Month of December 2015

Hello! Ranties… Rantlettes… I need a term to refer to my fans, such as it were. The Game Grumps have Lovelies, Pewdiepie has the Bros, I need a thing. Oh, and a cool sign off, cool sign offs are a thing. Erhem, point, back to it. So I’ve been quiet, I did warn you all I was taking November off to have a think and other than some bit pieces on the current deplorable state of our world, I stuck to that, but it’s December now and you’re probably wondering what I have in store for you right? I hope you are, I’d hate to think you’re indifferent about it because that would make me feel like I’m wasting my time here. So with that in mind, here’s the plan I’ve got laid out for December 2015 and moving on to the year ahead.

Firstly, owing to the success of the Decap Attack playthrough, Jonah and I are going to be taking on another holiday-themed video game, all I need to acquire first is screen-recording/video editing software (I used a trial version of a product beforehand but the trial has expired and to buy a key is like £200 so I said fuck that in every way known to the English language and grumbled for several minutes). The Let’s Plays have cottoned on it seems, people enjoyed the casual vibe and honest banter, which makes sense because it was literally just my brother and I playing a video game together, that’s 90% of our shared activities, the rest is political discussion and wandering around town or just me irritating him by squeezing his face or pretending to punch him, as brothers often do. I’ll do more of them, they’re fun to do, but please bear in mind they’re not going to be my staple thing, that’s not what I’m trying to achieve public recognition for – that’s no jibe against such types, I’m a strong follower of the Beard Bros and Game Grumps but I don’t want to be known as another beardy white boy playing video games for a living jumping on that bandwagon because it is still rolling strong. So yeah, there’ll be a Christmas one and we’ve considered some other games that’d be fun to do, I have a wealth of emulator roms and a Steam library full of stuff Jonah has never heard of so he’ll be wombling through that with total confusion, as will my audience no doubt, that could be fun.

Secondly, a Christmas special post, you’re probably expecting one, there was one last year after all. Well, I do have a fair bit to say on the subject of Christmas, albeit in what will be seen as a Scroogey fashion but with good justification. I’m not sure what to expect of Christmas yet, there’s been little mention of it around the home but depending on what happens will dictate what I post on actual Christmas Day. However, I can do some Christmas related posts beforehand so look out for those, interspersed with any recent topical news I feel obliged to speak out about.

Finally then, the new year! What is coming? VIDEOS. Yes, I’ve said this for a while but I have a camera, I have locations I can utilise, I have people willing to help out and I’ll soon have some editing software so the pieces are falling into place. A YouTube channel is being set up and a schedule worked on to provide enough content without overdoing it and balancing it between funny bits and serious bits. I realise there are a few things making my blog a task to get into – it’s very depressing stuff, it’s very long to read and it doesn’t always balance fun and serious discussion too well so people can be put off thinking they’re just subjecting themselves to more “How can we allow this stupid thing to happen?” style rants when there are a few “I watched a funny movie!” posts in the mix. Contributions from my audience are encouraged, not monetary (Though I won’t complain if you’re offering! Kidding!) but ideas of what you want from me. Let’s Play requests have come in and in the past, even article requests but these videos are made by me for you, it’s important for me to know what people want to hear about. I’m also tempted to do some lengthier discussion pieces for people to listen to in the background as they do whatever because I love those myself so let me know if that’d interest you. Like, say an hour’s discussion in a radio show style thing on a topic, using some bits and bobs found on the internet and in the news for talking points featuring myself and some other guests (friends I can desperately rope into sitting in a room for an hour talking to a laptop). So if that sounds good, at least as say, pleasant background noise, let me know!

So that’s that, keep watching this space on here and on my Facebook page. OH, Twitter, gonna get me on of those, seems it’s a thing that won’t go away anytime soon, start using them hashtags and what have ya. Keep watching, please keep supporting this blog and maybe one day you’ll see Old Man Wolfe in the trending section on your News Feed hmm? I did recently do some sponsored posts, reached out to over 7000 viewers, of those 7000 at least 250 of them checked the blog (Not massively impressive I know but it’s better than the usual “Hey, you have three good friends who read all your rubbish and like, four guys were bored” I get on here)

Signature sign-off phrase pending! See you all soon!

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Ugly Words

Ever want an easy way to start a shitstorm in a comment section? Say you’re a feminist, works wonders. Want another way? Try saying Black Lives Matter and wait how long it takes for All Lives Matter to come up as the rebuttal, I’d tell you to take a drink every time that phrase inevitably surfaces but you’d be comatose in ten minutes. Of course, these are dressed up as well-meaning things, calling yourself a fighter for equality because men have issues too or saying all lives matter, not just black ones but in truth these are attempts to whitewash and control social movements by an ignorant majority – the very fact they have to distance themselves from the word feminism shows they’ve missed the point. I don’t mean a marginal misunderstanding you can correct as easily as a spelling mistake, I mean they missed the point by such a distance they’d need to catch a bus and a plane to get back to it. Still don’t get my point? Hmm, let me fill you in.

