Saturday, 24 November 2012

British Tourism Part Two - Scotland

This is part two of my summary of British tourism and we’re looking at Scotland. Wales was part one and so far the least popular despite Rhod Gilbert’s excellent adverts. I think it's only because they come last in the comedy stereotype championship. Scotland places in a strong third but it will always be a winner in my heart. I may even be one of the few human beings (or indeed general life forms) that sincerely enjoys the sound of bagpipes.

You can’t tell me that the sound doesn’t stir the heather and mountains in your soul. Now look at this:

After the click we’ll find out about all sorts of things including haggis, whiskey, that damn Nessie and also how you (yes YOU) can become a Scottish Laird for the low LOW price of twenty US dollars!

Monday, 5 November 2012

British Tourism Part One - Wales

There are lots of stereotypes around the British Isles. From Scotland to Ireland and especially the various parts of England, I could compile a huge database of comedy characteristics. Some we can be proud of – like Scotland’s whiskey industry or love of shortbread. Others are slightly embarrassing – like England’s habit of conquering and exploiting huge parts of the world and population. We’re long past the days of reciprocal vengeance though. Guys? Right? This is why I feel a bit awkward writing about Wales - because not only am I not Welsh but I'm also mainly English. So forgive me for that before we even start.

In terms of stereotypes, the poorest country in the British Isles is Wales. There’s only a handful of clichés that I can name offhand – choir singing, leeks, and that thing about the sheep.

 That sheep has sprung a LEEK! HA!

This is unfair because Wales is a beautiful country with friendly people. A few years ago they started promoting its tourist industry with the help of infamous stand-up comedian Rhod Gilbert:

After the click let’s have a look at what Wales has to offer. Then maybe one day Charlotte Church or Catherine Zeta Jones will read this and finally agree to marry me/respond to my letters.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Enterprise Car Rental - UK vs USA

Pull up your pants and pay attention. I meant underwear, not trousers, because I know exactly what you’re doing and it’s not required for this blog post. See the tricky language barrier that I just played with, between US English and International English? It’s a cliché that whenever the British and Americans talk, the subject will come up. And why not? It can be a good ice-breaker and dialogue improves international relations, as evidenced by the interactions between Brad and Dave in the adverts for Enterprise UK Car Hire (aka Enterprise Car Rental).

No? Well, come on then:

See? Comedy gold! It’s taken the advertising world a surprisingly long time to make use of this unique dynamic – or at least for it to register on my limited radar. After the click we can find out more about this hilarious comedy-duo character-act.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Vehicles with Faces - Budgie the Little Helicopter

I’ve written before about vehicles with faces, namely Thomas the Tank Engine vs Tugs. Tugs won although it never enjoyed the same success. But the work of Clearwater Studios is not the only time people have put faces on inanimate vehicles. One of my favourite Tex Avery cartoons (and there are a few) is Little Johnny Jet which is only five minutes long:

Ain’t it weird? Mr and Mrs Plane are shagging like rabbits! After the click let’s find out more about living planes, trains and cars – and also about the world’s most annoying helicopter.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Half-Naked Men With Flowers

Warning: this blog post is all about flowers. Pretty, harmless and aromatic flowers. It also involves half-naked men with their bulging shoulders, glistening chests and abs so sculpted you could grind meat on them:

flowers men favourite favorite naked muscles chippendale
 Which demographic do you imagine this is aimed at?

It’s a shame they all look quite goofy and awkward but just look at the biceps of that one at the back, in the knee high shorts and the wellington boots. And the guy on the right with the curly hair? With the slight stubble and shoulders so broad he could be used as a raft? Wait, what was I talking about? Something about flowers? Alright, fine, after the click let’s start talking about flowers or whatever.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

9 Methods of Immortality - How to Survive Them

There are lots of forms of immortality. Humanity loves to think and dream about it above all else. This might be motivated by fearing the oblivion that awaits us when our bodies finally succumb to destruction or inevitable entropy, but once you get past that there’s also the inconvenience. I want to see this crazy ride through to the very end, whether that’s nuclear genocide next week or transcending the material plane a billion years from now. I also want to see everything that comes afterwards, like in that Future Is Wild show. Indeed, being alive is like watching an incredible TV series with dozens of characters that I really care about but knowing that I’ll probably die before I find out how it all ends.

