Archive for August, 2012

LOVEHONEY OFFICES, INT, DAY. SOMEWHERE IN BATH, ENGLAND. WORKER A and WORKER B are discussing an proposed new product.

WORKER A: So, things are going pretty well here. We’ve really connected with our core audience of grown-ups looking for some fun. In fact, we’re doing so well we’re regularly mentioned on Mumsnet.

WORKER B: Really? That parenting forum?

WORKER A: Yep. Turns out all those journos who thought mothers only discovered sex when Fifty Shades of Grey was published were completely barking up the wrong tree. You should check out some of their Friday night threads, sheesh!

WORKER B: So we’ve created a line of sex-toys that people are happy to talk about and recommend on a public parenting forum? Hey, that’s pretty cool.

WORKER A: I know, right? How about we ruin it by launching something really crass and stupid, that insults people in relationships, and people who are single, and people who enjoy sex with their partner, and people who just want to make wanking a bit more entertaining, and women, and men, and everyone everywhere?

WORKER B: (is speechless)

WORKER A: Look, check it out.

WORKER B: I’m sorry, what?

WORKER A: I’ve been doing my research, right, and I’ve discovered that eighty-six per cent of straight single men are, like, really, really, really keen on beer, and vaginas.

WORKER B: Beer…and…vaginas.

WORKER A: (happy) Yep – beer and vaginas. So I thought, why not put them together and create a product that’s not really like either of those two things?

WORKER B: Well, I can think of about a million –

WORKER A: (interrupting) It’ll be a winner, I’m telling you! Look at this thing! A fake vagina disguised as a beer-can! It’s genius.

WORKER B: It’s certainly some kind of a thing.

WORKER A: You know what I like most about it?

WORKER B: Is it how the makers have included a token illustration of the clitoris, in a surreal attempt to make it look like this is somehow meant to replicate the experience of sex with a woman? Because if it’s not, then I’m really struggling to guess.

WORKER A: Now you mention it, that is pretty great, but actually – it’s how discreet it is.

WORKER B: (surprised) Um – sorry?

WORKER A: Because it’s disguised as a beer-can, no-one ever needs to know that you own a fake vagina!

WORKER B: Yes, that’s certainly an advantage.

WORKER A: (looks pleased)

WORKER B: Except that – forgive me for pointing this out – there isn’t actually a brand of beer called ‘Lady Lager’.

WORKER A: Okay, that’s true, but –

WORKER B: And if you keep it in your fridge, there’s a significant danger that someone might try to drink it.

WORKER A: Can you please stop being so negative?

WORKER B: And if you don’t keep it in the fridge, there’s a danger people will wonder why on earth you’re keeping a can of beer on the top shelf of your closet.

WORKER A: Yeah, but come on, if someone walked in on you while you were using it, you could –

WORKER B: I could do what, exactly? ‘Oh, hi, honey, I’m just sitting here drinking a can of beer, only with my erect penis inexplicably on display’? ‘Get a grip, buddy, of course I’m not using a sex-toy, I’ve just shoved my cock into a beer-can‘? How does this product not raise far more issues than it answers?

WORKER A: It…has a variable speed control.

WORKER B: It’s an abomination.

WORKER A: It’s going to be a best-seller.

WORKER B: Yeah, I know.

WORKER A: (starry-eyed) We have the best jobs on the planet.

WORKER B: (wretched) I actually want to die.

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This may just be one of the best sites I’ve ever seen in my life:

I was completely hooked from its opening header, “STOP ALIEN ABDUCTIONS”. The delightful strangeness of the next line – “In Italian as Fermaglialieni.com and in Portuguese as Parar-sequestros.com” was just one of those lovely little extras life hands you sometimes, like when you think you’ve finished your chocolate chip muffin and then you find another piece of it hiding in the wrapper.

Out of all the other languages there are in the world, why Italian and Portuguese? Surely the most logical second choices would be Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. (Do Alien Abductions exist in Chinese culture, I wonder? Are Italian and Portuguese people particularly vulnerable?)

So many questions. So few answers. Let’s take a look at the Hat inventor modelling his creation for us:

As it turns out, I do have an expectation of what the typical alien abductee might look like, and this guy fulfils absolutely none of them. My stereotype abductee is wild-haired, wild-eyed, strangely attired, frantic and jittery. This guy just looks like a nice, ordinary, older man heading off for a fishing-trip. Only with extra anti-alien precautions.

Just so we’re clear, I think this failure to live up to expectation is a good thing. I like having my preconceptions challenged. Alien Abduction is clearly something that can happen to anyone, regardless of age, weight, hobbies or hairstyle.

