Sunday, 24 November 2013

Me and LUFC: An honest assessment

Even before I knew who Leeds United really were, I knew I was a Leeds fan. I even knew this when I once told the other kids at school I was a Bolton Wanderers fan; the odd jibe about my surname had obviously gotten the better of me that day. It's dog eat dog when you're five years old. I vaguely remember a match between Leeds and our best friends from Salford on TV at my Grandma's sometime in the early 90s, but my first solid memory of watching Leeds was the 1996 League Cup final against Villa. Decked out in a Thistle Hotels shirt, a scarf and clutching a Corinthian figure of Gary Speed, I watched in horror as we went down 3-0,which ultimately led to the resignation of Howard Wilkinson and the end of an era for a Leeds United that had won the last old First Division before the Premier League just four years before - an event that I'd never even heard of.

The feeling of disappointment, dashed hopes and embarrassment which has been experienced countless times by Leeds fans before that day and, well, plenty of times after, set me up for an often unenvied role of Leeds United supporter for the rest of my life. I wasn't exactly sure why it felt right at that time, but after all, being born at the LGI, living in Leeds and having all known family based in the city was bound to tie me to it's only football club. My parents and their parents had followed Leeds in our glory years; I'm in possession of a myriad of their programmes, rosettes and scrapbooks full of paper cuttings and tacky bits of shit from the time Leeds were the best around. Probably the unluckiest, the eternal runners-up and the most controversial, but no doubt the best for a good period of the mid-60s to the mid-70s.

I've always felt that when my Dad started taking me to Leeds games the season after the League Cup final defeat, he was doing so with the expectations of the Leeds of his youth. I wasn't really aware that Leeds had won a title four years before and to be honest, the team showed little signs of knowing this either. I got the feeling my Dad had lost interest for a good chunk of the 20 years since their major successes and it was only due to having a son that he had an excuse to return to Elland Road.

The first game he chose for me was (the now defunct) Wimbledon. I'd been fed Leeds merchandise for a couple of years, clothing, novelty clocks, CD-Roms (lol),sticker books and I even went on a stadium tour, but a Tuesday night at the end of August was chosen as my first Elland Road experience because "night matches have a better atmosphere,"according to my Dad. In 1996-97 Leeds had turned into a mid-table team and their main concern was staying up. I really wasn't aware of the team at that time either - Yeboah was on his way out, Speed and McAllister had left and Strachan, Cantona and Vinnie Jones were a distant memory. Except for this night, when Vinnie Jones was playing for Wimbledon. The game itself was a totally dull 1-0 win played out by mostly dull players; the most exciting thing I can remember happening, other than a baggy-shirted Lee Sharpe goal, was some bloke in the kop heading the ball back onto the pitch after a mis-hit shot and getting a massive cheer. I also remember thinking Carlton Palmer was the tallest man I'd ever seen. It was a game bad enough to put me off football for life.

Wilkinson left soon after and George Graham's "exciting" "brand" of "football" took "excitement" at Elland Road to a "new level". I went to more matches that season including a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle (where I asked my Dad why the Leeds fans were singing, and I quote, "Shearer is a twanky"), a 3-0 win over Sunderland where Leeds somehow managed three goals in a game (they still finished lowest scorers in the division that season) and a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool. I still vividly remember Nigel Martyn floundering in no-man's land as the last chance for an equaliser broke down and Steve McMananam slotted in the death knell on 90 minutes.

By this time, I had started to become obsessed. I would feel extremely sick before games. When Leeds scored, the excitement would be so much that I'd start crying. I still feel like this today, but I hold it back better because I'm y'know, grown up and shit. These emotions came to a head on Boxing Day 1996, when Leeds found themselves 3-0 down at half-time to Coventry goddamn City. I started crying at half-time. I'd seen enough and I wanted out. Begrudgingly, he took us home, concealing a fury both for me for wasting his money and the team for wasting his money. It took a long time for my Dad to take me back; in fact I'm not sure if we even went back to another game that season.

But 1997-1998 rolled around and my Dad must have seen some signs of recovery after the absolute boring shambles of the previous season. He took me to the first game of that season, against Arsenal, where a fiery centre-forward by the name of Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink scored his first goal to draw with the eventual winners of the league. George Graham eventually sured up the defence and the team remembered how to score goals, with the help of rising stars such as Kewell and Bowyer.

This became apparent to me in possibly the best Leeds match I've ever attended; the 4-3 win over Derby. Leeds went 3-0 down in about 20 minutes, but ran out 4-3 winners with a Lee Bowyer goal in injury time to seal it. An old man lifted me up on his shoulders and jumped around with me at this point, surely a bad idea to inflict on a kid whose favourite hobby was throwing up. But I didn't. And I'd just seen a game that showed me what a rollercoaster ride football (or being Leeds fan) could be. Ups and downs and all that jazz. I think I lost my tendency to puke from that day. On a rollercoaster. HA!

From then on, I don't remember how many games we went to that season or the next, but it wasn't a great deal. The team was coming on leaps and bounds, but something was obviously preventing my Dad from taking me. It was more than likely down to ticket prices - he still maintains to this day that you can have a better time at the races with £40 than you can at Elland Road. It was somewhat cruel to introduce a kid to this experience and then snatch it away, but I'm sure he had his reasons. Maybe he just hated new manager David O'Leary's stupid voice and face and words. When we did go though, there was great positivity around the place, but most of the time I was subjected to "watching" the games on Ceefax page 303 as we had no Sky in those days. I remember nearly killing my Grandad by jumping around and screaming after an unknown "Smith" scored against Liverpool.

Leeds finished 5th in 99 and were in Europe the next year, sitting on top of the Premiership at the turn of the millennium. It may have been a great time to be a Leeds fan, but the number of games I was going to per season were dropping. By 2000-01, our greatest year in my living memory, I think I attended one League Cup game, whilst we swashbuckled our way through the Champions' League. Everyone was wearing Leeds shirts then at school, in the park, people were proud to be Leeds fans. I watched the European games on TV thinking success was the norm and despite the anguish of the semi-final defeat, surely more was on the cards in the upcoming seasons. I was still avidly following Leeds at this time as an exiled armchair fan (despite living about 12 miles away from the ground). My Dad was suffering from depression around this time, so I'll let him off for not taking me to the bigger games, but I was sorely missing witnessing live history.

