In the second installment of Crazy Religos, I’ve decided to bring you the wonderfully insightful pamphlet, “Who Really Rules the World?” from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you didn’t think they were a bit odd for spending time going and bothering folks on their doorstep to talk about their imaginary friends then maybe you’ll be fine with the conculsions in here, but for the rest of us…
Whose idea was this? Nobody wants this. Nobody, ever, wants this.
It’s 6.33 in the morning and I am in an airport. This seems to be a good time for me to tell you some things about airports that I don’t like.
I don’t like having to take my belt off when I go through security because the shorts I’m wearing for this flight are a bit loose and at risk of falling down while I walk through the scanner.
I don’t like exiting security and passing directly through a massive duty free shop before I can do anything else, assaulted from all sides by strong smells of perfume that my nose can’t deal with at this time of day.
I don’t like having to be here two hours before my flight, only to find that having cleared security they won’t even announce the gate number for another hour and a half.
I don’t like spending that hour and a half in a departure lounge that is basically a windowless shopping mall, all brightly lit stores and flashing screens. I don’t like that my entertainment options are a choice between looking around designer boutiques I’d never normally go in, or sitting in an uncomfortable chair in ranks of seats surrounded by screaming children and looking at the same designer boutiques because I’m literally surrounded by them.
I don’t like that all the food on offer is served by places that are chain restaurants that serve sushi or craft beers or sourdough pizza, and that here they also have to serve breakfast, and none of them know how to do that.
In summary, the basic point is that I don’t like this. But in another few hours I’ll be on holiday and too far away for you to hear me complaining, so it’s OK.
This post was sponsored by Heathrow Airport.
“Designed with the passenger in mind”
You will probably remember that, some years ago now, Ian and myself decided that the best way to name a company was to use the name of the person followed by the thing their company did. That way, everyone knew where they stood and there could be no uncertainty. “Peter’s Window Cleaning” is a good company name. “Lucy’s Cafe” is another.
You can see the problem of badly named companies everywhere. “Boots”, for example, is a bad company name because it’s actually a chemist and doesn’t sell any kind of footwear. Having been founded by a man called John Boot, its name should obviously be “John’s Medicines”.
I bring this up because I would like to share with you the worst company name in the world. It’s a hair salon I pass every day on the way to the station. It’s called “www.comb”.
I find it hard to understand how anyone thought this was a good idea. “www.comb” sounds stupid when you try to say it out loud. It’s not actually the web address for the company (that’s www.comb.org.uk, itself pretty misguided because “.org.uk” is meant for non-profit organisations, but whatever). The name is, however, specifically designed to look like a web address, so for some reason the company has deliberately been given a name that is formatted as a web address but which isn’t the web address of the company. The only way you can use the company’s services is by physically going into a shop, and there is no sense in which this is an online company, so having the abbreviation for “world wide web” in its name is meaningless. And of course if you go into a hair salon, you would hope that using a comb is not the pinnacle of their skills. You’d hope they’re good at scissors, and hairdryers, and styling tongs, and that sort of thing. Being good at combs shouldn’t be their big sell.
Let’s be clear: the name of this business should probably be “Helen and Lisa’s Hair Salon”. Choosing a different name would be sub-optimal but acceptable. Choosing the name “www.comb”, though, is madness and must be stopped.
The survey results are in. The winner’s name is being carved onto the award. Pomegranate is the most infuriating fruit. It’s a fact. You know it’s true.
- Its name is clearly pronounced “pom-e-gran-it” but for some reason it’s spelled with the letters “ate” at the end. Ridiculous.
- The outer skin is designed to only come off in a thousand leathery flakes.
- The edible bits are approximately one million tiny bloblets of fruit. Before you can eat them you have to excavate them all in a sort of miniature mining project. This takes absolutely forever.
- When you eat the edible bits you find that the nice juicy tasty bit takes up only about half of it and the rest is a woody seed that gets stuck in your teeth.
- The edible bits are actually called “arils” which is just pretentious. Gaaaaah. I hate it.
On the other hand they do taste nice.
1995 is a fertile year for the albums that randomly arrive in the post without any indication of their provenance. That year has already brought us The Lone Ranger and It’s Time. Now it brings us a third forgotten horror, Bugs & Friends Sing the Beatles, subtitled “The Furry Four Sing Their Fab Four Favourites!”.
