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The perils of automated spellchecking have been illustrated in spectacular fashion in a leaflet promoting cycling published by Kirklees Council (or Kirtles Council, as the leaflet would have it):
Kirklees Council had 7,000 leaflets printed but they repeatedly spell Kirklees as Kirtles, Cleckheaton became Czechisation, Birstall ended up as Bistable and Kirkburton as Kirkpatrick.
The mangled spelling also affected the names of local bike shops, with Spen Velo becoming Supen Vole.
Even more bizarrely, an email address for British Waterways was given as: enquiries.manic-depressive@brutalisation's.co.uk
The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey on popular music artists with autoparodically distinctive styles of titling songs:
Ten years ago, my colleague on the soon-to-be-defunct Select magazine, Steve Lowe, had a good line in inventing fake song titles, spoofing the faux-profound contradictions of Oasis (Money Makes You Poor), the twee archaisms of Belle and Sebastian (Take Your Coat Off or You Won't Feel the Benefit) and the parenthesis-loving rock cliches of Richard Ashcroft (Standing Out from Everyone Else (Sure Is Hard)).The article was prompted by a new Richard Ashcroft album with a track listing packed with clunky banalities, but soon explores further afield, mentioning fake track listings for unreleased albums and commercially successful artists' unintentionally comic lapses in self-awareness:
I'd like to think Primal Scream were sending themselves up on 2006's Riot City Blues with titles such as Suicide Sally and Johnny Guitar or We're Gonna Boogie, but I fear not. Equally, Christina Aguilera's Sex for Breakfast was probably conceived in the spirit of Sex and the City 2 rather than Flight of the Conchords. And Oasis's Don't Believe the Truth is every bit as stupid-clever as Money Makes You Poor.And, as one might expect, the discussion turns to Morrissey, whose later material serves as a perfect horrible example:
I once made the mistake of telling Morrissey how much I liked the witty self-parody of How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel and was rewarded with a withering glare. "It's amusing when you say it," he said unsmilingly. "I don't know why. Isn't it something we all feel at some stage?" The shrivelling of Morrissey's spirit since the Smiths can be measured by the fact that Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now is funny and How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel is not.And in the comment, Guardianistas inveigh with their own suggestions, one positing that the entire heavy-metal genre should be disqualified from contention because it has a monumental unfair advantage.
Collection of unintentional humour of the day: Regretsy, a compedium of the inexplicable and inexcusable found on handcraft trading site Etsy, from badly painted Twilight-themed trainers to things made from dead animals to the surprising abundance of gynaecologically-themed articles on offer.
(via David Gerard)
In an attempt to wrest back the spotlight from Apple, Microsoft are organising launch parties for their new Windows 7 operating system. For merely the cost of your dignity as a human being, you too can host a Windows 7 launch party, and Microsoft will supply balloons, napkins (printed with the Windows 7 logo) and tote bags, as well as a free copy of Windows 7 for you.
Microsoft have even produced a video, showing how it's done. In the video, four regular people (the Mom, the older lady, the Urban Outfitters cool-dude (casting brief: slightly hip and with-it, but not intimidatingly so, like those Mac-toting hipster douchebags) and, of course, the Token Black Guy*) stand around a Sony Vaio laptop in a regular American kitchen and discuss the activities you can do at a Windows 7 launch party. Awkwardness ensues. Yes, you too can have highly organised fun.
The whole video has that unmistaken sheen of ersatz authenticity so typical of a poorly-made astroturf campaign: the combination of shaky, pseudo-amateurish camerawork, professional editing and implausibly even lighting that suggests that the layers of Microsoft management who signed off on the campaign weren't sure of what they wanted: something that seemed "fresh" and "organic" but, at the same time, didn't let down the professional production standards one would expect from a Fortune 500 corporation campaign.
And here is The Register's impression of what a Windows 7 party, with a middle-class middle-English bent, would be like:
Now you'll have to excuse me for a moment while I do my hostess duties. If everyone can just come in here for a minute, and gather round the laptop, then we can begin. Yes, very funny Eric, you are allowed to bring in your drinks actually, so no it isn't at all like being at school again, and that was a silly thing to say. If you want to hear something funny, you should listen to what Verity says. Wooj, come on through and bring the others, will you?
* may not be available in all countries.