And then slowly, everything began to slip. 01-02 fell short of expectations and we missed out on the Champions League places as Petey Risdale's debts racked up. Bowyer and Woodgate were silly boys, meaning my Dad thought it would be a good idea for me to never wear the shirt again that he bought me a few weeks earlier. O'Leary left and we stayed up in 02-03 mainly thanks to Mark Viduka as the rot set in and a succession of laughable loanee signings cluelessy paraded around Elland Road mixed with talented youth who were just about to be sold. And Seth Johnson.

The season after we got booted out of the league. I had feared Leeds getting relegated every season since 96-97 (even when we were good), but by this time, I was resigned to the fact that we couldn't sustain our status any longer. Maybe it was because I was older, but most likely it was because we had been a crock of old shite for a long time. I remember hearing that Everton defender Steve Watson had scored a hat-trick against us whilst I was over at my mate's house playing a manager game, a much more comforting way to spend Saturday afternoon at the time. I still loved Leeds, I just couldn't bring myself to watch us fall apart and my Dad sure as hell wasn't going to be taking me anytime soon. Leicester 0-4, Everton 0-4, Portsmouth 1-6, Birmingham 1-4, Arsenal 0-5 and goodnight ma'am. At the same time, there were financial takeovers and threats of administration floating around and things that I didn't really understand, I just knew that we were really, really fucked.

The first season in the newly formed Championship, I went with my friend and his Dad to the first game, the first time I'd been for quite a while. We watched a new, ragtag bunch of rejects win their first game against Derby and wondered if we'd bounce straight back. I didn't go to another game. A mid-table settling season, followed by a poor defeat to Watford in the play-off final at the end of the second surely meant that the third season would be our year. I remember people at the time saying that we needed a few season to get our shit together and then we'd be back to continue our quest for glory in our rightful place amongst the nation's footballing elite. Well it didn't really work did it. You can blame it on me if you want, before the relegation season began, I interviewed Kevin Blackwell on some BBC young reporters scheme and he seemed VERY positive INDEED.

I went to university in Preston as Leeds tumbled into League One, making horrible history in the process. I'd tell people I was a Leeds fan at uni, but I didn't really like talking about it. At the same time, my interest in football began to decline as heavy metal became the major passion in my life, something that's not particularly compatible with liking football. I'd like to say that girls was one of the reasons too, but it turns out heavy metal isn't particularly compatible with girls either. I began to feel a bit lost when the few friends I had that liked football would talk about it, bar from occasionally letting them know that that player who just scored a hat-trick at the weekend played for Leeds seven years ago.

The uphill task of the -15 point penalty in 07-08 passed me by but I remember watching the Carlisle play off games and witnessing a chant of "Jesus! Jesus!" aimed at me in the pub because of my long hair and slight (read: no) resemblance to David Prutton. The play-off final defeat to Doncaster made me wonder where all the positivity that season had come from. During my final year at university, I kept following the results but was still a million miles away from going to a game. I didn't know any Leeds fans in Preston. I remember us going to the races quite a bit when I came home to visit though. Bastard.

That season we missed out on promotion again, losing humiliatingly to Milwall in the playoffs. I remember watching the second leg in the pub and some guy going apeshit when Milwall scored. He was a Wycombe fan. My old pride began to stir up after that moment.  It was the same when I'd occasionally watch Champions League games - the Man U fans were still singing "We All Hate Leeds Scum". It took me back to a time when Leeds lost to a then lowly Reading in a cup game and some Bradford fans make jokes about reading books or some shit. I realised for a long time, everyone has hated us but... we're still Leeds. I am Leeds. I was still proud, despite my connection being weaker.

Before I had the chance to rekindle my love for the Mighty Whites, I was off to Canada for year on a working visa after university. I was still following the results and I even took a Leeds scarf with me which I wore during the bitterly cold Canadian winter in Toronto. I watched cup ties against Liverpool and Spurs in a bar with a few other Leeds fans, but missed the famous Beckford goal at Old Trafford due to being asleep (time difference) and his goal to put us up against Bristol Rovers (due to being on a coach to Montreal).

After fannying about in North America, I returned home in time for the 2010-11 season, to a Championship Leeds side with hot prospects. Becchio, Snodgrass, Howson, Gradel were making Leeds exciting, but slightly suprising contenders for promotion. My interest flooded back. I took my Dad for my first live game in about 5 years and his in about 10 that Christmas, a game where we drew 2-2 with Portsmouth after letting slip a lead, which happened a lot that season. But towards the end of it, I managed to attract a few of my mates to watch the last couple of home games. We missed out on the play-offs, but the level of love I felt for Leeds had been promoted. D'aw.

The next season was pretty much entirely horrible, as the extent of Uncle Ken's lack of investment in the playing squad became apparent, we lost our big players mostly to Norwich and Simon Grayson was slung on the scrapheap (Huddersfield). I attended more matches than I had done since about 1998, including probably the worst match I've ever seen, the Paul Rachubka show; a 5-0 home defeat to Blackpool. This was always one of the main fears as a kid, that Leeds would let in a goal and then the floodgates would never stop, but it never happened to me live until this moment. But the world didn't end, the fans were waving scarves around their heads and singing. It may have been another low point in Leeds's recent history, but I felt more a part of the club than ever.

Last season wasn't much better, but I did manage to take my Dad for the second consecutive season, sadly it was one of the drabbest games I've ever seen (Bolton 1-0) and it possibly has put him off all over again. But the green shoots of positivity sprung up this summer as Ken departed and I bought my first club membership. This positivity was compounded by the best atmosphere at Elland Road I'd seen for at least 10 years, against Brighton on the first day of the season.

