Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Oh, George, you didn't jump into the river. How sensible of you!

Here's the thing. Have you ever had that feeling you get when you know you should cowboy up and do something but, because you're week willed and pathetic, you keep putting it off? That nagging sensation that creeps up on you and then dances around in the back of your mind like a drunken uncle at a wedding? Well I've had that for a while now.

Allow me to explain. About, oh gosh, three weeks ago I fell out with a friend of mine completely by accident. No really, I certainly didn't intend for it to happen. Basically they sent me an email asking me to stop being a jerk about something, to which I replied in what I thought was a jovial and polite manner. However I was busy and wrote the damn thing in a rush, and so it's tone turned out to be more along the lines of "F*** YOU!!!!" than it was "Knock knock". Anyway they sent me a mail back apologising even though they had absolutely no reason to, and since then we haven't spoken a word to each other. I mean don't get me wrong, I've tried talking to them a thousand times. But every time I try writing a note of grovelling sincerity or summon up the nerve to go and say "Hi" I always end up slinking back to the corner from which I crawled from. And the more time that passes the harder it gets.

I think it's largely due to the fact that even though the entire thing is something out of nothing, I'm paranoid that whatever I say as way of an apology will get thrown back in my face. A fear that because this entire mess is my own creation, anything that I do is going to be treated with the contempt it probably deserves. And I don't know why that is. It's not as if I would go "Hey, about that thing. Well I'm really sorry about all that. What can I say? I'm a class A moron." only for them to blow on a whistle and summon forth a group of cheerleaders who will then point and laugh at my genitalia for three hours non stop. No, in reality they'd probably be a lot more rational about it than I am and accept that I really can be an idiot sometimes. But it's the idea, the bastard of a notion, that if I do end up apologising and it gets rejected then I've not only lost a friend but also made a massive arse out of myself in the process. Because of that thought alone I've instead got myself stuck in a horrible no man's land. Part of my wants to fix things. Part of me wants to leave them alone (Gee Note: Part of me wants to sell my organs on the Chinese black market to generate some spare cash. I mean, having two kidneys is just a bit showy offy right?).

It's stuff like this that makes me carry a modicum of respect for folks like David Icke and David Shayler (Gee Note: By the way did you know that whilst on the run from Her Majesty's Government for spilling state secrets like he was Tara Reid in an ill fitting dress, Shayler made an appearance on the comedy panel show "Have I Got News For You" via satellite? No neither did I. According to his Wikipedia page it was a "famous" appearance as well. Which means either I know nothing about anything or David Shayler's publicist really should work a lot harder at their job). I mean sure those guys are about as bonkers as trying to teach a crocodile to make a lasso out of used tinsel and Russell Crowe's sense of self satisfaction. But they really don't care what anyone else thinks about them. If you don't agree with them that the world is controlled by a secret society of sinister beings then you're an ill-educated fool. If you do then, well, your one of those benevolent souls who has seen the light.

It always makes me think though there must be a flip side to this coin. You know, people who experience genuinely nutty things sometimes dismiss them or keep it to themselves for fear of what other people will think. I mean put it this way, if you're kicking back and relaxing all cool on the shore of Loch Ness when all of a sudden a plesiosaur taps you on the shoulder and tells you there's no such thing as spoons, are you going to tell anyone about it? Well no, no you're not. At least I wouldn't anyway. In fact the first thing I would do is check myself in to the local loony bin and let them give me the once over. Assuming they don't find any problems my next step is to limit my diet and give up any form of red meat, alcohol, and drugs. Telling someone about it is way down on the list, right after "take secret with you to your grave" and "get elected as President of the World and make it a law that everyone agrees that spoons don‘t really exist".

Which I guess is why I find the story of the Crawfordsville Monster so intriguing.

Crawfordsville, Indiana is a small city famous for, er, well nothing much actually (Gee Note: Unless of course you count one of the world's first thin-slab casting minimills, again according to Wikipedia. Sadly I have no idea what that is. I mean I recognise the individual words. But put them together in that order and you've lost me. You might as well call it a bacon love touch paper station. Also Dick Van Dyke was a one time resident of Crawfordsville. Which is actually quite cool. You know I went through a period when I was little of watching Mary Poppins every day. To the point where I now know all the songs off by heart. Ooooh Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious. If you say it loud enough you'll always sound precocious. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Um diddle diddle diddle, um diddle ay. Um diddle diddle diddle, um diddle ay. In completely unrelated news I didn't date much in school). However at the end of the summer in 1891 Crawfordsville gained a wee bit of notoriety.

The story goes like this. On September 5 that year at around about 2 am, ice delivery men Marshall McIntyre and Bill Gray were going about their daily business (Gee Note: Which I've deduced involved delivering ice. Really the breakthrough in this case came from the sentence "ice delivery men Marshall McIntyre and Bill Gray…". After that it only took me two hours to put the pieces together) when one of them decided to look up in to the sky. What he saw was a "horrible apparition" that was "about eighteen feet long and eight feet wideband moved rapidly through the air by means of several pairs of side fins. . . . It was pure white and had no definite shape or form, resembling somewhat a great white shroud fitted with propelling fins. There was no tail or head visible but there was one great flaming eye, and a sort of a wheezing plaintive sound was emitted from a mouth which was invisible. It flapped like flag in the winds as it came on and frequently gave a great squirm as though suffering unutterable agony.". McIntyre and Gray watched the damn thing hover above their heads for about an hour, before they worked out that they had no idea what blinky might like to eat. Thinking that there might be a chance, however small, that 'ice delivery man" was considered a delicacy to great big air born jelly fish they decided to scarper.

