Sunday, 27 June 2010

Don't diss the sonic.

Well now.

With the conclusion of a quite frankly awesome season of Doctor Who, we here at I Saw Elvis decided to do something special.

Alas we couldn't really think of anything. So instead we invited some friends around, got drunk, and talked for a looooooong ass time about all things Who-related.

So here it is kids. "The 1st and Possibly last Annual end of season Doctor Who I Saw Elvis In The Woods special podcast thing" (Gee Note: The snappy title was all the work of yours truly. I know! I'm a genius). We're joined by special guests Rob Haines and Jenny Sargent from Generation Minus One, a game of football, and enough beer to make a small kangaroo get arrested.

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Saturday, 26 June 2010

They think it's all over...

So the World Cup’s first round is over.

It’s been a strange old tournament so far. The current holders Italy have limped home already, having failed spectacularly to qualify from a group containing such soccer powerhouses as, er, New Zealand and Slovakia. Perennial contenders France are also out, spectacularly imploding amongst rumours of disharmony within the squad, players staging walkouts during training, and striker Nicolas Anelka getting expelled from the party after calling the head coach a “son of a bitch” and suggesting he should go forth and fornicate during a half time argument. Brazil look uninspired, strolling through to the second round without really getting out of first gear, tournament favourites Spain somehow managed to lose their first game against Switzerland, and Portugal have gone from inspired seven-nil victories to lifeless nil-nil draws in the space of days.

The only team really to have made their mark so far are Argentina, which has come as something of a surprise according to those in the know. For a start they struggled to even qualify for the competition, relying on a last gasp win to see them through. Their head coach, football legend Diego Maradona, was roundly criticised by the national press for his lack of experience and tactical knowledge. After guiding his team to victory Diego responded in a dignified and mature manner. Well alright, not really. During the live post match press conference Maradona announced to his nay sayers that they should, and I quote, “suck it and keep on sucking it”. (Gee Note: You know I think the world would be a better place if more influential people took a similar approach to dealing with their critics. President Obama for example. “What’s that? You don’t like the idea of universal healthcare? Well I tell you what. Why don’t you pucker up and kiss my black ass son?”). This led to him getting banned from all activities involving football for two months, which in turn led to the cancellation of a game between Argentina and the Czech Republic.

Thankfully the little genius has carried that form in to the World Cup. Whooping and hollering from the touchline, hopping around like an excitable child, Diego is often the most entertaining on screen by far. He’s even brought his own unique brand of interview technique to the table.

(Gee Note: To be fair it is a stupid question. “Can love win a World Cup?”. Oh sure. Course it can. As long as you back it up with some pixie dust and happy happy thoughts. La la la la la la la la).

Sadly not everyone has been as joyful to watch during this campaign as ol’ Mazza. England for a start. Tomorrow England face Germany in the knockout stages having finished second in their group. Which is pretty abysmal considering their group consisted of Algeria, Slovenia (Gee Note: Who if I’m honest I didn’t actually realise were countries before this whole thing started) and the USA, all of which are hardly considered world beaters. England have still managed to struggle however, a dreadful mistake costing them victory against the States, a drab performance in the following game, and a nervous one goal victory over Slovenia meant they scraped through to the following round.

As a Welshman it’s hard not to feel a sense of schadenfreude when England do poorly. It’s not out any malice directed towards my English brethren you understand. Some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met have been English (Gee Note: A couple have been dicks too mind you. Swings and roundabouts I guess). It’s just the blind fever that surrounds the national football team in the media when ever they step foot on to a soccer pitch. Just take the main headline of everyone’s favourite dustbin liner The Sun when England’s World Cup group was announced.


So when things started to go wrong in the first two games of course every half-witted pundit on TV and in the press started to wail about how the national team was an “embarrassment” and how everyone involved in this debacle should lose their jobs. And then after they beat Slovenia those same people started bleating on about how England had “rediscovered their form” and how certain players in the team were “the best in the world”. And the truth is that this wouldn’t be so bad if these windbag’s genuinely held that opinion. But they don‘t. Instead it’s a cynical attempt to present what in reality is a very average football team in the most melodramatic way possible. And that’s why it’s easy to dislike the England national soccer squad. Not because of the players (Gee Note: After all there’s an amazing TV advert for Tesco’s with Frank Lampard doing the rounds at the moment. Basically he see’s a boy kicking a cauliflower around and comments to the kid’s mum that the young lad has some skill. To which the mum replies “Oh yes. We think he might be the next Wayne Rooney”. The idea that Wayne Rooney is more famous than Frank makes him very sad. And Frank Lampard’s sad face makes me laugh like a child for some reason. Seriously, :( + Frank Lampard = WIN). Not because of the people who live there. But because of the insane hyperbolic nature created by the media and fed to the fans like it was gospel.