As I type this, I'm in Argentina with my girlfriend, but I'm due to return to the UK next week. I am proud to say I support Leeds United, despite having to tell people that we're not very good anymore but were once in The Champions League and we beat AC Milan and got to the semi-finals mate and oh we also had a good Argentinian for a bit but you haven't heard of him? Oh. A Chilean border guard recognised my Leeds shirt earlier this year which was a particularly great day and made me realise we are still known around the world. Everyone has heard of us here, they are just slightly confused as to where we've gone.

And so I've come full circle, from excited youngster to jaded teenager to mid-20s optimist. Soon, it's time for Leeds to come full circle and put themselves back at the top table. I can feel it. And despite my waning support at times, I still feel like I've been through it all together. I've never turned my back on Leeds, I've just sort of turned to the side to avoid full exposure to the negative vibes. After a full dose of negativity since I've been back on the horse over the last 3 or so years of Batesonomics, I feel fully ready to embrace success. Or familiar failure. Maybe my Dad will even come with me.

Or maybe he'll just go to the races instead because Billy Bremner isn’t playing. In short, I blame everything on (but owe it to) my Dad.

Friday, 3 May 2013


We proper love our kebab shops in this country don't we. The donner kebab, despite looking and tasting like sellotape, is a British staple after a night out, probably because we're all too smashed to notice. But I'm not here to tell you to stop eating shitty food that's prepared in an environment that the council gave 1 star out of 5 for hygiene. They've got one more star than your kitchen mate and they deliver. No, I'd like to talk about an even darker side of the kebab shop than the germ nirvana of it's kitchen; the "kids menu".

I only noticed this fad after I moved to Keighley in West Yorkshire, a town with little going for it other than a whole heap of racial tension, some old working trains and a plethora of kebab shops. It's also near the home of the Bronte sisters, which leads me to believe that whilst they grew up in the idyllic village of Haworth, they contracted TB when they ordered a Special Mixed Kebab from Mango's in Keighley.

The kids menu is usually hidden away on the back, or squashed in between the sides and the deals on your standard spelling mistake-ridden greasy takeaway pamphlet. I would often laugh at the omelettes and scampi listed in the "English dishes" section on a curry menu and wonder... why? I only wish I could laugh at the kids menu on a kebab shop menu. I can't laugh when kids are taking a far too early step closer to the grave by eating food that should only be reserved for an 18-30 year old after six pints (minimum)

So let's have a closer look, with Keighley takeaways as our sample, at what exactly is contained within these kids sections that entice obviously horrendous parents to purchase cheap scran for their nippers. I'm not actually going to order any, that would be ridiculous and expensive, but by examining the menus, I hope to fund a trip to Manchester's Curry Mile to film a documentary about a subject which both intrigues and disgusts me. And my bowels. The "Disgust Rating" is based on the options available and the methods used to advertise them.

Pizza Amico's 

Never been to this place, which apparently does "Turkish Specialities" and is "Served and delivered with a Pizza Amico's smile!". I wonder what that looks like. Avoiding the odd choice of serving jacket potatoes and  scanning straight down to the "Kids Meals" section, we can see two pretty happy looking kids and a big fat breach of copyright. Pinocchio appears in this instance, surely a warning sign for any parents that this takeaway cannot be trusted, as well as his mate Jiminy Cricket, whose brothers probably live in the kitchen. And straight away, there is "Kebab Meat" for 2.80. "Fish Finger" is perhaps a safer option, but then, I imagine serving your kids gravel is your best bet. 
Disgust Rating - 9

Raja's Pizza Bar

Raja doesn't think much of kids, so he only gives them two options to like or lump. Both err on the side of caution and don't include any nasty donner meat, but then, this is a takeaway that advertises "Tasty Frozen Samosa's". Kids love lollys don't they? This shop recently had a refurb and has apparently led the way for Halal food for 10 years. Are you Halaling a laugh!?? Mickey Mouse pops up here, I'm guessing they accidentally photoshopped out their copyright symbol that they proudly received from Disney lawyers. Disgust rating - 

Aroush Cafe

This place is probably my favourite for a curry, I also trust them the most because they've spent a lot of money on their signs. Aroush is a flashy joint reflected by their flashy menu, one that reads that they now apparently serve "Special Fish and Chips", which is beyond my realms of imagination. The Kids Meal section here has avoided copyright theft at least and the options are again fairly standard, but wait what's this? "Served with fries, drink and TOY"? What will it be? A Kinder Egg? A selection from a job lot off ebay of old Happy Meal plastic tat? Donner meat? Screw nearby Maccy Ds and Toymaster and take your kids here to eat AND entertain them! Disgust rating - 5


Another new one to me, this misshapen oddity of a menu features an odd mix of food and names their kid section "Kiddies Menu". Not sure why they've decided to use a word only used by people over 60, but there you go. This clearly isn't your standard takeaway when it's selling T-Bone steak and mashed pototo and the "Kiddies" offering reflects that, offering SMILEY FUCKING FACES and "squash" with their mains for 2.99.  You can't sum u"Blending Great Food & Culture" more than a menu that serves smiley faces and Chicken Biryani. Bravo. 
Disgust rating - 3

Khan's Grill House


Known as "Mr/Dr Khan's" in our house, this emporium of bacteria serves Chicken Parmesan, which is illustrated on their menu with a picture of a big pile of puke on salad. Flipping to the kids section and trying not to laugh at some of the pizza names ("Big Boy Special"/"Chicago Bear"/"Barrier Reef 50/50"), we see some lovely balloons. Are they implying this would make an ideal birthday treat? Well bugger me, there's a free toy with every meal too! The answer is surely yes. Boring food though.
Digust rating - 7


The big momma of Keighley takeaways and a "popular" "choice" in our house, Mango's is always chockablock when I pass. With an extensive menu of curries, pizza, kebabs and fried chicken, it's THE place to contract food poisoning. The kids meals here aren't just any old offerings, they're VALUE meals. And what value for £1.99 with fries and a drink! Totally bland, if not safe selection though, must try harder, but guaranteed to be totally disgusting.
Disgust rating - 7

So there we have it. Not quite as bad as I imagined. Most takeaways from our sample play it safe with their kids offerings, presumably so they can't be convicted of manslaughter. But the fact remains, if you buy your kids any of this shit, you're a bad parent. But then what do I know, my Dad used to take me and my sister to McDonalds and I turned out fine.