My other big expectation of this site was that it was going to be a snake-oil scam, where a series of increasingly terrifying Alien Abduction stories lead up to the discovery that you can, praise the Lord, prevent all of this happening to you by purchasing your very own Special Hat for the bargain price of $99.99 (plus shipping and sales tax). But as it turns out, there’s nothing for sale on this site at all. The inventor of the Hat has donated his construction method as a gift to the nation.

Which I have to say is jolly decent of him. If a little odd.

Let’s move on to the construction process this website outlines. Thanks to Wikipedia, I can report that Velostat is indeed the official material of choice for Anti-Alien-Abduction hats. Alien Abduction Hat Man has clearly done his research, which is what I’d expect from someone whose day-job is technical writing in the field of aviation.

Like the rest of the site, the instructions are carefully written, simple to follow, and completely insane. I like all the steps, but Step C is my favourite, mainly because it reminds me so much of my kids’ more incomprehensible art projects:

“Prepare strips of tape to secure Velostat sheets to the hat.

Cut small strips of tape about 1/2″ wide and as long as the tape width, which should be 11/2″ to 2″ long, and stick them to the back of a dinner plate or other smooth surface for use.

You will fill four or five platefuls of tape strips during the construction of the thought screen.”

At this point, I’m going to confess that I have a certain amount of fellow-feeling for the Abductee community. I regularly wake up in a blind panic, screaming my head off and pointing at the corner yelling incoherently about something only I can see. As it happens, I mostly just see stuff that it’s very easy for my husband to disprove (“See? The kids are still in their beds, not climbing on the roof at all. Now go back to sleep. No, really, go back to sleep“). So I rather quickly realised that, just because I wake up and see something, that doesn’t actually mean it’s really there. However, I can definitely see that if I lived alone, regularly woke up and saw aliens, and didn’t have a decent family doctor plus several family members who all do exactly the same, this might have had a rather different outcome.

All the same, I do like to think that, if I was on the receiving end of some of these Hat Wearing Sabotage attempts – rather than instantly concluding this was also being done by the aliens, I might consider an alternative explanation. Here’s the first two tips on how to cope with obstacles to successfully wearing your Hat:

“1. Prepare for a fight.
Aliens will try to stop you from wearing the helmet both mentally and physically. Remember that they can read your mind. Before you make one they may try to influence you that you don’t need one. Once you start wearing a helmet they may harass you or perhaps threaten to kill a pet in retaliation. They are good at manipulating your spouse to have a conflict with you about wearing the helmet. If you forget to wear it one time they may physically hurt you. They have done these things to a minority of abductees wearing helmets. Most abductees report complete success with the helmet when they wear it as much as they can.

2. Have a locked cabinet.
Aliens have taken ten helmets from abductees and several Velostat lined baseball caps. If you are not wearing a hat they will go through your entire house looking for them. They will not, however, go into a locked cabinet. Before you make a helmet have some kind of cabinet or trunk that you can lock. That way they won’t take it.
All thought is open and controlled in a telepathic society therefore locks are unnecessary. Aliens are unfamiliar with locks and the concept of a lock.”

I can’t help feeling Occam’s Razor might have a role to play here.

So, what’s life like for abductees in their new, Hat-wearing existence? From the testimonials, pretty darn good:

“Still nothing new to report here…so it must work!”

“Congrats…my life has changed for the better…new job, new confidence etc.”

“Thank you, thank you, for your work in this area. Your efforts to protect those of us who have been victims of this living nightmare are most appreciated.”

“I am happy to report that the Thought Screen Helmet has been performing beautifully! It’s been over six months now and NOT ONE INCIDENT! Aside from some of the naive neighborhood kids and their taunting it’s been a blissful period.”

There’s something rather sweet and poignant about these. What must pre-Hat life have been like for the person who finds their confidence and employability is increased by the continuous wearing of a velostat-lined aviator hat? (And how sad and empty are the lives of the neighborhood kids whose idea of a good time is “Ha ha, you’re wearing a hat”?)

I think the testimonials are what really tip this site over into Awesome. As a non-victim-of-alien-abduction, I see is a site that tells you how to waste several hours of your life on making a laughably stupid-looking piece of headgear with no discernible purpose.

But if you really are experiencing alien thought control, and your treatment options are 1) anti-psychotics 2) institutionalisation or 3) a hat, and the hat actually works for you, then who am I to judge?

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An exceptional piece of self-captioning here by an unknown beach visitor to Swanpool Beach:

And in close-up:

And one more time:

Disclaimer: it is, of course, not possible to deduce anything about this gentleman’s character from his accidental proximity to a childish act of beach-hut vandalism. I’m sure he’s a jolly nice chap really.

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