at the pit of your stomach. That tingle on the back of your neck. The shivers that overwhelm your entire body and reduces you to a pitiful mess of a human being.

Everyone fears something and I am no exception. If you’ve ever seen the film ‘Biodome’ then you will know what I mean. Monstrosities like that should not exist in this world so if you ever see it anywhere, be in VHS, DVD or, heaven forbid, Blu-Ray, destroy it before it can infect another person.

Recently a friend of mine found a new fear in an unaccepted place. It looked cheery enough but underneath that happy façade was the high pitched voice and relentless energy of a toddler sucking Coca Cola through a red liquorice straw covered in sherbet.

The horror, the horror…

Don’t look at it. Don’t touch it. Don’t go near it. Don’t even think about the fact that it is somewhere in this world. Just be thankful it’s not where you are. Close your curtains and lock your doors. Turn out the lights and hide in the darkness.

You never know when he might be coming.

Avatar Mistakes in marketing

Let’s say you own a company. Let’s say you’re involved in JCBs and tipper trucks, shifting muck around. Let’s say you get yourself a nice white van for moving kit about and you get your company’s name written on the back, and maybe a nice photo of some JCBs and tipper trucks in action so everyone can tell what line of work you’re in.

For now we will overlook the fact that you name your company something daft like ”Kellands” when, if sense prevailed, you would clearly have called it something like ”John’s Diggers”.

You have space on the van for a slogan. Something positive and dynamic that tells everyone what your company is about and how great you are.

What slogan will you choose? Think carefully.

Avatar Cafetiere

I was given some free coffee so I bought a cafetiere to brew it up and enjoy the fresh taste of morning brown. The coffee was strong and rich so my taste buds, what little I had left, were in a joyful mood. Reuben tried some and instantly dismissed it. Now whenever he sees the cafetiere in the cupboard he refers to it as “middle class bullshit.”

There is a time for instant coffee and there’s a time to whip out the cafetiere. There’s also a time when you need to take a 600 million pound bag of tea and brew up some dirty black tea for you to enjoy, possibly whilst rocking back and forth in the corner of the room, but thankfully I haven’t quite reached that point yet.

Whilst musing on the wonders of life I came up with this playful little ditty. You can sing it or you can recite it like a spoken word poem:

Cafetiere, cafetiere,
Long of taste and long of flair
.
Cafetiere, your juice is fair,
Pour some for your closest frere.
Pour some for Jim, Danny or Claire.


Hint of peach or hint of pear,
Think there’s nothing going on in there?
Au contraire, my cafetiere
,
The savoir faire of cafetiere,
The savoir vivre of cafetiere
.

Yeah you’re right, I made it up on the spot and that’s what makes life so great. Next time you’re brewing some coffee perhaps you’ll come up with your own song.