Feminism

People have the misconception that feminism is about putting women at the top of the social hierarchy and rebuilding society around the awe-inspiring might of the vagina or something. Feminism started out as a movement to give women the rights that man already had – the right to vote, to work, to own property – and through protests and other means they achieved a great deal of what they set out to do. We’ve come a long way and humanity deserves some credit for that, for the most part in modern Western society, women are not so much seen as sandwich making housemaids but are also seen as politicians, doctors and so forth, that’s great. However, gender roles are still a thing, a negative set code that is forced on boys and girls alike, which I have discussed in great length and it is so ingrained in us that just the Fem in feminism makes it an ugly word to us, associating it too strongly with women (Counter movements even take the name of Meninism). Feminism isn’t done, women are closer to being equal to men but not quite there yet – most CEOs are still men and that’s not because women don’t bother, they’re just never promoted ahead or so on, women still receive lower wages for the same work as men in various fields such as teaching, construction and management and of course there are still things such as victim blaming in rape cases and entire countries where women are still oppressed (Though meninism tries to tell Western women that they should be glad they don’t live in Saudi Arabia, like that’s an excuse to call them a slut and demand sexual favours, akin to saying “It sucks that you got mugged but at least you don’t live in Venezuela, that place is really dangerous!”). Are we so uncomfortable with our feminine selves that we must lambast a movement rooted in it for daring to suggest women and trans women, lest we forget them due to their lack of representation in the media, are in fact just as worthy as cisgender men? Feminism isn’t about taking away the rights of men, it fights to represent them in things such as the oppressive male standard and how men can be victims of domestic abuse and so on – what feminism is is gender equality, it is not so much destroying the male dominated power structure but disrupting the lack of diversity within it by allowing women to be seen as true peers to their male counterparts.

Black Lives Matter

When police brutality began claiming name after name of black victims over things such as kids holding toy guns, men fleeing in panic at the sight of a police officer and even one police officer apparently mistaking his pistol for his taser and ‘accidentally’ shooting a man dead in the street, the media didn’t sensationalise it like it does everything else – bit pieces were featured in newspapers but the world spun on not really caring all that much. Black Lives Matter is a social media campaign to get people to talk about the fact people are dying and they’re not being spoken about in the news in any great length, their murderers let off the hooks with weak excuses and attempts to besmirch the names of victims are made. Seems in this world, if you’re raped or murdered, someone has to find a way to blame you for that, not your assailant. However, this campaign was hijacked by people saying All Lives Matter, all victims should be grieved for and justice for all innocent lives claimed wrongfully… which is what Black Lives Matter is all about. BLM began because the news already covers the tragic tales of innocent young white people getting murdered or assaulted or accidentally dying in tragic circumstances, black lives not so much and if they are, it’s not with that same respect and dignity, instead it’s a “Who is really to blame?” rhetoric spurted out at us by some right-wing imbecile defending the prejudiced actions of a trigger-happy police officer. BLM, therefore, tried to say the minorities were being overlooked and in response the majority went “Oh god, if they’re being overlooked, maybe we are too, let’s make sure that’s not the case! Quickly majority, let’s make sure every single story about us is heard on every platform we have!”, forgetting the minorities who are still waiting there to be given some time on that stage. Social media is where that happens but they get shot down for daring to suggest their deaths are just as sad as those of white people, who feel offended and have to ask why BLM isn’t giving those deaths consideration. They’re not a movement for that, white people don’t need better representation in the media, we’re already the ‘default’ definition of a human being, what more do we need?

In summary, the straight white male is obviously still the demographic that has all in its favour and it fears for the length of its supremacy over all others when those others unite and demand fairer treatment. Nobody wants to take away the rights of men or white people or Christians or straight people or whatever, when gay people are allowed to marry or white-on-black violence reported in the news, nobody loses out, nobody is worse off. Feminism isn’t man-hating, BLM isn’t racial discrimination. Such movements only want to establish an equal playing field where there is no favouritism. There is no need to fear, white men of the world, we still have a pretty sweet deal going on – we run most of the world, politically and financially, most heroes in fiction resemble us and we’re the most pandered to demographic in all marketing. Equality isn’t, and has never been, a movement to destroy society, it has always been a movement about making it fairer, richer and representative of the diversity within it.

The Possible Plausible Future

I’ve been blogging more recently, riding another wave of ideas in the boom and bust cycle that is the activity upon this blog. You might be wondering, therefore, how long this is going to last? How much life will thrive here before I run out of points to make and go off on another few months hiatus. Well, that’s today’s topic, blogging about blogging itself like a taco within another taco or other such analogies.

