Thursday, 24 February 2011

Carving arseholes part 2

I hoped you enjoyed part 1 of this post. This one is more about the inspiration behind it, and to give it a bit of context.

So the background is that a few years ago I used to work with a good friend (read his blog here) and we both walked the same way to the station after work, although at different times.

It's a pretty nice walk in front of the National Gallery, and includes all the majesty of Trafalgar Square.

Horse's arse 001 Horse's arse 002

One day he mentioned to me that on the walk I should look at the statue 'of the guy on the horse'. I enquired as to why this was. He then began to describe the finest sculpting of a horse's clacker valve ever committed to bronze. Now don't jump to conclusions here, the admiration was not for the arsehole itself, but that someone, for some reason had gone to effort of crafting as life like a nipsy as possible.

horse horse1 horse2 horse3

As you can see it's quite something. Since this was pointed out to me, not only can I not help but smile when passing this statue, I also can't help but look at other horse statues.

I'd never noticed this small, but carefully crafted detail before, and now I feel obliged to check. Was this a one off, are there more arseholes, or was it limited to a few select statues?

Whatever way I bet most of you now have a sneaky look to check your local arsehole.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Carving arseholes part 1

It's 1830, and a statue of George the IV, riding his horse Trigger (sources can't verify this name), has been commissioned by his successor William the IV.

Sir Francis Chantrey has been selected to sculpt the piece.

He has just completed the commission. Here's the conversation that took place:

Sir Francis Chantrey: Behold your Majesty it's complete

{looking from the front} HRH William IV: Wow it's great. The horse is so life like, and you've captured the likeness perfectly. {HRH moves around the statue}

Sir Francis Chantrey: Yes, it's an artistic interpretation of a horse. We've gone for as life like as possible with out including any of the potentially embarrassing bi.. {HRH cuts sculptor off mid-sentence}

{looking from the rear} HRH: Where's the arsehole?

Sir Francis Chantrey: Your highness, it's been avoided. It's an artistic impression of a horse.

HRH: This horse had an arsehole, god rest it's soul, I want an arsehole!

Sir Francis Chantrey: My liege, the proletariat might find it a source of mirth, we wouldn't want to.. {HRH cuts sculptor off mid-sentence}

HRH: Don't tell me what I want, I want an arsehole. When I have visiting dignitaries they'll look at this and ask me where my arseholes are. We breed horses with arseholes in Britain, and goddam it, I want an arsehole on my statue!

Sir Francis Chantrey: Yes, your highness, if you're sure, I'll add this in.

HRH: Of course I'm sure, don't question me you impudent serf. I want an arsehole immediately. Come to mention it I want all statues to include arseholes from now on, and I want you to personally retrospectively add arseholes anywhere they maybe missing. If you don't you'll be beheaded, as a lesson, for lack of arseholes.

{Adviser speaks up} Adviser: Your Highness, this is a little extreme, we will ensure tha.. {HRH cuts adviser off mid-sentence}

HRH: Do you want to go the same way pal? {talking to Sir Francis Chantrey} You've got one week, and {turns to adviser} you can help him. If in one week I don't see an arsehole everywhere I check for one they'll be hell to pay.

Adviser: Of course your highness, I apologise for any offence. We will begin adding arseholes. From now on we will ensure that no arsehole is neglected in the future.
Horse's arse 007

Read part 2 here.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Marty McFly vs. Bill & Ted

Iconic characters from a more innocent time of family entertainment and film making, these three characters were trailblazing in their care free attitude to time travelling, education, and general merriment.

Which was the best time traveller though? Who would kick who's arse? Who will rule the roost in this time bending dust up? Here's the usual pros and cons-

This is a great debate as essentially there's no bad guy. When I first thought this one up I didn't have a clear idea which way I'd go. Luckily the decision making spreadsheet has pointed the way, although you may not agree with the final decision.

Lets talk about the individuals involved shall we?

Marty McFly- Everyone that watched any of the Back to the Futures as a kind wanted to be Marty, if not at least for the hoverboard in the second film. Hoverboard aside what wasn't there to like? Wicked skateboard skills, could play guitar, had a smoking (in an 80's way) girlfriend, good at arcade games, and had a friendship with an eccentric inventor who made cool stuff.

Looking back the dynamics of this relationship are a little disturbing, but lets not ruin those rose tinted glasses. The greatest of all these things was driving a Delorean that could travel in time.

All in all Marty was a pretty cool guy.

Bill and Ted- Archetypal stoners without touching a bud, this duo gave us all a reason to admire slacking and pursuing hopeless dreams of musical whimsy. Bill & Ted also represent an evolution of who you wanted to be when you were younger. In the same way that hoverboards were cool, so was rocking out in a band.

Not only that but Rufus was also damn cool, throw into that mix a hot mum, befriending death, nailing princesses, and introducing the melvin to the school playground, you've got a pretty compelling case.

Lets dive into a few points in a bit more detail-

Marty's thinking face- This guy thought a lot, or at least that's what you'd think. Much like 'the catalogue' pose that all men default to when a camera appears and inspiration does one, Marty pulled this face whether scripted or not.

The introduction of cybertronic sexuality- One of the greatest lines in modern cinema history: Evil Ted- 'I got a full-on robot chubby',  need I say more?

The melvin- Geeks and social outcasts of the school yard winced on seeing this. Their futures clearly laid out in a spate of groin injuring copy cat attacks.

Beating Death at his own game- Not many people can claim to have bested Death, but Bill & Ted did, several times over. I just can't see Marty McFly doing this-

Sound tracks- Both of these film series had great soundtracks. Back to the Future lead with Huey Lewis and the News, Bill & Ted countered with Kiss. Looking at both original movie soundtracks it leans favourably to Back to the Future, with Bill & Ted's being empty of A-list talent.

