Sunday, 26 July 2009

A conventional tale on how to build a bong

I’m not a particularly potent stoner but I have recently had the ill idea of promising to my flat-mate that I’d provide some weed for him – this on account of a party he was organising. My flat-mate is an Indian lad with a rather bulging pair of eyes not assisted by the fact that he seems to be astonished very easily. While we have little in common in terms of intellectual interests, we once got so fiercely antagonistic over a push-up competition undertaken when as drunk as a pair of shits that we eventually gelled. In the subsequent string of wine and cheese events we’d set up (mostly organised by substituting the wine with Whisky and the cheese with, well, nothing), there came a time when I was so plastered that I made the above-mentioned promise.

So I go and see this stoner friend of mine and I purchase a ball of forty quid of grass. The evening of the day after, my friend knocks on my door: the party is cancelled! I ask him:

‘Then what on earth are we going to do with all this weed?’

‘Well,’ he replies, ‘how about we smoke it?’

The suggestion had some logic behind it.

So we’re spending the next ten days in the suicidal attempt of getting rid of all the grass before it dries, an enterprise which is converting me into a walking réclame for every single Zombie movie ever made from the 1960s to the present. Around the final days of said venture, when I have ingested some double shots of Tequila and later washed down their flavour with Baileys, I have the next bright idea:

‘Ashwini,’ I tell him (I know it sounds like something out of Star Wars, but that was actually my flatmate’s name), ‘let’s smoke a bong.’

‘You want to smoke a bong?’ he asks.

‘Yeah,’ I say, my eyes already aflame, ‘why not?’

‘The fact that we don’t have a bong may represent something of an obstacle.’

The guy is indeed a highly logical thinker.

‘We’ll make one,’ I propound. I already know how to execute this; all we need to do is to break the bottom of an empty bottle (and boy we had plenty of those), make a fissure on the bottle’s lid to place the spliff in and dunk the bottle in water. Then we pull the bottle up so that the suction caused by the descending water level pulls all the air in through the fissure holding the spliff, and the bottle fills itself up with smoke; we can then remove the lid and inhale the smoke in one breath. My friend hears my explanation and forwards his enthusiastic approval to the procedure.

So I go out and break the bottom of a vodka bottle on the walkway, then I come back in and we manufacture a hole into the lid. This proves to be such an intractable operation that we almost sober up when the scissors we are using come inch-close to mutilating one of our hands. However the job eventually reaches the end and I dunk the bottle in water as I place the spliff into the fissure.

‘What are you doing?’ asks Ashwini.

‘I am fishing. What else does it look like I’m doing?’

‘Put that out, you bloody idiot,’ he whispers, ‘we can’t smoke it in here! It may set the fire alarms off!’

No, hold on a second. This one isn’t that logical. If we’ve been spending the last ten days smoking trombones in here like there’s no tomorrow, how is a bong suddenly supposed to activate the sirens? I didn’t know that electric alarm bells were sensitive to the shape of the smoking apparatus: ‘Look, that guy’s smoking with a pipe which has a picture offensive to the Christian religion! Quick, to the Porter-mobile!’ Nonetheless my friend’s initial enthusiasm has completely vanished by now and his mannerisms are becoming increasingly neurotic, so I decide to indulge him.

We step outside into the lawn behind the campus building. I take out the lighter.

‘No, not here,’ he growls, ‘someone may pass by and see us.’

So we take a walk down the road that leads from college towards the city. After a couple of minutes, without the slightest signal of warning or spoken reason, my friend turns left and heads off into the darkness. Where is he going? Suddenly we’re walking down into a forest. A dim moon hangs inbetween the winter tree-branches in an atmosphere of utter lycanthropy. I stop next to an oak and take out the lighter.

‘Not here, goddamitt!’ he snarls.

Now I’m getting pissed off.

‘Why the fuck not?’ I ask. ‘What is going to happen to us here? Are we going to get ambushed by a the barn-owls?’

‘We’re still in range of car-lights if anyone drives by the road.’

It has to be said that over the last minutes my friend’s countenance has grown increasingly preoccupied. For some reason the idea of having built a bong and taken it outside is a cause of shivers and dread in his psyche. The sentiment seems to me unjustified. I understand there may be some nervousness in the process of going out like this, but by the way he was acting you’d think we were building an atomic bomb rather than simply smoking weed.

We walk further. Eventually we reach a fence and my friend leads me to climb over it. We now find ourselves on a vast plain vaguely reminding me of Sir Robert Attenborough’s BBC documentaries on the Serengeti at night. It is a cow-field – distant in the night, you can hear bells and some mooing. What kind of a fucking place is this to smoke a bong?, I ask myself. But my friend leads me somewhere towards its centre until the lights of the civilised world look like fireflies blinking from a distant galaxy.