Now, since my return, success here, by which I mean traffic reaching levels it once averaged at, or surpassing them – that’s been a mixed bag. The Fragile Man, Passionate Contempt and The Shout have been the most popular new works, besides that Pig Girls Don’t Cry gets googled more often and currently running in last place is the rather more recent Cosby Case. I’m proud of my latest works, Fragile Man especially, I believe it on par with Catcall An End To It, one of my other best works. Going off topic here, the point I’m trying to make is I feel I’m improving so in that sense, I’m successful, but I’m reaching less people, even with the Facebook page. Many factors come into this, posting times and how often I post and how well I promote/tag my work and I understand that but I have a plan and in this plan, I have some surprising help.

Firstly, outside of encouraging you all to like, share and subscribe as often as you can, I’m going to get a Twitter for Old Man Wolfe, it’s an easy way to generate publicity and people are happy to retweet without giving it much thought, Facebook shares seem fewer – perhaps due to the differing natures of the sites. Secondly, I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, the future of this site is video content on YouTube. I tried my hand at animation but lacked the skill and patience and other such excuses, I might have another go at it but I think it best I opt instead for recording footage of myself. The idea is up in the air but inevitably, it is where I’m headed one day, people have said they’d be happier listening to a podcast (A fun idea in itself) or watching a five to ten minute video than reading two thousand word long essays on this or that, to be fair it’s easier for videos to go viral than written work, sad as that is. I’ve resisted and resisted, partly because my pride is in my writing and partly out of fear of how poorly I’ll represent myself as I don’t much like myself in terms of physical appearance and voice. Warning, if you only know me from my online persona, be prepared to have images shattered as the most surprising trait about me, apparently, is my voice isn’t as deep as the gravity of my words suggest. You might be sat there expecting a voice of authority and strength when in truth I sound more like someone who didn’t make the cut for The Inbetweeners.

I used the words possible and plausible because there are no guarantees but my Dad has stepped in, at last acknowledging both my blog and the internet community, accepting the fact that YouTube and such are the way forward, even going so far as to offer me resources – namely a camera. Context here, I’ve never really had much of a big affair made of my birthday, it’s too close to Christmas for lavish spending and money is tight but it’s made Old Man Wolfe’s old man feel heavy guilt and whilst he thought he’d help get me a car, he quickly realised I don’t have the money for lessons or insurance, none of us do, that’s going to have to wait until I have a proper decent wage. So, we talked and he’s going to try and facilitate my path to fame and wishes me the best, hoping one day I’ll be as infamous an internet presence as Markiplier or Tomska. I’m grateful to him for this and want it to work out, the world wide web is the ultimate platform to preach the points I’ve tried to make to only a small collective thus far. Of course, my dream is to be an acknowledged writer with books on the shelves and TV series based on my ideas out there, possibly other inspired media works like games or films I had a hand in making, a long term goal but not as daft as it might have been once upon a time in a world that quickly sweeps up anything interesting, staying famous is now the harder part rather than becoming so.

Beyond the blog, maybe you’re interested in the other stuff I’m doing right? Book ideas, TDWC’s fate and so on? Well if you are, here’s a rundown real quick. TDWC had two potential paths, one a gritty drama series from the point of view of a new recruit to the demon hunting agency and the other an Archer-inspired comedy about the same agency. I’ve decided to test the former and leave the latter for now, I like both ideas but I’ll see whether I’m better at grit or humour and dedicate Lee Patience and company to whichever I prefer, devising something else for the other. Book ideas, I want to write a fantasy series that bucks the trends and tropes whilst calling upon social themes and I won’t give too much away as I know I’m not the first to come up with such but I don’t want to just put everything up here for grabs by any other aspiring writers. Yes, I am honestly saying I think I have ideas people would steal, I don’t want to take the risk of a more inspired and driven writer seeing a concept I devised and running with it before I can so I then get accused of ripping off my own work. I also have another series idea based on my historical studies and series like Game of Thrones and besides that, a short story or perhaps full length novel based on my true imagination of a dystopia. Once again, hoping to buck trends there with a focus on small victories and individual stories, rather than the inevitable “It’s time for revolution” story line that the likes of the Matrix, Divergent, Hunger Games and so on walk down – I like those stories but truth be told, it’s time for a massive change to the system now and look where that’s going, I am not leading an army of optimistic teenagers whilst wearing form-fitted armour and firing arrows at people.

Ramble ramble ramble, point is, watch this space, I mean it. I talk big talk a lot, I know, I’m sorry, the harshest critic of my efforts is myself and I tear them apart too soon but with more people becoming invested, including my previously uninterested father, I’ve got to stick to it this time. I much prefer a future as a prominent face fighting the feminist agenda whilst publishing books about orcs than I do the future as a hopeless dreamer going from till to till trying to find a job.