Still we’ve only got tomorrow left and then England will be out of the World Cup and it’ll be back to all quiet on the Western Front as far as the papers and the telly are concerned. Because, the truth is England will lose to Germany and be forced to pack their bags and leave South Africa having failed once again to live up to the Spirit of ‘66 (Gee Note: Which was the year that the English football team last won the World Cup. I know this because not a second goes by without it getting a mention on the airwaves. Which is insane. It would be like NBA commentators mentioning the 1992 Dream Team that won the Olympics every time, you know, one of the basketballers does what ever the hell it is they do. Slam a dunk? Is that what they do? I don’t know. I don’t watch a lot of basketball if I’m honest. I’m going to go with that though. Yes. They slam a dunk.) Well that’s if you believe Paul.

You see Paul is a psychic.

And an octopus.

Paul is a psychic octopus.

No really.

Here’s the storrizzle. Paul was born in England and moved to an aquarium in Oberhausen in 2008. At some point his keepers went a bit mad and decided to ask him for his opinion of upcoming German football fixtures. They did this by placing two boxes in Paul’s living space both containing a mussel, one with the German flag imprinted upon it, the other with the opponents flag. Which ever mussel Paul decided to gobble up first would be his “prediction”. According to German national newspapers, for the European Championship that year Paul had an 80% success rate.

This year Paul’s been on an even hotter streak (Gee Note: Prompting sweaty men wearing ill fitting Hawaiian shirts in Las Vegas to mutter “Man. If only I had me an octopus. I’d be running this place by tomorrow night”). In fact the crazy cephalopod is 100% accurate as far as Germany and the World Cup go. And so when the time came that Paul should choose between the country of his birth and his adopted nation he, being either a traitorous bastard or proud nationalist depending on who you believe, picked Germany.

"Paul's prediction was phenomenal," said spokesman Tanja Munzig (Gee Note: Wait. He has a spokesman? The f***ing octopus has a spokesman??? I can’t even get the teenager at my local McDonald’s to smile at me. And yet I’m funny. And good looking. And I have a fully functional internal skeleton. But noooo, somehow Smarty McSmart-Smart the floating handbag with tassels has a publicist. And I’m stuck here paranoid that fast food workers are spitting on my burgers.), "He swam straight over to the German box, climbed in and even put a lid on top once he was sitting inside."

Now of course all this could be an amazing coincidence. Or it could be because the box with the German flag was the closest one to Paul. But the animal world is a strange old thing. Deep sea fish and fireflies have developed ways to create light where none exists, which if you think about it is pretty insane. Cows lie down just before it’s about to rain. So a psychic octopus? Well it’s possible. Not really likely. But possible.

The thing is I’ve just turned on the television and I swear, the first thing I saw was a piece about how this England team should be known as the “Golden Generation”. All this after beating just one team in the World Cup. Slovenia. A team who’s country has only 10,417 registered players. Compared to England’s, oh gosh, 1,486,000,000. And that one win, a one-nil victory over hopelessly outmatched opponents, was enough to convince the man on the TV that England are unstoppable juggernaughts.

See what I mean? I just hope to God that octopus was right.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Sixty per cent of the time it works every time.

Apparently radio is the next big thing. If you happen to live in the 1930's.

It's yet another podcast everybody!

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End transmission.

Friday, 18 June 2010

I need to believe that something extraordinary is possible.

So Russell Crowe died…

Except, well, he didn't.

