Avatar Improving songs: a how-to guide

Are you bored of listening to the same old songs, saying the same old things? Or maybe you’re bored of all the new songs, where the lyrics don’t seem to ever offer anything new? Don’t worry. I have just the thing for you.

Presenting, for the first time ever, my 100% proven and patented method for improving any pop song. Simply take any of the common pop song words from the left column of the table below, and replace it with the word on the right. The more words you replace, the better the song will be, guaranteed.

Please share below, in the comments, the songs you’ve improved with this groundbreaking method. Please also send payment by postal order or cheque to my home address.

Replace…With…Examples
HeartArseTotal Eclipse of the Arse by Bonnie Tyler
My Arse Will Go On by Celine Dion
Open Your Arse To Me by Madonna
YouHughHugh And Me Song by the Wannadies
She Loves Hugh (Yeah Yeah Yeah) by the Beatles
Hugh Stole The Sun From My Arse by the Manic Street Preachers
DancePranceLet’s Prance by David Bowie
Prance the Night Away by the Mavericks
The Safety Prance by Men Without Hats
DiePiePie Another Day by Madonna
Live and Let Pie by Wings
Never Say Pie (Give Me a Little Bit More) by Cliff Richard
NightFightDecember 1963 (Oh What a Fight) by the Four Seasons
Boogie Fights by Heatwave
Saturday Fight by Whigfield

Avatar Four Word Reviews: Schizophrenic

In the 90s, there were a lot of boybands. You might remember *NSYNC, who were one of the big American ones. They did some catchy songs like Bye Bye Bye and It’s Gonna Be Me and they won eight Grammy awards for their trouble. Then they split up, and their lead singer, Justin Timberlake, went on to have a hugely successful solo career. What you might not remember is that *NSYNC had another lead singer, who co-wrote a lot of the songs with Justin Timberlake, and his name is JC Chasez. He too launched a solo career after the band split up, and his 2004 debut album was called “Schizophrenic”. This is it.

Read More: Four Word Reviews: Schizophrenic »

Avatar ‘Chicken Police: Paint it RED!’ – mini review

“The sun rolled over for the last time of that week. I checked my chagrin; it was sitting on a fence down by the side of the street that I daren’t walk on anymore. The air was crisp and clear, it kissed my cheeks and promised me more than it could ever give. I tipped my hat and headed on my way.

‘Chicken Police’ is exactly how it sounds; it is a video game where you play as Sonny Featherland who is both a policeman and a chicken. These are very important details. Sonny, like all of the characters, has a human body but an animal head. His hands do various non-chicken things like pointing and holding guns. He talks like a character from a detective novel from the 1940’s and looks like a modern day Humphrey Bogart would… if he was a chicken.

At the start of the game you are currently 120 days away from retirement and Sonny has been put on suspension by his hard-hitting police chief. Locked away in his hotel room of an office, he is visited by a mysterious femme fatale who wants him to work a case outside the law for her client. With curiosity gnawing at his mind and nothing much else to do, he recruits his old partner Marty to help him work out just what is happening on New Year’s Eve in the city of Clawville.

‘Chicken Police’ is a very simple point and click adventure game. You won’t find any absurd puzzles here (see ‘the moustache’ from ‘Gabriel Knight III’ or ‘the goat puzzle’ from the original ‘Broken Sword’) as everything is catered to the more casual gamer. You can look at things, pick things up, talk to / ask people questions and eventually interrogate them after a period of time (where you are graded on how quickly and effectively you obtained the information you needed to progress the story). You travel between key locations on the map around the city trying to piece the puzzle together. There is the main plot to follow but you can also visit other places to chat and procure achievements for doing certain things; you know, typical video game fodder.

The visuals are lovely, like a new summer’s morn. All of the locations and characters look almost real despite the aforementioned animal head looking back at you. This is coupled with a moody soundtrack and excellent voice acting by all the main cast. The story is interesting and varied and twists at the right points to lead your expectations into red alleys and dead herrings.

