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I haven’t written anything on this blog for a long time but was recently moved to write something about just how stressful I find traveling. This idea occurred to me at 3am on a transatlantic flight between Boston and Heathrow wedged between the 'Patient Zero' for some kind of new (but as yet unidentifiable) disease and a Jehovah’s witness perusing her copy of The Watchtower under a searing bright light for the duration of the night flight. The throaty coughing and inescapable omniscient glow of nauseating religious iconography was topped off with a high frequency back massage by a small tubby American child called Corey. This nightmarish travel situation reminded me vaguely of one of the paintings of Hell by Hieronymus Bosch. Indeed, I would call this new 10th level of hell ‘Stelios’: a place where those who inflict unnecessary pain and discomfort on fellow travelers, the slow walkers and chanting football fans of the world, would be condemned to an eternal holding pattern over Heathrow to have their spines tenderized by imps wearing iron horseshoes.

Four hours into the flight I began to think about why I find travel so stressful. The truth is there are several things about me as an individual that tend to contribute to my miserable time during transit. I have narrowed down my afflictions to two main characteristics with nomenclature that I shall explain below: (i) The Bean Constant, and (ii) The Hugh Grant Effect.

The Bean Constant. Firstly, technology seems to fail around me, often at the point when it is most needed. It’s as if I intermittently generate some kind of localised Electro Magnetic Pulse which causes any piece of technology more sophisticated than a tooth pick to go barmy. I currently work as a Psychology student in a sleep lab and, when I can get the DVD player working, I will watch multiple Mr. Bean episodes with participants during the ‘wire-up’ process (I spend about 30-40 minutes attaching various sensors to their heads before they sleep). As if I wasn’t sick enough of Bean’s rubbery little face after the 60th viewing, one particular episode keeps cropping up that tragically reminds me of myself.

In this episode (Ep. 11, Back to School Mr. Bean*) Bean is involved in an unfortunate incident at a school open day involving a Van de Graaff machine (a device that makes your hair stick up with static electricity). Bean becomes turbo charged with some kind of electrostatic aura and subsequently any electronic items around him start to misbehave. I too suffer from what I call The Bean Constant (2.15 in the vid below).


When I’m around airport tram cars will catch on fire, departure lounge information will glitch, ticket machines won’t take my money, and twitter tends to post in triple all my tweets whining about the above. These are all events that actually happened on my recent trip to Boston. Indeed, the hydraulics for the plane walkway failed when we arrived on a transfer flight to Heathrow making ungodly noises, as if King-Kong himself was trying to couple with the front docking door. British Airways being British Airways started playing classical music loudly over the intercom to divert our attention from the unseemly malfunctions going on outside, giving the whole situation a Titanic-esque vibe. In the end we had to exit the plane using some stairs and walk across the tarmac like savages.

The Hugh Grant Effect. Secondly, when faced with authority figures at the airports, in fact anyone in uniform really, I tend to have a little English meltdown. My travel companion in Boston recently likened the phenomenon to what he called the Hugh Grant Effect, or ‘Granting’. Like Hugh Grant I stutter, stammer, say ‘I’m terribly sorry’, often for no discernible reason, and twist my face into various beta chimp contortions which tend to make things far worse with the more militant customs officials who pray on weakness.

Below follows an exemplar transcript of what might be considered a typical exchange:

Silverback Customs Official: ‘Where you going to sir?’

Me [avoidant eye contact, pale, grinning]: ‘I….I’m sorry?’

SCO: ‘Where are you staying in Boston?’

Me: ‘I….I….I….I….I…I…I………………………..I think it’s the Constitution Inn.’

SCO: ‘You think?’

Me: ‘Sorry…I KNOW it’s the constitution Inn. I know. With all my heart sir.’

SCO: ‘Passport?’

Me: ‘Yes.’

SCO: [furrows chimp brow] ‘Can I have your passport, sir?’

Me: ‘Oh…I…sorry…here…terribly sorry. So sorry.’ [hands over passport with head bowed and palm up] ‘Sorry.’

SCO: [grunts, then looks at me then the passport five or six times]

Me [sweating, patches soaking through t-shirt, grinning like a lunatic]: ‘My… hair like that…hair looked like that…when…when I was a student…bloody ridiculous if you ask me! HAHAHA’ [quick 360 of head to see if anyone else is joining in the merriment].