Pig Girls Don’t Cry: Thoughts Thus Far

Recent articles posted here have been heavy so let’s lighten things up around here, I will instead do a TV piece. You may or may not be aware that The Muppets are back on TV with a new series about their latest project, a late night chat show hosted by Miss Piggy. However, the show also does the behind the scenes of the show within the show in a mockumentary style, essentially modernising the old Muppet Show format by fusing The Office and Conan O’Brian’s chat show into one thing but with puppets. Sound good? Well…

The show has a promising start, Muppet humour is there from the beginning. Beaker gets abused, there’s a misdirect by Honeydew, the whole “Piggy is the star but she’s an actual pig, ergo she is heavy and such” stuff, jokes that would not be out of place in the old films. However, we get a taste of the adult humour with Zoot mistaking the team meeting for an AA meeting and Sam playing the ‘concerned mothers of America’ voice as he goes combing through the scripts for even the vaguest of innuendos and curse-like words. I guess it puts us on the same page as the writers then, it’s the characters we love in a way we don’t normally see them. After some easy jokes, we get to hear what to expect – ‘The Muppets’ is the story of our favourite characters working on a new TV concept whilst being recorded in a documentary, the format immediately being ripped on by Gonzo, who is in turn made the target of an obvious joke. Things are okay so far, not exceptional but it looks like something worth watching at least, let’s see where they take it.

Well, cue Piggy. Miss Piggy, poor Miss Piggy, is just bad in this appearance. The sassy yet sexy glamour pig of our past who was always a little self-centred but fundamentally charming is hacked apart by people who have clearly reduced her down to a handful of traits – namely dolled up, loud and bossy. She shouts at staff for no real reason, her first line is a line of abuse and she tears the efforts of others apart without mercy before hounding Kermit for the most trivial stuff. Piggy only gets worse later on but I’m doing this review in the process of the episode so each thing as it happens for now. So, the show must go on, Fozzie is the warmup act for the crowd before the main event and fails in his usual fashion, getting savaged by Statler and Waldorf, the only characters who are still their old selves.

The ‘show’ goes on whilst Kermit has thoughts to himself, the fact he uses the world ‘hell’ in these thoughts is remarked upon negatively by Sam, who I guess has gone from a patriot to a pansy. After that, he books a guest star, Tom Bergeron of Dancing With Stars, called in to replace a guest Piggy can’t stand. Kermit is rather negative in his appearance here, more on that later because we now have to see into Fozzie’s love life. Yup, cue easy joke about the dual meaning of bear as both an animal and a burly gay man. Fozzie is subjected to… bear racism, by his girlfriend’s dad and the scene is just… yeesh… bad. Less said the better but the barrel was scraped for these racism analogies using salmon and toilet habits, because jokes about bears are finite people, cut them some slack, Henson exhausted the good ones thirty something years ago.

Cut back to the writer’s office, Gonzo shows Kermit a skit he’s been working on and Kermit says he hates it, not in a disdainful but ultimately lets his friends have their way Kermit sense but more a “You are paid for this job? For real? I fucking resent that” tone of voice. Gonzo doesn’t seem bothered by the criticism and then we have Denise, the subject of controversy and Kermit’s new squeeze, a prettier skinnier pig with this cheeky playful demeanour. Yeah, Kermit dropped a feminist for an airhead, go figure, kinda sketchy when you think about it. Adult humour is brought in here with Denise giving her drink straw some puppet fellatio in the background of Kermit’s talking head section and Kermit even refers to “We met at a cross-promoting event and ended up… ‘cross-promoting'”. This is jarringly weird, the Muppets are making references to fucking each other, these are not the characters for this sort of humour, either make new puppets based on the Muppets to do this show or just cut the sex references, sure a kid won’t get them but it’s just uncomfortable to watch.

So, Piggy is brought back up, shouting abuse at her personal trainer this time, she seems to take out her frustration on people set on making the most of her potential, is this something extremely clever or did the head writer just say “Make Miss Piggy into a colossal fuckhead”? After that, Denise reveals the reason she thinks Piggy didn’t want former guest Elizabeth Banks in the show, they auditioned for a film together and Piggy wasn’t picked for a part, boo-hoo. Kermit then decides that’s a stupid reason for cutting a guest from a show and brings Banks back in without consulting anyone, he just does it, he views it as decisive action but I see it as weedy and cowardly, he’s not facing up to Piggy, he’s going behind her back to undermine her. Note, there is no scene in which he cancels Tom’s appearance, we just go onto the next day, Banks is there and Kermit tells everyone to just deal with it and that Piggy can essentially suck his green one if she’s unhappy. Kermit then shouts down all who oppose his irrefutably clever move, horribly even, he takes on Animal and Gonzo like they aren’t friends, they’re idiots holding him back. Denise thinks this is a sexy take-charge frog but Kermit has gone against the protocols and asked for no opinions from anyone, he’s assumed because he’s in charge of the behind-the-scenes stuff he can just do whatever.

