Sunday, 18 July 2010

The end of the road.

You're so loyal, you know that? Time to test that loyalty to breaking point. This blog, as of today, is no more.


Head over to for the new and excitinger site. It'll be updated at least quite a lot, and will have words and pictures and videos and memes.

What's that site again? Good question, person. It's

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

My Graduation

"Go on, give us a nice smile"

Monday, 12 July 2010

Justin Beeber

This video combines two of my favourite things: medleys of current popular music, and bees.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Manga/Anime whatever the eff it's called.

I like to think I'm pretty up on my popular culture; I visit The Daily What every day, I spend all my free time watching HBO boxsets, and generally know what's going on, as long as "what's going on" is the obscure kind of fact that won't get you a girlfriend.

I didn't know anything about Asian pop culture though, the mangas, the animes, the weird tentacle cartoons, and the girls with their fingers in V shapes like a (slightly) hotter Winston Churchill.So, not wanting to be left behind, I bought a copy of Naruto of which there are now about 26,000 volumes (at £6.99 a pop), and attempted to read it in the way most people books.

"NO!" It told me. "YOU'RE STARTING AT THE WRONG END!" Ok, thanks book, but I'm pretty sure as a reader of books for over one years, I should know how it works. But apparently not. With Japanese manga (is that right? I keep wanting to call it mango) you start from the back. You read the speech bubbles from right to left (but not the words, I tried that and it didn't work) and it does take a bit of getting used to for all us used to reading books that don't do that. Or have speech bubbles.
Naruto, a tale of a young ninja and his band of friendly emos (I dunno) failed to grip me, and so I then tried a series called Love Hina in which a hapless man-boy stumbled across some kind of strange hotel run by attractive females. There was significantly less nudity than I had anticipated, and for this reason I was somewhat disappointed.

To cut a long story short, I ended up buying Scott Pilgrim, and it's brilliant. Sorry Asia.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

So You’ve Decided to Become a Bachelor of the Arts: A Guide to Graduating and Inevitable Unemployment

So you’ve decided to become a Bachelor of the Arts. Did you not see the current economic climate? Couldn’t you have done something a bit more practical, like bomb disposal or shining the shoes of investment bankers? I suppose it’s too late for shudda-wudda-cudda’s now, so you’ll just have to put up with your smug management friends going on about starting salaries of £25k and their new Vauxhall Zafiras. Who knows, maybe there’ll be a war soon so at least you’d be able to find work as cannon fodder against the communists (do we still hate them?).

If, like me, you’re a recent graduate with an alright degree from an alright university, you might have returned home to your parents’ house to begin several months (if not longer) of unemployment and the post-university lull. Your motivation might be harder to find than a blonde woman Tiger Woods hasn’t slept with, but it’s important not to let yourself slip into the tempting rut of sleeping into the afternoon, eating everything you can find in the house, and walking around in your underwear while everyone else is at work.

You might want to put your feet up and relax, after all, you worked hard to get that 2.2 in English Literature, but do it for too long, and it gets a bit depressing. So I’ve compiled a list of ways to combat the post-graduation slump.

1. Set a morning alarm.

Yes I know you’re very tired after you found that Pringle shaped like a boob day before yesterday, and while I’m sure the Natural History Museum would appreciate it as a donation, my advice would be to set some form of alarm, preferably in the morning. You’ll feel 267% more productive if you get up before midday, and that’s a fact.

2. Open the curtains.

“But the sun hurts my eyes!”. Cry me to the moon, puny graduate. Sunshine is good for you, and seeing as there’s only 5 billion years left before the sun supernovas, you might as well get it in while you can.

3. Go outside at least once a day.

Take a hayfever tablet and open the backdoor; or perhaps take a stroll around the front garden. Not only is this good exercise, but your neighbours will be less likely to think that you’ve died.

4. Get Dressed.

Preferably in different clothes to yesterday.

5. Talk to at least one person a day.

Cold-callers, postmen, random strangers on the street, these all count as “people” and so achieving one human interaction a day might just stave off the coming emotional breakdown for a few more weeks.