SCO: ‘Okay sir, after the scanner to your right head on over to gate B32 at the end’

Me [surprised]: I…I…Tha…Thank….THANKyou….ThankYOU….You. I……Sorry again….I… goodbye [shuffle off with trousers starting to drop round my ankles because I am sans belt for the scanner].

This ‘Granting’ effect may help Huey get the ladies in his films but when a real person ‘Grants’ it becomes the mark of a loon. This  probably triggers more red flags than a communist cheerleading squad when they see someone like me twitching and grinning my way through customs.


Perhaps my worst personal case of Granting occurred in 2008 when I was on the border between Canada and America. I was getting a grilling by a massive American Customs official. He looked like the sort of person who would grind all those who gave him unsatisfactory answers to his questions into protein shakes, which he would then later drink from a star spangled flagon while doing curls with the leftover luggage. He also had a large dog with him that smiled at me and not in a good way. My nerves were not helped by the additional fact I was carrying all the alcohol of my traveling party. I was the only one over 21 you see, but also in hindsight there are still legal limits for the amount of alcohol one person can take through customs.

After the boozy cat was somewhat out of the bag and sprawled across the customs search bench he grunted at me a rapid barrage of questions: ‘Who are you with?’, ‘Where are you going?’, ‘What is the purpose of your visit?’. All of a sudden he asked me: ‘Why are your Jeans ripped?’. I looked down. My Jeans were indeed ripped as I thought it was fashionable at the time. My response, for reasons I don’t think I will ever fully understand, was this: ‘I….they….it’s all the more easy for you to search me officer’ [flutters eyelashes]. His monobrow twitched with barely concealed surprise at my response, and I could hear the cogs in his head whirring away, pondering the age old thespian question: ‘to bum search or not to bum search?’. He let me through unmolested in the end but I was half expecting a slap on my arse as I walked through the scanner. Never flirt with customs officials. Ever.

I could go on about other issues I have with traveling. I could, for example, talk about the fact that there always seems to be a weirdo on whatever mode of transport I am on (be it plane, train or automobile). They will end up talking exclusively to me, wild eyed about their sponsorship of a tamed badger breeding programme in the Galapagos or something. I could mention about how much I hate the horrible crystal maze style dash through airports when trying to catch a connecting flight complete with the theme tune running in an intrusive loop in my head. I could complain about my natural ability to shuffle all my important travel documents in a dispersal pattern across every pocket in my body leading to a weird ‘self-touch' fumble routine at various check points, like I am trying to reach second base with myself. All these gems will have to wait, though, until I have checked myself out of the Bear-Gyrills recovery clinic for traumatized travelers.


The above image was taken at Heathrow airport a week ago.

*Some Bean Scholars suggest this is the reason he has trouble operating his television in episode 4 ‘Mr. Bean Goes to Town’. This incident however, in terms of continuity, appears to occur before the Van De Graff incident in episode #11. Others argue that Mr. Bean’s antics have no sequential canon and that all of the episodes are interchangeable as evidenced by the inconsistent size of his teddy after the Laundromat incident in the episode #12 ‘Tee off Mr. Bean’ and subsequent episodes thereafter. Some Bean scholars have even gone as far to argue that it there is no official Bean canon and that all the extra stuff, such as the Mr. Bean cartoons and comic relief specials, occupy the same universe in a non-sequential manner. I would describe these people as anarchists.

Where's Nerdo?

So I drew this.


A slightly higher resolution version can be seen here. I started drawing this image little by little in early 2008 when I was unemployed and a bit lonely. To start with it was only one panel of landscape A4 (the bottom left quarter of the image) but I kept drawing in the evenings to keep me sane while I looked for a viable PhD during the day. As I am a child of the information age, and my brain requires near constant stimulation, I would often have a film, television or audiobook playing in the background while I drew. After a while my image expanded to four A4 panels and said media was incorporated as references and jokes into the image. After a while the 42nd MetaDork convention was born and I had my very own Bayeux Tapestry except nerdier.

