Monday, July 27, 2009

Here come 'the weddings'

Saturday marked a new milestone in my young life as I attended the first of ‘the weddings’. By this I mean I went to my first wedding for someone who is the same age as me. Being 21, I guess this was kind of inevitable (as unlike when you become 18, and you still are sort of an adult; you don’t really know what to do with the power) as now you really do enter the domain of adulthood in a meaningful way.

After all, they say that you go through stages of events on the way through adulthood. Basically, it starts with people turning 18, then there’s the 21sts, then weddings, then christenings (although I know this can work the other way round as I have seen someone do recently) and then last, but in no way least, comes the funerals.

This is not the first I have heard of ‘the weddings’ of people my age, as I know one or two people who have been to the weddings of people I went to school with. However, this was my first personal foray. I suppose it was made all the stranger as it was for a family friend, who I have known from infancy, but apart from the realisation that everyone my age is now dashing off into the magical rainbow land of adulthood - and the much maligned ‘real world’- it was very similar to most other weddings I’ve been to. There was a copious amount of drink, speeches here there and everywhere, drunken relatives wobbling about on the dance floor - and as it was in Gloucestershire, old locals singing stuff in an incomprehensible accent; also there was cider; nice cider at that.

The weirdest aspect of the day was being introduced, by a similarly aged friend, to their “husband.” Sure, we are used to seeing committed relationships, where people act as if they were married, but for some reason marriage seems like such a huge step. I don’t see why this needs to be the case as married life could be almost entirely the same as life in a live-in relationship, but maybe it’s the legal clout behind it that makes it seems so much more, well, adult.

I suppose one massive difference to a normal relationship is the fact you get rings. Sadly though, they aren’t magic rings, unless you like to refer to the commitment they represent metaphorically as magic. But no, the magic doesn’t grant wishes or control people’s minds; needless to say it’s not the ONE RING to rule them all, well yet anyway…

Now the question remains as to who’s going to be next. I know a few people who could feasibly propose to each other within the next few years, so it could become an interesting guessing game. All I know is there’s probably going to be more on the horizon, which if Saturday was anything to go by, isn’t a bad thing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

God? Is that you insulting my cookery, or am I just hearing voices again?

Having had a lot more time to myself, I have become a fan a few daytime TV programmes. One in particular I have become quite addicted to is the cringe-fest that is Come Dine With Me.

Come Dine With Me follows a simple format where four or five complete strangers take turns over the course of a week to host a dinner party for the others , after which the others score the food, entertainment etc out of ten privately and the highest scoring person wins one thousand pounds. However, things often don’t run smoothly as dishes don’t turn out right and arguments often erupt between the guests, mainly considering the producers and researchers seem to have done their utmost to select a handful of clashing personalities.

The guests usually consist of one or more of the following:

Snide Self Conscious Cunt: This sort of person normally tends to be the bitchiest, although in a subtle way. Expect to see them not doing much to enhance the conversation, before becoming jealous of one of the more gregarious or attractive housemates guests, and then plotting their downfall by giving them low marks for trivial reasons.

Quiet fish-out-of-water: Probably the closest to a normal person you’re going to find on this show as they’re like you, in that they are utterly bemused by antics the other guests are getting up to. Expect to see them agree with everyone or generally keep schtum.

Outrageous obnoxious twat: This one normally will have the programme researcher rubbing his/her hands with glee, and saying to him/herself “looks like we’ve got a show!” As this is the person who has to tell everyone what he/she is thinking right now; will turn up wearing fancy dress or will excuse blatent rudeness by arrogantly claiming “I’m just telling you the truth,” like a true bastard. Abandon all hope quieter guests as you will never get a word in edgeways, which might be a good thing as if you DID draw attention to yourself you could become the target of the twat’s antics. Remember this person has no sense of being wrong, so you will never be able to defeat them. Just retreat, and focus instead on the floppy soufflĂ©, which the current host has attempted but failed to make work.

Snooty Tosspot: The guest at the party who is never satisfied with the food on offer. On one hand they might be the sort of person who refuses to eat anything other than chips all their life, so are baffled when a roasted shank of lamb with garlic and rosemary jus, dauphinoise potatoes, mange tout, and sugarsnap peas, tossed with shallots is sat in front of them. On the other they might be a food connoisseur, who points out every flaw with the food. Either that or they generally think they’re too good to associate with the human flotsam they’ve been arranged to dine with, and will make everyone’s life a misery for it.

The Drunk: To be fair any of these previously listed guests could turn into The Drunk at any point in the night. Expect to see this one drink an inordinate amount of the wine at the party, and probably most of the wine they brought with them, before making an utter tit of themselves. Maybe they will just sex pester one of the other guests, or maybe they’ll just start lurching around and fall over the table, either way expect to be watching through your fingers if they really get going.