6. Only look at pornography after 9pm.

Pretend you’re at work. Would you look at porn at work? Ok, bad question – you pervert. By simply putting off the naked ladies until a more appropriate hour, you feel 124% more productive.

7. Start that novel you’ve been talking about for so long.

They say you should write what you know, so your novel would involve a housebound, unemployed 20-something living with his mother whilst attempting to write a novel. I’d read it.

8. Set goals, tiny achievable goals.

“Put new pants on” is a completely valid, and realistic goal. “Get high paying graduate job” is not. Give yourself simple targets each day, so not only can you get valuable things done, but you’ll also have a warm (false) sense of achievement.

9. Don’t put “B.A.” after your name unless you really have to.

A “B.A.” after your name on your CV might be a necessary evil, but putting it after your name on Facebook is not. People will think you’re a knob.

10. Write a CV.

Companies love it when you send them your CV (short for Curriculum Vitae) and the trick with these is to stand out. There’s a proven formula for the successful CV, and that usually involves lying slightly (a lot) about your skills as a worker. That week you spent helping your dad clear out the garage? You’re now experienced in logistics co-ordinating. The time you invited loads of people over to your flat at uni for an epic party? Events Management. Those three nights you spent stacking shelves at Budgens? Expertise in Stock Replenishment. Make sure you tell your future employer (because you’re obviously going to get the job) everything these jobs have taught you, and they’ll be like putty in your hand. Warm capitalist putty.

11. Send completed CV to every company you can think of.

Go through all the bottles in your bathroom (same can be done with DVDs, books, clothes and assorted foodstuffs). See the little writing on the back? Each one of those products was made by a company. I know, right? Well, write down the name of the company and then look up their address. Send your CV to them and explain why you’d be fantastic in their legal/accounts/marketing department, and then sit back and wait for the replies to come flooding in.

12. Dealing with numerous rejections from companies whose names you found on the backs of toiletries.

Throw away the envelopes, you won’t be needing them, and fold each rejection letter once in half. Then fold it again. Glue along the top edge of each letter, and glue them all together, creating a large sheet, or as I like to call it, “a paper wall of rejection”. Once you have collected enough rejection letters, stretch a line of string across your bedroom, and drape the sheet over the top, creating a small tent. From this small tent you can plan the next stage of career-attack.

13. Succumb to the inevitable breakdown.

When your mother asks you why you’re naked and sitting inside a small tent made of rejection letters, bark not once, not twice, but thrice, or as many times is needed until she leaves the room. This will ensure that your privacy remains intact and increases your productivity by a billion banillion percent.

14. Find work in Romania as a plumber.

And as you’re fixing Elena Brasov’s leaking sink, you’ll tell her how, in your home country, you were an English Literature graduate with blossoming prospects, before breaking out into verses of that old folk song “Everybody In Love” by JLS.

Good luck graduates!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

While I'm rustling up the second half of the "So You've Decided to be a Bachelor of the Arts" article, watch this. I can't decide whether I like the song or the video more, but both are equally Bruce. That's right, I'm using it as an adjective now.

I'm Bruce Willis from wreckandsalvage on Vimeo.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

I do embarrassing things.

It was the usual; a Thursday night, an essay due on Friday morning, and I was there with a crayon in hand, designing my entry for a university competition. The brief was to design a new room for the £2m development imaginatively named "The Learning Zone" and so I took it upon myself to present a practical and efficient learning environment.
I'll do some clickable thumbnails of the entry, and then of the resulting fallout.
Some weird stuff is coming from this, and so after my presentation to the Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University on Thursday, I'll let you know what's happening. I might even try to get a photo of me in a suit receiving my award. I'm super excited! I haven't been this excited since I lost the competition to design the new lion enclosure at London Zoo.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Living in a Cave - Eurovision

It makes sense that so much of Britain’s TV comes from overseas; when we’re left to our own devices, we make things like Come Dine with Me (essentially a show where you watch people eat round each other’s houses) and that comedy programme - you know, the one where Jeremy Kyle makes fat people cry.

But luckily we live right next to Europe, the land of Versace, Ikea, and the Crazy Frog. The quality might be mixed, but those wacky mainland Europeans can be a lot of fun - and that’s why I like to think I’m not the only man in Britain who, once a year, prints out a scorecard, locks his testicles away in a desk drawer, and sits down to watch the Eurovision Song Contest.

