Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Knock their undead heads off, Daddy!


Time to share a long-kept, dark secret: I have a penchant for those cute little Internet games that provide bursts of edification during the working day. (If, by 'penchant' you really take it that I mean 'life-threatening addiction' and by 'bursts of edification' I really mean 'ways of wasting entire days to square-eyed, brain-dead uselessness', you'll have a better of what I'm actually talking about.)

But too long have a lived with this truth closeted up in the very private list of shameful cookies. I feel now I need to share this love with the world. (Yes, well, that, and I might as well stop wasting so much time in futile endeavour and instead transform these useless hours into something productive. We'll call it 'research'. I did train as an academic after all, so I do know how to turn personal obsessions into objects of nominal public interest.) So, allow me dear reader to introduce a new feature on excretera: an enumeration of the shitty, but highly entertaining ways I waste my time.

The first I would like to share with you is, as you might have guessed from the above image, is Ashes to Ashes Zombie Cricket. The premise: the Australian cricketers are undead brain-eaters that you need to batter into re-death with an imaginative range of cricket balls. Extra points for a direct decapitation; even more for a decapitation with a special exploding ball. Note the special roles for Ricky Ponting, Crocodile Dundee, Dame Edna and, I think,what are supposed to be anonymous Shelias.

Terrible, terrible stereotyping. Of Australians. Brilliant.

For the record, I have won back the Ashes twice. Top score: 177. Good, but not insurmountable. I'm sure that any seven year old can double that with only ten minutes practice. (Suffice it to say, it took me much more practice to get there. I'm just about 3 1/2 years too old to 'get' video games. My brother, who is 3 years, 9 months and a bit younger than me, is of a completely different generation: you know, those younger people that can pick up any video game and immediately get it in a way that makes you think that maybe they really did start inserting gaming components into embryos in 1974. And have gotten much better since, obviously.)

Which brings me to the real shame: my sons (Will, 5 and Jonah, 4) caught me playing on Sunday, and insisted on watching. 'Good one, Daddy!' Jonah congratulated me as I knocked a zombie-cricketer's head clean off. 'Get him! Get him with a fireball!' Will screamed as a massive outback zombie got closer and closer. Did they want to try? 'No way!' Will laughed at the ridiculous suggestion, thinking that he had no desire to have his brains eaten by green-capped zombies. Oh dear.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Easy Rider


Looks like I got back just in time, too, to once again save Britain from itself. (Having spent the summer solving the problems of Europe... more on that later.)

It's long been pissing me off what an easy ride the right have been getting in this country's media, and by the left-centre parties for that matter (hence the title, geddit? I see Cameron as Peter Fonda and George Osborne as Denis Hopper). And it's not just the far-right who have benefited from the impotence of this country's media; the Conservatives have been lapping up the adoration of the uncritical press (lead by the badly-disguised Boy Tory double-agent, Nick Robinson, who gets all gushy whenever he sees blue and who is lulled into a teary longing when he hears trickle-down economics explained in an Etonian accent).

Two articles I've read recently make this case much better than I could. First, in the latest edition of The New Statesman, Alastair Campbell complains of how Cameron is being treated as PM-elect, rather than a shallow, inconsistent rich-kid who's, erm, 'policies' should truly frighten anyone interested in a tolerant social democracy. And this is from a man who should know something about dirty tricks and media incompetence, especially given that the BBC crises-of-confidence were sparked by Campbell's shameless, and entirely unfair, persecution of Robinson-clone-turned-unlikely-hero Andrew Gilligan -- if this is Campbell's attempt to make amends I welcome it, but he's got some way to go yet.

Another article from an altogether less-ambivalent, less-smelly source is from Sarah Ditum at the almost-painfully excellent Paperhouse, who shows how the more popular media are trying to paint Cameron as the King of New Cool Britiania, with 'Conservatives' as the new 'Revolutionaries' responsible for all the latest, hippest trends in fashion, pop-music and xenophobic, homophobic European social policy. The crazy kids! Take down your posters of half-naked Kenneth Clarke and Cliff Richard, girls! make room for David Cameron, staring wistfully out of the back of a chauffeur-driven limo. Nice touch.

Wakey wakey, people!

And incidentally,

in case you didn't see this (and I suspect you have, because it's probably been blogged to death), there was this remarkable item in The Guardian on the weekend.

Daniel Jones says he was humiliated and victimised for his beliefs following incident at store in Wales

I feel obliged to pass on this story to you for a number of reasons: Yes, I was one of those that entered 'Jedi' in the last census form, in protest, though normally, as you know, I think of myself more as a Pastafarian, and you will also likely know that we are always interested here in all things Star Wars, and that there are at least two actual Jedis in my house. (NOT Padawans, I've been told, definitely, on more than one occasion).

But what I really like about this piece, rather unsuspectedly, is Tesco's response.

Tesco said: "He hasn't been banned. Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood.

"If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers."

Normally I would defend my Jedi bretheren to the hilt of my double-ended lightsabre, but commendations here to Tesco who, in addition to being technically right, also prove to have something more of a sense of humour than Mr. Hehol.

(Oh christ. I've just sided with the Empire. I truly am becoming the Dark Father. Get me fitted for my Evil scuba suit and cape. I've always wanted a cape.)

Monday, 21 September 2009

I'm back.

A so excretera returns from holiday like all that foreign food that looked good on the plate the night before.

In the months since my last post I've got a new house, a very handy new computer and, er, oh yes, a new baby. So, if sleepless nights and the etcetera a parenthood have left me a little less erudite and wordsmithery than usual, do forgive me. I will happily update you on my holiday musings and predictions for the future soon, but for now just let me say

Fuck the CBI.

Needs saying, yet again, I'm afraid, based on this:


This would be the very same group, our true leaders, this country's economic spine who, only months ago, rather jelly-like, collapsed into pre-adolescent pleas to the taxpayer to save them from their high-flying incompetence. (Holy shit, I am out of practice. I'm mixing my metaphors like a blender at a sperm bank. [?!?] Blame the new computer.) The point IS, the CBI have been telling us how to run the country for a very long time now and it simply doesn't seem to be a good time to be doing that, not after their colossal failures in the past months. Maybe not everything should be run like a business, do you think?

And it strikes me as very tediously predictable that I'm not at all surprised with the frequency with which I greet any CBI statement with a spluttering 'Fuck You!' over my morning tea. My children probably think 'CBI' stands for 'You're Fucking Kidding?!?', so I can blame them, too, when my son flunks spelling.

Oh well. Nice to be back.