I eventually got a PhD at the University of York where my work on it mostly ground to a halt. Mostly. However, about four months ago my friend Chris submitted the uncoloured image to the link sharing website Reddit.com. It got a few up-votes, some nice comments and various requests for prints once I had coloured it. Re-energised I merged the panels together, added even more stuff to it, then coloured it. The end product is above.

I didn’t draw this originally to make money but seeing as I am going to need the cash to get through the final year of my PhD (I am behind schedule for some reason) I am taking commissions for prints. 25% of any money I make will go to St. Leonard’s hospice in York, England.

A large high quality A2 print of this bad boy will cost £23 (or $35.5 usd).
I can do smaller, cheaper prints but a lot of the detail will be lost.

Postage and packing: £4 within the U.K. and £5.50 (or $9 usd) for the rest of the world.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE: if you look closely I left a little blank newspaper at the bottom centre of the image. I will customise this with anything you request when you order, or something from my own imagination, if you so wish (see ‘list of personalised newspapers’ below).

If you want a print email me at theboyhastoomuchtime@gmail.com telling me: 1. Your postal address, and; 2. what you want customised on the little newspaper at the front. I will then send you PayPal invoice from my verified PayPal account (I will accept cheques as well). Once paid I will post you your poster!

IMAGE TRIVIA:

  • Approximate number of popular culture references: 320
  • Number of light sabres: 5
  • Number of Tribbles: there are 34 Tribbles scattered around the image. Can you catch and neuter them all?
  • Most obscure reference: a line from a character in the film ‘Tommy Boy’.  
  • Number of ‘ladies’ with three boobs: 1.
  • A reference most people may not get: the camera crew have costumes of marvel characters that befit their occupations: the Watcher, Cable and Vision (centre of image).
  • A reference very few people will get: the Alien from ‘Mars Attacks’ is chewing gum because the inspiration of these aliens was bubblegum cards.
  • References no-one will get: I don’t think enough people have seen Star Wars to get those references.
  • Number of Star Wars references:  18
  • Number of Star Trek references: 16 (not including the tribbles)
  • Number of Krull references: 1
  • First thing Drawn: Battle Wench’s cleavage.
  • Last thing drawn: the alien graffiti on the toilets.
  • Three different characters named ‘Blinky’ are in the image in reference to a short film, game and TV show.
Q&A:

Q. Do you have a life?
A. Yes. Thanks for asking.

Q. Is there a list of references to all the stuff in this picture?
A. Yes I created a detailed word document with hyperlinks you can download here. A ‘lighter’ plain text version can be found here.

Q. This image has a level of detail that, frankly, might only be seen scratched into the walls of a prison cell by a criminally insane individual using only their fingernails or the discarded spine of a rat they have eaten. Do you ever fear for your mental health?
A. Spinach.

Q. This looks a lot like where’s Waldo/Wally. Is he in there?
A. Yes but I am not telling you where.

Q. Is that Klingon writing on the wall to the left of the stage? If so what does it say?
A. I have no idea and I don’t know. For some reason I have no recollection of doing it. If anyone knows what is says please email the answer to me at theboyhastoomuchtime@gmail.com

Q. What aspect of the image are you most proud of?
A. Wallace, from the adventures of Wallace and Gromit, kicking a Nazi in the face wearing his Wrong Trousers (top left of image). One day I am going to own a mansion with two large fountains in the gardens. One of these fountains will be of Wallace kicking a Nazi in the face in his Wrong Trousers (the water will be coming out of the Nazi’s nose)..


Q. What will the second fountain be of?
A. Wolverine fighting off three Aliens. The water will be coming out of the chest of one kebabed xenomorph.

Q. What is your favourite comic?
A. Of all time? Preacher. On a weekly basis however it is probably Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.

Q. What is your favourite TV show?
A. It used to be the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica but the final season, with its use of religion as an ‘all-purpose plothole pollyfiller’ sadly disappointed. Right now it is ‘Game of Thrones’.

Q. Do you enjoy making Q&A’s?
A. Yes. It is quite relaxing actually.

Q. You do know you have spelt ‘maintenance’ wrong on the front of the Costume Maintenance stand?
A. I am going to cut you.