You see we live in a glorious age where news is no longer something you receive via a suit barking at you from a television set. Instead, thanks to the interwebz and social networking sites, news is delivered in a much more subtle and immersive way. For example I first found out that Michael Jackson had died while I was on the net looking up something else. Now I have no idea what that something else was, but I sure as Betsy remember the date, website, even the exact time when I read that the King of Pop had shuffled off this mortal coil. But the thing is the news broke so quickly nobody seemed quite sure just what the Hell was going on. Michael Jackson was reported as dead, Perez Hilton claimed it was a publicity stunt (Gee Note: Much in the same he claimed Miley Cyrus was "obviously wearing underwear" when it became clear he could get in to serious trouble for printing a picture of a minor's genitalia. Perez Hilton, needless to say, is a massive douchebag), the BBC claimed the singer was rushed to hospital and was in a "critical condition", and people basically hit the "refresh" button over and over again on they're keyboard to make sure they weren't missing anything.

The thing is an argument could be made that this obsession with reporting news stories without all the facts available just so you can claim to be first is actually cheapening the entire journalism trade. Take the tale of New York Radio Station Z100 who reported at the back end of last week that Academy Award nominated actor and all around PR disaster Russell Crowe (Gee Note: Rumour has it that Crowe actually lost out on winning an Oscar for "A Beautiful Mind" by saying rude things to the press about award shows. Rumour also has it that I once wrestled five bears to the ground to save Angelina Jolie, and then took her back to my castle and did the sex with her. There's no smoke without fire is what I'm saying) had come a cropper filming for a new movie in Austria. And before you could say "Er… no he didn't" the news spread like crazy through Facebook and Twitter, with such statements as "OMG!!!1!!1! Rusel Crow iz ded!!" and "Just heard the dude from Gladiator snuffed it. WTF???".

It was, of course, bobbins. Russell Crowe is alive and well and ready to storm out of interviews and punch the paparazzi to his New Zealand born naturalised Australian heart's content. It's not the first time this has happened either. In fact every other couple of months another celebrity is rumoured to have snuffed it on the internet. The past few years we've had the premature mournings of George Clooney, Jeff Goldblum, and Johnny Depp to name but a few. Even Patrick Swayze was forced to leave his deathbed and pose for a photo op to prove that, dammit, he was still breathing albeit not for that much longer. Now the majority of these hoaxes are the work of a website named Fake-A-Wish, where you can type in any famous person's name and it will generate an authentic looking news report with which you can "fool your friends" (Gee Note : Only any friend of yours who does this is probably a dick. "Hey Suzanne. You know that actor you really like? You know the dude from that television show about the handsome vet who rescues Llama's from Korean prisoner of war camps? Yeah well he's dead. No I'm serious. Look it's on this website. See? Ahahahahahahaaa. Nah I'm just messin' with you. It's a fake. Although you should have seen your face! And when you started crying… priceless. That'll teach you to respect someone's body of work. You're such a loser Suzanne."). Sadly though it's often the genuine news organisations that get fooled as well as your chums, causing all sorts of hullaballoo the world over.

All this is a far cry from the days when stuff simply didn't get reported on until it was long since over, and all the facts were as clear as a sunny day. Case in point, the bizarre story of Trunko. Or as the Daily Mail's headline announced on December 27th 1924, the "Fish Like A Polar Bear" (Gee Note: Ah they don't make headlines like that anymore. I mean that couldn't be any clearer could it? The only way it could be more blunt is if they hit you in the head with a sledgehammer with a note stapled to it saying "Big fish. Looked like a polar bear. Crazy".). Now one would think that the story of a strange animal with some kind of woovy bezerk appearance would be big news the world over. But the truth is all this went down an entire two months prior, on October 24th 1924, an absolute age by modern day standards.

Here's the dealio. It's autumn in Margate, South Africa. The locals are busily doing what they do on a daily basis (Gee Note: Which being South Africa in the 20's probably means wearing fetching shorts and being mean to black people) when, woah daddy, something very strange was spotted in them there hills  the waters off the coast. Namely two killer whales picking a fight with a large sea creature. That in itself isn't so odd, as Orcas can be plucky bastards if they want to be, occasionally hunting prey much bigger than themselves. They’re a bit like Chuck Norris in that respect. Except without the beard, or the fierce online following. So not like Chuck Norris at all when you think about it.

Nay dear reader, what was truly unexpected was the animal the Orcas were kicking seven bells out of. For as eye witness Hugh Balance (Gee Note: Who with a name like that should have been a professional juggler but probably wasn’t) put it, the damn thing was like “a giant polar bear”. After a ferocious battle that lasted a good couple of hours, the Orcas gained the upper hand and the strange beastie tired, washing up on the shore dead later that evening. Exciting beach dwellers rushed to take a look at it’s carcass and were amazed discover several noteworthy physical features.