McIntyre and Gray weren't the only ones to witness this strange beast however. First Methodist Church pastor G. W. Switzer was trundling along in his back yard at just past midnight (Gee Note: He claimed he was there to fetch some water from the well, but if professional wrestling has taught us anything it's that you can never trust a Minister. For all we know he could have employed a secret bunch of ninjas to attack him in his garden in order to "keep him loose". You just can't tell with Reverends) when he stumbled across the creature. So amazed by it's appearance was he that he sent the ninjas away and awoke his wife to come and have a looksy. Now obviously his wife was the forgiving sort and rather than brain him with a saucepan she followed her husband outside and took in the wonder of this strange creature. According to Rev. Switzer it was "swarming through the air in a writhing, twisting manner similar to the glide of some serpents.”.

The next night it has subsequently been claimed that the beast returned and was witnessed by over 200 of Crawfordsville's finest, although there's a massive of lack of evidence to support this. Regardless such a hullabaloo caused the media to take an interest. Initially published in the Crawfordsville Journal, this strange tale made headlines across the land as newspapers jumped on it like Kanye West at an awards show. People from all over started writing in to local publications claiming that Judgement Day was near, while one woman was convinced she had seen the exact same thing floating around in the skies of Ohio.

Of course such interest brought forth the sceptics as well. Two of them, John Hornbeck and Abe Hernley, claimed to have "followed the wraith about town and finally discovered it to be a flock of many hundred killdeer" in an interview published a couple of days later by the Crawfordsville Journal (Gee Note: Killdeer are a type of medium sized wading bird by the way. Not a crack team of ruthless Bambis as I first thought). This has since become the widely accepted explanation for the Crawfordsville Monster. A flock of birds twisting and turning through the air as they do, obscured by newly installed electric lights in the area and damp in the air. Except, and here's the thing, I assume the good folks of Crawfordsville had seen birds fly before. It's not as if they were Neanderthal man stumbling across a duck billed platypus for the first time. I mean it's pretty hard to mistake a flock of birds for anything else. Regardless of the lighting and the damp air, unless you're legally blind a flock of birds will in no way resemble a large air born amoeba. You'd have to be pretty crazy to make that assumption. (Gee Note: And if that was the case I guess they wouldn't let you become a Reverend. Or deliver ice for that matter. Job opportunities for people who are as mad as a bag full of badgers tend to be a bit thin on the ground). Still after only one night, possibly two, of frantic action the Crawfordsville Monster was never heard from again, and the people quietly forgot about it.

Anyway, to get this back on track, the reason why all this struck a chord with me has nothing really to do with the monster. Rather, after the story broke Rev. Switzer himself started to receive all sorts of bad publicity. People would openly laugh at him in the street, while experts in the newspapers would go on to say that he had "probably been imbibing intoxicants" the night he saw the creature. In fact he even received a letter from Keeley's Institute for Inebriates inviting him to pay a visit.

Now maybe Switzer was naïve enough to think that his claims of woovy bezerk red eyed flying things wouldn't garner this type of reaction. And that might very well have been the case. But I'd like to think that he knew exactly what he'd be getting himself in for and, despite everything, was brave enough to report it anyway. And if that was the case then I say bless than man. If he can do that, then I sure as Hell can swallow my pride and apologise. After all, whatever happens, I doubt they'll call me a drunk.

An asshole maybe. But not a drunk.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

I Saw Elvis Proudly Presents A Special Christmas Guest Editorial.

(Gee Note: Hello. It's Christmas. And as such I've spent the past three days swimming in a glorious pool of cocktails and red wine. The good news? I'm very drunk and giggly. The bad news? I'm not sober enough to write anything longer than... well... this. Fear not though brave reader, as our good friend Rob Haines from Gen-1 has decided to step in and give us a hand. He's like Zorro or something. Except he doesn't have a moustache. Or wear a mask. And he's pretty crap with a sword actually. So not really like Zorro at all when you think about it. Anyway, regardless of Rob's failings as a dashing hero, one thing he can do is knock out a damn fine editorial. So here it is in all it's technicolor glory. Enjoy, and be sure to tip your waitress when you're done.)

Did you hear the one about the dyslexic witch?

She sold her soul to Santa.

Haha, you say. Or not, as the case may be. I’m pretty sure Gee is already cursing my name and regretting ever asking me to write something for I Saw Elvis.

Still, it’s an easy mistake to make, eh? One minute you’re bartering for executive control of the dark arts, the next you’re in perpetual servitude to Saint Nick in his Lapland sweatshops with nothing more than a half-eaten candycane to your name.

But Santa wouldn’t do that, would he? No, of course not. He’s a pleasant fellow dressed in red who visits every house in the world in the course of a single thirty-one hour work period. Not only that, he apparently does so while 47 million times over the drink-drive limit (according to a bunch of Australian researchers with far too much time on their hands – but we’ll come back to them later) thanks to the kind folks of the planet pouring sherry down his fur-clad throat. Oh, and being medically super-obese after eating 31 billion calories worth of mince pies in a single night. Oh, but it gets better:

Other dangerous activities he could be accused of promoting include speeding, disregard for the Highway Code and extreme sports such as roof surfing and chimney jumping. Despite the risks of high-speed air travel Santa is ‘never seen wearing a seat belt or a helmet’.

