Thursday, March 22, 2007

Civilization 3 Addiction in Turquoise

Apologies to my reader for the lack of blog this week (as if it affects your quality of life). I’ve been taking a bit of time to relax and enjoy the rather snow-flecked spring in WGC. I had kind of promised myself that I’d redecorate our turquoise living room (including the removal of the curtains with PELMETS. What a great word that is. Pelmet. Sounds like a newly discovered genital organ. “Ohhh, me prolapsed pelmet’s givin’ me gip today!”) However, as it is, I’ve only daubed the walls with the contents of 8 paint sampler pots and stuck 6 wallpaper samples up. My motivation ran out midway through. Due in no small part to my continuing addiction to Civilization 3.

At least I have the small comfort that Iain Banks is also addicted to the same game. After 3 months of solid Civ, he had to go cold turkey - smashing the CD and deleting all files – to get his latest novel written. Jesus, if I worked at home I’d probably have to do the same thing…

Friday, March 16, 2007

Vicious Imagery: 28 Days of 2000 AD #1.1: Pat Mills Unplugged

Vicious Imagery: 28 Days of 2000 AD #1.1: Pat Mills Unplugged

Last Day at Rufus Leonard: Clearing Out Steptoe's Yard

Today’s my last day at Rufus Leonard and I feel positively wistful. I’ve only been at this agency for a year, but I’ve done work that I’m proud of, learned a huge amount and worked with people I respect. You can’t ask for much more from a job, really. What I especially like about Rufus is the lack of big egos. Even mine was muzzled most of the time!

I also met a creative director, Steve, whose desk looks even more like Steptoe’s Yard than mine. However, as usual, the junk has built up over the year.

Me and Steve sort through our stuff

So I decided to sort it all out before the day got going. Here’s what’s gone into my holdall:

  • 1 Lomo camera case
  • 1 Daks flatcap (brown)
  • 1 Creative PC speaker system
  • A pair of Asics trainers
  • 1 Victorian ceremonial short sword
  • 1 fetid gym-kit
  • 26 copies of 2000ad
  • 5 Guardian wall-chart posters
  • 1 Fusion art book
  • 1 Clint Eastwood postcard
  • The original drawings for the cartoons on this blog
  • 4 Amos In-Crowd ICWF wrestlers
  • 2 Japanese 3Age Marvel superhero figures: the silver Surfer and Daredevil
  • 1 Ringo Starr & 1 Blue Meanie
  • 1 Cylon Warrior
  • 1 Japanese Doctor Doom figure
  • A pair of Sony headphones
  • 1 book about rats

So it’s ‘goodbye Rufus’ and ‘hello Saatchi & Saatchi’. Maybe I’ll consider going minimalist at my next workstation…

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Captain Strategy - the Planning Avenger

Click on the picture to enable enlarged viewing functionality

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Monkey World

Tim, a fellow Word jockey, has sent me a link to the Monkey World website. This isn't even a result of a bored copywriter/Photoshop - it really exists in Dorset! Look at this page - are they trying to attract children or make them scared of monkeys forever?

The Big Beaver in Canada

Click to enlarge

The Big Cock in Flitwick, UK

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Interesting Animal-Based Tourist Hotspots

Having visited the Big Sheep (the sheep themepark in Devon) many years ago, I wondered how many other animal-based tourist attractions were out there waiting to be discovered. So a quick whirl on Google Image search later, here are the results...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Old Gits Talk Croydon and the Golden Dawn

I met two friends from Croydon last night, Adam and Blair. We went up to the Three Kings in Clerkenwell for a pint, talking about old times in a room upstairs with a huge 60s print on the wall and a cabinet full of snowglobes. I generally catch up with Adam every 6 months and I hadn’t seen Blair for about 15 years, but we all soon fell into old patterns of behaviour. Basically, Blair and I used to – and still do, evidently – gang up on Adam and take the piss. It’s interesting how one conforms to a set script with certain people. You can feel a different persona – dominant, submissive, serious, funny – take hold and lock into place. So, although we’ve all changed over the years (all fatter, Blair is now an antiquarian bookseller specialising in occult first editions, married or getting married) we’re obviously not very different to those callow idiots aimlessly hanging around Croydon in their early 20s.

Monday, March 12, 2007

By The Way...

Apologies to everyone for the introduction of comment moderation on this blog. I had some anonymous moron leaving semi-literate abusive comments (as you’ll see if you scroll down to ‘Long Lost Boner’). They went beyond banter (which I don’t mind) and the stream of expletives continued over the weekend. As my wife pointed out, it’s a bit close to home when there are entries talking about our life together and children on here.

Of course, I did bring it on myself by posting another Boner cartoon. I suppose I’m na├»ve, but I’m always surprised by the trouble a spot of mild piss-taking can cause…

At Home with Stan

I’m working at home today, as Stan has conjunctivitis and can’t go to nursery. Luckily the boy is happy to sit on his play-mat and chew the DVD player remote (the thing he’s not supposed to play with is, of course, far more interesting than any of the brightly coloured, ingeniously designed toys he’s normally allowed!)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Ruing the Day on eBay

I think there should be a new category of psychological condition should be investigated. Its name is ‘eBay regret’. This describes the emotional fallout of impulsively bidding for something stupid on eBay and then actually fucking winning it.

Need an example? Just look at this pottery owl I won the other day.

Surely the most pointless – and, quite frankly, rubbish – thing I’ve ever bought in my life…

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Long Lost Boner

Click to enlarge creative ego

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Electric Guitars in the USA: Join the Futile Debate

I’ve just had a pointless, though vehement, discussion with my colleague Mihai.