game of thrones title
Naming no names…

Of course, for preference I’d rather witness all of human history with a time machine. I could skip all the waiting around for the future to happen and also witness the past too. But if my only option is the slow way then I’ll take it. So let’s have a quick chat about the various slow ways, after the click!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Cravendale - The Cows and The Cats

Lactose intolerance is when someone can’t properly digest lactose, a sugar found in milk, because they lack a specific enzyme. I too lack that enzyme, along with an increasingly large amount of the global population. So you can imagine how much attention I’ve been paying to Cravendale milk, produced by Arla Foods UK Ltd. Hint: It’s less than one. But it turns out I’ve been missing out on a bit of a phenomenon. A phenomenon of random-ass and adorable stuff.

For several years, Cravendale used a trio of Cow, Pirate and Cyclist to promote their filthy white gold. But eventually the time came to retire these strange stop-motion figurines, which was a sad day:

But don’t feel too sad, friends. After the click we can find out about the Cravendale cats – everybody knows the internet loves cats!

Monday, 3 September 2012

That Damn Wall - The Awful Time Cop Method

Yep, I said ages ago that I’d talk about Time Cop and now I’m going to. Here’s a trailer for Time Cop voiced by none other than The Voice himself, Don LaFontaine!

Read more after the click!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Aquaman - 6 Ways He's Not Crap

I’d like to have a quick conversation about my favourite superhero. I know what you’re thinking. ‘What, the fish guy? The blonde surf-douche with the fruity sequined top? No way!’

Aquaman with fish background
 Stop laughing! Look at the whales!

But hear me out. Don’t focus on his time with the super-friends. Even Batman was a little bit crap once upon a time – remember the days when he wore light grey and sky blue? Played by Adam West? The same is true of Aquaman. You just need to appreciate the potential. You don’t even know his real name, do you? You know Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent and maybe even the various names of Robin. Aquaman has two real names. His Atlantean name is Orin. His human name is Arthur Curry, adopted son of a lighthouse keeper. It's all quite confusing.

Read my 100% convincing 6-point argument that proves Aquaman is awesome, right after the click!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Gay Adverts - The Strange Cold War

For the past year or so the advertising industry (in the US especially) has been wading into the fight for gay rights vs the sanctity of marriage or something. Adverts and brands are now banners beneath which armies gather.

Before I talk about homosexual issues I feel like I should qualify my feelings on the subject. Sexuality is like the sea: mysterious, ever-changing, nearly impossible to properly measure, quite polluted and full of sharks.

fonzie happy days jump shark montage photo
But if you’re careful you can jump those sharks

If people want to connect themselves to one another in the eyes of some mythical overlord, or in the eyes of the law (also a kind of mythical overlord) then I’m fine with it as long as they put on a good buffet and a free bar. Regardless of whether they’re bride/bride, groom/groom or groom/bride (which isn’t always a reflection of gender anyway) my only question is whether I’m invited. The answer is usually no; everyone is afraid of what I might do when exposed to limitless alcohol. Their lack of faith disturbs me.

There’s no practical reason to deny homosexual couples the same legal rights that heterosexual couples ‘enjoy’, there’s only ideological hyperbole*.

*In a decent thesaurus those two words are synonyms for ‘insane ranting’

With that seriousness out of the way, let’s get to business! Gay business! Hit the jump for some gay business!

Monday, 6 August 2012

LG Eco Homes

It all started with this advert:

This lead me on a short, appalling adventure that you can read about after the click.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Lynx - Sex Up A Stereotype

I’ve already discussed how the sexuality of Lynx is changing – women are no longer purely trophies with no personalities and men are afflicted with premature perspiration. There was almost gender equality in the last one we looked at. Now they’ve grown even closer to human! This is a series of adverts presented as a banner at first:

 Make a selection from this buffet of nameless sex objects!

Depending on which girl you pick, you’ll be directed to a quick one-minute advert about how to keep up with each of the girls. All of which involves the use of Lynx shower gel, obviously. Some of them are pretty hilarious but I’ll tell you about my favourite at the very end, after the click.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Illuminati Olympics - 4 (Stupid) Clues

When viewed as a whole the Illuminati are a socialist, Catholic, fascist, French, racist, Jewish, homosexual, German, monarchist, African, scientific, communist, imperialist, Satanist, anti-semitic, extra-terrestrial organisation dedicated to global exploitation, domination and genocide. They’re pretty much the most famous secret organisation ever, referenced in everything from historical essays to comic books, from newspapers to music. These are all quite remarkable achievements, especially considering THEY DON’T EXIST.

