Friday, 28 May 2010

So... Um... Is this thing on?

You know how they say to make a mistake is human?

Well to make the same mistake again is pure idiocy.

With that being said here is the I Saw Elvis In the Woods Podcast # 2

Download it here:

http://isawelvisinthewoods.podbean.com/

Do your iPod subscribe thingy here:

http://isawelvisinthewoods.podbean.com/feed/


And if you can't be arsed with all that listen to it here:



Sigh.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

There's no place like home.

Scientists are strange beings.

Not that it's a bad thing you understand. After all without science I'd be carving this out on a piece of rock, or more likely looking at the piece of rock with rage in my eyes, nursing my bloody fingers and swearing at my flint.

But the thing is, in order to keep inventing an innovating scientists generally speaking view the world a wee bit differently than the rest of us apes. You see rather than look at, say, a tree and think "My that's a pretty tree." a scientist will think "Why are it's leaves green? Why are it's branches that shape? How does it live? How does it love?". It's like when you were a kid and you went through that phase of annoying your parents by asking the question "But why?" over and over again. Well your average scientist never really grows out of that phase.

Often this leads to them discovering all sorts of amazing things, like black holes and pop tarts. Occasionally however a scientist's thirst for knowledge can lead to bizarre circumstances.

For example a news report bandied about the media recently claimed with quite an alarming headline that "Robots will kill humans". Now before you all throw on your hard hat and head to your panic room (Gee Note: Or, as I like to call it, "the shed") there aren't any robots that are going all Wachowski Brothers on us and using our bodies as a cheap source of fuel.

Nay brave reader, the report is actually about a study in Germany conducted by the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics. Apparently three researchers decided to construct a 14kg mechanical arm with a 1,1 metre reach. Which is all fine and good of course. Except this mechanical arm's entire reason for being, the whole point of it's existence, is to stab pigs.



No really, that's what it does. It stabs pigs. Specifically pig's legs. (Gee Note: Now my question is this. At which point do you decide that all you need in life is a robot that stabs pigs?

"Wow, Owen, I see you've splashed some cash at the droid store!"

"Why yes I have Ben."

"Say what's this little fella do?"

"Oh he helps out with electronics, fixing planes, that kind of thing."

"Cool. And that gold plated flamboyantly gay one?"

"Oh that's my protocol robot. You know for, er, when the Hutts come for tea."

"When would the Hutts ever come and visit you for tea?"

"They might! You don't know that they wouldn't. Maybe one day they'll pop in for a scone or something. You don't know. Stop hating!"

"Umm, OK bro. Whatever. And that one?".

"Oh that's my pig stabbing robot."

"Your what?"

"My robot that stabs pigs"

"Owen why the f***have you got a pig stabbing robot?"

"Because I don't like them Ben. I don't like them at all."

"Dude you got issues. No wonder Luke wants outta here")

The reason it does this is because... well... I'm buggered if I can find a practical use for it. However these boffins are obviously way more creative than I, as they've decided to use this to study the potential harm domestic robots may cause their future master when carrying out day to day tasks.

The results are both astonishing and obvious (Gee Note: Or astonishingly obvious) depending on how you look at it. It turns out that a robot armed with a pair of scissors or a screwdriver could seriously hurt someone if they’re not careful. But then the folks at the Institute designed a safety mechanism which significantly reduced the danger or losing a limb to the Cutathon 3000. So the morale of this story is a simple one. If you’re going to build a robot that can be handy with a machete, make sure you invest in some safeguards to go with it. Now that may seem self explanatory but until a group of clever dicks got together and stabbed a pig, it wasn’t stone cold truth. That’s what scientists do.

Speaking of what scientists do, or probably don’t as the case maybe, does anyone here remember the Montauk Monster? Well Jenny from Generation Minus One certainly does and sent me something in my mail this morning (Gee Note: By the way, a year or so back Ron Jeremy announced that he believed pornography was better for kids than videogames. Which is of course all kinds mental and ripe for parody. And so I promised Gen-1 that I’d write them an article about it. Unfortunately the only thing I could come up with is that both porn and video games offer unrealistic depictions of the role of a plumber. So if you anyone wants to help out with this feel free to email me with suggestions).

Now for those of you who have no idea just what the Hell a Montauk Monster is, allow me to quickly recap. On July 12 2008 on the Ditch Plains Beach about two miles East of the Montauk Business District in New York, a 26 year old named Jenna Hewitt and three friends found, um, this.