Anyway, this take-charge mood is turned on its head when he decides Banks can’t be around where Miss Piggy can see her until the show begins so he tries to offhand her to Scooter but she throws him out of one of those golf-buggy things they use to navigate studios and comes back to ask what is going on. Of course, Piggy walks in and awkward hijinks ensue… by which I mean Kermit is unveiled as an underhanded toad rather than a timid-but-endearing frog. Fozzie is also there, trying to impress his girlfriend and her family by showing them where he works but Miss Piggy shouts at him and calls him worthless, she also forgot his goddamn name earlier on. Are you shitting me? THEY WORKED TOGETHER, this takes place in a continuity after they made films and TV shows together and here she is just being really unreasonably mean to him for just trying to be a showman.

The truth about Elizabeth Banks and Miss Piggy is revealed, they broke up after seeing Pitch Perfect 2, in which Banks starred. Piggy was apparently taking too many selfies and ruined the film for Kermit, who then realises he’s just been a sucker for her abuse for ages and walks away. Kermit has apparently forgotten about this and realises now he is the one in the wrong, he forgot about the whole affair and how Elizabeth Banks was on a poster in that moment. He tries to make peace with her and she then tears apart his life choices and his weight gain after he asks for honesty. The only other thing before the show goes live is the end of the Fozzie arc in this episode – the parents aren’t impressed and leave but the girlfriend stays, she says she loves that brown ball of bad puns no matter what they say and he’s not convinced or satisfied, instead he wonders how he can validate himself by some other means. Geez Fozzie, I didn’t realise you had it so rough, are you trying so hard due to some childhood issue? It’s an odd attempt to add depth to a talking pile of felt and ping-pong balls but Fozzie is one of the characters in this I can watch without wincing, sadly can’t say that for backstabbing Kermit or egocentric she-devil Miss Piggy.

The show goes ahead, Tom Bergeron turns up and realises what’s happened and Kermit feels awful… but not bad enough to send him a personal gift or anything, just a ‘standard gift basket’ package, claiming it’s ‘good enough’. Note, if you think an apology is just enough to meet a standard, that’s insincere, it should be an apology befitting what you did wrong – Tom’s been made a fool of and built up for nothing, that’s unfair on the guy. I get he’s obviously the ‘minor celebrity cameo’ but if we took this as a real life scenario, Kermit is the sort of guy to scrimp on apologies? What a colossal twat. After that, we wrap up with a musical performance by Imagine Dragons with guest drummer Animal and a quick joke from the grouchy old men we all know and love and that’s that, the least outright hilarious thing I’ve seen the Muppets in for a long time…

Review done, let’s address the controversy, is it suitable for children? Family characters taking on a mature style of show? Well, I reckon you could let children watch it, the inappropriate stuff is hinted at so subtly it’d fly over your head until you’re 16 but aside from seeing talking puppets and some occasional slapstick, there’s not much for kids here. The characters are boring, the jokes are mostly one liners and there’s nothing wacky to look forward to – Gonzo isn’t catapulted into space by some bizarre contraption, Beaker doesn’t almost die for some sadistic science project, Animal doesn’t go batshit crazy and Kermit doesn’t do the “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!” thing any more. I’d worry more about disappointing kids than corrupting them with this, it disappointed me. I get the feeling the writers just looked at what comedy has become and tried to emulate it and in doing so, turned their characters into interchangeable personnas you’d have Steven Merchant play in a sitcom. In fact, someone call Ricky Gervais, I think they probably stole some of his work and passed it as their own. I understand characters need to change and evolve to stay fresh but this isn’t it for me, at least not so far, maybe it’ll improve but the pilot was a lack-lustre attempt to force goofy puppets into roles portrayed by the cast of Extras in a way supposedly engaging for the American audience. As for the controversial character of Denise, she’s got nothing on Piggy thus far, she’s sorta flirty and tries to be funny but I doubt a great deal of thought was given to her, she’s basically a “Hot girl in the workplace” trope at this point.

There you go, my thoughts thus far, I’ll keep watching and hoping and review the series at the end if people are interested (And any especially interesting episodes in between) but if you think you have to see this, you don’t, it’s nothing special, it’s a so-so comedy using famous characters made popular by nostalgia and recent movies to promote itself and it’s sub-par script

2014 Retrospective

Trigger Warnings – Mentions of suicide/depression, related to Robin Williams

2014 was a pretty full year, granted it’s not quite done yet but I’ll be damned if I’m waiting to the very last second for every single morsel of news and trivia to include in here. I had originally thought of making a month by month Charlie Brooker-esque look back at the news of the year – media, films, business, politics, technology, war – all that jazz and more but my god was there a lot to cover, far too much to squeeze into my usual article length. I mean, when I look back at the year, it feels like it went on forever, not like 2013 which sorta came and went for me at least.

A strange year, we lost many great names and we saw twerks and jerks all over our News Feeds – Russell Brand became a ‘revolutionary’, the battle for equality escalated tremendously with victories for Gay Marriage cropping up across the US, Scotland voted on independence, photos were hacked and made global, cinemas cowered from cyber threats, Rocket Raccoon became a recognisable character to the mainstream and we learnt the dark truths behind some famous faces of yesteryear. So much to cover on one little blog, some of it I only really rediscovered in my research and was surprised at how recent things had been and just how much had happened. I’ll cover what I can, in brief summary.