Monday, 22 October 2012

House of Pain

It’s been two years since I returned from my “working” holiday visa in Toronto. It’s only recently that I realised how silly the place I lived for the majority of the year was. So, come with me on a trip down memory lane, accompanied by stupid pictures I took during my time there. Look, a green yet brown banana. Far outttttttt.

I spent the first two months in Toronto in hostels, but after getting a job and deciding I didn’t really want to carry on getting changed under my sheets or getting woken up by somebody rocking back and forth with a towel over their head in the middle of the room at 3am (THIS HAPPENED), I moved into a room in a house. I answered a Craigslist ad detailing a friendly house for a half decent price and went to have a look at it. The friendly Colombian landlord showed me round and despite not being too impressed by either the house itself or the fact it could take as long as an hour to get downtown, I took it anyway as I couldn’t afford to be picky/couldn’t be bothered looking anywhere else.  Mainly the second one.

A fairly big, very woody, typical North American home, 1959 Dufferin Street was near Toronto’s slight shabby Portugese area, with not a Nando’s in sight to redeem it. Two people lived in the basement and had their own kitchen, as well as a washer and dryer that everyone in the house had to use, which was in a room with about 20 years worth of junk in it. The ground floor had a large living/dining/kitchen area with a screen and a projector and one bedroom by the front door. The kitchen had rat poison dishes everywhere, filled with varying amounts of pink granules depending on when the mice were peckish. Upstairs, there was three or four bedrooms and a bathroom, with mine looking out into the “backyard” with it’s scary-eyed raccoons. When I first arrived I put my bag in this room, but was told by the landlord that he told some Russian guy that he’d probably think it was his room. I’ve reimagined the moment I met this guy as if I had the mentality of a commie-fearing American from the fifties to make it more interesting.

He braced himself for a brawl. World War 3. His parents had grown up in theCold War era and had presumably had it hammered into them that all Russians are beasts. Scum. A constant threat to everything you and your Daddy fought for, freedom. And now, one of that generation’s spawn was coming for his space, his freedom. Invading his room and turning it yet another satellite state for Mother Russia. Bringing down the iron curtain on his windows. He wondered what he should use to defend himself. A chair? A table? Too obvious. Perhaps poetic justice. A bottle of vodka or.. a Kalashnikov? No, he didn’t drink and no access to a gun, at best he’d seen a cheap air rifle in Walmart. Maybe just the fist of Uncle Sam, the same one Rocky landed on Ivan Drago‘s face to knock that Commie fuck back to Moscow?! Before he could decide, Andrei popped his head round the door, apologised and moved his bag into the room down the corridor. “He wasn’t a proper Commie anyway,” he decided, “he was wearing glasses”. “Wait”, you’re thinking “Trotsky wore glasses”, but he didn’t know that, so boo to you mate, I’m the narrator.

I spent a lot of time in my room, despite the fact that it was always too hot or too cold. I had a crappy TV which I watched TRULY crappy Canadian TV on occasionally,  I also remember blearily watching England limp out of the World Cup to Germany and then going back to sleep depressed (time difference eh). I could just about cope with the freezing Canadian winter, but the heatwave that struck Toronto whilst I was there made staying in the room almost unbearable. I couldn’t open the window and I only had a crappy fan to cool me down; then there was a power cut where I genuinely nearly died. Before it got really hot I also got my own pet mouse. A fast moving dirty little bastard, I could never get anywhere near it and it could get under the doors and to freedom due to being so small. One of it’s mates must have died as well because the room stunk of rotting eggs for a longer than needed period. The room also looked out onto our Rasta neighbours, who seemed to have parties where they smoked weed, played reggae really loud through massive speakers with mental bass in their cars and let their kids run around at like 3pm on a Wednesday.

My housemates were members of a never ending international roundabout. I’m not sure how many different people lived there during the nine months I was there, but it must have been over 20 moving in and out of about eight rooms. There was a theme of French speaking people, including a small guy who was constantly pissed off and after a night out got genuinely angry at me because I temporarily worked at a cinema.  At one point, an American brother and sister moved in.. to the same room. She was apparently a 17-year old model and he was “just looking after her as she tried to make it big”. Eeesh. There was also quite a few Asian students, an Irish bloke who I hilariously watched the France-Ireland World Cup qualifying playoff with (as well as the angry French guy) when Henry handled the ball and a extremely Artic-looking Canadian guy, as well as others who I barely saw. The only other Canadian guy who lived there deserves a few paragraphs to himself, so avert your eyes down a line please.

Built like a brick shit house, this bloke was a half-Italian, heavy-metal loving labourer, who had resorted to living in a shabby hotel of a house due to losing his job. He told me he was working in the wilds when he got drunk at a bar and was pulled over by the police as he drove out, accusing the locals of dobbing him in because he had long hair at the time (he now wore a tea cosy on his bald head) and because had darker skin then them moose-n-lumber rednecks. He had made a shitload from his job and had a wife and a kid, but told me that he had tragically lost it all by not being able to drive for work after losing his license, then losing his wife (never explained why) and losing custody of his kid. So here he was, a volatile giant of a man, pissed off at the hand that life had suddenly thrust upon him.

Because I worked late hours at the cinema, I tended to come in late most nights, but this guy was always up on the house PC, a consistent fixture of the living room. Generally a bit smashed on jugs of red wine and half eating his (proper nice) Italian food which he always offered me, he was always up for telling me how the system had failed him and us all. I appreciated his food when I was essentially living on discounted Burger King from work and Pop Tarts, but I could never get a word in when speaking to him as he had all the conspiracies and Illuminati shit ready to trot out at every opportunity. I believe we live in an unfair world and that things are definitely wrong, but this guy apparently knew it all, despite the fact that, to my knowledge, he never left the house. I heard from my Irish housemate that this bloke had nearly knocked out a bloke in the garden after he mistakenly touched his lawnmower at a party or something, but it took until the end of my tenure at Dufferin Street that I witnessed his nutter status for real. Again, I’ve taken the liberty of describing this event in a dramatic style because I’m great. IT’S ALL TRUE!