Helmet? Santa needs no stinkin’ helmet! I’m pretty sure that fuzzy red hat’s woven from pure adamantium. And did Santa ask for your lifestyle advice? What is this, an intervention? Rather than beat the old guy up for his choices, how about making him out to be a role-model for how to be successful and hard-working in diverse fields despite being rather big-boned and/or alcoholic?

I mean, my workplace motivation tends to bottom out after four or five hours at most. Thirty-one? That’s a Deadliest Catch level of commitment right there. Admittedly, the job does come with generous annual leave, but let’s not forget Santa’s other roles as factory manager, elf and safety representative and public relations. And yet this rambunctious old coot still has time to engage successfully in interplanetary defence? Clearly there’s more to this Santa fellow than first meets the eye.

Not that his involvement in extra-terrestrial affairs should necessarily come as a surprise, of course. Based on that single thirty-one hour period, it has been estimated that he would have to travel a little over 212 million miles, at an average speed of approximately 6.65 million miles per hour. If that’s not convincing evidence of alien technology at work, I don’t know what is.

That’s not the only explanation, of course. Another possibility is that Santa can teleport, a theory supported by our local council’s Christmas Lights extravaganza where Santa can clearly be seen teleporting from one rooftop to another with nothing more than the judicious application of a ninja smoke-bomb. This is the most appealing to me, as it not only removes the necessity of Rudolph being some semi-cybernetic repository of alien technology but also suggests that when I eventually catch Santa in the act and steal his teleporter, I’ll no longer have to walk past five minutes past my office on the wrong side of the river before reaching the bridge. Take that, inconvenient footpathery!

Unfortunately, my plan falls apart because if Santa can indeed teleport, it’s probably not due to alien technology, but instead due to his pact with the forces of darkness. Yup, we’re back to that old hoary chestnut. Santa = Satan + spellchecker. It’s hardly a surprising assumption considering his previous incarnation as the Scandinavian tradition of the Yule Goat, an invisible man-sized creature that snuck about just prior to Christmas to make sure preparations were going ahead as planned, and in Finland was known to scare children and demand gifts. Presuming, of course, that this wasn’t just Grandpa in a goatskin trying to intimidate his way to a better bounty of Christmas swag, it must have been Beelzebub himself. No other explanation for it. Nope. None at all. Lalalalalalalala. Not listening!

Okay, so the case for Santa = Satan isn’t particularly convincing for the most part. Except, of course that they both divert attention away from Christianity’s big day, and for some reason that leaves a certain portion of the population rather miffed. Perhaps Satan and Santa aren’t the same person.

Perhaps they’re just good friends.

Enter Krampus, Santa’s mythological incubus-buddy. That’s the one, with the long tail, twelve-inch tongue, horned head, and a predilection for beating the fairer sex with a birch rod while kinky ol’ Saint Nick watches – usually through windows and the like so he can publicly deny that he was ever ‘there’.

You can firmly consider Krampus the anti-Santa. Santa gives out presents to the good little boys and girls. Krampus carries away the bad children in his basket and dumps them in the pits of hell. Perhaps a slight over-reaction for pinching apples or whatever it is kids do to get up to mischief these days, but admittedly more of a deterrent than a lump of coal and an gift voucher.

Even so, I’d much rather Santa was a little chubbly and intoxicated, like a rather embarrassing uncle who can’t keep his hands off his reindeer at parties, than him being the close confidant of a goat-faced Lucifer-impersonator whose idea of a good time is an old-fashioned beating and infant flambe.

Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think even teleportation’s worth that.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Sew, very old one! Sew like the wind!

Shameless plug time. I have a guest editorial up on Generation Minus One. Added bonus, until I accidentally clicked on my favourites just now I had no idea it had been posted. So go read it and tell the wonderful folks that run that place that I'm the best thing to ever happen to that site. Or, you know, don't. See if I care? Jerk.

OK. I need to get something out of the way before we start. Over the past week or so about 5000 people have emailed me (Gee Note: To tell me how I can "better satisfy my woman". To which my answer is "Well I guess I could do the washing up a bit more often". And then I start thinking maybe that's a good idea. But then something like a dog with a funny tail catches my eye and I forget about it) asking me what my opinion is on the whole "What the hell was THAT?" thing recently seen in the Norwegian sky. For those not in the know, basically on December 9 a large swirling object emitting a bright blue trail high up in the heavens made people very excited on the interwebz. In fact blogs the world over were almost apoplectic telling us that them aliens had finally arrived. Initially those who don't believe in such things started speculating that it might be a Russian rocket that had somehow gone off course and started leaking fuel. Others disagreed and, really, it all depended on who you wanted to believe.

Thing is in the past couple of days the whole Russian rocket theory has gained momentum. On the day of the sighting some bright spark of a journalist contacted the Russian embassy in Norway to ask if the Big Red was testing any missile launches in the area. Like Tiger Woods being faced by his angry Nordic wife and a golf club, they denied all knowledge of such things. Missile test? Baby what you talking about? I 'aint been messing around with no missile test. What you and me got is special baby. Why would I want a missile test when I got you waiting for me at home? See you're the only one for me. Now why don't you just stop swinging that 9 iron at my head and we'll talk about it?

