Author Archive

Nature Shock: Alien Ice Bear

October 23, 2008

I like nature programs – especially ones about weird animals. The opening credits hinted that I’d be seeing some pretty alarming stuff, making me really excited for things to get started, not just because the first episode was entitled ‘Alien Ice Bear’.

‘An alien bear?’ I thought. ‘Wicked!’

The program opened with a lot of reconstructions and talking heads. Apparently, some American businessman had gone off to shoot a Polar Bear and had ended up shooting something that wasn’t a Polar Bear. He got into a lot of trouble because he only had a license to shoot a Polar Bear.

Now, I should point out that I shoot things occasionally – rabbits mostly, and then I eat them – but the idea that anyone would be allowed to shoot a Polar Bear horrifies me. They’re rare and their habitat is rapidly shrinking, so we should be doing everything we can to protect them. This probably doesn’t involve letting American businessmen shoot them for shits and giggles.

The businessman shot the bear and posed for photos. The photos showed that this bear had black eyeliner on, so it wasn’t a Polar Bear. Teen Polar Bears don’t become goths to rebel, so this meant he’d bagged some other species. When you do shoot a Polar Bear you have to bring some bits back to show some Rangers so that they can be sure you shot it and not a moose or something.

At this point we got to listen to a CSI-type person waffling on about how they couldn’t tell what it was. A taxidermist also rambled on about how they had never seen anything like this before. We eventually got the point that he’d managed to accidentally shoot something even rarer than a Polar Bear.

After thirty minutes of these people saying ‘Gee wizz! We killed a unicorn!’ they dropped the bombshell that you can cross-breed Polar Bears with other bears. People used to do it in zoos all the time – those crazy Victorians, eh?

The bear, which I was starting to get bored of, was actually just a cross-breed and not that alien at all, really. Nobody had ever heard of a hybrid being born in the wild, so they’d ultimately proved that it could happen by shooting it. Great.

So, after an hour long program they had conveyed information that could be summed up in a paragraph of text.

Next week they’re covering some man-eating river monster that killed someone. They never found a body. I’m going to presume that the vicious monster that killed a person was a rock and go and read a book instead. Or shoot a Gorilla.

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Grey’s Anatomy

April 28, 2008

Grey's Anatomy

My flatmate loves Greys Anatomy. It’s a deep, animal love that means she can’t stop watching it, even though it makes her cry a lot. Any episode that doesn’t make her cry at least once is considered a failure. Men don’t watch many programs that make them cry. I think the closest we get is that scene in Flash Gordon where Brian Blessed finally realises that Flash is fighting for good, and they become chums. Or any film where two chaps have to shoot each other to stop them from falling into to enemy hands. That’s proper drama.

Anyway if you haven’t watched Grey’s Anatomy (and if you have testicles then that’s fairly likely), it’s about some doctors. They started off as apprentices or disciples or whatever baby Doctors are called before they qualify and develop halitosis. Now they are grown up and Greys Anatomy is about their lives. Their self-absorbed, feckless lives.

These Doctors should be having a great time snorting medical-grade cocaine off each other’s naughty bits while chuckling that they are going to be sickeningly rich for the rest of their lives, but they don’t. The program is about them all being rubbish at relationships and constantly hopping in and out of each other’s beds faster than you can say ‘unpleasant rash, probably sexually transmitted’.

Every time the characters are faced with a choice that might make them just a little bit happy they do the opposite. If two people get on for a bit, one of them is bound to die, slowly. Any chance for contentment is purely temporary as the cause of it will be crushed under the iron fist of misery. While this is initially charming – other people suffering is always good for a giggle – ultimately it’s deeply annoying. I say this because I’ve accidentally watched quite a few episodes (okay four seasons of it) because my flatmate seems to feed of it like an electronic teat of suffering and despair.

All of the characters in it need a good kick in the face and to be told that their life really isn’t that bloody hard. Instead they just waltz about flicking their impossibly coiffeured hair and spout trite truisms at each other in the lift. The lift is very important in the show; it’s apparently where Doctors go to spawn.

I hate the characters. Hate. They seem to take joy in being victims. It is program for people who like being sad. 

Here is a summary of the characters. Warning contain spoilers.
Grey
Sort of Germanic looking one who fancies ‘McDreamy’ but has so many issues she will never be happy. She has very annoying hair. I think she has shagged everyone else in the show but I’m not sure.

The Blonde One
Had an affair with the one with the wonky eye and the one who looks like a boy. She loved a man for a bit and he proposed and then he DIED. Ha – that’ll learn her.

Wonky Eye Man
He shagged the blonde one and then told his mates or something. I don’t really care. Apparently he has a dark past. One of his eyes is a bit wonky

The Child
Boy-man who looks about three years old. Accidentally married another doctor-lady with nice hair but then he shagged the blonde one. He didn’t get on with his dad, then they got on, so his dad died.

The Robot
She went out with a surgeon for a bit and they were happy so he got shot and it fucked up his arm. Then he went away, so she got sad. She doesn’t appear to be in the breeding program anymore

McDreamy
Faux Irish spaz who everyone fancies because he has oily hair. Sexual history can best be described as ‘miscellaneous’.

McTasty (possibly the wrong name)
Ex best friend of McDreamy who has a beard. He does plastic surgery on people and slept with McDreamy’s wife and anyone else who he can.

There are some other ones too. They shag each other and have a sad time.

Oh – and there was a bit with a dog. Guess what? It died.

Grand Designs

January 30, 2008

Kevin McCloud 

Digital T.V. is ace, especially free digital telly. The combination of the history channel and Dave means a chap can watch either a program about the Nazis or some macho broadcast about survival in a jungle at almost any time of day.