First things first, it’s entire body was covered in a white fur that measured 8 inches long in some places. Then there was the enormous size of the creature, measuring some 47 ft in length and a good 10 ft wide. Then you had it’s unusual lobster like tail, itself measuring somewhere in the 10 ft range. And finally you have the animal’s trunk.

Yes a trunk. Just like an elephant.

Better yet the trunk appeared to be attached directly to beast’s torso, with no visible head to be found.

Somehow this alone was not enough to bring any bona-fide boffins to the area to have a wee look at the thing, as all those measurement were given by as yet unnamed individuals. Indeed, despite the carcass allegedly resting on the sand for ten days nobody, not one single person, decided that it might be a good idea to take a photo of the animal’s lifeless carcass. Or, you know, give the national scientific society interest in bat-shit craziness (Gee Note: A genuine government department doncha know? Well alright. Not really) a call. But no. Not a sausage. After a while Trunko - as it was later dubbed - simply drifted back out to sea, almost in disgust I guess.

The question of course remains, what the hell was that? I mean naturally, a ton of people believe that Trunko is some sort of previously unknown creature that makes no bleeding sense what so ever. I mean let’s think about this for a second. If it’s a mammal then a trunk might be useful for breathing underwater. Ditto fur to keep the creature warm in cold waters. But a lobster like tail? That would mean it shared some characteristics with an arthropod, which is a bit like saying one could successfully mate a spider with a goat (Gee Note: And then teach it to fight crime. Never fear, Spider-Goat is here). And no head? How the f*** does it eat then? I mean it simply does not compute.

So it’s much more sensible in this case to look at more rational explanations (Gee Note: Booooooo). The most common of which is our old friend the decaying basking shark (Gee Note: I say “friend”. More of an acquaintance really. I’d stop and say hello to it in the street, but wouldn’t want to invite it round for dinner is what I’m saying. It’s the smell more than anything). After all sharks can appear to be furry in a decomposed state, and the trunk and the tail can be explained by the way body parts start to fall away from a deceased sea creature.

But what about that fight between the Killer Whales and our subject? Well one thing that Killer Whales apparently enjoy doing is “playing” with dead seals (Gee Note: Although personally speaking I prefer games in which all the participants are alive if I’m honest). It’s entirely possible that those Orcas would find a basking shark that was no more and, you know, do the same.

Still, with all that being said, there’s a tiny tiny chance that Trunko may instead be something exciting and wonderful. It’s improbable, but not completely impossible, that the creature that washed up in Margate that fateful October day could defy logic on seemingly every level and genuinely be an amazing discovery.

And however slim that hope is, it’s still a much better story than the fake death of a celebrity. No matter what their name is.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Death by stereo.

Back due to popular demand (Gee Note: Not really. It's just "popular demand" sounds much better than "mild indifference") it's the I Saw Elvis in The Woods Podcast.

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Away the lads.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Please do not swear.

So I was watching Big Brother last night and something struck me. Big Brother is in it’s final season, having struggled over the years to maintain public interest here in Blighty. Having once been the king of the airwaves, a media juggernaught content to trample it’s way on to every front page, it is now a rather sad and depressing figure desperately clinging to it’s long gone fame and notoriety. Like a former pop star who is reduced to singing in front of twenty people in a karaoke bar long after their star has faded. Last night the new contestants were revealed and, if nothing else, it shows how low the producers have sunk to garner interest in their flagging horse.

Compare this years rabble to the very first series all the way back in 2000 where the most “flamboyant” contestants were a lady art teacher with short hair and a dude called Nick who tried to manipulate the voting by, er, talking about it to the other folks in the house. This was apparently enough to make him the nation’s most evil man and he was promptly booted out of the competition and vilified in newspapers around country.