Behold the Mall Ninja. Originally a shopping mall security guard, he saved the influential mayor's nephew from being sodomised by bad guys, was granted a special exemption, only given to heroes, from restrictions on weapons, and now is Sergeant of a three-man Rapid Tactical Force, covertly defending an unnamed shopping mall somewhere in America from heavily-armed gangbangers and apocalyptic hordes of neo-Nazis, in between shooting to wound shoplifters, and bragging extensively to gun forums on the internet:
If a kid picks up a candy bar and runs, you give him a warning before you cuff him. Same with those mindless teenyboppers who go to the Hickory Farms store, and then take double samples of fruitcake and cheeselog, you warn them that they will be charged with a felony(grand theft), and that if they attempt to fight and run, they will be, unfortunately, first tazered, and if they continue to resist violently with intent to maim, then wounded. Fortunately, wounding fire to suppress teenage kleptomaniacs is relatively easy, they all run in straight lines, and a hit in the knee will be relatively simple from the second floor. But they all get a warning first, we do not simply shoot shoplifters unless they resist violently.
I’m not even technically employed by the mall I’m stationed at, my orders come from “higher up”, hint, hint. Sure, most regular overweight mall security guards would not be armed, they would lose a Fullsize frame handgun in the blubber on their waistline, why arm them? The elite, however, have specail privilages, and I can assure you that my orders go far-far enough that I could go around Kennedy airport yelling “Hi Jack!”, and that a simple phone call and codeword would have me released in 5 minutes, with my weapon, be what it may. As I said, my orders go far and while my reasons for protecting this mall remain a matter of national security, if the above does not convince you that I am employed in a capacity that goes above and beyond halting shoplifters, nothing will.
You are a doofus, of course there is no anti-armor capabilities for golf carts, the UNIMOG was woth the anti-armor work though. We would never consider using any missles larger than our modified surplus Shrikes,
Also, Neonazi skinhead gangs are the most difficult thing we currently must deal with, it is not Chechin thzat we have to worry about, it is the Australian militants, and I dan’t care if they reed this, they allready know that we are onto them and we will not give up.
(via Boing Boing)
The Guardian's latest blogger is the 19-year-old son of a travel writer, who looks like a character from Nathan Barley and will be writing up his gap year holiday to India and Thailand.
At the minute, I'm working in a restaurant with a bunch of lovely, funny people; writing a play; writing bits for Skins; spending any sort of money I earn on food and skinny jeans, and drinking my way to a financially blighted two-month trip to India and Thailand. Clichéd I know, but clichés are there for a reason.
I'm kinda shitting myself about travelling. Well not so much the travelling part. It's India that scares me. The heat, the roads, the snakes, Australian travellers. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited. But shitting myself. And I just know that when I step off that plane and into the maelstrom of Mumbai - well, actually, I don't know how I'll react.
Anyway, I've had to get malaria tablets, purchase travellers' cheques, sort out travel insurance, try and find a universal bloomin' plug, buy a backpack, get iodine drops (whatever they are) and enjoy dozens of injections off a nurse who was grumpy and trying to get me to pay a hundred quid to minimise the after-effects of being bitten by a monkey. I still fancied her though. She was a nurse.And in the comments, mayhem has ensued as the Graun's peanut gallery takes him to task for being upper-middle-class/derivative/a smug twat and having only landed this job by virtue of nepotism; some people speculating that Chris Morris and/or Charlie Brooker are responsible.
Here's an idea, Max. Instead of setting off on yet another inane, identikit trip around Asia before you take up your place at Oxbridge (or wherever), why don't you leave your family's Highgate mansion FOR GOOD, cut yourself off from your father's allowance, move into a council estate in Salford, STAY THERE, and then consider writing a blog about your experiences.
As for skinny jeans , Max if ever you eat from the street you may wish you had something a little more baggy and easy to remove, alternatively you could take some nappies. I'm not sure that the street vendors take Amex though.
You can have your first ladyboy experience in Thailand, but maybe you won't journal that one, just look out for the adams apple.
Dear the Guardian, I spend my money on conventionally shaped trousers and other types of equally conventional clothing, food and beverages. My other outgoings include: mortgage, heating, electricity, sundries and entertainment. I commute to work, an experience which I sometimes find amusing but for the most part find an unpleasant grind which I attemt to ignore by listening to music or reading. I'm reasonably fortunate in that I can take about three weeks of holiday a year which I spend either visiting family or travelling abroad. Going abroad sometimes makes me nervous, as do many new experiences as I get older.