I know, “what the hell” right? Well while sensible folks dressed in smart clothes talked about how it’s obviously a racoon that’s been in the drink too long and had become all kinds of distorted, others disagreed. And despite the fact that the first group wore glasses and had letters after their names, the second group shouted louder and said crazy things so therefore they were the ones who the media listened to (Gee Note: Top tip. If you want to get on to television you could try making intelligent, reasoned statements that make perfect sense. But ,really, that’s probably not going to work. So instead throw on a chicken suit, play a banjo made from the remains of your dead pet cat, and shout the word “cabbage” over and over again. You’ll make the local news at the very least. Seriously, stick with me kid, I‘ll make you a star). And what did this rowdy rabble cry? Well they believed that “Monty” was a failed experiment that had drifted on to the beach from the notorious Plum Island.

Now Plum Island is one of those places that America seems to specialise in. Namely a big spooky venue owned by the Government which has just enough secrecy surrounding it to make the conspiracy loving public think there’s a lot more going on there than the “official” explanation would have you believe. In Plum Island’s case it is, according to the authorities anyway, a facilty dedicated to the study of animal diseases. Of course with it’s high security, remote location, and people walking around there in white coats willy nilly, the idea that there’s something sinister going on there became very attractive to conspiracy nuts in the US and around the world. It also doesn’t help that during the Cold War Plum Island briefly suspended trying to cure animals and instead started testing biological weapons on them. Throw in to that mix a book published in 2004 written by Michael Carroll which claims that Lyme disease originated on the island (Gee Note: I love books like that. It’s like the one I have on the Philadelphia Experiment which is based entirely on the author having met someone who claimed to have worked on it. It would be like me writing a book on real life dragons because some dude I met in a pub once claimed to have ridden on the back of one of the winged beasties. Now where’s my publishing deal?) and we have a broth spiked with intrigue and what not.

The good news is no longer will this small body of land surrounded by water be shrouded in mystery. For Plum Island is apparently under consideration to be sold to the highest bidder, with the Animal Disease Centre making the move all the way to Kansas. In fact, if sources are to be believed, it's more likely to be a case of "when" rather than "if". According to "top real estate broker" Gary DePersia it would "make an awesome resort, with condos and room for a golf course" (Gee Note: Although you may want to stay away from mentioning the Island's history in the brochure. "Come to Plum Island Paradise - Where we've been needlessly exposing moo cows to chemical and biological warfare for 50 years!").

Now along with the temptation to see how much money I can get together in order to buy the island and see if there's a great big smoke monster thing living there where the bodies are buried, and the insanity of setting up an animal disease facility in Kansas of all places (Gee Note: Hmmm. So we've had the Animal Disease Centre on Plum Island separated from the surrounding areas by a body of water. And that's fine and everything it's just, oh I don't know, it's not very on the edge of your seat exciting is it?. Hey, wait, how about we move it to a place surrounded by farm land? That way if any awful contagious disease should some how escape from the facility, it'll cause absolute bloody chaos. That and maybe a whirlwind will take us to Oz, where I can finally get that brain I've always wanted. Whaddya think?) Plum Island's closure would be big enough news as it is. I mean it would be like if Area 51 was suddenly vacated and opened up for the public to come snoop around a bit. But couple it to the fact another unknown animal washed up on a shore recently, this time from a lake in Kitchema… Kitchehu… Kitchenasoo… somewhere in Ontario, and got the world's media in a flap once again (Gee Note: Spoilers. It's a mink) and the whole thing seems to have a strange synergy about it.







Still it's highly unlikely that the new owners of Plum Island are going to move in to find the place overrun by Doctor Moreau and friends. But there's always a chance that if there are skeletons in the cupboard then a change of hands my very well turn up something unexpected.

Which is why all this is potentially very exciting. Could there be monsters living on Plum Island? Could there be some kind of perverse hybrid, like a goat-chicken or something? Could we find a strange disease floating around the island, like the one in Lost the writers completely forgot about? Or is there absolutely nothing there to write home about at all?

Well who knows. But the truth is the idea that there might be is fascinating enough. Even to those of us without scientific minds.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Crank up the gramaphone.

If you watch as many B-Movies as I do, you know the drill. Mad scientist driven by his own ego messes with things that should have been left alone, which causes a chain reaction that leads to the release of an unspeakable horror upon the world.