 The Freemasons do exist but they’re also irrelevant
Everyone kind of agrees (mostly) that the Illuminati love to show off. They put arrogant little signs everywhere. It’s pretty stupid though because these clues are always spotted. It might just be me, but if I was running a secret global conspiracy I wouldn’t publicise it. I might take it seriously.

This. Stuff like this. This is a waste of important conspiracy funds

In the truest ways of apophenia (finding meaningful patterns where there are none) some conspiracy theorists have decided the Olympics are another such Illuminati project. After the click, read about the top 4 most commonly referenced pieces of evidence:

Monday, 2 July 2012

Go Compare - Did They Kill Him?

Earlier today the countdown of the Go Compare adverts ended. They had been building up all week to something happening today, and I speculated earlier today that they would kill him - the purposefully vandalised billboard posters and the irritated viewers included at the end of every new advert, along with the countdown, seemed to point to an impending paradigm change. The advert is finally online so I can finally link to it and put you all out of your suspenseful misery.

Either follow this link to check out the theories from earlier in the day or check out the new Go Compare generation:

Now let's just do a quick review and put this all behind us (after the jump in case of spoilers)

Go Compare - Will They Kill Him?

Here's something that might make your day: for the past week or so the Go Compare adverts on TV have been counting down to something. Nobody knows what it is. There's some speculation that they will be retiring their renowned, infamous opera singer Gio Compario.

For essential therapy, print out this image and attach to a punching bag

Seek satisfaction after the click:

Thursday, 28 June 2012

7 Adverts from the Olympic Buildup

I’ve seen the warnings about how to plan your transport and how to avoid getting caught in unusual rush hours. I’ve followed the debate about what to do with the big stadium after it’s finished. I’ve seen Wenlock and Mandeville in shops now, and I’ve even seen a few kids on the tube carrying the little Wenlock dolls. I’ve been enraged by the various conspiracy theorists who think we’ll all die in 2012. This can only mean one thing: THE LONDON OLYMPICS ARE JUST A MONTH AWAY.

Like with any major sporting event, the adverts have all cashed in too. A while ago we looked at the Superbowl adverts, so now let’s have a look at some of the adverts in the build-up to the Olympics after the click:

Monday, 18 June 2012

Spotlight on Robin - Generations of Red Tunics

There will be spoilers. OBVIOUSLY.

After I decided it was better to live in Gotham over Metropolis (because both are dangerous but one is more fun and relaxed), I also expressed a huge number of insights into the nature of Superman: his radiation poisoning gives him telekinetic abilities. After this it was suggested that I do the same for Batman. But his story is incredibly well known and unsurprising, apart from a few obscure conspiracy theories. His parents died and he went on a self-destructive international journey but happened to learn ninja and detective skills on his way. Big whoop. You know whose stories are interesting, though? Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown and Damian Wayne. That’s right, Robin. There’s a lot to know about Robin and most people don’t know anything. Yes, Robin sometimes wasn’t even a boy!

This image confuses my sexuality

Read more after the bat-click:

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Wagon Wheels - The Truth Is In There

Wagon Wheels are great. For those of you who don’t know or if you’re diabetic, you’re seriously missing out. A Wagon Wheel is a biscuit, marshmallow and chocolate disc made out of deliciousness.

They also sometimes have jam or caramel inside. Seriously

The new promotion campaign, involving almost every element of social media, is based on how aliens are controlling you via these Wagon Wheels. Read more after the click!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Spotlight on Superman

Previously I weighed up the benefits of living in Metropolis versus living in Gotham, and we discovered that Metropolis is just as dangerous as Gotham without any of the edgy, rock-and-roll fun. Metropolis is pretty boring and one of the best reasons for living there is proximity to Superman. He’ll almost definitely save your arse from the wide variety of disasters, accidents and crimes that occur regularly around the city. He is a living god in humanoid form and he’s also a really nice, down to earth, responsible guy. He’s practically perfect in every way! Well, almost every way.

Not always that bright though...

