Archive for January, 2009

No More Hiding Behind A Smoke Screen

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2009 by zombiebacon

I’m currently involved in the hardest battle of my life. It’s a war I can never win but one where I will, if I’m lucky, reach a draw.

Even reporting from the front is difficult, let alone fighting at the same time, because my enemy controls supplies so vital to the maintenance of my forces. Every day my side is weaker while the foe maintains itself without injury.

This isn’t a war on terror though. It’s a war on pleasure. Or perceived pleasure.

Because I’ve just quit smoking.

It’s been three days now since they left my life – those, those smooth darlings of nicotine heaven – and I’m crumbling like a jilted lover.

All I can think about are cigs, if I can even think anymore. To be honest I’m not sure I can. My brain feels like it’s being sucked out my nostrils very slowly.

I feel stupid – like someone has come along and knocked my IQ in half – and the quick thinking I used to be known for is no-where to be seen. I can still do wit, but only half of what I used to be able.

I don’t even know where this blog entry is going. Without the false cool of cigs I’m becoming an emotional, irrational wreck.

But I now recognise that cigarettes, and tobacco itself (so no hand-rolled is healthier argument can stand), are BAD for me.

With cigs there are all those extra additives that make smoking more addictive than shooting heroin but with all smoking there are the damaging chemicals produced by pyrolysis (the burning of tobacco) that smokers suck down into their soft, vulnerable lungs.

* Yes, I’m now getting angry with the design of lungs for not being man enough to take all the chemicals cigs throw at them. Nicotine withdrawal does have a habit of making one rather unreasonable. *

So for my health’s sake I’ve quit and without the smoke screen to blind me, I see just how nasty tobacco really is. It’s made me it’s bitch and I’m missing being punished soooo much.

I’m not preaching though. It seems when someone quits they either become fat or a prig. Or both.

There’s no smugness here when I watch someone light up. Just cold sweats and an almost uncontrollable desire to snatch the cigarette for myself at ANY cost.

It’s up to the individual to decide to quit. I’ve known of the dangers of smoking for ages but tried every argument and excuse to justify continuing getting my nicotine hit. Now I think I really do want to give up.

I’ve gone cold turkey and only time will tell if I succeed.

Wish me luck, and smoke ’em if you’ve got them.

Advertisements

Young At Hearts

Posted in Humour, news, satire, science with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2009 by zombiebacon

Sinced the time the first single-celled organisms (such as President Bush) decided to stop reproducing asexually and have a bit of fun, there’s been an odd thing called LOVE.

To some it’s the best feeling in the world, to others an endless source of misery and woe; but to everyone it’s been a mystery.

How many times have you heard someone say ‘I can’t believe he/she’s with her/him/it’? If love was fathomable then expressions such as ‘love is blind’ and ‘beauty’s in the eye of the beholder’ would be meaningless – because we’d all be able to do the maths and work out why one plus one equals two. Or, later on down the road, three or four.

Poets, artists and musicians wax lyrical about it but press them to explain what the hell they’re on about and they’ll probably come up with such rubbish as ‘love is ineffable’ and ‘beyond explanation’, which kind of makes the whole effort of putting their ‘thoughts’ on the subject down on paper, disk or canvas pointless.

Thankfully, there’s another avenue we can go down to explain what love is. It’s called ‘science’, but really science is just a name for the process of rational investigation to bring understanding.

Everything in our lives should be done, in this sense of the word, scientifically. You wouldn’t drive a car without learning how it works, or eat anything that takes your eye and trust to faith you wouldn’t get poisoned.

The same should apply to love, because, to quote a bad ’80s pop tune, it ‘changes, changes everything’. Bad love can be worse for you than tucking into a steaming bowl of salmonella.

Larry Young, a professor of neuroscience at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, has had the nerve to examine love scientifically, and his conclusion is very interesting.

He argues that love can be explained by a series of neurochemical events in the brain.

“It’s just that when we experience these emotions they are so rich we can’t imagine that they are just a series of chemical events,” says Dr Young.

You can read the full article here for the actual science. What I find fascinating are the implications.

Such a reductionist approach might take the romance out of love but it sure is refreshing.

Basically our beloveds are doping us to the eye-balls until we can’t think straight.

Which is why so many lives go unfulfilled in terms of experience. We don’t care that we’re missing all the other rides in the fairground because the Roller-coaster’s providing such a buzz.

Far better to get off and try something else. You’ll still get a kick as nature’s wired your brain to provide it. Maybe the Dodgems would be an apt choice.

Bad love would be cured and people could have a legitimately acceptable choice in life. Get married and slowly become immune to the drug OR sod ’em all and become a emotion junkie.

After all, nature is only trying to trick us in to putting all our baskets into one egg.

“Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species” – W. Somerset Maugham

Then, when the body is too frazzled to take the constant highs, you could finally settle down for one last baby-making chemical romance, satisfied in the knowledge you’d have some great memories to take to the grave.


Morris Men Face Extinction

Posted in culture, Humour, satire with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2009 by zombiebacon

Forget the plight of pandas, struggle of Sumatran tigers or foreboding of polar bears feeling the heat of climate change. There’s another noble beast balancing on the precipice of extinction…

The morris dancer.

According to national association the Morris Ring, village greens could be devoid of morris dancers within 20 years if action isn’t taken soon.

The unforgettable sights and sounds of full-grown men whacking sticks and jangling bells around a huge erection could be consigned to the history books forever – because today’s youf find it all a bit embarrassing.

Charlie Corcoran, bagman (secretary) of the Morris Ring, told BBC News: “There’s a distinct possibility that in 20 years’ time there will be nobody left.

“It worries me a great deal. Young people are just too embarrassed to take part.