I’m not ashamed (I’m a little ashamed) to tell you just how much I love it; for one night of the year, I discover countries I didn’t realise were actually in Europe (Israel, Azerbaijan, Spain), I marvel at how recently the 80’s seem to have arrived in Moldova, and I gasp at the size of the Armenian entrant’s breasts (really big).

It might all be cheesier than an episode of Glee, but that’s the reason it’s so much fun. We as a nation aren’t above it all either; every year we enter, and every year the rest of Europe puts us in our place. This year Serbia fielded an entry with a singer that looked like a cross between an Afghan hound and H from Steps that had melted under the hot studio lights - and they still finished twelve places above us.

Each year the host nation puts on an interval show, which takes place while the votes are counted so the audience doesn’t have time to realise how much of a pointless waste of life the whole thing is. Every year sees something bigger and weirder than the rest; last year, Russia confused everyone by lowering weird dancers-in-birthing-pools from the ceiling onto a fairly freaked out audience. This year it was Norway’s turn, and they decided on a flashmob, with thousands of people all around Europe doing the same dance at the same time.
I was blown away by how wonderful and unstaged it all looked, but then stumbled across some YouTube videos of the rehearsals where I could hear someone off-screen barking orders, as hundreds of terrified Lithuanian performing arts students danced falteringly, their stitched smiles masking their terror. One girl at the side stumbled slightly and fell to the floor, but did anybody help her? Of course not. This is Eurovision.

Ignoring the slightly sinister facts behind the big European Flashmob Extravaganza (that I in no way made up), it was really well done. Eurovision is known for being tacky and tasteless, but Norway managed to find a way to make the event look vaguely classy, and the big dance was a nice way of bringing all the competing nations together.
So, to conclude, it was the most awesomest thing in the history of the world, and anyone who doesn’t like the Eurovision Song Contest is just wrong and clearly has no heart.

Finally, since I’m (hopefully) graduating in July, this is my last column. Thanks for having me, and to any Glee fans I offended, I apologise. And if you’re a fan of Twilight... I’m not sorry.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Living in a Cave - Glee

I’m probably not in the target audience for Glee; I’m male, a young adult, and I don’t have any major mental deficiencies. In the world of Glee - a forty minute jazz-hands-fest of shiny faced, manically grinning, drama school graduates with teeth so bright you'll need to look at them through a floppy disk or risk going blind - the worst things that happen are vaguely amusing scandals involving pregnancy and someone threatening to close the Glee club. Oh, great.

It really does well to beat the clichés - the camp kid loves fashion, and the conscientious teacher funds the Glee club ("New Directions") out of his own pocket because he loves the kids so darn much. The headmaster? He doesn't believe that it can be done, but reluctantly gives in to see what will happen. It may sound familiar, and that's because it is. It's basically the plot of every film made during the Eighties. Based on the premise you might expect every episode to have some kind of four minute musical montage, where the Glee club practice for some kind of big competition, and you'd be completely (and depressingly) correct.

Maybe it’s because I’m such a miserable git that I find Glee to be exactly the type of grinning isn’t-the-world-so-wonderful ballcocks that makes me hate everything even more. Honestly though, if I hear one more thing about how brilliant Glee is, or see another horrific cover-version reach the top 10, I’m probably going to burst into flame. Glee fans (I refuse to call them "Gleeks") have the same manic enthusiasm of those kids in YouTube videos who open their Christmas presents and go mental, and it's all a little sinister.

Actually I've just watched a couple of episodes and quite like it. Ignore everything I've said. Episode 19 of season 1 is directed by Joss Whedon (Buffy, Dollhouse etc) and stars Neil Patrick Harris (Barney, Dr Horrible etc) and it's a bit more interesting, even though the plot is obviously almost an exact replica of everyone's favourite film - Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. In the episode, someone comes along that wants to close down the Glee club and must be persuaded otherwise, but other than flagrantly borrowing from a classic movie, it's less formulaic and actually shows what Glee is capable of when it stops attempting to be so kooky and cynical.