There, we kneel down and finally light the thing. My friend’s eyes are bulging even further than they normally do – he looks distinctly like a blow-fish at the moment – and he is staring around in dread while brushing his hands the one against the other. What is he afraid of now? That the cows are going to smell the skunk and go galloping over to the cops so they can moo to them exactly what happened? Or are they going to go bat-shit crazy and charge us as a unit in formation? They’re cows, for God’s sake, not Triceratops.

So I take my first puff and it’s every bit as suave as I was hoping (even though as far as comfort goes lying down on the grass to smoke is the equivalent of shagging on the wing of a jump-jet). I pass the bong to him. He is so nervous as he kneels down that he takes one of those first puffs you’d expect if he were a vacuum powered by nuclear fusion and instead of inhaling just the smoke, he ends up bombing the water into his lungs as well. He immediately barfs it out in a strangled cough. I was having the wretched idea of holding the bong for him at that moment so that the liquid is splurted for the most part on my face and for the remainder on my shirt. I am swearing like a sailor in the House of Commons while Ashwini kneels on the floor and starts coughing in a desperate attempt to regain oxygen. After a few minutes he stands up. I lift my finger in the air and am about to launch into a rant of Homeric proportions, when we hear a sound of grass being crushed to our left. We both freeze like squirrels and turn.

Is there a cow over there? I look at Ashwini in the eye, and we both hear more grass being crushed.

‘Cows don’t kill human beings, do they?’ he asks. The logical part of himself has obviously fucked off to Jupiter.

‘Of course not, goddamitt.’

‘But what if she is defending her young? Maybe she’s got eleven or twelve little newborn calves that she is tending to.’

There in the darkness, I am feeling a little uncertain myself. There is something about the stars gleaming cold above us and the void that surrounds us which makes me feel existentially uncomfortable. The situation feels somehow very primal. Then the darkness goes ‘Moo’ at a distance which is anything but distance. I say, ‘Let’s not lose our calm’ and Ashwini instantly bolts like a rabbit. ‘Goddamitt!’ I shout, and I pick up the bong as I sprint after him. Now something is giving me the illusion that the cow is galloping after me. Plus my lungs are not feeling very efficient (for obvious reasons) so I am running extra slow.

We reach the fence, climb over it and run like bastards for our rooms. What the hell we were running from by that stage is anyone’s guess, but he didn’t stop and I didn’t want to be left alone, so I just kept up until he slowed down. We ended up smoking the spliff without the bong, and the damn apparatus was never used again.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Heavy metal in the rainstorm

My room-mate has recently picked up the habit of asking idiotic questions at the most random of moments. ‘Andrea,’ he queried me yesterday while I was cooking a sausage, ‘if a spider were to get bitten by a radioactive man, would it acquire the proportional powers of an adult human being?’ What the hell am I supposed to think of that? I mean, even if I were to begin conceiving of an answer, what kind of powers could an arachnid adolescent nerd (I don’t know if such things exist but Peter Parker was a nerd so I figure the spider version would have to follow suit) ever acquire from a human? It would be super-smart, so possibly it could ejaculate Shakespeare monologues to its flies before it sucked their fucking guts out like a sponge and made us all think of a pornographic Buffy the Vampire Slayer parody (assuming the original wasn’t pornographic in the first place – considering how she acts, how she got the role, what she DOES in the role, what her script is like and all the rest, that actress has gone through more definitions of ‘sucking’ through that series than I could have done with a quadrilingual dictionary and two ice creams). That aside, what else? It would no longer get erections after the age of sixty, though that may already be the case with those critters and this may explain why the bitches eat their pimps in their world once they’ve done banging each other’s abdomens and covering each other in webs – hell, I too would be pissed off if nature had given me no other fate in the universe other than sitting in a fucking web all day, eating flies and getting fucked by eight-legged shiznits who cannot even give me satisfaction!! – though I may not resort to cannibalism (if only because they’re spiders – seriously, the idea of eating one of those gross sons of bitches makes me about as sick as the idea of having sex with them).

The discussion is beginning to get ugly now, so let’s change the topic. A friend invited me to a party in Paris yesterday which was supposed to be the event to end all events: the annual Erasmus student party, and as it turned out, it was more of an open gig on a field of grass ridden of the cows than it was a party. So I go there on a rather sombre evening (sombre in terms of cloudy skies – for my own part I’d imbibed a Red Bull on an empty stomach and I was rolling like a turbine). The first band to go on is playing Reggae music. Reggae has the same effects on me as a blowjob given by a really fat woman – it’s kind of ok when you’re totally stoned and can’t even get off the couch and all your sense of resistance falls away into the background as naturally as steam in clouds, but it’s complete rubbish at any other time. I have more difficulty telling the difference between one Reggae song and another than I do between a dumb and deaf midget eunuch and a four-foot tall Lord of the Rings fan with his legs chopped off. So I spend the introductory part of the concert walking around with my fancy coat and an umbrella, both of which make me look like Sherlock Holmes.