Q. What is your PhD on?
A. The effect of sleep based memory consolidation on semantic memory.

Q. Is that an Alien reaching first base with a Predator?
A. Yes.


Q. This image is so awesome! I wish there was some way of reading a constant stream of mundane information from your own head.
A. Thanks! That wasn’t really a question but my twitter feed is @Gigalo_joe.

LIST OF PERSONALISED NEWSPAPERS (to be updated if/when I receive print orders)

  • Print number #1: ‘Alex Cocks up plans for Rachel’s Birthday. Prints poster to apologise.’ (01.11.11).

Making Chris' package go viral



To celebrate my 26th birthday I floated the option with some of my friends of the possibility of having a themed birthday party. After a few drinks some suggestions were put forward and shot down (i.e. Smurfs) and eventually the idea of a 'Pimps and Ho's' theme floated to the top of the think tank like a sleazy lump of polystyrene. The boys (the originators of this choice) had barely finished whipping themselves up into a self-congratulatory and primordial frenzy of excitement at this revelation, like a bunch of chimps discovering a hidden stash of mangos, before the girls had torpedoed the decision through a quick and decisive matriarchal coup. The theme now had an important qualifier: it had to be reverse gender. The boys begrudgingly accepted this. I say 'begrudgingly' because we all know boys love dressing up as girls and will pretty much look for any excuse.

The next few weeks saw some increasingly strange behavior exhibited by some of my male friends. Locked into the feminine mindset - cutthroat competition regarding choice of dresses, shoes and anti-tangle shampoo began.  I am sure sales of feminine trinkets such as corsets, feather boas, gloves, hats, jewels and pretty fake pearls all spiked at York city center market, as I am sure did the frequency of the Googled term 'size 10 tranny heels'.

The girls also relished the lack of effort they had to make to go to this party for once. Essentially all they had to do was draw on a mustache, forge a synthetic man-package using a pair of rolled up polyester socks (a man-made material!), and generally act around 33% more of a douchenozzle in order to successfully emulate any given male member of our species.

Altogether it was an eventful evening as illustrated by this dynamic, sensual and somewhat chaotic photo (that sexy bitch in the middle is me).

To encourage people to dress up I also created four separate awards (a certificate covered in glitter) with little award-appropriate gifts. It is fair to say the competition to these was fairly epic and several of the gents came back from the toilet throughout the evening with the mysterious addition of red scratches accross their eyes and the omission of several chunks of hair pulled out from the roots. Nevertheless; the official awards and winners are below:

  • The 'Skankiest Ho' Award' for the most genuinely depraved prostitute costume. Won by Dave Gordon who was dressed as 'back alley hooker with cockroaches'. He won a sonic rape alarm.
  • The 'Biggest Pimp Award' for the girl dressed as the best pimp. Given to Becky Prince - mainly due to her extreme pimp heels which were so over the top they contained tiny little goldfish. She won a king size condom.
  • The 'Confuser Award' for most seamless gender transition. This was won by Jeff Steinour for his /her dusky alter ego 'Chastity'. He/she won some 'kiss with confidence' breath mints.
  • The 'Golden Herpes Award' for overall best/most disturbing costume. This was awarded to Chris Racey for his stunning effort as 'Reianna Rouge' a scarlet clad harpy of truly eye watering dimensions. He won an adorable little yellow stuffed herpes microbe.

It is the latter winner I particularly wanted to focus on for this blog post as the astonishing effort made by Chris to dress up as such a slapper, alongside the gusto in which he embraced this alter libido, were truly a force of nature. Like a freakish mermaid he looked okay from the neck up but below this he degenerated into a twisted wreck of limbs, cleavage, glitter and tortured Freudian nightmares. He was the mythological anti-Siren from the Greek island of Trollopopalis

Watching him flounce about all night in his tight, squeaky red leather corset, as well as is willingness to slowly bend over to pickup his Chupa Chup lollies (which he seemed to drop alarmingly frequently) led many a party-goer to loose their appetite for birthday cake, and sex, forever. In one particularly horrific moment, timed between the pause as the track changed from Madonna's What it Feels like for a Girl to Beyonce's Single Ladies, Chris sat down with his corset making groaning noises like a submarine hull if pushed 40-50 fathoms deeper than its operational limits.