Read more after the super-click!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Cars of the Future - Part 2

A while ago I told you how car companies Smart, Renault and Nissan were all releasing electric cars this year. Electric cars with realistic range and power, not just token gestures for showrooms and trade expos. We examined the adverts and ultimately concluded that I want a spaceship. But it has to be a good spaceship with faster-than-light travel and everything.

This will also suffice

Anyway, the paradigm shift continues after the click!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Tugs - Thomas the Tank Engine Multiplied by Epic

In 1988, the creators of Thomas the Tank Engine decided the market was ripe for more industrial vehicles with human faces. They created ‘Tugs’, which was much more dramatic than you’d expect.

Read about the grit, the boats, the fires and the dockyard EXPLOSIONS after the click! That's right, explosions!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Sex in Video Games

Sex. Sexy, sexy sex! Some call it shagging; others call it ‘making the beast with two backs’; almost no one calls it ‘dancing the f**k fandango’ but they should because that’s hilarious. Since mankind realised they could represent concepts with symbols, some of those symbols have been about dancing the f**k fandango. Who can blame them?

 Cave men loved big butts, they could not lie

Read more about three of everyone's favourite subjects - sex, video games and sex in video games - right after the click!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Gender Equality in Lynx Adverts - Everybody Wants to Bone

For years the Lynx adverts had a predictable, recognisable motif. But for a little while it was undermined. We’ll get to that later. This is the archetype: a man sprays Lynx deodorant on himself and becomes irresistible to women. They swarm towards him like a terrifying blend of ravenous wolves and starving locusts. For example in this 1-minute advert from 2006 where women literally cross forests, mountains and oceans in their bikinis, summoned by the stench of deodorant:

I bet that advert was a lot of fun to film.

There's more realistic adverts after the click - but not much more realistic.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Bad Advert Ideas (Part One)

Some ideas just don’t work: mustard seed underpants, discount placebos, poo-flavoured microwave meals, charging down a valley towards Cossacks and Hussars when the valley walls are bristling with enemy gun batteries.

Charging down a valley towards Cossacks and Hussars while the valley walls are bristling with enemy gun batteries

But some people don’t realise when ideas aren’t working, and carry on regardless: ketchup bottle sex toys, gourmet restaurants at truck rest stops, denying the working class, charging down a valley towards Cossacks and Hussars when the valleys walls blah blah etc.

It's a great idea to read more about bad ideas, after the click!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Truth About Freeze Powers

In all superhero stories, the power of ice also equates to the power of freezing people. Not killing them, just freezing them – disabling them by turning them into icicles. In the popular film The Incredibles, for example, the character voiced by Samuel L Jackson is capable of freezing a bullet mid-air as well as the policeman behind it:

In the X-Men, Bobby Drake (aka Iceman) can do it, since his powers are also ice-based. In various Batman incarnations, Mr Freeze can do it. Superman sometimes does it with his super-breath. The list could go on. But sadly, that frozen policeman from the video is almost definitely dead.

Now that I’ve said it you probably already see the truth of it, but after the click let’s break down just how horrible it is.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Gotham vs Metropolis

I’ve been playing a lot of DC Universe Online since it became free (when I can get onto the server). If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an MMORPG set in the world of Superman, Batman and the Justice League etc. It’s a world populated by aliens, witches, geniuses, psychopaths and heroes. You get to design a superhero (or villain), go on missions and earn experience in the standard MMORPG way.

This game makes the differences between Gotham and Metropolis very clear. One city is dirty and decaying, bathed in both eternal night and heavy rain. In the other, everything is clean glass and shiny steel, and it’s always a bright sunny day. I’ll let you guess which one is which.

Hint: nobody can see the bat-signal in daylight

Where would you rather live? Based on the above summaries, you’d think everyone would immediately choose Metropolis. But the opposite is true – most internet surveys turn up Gotham as the city of choice. Why is this?

Let's find out after the click!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Cars of the Future

If a car isn’t burning precious natural resources and clogging the lungs of small children with noxious, cancerous tar then what good are they? You might as well be on a bicycle! So who the hell would buy an electric car? What kind of pathetic loser would you have to be to get rid of your huge pedestrian-cruncher or midlife-crisis-mobile? What, are you going to ride a bus like some kind of peasant? How will anyone know how big your cock is, unless you drink diesel like lemonade and tear down the road like a bull making sweet, sweet love to a lion – deep and noisy.

...and sensual.