Oh for the na├»ve and simple times of 10 years ago. This years bunch of wannabe no-hopers are a collection of freaks of geeks that would turn PT Barnum’s hair white. You have a woman who looks a bit, but not really, like Beyonce and who appears to have had a personality bypass when she picked up those devastating heels. You have a guy who dresses like Friar Tuck and claims to be a Christian Minister dedicated to inebriated worship of the Lord. You have another woman who’s even more precious than NotBeyonce, except she looks so much like Gozer the Gozerian from Ghostbusters it’s kinda distracting. And a fabulously upper class man who’s audition tape consisted of him showing off his bath (Gee Note: Although he got booed when entering the house for being too “posh”  apparently. I don’t know. Since when did being posh become a bad thing? When I was in Stratford the other week I ended up in a bar sitting opposite a group of students. And of course I eavesdropped like an international super spy, because students are generally intentionally and unintentionally hilarious in equal measure. Anyway the conversation went swimmingly until one greasy haired mope asked another in hushed tones “Do you think Matilda is posh?” referencing a mutual acquaintance of theirs. I swear to God. Do you think Matilda is posh. Hmmm. Well. Let me think about this. HER NAME’S MATILDA FOR F***‘S SAKE. Of course she’s bloody posh. I mean it’s not like you find many Matilda’s on council estates these days is it? Strange thing is that it was never mentioned if Matilda was actually a nice person or not).

But it doesn’t stop there. Oh no good citizen, for there be more abortions of society in them there hills. You have the dude who’s so amazingly proud of his monobrow, a woman who appears to be a cross between a glamour model and an oak tree, another named Sunshine who’s destined to have a nervous breakdown in the next five years, and a homeless lesbian dressed as Charlie Chaplin. In fact the most normal person in the entire thing seems to be the guy who lost his legs and an eye when a bomb blew him up in Northern Ireland. And really it smacks of attention seeking of the worst kind, like the producers of Big Brother are throwing whatever wackiness they can at the screen while screaming “LOOK AT US. LOOK AT US DAMMIT”. It’s like a child standing on a swing rocketing back and forth while wearing a great big jelly on it’s head.

Speaking of things that swing (Gee Note: Smooth) the Future Ex-Mrs. Davies returned home the other day with a copy of Prediction magazine. Now Prediction is an organ dedicated to such things as advising it’s readers on how to “Meet your power animal” and “Six months worth of Astrological predictions”. It is of course as barmy as a badger on acid.

It also offers advice on how to “Find your true life purpose with Dowsing”. Now dowsing is apparently well known for discovering water and oil and such, but can also help you decide whether to have pie or pizza or pizza pie for dinner tonight. Well that’s if you believe Prediction. “But how does it work?” I hear you cry (Gee Note: Well OK. I don’t really. I mean you’re not in the room as I type this so I’d have to have superhero level hearing or something. Like BraveStarr when he says “Ears of the Wolf” for example. Also, did you know that BraveStarr’s tagline was “We needed a hundred lawmen to tame New Texas. We got one. You know something? He was enough.”? How awesome is that? Seriously I hope whoever came up with that is a rip roaring success and not, like, selling their own urine to medical studies just to make ends meet. That would suck.) Well first you have to make your pendulum. According to Prediction…

A pendulum can be made from a paper-clip on a piece of cotton thread, a brass weight on a string, or a crystal (Gee Note: Crystal? Oooh la-di-da your majesty) on a metal chain. Some people use a spherical or pair shaped glass bead suspended on a shoelace or a length of braided thread.

It should noted that I have none of the above mentioned things. I do however have a cell phone charger.

Really, resourceful is my middle name. Well one of them. Gareth Ninjaskillz Rhys Resourceful Davies. So pendulum sorted, what’s next?

Hold your pendulum in your “other” hand (left, if you’re right handed) and say “I declare that only the force for good can respond to my requests when using this pendulum or any dowsing tool” (Gee Note: Hur hur hur. You said “tool”.) Ask your spirit guides or angels to be your link to the spirit world

Now long time readers of this blog will know I don’t have all that much luck with spirit guides. I mean I even tried once following Maggador’s advice to try and contact them, alas to no avail (Gee Note: You remember Maggador right? The dude I christened Ultimate Thor? Well as it happens he has a new series of videos here. Hmmm. I don’t know. I preferred Maggy when he was claiming to be an alien from a distant galaxy. At least he seemed happy. Then he went to Argentina and got himself a monkey and somehow, and I really can't quite work this one out, somehow that made him miserable. Since then he’s been talking about overthrowing the government and interviewing people as crazy as he is. It’s a shame really). So if you’re like me, best thing to do is mumble something along the lines of “OK dude’s, could you try and not be a dick when I’m messing around with this thing. Cheers”. Anyway spirit guides appeased let’s move on.