Since then however it turns out that Russia was indeed testing missiles, namely the positively terrifying Bulava. Basically the Bulava is what all those crazy bastards in the 60's were worried about when they went around calling everyone communists. It can carry up to ten individually targeted nuclear warheads and can travel up to 5000 miles. Scarier still is that the Russians still haven't worked out how to fire one properly, as the last test on the morning of December 9 - the very same day that all Molly broke loose in the Scandinavian skies for those of you not keeping up - ended in failure. Which is comforting I guess. However the spokes-people for the Russian Military categorically deny that the lights seen over Norway were the Bulava or any other of their fantastic killing devices spiralling out of control.

So was it a missile? Was it a bird? Was it a plane? Well I don't know. It could have been a missile. It could have been aliens. It could have been an unprecedented phenomenon the explanation of which will fry all of our brains and make me hide under the stairs for a week. But all we have to go off for the moment it that a pretty swirl turned up quite unexpectedly in the night sky. And unless what ever it was landed on the surface and opened a door from which a bunch of extra terrestrials looking vaguely like El Guapo from the Three Amigos stepped out of, then that's probably all it will ever be.

Another email that ended up in my inbox was from a friend who asked me what my opinions were on the following story. Earlier on today the Daily Bluster Mail printed the headline

Mother's fury at Tesco Christmas card that pokes fun at ginger children

The story goes that stay at home mum of three Davina Phillips walked in to a Tesco store the other day and was shocked to find this card on sale.

Being a proud red head and the mother of a trio of ginger girls, Phillips immediately complained to the store manager and caused such a fuss that it was removed from sale. "I have shown it to a lot of friends and they are all disgusted by it." She was quoted as saying, "I just don't find it funny at all. My three girls are beautiful. I have never seen anything in my life promoting making fun out of people with ginger hair." (Gee Note: You obviously never watched the tremendously awful British sitcom Game On then? It's OK, judging by it's short lifespan neither did anyone else).

Now, you may want to be sitting down for this, but the reason this was brought to my attention is because I'm… well… I'm ginger.

Now before you all start dropping to your knees and crying, cursing God for giving you a ginger blogger (Gee Note: "Was it something we did? Something we said?!? You're no blogger of mine!") you should know that I've tried not being ginger. I've tried dying my hair, wearing hats, correcting people who called me ginger by telling them "Actually it's auburn". The problem was all these things ended up making me look like a complete tool. So instead I came to love my hair. Although not necessarily look after it all that well. It's more like an abusive relationship than anything else. The point is though I'm completely comfortable with being ginger.

Which is why I have absolutely no opinion on this one way or the other. You see, making fun of people with ginger is a form of safe racism. It's for people who feel the need to be funny but don't have the imagination to think of unique ways of doing it. I mean not all of us can be Jay Leno. In fact, on recent form, Jay Leno can't even be Jay Leno. So if trying to bring a tiny bit of sunshine in to an otherwise dark and gloomy existence means that you feel compelled to make jokes about us "carrot tops" then feel free. I make fun of monsters. You make fun of gingers. It's not that much different.

There are however a couple of sterling quotes from the honourable Ms Phillips. Firstly we have:

'A few weeks ago the girls came home from school a bit upset saying they had been called "Ginger ninjas". I just said there was nothing wrong with being a ginger, or a ninja for that matter" (Gee Note: You're damn right sister. And I'm the living proof. Part ginger. Part ninja. All fantastic.)

Secondly: 'If it had been about a black child or an overweight child the store would have been shut down by now.".

Well, er, probably not actually. In fact it would have been majorly embarrassing, and there may have been a few protests here and there. But Tesco is a multinational company so unless it's board of directors consists of one man, and he holds a press conference saying how much he hates fat kids and black kids and they can all kiss his fabulously wealthy ass, then their pretty much staying put.

Look if you really find something like this offensive and you want to take a stand then good for you. But just so you know, it's not going to change anything. I mean the people who find this card outrageously funny are probably now even more likely to buy it simply because it’s controversial. Those who don’t are going to forget it even exists the moment they close their eyes to go to sleep tonight. The only people who’ll still be bleating on about it are the one’s who should pay it absolutely no attention what so ever. This card doesn’t encourage “discrimination”. Because there is no such thing as discrimination against people with red hair. I’ve never, not once, ever been refused to be served in a restaurant or lost a job because I am ginger. Sure I’ve lost plenty a job by being a bit crap, but ginger? No. Not even close.

And anyway if you need to rationalise all this “Ginger Hate” then you could put it all down to jealousy. You see us gingers are a special breed. I myself may be a wee bit psychic.
Allow me to explain. We’re quickly coming up on 100 posts here at I Saw Elvis (Gee Note: No really. I’m as amazed as you are that we’ve lasted this long. I mean what a journey it’s been. From nobody reading this blog to… nobody reading this blog. Rollercoaster I tell you. Rollercoaster) and so I’ve got something a bit special in mind. Anyway I was trawling the internet doing a bit of research when I stumbled across this website, offering to test my Psychic IQ. The test itself comes from the “Psychic Workbook” by Craig Hamilton-Parker, but on the online version after answering each question the website will tot up your scores for you and tell you if you're James Van Praagh or Jean-Claude Van Damme at the end. Of course, being the adventurous soul I am, I decided to give it a whirl.