After the click we'll find out about the other, correct side of the argument.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Odd Celebrity Endorsements

When you’re famous and instantly recognisable (like me) then one of the ways you can support your expensive tastes and habits (drinking glacial melt-water and having sex with tigers) is endorsing products. You can sell not just your body, but also your face, name and/or voice.

Follow the click to hear about Mr T, JLS, Sylvester Stallone, Mikhail Gorbachev, zombies and SO MANY OTHERS!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Redemption of Ryan Reynolds

When Green Lantern was released, Ryan Reynolds became a pariah because of the awfulness of the film. But does he deserve it? No. 
And I’ll tell you why after the click.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Superbowl Advert Recap 2012

It’s only been a day, at the time of writing, since some kind of major sporting event finished in the US. I gather it’s called the Superbowl, and like all major sporting events it involves huge amounts of money floating through the air, invisible, above our heads. It changes hands between sponsors, building contractors, ticket vendors, event caterers, local government, wholesale food warehouses, security firms, media broadcasters, merchandise manufacturers, law firms to arrange and broker these deals and stock-market analysts to analyse the stock-market impact of all these transactions.

I guess there’s also something about some sportsmen doing something on a field with a weirdly shaped ball or something, but it hardly seems relevant at this point. I’m a Brit living in the UK and I don’t even follow proper football or rugby, let alone the infantile, specially-padded offspring of the two.

Nevertheless, all that money zooming around produces ADVERTS! Some of the best adverts ever produced by Western culture, maybe even all of humanity. You can see a collection of this year’s Superbowl Adverts here, but let’s talk about some of the most interesting after the click.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Flesh Gordon II: Cosmic Cheerleaders (NSFW)

FLASH! AH-AAaawww no, not even. Not this time. 

In 1989, nine years after the iconic Flash Gordon was released, the universe briefly twisted into a vortex of evil before snapping back into place like nothing had happened. But something had happened. Something had crossed into our dimension from... elsewhere, and it was Flesh Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders.

So 80s

Yeah, nostalgia about the 80s is fun. But this was 1989 – the year the 80s came to die. This is the film that buried the bodies:

As you can see, we're in for quite an interesting experience after the click.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Flesh Gordon - NSFW, Spoilers, WTF


There, now that song will be in your head for hours. If you don’t know it, then you’ve never seen the epic glory that is Flash Gordon. He’s the saviour of the universe:

You too can forever emblazon your camp science fiction opera on the minds of everyone with the magical music of Queen. Just ask Ben Elton! You can read all about it after the click.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Wenlock and Mandeville - Olympic Mascot Fallout

Over the course of history, there have been some truly iconic duos: Romeo & Juliet, Laurel & Hardy, Bert & Ernie, Wenlock & Mandeville, and so many others. Wait, what’s that you say? You don’t know who they are? Your ignorance disgusts me. Oh, you meant Wenlock & Mandeville? Never mind then. They’re the Olympic mascots for 2012, and there's no reason you should know who they are.

Remember? These guys? No? Anyone?

No, you haven’t seen them around. Nobody has seen them around. See those little letters on their foreheads? That’s how you tell them apart. W for Wenlock, M for Mandeville. Wenlock is the angry-looking orange thing and Mandeville is the sad blue one.

More after the click!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Paralympic Posters

London is starting to buzz about the Olympics. Well, it has been for a while, but now the buzzing is really loud. I know some folks who have tickets, sure. But now it turns out I also know a few people who are already working for them in some capacity, whether volunteering as crowd control, staffing and catering for their parties and events, helping to build and finish the stadiums, planning the opening ceremony... meanwhile I still don’t have a job… no, no, it’s fine, I just need a moment.

None of them will tell me a damn thing about the opening cermony, obviously. They say they don’t even know, but that’s exactly what they’d say if they did even know!

Yep, money is going to shower down on this city like gold from a rainbow. Then we’re back to being screwed – except no, because that’s when we get my favourite part of the Olympics. The PARALYMPICS!

Hopefully the least offensive possible combination of shapes and colors

After the click let's find out more!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Toyota Yaris Adverts

Enough long-winded theoretical nonsense about time travel. I have some more adverts to complain about! This time it’s the stupid Toyota Yaris rappers. If you’ve not seen them, then yes – for some reason, there are three separate adverts for the Toyota Yaris that all feature a 30-40 second rap tune. It gets weirder. 