It was time for the Frenchman to leave, to return to his homeland after unsuccessfully converting the rest of Canada into speaking French (probably). He gathered up his Gallic friends for a party in his temporary castle, but would kindly share the moment with the rest of his subjects and other dignitaries. Merry times were had, the booze was flowing, the music was loud. But one Italian party Grinch locked himself inside his keep, determined not to partake in the festivities. As the time ticked away, drink flowed longer, the music gained louder and the party Grinch gained angrier. But there was no appearance from him, just the sound of his music growing and the odd frustrated bang on the wall. 

It all reached a head as the drunken Frenchman put “I’m on a Boat” on at full blast. The party Grinch stormed out of his room and made straight for the Frenchman,  grabbing him by the throat and pinning him against the wall, despite being at least a foot taller than him. He was no fan of parody, or boats motherfucker! The atmosphere dropped like a stone, the women burst into tears, the Frenchmen panicked and shouted. Eventually the Italian softened his grip, but his anger did not wain. He ranted and raved at the departing Frenchman, telling him he was not the ruler of the house and he was taking liberties that weren’t his to take. He smashed up a table, slammed a door. It took him an age to calm down, but the damage was already done. The rest of the house lived in fear of his rage until the end of days.

A couple of months after this ridiculous incident and when everything had pretty much blown over, this bloke put his big Italian foot in it again. After seemingly befriending a Japanese student who lived downstairs, one night things again turned a bit ugly. He baked a cake which she presumed was for her and her mate, but it turned out he was expecting them to share it. When he found out she’d taken his precious cake all for herself, he hit the roof and apparently threatened her. This led to the landlord stepping in, he locked the door to the basement where she lived so this nasty man couldn’t threaten over a cake anymore and served him with an eviction notice. Annoyingly, that meant that everyone had to use the outside entrance to put some shitting socks in the wash. Apparently he’d only got to live in the house in the first place because he was fixing it up for the landlord, but now the landlord had enough of him breaking up this Benetton advert of a house. He fought back with legal proceedings, but I never found out if he got kicked out or if they made peace, I’d left Canada before it reached it’s climax. Ridiculous.

So that was the house. A strange, wonderful time. Maybe you don’t find any of that interesting or out of the ordinary and believe I must live a pretty dull life now? Well, let me tell you that this was a time that also included other ridiculous events like witnessing the G20 riots, working with a guy who got sacked for being a paedophile, an old man telling me I was a fascist for wearing camo shorts in the streets, a bloke coming onto me on the subway by grabbing his balls and pouting, running through university dorms in my boxers and ketchup smeared all over my torso, throwing up beans and toast also on the subway on new years eve, walking out of a U2 gig before they even started and witnessing a tramp defecating on a church. But I can’t be arsed going into them, read my blog more or ask me about it in real life. I might tell you, but I might be too tired, sorry. Bye.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Game Review: Bieber Kisser

Oh hey there! It's been a while, sorry about that. I thought I'd have a pop at game reviewing, because plenty of people with no talent write absolute shite about quality games everyday. Therefore, I'm using my quality talent to write about an absolute shite game. ENJOY!

Sometimes, you see things on the internet so disgusting that you have to go and stare at your cat's lovely little face for 10 minutes so you can sleep at night. 2girls1cup, beheading videos or that clip of the race where a race marshall gets run over by an F1 car live on TV come to mind. But forget those. Think of the goriest thing you've ever seen and then imagine if you saw it on an IMAX screen in a scary old cinema, with deafening opera music playing and all the other seats occupied by dead babies. Only then will you come anywhere near the horror I witnessed upon discovering "Bieber Kisser". And I don't even have a fucking cat to look at.

"Sneak up on Justin and give him a smooch!"

Now, obviously this game isn't aimed at me. Last time I checked, I wasn't an 11-year-old girl who believes Justin Bieber is actually Jesus and that it's my destiny to let Bieber deflower me or I'll never get into Hogwarts and give birth to a Jonas brother. Or y'know, whatever they like. Moams and Polly Pocket? I won't go into why I dislike Justin Bieber, because it should be obvious and I assume by reading this you're not really keen on him much either (if you REALLY need a reason, click here). I mean.. look at him.

I am allowed, however, to question just how ridiculous this piece of shit for a game really is. Yeah, it's for pre-pubescent girlscouts, but there's a million better games; there's even a thousand better games on the site it's on. If you called this game "Alan Rickman Kisser", I doubt it'd get such an audience. Gay Canadian Peter Pan is the only reason anyone is playing this non-ironically, so the developers obviously thought they could jizz out any old spunk and the ad money would roll in. And wow, did they ejaculate some lazy, vitamin-starved game-sperm. Disgusting, lazy game sperm. Sperm that even Justin Bieber would spit out in disgust (hyuck hyuck).

"Time to prove you're Bieber's #1 Fan! Get backstage and kiss him!"

The aim of the game is, simply, to get off with the kid. You play what appears to be a fully grown woman, dressed in your finest slag attire, who has to make it past security guards and random people at a Bieber show in order to achieve.. what exactly? Does this not strike you as creepy? Should a game where breaking the law in order to kiss and presumably shag a kid who is too old for you (or too young if you see yourself as the character) be marketed to 11-year-olds?

Bieber Kisser is essentially a stealth game, typically the subject of serious console titles such as Splinter Cell or Metal Gear Solid, but here scaled back to it's bare bones to encourage breaking, entering and molesting to a whole new generation of "tweens". Security guards and other random people sitting around, including Bieber clones (couldn't you just get off with them instead?), men with laptops/newspapers/drinking coke and most worryingly, what appear to be proper groupies, all have lines of sight that must be avoided in order to reach the door to the next room. If you get caught in a line of sight, you're shown a horribly upsetting game over screen with what sounds like the Seinfeld bass interlude, announcing:

"Oh no, how will you show Justin that you are his number one fan?"