I mention the umbrella because the Reggae musicians were so bad that during their performance it had actually started to rain. At a parallel pace to that of the descent of water from the skies I was witnessing the descent of alcohol down people’s throats, particularly down the throat of a specific friend of mine who would later be seen vomiting like a dragon. The dickhead stole my umbrella precisely when I had three girls hugged to my chest in an attempt to shield themselves from the rain. I started looking for him and probably would have found him were it not that at one point I found myself stuck amid a group of Yugoslavian Erasmus Rastas (I can’t believe such things even exist) and by the time I walked out of their circle I was so high that I would have imagined the rain to be falling below me, thus rendering unnecessary a strategy of protection against it. Besides, around that moment a metal group walked onstage and blasted through the amplifiers and I went fucking wild – there are few things more satisfying in life than moshing in a heavy metal rainstorm, baby.

Eventually the temperature became something more befitting of woolly mammoths than of human beings (it rained non-stop for the entire night – those motherfucking Reggae scogs should have been kept for last, and not sent forth as the night’s debut), so we decided to lift our tents. ‘Hey Andrea,’ said my housemate when I got home, ‘how can people talk on the phone while they’re taking a shit? I was in a public toilet earlier today and now I know everything about Joelle’s broken hair-dryer, whoever she is.’ Oh for bloody hell’s sake.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Scooby Fucking Doo

Well. The big news really are taking a geological age to come to realisation; we’ve had some trouble with the site as the images started falling away from the browser and I haven’t heard from the guy responsible in a while. Presumably he’s busy.

So while we all wait, I might as well get back to posting here (assuming there’s anyone still reading – which, according to Sitemeter, there is. Incredible, really. Whoever you are, I love you the way that roses love the rain). Today’s blog entry is going to be a bit atypical as it was inspired by a billboard sighted here in Paris. There’s billboards all over the place in metros, advertising anything from Austrian clocks to the best ways to bury your grandmother after she’s been ran over by a flying windsurf, so it’s kind of hard to surprise one anymore. But I must admit to having felt a slight sense of displacement when I saw a sign yesterday advertising a live musical about, of all things, Scooby Doo.

I’m going to state it frankly. I’ve never really understood the artistic statement behind some musicals. When you see something like the Billy Elliot musical or the Lion King musical, it kind of makes you wonder ‘Weren’t those films? Why would we want to see it again in a medium which doesn’t really fit with the original story in the first place?’ I thought the line had been drawn at ‘Lord of the Rings – the Musical’. As though we hadn’t been arse-raped with that story in every possible medium you can get, film, book, comic-book, fridge-stickers and illustrated condoms (‘If you don’t suck, the story will!’). No, they had to make the musical version of that bloody thing, it’s probably nine hours long too given the kind of audience it appeals to (aka, the Aristotles and the Bachs in the world of nerds).

What the fuck is she wearing on her head?

Even as I thought that the LotR show had stimulated the utmost of my disinterest neurons, the maestros went and topped the line now by making a musical about the most imbecile animated cartoon show in the history of the earth. Scooby Fucking Doo. Now, Scooby Doo is the kind of name that I wouldn’t have the courage to give even to my dog, let alone to my artistic creation, and it ranks among that long list of series made under the simple shared assumption that kids are stupid. How else would you justify the level of idiotic writing that makes up some of its episodes? It wouldn’t hold together even if the animation was superb – which, incidentally, it is ten thousand miles away from being. In fact, the animation is downright crap. All the characters look like they’ve been passed under a steamroller. Not even South Park is so mono-dimensional, and that’s trying to be as flat as possible. When the characters move, it is the Apocalypse Now of the cartoon shows. I’ve seen better running animation in the first Super Mario videogames from the mid-1980s – at least Mario seemed to bob his shoulders forwards and backwards slightly while he moved forward. Scooby Doo characters ‘run’ simply by having their legs alternate positions at every photogram while the camera bobs up and down like it’s been tied to the head of an ostrich as the background slowly rolls behind them. You could achieve the same effect by making a montage of a TV news presenter sitting at his desk, with the desk cut out and a pair of running legs attached beneath the torso. Furthermore, for what kind of a fucking reason does the background move at a different speed from the characters themselves?? You’ve got Shaggy’s legs swirling like hurricane Katrina and the soil orbiting below him at a speed which seems too slow for the Olympics of dead turtles, let alone the pace of cartoon men.