So globally, the most searched names were those of Robin Williams, Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian. Robin Williams being one of the most tragic losses, at least to me and to the public community, and he served as a reminder as to the truth of depression – that outward appearances do not portray inner feelings for this man who brought nothing but joy felt such intense sadness and pain inside that it eventually overcame him, that’s a blog post in itself, something I can relate to, but I’ll leave it be for now. Jennifer Lawrence, of course, was constantly in the public eye for her various film appearances in the likes of Hunger Games films and X-Men First Class, as well as being a victim of the nude photo hack scandal. To clear up my stance on that one, she’s a victim and no she shouldn’t have just not taken the pictures of herself, that’s like saying if you don’t want to be robbed, don’t own valuables, victims are victims, criminals are criminals, stop blurring the lines. Yes, leaving a door unlocked will let a burglar into the house more easily but I can walk post a door and not open it, if someone goes ahead and walks in where they’re not invited, they need to be punished accordingly, we shouldn’t shrug and say it was inevitable. As for Kim, Kim tried to ‘break the internet’ by posing naked on a magazine cover, apparently forgetting the internet already knows what she looks like naked. I heard talk of it being brave or bold or stupid or whatever, I just shrugged, it was the least spectacular bit of ‘news’ I’d ever read, it’s why I’d never even considered doing an article on it – I refuse to make my blog into a celebrity gossip dump.

In film, we had the undying popularity of Frozen linger on well into Christmas this year, so much so various shops had to enforce maximum budgets on customer purchases for Frozen merchandise, we had Guardians of the Galaxy make Marvel a shit ton more money than they already had, there were Hobbits and Ninja Turtles all over the place, Lego became a film… somehow, Divergent joined the roster of “Dystopian teen fiction made into long running Hollywood money machine” novels, and we learnt that Benedict Cumberbatch REALLY can’t say penguins and that apes can outmatch the military. A lot of good films, a lot of not so good films, a lot of films I meant to watch and didn’t but the most part of it was “You know what we need? A team of characters standing around in epic poses whilst stuff explodes, it made Marvel rich, it must be the key to immortality or something” – so much so the freakin’ Penguins of Madagascar parodies the scene with the penguins stood in the trademark everyone-is-here-let’s-stand-back-to-back position and their leader saying to hold the position until maximum coolness is achieved. I still have a lot of these films to catch up on, Big Hero 6 looks fun, definitely need to see The Theory of Everything and wouldn’t mind giving some of the others a go just to say I have done. Of course, there was the fiasco with The Interview, which has been resolved with online releases, though there is a discussion in that for another day maybe.

World news, the big charity pushes this year were the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that every fucker and their nan took part in and the fight against Ebola, which America handled by saying “OH GOD NO AFRICANS WILL KILL US ALL, EBOLA IS EVERYWHERE!” whilst actual charities worked hard to clear up the damages and the rumours. We heard news reports on wars and conflicts across the globe, so much so it all sort of blurred into one horrid mess for people who didn’t follow these things, myself included. Conflicts in Gaza, Israel, Crimea, Ukraine, it became this endless stream of human beings just doing horrid stuff to one another and I daren’t even step on the subject because I just didn’t read up on it, it passed me by, I’m sure it did for most of you – the advantages of our lifestyles huh? We have our complaints and financial insecurity but there are considerably less guns and explosions in Shrewsbury, I’ll give you that much. In my neck of the woods, UKIP enjoyed a surge in support, much to my disgust, but at least the Greens did too. Scotland had their vote on independence and said it wasn’t for them, which to me is a wise decision, Britain as a whole barely stays afloat, breaking chunks off won’t do anyone any favours. Yes, that’s very brief and vague, so what?

Ugh, my gosh, over a thousand words, barely scratched the surface. I haven’t covered ISIS or Ferguson or the Sochi Olympics or Peaches Geldof or Conchita Wurst or… do you see my point? A lot happened this year, it’s impractical for a man of my limited resources to go into these things in one go so maybe this post will jog some memories of “Oh yeah, that happened” and start a few discussions. Truth be told, in this modern age, our attention spans are short, things don’t stay relevant very long – try it, do an ice bucket challenge now, see who gives a flip. Come 2015, we’ll have forgotten most of this year, I’ve certainly forgotten most of 2013 and 2012 before that. Anyway, perhaps slightly more interesting, tomorrow I’ll do a review of 2014 for me as a person rather than parroting Google searches. I have a lot to say there and it’ll be my way of signing off this year, letting it go

Letting it go… let it go… oh fuck

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This Is Cereals Business

Trigger Warnings – None

Ah, yesterday’s post went down well it seemed, earned a few new subscribers – come on in guys, make yourselves a cup of tea or something, kick back and relax. So what’s the topic of the day? Well, following the news here in the UK, I decided to weigh in on the Cereal Killer cafe, the first ever cereal cafe in the UK, set up in London to provide breakfast cereals both beloved and rare at a bit of a hefty price but hey, it’s the current economy, what doesn’t come at a hefty price now? Channel 4 sent a reporter to visit the place and the reporter noted the cafe was set up in one of the poorest parts of the city but still charged the steep price of £3.20 a bowl and asked if the owners can really justify such prices. Yes. Yes they can, the owner fought his case poorly on the spot but he was distracted and not prepared for an interview, he later responded by letter much more eloquently but I thought I would say my piece as well because that’s what I do and that’s what you’re here for, I hope.