There's a paltry four small, bland levels, the last of which holds the boy wonder himself. There is a timer that you won't need as there's endless continues and a score that means nothing. You only need your arrow keys, there ain't no kerazy power-ups around here. It all lasts about five minutes. The effort and variety here is pretty much non-existent. Next time, try a bit harder eh? Here's some ideas for the sequel, addictinggames:

1) A level where you have to sneak past notorious woman beater and Bieber friend Chris Brown, who if you alert, will punch your bitch face in until the cops show up.

2) A level where you have to fight off a number of other Justin Bieber fangirls, Mortal Kombat style, using only your highheels and rape alarm. FATALITY!

3) Beat off Bieber. Button mashing.

The levels the games does have are accompanied by music which sounds like it's been ripped from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air at times and backing tracks from The Backstreet Boys at others. I mean, surely they could have at least tried to mimic some Justin Bieber tracks or something? Sloppy. Anyway, once you've finally worked your way past the most retarded security guards ever and the smacked out groupies, you finally get to live out your wildest fantasies:

Great. The game isn't promoting safe sex either. Look at that last screen; Bieber is loving it and your character is freeze-framed in a position where she appears to be manically humping the shit out of the gurning dickhead. And that's it. You can then "tell the world that you kissed Justin Bieber!", or slam the nearest sharp object into your eye until you can't see this shit anymore, which, believe me, is a much better option.

No matter how much escapism or fantasy this is for a 11-year-old, I'd rather have any kids of mine play anything other than it. It's lazily made and creepy and a complete waste of time. If they did play it, I'm sure they'd even look back years later on 2girls1cup as being less disgusting to watch than playing this.

But then again, why should I care? His fans love it!

"i love this game!!!!!i wish i could do tht to him"
(1 week ago)

Fair point I guess.

"i kissed him 5 times in a row i love u justin!!"
(1 week ago)

Bit excessive, but ok..

(1 week ago)

Jesus. Ban this shit.


Or play it here:


Sunday, 13 February 2011

Why you shouldn't start a video blog (sorry)

Hello everybody, it's been a while! A PROPER BLOGOMG!

Back in the day before the internet, people who demanded attention used to sing karaoke in rubbish pubs or set fire to park benches. Nowadays, they log onto Youtube and talk absolute shite for under 10 minutes after editing their masterpiece on Windows Movie Maker. Ahh, the video blog.

I've had an account on Youtube since the vintage year of 2006, contributing the odd splooge, viewing awful crap regularly and blinking in bewilderment at some of the dirtiest, horrible comments imaginable on the entire internet. The site has it all now and is a wonderful/awful place to lose yourself for a number of minutes/hours/entire weekends. You all know what goes on on Youtube, but it's the subject of "Vlogging" that I want to touch on here - something that forms the hunched backbone of the site.

Blogging in itself is a good way to showcase your talent (or lack of) for writing, share facts (or lies) and opinions to the world, to entertain or simply to boost your awful ego. It's the latter part I have a problem with and it manifests itself the most obscenely in video blogging. Now, I'll admit, I do quite enjoy the sound of my own voice and watching myself on a screen spewing dross to no one. As a kid, ridiculously, I made mock radio shows including interviews with myself playing a different person with a different accent, reading aloud sections from the paper for the news and, most regrettably, singing (I guess even fake radio shows struggle with copyright issues). I've even tried to do video blogs in the past, but scrapped them because they were the most boring pieces of shit I've ever seen.

It's this childlike egomania that exists on Youtube that really grinds my gears - people who have little to say and just like the look of their own face, or hair. There exists a long line of dorks waving their arms around and screeching "LOVE ME!!111" to an audience of other dorks, who are either enjoying it and making these creatures continue this jamboree of shit or telling them they're "homo cocksuker faggets". It's the same people that keep cruel freakshows like the X-Factor on the air and start sweating if they haven't heard any news about that bloke off Eastenders for two days.

I've categorised these maniacs into about five different types:

a) The Fringe: Hair grows at the front of the head, clouds thoughts, takes over. Opinion on hair and little else. Also known as "camwhores".

b) The Hyperactive Doofus: Usually a child who enjoys screaming loads. Very little humour involved.

c) The "Reviewer": "Reviews" various entertainment mediums by slagging them off exclusively with poorly backed or just plain incoherent arguments in a totally uninspiring and dull way. Usually silly looking. Polar opposite to the AVGN, who is da bomb.

d) The Nutbar: Genuinely mentally ill people. Kind of tragic really. Easy bait for "trolls".

e) The Crushing Bore: No point mate, no point. No one cares.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hold anything against people doing a video blog, but for the sake of the human race make it interesting, or entertaining, or relevant, or informative.. or any of the above. There's a reason you haven't got your own show or movie or talk show, IT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE RUBBISH! Better ignore this though (It's a character isn't it?!).

Having a medium like Youtube is a double-edged sword, on one side anyone can put anything up and you can find pretty much everything ever. That also happens to be the other side. Quantity over quality is a motherfucker, and at times, it's like wading through The River Shit to find chocolate cake (hopefully sealed).

Good video bloggers are few and far between, but for the sake of balance, here is one of my favourites - this guy, is quite simply, a fat guy who couldn't give two shits that he's fat. He's the polar opposite to a "Fringe" and I respect him immensely for it.

I am also a huge fan of "character" video blogs as they're pure comedy monologues in their own right when they're done well; this chap being my favourite.

So there you go. Heed my advice, don't do a video blog if you've got nothing interesting to say and stop clogging up my internet. And if you must do a video telling everyone that you grazed your arm, please don't show me it. To end this mutha, here's a spoof I did FIVE YEARS AGO, fuck.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Caged monkey

Hello girls! Oh and boys. You showed up as well.

I'm fine, thanks for asking. I am, however, backed up with so much creative spunk, I'm gonna explode on the train one day like someone from fucking Al-QaeJIZZda. That is why I'm making another feeble attempt to showcase my insanity by starting a new blog, which will be entirely made of creative writing and will be, I can guarantee, utter bollocks.