Where it falls down is that it is a little too easy. There are no penalties for failing to ask the right questions (you can even re-do the entire conversation if you want to get a higher rating), you cannot die and when you are trying to assemble the clues into a cohesive structure the game is all too happy to tell you where you are going wrong and nudge you in the right direction. The dialogue is a little clumsy too, where what is being said by the characters doesn’t match the written account at the bottom. There are also numerous instances of double spaces where there shouldn’t be (such an egregious error). Sometimes you’ll ask questions of someone and then press the talk button only to instigate a conversation that was leading up to you asking questions, as if you were supposed to talk first (perhaps even more than once) and then choose to question them. The game doesn’t want to move things along based on what you’ve already done making it a little disjointed.

These are only minor gripes though. For the 5 to 10 hours I spent playing it I enjoyed every moment. It’s more a visual novel with light puzzle sections than anything else. It’s also very funny and I do hope that the developers make a sequel.

‘Chicken Police: Paint it RED!’ is available on Steam, Playstation 4, X Box and Nintendo Switch.

Avatar Fly

Death chases us all. How it follows us at every waking moment, waiting for a mistake or an accident. It lurks in the shadows, it stalks you through your dreams and like two young men on zero hour contracts standing outside Morrisons with clipboards and cheery dispositions, desperate for you to change your energy provider it will never leave you alone.

You would think given how many souls he has now Death would be quite bored with the whole scenario. You really want to throw my bits into the great steaming pot with the billions possibly trillions of others? What do you get from this, Death? Did nobody ever buy you a bike for Christmas? If you’re looking for hobbies, origami is very relaxing (that’s a big lie.)

This is Derek.

Derek in real life

We don’t know if that’s his real name because he’s dead. His body was discovered by me a few weeks ago when I was tidying up. Perched upon a picture frame in Reuben’s bedroom, Derek appears to have had a tiny heart attack. He’s not upside-down or smashed into a magazine smear on the window so it must have been natural.

There he stares, with his staring eyes, out across the field. Was it what he saw that caused the trauma or did it happen suddenly, his little light snuffed out without any word of warning? We will never know. For now let us celebrate the brief life of Derek who, by leaving us so early, left the world with one less fucking fly to deal with.

Avatar Twenty years on

This September we take a moment to pause and look back on a major world event. In September of 2001, Ian and myself helped to found a new country.

Filled with youthful hope for a brighter tomorrow, we joined forces with Chuckie and George, and – deciding that the spirit of the Office would serve as a perfect basis for a nation state – declared independence for a small area of Leeds suburbia. Through a complex system of writing down random letters, we named it Zyurisizia.

Geographically, it faced certain challenges, with its capital city located inside an office in a school building. Most of Zyurisizia’s territory lay across the path between the music block and the sunken playground, and its vast rural hinterland took in the wildlife area, a small field, and a slightly bigger field that we didn’t really go in much.

Moving on from the sixth form in 2002, the four of us bequeathed this fledgling nation to the youth of tomorrow, hoping that it would serve to bring them enlightenment and liberty as it had us, and hoping that one day its boundaries would extend to a worldwide empire where equality, justice and silliness would be shared by all humankind.

Let’s see what became of Zyurisizia in the two decades that followed. Here are the borders of the nation superimposed on modern-day satellite photography.

Satellite imagery © Google. We were unable to source pictures from the Zyurisizian Space Agency for some reason

As you can see, the rapidly developing country has been completely urbanised. It’s delightful to see that the wasteland we left behind has been turned into this sprawling metropolis, known to its inhabitants as “Scholars Gate”, stretching in every direction to meet the borders of the nation. The name of the settlement is a clear indication of a society that prizes education and enlightenment above all else.

One can only assume that the proud citizens of Zyurisizia are continuing to uphold the traditions of free-spiritedness, self-determination, and occasionally writing unsolicited letters to Tony Blair. As a founding father, and a former passport holder of Zyurisizia myself, I could not be more delighted.

Here’s to the bright future of Zyurisizia. If I could remember the national anthem, I’d sing it.