Dangle your (Gee Note: Stop giggling) pendulum in front of you. Silently or aloud, say the word “yes” and see what movement your pendulum makes. If it swings back and forth or moves from side to side, this is your movement for yes. Now repeat the exercise for the word “no”.

Sadly this doesn’t explain what to do if you say “yes” and then drop your phone char… er… pendulum on your foot. Anyway having established that something your dangly thing does means “no” and something your dangly thing does says “yes” the following step is…

Write down all things you love to do - even in your spare time. What books or magazines do you read, what’s your favourite hobby, what sparks your creativity, what skills do people compliment you on, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Hmmm a list you say? Well in for a penny and all that.

Books/ Magazines: Umm. Well I’m currently reading REAL ULTIMATE POWER: The Official NINJA Book. And there’s always a copy of The National Enquirer floating around here. Yeah you’re right. I should probably get myself a library card of something.

Favourite Hobby:  There’s so many to choose from. But if I had to say one I would go for “sitting down”. Yes. Definitely. Mind I like sleeping as well. Oh. Now I don’t know. Does it have to be one?

What sparks my creativity?: Drinking generally. That and a fear of getting stuck in the revolving door at our local supermarket.

What skills to people compliment me on?: I have been told that I look swish in a pair of dungarees. That Gareth Davies, they say, there’s a guy who can really wear a pair of dungarees.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?:
Travel to Alderaan to help the brave rebels fight the evil Galactic Empire. That or try and follow my dreams as being South Wales’ first white hip hop megastar. “I’m here all dressed in orange. You’ll be like damn son, and I’ll be like… umm…”

With your list completed it’s time to get all dowserooney on that son of gun.

Once you have your list, hover your pendulum over each answer and ask, “Is this my life purpose?”. You can find a general answer first and then refine it. You may also get more than one “yes” answer, but write all your ‘yes’ answers on another piece of paper.

Aww damn. I’ve got to do more writing? This is already getting far too complex. I should just give up now and turn on the Xbox. No wait, we’re almost at the end.

Repeat the above exercise on the new list until you feel you have minimized the list as far as you can. Meditate on the answers that are left. You’ll know intuitively which answer is your true life purpose. It’s usually the answer that makes you feel emotional

Wait… what? I mean… what? So after all that, all that waving the sodding swingy fandoodle around the place, all we really had to do was write down some stuff on a piece of paper and then think about it for a bit? I mean, that’s kind of a rip.

To hell with this, I’m off to watch Big Brother. I can’t wait to see what NotBeyonce does next.

Friday, 4 June 2010

If you play it backwards it says "Paul is dead".

Another week. Another podcast.

Yeah I know. Me too.

Anyway if you don't own a mp3 player, or do own one but don't know how to use it properly, download here.

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And if nothing I've said at all so far has made a blind bit of sense do the smart thing and listen here.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

I'm a big pile of love today.

Sometimes I worry about aliens visiting this planet.

Not in a "Oh my God, they're going to enslave us and force us to work hard labour, like making great big toothbrushes for their extra large alien teeth or something" way. No, what I worry about is that one day an extra terrestrial being will float down from the clouds with a cure for cancer, or a batch of really yummy breakfast cereal made from two parts chocolate and one part awesome, and offer it free and gratis to all of mankind because we're such a swell bunch. And then somehow Mr. Outer Space will wander past a television and happen across the nightly news, and upon conclusion of the broadcast will decide that we really don't qualify under any definition of the word "swell" and promptly vamoose, leaving us either sickly or hungry or both.

You see we humans are in fact wildly stupid. And when I say "stupid" I don't mean "Awww bless look how daft we are" (Gee Note: Not that there isn't plenty of that to go around mind. I've had five of those moments already today, culminating with me lightly bonking my head on the kitchen door while trying unsuccessfully to stop a bacon sandwich falling to the ground). Instead I'm referring to the horrendous and quite frankly evil things we do to each other on a daily basis.