But I need to get back in the game really, I've flapped about like a stranded fish on the beach, struggling to flip back into an ocean of productivity for too long. So, expect regular updates and stuff, and hopefully a few other projects I've got in mind with other people will come to fruition and within two years, I'll be smacking Russell Howard on Question Time for having weird eyes and not being funny enough. I might even do some reviews or something on here, woah.

Peace and love,

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Films are good 2

Ok, it's a bit later than expected, but what ya gonna do. I last did one of these way back in February, doing short reviews of 18 films I saw at the cinema in Toronto. Since that time and leaving Toronto, I managed to see NINTEEN films, so... buckle up, as I take you back to March 2010, OoOoooooOOoOhhh.

-Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton makes a trippy adaptation of a kids classic, but for some reason decides to make it a sequel, and it falls totally flat. The Alice character is totally uninterested in the world she sees because she's seen it all before and therefore the audience isn't really arsed either. Plus she looks strangely like someone I know (a man), which made it a bit weird to watch. There was some decent characters, but some totally ridiculous bits that weren't needed - the battle is rubbish and I nearly started puking over the man sitting in front when Johnny Depp decides to start break dancing in a tale supposedly set in Victorian England. Plus, they sloppily put it in 3D after it had been filmed for no other reason other than to make more dorror. Colourful pukery.


- How To Train Your Dragon

Really quite surprisingly good animated gubbins about that a boy and a dragon who looks like a cat, set in a viking world without a sniff of rape (probably for the best). Looked great in IMAX, the 3D worked and was genuinely funny in parts. The music was shit hot as well. Not much else to say about this one, just... nice.


- Hot Tub Time Machine

From the trailer and the name, it might as well have been called "Stupid Shit Machine", but this admittedly dumb film turned out to be pretty hee-larious. In a total homage to the 80s, three men and a young fat boy get transported to the 80s to go apeshit and then have to get home. I can't really remember anything else about the story, because it was awful. Some funny running gags from some funny men though for sure but a few of the modern day references did fall a bit flat. Anyone can say "Miley Cyrus lololol" and get a cheap laugh these days. But better than expected.


- The Ghost Writer

Serious mystery island thing based on a book where Ewan MacGregor goes to interview Prime Minister Pierce Brosnan and nearly gets killed. Nailbiting stuff for a pretty non-violent and clean movie (as opposed to Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and on equal terms as a "gripping, clever movie" with that Swedish effort. It perhaps was a bit boring in the middle, but the end in particular was heartbreaking. Sadly no use of a lightsaber or a.. James Bond.. thing. Brosnan's accent was a bit odd if I recall. But totally awesome, technically a Polanski (100 points if you get this reference).


- Clash of The Titans

I pretty much went to see this because Liam Neeson said "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!" on a trailer, which can be now used forever more as a third division sexual innuendo. So they did a remake of an old movie which I didn't see, but I saw Jason and the Argonauts (y'know, with those claymation skeletons) and it shit on this. Some good action scenes, but all in all a bit daft. Heaven or whatever looked shit as well. Shiny armour? Nah. Avatar man is gonna get typecast at this rate.


- Shutter Island

Leonardo Di Caprio is probably my favourite actor at the moment (he's come a long way since dying in the sea) and this one was another roaring success in my opinion. Much more than a creepy granny with dead eyes, Leo goes on an island with a hospital full of mentals to investigate a murder.. OR DOES HE!? Really quite gripping, less of a horror and more thought provoking than it looks and lots of dead children. Superb.


- Kick Ass

Maybe it was because I was watching this film in the city where the film was mostly shot or more to the point, maybe it was because I was in sitting in the theatre the characters go to (THE FOURTH WALL WAAAAAAAAAA), but I bloody loved this film. From the trailers it looked like a shitty stoner comedy for kids (kids smoke weed these days yeah?), but it's actually an ultra-violent comic book remake with some proper boot arse sequences (see what I did there, yeah?). Unlikely nerd bloke becomes an unconventional superhero and takes on a gang boss with the help of a small girl and Nicolas Cage. Beats McLovin, who isn't very good. But the film was very good. Better than Spiderman 3.


- Iron Man 2

I was proper looking forward to this one and quite frankly, it fell flat on it's face. Tony Stark is still a cock, but a good character and there's plenty of his tomfoolery and rapes and japes on offer here. Sadly, there's not much Iron Man kick-assery, which is a shame, because it's called Iron Man 2, not "Tony Stark is a cock II". Mickey Rourke was quite good as a hard Russian bastard, but overall too much talking and not enough action. The final boss scene was weaker than this fucking cuppa I made the other day where I put too much milk in by accident, so I drank it in about 30 seconds. Which is approximately how long the shitty bunch of piss scene lasted. Unsatisfying.


- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Oh, a film in Swedish with English subtitles, how very intelligent and grown up I felt watching this like a proper clever person, it's a shame I didn't have a goblet of brandy or Walkers Sensations or something. Based off a book I hadn't read, I watched this after hearing it was good and depicted graphic sexual violence (alright, that put me off a bit because I'm a big girl) and it delivered. Basically like a big ultra-violent Swedish Morse or Frost or.. Swallow.. very tense and unpredictable, a breath of fresh air to see at the cinema and a refreshing move away from standard Hollywood gay space marine junk. Although they're redoing it for Hollywood. Ruined. 9/10

- Robin Hood

Remember when you watched the Robin Hood Disney cartoon as a kid where he was a fox, or maybe that one with Kevin Costner and you saw him shoot arrows and give money to the povs and shit, yeah well, forget all that. Because in this one, Russell Crowe is basically a bad-accented footsoldier in the army (just back from smacking brown people in the Crusades) fighting against the French or the bad king or some other bollocks. He only really fires one arrow in the entire film. "Yeah, yeah", you say, "it's a prequel, get over it!". Well no, I will not get over it thank you very much! Uninspiring, unfunny, boring, no charm, hated all the characters, gutless. Fuck off Robin. I want Batman.