Q1: When the phone rings do you:

A: Sometimes know exactly who's unexpectedly calling?
B: Often make a guess at who's calling?
C: Never think about who it may be?
(Gee Note: Or D: Throw the phone against the wall and go back to sleep?)

Q2: When you're angry or upset at work do you:

A: Systematically deal with the task at hand and experience no problems?
B: Notice that occasionally machinery breaks down.
C: Always find that faxes jam, computers crash and photocopiers go wrong?
(Gee Note: Or D: Notice that your monitor is broken after you’ve flung it at the head of your boss?)

Q3: If lost while driving in a strange town do you:

A: Immediately stop the car and consult a map?
B. Drive in what you guess is the general direction?
C: Follow your instincts and drive straight to the address?
(Gee Note: Or D: Follow your instincts and drive straight in to a lake?)

Q4: Are you a person who:

A: Is the life and soul of the party?
B: Likes to express themselves but not excessively?
C: Prefers to keep their counsel?
(Gee Note: Or D: Haven’t had any meaningful contact with another human being since that time you thought the girl working behind the counter at the corner shop really really liked you. So you reached over that counter one day and hugged her. And then you didn’t want to let her go. But then her screaming brought out the store owner with a baseball bat. And the next thing you know your lying on the street outside with a really bad headache?)

Q5: When things go very, very wrong do you:

A: Become withdrawn or depressed?
B: Remain anxious but hopeful.
C. Brush off your troubles and maintain a high optimism.
(Gee Note: Or D: Lock yourself in a cupboard with a copy of JUGGS magazine and a bottle of Jack Daniels and wait for the world to end?)
Q6: When playing board games involving chance do you:

A: Loose despite being careful.
B: Find that you're quite lucky?
C: Enjoy taking risks and feel that you influence the dice in your favour?
(Gee Note: Or D: Lose, and then throw the board and the pieces on to the ground before pointing at everyone else who played and shouting “YOU’VE ALL GOT STUPID FAT HEADS. YOU NO GOOD CHEATING CHEATERS!!!!!”, while storming out of the room?)

Q7: When you meet someone for the first time do you:

A: Form an immediate assessment of their personality?
B: Guess what they are really like?
C: Reserve judgement?
(Gee Note: Or D: Stab them in the eye with the nearest suitable object? It’s better to be safe than sorry right? Remember anyone, and I mean anyone, could be a terrorist).

Q8: Are you:

A: Logical and systematic in your thinking?
B: Have good innovative ideas?
C: Extremely creative and artistic
(Gee Note: Or D: So drunk most of the time that you can’t spell your name?)

Q9: With new born babies do you:

A: Leave the care to someone else?
B: Wake from sleep just before they need feeding?
C: Know when an absent baby is upset
(Gee Note: Or D: Fear that newborn spawn may be the Anti-Christ and bring forth the apocalypse with it’s devilish ways?)

Q10: When you sleep do you:

A: Dream in colour?
B: Never dream?
C: Occasionally dream of events that happen in reality?
(Gee Note: Or D: Dream of Steven Tyler in a startling and confusing way?)

Q11: Do you:

A: Keep an open mind about the existence of ESP?
B. Accept it as completely true?
C. Believe it's all a load of tripe?
(Gee Note: Or D: Have no goddam clue what ESP stands for, think it might be some kind of fish, and so answer C?)

Q12: When you gaze at cumulus clouds do you:

A: See the shapes of faces
B: See a multitude of changing pictures
C: See clouds.
(Gee Note: Or D: Burn the back of your retina because you‘ve been staring at the sun for ten minutes.)

When all was said and done I scored 25 (Gee Note: Which the website felt the need to tell me with an exclamation point). According to the following score system…

12 to 20 points

You've a long way to go. You're as psychic as a rice pudding

20 to 28 points 

Not bad. You're probably quite psychic

28 to 36 points

Brilliant! Did you already know you were going to take this test today?

My score makes me “probably quite psychic”. Which is OK I guess. I mean it’s better than not being psychic at all. But I’m kinda disappointed I didn’t make the “brilliant” range. Still I’ve got a theory that I was doomed not to accomplish that goal from the start. Wanna hear it?

It’s simple. The test discriminates against gingers.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

If I told you the Loch Ness monster hired me to hit the harbor, what would you say?

You know I'm a calm and peaceful person at heart. Actually that's not true. Only this morning I ended up shouting at a Destiny's Child music video (Gee Note: You know the one where they're all talking about what type of man they want to be romantically involved with, before deciding that his most important attribute must be that he's "street"? Now what the hell does that mean? How does one become "street"? Is there a ritual? Am I "street"? Also when the hell did "street" become an adjective? Did I miss a memo or something? You know it's stuff like this that has made the future ex Mrs. Davies ban me from watching television before 10 AM. Stupid, no good, Destiny's Child). But it takes a special kind of event to make me genuinely angry. Leave it to British government then to answer that call.