For example, Britain has had a bizarre couple of weeks as far as shocking news stories go. First we had the arrest of a man named Stephen Griffiths, a post grad student studying for a PHD in criminology. Now unlike most students who get nabbed for stealing traffic cones and wearing them on their head, or for trying to pick a fight with a tree after one too many pina coladas, Griffiths was arrested on suspicion of killing prostitutes. Three of them in fact, meaning that if convicted he will become the newest member of a notorious and thankfully small group of British serial killers.

The reason why this is even more appalling than your average murder is that if Griffiths is guilty then it really shows a startling level of callousness, as a student who studies crime should know better than anyone the effect these homicides would have on the victim's friends and families. And considering that when asked for his name in court he responded "The crossbow cannibal" the chances of him being found guilty seem somewhat high (Gee Note: Note to all would be criminals out there. Try to avoid nicknames that make you seem culpable for the crimes you are charged with if you want to, you know, avoid jail time. I mean if your name is Jim Williams and your in the dock being accused of a knife crime, when asked to state your name give it as "Jim Williams", not "Stabby McStabbington". It's a basic error if you do is what I'm saying).

And then yesterday a taxi driver in Cumbria went on a violent rampage through the countryside. Derrick Bird, 52, from the town of Rowrah tore up a path through the sleepy villages around that area shooting people seemingly at random. Details are still pretty sketchy but at the time of writing this 12 people are dead including Bird’s twin brother, the family solicitor, a work colleague and worst of all a father of two who apparently just happened to be standing in his garden at the wrong time. Currently 11 people are receiving treatment for injuries in hospitals with a senior doctor revealing that at least five of those had been shot in the face. Derrick Bird apparently took his own life after the turmoil, leaving in his wake 30 separate crime scenes over 25 miles.

Now predictably the first people to go on the media offensive (Gee Note: Offensive being the key word here) were the gun enthusiasts. From the smug prick who was interviewed on the BBC news report claiming that banning shotguns and rifles would be an overreaction and that if so Britain would be unable to host the Olympics in the future (Gee Note: Despite the fact that, gosh, Britain will be hosting the Olympics in 2012 including handgun shooting events even though handguns are banned in this nation. That’s what government legislation will do for you. Crazy no?), to the insane right wing bloggers all over the internet who are harping on that gun control laws simply do not work, a huge debate has erupted about the whole legal firearm issue.

Now guys, and I’m talking directly to all you out there who believe that guns are a God given right to every man, woman and child walking the face of this earth, allow me to explain something to you. The major system failure here wasn’t that Derrick Bird’s victims were unable to defend themselves because the law prohibited them from carrying weapons. The major system failure was that a taxi driver, a f***ing taxi driver mind you, was allowed to legally own a shotgun and a rifle with a telescopic lens. I mean why? We are not a nation of hunters. There aren’t any bears or wild moose wandering around the forests of Britain. In fact the only real wildlife we have here are rabbits and the occasional squirrel. So realistically when the only vermin one has to contend with can be dusted off with a well thrown rock, a shotgun seems a bit redundant don’t you think?

The thing is not that Derrick Bird lost his mind with tragic, horrible consequences. Mental illness is an unfortunate side effect of being human, a condition where our minds are evolving at a far more rapid rate than the rest of our body. We are still the same creatures that 5000 years ago were living in huts and trying to work out how to keep cows in check. Our brains haven’t changed physically at all since then, in evolutionary terms 5000 years is a blink of an eye, and yet our mental capacity has grown substantially. And because of that our psyche is a bit like a sponge. It’ll still hold water after a fashion, but it’s full of holes. So a psychotic break like the one Derrick Bird, by all accounts a decent if quiet man, suffered are in some ways unavoidable.

But what is totally avoidable is the whole argument that guns shouldn’t be blamed because some guy went nuts and caused carnage with one. Simply because it’s an incredibly stupid debate. As mentioned above, people have always and will always lose their minds. It happens. No use pretending it doesn’t. Hopefully it will never happen to ourselves or to someone we love, but the chances are somebody reading this right now will be affected by a breakdown at some point in their lives. It’s just the way things are. When this happens to some poor soul the chances are they’ll either hurt themselves or others. Now if you can access guns rather easily, what are the chances that in this loon state the result will be fatal? I’m guessing it’s an almost certainty. However replace that gun with, oh I don’t know, a cucumber and the odds of mass destruction become significantly reduced. And yes if you’re determined to kill in cold blood and have the resources to do so you will. But people who snap aren’t Columbo style evil geniuses. They are broken people, unable to rationalise what they do. Take away their gun and, whatever happens, there’ll be a lot less blood shed.