Anyway what started out as a drunken dare has resulted in me recording a podcast for this here blog-ama-thing. This may be the only one I ever do so grab it while it's there.

The there in question by the way is:

http://isawelvisinthewoods.podbean.com/

For all you flash bastards who can use their iPods without swearing at them, you can also subscribe to it using this feed:

http://isawelvisinthewoods.podbean.com/feed/

So yeah. Good luck I guess.

********************EDIT********************************************************

So, it turns out that I'm nowhere near competent enough to post a podcast, let alone record one. Sigh. Listen kids learn from my mistakes. Never ever attempt to do something like this while watching a "documentary" on breast enlargements.

Anyway apparently I can embed the goddam thing right here. And so I have. Ta daaaaa. It's like magic.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Y'all know me. Know how I earn a living.

I Saw Elvis In The Woods was saddened to hear of the death of Frank Frazetta on May 10th 2010. He will be greatly missed.

In other news Generation Minus One is 2 years old everybody. I’ve written two articles for said site, and so therefore I am completely responsible for their success. Go me.

Controversy in Australia as a white man is cast in a television drama. No really. According to news reports, a project dealing with the famous Gallipoli campaign in WWI has caused outrage among ethnic minorities after the part of Billy Sing was awarded to a Caucasian actor. The problem? Well it turns out that Billy Sing, an Australian hero of the Great War responsible for dispatching around 200 enemy soldiers to meet their maker, was from Chinese stock. Now apparently the producers of said epic have claimed they couldn't find a 60 year old Chinese actor to play Billy Sing's father (Gee Note: Because it's not as if there's a lot of Chinese folks around is there? What with China only having THE LARGEST POPULATION IN THE WORLD).

So rather than doing the sensible thing by, you know, using make-up or hiring Burt Kwouk (Gee Note: Because there is no way in Hell Burt Kwouk is going to be busy right? Although he should be. Dude was awesome in the Pink Panther movies. Not the remake with Steve Martin mind. That was rubbish. By the way, isn't it about time that Steve Martin stopped messing about and made a sequel to the Three Amigos already? After all, horses singing "Moon River" positively screams franchise), the powers that be have decided instead to cut their loses and "white out" Billy Sing and his pappa.

Of course while this is a scandal worthy of true wrath and anger, it does set an interesting precedent. Namely that when dramatising historical figures, the subjects race doesn't matter a hill o' beans. Which I would imagine would be sweet rapture to Hollywood's ears. Think about it. Why cast some pasty faced English man with a strange accent when you can have Will Smith portraying William Shakespeare? Can't afford Denzel? Hire the cheaper and more internationally marketable Chow Yun Fat to play Martin Luther King Jr. Not sure where the crusades happened and don't have the time to look it up? Then get Morgan Freeman to play Robin Hood's Arab slave (Gee Note: Oh wait. They already did that. Nevermind). Want that big box office name to give your "Birth of America" Historical flick a little juice? Then why not convince the world that Samuel L. Jackson IS Thomas Jefferson? I mean "All muthaf***as are created equal" is totally a T-shirt line waiting to happen.

If you haven't guessed it by now, the world which television inhabits can be a strange old place sometimes. And no one in this world is stranger than Derren Brown.




For those who aren't in the know, Brown was born in London in 1971. Educated at Whitgift School, he later attended Bristol University to study law and German. It was there that Brown was inspired to take up performing on stage as a hypnotist and close-up magician after watching a show by a chap named Martin Taylor. Carving out a niche as Britain’s premier “mind reader”, Brown broke through in to the mainstream in 2000 with a television series entitled Derren Brown: Mind Control.

Refreshingly Brown’s entire gimmick is based around him not having any supernatural powers. Instead he claims that he achieves his results by a mix of “magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship”. Often Brown will “lift the curtain” as it were, and provide a detailed explanation on how he pulled off this or that stunt. Usually however these are a load of old bunkum, as Brown will present himself as some sort of psychological genius where in reality he’s used a simple magic trick and dressed it up a bit.

Still he does manage to remain in the public eye, thanks to things like predicting the National Lottery results before that weeks draw took place. Indeed say what you like about the man, but you can’t deny that he’s bloody good at what he does. Even if he is a bit odd. No really. This is Derren after one of his stunts went wrong and he decided to apologise by doing a Stewie Griffin impression.



(Gee Note: Ummm. Okaaaaaay).