I’ll tell you now I don’t know anything about music, let alone cool music. I know the general history of rap music, from the ‘golden age’ of the 90s to how they added ‘rhythm’ to the blues in a kind of secret underground laboratory sometime during the 20th century. I also know that a ‘gravel pit’ somehow refers to a lady’s… sex bits…? Probably? But apart from that I’m pretty clueless.

I try to avoid getting too krunk these days, but I still love me some bitches

What I do know is adverts. The beats might be phat, they might be spitting lyrics like lightning for all I know, but that doesn’t sell cars. Also, in all three the singer-rapper-people-folk are cartoons. For some reason. Cartoons. It still gets even weirder, after the click!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Time Travel - Part Four

In this, the last part of my time-travel quadrilogy (it turns out), we’ll talk briefly about how to survive time-travel. In Part One we discussed the universe in which we all exist, importantly hinting at how to travel through it. In Part Two, I was very angry about Jean Claude Van Damme as a time-cop and I think I gave Skynet an existential complex. In Part Three, you and I built a time machine and travelled into the past to beat Moses and Pharaoh in doubles tennis. Remember? No? Well, go and read them. I’ll wait. Done? Good. Now, here’s how to make time travel profitable and even more fun!
All this could be yours!

First though, some housekeeping. Health and safety, right? You can just skip down to the ‘profit and fun’ sections if you want (I made them extra noticeable for exactly that reason) but you're going to need to know this.

The Map

In order to get anywhere, you will need impossibly complicated coordinates.

The roadmap of history is also the roadmap of divergent realities. Going back in time might be simpler, but if you’re going into the future you’ll need to pick between divergences. If you do visit the past, you’ve immediately created an infinity-load of new realities which will probably affect your reality-cluster indexing-system. You need to be prepared for all these things if you ever want to get home.

Getting a map might seem like the obvious solution. In the Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits, the bandits steal God’s map of time. It can only be described as ‘a good start’. When you’ve sorted out the navigation problem, or if you don’t care, everything else will seem inconsequential. But it’s those seemingly unimportant things that will kill a time-traveller, no matter your map:


It destroyed the aliens in War of the Worlds. Remember how Homer Simpson went back in time once and sneezed on a dinosaur and they all died?

Diseases adapt rapidly. That’s the advantage of generational diversification spread over several rapidly breeding populations of hundred-billions (aka evolution). You’re facing all possible mutations of every disease ever: bubonic plague, malaria, scarlet fever, cholera, influenza, smallpox, tuberculosis, leprosy and all of their drunk, angry cousins. If you travel into the future, there are potentially countless genetically-engineered afflictions too: leper-pox, laser-flu, grey-goo nanobot disease, sky-AIDS and fungal infections that reanimate your dead body with a lust for juicy human brains.

If you make it home, you need to be decontaminated. If not, you’ve killed all of us too. Thanks. You’re terrible at time-travelling.


Fit In

All over the world, whether the population is rich or poor, black or white, Neolithic or a space-faring civilization of chrome-plated cyborgs, some folks will fear and hate you. Even if your skin colour doesn’t give people culture shock, you won’t speak the language or know anything about local customs.

Local customs are... very important

It goes without saying that nobody should see you using your time machine. If you don’t keep your head down you’ll have stupid Jean Claude Van Damme policing your time-line, Time Cop style, before you know it. That’s why you need to think about what you leave behind, too:


If you’re going to criminally exploit time, you need to keep an especially low profile. Not only do you have local authorities to worry about – all those traditional coppers and narks – you’ve got the chance of time-police too. You also have my fullest endorsement. Maybe swing by and pick me up on your way past, eh?

You will be able to easily research and fake the paperwork you’ll need in the past. You can even assume someone’s legal identity, which is probably safest. But if you’re going to the future, you’re totally screwed. What if they have DNA biometrics and brain-scans? Will you need to be tattooed with a barcode or some futuristic QR code?

Not a time-traveler. Not seeking wealth and debauchery. No need to further inspect my documents. No need to arrest me. I am not a droid you're looking for.

Will you need a letter of recommendation from the robo-pope? Will you be enslaved by alien ghosts from beyond the stars? If you’re going into the future, you need to be prepared for all this and more. So don’t get carried away when we approach this topic:

----- PROFIT -----

FINALLY! What we’re all here for! Enough of this health and safety nonsense, let’s get down to some real business.