We live in a harsh economic climate really, independent businesses get it in the neck from all sides and I’ve even given bad reviews of one on here though I admit a personal motive was the basis for that and hey, that’s not cool but whatever, bygones and shit. Anyway, running a shop isn’t as simple as sell stuff, replace it, sell it, there are taxes, wages, bills, suppliers to keep happy, stocks to keep fresh, facilities to clean and maintain, the world doesn’t run on positive attitude alone, it runs on money and that’s just a fact of the world at the moment. If you are buying something, you are not just paying for that item alone, you are paying a value tax, you are paying the shop so it can resupply itself with more of that item and you are paying towards the profits and salaries of the business. You might protest “I don’t want to pay their wages, that’s their boss’s job” – Duh, of course but where does the money come from? Now this is less of an issue for big businesses with proper payroll and budgeting staff but a small business has to take all the money from one big pot and divide that fairly, it doesn’t have a head office or a human resources department to make sure every barista or shelf stacker is paid this month. You pay into that pot, you get your slice of carrot cake, your waitress gets her wage and if that upsets you then go make your own cake, simple.

Don’t get me wrong, £3.20 is probably steep for cereal but hey, this isn’t a bowl of Shreddies, this is imported rare cereal you can only find by obsessive hunting like the owners did and buying your own box of it would set you back a pretty penny so be grateful. The reporter said this wasn’t practical, they never set up their business with the intention of being a community service kitchen, it’s a luxury, it’s a once-a-week/once-a-month treat like a trip to Nando’s or Zizzi’s. The business certainly seemed busy anyway, you build it and they will come, perhaps for the novelty but as long as they make money then good on them and the owners even stated that if they’re a success, they’ll set up a charity programme to bring healthy breakfasts to local schools. I didn’t know it fell on the shoulders of two hipsters in a cafe to save us all from starvation and poverty but it’s been thrust upon them apparently so go buy a bowl and help them become a big deal so they can use their vast wealth to buy me a solid gold unicorn for this advertisement… I mean, save orphans, whatever.

Britain is currently trying to push this ‘support your local small business’ thing whilst also berating them for steep prices and pretentious attitudes but maybe the prices are so steep because these guys pay their taxes? Just a wild idea but perhaps a real push to support small business would be turning the critical tongue on Starbucks and getting them to start paying us back, how’s that? Prices would increase, sure, but then your small business has a chance of competing and at least you can feel morally righteous in paying for coffee that is tasty and giving back to the local economy, not just a CEO’s pocket. As for the attitude, the guy came off in the interview as a twat but hey I’ve been in management, if it gets busy, you become a twat, you reduce everything to priorities and run around doing everything whilst this annoying alarm goes off in your head like “But what about this? Is someone talking to you? Is everyone working as hard as they could be? Smile! Smile! Smile! Happy manager means happy customers, why aren’t you smiling dickhead?” so fuck, if I was being interviewed on the job, I’d probably slip some sort of faux-pas like saying the business isn’t for poor people or whatever, cut him some slack. Incidentally, in relation to my small business attack on here ages ago, my apologies, you were quite aggressive in your disposition and I took it as you being a stuck up cow but maybe you were stressed too, I appreciate customer service either makes you a ray of sunshine or a dormant axe murderer verging on being not so dormant.

Ok, this cereal cafe won’t save the world, heck, it might not even last past the novelty stage but if we’re expecting small businesses to fight the fight for a fair economy, let’s play fair with them and give them a fighting chance. The owners of this place don’t need me to fight their battle for them here, he was pretty on point in the letter but still, I’m sick of the media and the government looking to blame anything for anything. Steep prices in a capitalist society? OH NOES, THAT’S EVIL! No, it isn’t, it’s the price of not wanting your investment to make you homeless

Can I have a free box of cereal now?