However using the ancient technique of checking various colleagues i-pods, Bill & Ted win with one person in the office (me) having 'God gave rock and roll to you' on their device, and shamefully no one having any Huey.

There's plenty more to go at here, but conscious that I'm not writing a novel here's my thoughts-

I'm going with Bill & Ted. When I first started writing I thought it would be the other way round, but the sequel wins it for them. Without Bogus Journey, they'd be lost but it had so many stand out moments that it just pips a noble effort by Marty.

Don't agree? Feel free to shout me down....

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Sandwich top trumps

Who likes sandwiches?

That's right we all do, because they're great. Simple, yet complex, satisfying and beautiful, the humble sanger. Even veggies are partial to a sandwich.

I do not hide my love for a sandwich. I think that most meals can be made better by slapping them in bread. You can even go as far as having a roast in a sandwich, and I can confirm that although it gives you jaw ache, this is an epic sandwich.

Full Roast Sandwich

Given the plethora of fillings and types available I've always wondered what the best sandwich is. I'm not going to attempt to answer that here, but this debate sparked an idea....sandwich top trumps. Surely there's a gap in the market?

I decided to enlist the help of a friend, Steve for those that know him, and proceeded to build on the idea. What we found was that coming up with a deck was not as easy as it sounds.

Did you know that the average deck of top trumps is only 30 cards? I bet you didn't, who would? Now think about all those different sandwiches, and not just the easy ones, think variation as well, just look at Chicken for example. You've got & Bacon, & Stuffing, Salad, plus with or without mayo. How many would make it in when you've only got 30 to play with?

These dilemmas tore at Steve and myself and so we had to set some ground rules. The only sandwiches to include would be the purest version of each. So instead of having Beef & Mustard, and Beef & Horseradish, only mustard would make it through. It's a tough call but in the world of Top Trumps you have to be ruthless.

So now we had this set we had to decide how many of each type of sandwich, so we went for a 10:10:10 split. We'd have 10 meat sandwiches, 10 seafood, and 10 veggie. When you boil it down to this that's not many to pick from.

An early prototype-

Here's our original list of sandwiches:

and what we cut them down to:

Now I know there's some controversial choices in here, and I know there's some big fillings that have been dismissed, but none of the decisions were taken lightly.

Ploughmans- a tough one to leave out, but based on it's popularity these days it had to go. Plus it can fall under the variation category for 'cheese'.

Corned Beef- a favourite of mine, but didn't cut mustard as once again its sadly heading towards the history books.

BLT- it's my game and I fucking hate tomato. Get that filth of my bacon.

Now that we've picked our sandwiches there's another tricky decision, what stats apply? At this point we started discussing the top and bottom trump. Everyone knows that the top trump has one weakness and the bottom trump only has one marginal strength. We found that naturally the cream came to the top when applying the stats we'd decided upon. It was interesting that, in something we thought would have to be decided beforehand, the top and bottom trump generated itself organically. Who would have thought trumps could be so dynamic?

Digression aside here's the original list of stats-

and what we decided made the cut-

Hangover curability- how good is the given sandwich at pulling you from the pit of your own doing, and making you feel half normal again?

Speed (prep time)- for this one we came up with our measure, one which I'm quite proud of. Sandwiches Per Hour, or SPH, is the measure of how many sandwiches you could make, not eat, in an hour.

Respectability (Kudos)- do people eye your sandwich with envy? Or do people turn their nose up at your meagre plastic ham on limp white bread effort? This is a measure of how much reverence your sandwich creates.

Diversity (Variations)- this helped cover some of the more high profile filling omissions. This valued the number of different twists you could make on a sandwich.

Satisfaction (hunger fulfilment)- a key one. Did it do the job, or do you need another round?

Thickness (filling:bread ratio)- another important one. Who want's a doorstep that's all bread? Likewise you don't want the bread falling apart.

Travelling (was travelability)-  you put it in a lunch box and what happens? No one likes a sandwich that's wonkier than Janet Street Porters face. 

Simplicity- a key factor to your choice of sandwich should you be making it. How easy is it to make with the minimum of fuss, and more importantly washing up.

Est. Cost- not just if you were buying it from the shop, but the cost of components outside of bread if you had to make it yourself.

Expectation- you've made it, you're looking at it, does it fill you with wonder? Are you almost reluctant to eat it because of it's majesty? Did it live up to this hype?

Again some big decisions had to be made as we only gave ourselves 10 fields to play with. We thought the above covered a lot of bases, however there were some close calls-

Single-handedness- can you eat the sanger with one hand? Is the balance right that don't lose filling should you need to eat on the go.

Toastability- whack it in a toaster and what happens? Exactly.

Depth of history- did the sandwich have an impact on important historical events? Spam would have us believe they won the war, for example.

At this point the project kind of stopped. We were short of getting the working prototypes ready. However we're not far off. I'd like to say that you'll be able to buy a deck as an unconsidered stocking gift in time for Christmas, but who knows.

Just as a teaser here's what I think will be top and bottom trump, and more importantly why-

Top Trump: Breakfast butty

The kudos, diversity, satisfaction, hangover-ability, thickness, and expectation all weigh very high for this sandwich and so it rightly tops the tree.

Bottom Trump: Cucumber sandwich

I know there's tradition, and some would say that it's refreshing. Well I say get fucked. I'd rather have plain bread.

So what do you think? Agree with me, or am i well off the mark? As usual comments are welcomed....

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