- MacGruber

Now this is more like it. Again, based off something I've never seen and again, delivers. I should not watch things more often. Totally silly ridiculous spoof of every action movie ever, with the main character based on MacGyver, who I only know about from The Simpsons, like most American culture. Reminded me a bit of an American Garth Marenghi, and as funny. Plus a hilarious scene in which a load of well known wrestlers die after the film draws you in to thinking they're going to be the main characters. Took me right back to when I was 12. (I later found out apparently people over the age of 12 still like wrestling?! Huhuhuhuh. Where did my Chris Benoit action figure go? Probably got TOY-d rage.. get it.. nah.)


- The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

Films based on games are usually pretty bad - this one wasn't as bad as I thought. So, Donnie Darko runs around Iran and has to save the world from Ben Kingsley etc and some British ostrich guy makes genuinely funny jokes whilst an annoying princess is nasty to him. The action was pretty good, as was Gylylylenhalsl's British accent - not that spectacular, but worked for me. The setting in particular doesn't really grab me by the balls any more because I've seen Aladdin. What this film needed was some big horrible demons, like the games. But I was particularly impressed by the way they shot the bits in a game camera style-e where he's wall running and stuff, that was classy. Bit better than the reviews which said it was shit. Up yours reviews!


- Get Him To The Greek

A film with Russell Brand and that fat bloke from all the funny films, nah.. that'll be rubbish. Actually, it was pretty good, blimey. Ripped into the celebrity culture, which I am well behind, but also smacks you in the face with some fat disgusting jokes, dildos in mouths and all. Predictable, but it's not setting out to be anything more. I watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall after this and it wasn't as good. So well done Russell, you might be an ex-crackhead manwhore victorian bellend old man abuser, but you make alright movies. Jonah Hill had one of his better days and P Diddy was funny (what?!). Congrats.


- The A-Team

Oh dear. When I was nine, I wanted nothing more to be in the Menston Hotshots A-Team. But I wouldn't want to be in this A-Team remake, because it was rubbish. I wouldn't even want to be on the subs bench. The new Mr T was totally awful, I don't know who told a UFC fighter he could act, because he can't. Leave acting to the professional wrestlers! The action was on and off, some of it was pretty cool, some of it was just plain daft. Like Robin Hood, this film is sort of a prequel, and like Robin Hood, I don't care about the characters when they're not really doing what I imagined they'd be doing. Yeah, it might have been faithful to the TV show, but I never really watched that. And as a standalone action movie, it wasn't that interesting. My mate Cam fell asleep during it. So..


- Jonah Hex

Well, I didn't really know what to expect from this awful piece of turd. I mean, the trailer looked interesting enough, kind of like a more comic-booky Wild West with John Malkovich as a bad man and lots of guns and fire and stuff. But actually turned out to be one of the most hilariously badly made movies I've seen for a while. Awfully written lines, a main character that gets battered every five minutes and a dream sequence plot point so overused it was almost satirical, this movie was a whole new level of fail. It also lasted about 10 minutes and had the most boring soundtrack I've ever heard. And Malkovich was gash. It did make me go around saying "Welll wellll well, Jonah Hex.." in a bad southern accent for a while though. Which is not a bonus. Deserved to be a total bomb.


- Toy Story 3

Aww, now this was a lovely film, if it was human, I'd make it soup and call it "darling". The last two films came out when I was a wee lad, so for pure nostalgia reasons, this couldn't really fail in my book. But it did more than not fail, it triumphed over any chinks in my optimistic mindset like a kitten wearing a beanie hat, and delivered on all levels. Funny, heartwarming, all the old characters back with a bang and everything looked great (plus some new ones, I loved the phone on wheels which I had as a kid, sort of like the original Direct Line thing but with a face). I even had a big lump in my throat during the symbolic scene between Andy and the tiny girl. If I have any criticisms, it's that the film felt a bit like Chicken Run - obviously based on the Great Escape and not live action. But eh, I can forgive that. Shuperb.


- Predators

What do you get when you put a load of people on a planet full of those nasty Predators? What do you think fucking happens? You don't watch this film for story, because basically, there isn't one. It's just an outlet for gory deaths (but it isn't very gory) and cheap screams (but it isn't very scary). That's one of the main problems with this film, the Predators seem to lose their whole sense of scariness and I half expected to see a scene where they're all sitting around eating sandwiches and wanking. There was a few good deaths and some hilarious back-references to the original film, which were both cringeworthy and kind of cool. At the end of the day, better than that borefest Lost, but not as good as the original. I ain't see the other sequels, but.. neither has your mum.


- Inception

Do you go to the cinema to watch mind-numbing trash or to get your brain smacked around for 3 hours with a metaphorical cricket bat made of thought-provoking, intelligent and complicated metaphorical wood? Well, I like a bit of both. This big boy was of the cricket variety (ahem) and it all fits together like a jigsaw, which helps this shit overcomplicated concept, because that's made of wood as well. Leo puts in another sterling performance in a film about people who go into dreams and change things and err.. it's been a while since I saw it, so you'll just have to watch it. But lots of intense action, a complex but very clever story, great acting, great music and scenery, and a big fat stupid cliffhanger to end on. One of the best films of the year probably. From the same man as the Dark Knight, probably one to watch that lad.


- Salt

I can't even begin to describe how ridiculous this film was or how many times my eyes widened and my jaw dropped during some of the silliest scenes I've ever seen continually offended my intelligence. It's actually like the writers made it up as as they went a long. Or they were 12 years old. Cliche after cliche after oh-my-fucking-god-is-that-Angelina-Jolie-disguised-as-a-man. I mean yeah, it was entertaining and unpredictable. But so is Russian Roulette. Which is ironic, because this was all Russian and shit. Big lips herself wasn't too bad, but I didn't really care if she was a spy or not and I was just in bewildered most of the time by the insanity, the dreadful insanity. Made 24 look like Coronation Street. Salty.

And that wraps that up. Maybe I'll write another load of shitty film reviews one day, but since I've been back, my Xbox has wrestled it's way back into my free time (read: all the time, I've been unemployed and skint for the past 6 weeks) and now I have to pay for films! And now I'm starting a new job on Monday, I might never see a film again. That's a lie, I just watched Watchmen. Which was alright. 7/10. There, I did another review, love me. See ya later!