If we’re all honest with ourselves we know that social networking has been reduced to little more than a platform for people to moan about public transport. Reviews of Tings will not stoop to this level; will not moan about the fractured sanctity of the quiet coach; about how screaming babies still make noise and clacking Blackberry keys still make noise and the way chew with your mouth open still makes noise. You’ll be interested to know that, when travelling by train, RoT always books a seat in the quiet coach. This because RoT likes to read or, if it’s night time, RoT likes to mime along to showtunes, watching itself in the darkness-mirrored window and pretending it’s in a music video. Fun though this, undoubtedly, is, RoT can’t help but wonder if it’s missing out on life. What goes on in these other, non-volume restricted carriages? What friendships are born? What friendships are killed? Do people buy drinks for each other and play cards, like a rigidly structured casino? Do people dance like the rowdy Irish people in Titanic? If RoT stumbled in there and stood on its very tippy toes would it get to have sex in a car? Basically, if RoT goes into a non-quiet carriage will it get to have sex? RoT is lonely.
Verdict: RoT inches one step closer to online dating.
There is a bit in The Return of the King, the best film ever made about a return (beating Return to Oz, Cocoon: The Return and even 2006 Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle The Return), that never fails to make Reviews of Tings cry. It is the bit when the blissfully-in-denial ginger hobbit and the gay hobbit with a boner for him are on the exploding mountain and are about to die, when a huge sky beast (it’s been a while since RoT saw TRotK) swoops in and plucks them from peril. It is that cinematic mainstay, the clutching of a hero from the jaws of death, that turns on RoT’s waterworks. So, similarly, RoT has decided to breathe life back into its popular* blog. You will doubtlessly want to know where RoT has been. RoT will fold away the Financial Times it’s been reading for effect and tell you. It will tell you about the devastating heartbreak that forced it to the brink of a serious alcohol problem, even though everything seemed quite jolly at the time. It will tell you about the languages it’s learned and the great works of fiction it’s read (literally three whole books). It will tell you about how it took a self-imposed eight month break from its blog, just so it could write a post about return. But you will have to wait: the word limit has been reached.
Verdict: Reviews of Tings is back, for today at least.
*the post about Rob from GBBO Series 2 received literally tens of views
There should have been a fanfare. 1000 trumpeters, at least, dressed is glittering unitards. And balloons, in huge, rainbow bunches, lining the streets. For yes, some time ago, Reviews of Tings celebrated its second birthday. RoT could pretend that it had decided to celebrate in a low-key manner, like that time Britney got married to that D-Bag she was definitely related to in Vegas. After all, one was a big deal; maybe it’s best to save the celebrations until five. But four years without a party? What kind of life is that? Determined to make up for this wasted chance, RoT packed its overnight bag and hopped on the Eurostar to Antwerp, which it had heard was the new party capital of Europe. It wasn’t. So while RoT spent the (freezing) night hopping from foot to foot outside, waiting for Antwerp train station to open (hostel mix-up), it got to thinking about other missed opportunities. It thought of the Cadbury’s Spira, which, in a just world, would have become Britain’s National Snack. It thought of the misplaced faith of the British people in Paula Radcliffe, and the countless opportunities she subsequently missed. It even, fleetingly, thought of lost loves (sustained eye contact with strangers on buses). But mainly it thought of Lutricia McNeal, and of her two late-90s smash hits, which should have seen her become the world’s most successful ever singer and, later, President. Shame.
Verdict: Ain’t that just the way that life goes down? Happy 2nd Birthday, Reviews of Tings!
The pilot announces that flight is about to crash. You feel flouting the ‘no phone’ rule no longer matters and promptly phone your wife to tell her you never loved her and the marriage was a sham. Matters settled, you turn your attention to the flight safety information – to which you paid no attention when the ‘sun’ crisped stewards performed their best catastrophe play at the start of the flight. First up, you’ll notice the emergency oats will descend – spinning your head will release the oats so you can chomp away like a happy horse. Next up: only blue bloods are rescued, so a fashionable gillet will slide at a Dave Benson-Phillips-angle towards you face. Simply don your rural wear and whistle for a pauper to rescue you. Next up comes an opportunity to use the smoke as a cover to steal high-heeled shoes, earrings, false teeth, glasses, and perv up ladies’ skirts. You are not, however, allowed to take your bounty form the plane, so try to enjoy it onboard. Next up, pop off the door, perform the maracrena on the slide and run away to the nearest disco in your spotless, red dress that definitely wasn’t smudged in the fire or anything. Anyone with laser vision is allowed to set fire to the wings, but the door is an absolute no-no. Finally, open your letter box to receive the letter that tells you what to do in case of an emergency. Only people wearing seventies clothing are allowed to leave.
Verdict: phew, we’re safe! And for a minute there RoT thought it was about to burn on a plane. And die. Forever. 10/10.