I have to be honest, I don’t really know where to start. I loved Looney Tunes cartoons when I was a kid. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck were my favourites, and Disney could absolutely do one. So I had a small glimmer of hope that there might be something entertaining about this. Then I put the CD in and – in a Four Word Reviews first – I genuinely had to pause it at the end of the first track to try and gather my thoughts and steel my nerves to get through the rest.
I don’t even know what’s worst. Is it that they’ve taken on brilliant, beautiful songs and wilfully converted them into vehicles for terrible puns on other Beatles song names and cartoon fights with lots of sound effects? Is it the fact that almost every song breaks down in the middle into a spoken-word sketch of some kind? Is it that even when they’re not talking, they mostly speak the lyrics in “funny” voices or respond to them in some way? Is it the patronising Indian accent in “Fool on the Hill” when Elmer Fudd is asking his swami for spiritual guidance?
Actually, no, I do know what’s the worst and it’s none of those. It’s that you’re not even listening to Bugs, Daffy, Elmer and Taz. You’re listening to four bad impressions of Bugs, Daffy, Elmer and Taz and they are slowly battering eleven Beatles songs into an early grave. Taz doesn’t really matter because he’s not in it much, but his character isn’t really meant to speak. Elmer’s voice is wobbly and cracked and sounds awful when singing. Daffy is vaguely convincing until he does his catchphrase “woohoo!” and then the actor loses the character a bit. And Bugs is… well, I don’t know who Bugs is, but he’s not Bugs Bunny. It’s not convincing at all. He doesn’t even speak in the right register. I have never missed Mel Blanc so badly.
|Track||Title||Word 1||Word 2||Word 3||Word 4|
|1||She Loves You||She||wouldn’t||love||this|
|2||The Fool on the Hill||Elmer||Fudd’s||harrowing||vocal|
|5||With a Little Help From My Friends||Elmer||bludgeons||another||classic|
|6||It Won’t Be Long||It||was||too||long|
|10||Can’t Buy Me Love||No||no||no||no|
|11||The Long and Winding Road||Featuring||Roadrunner||“meep||meeps”|
The jokes are bad. The sketches are bad. The scripted-to-death ad libs are bad. The changes to the lyrics are bad. The way they shoehorn other Beatles song titles into their jokes is beyond bad. The instrumental version of “The Long and Winding Road” that featured only backing vocals and Roadrunner – “the long and winding road MEEP MEEP that leads to your door” – was painful. But I think worst of all is that I listened to the album and it made me realise what brilliantly written songs these are and how sad it was to hear them being taken for granted and pillaged for cheap laughs that mostly don’t land by people without even half the talent of the original songwriters. It’s a horrible parody of brilliant music by people doing a horrible pastiche of a brilliant voiceover artist. There’s no joke at the end of this paragraph. It’s just really sad.
In all, this was among the worst things I’ve ever listened to, though still not as bad as “To The Extreme” by Vanilla Ice which is the worst thing that has ever happened to me and will never be matched. My favourite thing about this album was Daffy Duck singing “suddenly!” in Yesterday. My least favourite thing was basically everything else.
Most days I have breakfast at home before I go to work. I know how to do breakfast. Make some coffee, put some bread in the toaster. Some days there’s something more interesting like crumpets. Pour a glass of orange juice if there’s time. Any idiot can do breakfast.
Not, it turns out, the people who run the only food outlet in the building where I now work. No, as I descend the marble staircase into the atrium there are inviting smells coming from the cafe, but the company that runs the franchise don’t understand breakfast. The inviting smells will invite you to disaster.
During the day they sell health food. In the morning they sell insults.