Now before we start I should probably mention something. I am what those on the right would call a limp wristed, bleeding heart liberal. I believe that handguns should be banned, that universal healthcare is a good thing, and that women have a right to choose in regards to abortion. Luckily I live in the United Kingdom, where none of these things are actually issues. In fact very few things are actually issues over here. Because if we're honest, British politics is as dull as dishwater. Did you ever see that Futurama episode where the two candidates running for president were called Jack Johnson and John Jackson, and during a debate they would end up disagreeing with each other only to say the exact same thing? Well British politics is a lot like that. All the major parties are so stuck in the middle they could be flanked by clowns and jokers (Gee Note: Actually come to think of it, that would make Newsnight a hell of a lot more entertaining. PAXMAN: So what your saying is that you had no idea the laptop that was stolen contained citizen's private data? POLITICIAN: No I didn't know. Mind I left Bonzo in charge of that kind of thing. PAXMAN: Very well. Bonzo, would you like to explain how you managed to lose such sensitive information. BONZO: Sensitive information? I thought it was a list of people who liked cream pies! A wacka wacka wacka).

But then I guess there’s something to be said about a country where the biggest political scandal to rock the nation recently is the revelation that our Prime Minister isn’t very good at spelling. You see I love being British. I love the way we discuss the weather as if we’ve all been working at the met office for years. I love the way that everyone thinks a nice cup of tea can solve any problem, no matter how big. I love the fact that unless your dangerous, your free to be as bonkers as possible and people will still be nice to you. It really is a brilliant place to live.

But last week, something happened that made me feel that little bit less patriotic. Something that took the shine away from being British.

Mark the date down in your calendars folks. On December 1st 2009 the Ministry of Defence announced the closure of it's dedicated UFO department. Set up in 1950, for almost 60 years this venerable institution served as a real life X-files. Except it was British. And didn't find any evidence of alien life. Or werewolves. Or conspiracies involving some dude who smoked a lot. So not really like the X-Files at all when you think about it.

Now how did the MoD go about declaring the death of one it's own departments. A firework show? A dancing Panda quartet? Josh Groban singing "You Raise Me Up" while a crowd of people hold lighters in the air and sway back and forth? Well it was none of those as it happens. Instead it was announced in the following statement on their website, under the "Holy shit, I think I just saw me an alien spaceship or something! What the hell do I do now?" section.

The MOD has no opinion on the existence or otherwise of extra-terrestrial life. However, in over fifty years, no UFO report has revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom.

The MOD has no specific capability for identifying the nature of such sightings. There is no Defence benefit in such investigation and it would be an inappropriate use of defence resources. Furthermore, responding to reported UFO sightings diverts MOD resources from tasks that are relevant to Defence.

Accordingly, and in order to make best use of Defence resources, we have decided that from the 1 December 2009 the dedicated UFO hotline answer-phone service and e-mail address will be withdrawn. MOD will no longer respond to reported UFO sightings or investigate them. The ongoing programme to release Departmental files on UFO matters to the National Archive will continue.

And like that (Gee Note: By the way for this line to work you have to clench your fist, blow sharply on your fingers, and then open your hand like Kevin Spacey in the Usual Suspects as you read it. If you have seen that movie then just do what I do when people start talking about books I claim to have read but actually haven't. "Oooh I love that book" I say, "So deep and moving. My gosh is that the time? I have to go and do... something to… something. Must dash.". And then I run away. This is probably the reason they call me Mr. Smooth) it was gone, reduced to nothing more than a brief footnote in history.

Now a lot of people are very angry about this. One such person is Nick Pope. Renowned ufoologist and all around swell guy, Pope had previously run the department from 1991 to 1994 and had called the decision to close it "outrageous". Quoted in The Sun newspaper of all places, Pope claimed that "We’re leaving ourselves wide open to terrorist attacks.” Which may or may not be true. I mean I'm guessing if your reliant on members of the public spotting dim lights in the sky to forewarn you that Al Qaeda is in town then it's probably already too late. I'm just saying if Britain's defence against terrorists is solely reliant on Bill the sheep farmer happening to look up in to sky while tending to his flock then, you know, maybe we're not taking the whole thing seriously enough.

But then if it was an ideal world then maybe Pope would have a point. The MoD has shut down the UFO project on the basis that it's a waste of resources and money. Which I guess is sound reasoning considering that it's never discovered a possible threat to the United Kingdom in 50 odd years. The thing is though that it's a self fulfilling prophecy. For example guess how much money the entire department had to play with last year? If you thought about it logically and took in to account wages for staff, IT systems, paperwork, expenses for field trips, etc, then we'd be looking at around the million pound mark right? Well as it goes the budget for all that was set at a handsome £50,000. All in all some 5% of UFO reports submitted to the MoD remain unexplained. The reason being that unless it's considered an immediate threat (Gee Note: And by immediate I mean dropping bombs on Westminster Palace. And by bombs I mean explosive devices, not lyrical statements used by them rap folk. You know like the time Jay Z said "Thirty-eight revolve like the sun 'round the Earth". Yeah. Take that haters. All you physicists who thought the Earth revolved around the sun. I mean how could something that's flat revolve huh? Douche bags) or something mind bendingly obvious then the department simply doesn't have the resources to follow it up. So while it's easy to claim that the UFO project has never discovered a substantial threat to Queen and country, the fact that so many go on unresolved means we simply don't know if some of the reports were genuine accounts of aliens, a new type of missile with Chairman Mao's face painted on the side, or the delusions of a deranged mind.