Anyway following on from our last post, this week Derren’s new show kicked off on Channel 4. Taking a break from his usual smoke and mirrors routine, Brown has instead hit the road to investigate claims of supernatural powers. Now all kinds of Colombo every week for the next three weeks, Derren will be proving all ‘dem skeptics right and all ‘dem believers wrong.

The subject of Derren's first documentary is the one and only Max Joe Power. Joe is a rising star on the medium circuit, kind of half way up the fame pole as far as psychics are concerned. While not having the public profile of - say - a Derek Acorah or a Sally Morgan, Power is still well thought of enough to have a regular column in a national magazine as well as appearing on various radio and television shows across the land. Bizarrely Joe may even be more famous in America than he is over here, having been part of a show designed to contact the spirit of John Lennon (Gee Note: Although I can't imagine Lennon being all that pleased about being disturbed. "Hello John? John? Is that you John?" "Yes. Yes it is. Who are you?" "My name's Joe Power and I'm contacting you from the other side." "Oh. And?" "Well I was wondering if you had a message for those of us in the living world?" "No. Wait. Yes I do. Everyone should go out and buy a copy of my greatest hits album. Now do you mind? Me and George were about to play Elvis in Battleships. We had him beat last time but then he claimed he had to cut the game short in order to appear on a toasted cheese sandwich and mess with some rednecks".) aired exclusively in the USA. Still he's hardly a household name, and no doubt agreed to appear on this show hoping to cement his place as one of Britain's lead mediums.

He's probably regretting it right now though.




You see despite Brown being a bit weird, he still manages to come across as basically a nice guy. Joe Power on the other hand comes across as a bit of a dick. For example Derren first meets Joe at the latter's home and it's almost instantly clear that Power has an inflated opinion of himself. From the way he keeps on referring to his interviewer with a condescending "Mr. Brown" (Gee Note: Which becomes like listening to Quint drag his nails across a chalkboard after a while), to the way he answers a question of how long he has lived at his house with "10 years. But you should've known that with your mind powers Mr. Brown!", the inference is obvious. I don't care who you think you are, I'm smarter and better than you.

But the problem is Joe is blatantly the worst example of prima-donna psychic bullshit going. Now I feel I should clarify this before I get a ton of angry emails telling me that I'm talking out of my bum. I, much like Derren Brown, would love there to be such a thing in this world as mediums able to contact the dead. The idea that a tangible after life exists where everyone gets along swimmingly would be a brilliant brilliant thing. In fact I don't know anyone who disagrees with this. And there may very well be people out there who, genuinely, posses powers that defy rational explanation. In fact I'm sure there is. But the problem is that, in my honest opinion, a large percentage of the people who claim to be psychic are in fact shysters. Con men of the worst kind, praying on the emotions of those unable to properly quantify their grief. It has nothing to do with the supernatural and more to do with cheap carnival tricks designed to sucker people in to handing over their hard earned cash. The thing is if someone is psychic, and I mean really psychic, the chances are they are not touring around the country wearing a sparkling jacket shouting out "Does anyone know a Paul?" in a rundown bingo hall.

Now don't get me wrong, Power is very smart. In fact at the very first reading he takes Derren to he scores hit after hit after hit. Even Brown himself admits that what he's seeing isn't "cold reading" (Gee Note: Which is when someone appears to have more knowledge of their subject than should be possible without being forewarned. This is accomplished by using blanket statements such as "You sometimes feel insecure, especially around people you don't know", making note of the subjects body language and clothing, and by taking educated guesses. Not by, as I first thought, forcing someone to eat a litre of ice cream and then while they're distracted riffling through their pockets). And he's right, it wasn't. Sadly however, it was in fact the complete opposite. It turns out the person he gave a reading to happened to live on the same street as Power's sister, a fact that was revealed after the program had finished filming. Now of course Power claims that this was a complete coincidence and re-iterated that he had never spoken to his subject before, nor he claimed did he have any information about them prior to their first meeting.

Which would have been fine had Power actually managed to repeat that success with any of his other readings. But, well, he didn't. Joe and Derren travelled to the set of Hollyoaks (Gee Note: For those not in the know, Hollyoaks is a soap opera filled with early 20 somethings, none of whom have any discernable talent other than looking pretty. It is of course rubbish, and yet strangely soothing on a Sunday morning when your brain is being beaten to death by the mother of all hangovers). And so Joe get's to play the verbal version of pin the tail on the donkey with three cast members. First up you have a young man in baseball cap, who Joe correctly guesses has a car and that he might have had some trouble with it once. Then you have a slightly floppy haired goon who Joe get's absolutely everything wrong about, until he guesses that the guy has a dead grandmother. "She's standing behind you right now, and she's very proud of you." says Joe. "That's amazing!!" says the goon. "What?!?" says the audience "He fell for that? I mean… wow. I wasn't aware that having a frontal lobotomy was a pre-requisite for joining the Hollyoaks cast. Also how do I get this guys number? I have a time share opportunity in Baghdad he might be interested in".