The obvious way of making money from time-travel is past-trading – using your fore-knowledge of events like lottery numbers, stock market movements and sports victories to make huge piles of money.

This was the day the Time Cops were on strike

It can be tricky, though. Random events like a lottery draw won’t turn out the same as ‘last time’ (your version of the past). Random is always going to be random. When you’re in the flow of time, you don’t get to pick which reality you travel down. Yes, there will be a version (infinite versions) of the universe where the result turns out the same as your own past. But there will more versions (also infinite versions, technically) where they turn out every single other possible way too. At odds of nearly 14 million to 1 for the UK lottery, for every single winning version of you there are fourteen million losers. Sport can be random, too, but I guess vague win-lose bets on absolutely certain matches might pay off eventually.

The stock market will fluctuate differently, especially if you start making quick, incisive, profitable deals. Your best bet is to invest a small, unnoticed amount of money into small time companies like Fox, Ford Motors, Volkswagen, Coca Cola, British Petroleum, Glaxo-Smith Kleine… anyone evil. It won’t be free, obviously. Then you bury your stock certificates and dig them up in, say, a century’s time. It’ll require forethought, planning, an element of risk and probably also legal consultation, which isn’t free either. Then you’ll need to travel into a future where they have similar money to ours and your stocks are still valuable. You’ll have to deal with quite a lot of attention when you cash these stocks in, too. They’d be worth billions. It might attract attention, but that’s your damn problem. So is importing these huge piles of money into your ‘home time’.
Wow, this isn’t what usually happens in the mornings!

Another way of making small, unnoticed amounts of money is antique smuggling.* Small, old collectables like weapons, comic books, medals, lamps, old videos, old coins… art.
“I was astonished when I went into my attic and found a confirmed collection of Picasso/Van Gogh/Munch/Da Vinci masterpieces. How much do you think they’d be worth? Really? That much? I am astonished and surprised, officer! Why, to think that I am now a humble, eccentric millionaire! Gosh! Why, I have other attics and garages and warehouses that I recently brought, maybe it’s worth checking them for completely unexpected treasures…”
*All physical articles are vulnerable to dimensionally relative values – including you

----- FUN -----

This is what we all came here for, right? I mean, there’s no point going back in time to make the world a better place. It’s already a better place in an infinite number of alternate realities. If you want to live in a better world, find the coordinates for one and live there happily. But if you want to have fun with time-travel, we can have some fun with time-travel!

See these decadent, amoral, bloated, corrupt versions of beloved fictional characters? It could be you!

You can find a lover or five, in the style of Goodnight Sweetheart. Marry someone even. Pig out on honey-glazed beef/ham and roast dodo. Sleep in for a couple of months. Go back in time and see if Cleopatra was ever that sexy! Ever tried spit-roast stegosaur? You’d need one hell of a spit! There’s probably a world out there in which dinosaurs evolved from men! Hell, there’s probably a world out there in the multiverse populated entirely by horny clones of your favourite sex icon. There’s somewhere you can turn yourself into a cyborg with multi-spectrum eyes and go-go-gadget legs! You can get your brain preserved forever in a robotic jar-body!

There’s a future out there somewhere in which entirely licenced and legitimate surgeons will give you a bigger penis – no more of this junk email chicanery. Ever wondered how you perform in bed? Go back in time by half an hour and have sex with yourself.

Bearing in mind, your ‘home reality’ and your entire past will remain unchanged. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – nothing you do to yourself or history will make anything be magically deleted. If you want to go properly crazy? Riding into battle on dinosaurs with Ghengis Khan? Being Jack the Ripper? Ruling an entire world with your time-looped ill-gotten gains, proclaiming decrees from atop your golden pyramid decorated with statues of S&M while you piss apocalyptic, nuclear fire and have sex with demonic unicorns?

There’s no online image for that. Consider Rule 34 broken

The universe won't implode, you won't fracture time and nobody will care. Well, apart from the locals. They might get a bit rebellious. So the ultimate survival rule of the whole multiverse is pretty much the same as Google’s company motto – Don’t Be Evil.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Time Travel - Part Three

I have a very serious confession to make. Before I tell you, I want you to know I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you, it just started out as fun. But now I respect you too much to keep lying to you. I hope after I tell you this that you’ll still respect me too. I’ll understand if you don’t. Here goes:

I’m not actually a time-traveller.