Also why does the MoD statement begin with "The MOD has no opinion on the existence or otherwise of extra-terrestrial life."? The term UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object, not Oh My God There's A Spaceship From Venus With Aliens In It That Look Like Barry Manilow Except More Human And They Communicate With You Via A Combination Of Telepathy And Drawing Pictures On The Back Of Live Goats With Crayons. Point is if there's something flying around in Britain’s skies that shouldn't be there, wouldn't it be worth knowing about, even if it isn't dangerous? To have no open resource with which taxpayers can report something that seems a wee bit fishy seems kinda fool hardy.

Especially when you consider the following,

"The national security implications are considerable. We have many reports of strange objects in the skies and have never investigated them."

RAF Wing Commander, name withheld due to national security reasons, lobbying the MoD to treat reports of UFO's seriously. 1993.

"That (UFOs) exist is indisputable. Credited with the ability to hover, land, take-off, accelerate to exceptional velocities and vanish, they can reportedly alter their direction of flight suddenly and clearly can exhibit aerodynamic characteristics well beyond those of any known aircraft of missile – either manned or unmanned."

Project Condign. An MoD commissioned inquiry in to UFO phenomena. 2000

Both of the above quotes were taken from declassified documents from the MoD reprinted by Dr. David Clarke. So in conclusion the MoD agrees that UFO’s exist, that they move in ways previously thought impossible, and that they could conceivably pose a threat, but they do not want to investigate them. Why? Well it seems to be that they simply couldn’t be arsed anymore.

And the thing is, when your government adopts that type of attitude it kinda makes you less proud to be British.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

You want to talk to God? Let's go see him together, I've got nothing better to do.

A couple of days ago I was reading a bunch of those "Also in the news" stories (Gee Note: You know, the type with headlines that go "Would be thief tries to rob bank with a potato" or something. By the way the guy who actually does that is either impressively stupid or the most dangerous man on the planet. Think about it, how kung fu'd up must you be if the only thing you need to rob a bank is a potato? I mean if I'm the teller at the bank and some guy comes at me with a vegetable, my thought process is going to go something like this "Wait! What? Is that a turnip? I mean he does know this is a bank right? I mean why… unless. Is this glass turnip proof? Does he know something I don't?". My point is that if it's me behind the desk, that dude's getting the money. Which is maybe the reason no bank on this earth will employ me.) when I came across something that surprised me.

It was in a report involving a chap called Ottmar Hörl. Hörl, a Professor at the Academy of fine Arts in Nuremberg, caused quite the stir earlier this year when he became the subject of a much publicised court case. You see Hörl had recently opened an exhibition of his work in Straubing entitled "Dance with the Devil" (Gee Note: I did that once, but ended up stepping all over his hooves. Probably why he didn't call after. Bad first dates. Oh I've had a few). Centrepiece of all this was a 14 inch high statue of a golden garden gnome performing a Nazi salute. Yes a gnome performing a Nazi salute. Now while this might seem like the ideal gift for that keen gardener in your life, apparently certain members of the German public weren't impressed and complained heartily about it to the media. And so to court Ottmar went, determined to defend his right to create gnomes striking whatever posed he liked, Nazi or otherwise.

The bit that raised my eyebrows was that Nazi salutes are apparently illegal in Germany, and can only be used legally if the subject is parodying the former Führer. Now I'm not sure why that surprised me, but it did. It's probably because the concept hadn't actually crossed my mind before. Anyway Ottmar was charged with the improper use of a Nazi salute. His defence?

"Well. Gnomes are a bit silly aren't they?"

In what must have been the greatest deliberation of all time the judge agreed with him, and Hörl was allowed to continue making far right gnomes to his hearts content. Hoorah.

Speaking of Nazi's (Gee Note: You know the other day I was in a bar and a woman representing the Salvation Army approached our table, trying to sell us a copy of the Christian newspaper the Warcry. Obviously ignoring the inherent irony that an organisation that promotes tee-totalism would be trying to raise money amongst a group of hardened drinkers, she ploughed on never the less and jangled her coin jar at us. Which, with my brain lost in a vodka induced fog, was more than enough to make me buy a copy. Anyway on the back page was a story about how Kellogg's were starting to brand their cornflakes with little logos so that consumers would know that they had the real deal and the writer, who must be some kind of genius, managed to segue it in to how we can better serve God. Now everyone else in the pub guffawed at this. But me? I'll be honest with you. I was impressed. That's some awesome segueing there Jack. I can only dream of pulling that kind of thing off. I mean who looks at a cornflake and goes "Hmmm. This cereal now has a tiny little stamp on it. You know what that reminds me of? Jesus."? It's stuff like this that separates the professionals from us amateurs) I was listening to a radio show the other day that had an interesting interview with Joseph P Farrell who, amongst other things, had a lot to say on the Nazi Bell.

Here's the 411. Sometime around 1944 Hitler was becoming desperate. Having thrown everything possible at the British and Russian armies and with them still standing albeit a bit shakily, Adolf put together a plan to give him edge on the battlefield. He would create a vast array of weapons both small and large that would strike fear in to the heart of the enemy. And so the Wunderwaffe program was born. Literally meaning “wonder weapons” a series of super killing machines were put in to development including the Type XVIII U-boat, the Sturer Emil tank destroyer, the Focke-Wulf (Gee Note: Originally called the Screw-Pooch. Maybe.) Ta 400 airplane, and the Flettner FI 185 helicopter.