Can I have a blog too?
Hey everyone, I'm Max's friend and he's a real genuine guy and a dude with a passion for travel writing and writing in general. So go easy on him until you hear what he has to say. I guarantee you'll be impressed. And who knows, you might want to visit some of the places he's visited because you heard about it from this blog.
So what if he wears skinny jeans? All us kids do these days, don't hate us because you're old!
Oh, and he co-writes Skins, so he's obviously a real talent. AND he doesn't take any money from his parents at all, he shops at charity shops and everything.
My names Peter Getkahn, at 19 I got a job in a Meat Factory to help pay for my Education. You can't follow my career on a blog, because my Dad doesn't work for the Guardian.
He'll definitely find himself, every 'traveller' he meets will be exactly like him.
There are red faces at Woolworths in the UK, after someone decided that "Lolita" would be a good name for a childrens' bed range. Oops!
Last week, a tornado hit an otherwise ordinary North London street, destroying a few houses. One of those rendered homeless was Caroline Phillips, a freelance writer for the Evening Standard. Her story is here:
If you dream of your home, it symbolises your psyche, what makes you you. It's your security. My soul was in that house. For three years, I'd indulged my passion for perfect decor. In January, it was to have been shot for Homes & Property. On Saturday Ella is, no, that's was, having three friends for a birthday sleepover. I am crying as I write this.
Simon Willsmer, our loss adjustor, hasn't yet broken that news to us. The insurance companies have taken a recent slating, but he was sensitive and honourable. He said we could stay in a hotel. Adrian explained that there is only one hotel in London: Claridge's. Simon did not demur. And he loved what's left of our specialist-polished plaster walls.
We took Anya, 11, "home" on Friday. Her room was virtually untouched, being at the front of the house. But she feels displaced and traumatised. On Sunday we took Ella. She was devastated that her cat, Happy, was missing, possibly killed. She surveyed the destruction wreaked on her spotty Cath Kidson carpet, rosebud blinds and soft toys. "You always say my room looks like a bomb site," she said, smiling bravely.
It seems that someone somewhere decided that "Revoltec" would be a good name for a brand of computer peripherals:
And then there's a brand of fizzy drink with a rather Jarryesque name:
Excerpts from stories rejected by Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, showing a broad range of deficiencies, from wildly implausible characterisations to incoherent word-salads of technobabble, bizarre adjectives and half-digested clichés:
Freddy was in the habit of staring at Beverly's legs as they peaked from her Susie Wong slit dresses. She had a dozen of them.
"Stand slow!" a voice rang out with hollow ubiquity.
The universe is a vast region of deep mystery steeped in antiquity.
Onion oil! I couldn't imagine anyting worse than a daily bath in onion oil.
"Corporeal, we've got to do our best to keep this from the public."
"I know sir, but its already too late."
What do you mean, the general inquired?
"While you were gone I let a curious private in on the secret."
"We've got to stop him."
By now he's long gone. Sorry sir."
An image that has been floating around recently:
The residents of the Austrian village of Fucking are sick of English speakers finding treating their village as a joke (and stealing their road signs); however, the Daily Telegraph's writers obviously aren't:
"Let's just say there are plans in place to deal with this," the Kommandant warned darkly. "What they are, I am not at liberty to disclose, but we will not stand for the F---ing signs being removed. It may be very amusing for you British, but F---ing is simply F---ing to us. What is this big F---ing joke? It is puerile."
"The Germans all want to see the Mozart house in Salzburg. Italians and Russians always celebrate New Year here. Every American seems to care only about The Sound of Music (filmed around Salzburg in 1965). The occasional Japanese wants to see Hitler's birthplace in Braunau. But for the British, it's all about F---ing."
"Yet still there is this obsession with F---ing. Just this morning I had to tell an English lady who stopped by that there were no F---ing postcards."
His predecessor, Siegfried Hauppl, was equally dismissive when he was interrupted playing a game of Skat. "I am no longer the mayor so this F---ing problem is nothing to do with me," he growled, turning his back and studying his cards.
"The older people don't like being laughed at by some of the younger ones from other villages, but we are proud of our beautiful F---ing."It's all rather Benny Hill, isn't it?
(The other) 10 Most Ridiculous Black Metal Pics Of All Time. Pure comedy gold; may not be worksafe, though:
And the original 10 are here.