The accompanying visual imagery of this maneuver resulted in a moment of true horror for all observers involved. He was, for a moment, indefinable: bulges shifted and changed like two puppies fighting in a sack. There was no consistency or continuity to his form - and he shimmered at the netherworlds between two genders. He was one yet neither - a mind-bending visual paradox. Chris, oblivious to all this, sat casually talking to Shane (who looked like the secret 6th member of the Spice Girls: Hairy Spice), and coyly twirled his red hair round his fingers. I froze and died inside. All the blood drained from my loins and face via my stomach which then tried to squeeze its contents out of my mouth. The moment was caught on camera and can be seen below and I warn you: WHAT IS SEEN CANNOT BE UNSEEN.


 

Naturally I want this image to go viral and garner as much attention as possible. I want the world to suffer as I have. To this end I used the
ColorSpash application on my iPhone to remove the colour from the photo to accentuate his 'curves'.



I then used a second website, FotoFunia, to insert the comely wench into a selection of high profile scenarios. Such as 50 ft brick walls...




...coveted public signage...
 


...hot girl's mirrors...



...graffiti...


...mug shots...
 


...school textbooks (*shudder*)...


...the world of high art...



... including the initial sketches...
 


...questionable extra-curricular activities...
 


...entire blocks of flats...



...newspapers...



...t-shirts...
 


...magazines...



...the money used to pay for the t-shirts, newspapers and magazines...
 

...and ultimately, the stamps put on the envelopes to the purveyors of said newspapers, t-shirts and magazines in order to complain about the disturbing imagery.


I even turned him into a lolcat.


Then I got thinking: could I make this into a fake advertisement for, say, a perfume? That would add some legitimacy to the plastering of his face everywhere. With the help of Microsoft Publisher I have to say watch for the new scent on the market: WTF by Racey.



This advert can now be seen all over the world actually!
















I encourage you to spread these images far and wide in order to make Chris' package what it probably already was anyway: viral.

Wee Poems I



Sarah Palin*
Your attitude may be bold, and teeth shiny white, but you cannot blind me as you are not very bright.

</3
It was binary love and she was my one so we chatted online 'till the rise of the sun. Her emoticons were flirty, while mine became hearted, alas I'm a zero and my modem restarted.

Red BS
You promised me wings but I got the squits.

*Actually Tweeted to the former Governer of Alaska at 7:45am GMT on the 8th of December 2010



Manliness


I recently attended a 'Plasticity Across Systems' conference/winter school in Lübeck, Germany, with a number of rather bright men and women from around the world. At the conference meal myself, Scott Cairney (the University of Manchester) and Stephanie Polta (the Max Planke institute) used this crucial time window, normally used by most people to form vital cross cultural connections for future collaborations, to sit down with a few bottles of wine and draw up a comprehensive list of things that are, and are not, deemed 'manly'. Below are the fruits of these labours with an accompaning points system so you can keep track of your own personal manomic output. More suggestions are always welcome!

I wont tell you my score but it is not good.



mpplus

DIEATHLON: UPDATE #2

With about two weeks to go I am making some progress on the training front and I am a lot fitter than I was. However, like a royal marriage, this is all relative and I may not really be that fit in any real sense of the word. However, those close to me have granted me a promotion from ‘certain death’ to the slightly more appealing ‘likely-to finish-it-but-not-with-a-huge-amount-of-dignity-or-with-a-very-good-time’. I have translated this generous upgrade onto the Bone-o-meter below.

 

My slow progress is probably not helped by my overconsumption of chocolate milk. This derived from some peer reviewed research I heard about* that suggests drinking chocolate milk is actually better for you after exercise than isotonic sports drinks. After hearing this I immediately went to Asda (online) and brought ten bottles of brand choco-milk. Unfortunately, I fell into the usual trap I tend to make when web shopping, and ordered the wrong size merchandise. This is generally because products within certain ranges (I am looking at you Lloyd Grossman sauce) maintain a uniform style of packaging regardless of volume. All the bloody thumbnail pictures look the same size! Consequently I always end up ordering giant comedy-proportioned products which make my kitchen cupboard look like a set from the borrowers. Needless to say my Choco Milks were 1 litre each as opposed to the more manageable 500ml bottles. An additional kick in the happy sack was that the ‘use by’ date was five days after delivery. This inevitably meant for nearly a whole week I was lurching around my floor, stiff from exercise, with a small but permanent choco moustache. The net result of these milky shenanigans was that the constant fire in my muscles was quenched by a perpetual tsunami of coco related dairy products ensuring my current levels of tubbiness remain in almost perfect equilibrium with my beasty exercise routine.