But the real fireworks are reserved for actress Claire Cooper. At the urging of Joe, Derren decides to give this whole cold reading thing a bash and does pretty well, correctly guessing that Ms. Cooper has two silver cats, has recently split from her boyfriend, and spent time in the Maldives with said ex hoping to repair the relationship but ultimately failing. Impressive stuff. However this obviously irritates Joe who jumps in with a "Tell me Claire, have you ever owned a Mini?", "Well yes", she replies, "I drive a Mini now.". "There we go," says Power, looking every bit the pompous douchbag, "I deal in facts. Facts. Not generalisations". For some reason he seems immensely proud of this despite Brown doing basically the same thing with the vacation to the Maldives.

But Joe can't resist the opportunity to show off and in doing so causes is own downfall (Gee Note: You know like a Greek tragedy. Maybe Sophocles' Ajax. Except if Ajax was a bald Liverpudlian with a messiah complex rather than an insane cattle mutilator). You see as Claire gets up to leave Joe blurts out "We won't mention the affair!", obviously having taken note of the animated way she discussed her previous relationship with Derren, and guessed that it ended when one of them cheated on the other. Or both of them did. With a family member. If this was the Jeremy Kyle Show. Anyway this rather predictably led to:

CC: What affair?

JP: No? Oh well nevermind. We'll leave that until next time.

CC: No you can't do that. What do you mean by affair?

JP: (Nervous laugh) No no we'll save that until next time.

Sensing a chance to hook the slimy toerag Brown forces Power to explain what he meant. Joe, realising he's made a bit of a boob of himself, quickly tries to argue his way out of it before offering some lame ass excuse about "energy fields" which doesn't make any sense what so ever.

Oh and by the way, Derren's driver later confides in him that Power had seen Claire pull up in a Mini earlier that day. "Facts" indeed.

Joe's fall from grace doesn't end there, as when asked to participate in a test in which he would not be able to talk to whom ever he gives a reading to he refuses. His reason? Well apparently spirits don't have voice boxes and so he needs that dialogue to help them communicate. (Gee Note: Which doesn't explain how he's able to write an agony aunt column for Soul & Spirit Magazine by reading a letter someone has sent in rather than talking to them face to face. Really it's not rocket science is it? You would think that the silly sod would have thought of these things beforehand and tried to come up with something a bit better. Like, oh I don't know, "I need to be able to speak face to face with the subject as spirits are generally more open if they can see me talking to their loved ones". I mean sheesh Joe, it's like you're not even trying).

So instead Derren puts an ad in the paper for a free psychic reading. From the replies he chooses one, and lets Joe do his thing. The twist being that Derren has advised the woman in question to use a different first name than her own as well as meeting in a house she doesn't live in. So Joe turns up and asks the question "Have you met these people before?" to which Derren replies "Yes this morning". "Good" says Power, as he confidently strides through the front door.

Fast forward five minutes and we see Power a broken and rather pathetic figure. The reading has been a disaster, one of train wreck proportions. And given a hard time by the client Joe loses his cool and starts blaming Derren for entering the house and meeting the subject previously, something Brown freely admitted to before the reading took place. "You've corrupted the house. You're taking the piss out of psychics and mediums", screams Joe before storming off in a tantrum. When he re-appears a couple of days later he engages Brown in a heated debate in which in denies being a fake, which ends with the two shaking hands while probably silently wishing the other some mishap involving a threadbare piece of string and a falling piano.

And so ends a remarkable program. Remarkable because Joe Power was given an opportunity to prove that there are genuinely people out there who can communicate with the spirit world, and yet he failed spectacularly to do so. Remarkable because he will still undoubtedly get work after this even though he's been shown to be as trust worthy as a $300 bill. Remarkable because despite all the talk of "energy fields" the one remaining impression we get is not of mystical powers but rather that Joe Power is a thoroughly dislikeable human being.