In the afternoons on Dave you can watch porky survivalist Ray Mears learning to bludgeon a deer to death with it’s own antlers in the traditional Navaho way. In-between bouts of Ray terrorising the local animal population and turning them into wicker spoons, there are lots of adverts. Long strings of dull adverts for manly things, because Dave is the channel for blokes, but still adverts none the less. I hate watching adverts so I switch over to another channel while they are running and watch something else.

That’s how I first got caught by Grand Designs – like members of the Who or mildly creepy comedians, I didn’t mean to get into this horrible perversion – it just sort of happened.

I should hate everything about Grand Designs. If someone at a party starts talking about their kitchen, I have to fight the urge to scribble on their face with a pen. Property bores the pants off me so much that I think about buy-to-let mortgages as an aid to delay ejaculation. Just entering Ikea or Homebase brings me out in a murderous rage that can only be placated by gin and Swedish meatballs.

The people on it are terrible. Smug middle-class types who have spent a life of wealthy mediocrity in a large detached house outside Surbiton are suddenly filled with hubris and a compulsion to build some monstrosity out of baked bean tins and concrete as a way of finally expressing themselves before they die.

They fret over window-fittings and spend thousands of pounds getting a shower that is just the right shape. One couple spent thousands having the interior of their house spray-painted to get just the right texture on their walls – and then used wallpaper instead.

It is everything I hate in an hour slot, but I can’t stop watching it. At first I watch the show with a sneer on my face, occasionally flicking Vs at the screen just to show how much I hate everyone in it, but after only five minutes I’m hooked, like the bitch that I am.

I really hope their build doesn’t go massively over-budget when they decide to get the cat flap made out of Tuscan Marble, I’ll think. Sometimes I jump for joy when they find that the asymmetric windows made from recycled spam fit in their oblong shaped floating bathroom.

I hate that I love it so much and that I’d do anything for another fix of it. Now, when I watch Ray on Dave, it’s only so I can switch over to Grand Designs and fret over if Mr and Mrs Grape-nuts have chosen the right shade of mauve for their Mock-Colonial mansion made out of old biscuits.

BBC iPlayer

October 17, 2007

2 pint overload 

Since broadband was available for a reasonable price throughout the UK, people have been downloading films over it. My friend downloaded a wobbly copy of Episode 1 of Star Wars months before it came out over here and got to discover that Jar-Jar Binks was shit way before anyone else. That was in 1999. I’m saying this so that you can get an idea of how behind the times ‘Auntie’ is in launching a program downloading service.

The BBC have realised the internet exists and now let you watch shows through BBC iPlayer. The sign up process is confusing, but provided you have at least a PhD in Computing and the sort of relentless optimism that got Haig through the Somme, you should be able to manage it. Your computer will be filled with a bilious slob of a program that will swallow up resources and works very slowly.

I bet at this point you’re thinking ‘well at least I’ll be able to watch my favourite programs whenever I want’. Well, no, you can’t. You can watch a tiny selection of programs for about seven days and then they are gone forever. Thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded you don’t get to watch the programs you have already paid for whenever you like because the production companies have realised this might dent their sales of compilation DVDs at Christmas. So all the programs are limited.

The searching is clunky and slow, you can’t download a series in one go, or even a few episodes from a series. You have to find a program, click the first one on the list, go into the item of it and click download. Then you have to go back to the menu, find the program again and click the second one on the list and then go into it’s page to download it.

It doesn’t even realise that if you always download Mock the Week, you might want to be able to ‘subscribe’ to it and get it whenever a new one comes out, as Podcasts have done for a while. Is that too much to ask?

Oh and it’s just full of crap at the moment, the image above is an actual screen shot from their ‘comedy’ selection. Provided you like watching Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps you will be delighted. What makes this worse is that there are naughty websites on the internet who provide this service illegally and they do it much better. You can be sat at your desk at work at watch classic episodes of Dr Who or the second season of Heroes with only the occasional danger of adverts for ‘hot girls in Slough’ flashing up.

The BBC does some things brilliantly. In my head the license fee I pay is split between Radio 4, the BBC website and the cast of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

Clearblue – Digital

August 9, 2007

When a man loves a lady very much, he gets a strange urge to put his winky in her lady-bits. If you do this at the right time of the month you get the lady ‘with child’ – which means she gets large and eats more. After nine more months a baby pops out, which is the signal that all fun has stopped and you have to start wearing cardigans and talking about mortgages.

With this threat facing people every day, you need to have a test to see if a lady has been brought low, to let you know if trouble is on the way. This is probably so you can change your name and flee the country.

Clearblue are doing the world a service by making one of those sticks that the lady pees on to tell if she is up the duff – and boy are they proud of it.

A computer generated model of the device sweeps across the screen, while vaguely Star Wars-ish music plays in the background and a booming voice says:

“It has arrived, the next generation of pregnancy test”.

He then rambles on about how ace this test is and how it is the besterest test ever, then he says my favourite line.

“It’s without a doubt the best piece of technology you will ever pee on”.

That’s quite a claim you know. I’m a boy, we pee everywhere, especially when we are outside. What makes the line more dangerous, is that it’s delivered like a challenge.

This advert is a slap in the face for every man who has ever dreamed of widdling on an Xbox or a wah wah pedal. They’re saying that even if you get cryogenically frozen for a 1,000 years in the future you won’t get to piss on anything more technologically brilliant than this.

Well fuck you Clearblue, I’m off to pee on a jet, then I’m going to Japan to wee on a robot.