+ Does the character have a name you really, really like? [1 point]
+ Is it Raven? [3 points]
+ Is it a variation of Raven? [1 point]
+ Does the character have an unusual eye color, or otherwise exceptional eyes? [3 points]
+ And are these eyes a color that does not occur in nature? [1 point]
+ Does the character have eyes that somehow reflect hidden depths or experience or sorrow? [4 points]
+ Is the character ever described as "thin enough to be anorexic," where this is intended as a compliment? [1 point]
+ Does the character keep a notebook of poetry? [1 point]
+ Is the poetry "good enough to be published"? [3 points]
+ Does a love interest find this poetry book and begin to understand the character? [5 points]
+ Does the poetry contain any of the following words: crimson, soul, darkness, love, vampire, glass, moonlight, serpent, rose, dance, winter, flame, cold, goddess, blood, angel, star, forever? [1 point per word]
+ Does the character use Japanese words in conversation, although she/he does not live in Japan? [2 points]
+ Do you take any negative feedback about the character as a personal affront? [4 points]
Here's one for the next edition of the Book of Heroic Failures: a West End musical adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask, written by a 72-year-old aerospace engineer and funded with his own money, closed early, after some of the most damning reviews in recent memory:
Staging it was the last wish of his late wife, Shirley Ann. As she lay dying of cancer, she made him promise that he would present his show in a West End theatre.
The Times wrote: "The lyrics are mostly vile . . . The twists of behaviour would take platoons of psychologists to unravel." Others suggested that the only member of the three-strong cast to emerge with any dignity intact was the central character, and only because he spent the evening with a bent saucepan on his head and would therefore be unrecognisable at auditions for future work.
The deleterius Memorable Posts list is a veritable trove of all that is inane, retarded and simply wrong in the world of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter fan fiction; and is very entertaining to read, in much the way that the Darwin Awards are.
The various teen-angst subcultures are well-represented, with Tathiel the multiply-pierced Mordorian Elf/Vampyre, who seduces Elrond whilst having a fling with Grima Wormtongue (who, in this story, is terminally shy, sweetly awkward virgin, and really a nice guy deep down), Christa, the irritatingly bitchy teenage goth with bad attitude, whose Aura of Smooth prevents her from being decapitated by the Tolkien characters she abuses, Candie, the bad-ass Avril Lavigne-quoting skate-punk member of the fellowship, and this Harry Potter-universe ad for US mall-goth clothing chain Hot Topic:
In the begging of the summer she went to a muggle mall in London. While she was there she found a store called "Hot Topic". She went in and fell in love with the clothes. She had been what you would call a prep all her life but now she had found out what punk was.
(Hot Topic in London? And to think that had they done some research, they could have had her just go up Camden High Street. Oh, and replace "prep" with "townie" or something.)
Meanwhile, key characters from Middle Earth offer group hugs for alienated self-cutters; meanwhile, Bilbo is warped into contemporary America, only to be adopted by the teenaged Mary Sue, who calls him "Elijah"; and Melissa and Joy smash up Middle Earth - with a car. And then there's this all-powerful Mary Sue, who's loved by all sides, wiser than Gandalf, and gets to slap Galadriel around; oh, and she has a horse named Kyouryoku, who came from a village of "Ramen elves", I kid you not. Then there's this horribly convoluted Harry Potter/LOTR/Sandman crossover. And who could go past this piece of wish fulfillment by a 38-year-old "bardess", who has herself going to Middle Earth, charming everybody to her will and having hot sex with Haldir, with them becoming ancestors of Socrates, Confucius and Tolkien.
It's a sobering thought that, as you read this, in candle-lit suburban bedrooms all over North America, pizza-faced teenaged girls in size-XXL Hot Topic fishnet tops are pouring her fantasies about Legolas ("OMG he's so hott!!!1!") and angst about their lousy non-pony-buying parents into their PCs, thus endlessly replenishing this cornucopia of pure shite for future visitors.
I haven't had a chance to look through the Potter ones in great detail, except that there are a lot of über-k3wl American exchange students/teachers who introduce those stuffy Brits to things like punk and goth that they haven't heard of over there yet. For all I know, someone could have written a Harry Potter story in which all the characters are furries, like, Snape is a snow leopard or something.