I hinted at being one in both Part One and Part Two of this time-travelling trilogy, but it’s not true. I know; it’s a shock. It was a shock for me too, when I realised. Turns out I’m totally not who I thought I was, and my adventures across time have just been hallucinations caused by uncooked pork and cheap vodka watered down with nail polish remover.

But I did promise that I’d tell you how to build a time machine, so I’ll do my damn best. Based on a lifetime of extensive research, there are two ways to do it – the easy way and the difficult way. First:

The Difficult Way

Wormholes. They’re theoretical, but apparently maths supports their existence so strongly that they’re a safe bet. Wormholes are good because they’re exciting, instant highways around spacetime. Their entrances and exits may not need to exist on the same fourth-dimensional plane – they can move you across both time and space. If you calculate it right you can take the express lane to the future or pop back to the past. Then again, actually creating a useable wormhole in the first place involves exotic matter and negative energy and all kinds of other theoretical doodads. I might as well be telling you ride into the past on a golden unicorn which talks like Morgan Freeman – but then I did say this was the difficult way.

Obligatory joke about ‘exotic’ matter. Whatever, you’re not even reading this

In an article written by Stephen Hawking (for the Daily Mail, weirdly) he describes the problem with wormhole time-travel. Sure, the photo captions have failed to understand the basic premise of Stargate, but I’ll ignore that for the benefit of the Professor.

Only slightly more complicated than scaremongering, hypocrisy and puns

Basically, he believes the problem with wormhole time-travel is feedback from universal background radiation, similar to audio feedback that can break entire sound systems if left unchecked. But on the other hand, feedback takes a while to build up to a terminal level in sound systems, right? Maybe the same will be true of wormholes.

He also describes several other ways to time travel using relativity, but they’re all just shortcuts to the future. If the past is off limits, what’s the point? That’s no time machine; it’s just a fancy time capsule.

Of course, as I’ve stressed several times, if you jump through a random wormhole you will almost definitely end up in an incredibly weird universe – that is if you somehow win the lottery (times a million) and end up in an atmosphere you can breathe rather than the massive, unforgiving void of space. What you really need is a map of the relevant, safe and stable wormholes.

These guys got it absolutely 100% correct

The Easy Way

The universe is plural, in case you hadn’t gotten the message in Part One. There’s a multiverse out there with all kinds of differences, from individual neutron-spins to completely different galaxy clusters and everything in between. It’s mind-bogglingly huge. So, somewhere out there in all the calculable possibilities of existence, there’s probably a universe where things are exactly as you want them. This has, in the past, been used to devastating cultural effect to conclusively prove the existence of Santa.

People also use this same technique to argue about the existence of God – if everything possible is happening in infinite different universes, there must be a version of reality somewhere with an omnipotent God, right? Maybe even a God so omnipotent that it can break through the ‘walls of reality’ and become God of this world, too, for its own inscrutable reasons. Sadly the problem with this argument is the same as the problem Stephen Hawking had with his time-traveller party from the article I linked to earlier: in that case where is everyone?

Disclaimer: Physicists actually have crazy wild social lives

Whatever. This means there’s also someone out there in the infinite multiverse who’s trying to beam time travel directly into your brain. I mean, it’s a mathematical certainty, right? We’re talking about an infinite multiverse here! So just close your eyes, tilt your head back and prepare to receive the secret plans or teleporter beam or whatever the hell it is that comes for you. It might be that you need to be imagining it first, setting up a brainwave pattern as a signal – like an inter-dimensional emergency flare. Try that now.

If you’re still reading this, it probably didn’t work. But that’s because you’re one of the billions of versions of you to whom it didn’t happen, rather than the small number of versions of you to which it did happen (technically, both amounts are infinite. Infinity is tricky like that). But keep trying, you’ll get lucky one day. Of course, there's an small chance (infinity again) it will be the same day that God occurs in our probability-cluster, resulting in broad-spectrum hyperspace interference and completely ruining your neural rendering of the time-machine's detailed schematics.

Yeah, I'm pretty good techno-babble myself, actually.

In Part Four, the final part (phew), I’ll be giving you essential advice to surviving time-travel and making it work for you! And I should know, SINCE I AM A TIME-TRAVELER!!
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