Here’s their breakfast menu almost in its entirety:
- Ham hock protein pot with poached egg, spinach and chia seeds: £2.35 [this is the size of a yogurt pot]
- Scrambled egg protein pot with semi-dried tomato and marinated mushrooms: £3.70
- Scrambled egg protein pot with chorizo and avocado: £3.95
- Scrambled egg protein pot with Greek-style cheese, herbs and chilli: £3.70
- Organic porridge with soya milk: £2.55
- Coconut milk porridge with toasted seeds: £2.95
- Cherry and pistachio yogurt pot: £2.99
- Chia and almond bircher muesli: £2.99
That’s more or less it. There’s no bacon sandwich in there, no egg that is not scrambled, no porridge made with actual milk from a cow. (Fake milk from soya or a coconut does not actually make something that looks or tastes like porridge, it makes sloppy white soup with lumps in. I know because I tried it one hungry morning and it was worse than I could have imagined.) There isn’t anything bread-based, because bread contains wheat and wheat is not healthy. You can have a vegetable smoothie with your breakfast (including kale, cucumber and spinach) but you can’t have a slice of toast with butter.
There isn’t really any point to this beyond the fact that sometimes I get to work early and I want something to eat and when I go downstairs I find nothing but seeds and spinach. It just makes me very upset and very disappointed, and I don’t know how these people can do something like this to a fellow human being. That’s all.
Everybody knows “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. It’s a cheesy old 90s rap song with stupid lyrics. While we can all laugh at it and perhaps in some contexts even enjoy it, Vanilla Ice himself and his music were hated by an awful lot of people at the time. Genuine rap fans hated him because he was the product of a record company, just some guy who was recruited to become a white rap star. Queen and Bowie fans hated him because he changed the bassline to “Under Pressure” so that he didn’t have to pay them royalties for sampling it on his biggest hit. He had no credibility. For those reasons, and a whole lot more, I wasn’t looking forward to listening through the entirety of his debut album, 1990’s To The Extreme.
Let’s get straight to it, then: there’s nothing here to like. It’s just awful. This CD arrived in the post a while ago, a gift from a Beans member unknown, and I can safely say that this is the worst thing anyone has ever given to me. It is beyond worthless. The music itself is pretty poor, the lyrics are atrocious – you can tell they’re written by committee in a record company’s meeting room, ticking off a list of phrases young people and rappers say until they’ve all been shoehorned in one by one – but worst of all is the actual rapping. You can’t believe for a second that this nice middle class white guy wrote it or had ever lived the sort of life he’s talking about, and he would certainly never have said phrases like “you kno’ I’m sayin'” or “yo, you insane”.
Here are some phrases from the songs on this album:
- “You can call me dad”
- “Let me tell you how it is makin’ love on an inner tube”
- “People under forty, yo, let’s get down”
Let’s see the damage, track by track.
|Track||Title||Word 1||Word 2||Word 3||Word 4|
|1||Ice Ice Baby||Fake||gangsta||rap||classic|
|3||Stop That Train||Mysogyny||with||bee-bop||sample|
|5||Ice is Workin’ It||Unclear||what||Ice||worked|
|6||Life is a Fantasy||It||thinks||it’s||sexy|
|7||Play That Funky Music||About||race,||mentions||Nazis|
|10||It’s a Party||Sampled||women||shouting||“yeah”|
|11||Juice to Get Loose Boy||Stupid||high||pitched||interlude|
|14||I Love You||Breathy,||creepy,||genuinely||distressing|
|15||Havin’ a Roni||Beatboxing||disaster,||mercifully||short|
Almost all the songs on the album are really long – proper five minuters – and a lot of them drag it out with stupid samples and repeated choruses. Tracks 6 and 14 both think they’re sexy and seductive, but they’re both creepy and actually quite repulsive, like Vanilla Ice’s tongue is coming out of your speakers and trying to lick your ear. “I Love You” comes complete with a fake telephone call where he tells his girlfriend how much he loves her. Track 7 is all about how he’s a white man making black music – so there is some self-awareness to the whole project at least – that then finds a way to mention the Nazis. Track 13 picks up the theme of borderline racism with Mr. Ice adopting something like a Jamaican accent and claiming he is a “rosta man”. It’s like he didn’t think he’d stuck two fingers up to enough of black culture and decided to go after Caribbeans as well as rappers.
In short, my favourite thing about this album was that the CD was correctly manufactured, meaning that when I finally ejected it, it came straight out with no trouble and didn’t play for a second longer than was strictly necessary. My least favourite thing was the fact that such a thing is in my possession at all and that I actually listened to the whole thing, god help me.
It looks like the next Four Word Review will be a toss-up between “Dead Letters” by the Rasmus and “Love Situation” by Gary Wilmot, either of which will be an actual pleasure after this ordeal.