Let’s get something clear, I’m normally much more interested in the story than in the technique, but when it comes to animated shows you’ve got to give some value to the quality of the animation. I mean, if Tom and Jerry didn’t look animated, it wouldn’t make for much of an animated show, now would it? Scooby Doo compounds this concept by combining a drug-snorting bullshit animation with the dumbest story-telling in years. What is the problem with it? One word: F-O-R-M-U-L-A-I-C. Every single story is the remake of the one before except it that the werewolf is switched for the zombie and the evil-doing theatre-owner becomes the evil-doing railroad-owner, or the evil-doing prostitute pimp or the coco-shunter or whatever. This leads to one of most annoying implausibilities in the show. There must have been 800 episodes where the back-yard ghost turns out to be a trick organised by the evil-doing [insert whatever the hell you like here] yet every time you watch it, there you go with those two idiots Scooby and Shaggy petrified in terror at the idea they might be facing the occult forces of the supernatural. I mean, it’s happened to you more often than masturbation by now, how goddamn thick do you have to be?!

Yes, I know what the objection to this argument is – you’re going to tell me that this is their comic role. But this doesn’t solve the problem, it only shifts it. The question then becomes, what the devil were the screenwriters thinking when they conceived those kind of characters in the first place? The show is fundamentally a horror-detective parody with comedy thrown into it (because, you know, you’ve got to make it a cartoon!). The series is in fact so faithful to this paradigm that its characters look like a list of clichés from those kind of movies – tell all, they look like animated versions of those kind of guys who normally get torn to shreds in splatter movies, except that these ones don’t get torn to shreds and we’ve got to bear their mountains of banalities till the very end. Now, try taking a step back for a second. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the only character we really want to see dying in these films tends to be the comic relief. This is the George Lucas paradigm, where any scene with pathos or action has to be interrupted so we can follow the antics of Jar Jar Binks or C3PO or whoever takes his place, a fact as pleasant and welcome as an attack of diarrhoea in the middle of a press conference in the desert. It seems not to enter into the heads of the screenwriters that if you get a curly-haired fat-ass with pimples tripping all over himself whenever there is a battle or a confrontation with the monster, then the audience will want to see the fucker dead, possibly within the first ten minutes of screening. Unfortunately this seldom happens, and we are forced to endure the day’s dickhead until the credits roll on.

Relief from what?? Relief from freaking WHAT????

So it is the crowning achievement of Scooby Doo to have the most irritating type of characters in the history of cinematography as their fucking protagonists. The entire show spins around the hilarious adventures of a whining cocaine junkie who forgot to shave last morning and an Alsatian dog who speaks like a cross between a sixty-year old mongoloid and a horse. Since all of the above appeared insufficient by the time the screening reached the fourth century AD, the writers decided to add another element to the mix in the son of Scooby Doo. Oh, the thrills. The character in question was called Scraggy, a tiny Alsatian which resembled a bizarre dwarf more than it did a puppy and who was utterly insufferable from his very first screening. Among the things that distinguished him from his father was his elaborate faculty of speech (a fact which made the progenitor look even more retarded), while he was ‘distinct’ from the clichéd detective dickheads because, well, he was a dog. Presumably the idea was to have an agent which fell halfway between the comic relief and the clichés by possessing the qualities of both. But the producers obviously got it completely head over heels because they ended up giving him the defects of both, turning him as anally contentious as the Shaggy / Scooby duo and as much of a vomit-bucket as their peers. This made him so unbearably irritating that it almost made you nostalgic for the previous series, aside from raising the question as to who the fuck the mother was and why we don’t see a similar character as the son of the man (Scooby is more shaggy than Shaggy, it appears). The dynamics of the set then became something like having a man who is more stupid than his own dog, a dog who is more stupid than his own son and a screenwriter who is more of a dumb-fuck than all of them put together, to the point of being more stupid than the children that he writes for – thus defeating the point of the original paradigm, that you can have stupid cartoons because kids are stupid!

If my message isn’t clear enough already, Scooby Doo sucks the shit out of a dead nun’s ass and it should be frozen in hyperbaric capsules to preserve as a guide on how NOT to make cartoons. All of this is just so much wasted breath however because the series apparently enjoys a popularity to rival that of the Paris Hilton blowjob video(s). They had more series than I want to remember, a movie and even a fucking sequel to the movie, and now a bloody musical! Honestly, whose idea was this?

He was obviously a genius.