Concept of the day (via Found): The Mary Sue story. This is a piece of fan-fiction which is obviously intended as the author's wish-fulfilment trip, features a character who's an idealised version of the author getting to hang out with their favourite Star Trek/Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings characters; the Mary Sue character usually has an Aura of Smooth which causes other characters to trust them and/or fall in love with them for no stated reason, or do other out-of-character things, and often is ridiculously cute, smart, talented or magically endowed, and/or consumed with a very contemporary teen-angst. And, more often than not, has long raven-black hair and exquisitely pale skin.
Or, obviously, Galadriel's secret love-child (Aragorn's unacknowledged daughter) who runs off to join the Company of the Ring, sorts out Boromir's problems, out-magics Gandalf, out-fights Aragorn during the melodramatic scene in which she reveals her true identity, demonstrates herself to be so spiritually elevated that the Ring has no effect on her, and wins Legolas' heart forever.
As you can expect, Mary Sue stories (most of which are probably written by people in the lower reaches of the Geek Hierarchy) are ripe targets for mockery. There is a LiveJournal community dedicated to examining the most egregious examples of Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter fanfic and ripping them gleefully to shreds here; some of the examples (like "Kairi", the raven-haired elf whose abusive father is in league with Sauron, or, indeed, this, or this) sound thoroughly cringeworthy. Anyway, go and read it; it's a laugh-riot.
Some selections from a website selling Java games for mobile phones:
Boobi Sisters: Boobi sisters went to farm to get experience. Their mission is to gather the cattle in a pen.
Butter Head: Butter Head is mail carrier in the Magic Land. One day, while taking a nap he looses his mail.
Christmas Eggs: Help Santa to catch all eggs at his Lapland chicken farm. Don't let the eggs to fall down!
This is one of about half a dozen Santa Claus-themed games on the site. But "Christmas eggs"? "Lapland chicken farm"? WTF?
Mobile Dolly: The cloned Sheep Dolly is based on the previous Frog Game which was a famous arcade game during the 1980's. It is a mobile phone game recreated with a cute character of sheep for the sheep year.
Yeah, it looks like a Frogger clone. The question that immediately comes into mind, though, is: what would a cloned sheep be doing hopping on lilypads and logs across a river?
Mobile Ttarzan: Ttarzan and Jjani live in the nature and study plants. One day, Jjani goes out to collect some plants and then is kidnapped by a monkey.
we like all you ladies Lookin Sexy with a pepci
So dont look like your pussys tight man you know me
we can do it all night tell the brake of Dawn
But dont get me rong in the morning you got
Leave cause my mother will Bitch at me
Oh, and also via NWD, the latest Trucker Fags in Denial cartoon is up.
The winners of the nerve.com Bad Erotica Contest, a sort of specialised version of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, only devoted to bad erotic prose, of the sort more suited to inspiring laughter (and possibly celibacy) than lust.
His wiry hands grasped desperately at her continental breasts, his breath coming hoarse and urgent, like a sailor onboard ship first spotting a sea-cow. "Oh, Marija!" he panted.
A few bits lifted from Techdirt. Firstly, secretive Stalinist cult-state North Korea has staked its claim to the Internet Age. The rigidly centralised, computer-poor nation claims to have invented the computer drink. Ah, good; we needed one of those.
But what it lacks in utility, it makes up for in entertainment value. The Ectaco Personal Translator proved the perfect icebreaker during a dinner party in rural France. It turned "thank you for the great dinner" into "it was disgusting," and "you are very beautiful" into "how much?" What better way to break the ice with a roomful of total strangers in a foreign country whose language you don't know?
Site of the day: Theo's wunderbare Welt der Bandfotographie. Band photos like they only made in Europe. Check out the matching jumpsuits and soft-focus photography. Not to mention the very serious-looking costumed metalheads on page 2 and the Santa Clauses with the MIDI keyboard on page 5, and classy names like "Golden Showband". Replete with (what look like) sarky comments in German. (via Reenhead)
More information on a classic of psychoceramic literature, Pedro Carolino's English As She Is Spoke:
For embarking one's self:
Don't you fear the privateers!
I jest of them; my vessel is armed in man of war, I have a vigilant and courageous equipage, and the ammunitions don't want me its.
Never have you not done wreck?
That is arrived me twice.
Some orgeat, some sirup, some paltry wine
Some black pudding, some sugar-plum, some wigs, a chitterling sausages, a dainty-dishes, vegetables boiled to a pap
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