And remarkable because somehow in comparison Derren Brown doesn't seem all that strange after all.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

We need bigger guns.

OK before we start I need to give a quick shout out. My good friend Jayne (Gee Note: Although I’m pretty sure that’s her middle name and not her first name. You know, like when Star Wars fans procreate and call their offspring “Anakin William Smith” and the kid goes around saying “Call me Bill”? Which is why I’m naming my first born “Hortmunculous Excelsior Davies”. Yeah. Try weaselling out of that one sunshine) is going to University this September to study a course in “Journalism” . Which as far as I was aware meant drinking scotch like it was water, wearing a trench coat, and rushing to the phones in Grand Central Station whenever a great big monster attacks New York City just so you can get the “scoop”. Don’t see why you have to go to a University to learn that stuff. Anyway to help her accomplish this last year she set up a blog, and I was supposed to link to it here. Except I didn’t, largely because I’m a bad friend who’s about as organised as the guy in charge of keeping Charlie Sheen out of trouble. Regardless, go read it here. Frustratingly it’s actually fantastic and I am quite jealous of it. Meaning that Jayne and I can no longer be friends and she is now my nemesis.

So as I write this I’m surrounded by half empty boxes of Kleenex, cursing the day human beings crawled out of the ocean and started breathing air filled with bacteria specifically designed to make me ill. Now I’m not one of those people for whom every little sniffle becomes an Earth shattering drama. In fact I’m fairly proud of my never-say-die, terminator like, last man standing approach to feeling unwell. Many a time I’ve been seen bravely fighting a cold saying such amazing things as “I ‘aint got time to sniffle!” and “I came here to kick ass and drink lemsip. And I’m all outta lemsip.”. But I’ll be dammed if this wee bugger hasn’t managed to wear me down. Seriously this sumbitch would be the virus that made Godzilla cry.

Anyway, currently I’m typing this in bed, wallowing in a sea of self pity and mucus. I’m also terribly, terribly bored. I’ve watched Avatar on DVD twice (Gee Note: Is it just me or is Michelle Rodriguez the best thing in that movie by a mile? I mean sure “oooh look it’s all pretty with the luminescence and everything”. But really give me a Latino chick who can fly a helicopter and shoot things and I’m a happy man. Apparently). I’ve watched so much daytime television I’ve developed a strange throbbing pain behind my left eye, as well as starting to learn the TV spots for forthcoming movies off by heart. I’ve developed a particular loathing for this one.




(Gee Note: And people wonder why psychos end up laying waste to public places with shotguns. Seriously, shit like this can make you lose all faith in humanity).

Thankfully the future ex-Mrs. Davies has been an angel and bought me a collection of magazines and a box of smarties (Gee Note: This might take some explaining. You see when my dad was a little boy, if he was feeling under the weather his dad would bring him home a box of smarties. Then when I was a little boy, my dad used to do the same for me. However I have no children and complain about things a lot and so to placate me my partner continues to bring home a box of smarties whenever I feel poorly. My life is phenomenal when you think about it). The printed highlights include

A copy of Private Eye. Apparently some kind of election’s been going on. Who knew?

A copy of The National Enquirer. Gary Coleman has reunited with his wife and opened a dog breeding business. In other news, readers are shocked to discover Gary Coleman is still alive.

A copy of Good Eating. Food porn for the fat man in your life.

A copy of Rugby World. Including a useful article about which rugby ball to buy. Now if only I could run and catch one without falling over and looking like an arse I could be playing for Wales in no time.

And finally, a copy of Take a Break’s Fate & Fortune. Which is now my favourite magazine ever.

No. Really.

For those who haven’t read this unparalleled work of genius allow me to explain. Take a Break’s Fame and Fortune is a glossy rag aimed at middle aged house wives who whole heartedly believe in psychics, mystics, and the spirit world. In fact the front cover does it’s best to make them throw their noisy kids in the cupboard and put the vacuum cleaner down for half an hour with headlines such as “Digging my garden disturbed the DEAD!” and “TOYBOX TERROR: MUMMY… THERE’S A SPIRIT ON THE PHONE!”. Couple this with promise of “All the top psychics and spookiest true life” (Gee Note: Which means that if you’re a psychic and you’re not featured in TaBF&F you’re probably doing it wrong. “I’m in contact with your Uncle Ted.” “You mean Jim?” “Yes. That’s what I said. Your Uncle Jim. He has told me that he wants me to touch your boobs.” “Umm. Are you sure this is right?” “Listen lady which one of us is the psychic here? Hmmm?”) and how could anyone resist?