 

I joined the gym behind my residence. It is a posh one but I got a couple of hundred pounds from teaching so I spent it on a 12 month membership and a few sessions with a personal trainer called ‘Dean’. I told Dean that I intended to do a triathlon in less than a month. He quickly looked around the room checking for hidden cameras and then drew me up a workout routine that would cripple Zeus. I informed him that I intended to do the breast stroke as part of the initial 1.5k swim leg. He told me that breast stroke was for little girls and grannies and that I would need to do the front crawl to a.) preserve my legs for the biking and running and b.) maintain the minimum levels of manliness required to take part in a triathlon. I am now training on the front crawl in an Aldi wetsuit that makes me look like a gimp barman from an exclusive London fetish club.

Finally, the good-cop knob-cop duo who are running the ‘save our chump’ charity campaign continue to help me out. Chris (knob cop) has got knobbier with his bullying extending to writing tuneless songs about me and singing them loudly while playing on his ukulele. Nothing really rhymes with ‘Alex’ but he still manages to find lots of horrible things to say. Shane continues to provide equipment including a pair of cool goggles and a small ‘shoe wallet’ which looks a bit like a Smurf’s sleeping bag. I am supposed to put £20 in it and attach it in my shoe so if I break down/puss out in the triathlon I can get a cab back. Unfortunately, the triathlon is taking place in central London so £20 will probably get me about a quarter of a mile. Lastly, Shane took me on a 40 mile bike ride yesterday using his phones GPS system to plot the route. I would be lying if I said I found it easy but it was 20k more than I need to do in the actual event. The worst part, however, was having 2/3rds of my vision filled with Shane’s spandex clad gluteal muscles bobbing up and down for four and a half hours.

Two weeks to go. Thanks to all those who have sponsored me so far! If you would like to donate or view all the ‘amusing’ comments people have written please follow this link.

 

*This research sure as hell wasn’t from the back of a ‘Mar Refuel’ bottle. The blurb on the back of said chocolate milk product has a little Asterix by the word ‘Research shows…’ which, although suspended pregnant with the promise of signposting legitimate information, ultimately leads to nowhere like this point.

Tags:

DIEATHLON: UPDATE #1

On August the 8th I am taking part in a Triathlon in London. This came as somewhat of a surprise to those who know me for reasons explained in the following image.


The truth is I am entering the event because of my friend Rob ‘Kamikaze’ Clarke who works for a charity called SportsAid which provides badly needed fiscal support to disabled and able bodied athletes. I agreed to enter on stupid assumption that Rob would put us into the ‘Fisher Price’ fun run Triathlon which, in my head,consisted of a space hopper bounce (= 30 metres), a bubblebath soak (= 30 minutes) followed by a Unicorn ride (= however long the rainbow is). I envisioned us splashing about in about a foot of soothingly warm water wearing armbands filled with pixie hiccups and laughing at the chumps sweating it out doing the main event.

This was not the case. We are those chumps. And it is an Olympic Level Triathlon event and we are swimming in the Thames (= 1.5k), Cycling (= 40k) and Running (= 10k) in that order. To put this in perspective this is the kind of thing people train for years to do and I agreed to do this with about two months notice with absolutely no equipment, a first trimester pot belly and an addiction to gummy based snack products from the second floor Psychology building vending machine.

Spotting my inevitable doom several of my friends here at York naturally found my predicament hilarious. This quickly turned into genuine concern as it became clear I was to do the thing no matter what. Subsequently, two stepped up: Dr. Shane Lindsay and Wananabe Dr. Chris Racey, who engaged in what can only be described as a charity event within a charity event: the Save Our Friend Unduly Coerced into Exercise and Dieting foundation.