Because it's not really cynical; it may pretend to be, but in reality it's a sweet, romantic and incredibly innocent comedy series. It's soppier than a Britain's Got Talent sob story and though Sue Sylvester comes out with a few great putdowns, we'll probably find out soon that she's got a big mushy warm heart too.

I think I'd prefer it if it was truly bitter and sarcastic. If it was truly cynical, the children would fail their exams, Glee club would have to be shut down, and the school would be closed and demolished so that rich people would have somewhere to keep their surplus peacocks. That's a show I'd like to see. And if I had to sit through 20 minutes of horrendous miming to see it, so be it.

Also, New Directions = Nude Erections. There, I said it.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Living in a Cave - Iron Chef

Every now and then, you get something really really mad to watch on television, and Iron Chef is probably one of the most surreal programmes on TV at the moment; but does it live up to its potential?

They still show repeats of the original Japanese version around the world, and it’s hard to describe just how strange it is, but if you imagine a combination of Pokemon, Gladiators and Master Chef, you’ll be about halfway there. The best thing about the Japanese version is that it blurs the line between being serious and comical; yes, the contestants are cooking, but they’re also making cod roe ice-cream with a coca cola sauce. The studio (Kitchen Stadium) is filled with flaming torches, with manic cookery characters and with music so dramatic you’d think it was an advert for the World Cup. In the Japanese version you see one of the Iron Chefs wrestling with a live octopus. It’s that good. And all the while, a group of commentators (apparently Japanese celebrities) pass comment (hilariously dubbed into English) on what they think is going on.

The Japanese have always been masters of this kind of television; they brought us Hole In The Wall, one of the most hilarious concepts in the history of walls and holes, a concept that we ruined by attempting to cram Vanessa Feltz into a spandex catsuit and making her look like something that should be orbiting Saturn. So, when Iron Chef UK arrived to these shores, I was a little disappointed. Where Japan blurred the line between the sublime and ridiculous, our version just seems a little sinister. Gone are the flaming torches, and the studio looks like it’s been borrowed from an alien space ship. Since it’s been made in the style of a camp 90’s game show, and is so tongue in cheek, why would they cut out the flaming torches?

The presenter, Orange faced oddity Olly Smith, plays his role like a manic Alan Partridge, with quotes like “it’s a symphony of beef!” Everyone seems to be aware of just how camp and silly it all is as the presenter bounces around the set looking like a Bond villain or a Conservative MP. (Same thing?)

While the UK version is bizarre, it never feels quite enough. The original, like so much Japanese TV that makes it over here, is such a WTF-fest that you spend the whole time spellbound by just how wacky the whole thing is; is it real? Is it all an elaborate joke? Why is that man wrestling an octopus?

It’s basically Master Chef, but if Lloyd Grossman was played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and occasionally said things like “ooh, you’re making me hungry and I want to eat your words.” Behind the wackiness hides an actually rather serious cookery show, and the contestants (portly pub chefs from Wigan) try hard to make good dishes. But is that what we really want? Or do we just want to see the Japanese presenter do another back-flip down an aisle of chefs? And WHERE ARE THE FLAMING TORCHES?!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Living in a Cave - Lady Gaga

This article was going to be about how stupid I thought Lady Gaga was, but during the process of research I've become completely, utterly and dangerously obsessed with her. Why didn't anyone tell me she was this good? Her album is like disco smallpox; it might make your skin blister and ultimately kill you, but you'll want to be thrusting your hips right to the very end. The first few tracks of Fame Monster are some of the catchiest, campest and annoyingly fun songs I've heard this year; if you haven't heard it, look up the song Alejandro. It's been stuck in my head for days, and I think I'm actually going mad. Alejandro, ale-alejando...

Initially I thought she was rubbish; to me, she looked like the mad woman you see in town centres wearing a plastic bag and rambling incoherently whilst attempting to direct traffic. Just Dance was irritating, and I just couldn't get into her second single, Pokerface - a song which led to me being repeatedly poked in the face at the Sugarhouse. But having finally got round to listening to the rest of her album, I can quite safely say it's ridiculous... Ridiculous how much I like it, that is.