However by the time Adolf put a pistol to his head, very few of these had made it to combat and those that did made it in too few numbers to have an effect on the outcome of the war. However had Hitler managed to hold on for a wee bit longer the result could have been very different. Because somewhere near the Wenceslaus mine something quite unbelievable was being tested. A weapon that if unleashed would not only change the course of the war, but of human history as well.

Well that’s if you believe Igor Witkowski.

According to his book Prawda O Wunderwaffe, Igor discovered the existence of this new super weapon after seeing KGB records dealing with the interrogation of SS General Jakob Sporrenberg. Jakob Sporrenberg was born in Dusseldorf (Gee Note: And that is why they called him Ro… er… Jakob. Tsk. Germans eh? No sense of humour) on 16th September 1902. By the time 1944 rolled around Sporrenberg had risen to the ranks of SS and Police Leader of occupied Poland, before being redeployed to Norway. When the war ended Sporrenberg was captured by British forces and extradited back to Poland. It was there that Sporrenberg was found guilty in participating in numerous war crimes. He was sentenced to death and executed by hanging on 6th December 1952.

According to Witkowski, during his incarceration in Poland Sporrenberg gave up the details to a super duper secret project called "The Bell". The details were recorded, as all good interrogations are, and filed away under lock and key. Somehow Witkowski was shown these files by an unnamed source in August 1997. The source, who Witkowski claims was a Polish intelligence officer, would only allow Igor to transcribe the documents and so no copies were made.

In these documents The Bell, or "Die Glocke" to give it it's official name, was described as metallic, about 9 feet wide and about 15 feet high. It contained two counter rotating cylinders filled with a mysterious substance known only as Xerum 525. When connected to high voltage electricity the cylinders would rotate and Xerum 525 would turn a bright shade of violet. Apparently this led to the Bell emitting radiation levels high enough to microwave an elephant, and many a scientist perished during the experiment (Gee Note: It's OK though. They were probably evil. You know, like that Nazi from Raiders of the Lost Ark who burns his hand and uses it as a map and then his face melts off at the end? Man I love that movie. Also, great theme tune. Dah dah dah dah dahhhhhhh dah dah dahhhhhh…).

But what, I hear you cry, was the Bell's purpose? Well here's the thing. Nobody really knows.
Oh there's been lot's of speculation, from free energy to re-animation. Witkowski himself believes the mechanism was almost certainly some sort of anti gravity device, while Jan Van Helsing believes it was a flying machine developed using alien technology (Gee Note: No really. I'm not making this up. Jan van Helsing is the pen name of Jan Udo Holey. Basically he's like a German version of David Icke. Except he blames Jews for everything, unlike Icke who blames 9ft tall shape shifting alien reptiles. Now I'm not saying that the difference of opinion regarding the secrets leaders of the world is because Jan Udo Holey is German and predisposed to hate Jews. I'm saying it's because he's a douche.). However the most common theory is that the Bell's primary function was to facilitate time travel.

Nick Cook in his book The Hunt For Zero Point sites an interview he conducted with Dr. Dan Marckus (Gee Note: Cook claims he is "an eminent scientist attached to the physics department of one of Britain's best-known universities", but also admits he used a fake name to protect his identity. Which begs the question, why go with "Dr. Dan Marckus"? I mean if your going to make it up, why not have fun with it? Dr. Pecs Van BoomBoom? Dr. Chesty LeReaux? Professor Tits McGee? The options are endless). According to him the Bell was a torsion field generator, which sure sounds mighty impressive even if I don't know what the hell it is, and was used to manipulate the space-time continuum.

And if a supposed scientist with a made up name doesn't sway you, how about Henry Stevens? In his book "Hitler's Suppressed and Still-Secret Weapons" (Gee Note: Working title - "Hitler: What a sneaky bastard") Stevens details a conversation between a friend's aunt's hairdresser's brother's dog's kennel keeper father and his boss at NASA, Otto Cerny. Cerny was an ex German scientist who had been absorbed in to the American government via Operation Paperclip, and at first was vague about his prior work for the Nazis. When pressed, and when I say pressed I'm guessing he was plied with copious amounts of alcohol, Cerny would go in to further detail. He would tell of a contraption remarkably similar to the Bell that was used to manipulate time itself. The device in question would allow folks who used it to "go back and witness things". It was a one way ticket however, as all attempts to go forward failed. So it was like a really dangerous slide show of someone's holiday snaps. I guess.

The problem with all of this however is that despite the claims of all of the above, the single source for the Nazi Bell remains one Igor Witkowski. No hard evidence has ever been uncovered of such a device, to the point where before 1997 no one even thought it existed. So I guess it's down to whether you choose to believe one man as to the validity of it’s existence. And let's be honest, it's a stretch at best. Time travelling Nazis? You might as well make them pirate-ninjas and be done with it.

But then crazier things have happened before. After all the nation of Germany once believed ridding the entire world populace of Jews was a good idea. And now they're so opposed to the idea that they've effectively banned anyone from following in their forefathers' foot steps. If something like that can happen, who's to say people can't travel in time thanks to a spin cycle and some glowing liquid?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy a box of cornflakes. For some reason after all this talk of Nazi's and horrendous tragedies, I feel like being a little bit closer to God today.