The SOFUCED campaign deployed a Good Cop - Knob Cop approach with Chris filling the latter role without much deliberation. He essentially bullied me into exercising through cruel jibes such as: ‘So can I have your laptop when you die?’,  ‘When you die do I have to wear a suit to your funeral?’, and 'You are definatley going to die'. Shane took on a more directly supportive role digging out various pieces of equipment for me to use including the following: (i) one pair of dangerously tight spandex shorts, (ii) one cycling blazer, (iii) one swim cap, (iv) one 'special' swim float, and (v) the offer of a GPS watch that has yet to materialize. He also pointed me in the direction of an early morning Aldi offer of a cheapo wetsuit (£30). The last bit of equipment I needed was actually supplied by my dear old dad: an antique road bike which is about 30% faster than my old bike but with about 60% less suspension. I now know why Shane’s shorts have a crotch cushion.

My training is now in full swing and I have around a month left to go before terminus. If you would like to sponsor my impending doom please do so by the following this link. Also, just to nip any hilarious ‘do I get my money back if you die?’ jokes let me just say that you definitely do not get your money back under any circumstances should this actually happen.

Thanks to those who have already donated and I will keep you posted on my progress.

 

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The LOST finale

What is going on? A sense of pleasurable confusion, a feeling a bit like being perpetually trapped in a revolving door that dispenses sweeties, has been dogging me since I saw the first episode of season one of LOST back in 2004. Six years on and the confusion is still very much with me and is fair to say the writers have a lot to wrap up in the last couple of hours. Short of a rapturious finale penned by the collective brains of Albert Einstein, Shakespeare and Bruce Lee networked in a vat of unicorn tears, sparked into life by a bolt of lightening shot from Jesus’ arse, there was no real way the mortal writers would ever truly be able to wrap this up in a neat and tidy way. I think most LOST fans knew this in their heart of hearts which made watching this episode unusually tense.

I could feel the collective hate of a million fans primed, ready to radiate from all corners of planet earth right into the middle of the heads of those responsible if things were not satisfactory. It is a dangerous thing to underestimate the warped intelligence of LOST fans.

Back in 2004 the show started hemorrhaging viewers who got sick of the 'lack of answers' or who simply could not allocate the sufficiant cognitive resources the show demanded. After six years this has left a powerful breed of super viewer very far removed from a puny channel flipping ‘other'. Those who are left are true fans and possibly a bit deranged. We are the kind of people who draw complex schematic plot charts onto the backs of toilet doors while we are on the can. We lounge around in our sweat huts wearing Dharma Initiative jumpsuits trying to train our pet budgies to be our dimiutive constants. My friend Dale has even made his own excellent version of the show (below) using nothing but bits of matted hair and sellotape. Like eating a dodgy 15 year old cracker you found under a rock pissing off this demographic might lead to extremely unpleasant, but not unsurprising, consequences. In short: get the finale wrong and you would make the Muslim death threats in the wake of the Danish Cartoon controversy look like a game of pin the tail on the donkey.


For this tense occasion six individuals gathered here in York, mostly from the University’s department of Psychology, to watch it together and eat a curry. This is event is hosted bi-weekly by Dr. Shane Lindsay who I think bears and uncanny resemblance to Owen Wilson.

 


As it was the finale we did three things. Firstly we dressed up in the LOST theme.



Katie’s effort was spectacular so here is a closer at her plot hole.


Secondly, I printed off the LOST finale drinking game. It was made originally as a joke but at least 13 things on this list actually occurred in the finale. Some repeatedly. We ran out of beer.

Lastly, we all secretly wrote our predictions for the ending on the back of a bit of paper hidden from each other’s view.

So, yeah our predications are below and the approximate subjective accuracy of what actually happened (in %) are on the right.



Sooo it turned out everyone is dead and the flash forwards are really flash ‘somewheres’ into a timeless realm where all the characters are dead but still need to find each other. Desmond’s ‘mindgasm’ spread through the cast rapidly like a bacterial infection that poops MDMA and everyone gathered for a love fest (note the ‘dogpile’ in my predicition) and general back-slapping session in a multifaith church. Having 'connected' with each other they seemed to all understand 'something' and could ‘move on’. In short those who were lost finally found each other and completed their separate journeys.

