Avatar Batloholic

Dear Batman,

Hello, Mr Batman sir. I have heard a lot about you since I was a child. You’re the world’s greatest detective. You have lots and lots of gadgets. You’re in perfect physical shape and can do anything you set your mind to. You can beat any villain that turns up in Gotham City. When was the last time you ate?

Your exploits have been turned into comics, television series’ and big film adaptations. There’s not a piece of merchandise in the world that doesn’t have your face on it. I bet in some countries there are even Batman rubber gloves and Batman condoms with some funny tagline: ‘The caped crus-lay-der’ or ‘for when you want to inspect her dynamic duo’. I’m not in marketing so I’m not very good at this. Yeah, they’re probably unlicensed and hidden away in the corner of Brazil or something. I doubt I’ll ever come across them.

Holy room-spinning debaucherously good fun, Batman!

What I will say is that I have never seen you on the booze. You may have at some point, I mean who doesn’t like a drink every now and then? You don’t have time to get wasted at your local, the Penguin has escaped and, I don’t know, unleashed an army of penguin explosives at an orphanage.

I can only presume that this was done without your say so and that you had no involvement whatsoever. I expect you will need to pass this to your lawyers (or bat lawyers, because everything is bat-related) to start the lawsuit. You don’t normally associated superheroes with hipflasks so lord knows what the company that made them was thinking. “Dads are heroes, dads like snifters of whisky when nobody is looking, let’s combine the two shall we?”.

Anyway, keep up the good work. I’ll drop by if I’m ever in the area.

All the best

Unspecified fan

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 More culture in the workplace

In May last year, you might remember that I brought a little classical beauty into the lives of my work colleagues when I anonymously gifted the Mona Lisa to the men’s toilets on the third floor.

I was under no illusion that this artwork would be permanently displayed, and so it was little surprise that, after ten or eleven months, it vanished without warning, leaving an empty frame to greet toilet-goers once more. To be honest, I was pleased it lasted as long as it did.

My quest to bring culture to the workplace has not ended there, though. No, it continues, with renewed vigour. Since the Mona Lisa was taken down I’ve chosen to assume that the Toilet Overlords at work aren’t keen on renaissance realism, so my latest contribution is something more abstract.

For gentlemen on their way to their most personal ablutions, I now proudly present Piet Mondrian’s Composition London 1940-42.

Avatar Fallin’ out of love with ‘Fallin”

Words. The world is full of them. They come in all different flavours and no matter what you need to say there is usually a word or collection of words out there to help you. That is unless you’re trying to spell the word jush… juxch… jgusssh… unless you’re trying to spell the famous word where the letters haven’t been invented yet.

Alicia Keys is a very talented musician and songwriter from the last twenty years or so. A quick look at her wikipedia page is enough to make your eyes spin with envy. I’m not talking about the eight albums she’s released or the glut of awards she’s got hiding on the mantelpiece though, I’m going back to the first single I remember.

‘Fallin” was the first single from her twelve million selling debut ‘Songs in A Minor’. Back in 2001 I enjoyed listening to it because it was sweet and simple. A song that could turn up on the radio at any time of the day and I wouldn’t be turning it off. It had heavy rotation on the music channels. She was labelled ‘the new queen of soul’ by some music magazine based on the hype for the album. ‘Fallin” was an excellent lead single, hand-crafted with love and attention, picked by some record executive because they could hear the sound of money at the door.

I heard the song again recently and frowned a big old man frown. Was this the same song that had enchanted me twenty years prior?

Firstly, the music is perfectly fine and lovely, it’s the words that make me remove the rose-tinted nostalgia glasses and question what exactly I was drinking at the age of seventeen. I did a word count and officially there’s only 227. Short, pop songs are as old as the music charts themselves. There’s nothing wrong with short songs. There has to actually be words in them though.

‘Fallin” is a song perpetually infested with oh’s. It’s so full of oh’s it may as well be a box of Cheerios. You can’t go a few seconds without one cropping up. Not even one but a whole host of oh’s, you’re never too far away from them. You’re not subjected to a Mariah Carey level of insane warbling that would make dogs cry out in pain but it’s still fairly distracting and not pleasant on the ears. Then there’s the repetition.

The chorus is used five times. It makes the cardinal sin of rhyming ‘you’ with ‘you’. The weirdest part is that the officially last word of the song is ‘what?’ which I didn’t even remember and had to go back to watch it on Youtube to check that was factually correct, which it is. She gives a sassy look at the camera and asks the question. Is she asking me this because I don’t like the song anymore? Who knows.

What I do know is that ‘Girlfriend’ from the same album is an infinitely better song and I won’t be going back to ‘Fallin” any time soon. If it comes on the radio at any time of the day, I will be turning it off.

Avatar Car sweets

I don’t know what the weather’s been like up in the frozen north lately. Maybe you’ve had a bit less snow and a few days’ break from clearing the ice off your windscreen on a morning. But down here on the tropical borders between Hampshire and France, we’ve been having some fairly warm days.

