Friday, June 29, 2007

Deodorants With Thrice the Protection and Swiss Army Razors

The absurdly testosterone-fuelled voiceover in the ad for Gillette’s new anti-perspirant promises “triple protection”. This pledge is also emblazoned across the can, leading the viewer to subconsciously believe that this fantastic new development in underarm technology is three times better than their current brand.

Don’t be fooled however. Mr ManlyTones then shoots himself in the foot by going on to reveal exactly what the three features that make up this super-spray are: “odour protection, keeps you dry all day and smells great”. If there was a fourth, it would probably be something like “it’s in a can”.

I can’t help but think that one and three are essentially the same thing, but surely all are fundamental attributes of your average can of anti-perspirant. If I were to purchase a rival brand where one or more of the above features was lacking, then it would be a pretty shit can of deodorant.

I appreciate that there’s precious little to say about one product that sets it apart from its competitors, but it’s a load of boring old copy which says nothing at all. It’s like advertising the USPs for a car as being: “it’s got wheels, you can steer it and it can go both fast AND slow”. Claiming your “protection” is incremented to three, exhibits the same mentality that maintains that five blades in a razor are better than four (whereas the year before, four were better than three, and before that, three were better than two etc. Just how close a shave does the average chap need?)

On the same theme, another ad on telly last night was for a battery-operated razor which sported five blades on one side and one blade on the other (six blades!). A smiling bronzed adonis effortlessly swiped it over his finely chiselled chops, while his blonde and loosely-clothed companion fawned silkily over him, in awe of his mastery of a device that looked like it should be bolted to Robocop.

The advertising for men’s toiletries and grooming products has gone mad. Our bathroom doesn’t have any dramatic orchestral music, MIG bombers soaring around or giant machines producing “hydra-gels” with “fusion power”. And I don’t like to think of myself any less of a man for it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

“On me ‘ead…”

I can’t do hats. Whereas other chaps in their early ‘30s can exhibit a certain coolness with even the most humble of headgear such as a baseball cap, I have an unfortunate tendency to look like Tom Hanks in Philadelphia.

Either I’m too self-conscious peering out from under the peak of one, or I haven’t got the sort of face that suits them. At the other end of the hat scale is someone like Jay Kay who can effortlessly pull off the most bizarre of spiky millinery, but then admittedly his lifestyle is very different from mine. He wears that kind of stuff to work, being as he is, an exuberant and super-confident international music superstar. Nonchalantly turning up at my desk on Monday morning sporting headgear that looks like it belongs in Genghis Khan’s display cabinet would probably appear more than a little inappropriate.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mighty White Racist

Bernard Manning’s brown bread. I’m sure he’d much rather be white bread, but he’s in no position to argue.

Apparently, his suggested gravestone inscription was the hilarious “You’re standing on my privates.” written in very small print. I can’t help but feel how much funnier it would be if a) the inscription was tattooed on his forehead, b) he wasn’t six feet underground, and c) he was very much alive.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

That's (not) Entertainment

So Britain’s Got Talent has it? Hmm… given the plethora of acts of questionable entertainment value on public display the other day, I suspect the name of the show may have been abridged from: “Britain’s Got [a shedload of numpty’s who each labour under the misapprehension that they’ve got] Talent”.

At a cursory glance, the cream of ‘talented Britons’ who negotiated their way to the semi-final included a kid’s dance troupe, a peculiar-looking opera singer and a comedically-challenged impressionist so bad that he felt the need to introduce each of his impersonations by name, lest the audience be confused as to who on earth he was failing spectacularly to sound like. For example: “[adopt generic cockney accent] Hello, my name’s Alan Sugar and I need an apprentice. What do you think David Beckham? [adopt generic high-pitched, slightly whiney voice] Well, my name’s David Beckham and I’m a bit thick etc.” – rubbish.

The prize for the winner is the opportunity to entertain The Queen at the Royal Variety Performance. One of the contestants who won’t be mingling with the likes of Joe Pasquale and Cirque du bloody Soleil is the aforementioned impressionist who the next day was exposed by one of the red-tops as some kind of sex pest, which scuppered his chances somewhat. I don’t think it’s the sort of “variety” Her Majesty’s into.

