Sunday, 29 November 2015

Bon Crappetit : Miserable Meals

One internet phenomenon I'll never understand is people taking photos of food. There are numerous examples all around the web of folk taking extreme measures to capture a portrait of their pizza.

I don't see anyone scrambling to get the right angles and lighting of their food once it's been processed – like a sort of before and after. From Michelin-starred restaurants right down to the greasy spoon that's the universal outcome.

So what if the food is as shite on the way in as it is on the way out? I've scoured the internet to find the scat of the food porn world.

Would you like some sandwich with your bread? This first one looks as if it has Chinese writing on the packaging, and perhaps hint at some very serious trading standards issues in their food market. That's some hardcore scrimping right there.

Burnt caramel. I don't need to say any more here, and that must be some sort of achievement.

"Drinking cheese?". I don't see it catching on.

The German site Pundo3000 seems to revel in showing the difference between advertised goods and the reality of what's served. A cold fish salad? No.

Hacksteaks? Hack! Hack! Hack! If you served that to prisoners it would probably be considered a rights violation.

Extra-lecker! Ugh. Saying it can be prepared in 2 minutes isn't the best selling point when it comes to burgers.

The appropriately-named mushroom "hell"?


I'm getting the impression that canned meats of any kind are best avoided.

Vegan food tends to have a bad rep and it's not hard to see why, and you don't even need a before and after photo.

This story started doing the rounds earlier this year, but if you can't be bothered to watch the video, a Japanese adult film star set up a restaurant which serves a curry made to taste like shite. As for how they figured out the delicate balance of flavour, I'll leave that to your imagination. Don't expect to see that on Instagram. I don't even think that's the worst of it either....

Last, but not least is this monstrosity, underlining the difference between sweet and savoury. If that were all sweet, most of us would probably go at it with all the indulgence of a pig in a trough; but the fact that's meat, surrounded by mayonnaise and mustard "icing"....even the thought of how that must taste brings a bit of vomit up.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Alvin & The Doom-Munks

(Pic : via Soundcloud)

When it comes to music, I have impeccable taste as can be seen here and here.

What most people will agree on though is that the long-running helium-addicted novelty act, The Chipmunks, have such grating voices that if they actually existed you would want to put them in a blender and make a pancake out of whatever's left. And Alvin's a stupid name.

They sound like men who've been hit in the balls by a train, but who knew that lurking underneath the castrati scars was serious musical talent. Thanks to electronica band Holy Fuck's Brian Borcherdt – via AV Club – the truth about The Chipmunks' inner brutality has now been revealed. All you had to do is slow them down to 16rpm.

Despite their back catalogue consisting mainly of cheesy covers, The Chipmunks have secretly produced some of the best sludge/doom and industrial metal I've heard in a while. I say that completely unironically - I don't have a beard, tattoos and thick-rim glasses.

Starting with Survivor's Eye of the Tiger, which is quickly transformed from a action montage motivational song to something like 1970s Black Sabbath crossed with Earth :

Next, Tom Petty's Refugee - which doesn't sound too different to the orignal to be fair - though I'm certaintly getting an Iggy & The Stooges vibe from it :

Blondie's Call Me sounds like a soundtrack to Twin Peaks or True Detective. Sort of a cross between The Doors, Danzig and Joy Division :

The cover of Belinda Carlisle's Heaven Is A Place On Earth begins with something out of an 1980s horror film, its meaning having been completely twisted. The chorus alone is a crunching sludge epic, while the last two minutes are pure doom. I really want to hear a Pallbearer or Electric Wizard cover :

Vanilla Fudge had already made an "evil" version of You Keep Me Hanging On, but The Chipmunks have one-upped them there, turning it into a Depeche Mode wrist-slitter; though it also sounds like someone taking a painful shite :

Next, the Chipmunks channel Godflesh with You Were Always On My Mind. Some of the comments sum it up – "I hope I am murdered to this song", "I could watch my house burn down to this":

The experience of listening to The Chipmunks in their true form.

You would swear this were a Black Sabbath cover of Bananarama's Venus, definite Ozzy Osbourne vocals in there :

This cover of Michael Jackson's Bad sounds so close to Nine Inch Nails it's hard to see how Trent Reznor couldn't have done the vocals (because he was short of money or something), especially the opening "Your butt is mine...." and the chorus. I'm in awe :

This cover of Bette Davis Eyes is an exception in that you could easily see it being popular in its own right if someone used this arrangement, though there are definite Faith No More or "soft" Mr Bungle vibes coming from it :

Lastly, my favourite – an absolutely merciless Coil or Sisters of Mercy style cover of Walk Like An Egyptian. The outro is bowel churningly evil. "This is how The Chipmunks were meant to be listened to" :

I have a newfound respect for The Chipmunks. They're definitely metal.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Rugby World Cup 2015 Review

(Pic : The Telegraph)

Although they wobbled a little bit at the start, New Zealand are deserved winners of back-to-back World Cups following what's being called the greatest Rugby World Cup Final. It was pretty much as expected and how other nations catch up with them is anyone's guess.