Not all fans were pleased with this. I myself was slightly irked by the exclusivity of the afterlife after party. No blacks allowed? The Jesus out front was as white as they get...Also, what about the dozens and dozens of other survivors whose death at every turn buffeted the central characters into each other and the penultimate hippy love in? Surely they deserve at least a steerage seat in the church seeing as their broken bodies paved the way? If I went on this tangent though I would run possibly out of internets to scream and yell about all the unfilled plot holes.

Then I had my own ‘Desmond-esque’ mindgasm. The thing with LOST is that it all about the journey not the destination. Were we entertained for six years? Yes. To explain everything would make this rich world sterile and colourless even though many have tried. The show itself states that ‘the most important moments of your lives were those times you spent on the island’. Whilst the ultimate destination of the show will forever be the same the journey can be interpreted differently each time we watch it. Therein lies the beauty of LOST: every viewer who has watched or who ever will watch it trickles through this complex journey differently. I am glad the show didn’t end up doing it by the numbers.


Photo Credits: Owen Wilson, Shane Wilson, Owen Lindsay Shane Lindsay

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Gay Daleks


 
Anyone who watched the recent Dr. Who episode Victory of the Daleks , which aired on the 17th of April last month, will be as outstanded as I was that the psychotic metal bastards finally plucked up the courage to wheel their way out of the closet (below). This was of course the unveiling of the new 'power ranger' multicoloured Daleks possibly as a canonical parallel to the new Doctor. At the the climax of the episode five shiny new Daleks, sporting fabulous new colour schemes, glided out of a giant smoking mechanical closet and arranged themselves into a Gay Flag in an act of solidarity. The scene could only have been camper if it was part of a Shirley bassey song and dance routine, which I nearly thought would happen once the last jazzy orange number sidled into the spotlight.


 
Dr. Who has a proud history of being liberal regarding these sorts of things and that was before the lead writer, and openly gay, Russel T. Davies helped successfully reboot the series in 2005. He previously wrote Queer as Folk a ground-breaking drama about the gay community which itself was so successful it was quickly exported to the states. He brought these sensibilities into Dr.Who, obviously to a more muted degree, and in doing so made the show truly for everyone. One particular character who stands out is the massively horny and pan-sexual Captain Jack Harkness, played by real life gay John Barrowman. Jack, for the record, notoriously suggested a foursome with the Doctor, the Doctor's doppleganger, and his assistant Donna in the season four finale which, by all accounts, he might have been up for if they wern't so busy trying fight off Daleks.

Harkness went on to star in his own spin off from Dr. Who, Torchwood, where he headed up an equally horny and liberal team of twenty-somethings responsible for Britain's first contact with a plethora of alien races. And when I say 'first contact' I mean the entire cast would first all kiss each other, kiss said alien, then descend into a massive intergalactic dogpile often before the opening credits had finished rolling. Some people found this a little jarring given that it was a spin off of what was primarily a children's program. I thought it was great and, more importantly, often unintentionally hilarious.


Between the two shows Dr.Who has more gay fans than you could pack into a pink Tardis. In fact the organisers of London Gay pride had to set up a giant screen in Trafalgar Square to broadcast a season finale lest half the crowd went home early to watch it on the T.V. Nerds love it, kids love it, the Gays love it, Britain loves it and that is why I believe the Daleks finally chose to come out. They knew they would finally be accepted.

It makes perfect sense. Repressed militaristic bullies with an irrational hatred of cybermen (well maybe not so irrational but bear with me on this one) trying to extenuate their masculinity with massive battle-fleets whilst wearing metal skirts. And where are all the females? It took them to being brought to the edge of extinction to finally realise that the only way to redeem themselves was to be themselves. Thus, in a wonderful coming of age moment they used a weird Dalek egg thing that was, get this, turned on by the Doctor's voice to asexually reproduce and finally, dramatically, come out. As an after touch they promptly destroyed all the nearby tatty looking 'old Daleks' clad in outdated uniforms and colour schemes like a particularly deranged episode of  'A Dalek Eye for the Tardis Guy'.

It is all so obvious to me now and trust me when I say we have not heard the last of this. After all, closets in the Dr. Who Universe are much, much bigger on the inside...