Mihai asserts that electric guitars sound better in the US because that nation has “different electricity”. I countered, with astonishing rhetorical acuity, that he was “talking toss”. We then asked an American woman in the office what she thought, but she could not venture a definitive opinion as she only ever played acoustic guitar.

Does my meagre handful of readers have an answer? DO electric guitars sound better in America? Leave a comment if you can be arsed…

On the iPod today...

I’ve been listening to a fair amount of new music recently, especially in the morning on the train from WGC to King’s Cross. There’s nothing quite like passing through Potters Bar whilst digging a cool tune. Oh, the exhilaration!

Here’s a roundup of what’s currently on me iPod…

The Horrors – Strange House

I was never a Goth during the 80s (although I did fancy a Goth girl named Eleanor at 6th Form and loved the Sisters of Mercy), but remember the movement vividly. The Horrors have been touted as a Goth revival band, but I think this is unfairly diminishing the excitement of their musical output. If anything they seem to be more of a furious mix of garage, punk and, yes OK, 60s organ-driven Hammer Horror theatrics. I’ve only listened to this album once, but I know I like it. Particularly the wild single ‘Count in Fives’ and the melodramatic opener ‘Jack the Ripper’.

Mr Hudson & the Library – A Tale of Two Cities

I loved the Madness-alike single ‘Too Late Too Late’, so invested in the album by this London band. I’m a bit underwhelmed, sadly. The first 5 songs are really interesting, then it seems to run out of musical imagination. I’m listening to it now, hoping it might be a grower. Albums like this raise the iTunes dilemma – on the one hand, new music is more accessible than ever, on the other hand it’s also more disposable. I now tend to have less patience with albums, giving them less time to get their hooks into me.

Air - Late Night Tales

This is an eclectic mix of stuff from Air’s record collection. It’s nice and melodic, but ultimately a bit wispy and lacking substance. A bit like Air’s music in other words. Mind you, any compilation that brings together the Cure, Lee Hazelwood and Ravel has to be considered a worthwhile listen.

The outro from Layla by Derek & The Dominos

I’m not a big fan of Clapton (any man who pushes his own son out of a window to get a hit is decidedly dodgy), but I was reminded how great the last bit of this song is by a Scorsese/Sesame Street piss-take on YouTube. It was genius of Scorsese to pick out this bit of music and use it in the way he did in ‘Goodfellas’.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Devlin Waugh Doodles Today

I've been doodling today. This is my fumbling attempt to draw the 2000ad character Devlin Waugh. He's a hugely entertaining creation: an English (Eton educated) gay vampire bodybuilder who happens to be the Vatican's foremost occult troubleshooter. I've been rereading some of the stories in which Devlin appeared and you wonder how the writer, John Smith, got away with such a bizarre and camp character in a mainstream comic.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Virgin Media Proves Good Copy Isn't Good Customer Service

Having discussed copywriters on Friday, I feel the need to talk about the art of copywriting today.

You may have noticed the launch of Virgin Media (the communications equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster, with an array of sub-standard corpses stitched together into a shambling, incoherent hulk) in the press and in those ads featuring Uma Thurman. From a professional standpoint, I was interested to read and listen to the ads as I’ve always admired Virgin’s tone of voice. It’s always admirably human, cheeky and clear.

I happened to be an NTL customer before it was subsumed by Virgin media, so received a lot more literature telling me how well looked after I’d be and how this was a fresh start and so on. Again, lovely copywriting – lots of chutzpah.

Then I moved house and needed to reconnect my broadband and upgraded to get cable telly too. Virgin Media sent a load of information in advance of the reconnection, including essential pin-codes and account numbers. The engineer came on Friday to install it all and arrived when they said he would. Then I came home to make everything work. There were instruction booklets dropped off and, again, the copy had admirable clarity. Goodness me, it looked like connecting my Mac to broadband would be remarkably simple.

Of course it wasn’t. The copy was nicely written, but it was ALL LIES. They’d missed out several crucial steps in the set-up. I had to ring their support line to get the address of a web page on which I needed to register my details to complete the connection process. It would have helped if this crucial piece of information had been available in the instructions. As it was, I spent 30 minutes on my mobile phone trying to get through to an autistic man in an Indian call centre (I hate to think how much that cost me).

All pin numbers and account numbers Virgin had sent me and told me that I’d need to set up broadband? None of them were used – the pin number I actually needed wasn’t in any of the literature – I had to get it off the man on the phone.

OK, so after 2 hours of brain-mangling the broadband was working. I sat down to relax in front of the telly. I then discovered that all the channels I thought I’d signed up for were locked. I rang the support line again. This time it was shut down for the night. Then I tried again this morning. I rang 8 times and was disconnected before I spoke to a human being.

Utterly, utterly infuriating. I’ve just gone from NT-Hell to Virgin Vexation. I have now sworn to buy a ground-to-air rocket launcher from any passing Iraqi insurgent and shoot Richard Branson out of the sky as he begins his next ridiculous round the world balloon trip. As the bearded buffoon spins to his flaming death, I’ll be waving all the great literature I’ve received from his company and reflecting on the power of good copy.

Friday, March 02, 2007

What Do You Call a Group of Copywriters?

I had an entertaining time last night at one of my favourite pubs, the Eagle in Farringdon, with a gaggle of assembled copywriters. There were about 10 of us at one point and, as usual, there was wordplay and cynicism a-plenty.

I did wonder what the collective noun for a group of copywriters would be (you know, as in a murder of crows, a pod of dolphins, an arsehole of account directors). I think a ‘grumble’ of copywriters seems appropriate as we’re a jaded bunch of moaning motherfuckers.

If anyone has any better suggestions, though, do leave a comment…