I'm not saying I've changed my opinion completely though, she still looks like something dreamt up by the writers of Doctor Who - something that could destroy the world whilst looking like a soufflé that could've done with another fifteen minutes in the oven. The Daleks are nothing compared to how terrifying she is in the video for Bad Romance, which had me cowering behind the sofa until JLS came back on the telly to calm me down.

And it's not just in the music videos that she looks wacky, but it seems that any opportunity will have her raid the local bins in order to find something else to wear. When the camera pans round the audience at awards shows, you see Beyoncé wearing a tasteful dress, you see Justin Timberlake wearing a nice suit, then you see Lady Gaga looking like the love child of Elton John and a raspberry pavlova with a telephone cellotaped to her head. It's not just an accident that she looks like this - she now designs most of her own clothes, which is a bit like saying that getting a pancake stuck to your ceiling makes you an interior designer.

That said, underneath it all, I'm led to believe she's human, and her touching tribute to late fashion designer Alexander MacQueen lent some credibility to this year's Brit Awards, which were otherwise almost totally lacking in that particular department. In less than two years she's risen from almost total obscurity to almost total stardom, which might be thanks to an amazing marketing campaign, her music, or the fact she plays the piano while wearing nothing but a black sparkly leotard. Probably all of the above (but mostly the latter), and I respect her for all her success and can't stop playing her music, even if I'll always think she's got the look of a horse that's been told something surprising.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Living in a Cave - Twilight

Like most self-respecting human males, I hadn’t heard of Twilight until the first film came out, and ever since it did, there’s been a deluge of vampire-y stories; True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Mona the Vampire, etc.

Let me briefly outline the plot of the Twilight saga so far based upon a single viewing of each film and very little background knowledge. Bella Swan arrives in a town mostly inhabited by male models, (most of whom seem to end up saving her after she wanders aimlessly into danger) and starts causing trouble with a local family; the Malfoys- sorry, the Cullens. It does seem slightly unbelievable that nobody else at the school has noticed the whole vampire issue, since the family are paler than Englishmen in Magaluf, sparkle in sunlight, and are super weird. Anyway, Bella gets into all sorts of scrapes with Edward “Draco Malfoy” Cullen, with whom she falls in love, and who turns out to be into the weird stuff - namely blood. Hilarity ensues, and randomly placed action sequences come as a welcome break from the love-struck teenage-angst heartbreak nonsense that goes on throughout both films.

The one rule of both films is this: why wear a shirt when you could not wear a shirt? Frankly, I haven’t seen so much male nudity since I rented “Hot Stableboys 5” by accident (not as good as the previous four); but they’ve all got six packs and are secretly vampires and werewolves, so apparently it’s fine.

If you haven’t seen New Moon, look away now, because there’s a chance that this might spoil it for you. But nothing spoils it as much as actually watching the film, so you should probably just read this instead of watching it. I’m doing you a favour. Really.

New Moon is the “sequel” to the original Twilight, despite feeling (to me) like it had nothing to do with the first, with Bella’s moaning being the only constant. Wah, hot werewolf boy loves me, but I’m in love with the vampire from the previous film, wah. I felt a bit cheated; it was a bit like watching a Rush Hour film without Jackie Chan, where we instead just watch the annoying one running around being annoying for a whole film. And, as much as I fancy Kristin Stewart, she is definitely the annoying one. New Moon essentially consists of an hour of gratuitous top-half nudity, followed by a slightly more surreal half where we meet the Vampire leaders, who seem to live in the Vatican.

It was when Bella seemed to stumble onto the set of a olive oil advert; an italian hill-top village full of robed religious types, that I realised quite how ridiculous the whole thing is. Oh, and it’s all very Romeo and Juliet. Except there’s the added complication of the werewolf that’s in love with Juliet, and Romeo’s a vampire, and Juliet’s actually a bit annoying.

And would someone PLEASE just do it? The tension is killing me. I almost don’t care gets it on, just show me anything that isn’t a buff American boy with a six-pack and abs steelier than Edward Cullen’s stock facial expression. Though I would argue that’s probably due to a combination of constipation and a century’s worth of sexual frustration.