“This is a serious situation. The average age of Morris dancing sides is getting older and older.

“Once we’ve lost this part of our culture, it will be almost impossible to revive it.”

For some strange reason young people think tying ribbons to their legs and waving hankies around to celebrate the collective rebirth of seasonal horniness isn’t cool anymore.

They’d rather head down to a club than bang a fellow dancer’s head with one.

Being brutally honest, it isn’t really surprising they should feel this way. Compared to other countries’ folk traditions, such as the intimidating Haka of the Maori or the sexiness of the Hawaiian Hula, the morris dance is shown up as the embodiment of naffness.

Beardie old goats prancing around a pole to suggest fertility is on the same cultural level as innuendo in a Carry On film. Without the laughs.

Maybe we would be doing ourselves a favour by allowing morris dancing as it is to die. Replacing it with an annual Carry On-themed ritual to herald in summer might make the world think better of us.

Or how about a Benny Hill-style chase around the common with such stock characters as the blond bikini-clad bimbo,  dirty old man with a walking stick, nurse and policeman running around to the theme of Yakety Sax.

American tourists would flock over in droves to witness such a spectacle.

I, for one, would sign up to take part straight away. It would be hilarious and the perfect way to let off all that seasonal steam.

Of course none of us would get the girls – but with the strange attire of morris men hasn’t that always been the case?

Click on the video below to get an idea of how cool morris dancing really could be…

An Unearthly Child?

Posted in doctor who, TV with tags , , , , , , on January 5, 2009 by zombiebacon

After months of speculation that the new Doctor Who would be a woman, coloured person or a dwarf, the choice was finally revealed on Saturday.

Matt Smith, a relative unknown, has made history by becoming the youngest actor to take on the role in the series’ 46-year history. At 26 he’s a baby compared to predecessors such as William Hartnell (55), Jon Pertwee (51), Patrick Troughton (46), Sylvester McCoy (44), and Tom Baker (40).

Matt Smith is to take control of the TARDIS from Series Five

Matt Smith is to take control of the TARDIS from Series Five

Before him the freshest face to inhabit the TARDIS was Peter Davidson, who took the role on at 29.

Looking on the various Doctor Who forums it seems many ‘Whovians’ (Who-geeks like myself) fear 26 is too young to do justice to the character.

They complain of ageism, which admittedly is becoming more common on TV, and a cynical attempt to appeal to the younger viewers rather than pick the best man, or woman, or dwarf, for the job.

There are some roles where age matters. Gandalf in Lord of the Rings would have seemed odd played by Daniel Radcliffe and Sir Ian McKellen just wouldn’t have fitted in at Hogwarts.

But the GREAT thing about the Doctor is that he can regenerate into anybody. One of his companions, Time Lady Romana, tried quite a few bodies before settling on Lalla Ward – including an alien. And if we are being pedantic then it would be hard for ANY actor to fill the Doctor’s boots, considering he’s supposed to be over 900 years old.

The fact Matt Smith beat a host of talented actors to be named the 11th Doctor should be all we need to know. He’s obviously got the Who-factor (looks and mannerisms) and we should trust the producers to bring us the most suitable candidate. Unless their criteria was number of wrinkles.

So what if he’s 26. He’s an actor – he can fit into the part because the part is so open to change. In addition he brings youthful enthusiasm and no baggage.

More important than the amount of candles on Matt’s birthday cake are the quality of the scripts and the vision of lead writer/executive producer Steven Moffat who will be taking charge of series five in 2010.

Considering Moffat’s previous work – including some of the series’ best episodes such as Blink and Girl in the Fireplace – I think the show is in safe hands. And if anyone is still moaning about age then they should remember Moffat’s pushing 50 so he can pass down his worldly wisdom via the scripts and out the Doctor’s mouth.

In fact it’s a great combination: youth and age combined in one character. Personally, I can’t wait for Matt to lead Doctor Who in a new and exciting direction.

For more on how the Matt Smith era might shape up, visit the TV Squad blog.

In Gods We Trust

Posted in gaming, Humour, religion, satire with tags , , , , , , , on January 2, 2009 by zombiebacon

Boardgames are legion, but when you boil down to the essentials behind them all you find a few key themes. Conquest is the big one – be it through an army (Risk), good business acumen (Monopoly) or Shakespearean anti-hero (Othello).

Slaughtering all opposition in the name of wholesome family fun might make you pause to think about the real messages we are sending to children, but even so, it is still JUST a game.

Another thing that is presented to children and is seen as the non-evolved backbone of the family unit is Religion. Unlike board games, the desire to conquer that comes with viewing some people as against everything you stand for is very much real. And bloody.

Which is why I think new indie board game  Playing Gods: The Boardgame of Divine Domination is one of the coolest and most important things to happen to parlor games since they released the NHS edition of Operation – a game which could takes months to complete, depending on the length of the waiting list.

playinggods

Playing Gods - Making blasphemy fun

Players can choose to be one of five major world deities – including Moses, Kali and a machine-gun wielding Buddha – whose aim is simple: take over the world with their religion.

To do this you have to build up your number of devotees (represented through coloured markers) while smiting or converting your opponents’ followers.

Add in wrath cards to bring down your heavenly fury and Conversion cards to boost your box of divine tricks and you have a game so addictive you’ll steal a TV to buy the extension pack.

It’s the creation of Ben Radford, 38, managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Aware that much of the world’s violence comes from the source of eternal love, Radford realised that mocking various images of God and their faithful adherents would “make more social commentary” and “pierce the pretensions of extremist religious zealotry with humor.”

That it does wonderfully, passing many hours in the entertaining pursuit of monotheism.

Someone should really distribute this game to all the world’s spiritual leaders so they can settle their differences without destroying us in the process.