Paul’s Not Young Anymore

“Every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you” crooned tufty-haired ‘80s has-been Paul Young. Looking at him these days with his portly frame and jowls wobbling like pockets of loose change, you wouldn’t think he’d be complaining about a reduction in his size, irrespective of how it came about.

Whoever was taking pieces away with her back in the ‘80s clearly wasn’t taking very big ones.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Warts and All

One of the more unsavoury (and therefore compelling) programmes on TV lately is Embarrassing Illnesses on Channel 4, where individuals sporting particularly sensitive diseases, afflictions and (best of all) mutations reveal all with the dual benefit of both getting treated by trained medical staff and entertaining the viewing public.

Kicking off a recent episode was a man who thought he’d grown breasts – apparently a not unheard-of complaint. The things splayed across his chest had grown to such proportions that his arms no longer hung at his side, causing him to look like looked like he’d recently been carrying two rolls of carpet under his arms.

After a quick fumble, the doctor told him not to worry because they weren’t actually comprised of breast tissue, and were instead, just fat. “What’s that doc? They’re just moobs, oh that’s alright then.”

Next, the doctor (and the viewer) was treated to the sight of a bristling crop of anal warts dwelling in the nether regions of a particularly portly lady. “Whoah!” said the doctor, a little unprofessionally, on sighting them. “Whoah!” we echoed at home as they loomed into view. Luckily a nurse was on hand with a special freezing gun which turned them into little meaty icicles which would subsequently drop off.

As entertainment goes, it’s not the most tasteful, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

Cheers, Big Ears

Some clever scientists have mooted that life expectancy, by the year 2100, may be somewhere in the region of 292 years due to increasingly convenient lifestyles and advances in modern medicine.

Impressive though this may be, it’s worth reminding people of one of the quirks of the human body – that ears continue to grow throughout an individual’s lifetime. I have a nightmarish vision of the future in which armies of centenarians, each with giant ears like fleshy satellite dishes flapping in the breeze patrol the High Streets of the nation, lobes dragging on the ground, tutting at the activities of teenagers.

Oxfam shops would become impossible to navigate and they’d have to widen the pavements in places like Eastbourne. Or maybe coastal living would ultimately become too hazardous as their fragile bodies and huge lugs would prove particularly susceptible to onshore winds. They may all have to move inland, with towns like Reading becoming places of refuge for the elderly.

Maybe immortality isn’t such a great idea after all as, by definition, the size of an individual’s ears would therefore be infinite. Mind you, it never seemed to affect that Highlander fella.

Fragrant Funerals

According to a recent report, tumps of Russian men are dying as a result of drinking aftershave and cleaning agents, some of which contain up to 97% alcohol. So much so, that an astonishing half of all deaths of “working age” men in the country are due to hazardous drinking. These chaps may have met a premature end, I bet their breath smelled fantastic (unless they were drinking Joop!).

Heinz M and Ms

A thought occurred to me while watching our three-year-old yomp his way through a plate of Alphabetti Spaghetti on toast yesterday: do Heinz skimp on the cost of producing a separate W by just doubling the amount of Ms, as when they’re upside-down on a plate, they appear indistinguishable?

Similarly, if they were to introduce lower-case characters, the letters b, d, p and q are all interchangeable. They could save a fortune, (except, of course, they’d have to produce each of the other 22 letters as well).

Admittedly it wasn’t a very interesting thought, but a thought nonetheless.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tame Nightmares

There was footage of an Alice Cooper stage-show on telly the other night (called Welcome to my Nightmare or some such clich├ęd tat, and of the conceptual kind that abounded in the ‘70s). Filmed back in the days when Mr (or should that be Mrs?) Cooper was regarded as something of a renegade with a “shocking” penchant for heavy eye makeup and hanging himself, it made for amusing viewing.

In the show, our Alice largely spent his time emerging from behind cardboard tombstones and popping balloons with a plastic sword, or cavorting with dancers dressed as giant spiders clambering up and down a makeshift web. The rest of the time he spent striking theatrical poses like a first-year drama student and shouting a lot. Hmm, terrifying. Parents – protect your children’s eyes.

It was amusing to watch something which may have seemed rebellious and edgy at the time now appearing fantastically tame. In fact, the most nightmarish thing about the entire show was the somewhat unflattering red jumpsuit he wore which unfortunately left very little to the imagination.