I suppose you can’t blame the production for trying to spice up the show a bit to make it more entertaining by throwing in a few obnoxious arseholes, after all it’s part of the reason I enjoy watching it, but it just makes you think to yourself: “God reality’s rather boring isn’t it, you kind of need someone who’s a total arse to liven things up a bit.”

However, the show makers have an ace up their sleeve in the shape of the sarcastic and sanctimonious narrator of the show Dave Lamb. Dave doesn’t like anyone or anything on the show and will always do his utmost to make the contestants look silly. He might make a passing undermining comment on something small like one of the hosts putting a pinch of salt in their dish saying, “I didn’t realise salt was the main ingredient.” Or he will lie in wait for the host to make a mistake – which being human they are almost certain to – before lambasting them for it shouting something like: “Geoff, look what you’ve done! You’ve let the chicken burn. I hope the guests like the taste of charcoal”.

It’s a good thing there isn’t an uncensored version of this show as otherwise I could see it turning into this: “You’ve gone and put too much brandy in the fucking pudding you cunt! You really are an useless bastard, you can’t even make a simple tiramisu! It’s a good thing I’m a blood voice-over, as if I got my hands on you I would boot you up the arse so hard for that! God!!”

Dave Lamb is the voice-overs equivalent of the annoying kid at school who repeats everything you say in a stupid voice. If you could hear him following you, you would eventually want to grab him by the scruff of the neck and beat his face in until your hand was raw. Luckily the poor unsuspecting stars of the show don’t have to deal with his twattery directly, remaining seemingly oblivious. This makes him seem almost like the voice of God, and in some ways I can imagine God watching humanity with the same mocking distain, muttering to himself: “Oh look at that the Israelis and the Palestinians have cocked up the peace deal again, Looks like the Israeli charm wins through again.”He may be a loving God but he is indeed a sarcastic God.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Peppermint Puke

Today I'm going to introduce a new occasional theme in this blog, which is Rubbish Kids TV! For the first installment in this new chapter, I'm going to look at Peppermint Park, a VERY cheap public access show from the good old USA. I have never heard or seen this show before so I review this as an objective first time viewer.

Now in all my years I have seen some dire children’s television shows. As anyone who has seen the footage of the Junior Christian Bible Science Lesson will attest, poorly made shows present a frightening and quite frankly weird thing to sit your kids down to.

Peppermint Park is by no means the worst show I have ever seen, but it still has all the hallmarks of something which is more frightening than charming. To begin at the beginning, we have the opening sequence which looks like a spying paedophile’s home movies, having fallen into the hands of the TV station, and hurriedly having some jaunty music played over the top. I mean this guy wasn’t even very good! I mean look the kids spot him a few times.

Paedophilia laughs aside, the music that has been inserted over the top of this mess sounds like the work of a man (or woman, after all let’s not get sexist here) with the mental age of 10 having been introduced to a keyboard for the first time, and then become transfixed with a silly sounding squelchy sound setting. The worst thing is they got the same person to do all the other incidental music, so that the poor children who are watching are subjected to yet more torture. Brave little souls.

Getting down to the meat of the programme, we see that our hosts through mediocrity are two gender unspecific dinosaur/things. Unfortunately they are hell-bent on evil, by which I mean they are trying to control time, so that they can have more time for the show (as if it isn’t long enough already). Thankfully their evil is hampered by their complete lack of science knowhow, and for that we should probably thank our lucky stars.

The strange thing about one of these abominations is that he sounds like he’s voiced by Microsoft Sam of Microsoft text reader. I know this programme is cheaply made but that’s pushing it. Meanwhile in his robotic drone, he and the other one make some HILARIOUS puns (letters as in something you send to someone and LETTERS as in what I’m writing this with, Hahaha! That’s a knee slapper there!).

Anyway the hideous monsters are then cleared out the way, and the whole thing becomes like a Sesame Street which has fallen on hard times. Or more precisely an example of what Sesame Street would look like if it was made in your bedroom ten years ago. Perhaps we’ll be treated in a minute with a performance by Carmen the Frog, or the Great Ganzo, as I can’t imagine they could rip off the format any more than they have.

Fortunately the clip ends there, which is thankful as I was feeling quite queasy watching the bland colours and eerie production values that Peppermint Park pisses out the screen. Also no mention is made at all to where or what Peppermint Park is?

This leaves some creative license open so here’s my suggestion. Dump the show’s current format and turn Peppermint Park into the name of a mental asylum where children can be delighted with the antics of Schizophrenic Steve, Depressed Dan, Multiple Personality Mike, Orderly Orville, and Nurse Ratched. The kiddlies can chuckle their afternoon away as they watch their friends be lobotomized, sedated, and medicated all afternoon. It would still be preferable to the bilge I’ve just watched anyway, and easily more uplifting