Infectious Panic

Trigger Warnings – Death, Infection, Illness

Ebola. The dreaded word surfaces here on my blog as it does across the news, with screening for this virus commencing in airports across the western world as people fear infection in both the UK and the USA. At this point, only a hermit hasn’t heard of the virus and it has become a topic for discussion in all corners of the media, even the obscure blog of a nerd from Shrewsbury but I digress, this is too big of an issue to pass up and the truth needs to be heard, as well as pulled apart from the hysteria

Shepard Smith of Fox News managed to summarise the situation with a cold calm logic and whilst I might never again suggest you watch Fox News coverage, this man detaches himself from his political and professional affiliations to state the facts in a well-presented manner so by all means search him on YouTube as “Shepard Smith Ebola” and watch what he has to say if you feel worried by what you hear in the news, especially if you are from the USA

The facts are as follows – A man contracted Ebola overseas and was dying of the illness in a hospital in Texas, the illness being at its most contagious when someone is dying of the symptoms. A health care worker caught the virus from this man and is now in isolation but she appears to be doing well. The CDC expected more people to become infected and this was true, another health worker has caught the virus and she will transferred to isolation. However, it is true that before she showed symptoms she boarded a plane but as we know, Ebola is only contagious when the symptoms are showing and so the passengers of that plane should be fine but just in case, each passenger is being contacted and monitored through health checks. The chance of infection on the plane is slim to none. Screening operations are now in place across the USA and the UK

Now I know you’re worried, you’ve seen the headlines marking the coming of a plague but you must remember that headlines such as “EBOLA TERROR!” or “WIDESPREAD PANIC!” sell, headlines like “A FEW PEOPLE ARE ILL” or “SLIGHT OVERSIGHT ON A PLANE” or not shocking. You may also note that David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK, called Ebola the single biggest threat to the health and safety of the British people but this is simply untrue – leaders need to appear strong, David Cameron is trying to look like a man protecting the nation from a horrid threat but in truth, here in the west, we are blessed with doctors, hospitals and exhaustive counter-measures against epidemics. Elections are coming, in the UK and the USA, the leaders need to seem strong, the opponents need to undermine them, so whilst the parties in power play the hero, their opponents call them out as inefficient imbeciles and so a cycle of fear is created as the people don’t know who to trust but the truth is this – Ebola is a deadly disease, it has killed thousands, but the thousands it has killed have been those without access to medical facilities, clean water or professional support. If you have a computer to read this on, you will not be at risk unless your doctor has contacted you specifically with their own concerns

Frankly, I think we’re being insulting to the thousands affected by this disease in Central and Western Africa by making a lot of fuss when there has yet to be an outbreak. Thousands are dying, numbers so difficult to track that even the UN admitted to fucking up, and here we are buying ourselves face masks and hand wipes and screaming bloody mercy when it has yet to kill even ten of us.I admit, as I write this, I am lumping in those deaths in Africa as a number, I am not exploring the depth of the damage, I don’t know the families, I don’t know the communities and I don’t know just how many have died but we westerners have a way of seeing deaths in places like Sudan and the Congo Republic as just a sad reality we like to ignore except when we feel generous. You are safe, you live in a world of hygiene and safety procedures, the dead are buried correctly and you can access clean water. The people affected in Africa can not, they are dying because they do not have the sophisticated medical systems we have available to them, they have to simply make do, unlike us

The virus is not easily caught, it is not like the cold or the flu, you are only at risk if you handle the bodily fluids or dead body of someone infected, thus why the health care workers were affected, they were treating a dying man, some part of them was inevitably going to contact some fluid. The virus is fragile, it can survive in a pool of blood or sweat but can be destroyed by cleaning products or hot soapy water. Experimental vaccines are being tested and if caught early, the symptoms can be treated and support will be put in place. You are not going to die, calm down. If you are scared, consider where you read the information – a newspaper, an online article, on the TV? The media profits from your panic, businesses will sell you protection you don’t need (Such as the snake oil scam) and the leaders of the world will tell you it is a difficult challenge they face to eradicate a fearsome curse when in truth, Ebola is only a real concern if you are living in squalor. I have no profit to be made in telling you anything, I am not paid to blog, I am simply a man with an opinion, some facts and a computer, it is entirely your trust whether or not you trust my words but a thorough search will support me, from a logical standpoint

If you are scared about your health, make sure you get your flu jab, the flu kills tens of thousands every year because people underestimate it. Heck, the plague, the flippin’ plague, kills a thousand American people a year, you’re more likely to catch that than Ebola. Scared of the plague? Of the flu? Of Malaria? No, well then Ebola is nothing to you, Ebola is far from reaching the death count of those diseases and that’s not because of time, Ebola has existed as long as Star Wars has and has yet to reach ten thousand deaths, the flu tops that in a year. Stay calm, ignore the hysteria and do what you would normally do to stay healthy – wash your hands, bin your tissues, see a doctor if you are unsure of anything. If we continue to shout like madmen over anything slightly wrong and scrabble around for safety, how will we ever band together in a real crisis? Don’t cry wolf over this because if it does become an actual worldwide epidemic, we need to be calm, we need to be united and we need to take action, not cower in fear crying

I hope that has brought you peace of mind readers and if Ebola still concerns you, donate to a charity working to fight the spread of the virus. Thank you