With all that being said, to America now with a quick survey. How would you deal with a friend if you were convinced they had been possessed by the Devil? Would you A) Call the police? B) Call a priest? C) Call the Winchester boys and hope to goodness Sam’s not having one of his melodramatic days? D) Cut off their face, cut out their heart while they’re still breathing, and leave them to bleed to death while you calmly throw their organs in to a fire in order to make sure evil doesn’t consume the rest of the world?

Guess, if you can, where this is going (Gee Note: Spoiler alert. No one becomes possessed in the new Sex and The City movie. Which is a shame really, as a gruesome death is really what that film needs). Well for those who chose option A, obviously you haven’t been paying attention. If you chose option D then congratulations, you’ve just won yourself a limited edition I Saw Elvis In The Woods novelty coin*.

Meet Jarrod Wyatt, a 26 year old MMA fighter, who is accused of killing friend and training partner Taylor Powell. Apparently a mutual friend had been drinking tea spiked with hallucinogenic mushrooms with the two of them and left to pick up supplies. When he arrived back he discovered Wyatt naked, covered in blood, standing over Powell’s body. The friend became even more alarmed when he noticed a single eyeball lying on the floor. Police were soon called and discovered that Powell’s body was a complete mess, missing his tongue, heart, and other vital organs. According to the autopsy report the coroner determined that Powell had been alive when Wyatt started to cut out his heart. Wyatt later threw the heart in to a fire because he believed that Powell might still be alive and that “he needed to stop the devil”.

Which is appalling. But here’s the thing. Wyatt’s lawyer hasn’t tried to prove that Powell really was possessed by the devil, which at least would be something. Instead he has claimed diminished responsibility because Wyatt was as high as a kite at the time. So rather than admit that as a trained cage fighter Wyatt is potentially a lethal weapon in his own right, and that he brutally murdered and tortured another human being, it’s all the fault of the drugs. Which they’re not as keen to mention Wyatt intentionally and willingly took.

And then, oh then, we have Julien Barreaux, a 20 year old video game player from Cambrai, France. Barreaux had been playing Counter-Strike online when a player identified only as Mikhael killed his character. Which is, like, totally the whole point of the game. So Barreaux, using detective skills that would rival Poirot (Gee Note: Alright so Poirot isn’t French. He’s Belgian. But I couldn’t think of a French detective outside of Inspectors Clouseau and Gadget. Neither of which would help illustrate the point. Both of which make me laugh however. Ah inept French policemen. Comedy gold I tells you) he spent the next seven months trying to locate Mikhael in the real world. Which he did. Barreaux then knocked on his door, and promptly plunged a knife in his chest when answered, missing his heart by an inch. Arrested within the hour he told police he “wanted to see his rival wiped out for killing off his character”. He was later sentenced to two years in jail for causing grievous bodily harm. Of course the media in France has jumped on the old familiar bandwagon of how video games are evil, completely relieving the responsibility from the messed up individual who takes a game so seriously he’s willing to murder for it. See? These games breed violence and horror and are slowly turning our kids in to psychopaths.

Well no. No they’re not. For a start Barreaux was 20, hardly a kid, and sure as hell old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. And also the difference between fantasy and reality. Secondly if someone is willing to PLUNGE A KNIFE INTO SOMEONE’S CHEST WHO THEY’VE NEVER MET then, um, I hate to break this to you but they’re already a psychopath, whether or not they play videogames.

So. There we have it. A man who’s studied exactly how much hurt and pain taking someone’s life can cause, and does it anyway seemingly without a care. A group of people who would argue that folks should be allowed to have weapons when they serve no purpose other than to hurt and maim other people. A man who will try and get out of facing the full repercussions for cutting his own friends heart out because he was stupid enough to expose himself to mind bending narcotics. And a media that would rather blame a recreational activity for a man’s injury rather than the lunatic who actually inflicted it.

Yeah, I wouldn’t blame that alien if he got the hell out of here as quickly as possible.
After all we’re probably not worth it.

*Not really.