This tempering of what was once seen as subversive isn’t a quality restricted to Mr Cooper, and it’s well-documented that what goes around comes around in music. Years ago, Elvis’s swaying hips were the most seditious thing in the world of entertainment, with each trademark wiggle sending out seismic shockwaves of repressed sexuality across America, corrupting young girls and disgusting their parents.

And so to today, where the natural inheritor of Alice Cooper’s crown is Marilyn Manson, who has kept the pasty face and heavy eye makeup of his predecessor, and who has his own effect on impressionable youth. To all of you moping around in your big black coats and peculiar hair: your little hero, with his toyshop props and one googly eye, is about as outrageous and subversive as those root vegetables that used to appear on That’s Life that resembled malformed genitalia.

Time will judge him just as it judges everything else. He’s just a normal skinny chap called Brian who’s had a persona constructed by some clever marketing people at the record company in an effort to convince you that you might like to buy his music, and really you’re no different from the girls who used to go into paroxysms of delight every time Mr Presley flung his pelvis left and right. Aah! Bless you all...

I Am What I Eat

Given that:

a) the average sandwich weighs approximately 200g, and
b) I favour particularly unadventurous lunches,

a worrying calculation today has revealed that, in the past few years, I’ve eaten my own bodyweight in cheese and ham sarnies.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Anyone seen him lately?

“It’s Chico time!”
No it isn’t, not any more. You’ve had your fifteen minutes of richly undeserved fame. Now on your “Chico-bike”, there’s a good lad…

The Worst Getaway Car in the World

Strange article in the news yesterday about a chap who tried to jump in Benedict XVI’s popemobile during his weekly trundle around St Peter’s Square.

With a top speed of around 5mph, a gaggle of security guards in close proximity and 35,000 Catholic devotees as witnesses, I can’t help but think his choice of vehicle to car-jack was poor (still, at least he would have had an actual holy figurehead on the dashboard instead of some plastic figurine).

As if his attempt wasn’t conspicuous enough, his choice of clothing didn’t help matters, dressed, as he was, in black shorts and a lurid pink T-shirt. His Holiness probably thought he was being kidnapped by one of the kids from Fame.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Somebody Stop Him

Somebody called Mark Ronson has recently released an astonishingly bad version of “Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before” by The Smiths. Personally, I’d like to take Mr Ronson up on his invitation, to the extent that I’d cheerfully snip his particularly untalented vocal chords with a sharp pair of scissors if the opportunity arose. Failing this, a less-favourable (though equally effective) solution would be to ram rusty cutlery in my ears in an effort to not hear him sing it again.

The cool lackadaisical voiceover on the advert for his album on telly claims it features “the vocal talents of Lily Allen”. This is a bit like claiming that Big Break features the “comedy” of Jim Davidson. It’s like trying to polish a turd with an oily rag.

Hairy Situations

There was a cure for baldness on telly the other night. Clever men in white coats with glasses as thick as glacier mints have developed a cream that stimulates the follicles into action. A couple of smears on the head and hey presto – instant hair (well, perhaps not instant, but that doesn’t make it any the less remarkable). Next week they’re tackling alchemy.

Despite sporting a hairline that, from the front resembles the swooping curves and lines of a tennis ball, I don’t think I’d be inclined to try it. I’ve gotten quite used to my hairless head and the face on the front of it that peers back at me from the mirror every morning. A more hirsute version would be unfamiliar and a bit unnerving. Also, in an effort to retain a bit of integrity, I think if I'm naturally sparsely-haired then I shouldn’t fight it, and if this means not having the cascading locks of yesteryear, then that’s just the way it’s meant to be.

Similarly, using laser surgery to correct my vision resulting in the need to no longer wear glasses doesn’t really appeal either, but for different reasons. Glasses are as much a part of my face as the mole on my cheek or the slightly protruding upper lip and an unbespectacled me would feel quite facially-naked and featureless without them. I was meant to peer at the world through a pair of strategically-milled lenses, and to be honest, I quite like wearing them as it gives a touch of personality to an otherwise fairly featureless face (apart from the mole and the slightly protruding upper lip).