Overall, that was an excellent tournament, and although there haven't been many Rugby World Cups this will go down as the best so far, without a doubt.

I stand by what I said in my predictions by saying Wales getting out of the group was a bigger achievement that getting to the semi-finals in 2011. They did themselves proud considering the number of players lost before the tournament started, as well as players lost during the tournament itself. I see no reason why Wales shouldn't be considered favourites for the 2016 Six Nations (....if they can keep everyone fit).

This was Ireland's big chance in my opinion and they bottled it when it mattered, along with France. Of the Six Nations only Scotland can really say they defied expectations having pushed Australia to the brink of a shocking early exit.
I suspect we're going to be living off this for decades to come....

But there's only one team who can really be considered the true bottlers of this tournament and that's our friends across the Severn Bridge. "Make them giants" indeed.

There'll be various inquests into what happened. England can certainly be proud of the near flawless tournament they hosted, but they were let down by one bad call during the Wales game - choosing the corner and a possible win over the posts and a draw made the difference.

It's been put down to that usual trait aimed at the English rugby team : arrogance ("We deserve more than a point against little old Wales, wot old boy"). But if the roles were reversed and it was at the Millennium Stadium, I reckon the Welsh players would've made the same call.

The 2015 Rugby World Cup represents a watershed moment in rugby union's development as it's now on the cusp of becoming a genuinely global sport instead of being confined to being a quaint Commonwealth & Argentinian game.
One of the great upsets in the history of sport?

Argentina were one of the the teams of the tournament and now deserve to be spoken about on the same terms as the other southern hemisphere giants. Japan have clearly made progress too, and their win over South Africa will go down as one of the greatest upsets in sport, let alone rugby, history.

With a Japanese team to be included in Super Rugby next season, you could easily see them making progress similat to that of Argentina since the latter joined the Rugby Championship. Surely within a few years Japan will be knocking on the door to join the southern hemisphere tournament too.

The situation with the Pacific Island teams seems reminiscent of African teams in football. They usually get hyped up as potential winners and dark horses but usually flop when it counts, money will usually be cited as the issue – and the PI teams have genuine grumbles there; the set up clearly isn't fair to Tier 2. However, their complaints over scheduling seem a bit wayward as all of the teams had to, on occasion, play 4 or five days after their last game.

The days of 70+ point stuffings are over for the "minnows", but there's still a long way to go until the gap between the Tier 1 and Tier 2 nations can really be said to have narrowed.

For Europe, there are serious questions to answer, as none of the Six Nations really threatened the southern hemisphere sides.

Numerous solutions have been raised, such as a Super 15/Super Rugby for Europe, expansion of the Six Nations, provincial franchises etc.

I don't think the idea of a Super 15 in the north should be dismissed so easily, and it doesn't necessarily have to be a carbon copy of Super Rugby, perhaps a set up similar to the NFL with regional conferences. Clearly northern hemisphere teams have the financial muscle, but top players are playing too many games, many of which aren't that competitive.

In 2016, a player contracted to a Super Rugby franchise will play at least 17 top-level games (excluding knock-out rounds) alongside games for their local team in national competitions (though many international-capped players don't).

A player contracted to a Welsh Pro 12 team could play up to 22 league games, plus at least 6 European games (more if they reach knock-out rounds) and at least 4 Anglo-Welsh cup games on top of that. They'll be released for international duty of course, but that screws up the domestic season.
Where next for the European teams below the Six Nations?
(Pic : The Guardian)

Questions have been raised about the future of the Six Nations too.

Georgia and Romania have clearly come a long way, mainly because their top players play in France's Top 14. Russia are knocking on the door too having had a team qualify for the Challenge Cup.

Six Nations teams now have a choice as to whether they expand the game by creating an enlarged European Championship (or promotion/relegation), or concentrate on the spectacle of the six best teams playing each other in order to concentrate talent.

At the very least the Tier 1 teams should see it as their duty to the sport to play emerging nations more regularly during the Autumn Internationals – perhaps, at the start, by using A-teams in a separate competition involving the Tier 2 European sides.

So this World Cup is probably going to be looked back upon as transformative of the sport in the same way the 1998 World Cup was for football.