On Monday it reached about 32 degrees here, which is jolly warm, I can tell you. I went shopping to the big Sainsbury’s, partly to stock up but also partly to spend half an hour in the air conditioning, and while I was in there I bought myself a little treat. I like to have some sweets in the car sometimes, and I am very partial to jelly babies. I got myself a bag of Bassett’s finest, and when I got back to the car I pulled them out of the shopping bag and dropped them in the driver’s side door pocket so I could reach in for some tasty goodness while on the road.

Here are some things I didn’t think about when I got home. I didn’t think about the fact that, if you park your car in the sun, the inside temperature quickly reaches a point about 30ºC higher than outside, so by mid afternoon the inside of my car would have reached a nice cosy 62 degrees. I also didn’t think about the fact that the melting point of gelatin is below 40ºC.

Anyway, the point of this is that on Tuesday I got in my car to go somewhere, and mid-journey, reached into the door pocket to find some delicious jelly baby treats. My hand unexpectedly entered a large gooey mass of melted jelly baby remains. I then got it all over the steering wheel too.

The jelly babies are irretrievable and could not remain in the car. They are entirely unsuitable for mobile snacking. So I’ve brought them inside and used a sharp knife to carve the jelly morass into bite-size chunks, which have an appearance somewhere between colourful jewels and gross melted sludge.

The moral of the story is: in the summer, have non-melting car sweets, such as extra strong mints or digestive biscuits.

Avatar A Question of Science – Kev’s Legs

Science has taught us a great deal of things. Without it there would be no way of calculating a pound minute accurately nor would we have the tools with which to create the Wheel of Thrusting (TM). I think we can all agree that with science around, we’ve all got mugs brimming with joy.

There are still certain questions though that evade even the brightest of minds. To try and ponder these would drive a man insane or something like it. You would find him stood in a queue at Boots trying to buy some nutmeg with a sock full of eyelids.

The most elusive member of the Beans community, Kevin “I hate waiting” Hill, is notable for drinking the dirtiest tea imaginable, for making creative balloon animals out of the stickiest of computer dib-dabs and for having legs that defy gravity and a few other laws of science. His legs have featured on the cover of ‘New Scientist’ several times over the years mainly due to the scientific community trying to work out a way of measuring how long they are. There isn’t a tool made for a distance as great as this. The mathematical algorithm is so complex that the letters and numbers haven’t been invented yet. Stephen Hawkins once tried to measure Kev’s legs with a trundle wheel and got lost around his ankles. It’s just not possible.

Polar explorer, Eric Larson, gathered together a twelve man team with a view to getting an accurate reading. With a dozen huskies and those awful food pouches you pour hot water in and it somehow makes a mush that tastes like a roast dinner, they set off in late September 2011 for the summit. After three days they couldn’t find a water supply and ended up circumnavigating back to the toes having only made, what they believed to be, about a twelfth of the way there. We only know this because of the diary entries that were found by the reconnaissance team a month later. All members of the group are currently missing to this day.

The Beano ran a competition in 2005 for the readers to try and guess how long Kev’s legs are. The winner was Daisy Slanderbelly from Wolverhampton with a very sensible estimate of twelve billion jellybeans. This is still, however, yet to be proven.

The truth is that we will probably never know how far Kev’s legs stretch off into the distance. Some mathematicians have theorised that they never stop, they never run out and they continue forever. The universe may be ever-expanding and so are Kev’s legs; you can try but you will never reach the end. We should all take solace in the fact that sometimes questions don’t need an answer and will never be fully answered.

Another mystery not really solved!

Avatar Mysterious shed

Picture this:

Two men are sat watching some good old fashioned rock and roll music at a gig. They’ve already had to endure the poor organisational skills of Huddersfield, Wetherspoons meals without the drinks (because the wait for drinks was longer than the food for some reason), rain, snow, sleet, drunk Yorkshire idiots and a winding, zig-zagging queue to get inside.

The support act were fine. The sun came out and the woman took her top off. If only the sound system was decent enough to make what she was shouting about audible but you can’t have everything I suppose.

The first band came on and despite numerous jokes at their expense (not from me), a jolly good time was had by all, especially when they did a rousing cover of ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallic and a soothing rendition of ‘Africa’ by Toto.

The second band began their set with a weird recorded message by some semi-famous actor guy who I recognise the face of but can never remember his name. About four songs in the band suddenly decided to leave the stage.

“What’s going on?” everyone asks.

Cue the stagehands and roadies going backstage and trying to wheel on what can only be described as the world’s most unnecessarily large shed (FYI it looked more like a log cabin to me, Kev’s description is the official description though because he said it first). The shed is so big they struggle to get it onto the stage because a corner keeps getting caught on something. Manoeuvre, pivot, manoeuvre, pivot. A few minutes later it’s wheeled into the middle and the drummer climbs on top.

The band then do a two further songs before sacking the shed off and putting it back where they found it.

Was the shed some kind of protest? Probably not. Were the two songs that the band sung whilst it was there based around sheds? Did they sing ‘Sweet Shed of Mine’ and ‘My Love (How I Shed Those Tears For You)’? No they did not. Did the shed have anything to do with what was happening onstage? Not in the slightest.

It’s times like these that does make you wonder if anything actually makes sense anymore.