‘Hey dude,’ he mumbles as you let yourself in and slump onto the sofa. Cash in the Attic might be on the TV; RoT hasn’t really put that much thought into it. Your friend brings you a cup of tea and as he hands it to you, his finger brushes yours. In an instant, you remember. ‘Man, I had a dream about you last night,’ you say, not really thinking the consequences of this through. Your friend barely even looks up at you: everyone knows that dream-talk is the most boring type of talk (inching out pet-talk). ‘I went round to your house,’ you begin, ‘to ask you about going on holiday. But your house was, like, well different, and that. It was rank.’ Your friend is possibly listening, but he’s definitely texting someone. ‘You weren’t there,’ you continue, doggedly, ‘But you left a note telling me to watch this new drama programme, because you were an extra in it.’ Your friend grunts in reply and changes the TV channel. Loose Women is just starting on the other side. ‘So I watched this programme for like 50 minutes and you weren’t in it. But then you got home so I was talking to you and you said your bird had dumped you and you were well sad.’ Your friend listens to you a bit more now: he doesn’t have a ‘bird’, so any talk of one elicits excitement. ‘But in the background – aw, mate! – the TV was still on and it was your bit and you were proper getting it on with this bird.’ Already this is a bit weird. You should be able to tell, from the nervous laugh your friend gives, or the way he draws back, slightly, away from you. But you continue. ‘She had a proper tidy body, like, but when her face was on screen it was all like an aardvark, only it tapered into a lollipop.’ You must know to stop now: your friend has stood up and is pretending to tidy the pile of Nuts Magazines on the coffee table. ‘And then you started SUCKING on her lollipop face! Mate, it was wicked!’ Your friend leaves, shutting himself in his bedroom. When, after an hour, he hasn’t emerged, you leave. You never see him again.
Verdict: We all know how this bit goes: better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open ones mouth and remove all doubt.
One thing that RoT has noticed about Mad Men (and it’s only watched 2 seasons, so no spoilers please) is that, when pitching to a client, the talented workforce of Sterling Cooper are succinct. Whether it’s Peggy clinching a deal with a major client and securing Freddy Rumsen’s office for her own, or Don reducing an entire room of grown men to tears with some well chosen family snaps and a Kodak Kaleidoscope – these guys are to the point. Not so in 2012. Image is everything – if you want to develop a brand in this day and age then you have to look the part. There’s an easy guide to this: if you’re a man, wear clothes several sizes too small for you; if you’re a lady, swamp yourself in multitudinous layers of drably coloured fabric. In both instances use at least an entire canister of hairspray to ensure hair is at maximum volume, pop on a pair of oversize specs and – voila! – you’re a brand ambassador. Now you look the part, you’re going to have to learn the lingo. Sometime soon you’re going to find yourself in a boardroom full of eager marketeers. They hired you to refresh and develop their brand and this is it: the moment for you to dazzle them with your bold, creative work. Except you haven’t done anything, of course. Because there’s nothing to do: the concept of brand development is ludicrous, a fantasy. It’s key to understand the dynamic of the boardroom: these people know that you’re a style-over-content, blagging, talentless waste of space. You know that they know that. You have to give them what they want. You’ll definitely want to kick off with ‘At the heart of our brief was the desire to create something classic, yet modern’. Talk about ‘clean lines’ a lot. Use the word ‘cohesion’ as much as possible. A strong way to finish? ‘This is cultural. This is asirational.’ [dramatc pause] ‘This is emotional’. Don Draper would turn in his grave/nursing home.
Verdict: big fat liars.
Nowadays, there are many celebrity scientists: Richard ‘God assassin’ Dawkins, Stephen ‘I got my voice from Casio keyboard’ Hawking, Patrick ‘I eat my ear hair’ Moore, and of course we’re all familiar with election-bothering Brian Cox pointing at Outer Space and saying, ‘how mental is that?’ But what about the first celebrity scientist? No, not
Simon Mayo Galileo – Beaker, you muppet! Beaker is often thought of as Bunsen’s bumbling lab hand at the prestigious research unit, Muppet Labs; not so. If only we could understand Beaker’s language we would realise that Bunsen is actually hoodwinking us with his mistranslations. Beaker’s language can be difficult to comprehend. Once upon a time, RoT never quite got that sparrow to admit it was responsible for using the last of the milk – even after the few remaining undigested drill bits had been worn down. Beaker’s language can be equally as impenetrable as that sparrow’s circumlocutory (or downright perjurious) tweeting. What may seem like mindless squeaking is actually the base level of a frequency only just able to be heard by the human ear. Imagine you could hear barely a whisper of bass from Cher’s hit, ‘Believe’, and nothing else, so low its just a sexy tremor – all the emotional complexities of Cher’s robotic-voice-mangle would be lost. Such is life listening to Beaker. Beaker is a scientific hotrod: he takes on science with the same verve as Rambo takes on his own side who think he might be a bit murderous – that’s right, by proving their point and murdering them. Beaker speaks only in scientific proof: his every utterance is a complex algorithm, expressed in a binary of noises designed especially to annoy dogs (Beaker HATES dogs). And what does Bunsen do, jealous of Beaker’s scientific acumen? Relegates him to The Chief Secretary to the Treasury assistant status and tells us all that he’s a bumbling shitfest, only fit to be prodded like a caged Geordie in some sort of coat experiment. Bunsen, you shit, we know where you live!
Verdict: Beaker’s language surpasses any other language known to man (except, perhaps, Dutch, which is constructed entirely of flem). Still, it’s a bit whiny. 7/10.