Each page is a joy to behold. Which is amazing considering there’s not an awful lot to it. Out of the 62 glorious pages on offer roughly six of those are what could be considered “articles”. The rest is dominated by Agony Aunt pages. Except the Agony Aunts here aren’t professional relationship counsellors or any such jazz. Oh no siree Bob. These guys are psychic.

Now in such a crowded market place it’s important that every columnist stands out from the crowd. Therefore, while there is a smattering of regular Joe mediums offering their advice to the public, the majority of the writing talent have their own individual gimmick. You have the “mumsy” psychic (Gee Note: Our dear friend Sally Morgan. A manipulative horror if ever there was one), the ghost hunting psychic, the psychic who’s on good terms with angels, and the psychic with no arms.

Honestly I didn’t make that last one up. Mandy Masters has no arms, but outside of that is your typical British medium. 1980’s haircut, chunky jewellery, a penchant for candles. In fact, truth be told she’s rather dull. Which at least can’t be said for Leanna, Fate & Fortune’s resident Witch. Under the heading “Real Magic” folks write in with a problem and Leanna gives out a recipe for a spell which will somehow help.

It leads to some unintentionally hilarious results. For example, take a letter from some put upon mother who wished to remain anonymous.

“My son’s addicted to his computer. He spends hours playing games on it, and I’m worried what it’s doing to his mental state. Is there a spell that could help?”

Um, does anyone else see the problem here? You’re writing in to a witch to help place a secret spell on your own offspring rather than - oh I don’t know - sitting them down and having a chat about it, and you’re worrying about his mental state? Really? I mean… really? Of course Leanna treats this as the most natural request in the world, and advised the best way to deal with this is to chuck some lemon rind and mint in to a bowl, light some candles, and chant the following

“There once was a man called Reg,
Who went with a girl in a hedge,
Along came his wife,
With a big carving knife,
And cut off his meat and two veg.”

Well ok not really. Actually it was a horrible little poem about the young man “finding new horizons” or something. Then you simply hide the bowl near the computer for two days and, hey presto, your son stops playing videogames and goes back to his miserable existence where everyone teases him because his mother is a loony (Gee Note: Either that or with the lime and mint you‘re half way to making a decent Mojito). Hoorah.

As insane as Leanna’s Real Magic is however (Gee Note: And trust me it’s more bonkers than that guy who thought hiding his son in the attic and claiming he’d flown away in a hot air balloon was a good idea.) it is nothing, I repeat nothing, compared to Texas.

Texas is yet another of Fate & Fortune’s Agony Aunt’s. Except Texas isn’t an Aunt per say. Or an Uncle. In fact Texas isn’t even human. Texas is…

Wait for it…

A horse.




Not just any horse you understand. According to his blurb Texas is a 19 year old Appaloosa wonder-horse. To whom readers write in to with their problems. Which he helps out with. Psychically.

Now if you’re anything like me, right now your mind will be racing with questions (Gee Note: Such as “How does a horse speak to dead people?” “How the f*** does the horse write back?” and “Why are my new boots so itchy?”). The problem is, alas, those questions aren’t really going to be answered in great detail. It’s all something to do with a lady named Holly Davis who can, apparently, communicate telepathically with Texas. Which when you think about it is pretty insane. On the one hand you have a four legged Mystic Meg, and on the other you have a Doctor Doolittle wannabe. All you’d have to do is through in a sinister government conspiracy and a wide eyed all American blonde and you’d have the making of a really bad/awesome schlock horror. You know, with a title like “TerrorHorse” or something.

Still people do actually lose their minds and write in to Texas. Such as the wee lass who wanted to become a photographer but wasn’t sure if she had the stones to make it. “Should I just give it all up and find something else to do?” she asked our psychic equine chum. To which he replied “Nayyyy” (Gee Note: GEDDIT?!?!?! Seriously you have no idea how long it took me to come up with that. I’ve been pacing up and down for hours. So you’d better laugh you bastards or I’ll… I’ll… Oh what’s the point?). Or Holly did. Whatever. To tell the truth they lost me at the part where I was supposed to accept THAT A FREAKIN’ HORSE IS PSYCHIC.

Still I guess the whole ordeal has confused me enough to make me forget about this bloody cold. In fact for some reason I feel five thousand times better.

Well I’ll be dammed.