Tips for Piss

Urinating is probably one of my top-ten bodily waste functions, which means I obviously spend a lot of time thinking about how I can make it better. One of the biggest issues faced any self-respecting modern piss artist is trying to maintain control of the bladder in the final stretch leading up to a toilet.

Holding it in for an hour-long bus journey never seems to be too much of problem, but the final few minutes always feel like agony. As most of you will already be aware, it’s possible to trick your insatiable weebag by pretending that you live somewhere entirely different. Look at that house half a mile down the road, and tell yourself that’s where the toilet is. Why am I unlocking the door to this house, then? No reason at all, brain. Stop asking questions.

Unfortunately, This veil of deception gets ripped down as soon as you step through the front door, leaving you to make a final mad dash to evade the inevitable explosion of piss. After years of assuming that the mind is too powerful to be tricked by misdirection at this point in the game, I discovered a fantastic technique earlier this week. Imagine that the toilet is entirely sealed.

No lid, no water, just a smooth porcelain toilet-shaped object. It’s a fake! A doppelganger! Abort, abort!

There you go, that’s my piss tip. Tune in next week for more piss tips. Happy pissing!

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Merry Christmas!

Dinner with Peter Molyneux

(This was a thing I wrote for a thing, but the legal team wouldn’t touch it with a stick. In light of the disappearance of @PeterMolydeux, it seemed only right to put it up somewhere.)

Stepping into Peter Molyneux’s rustic home in rural Guildford, we’re immediately greeted by his wife, children, and large collection of realistic dogs. Directing me through to his private study for a chance to enjoy a pre-dinner drink, it’s amazing to see just how openly candid Molyneux is about his relationship with his wife. “I was married to someone in Slough originally” he explains, “but unfortunately she died when I stopped paying the rent.” Continuing to reminisce about his past sexual exploits whilst unfastening the catches on what appears to be an exquisite drinks cabinet, Peter admits that his previous mistakes have since taught him a valuable lesson about life: “Really it’s just a case of making sure they never meet. I’ve got another wife in Essex, and two in Birmingham – but that’s a big enough city to be sure that they won’t bump into one another.” He professes, eyeing the label of a bottle of whiskey. “That happened back in 2008, and Reginald was so furious that he simply ran away with both of the kids.”

Having moved through to the dining area, Peter suddenly realises that he hasn’t poured us a drink. Enraptured by his description of what he’d be serving for dinner, we honestly hadn’t noticed the slip-up – but he’s deeply apologetic nonetheless, and offers to whip up anything we can possibly imagine. We don’t want to make a fuss, but he’s quite insistent on making us something special. “Have you ever had a Martini that made you feel something… truly unique?” He inquires, leaning across the table with a degree of intensity we weren’t expecting. We explain that we once had one that was served with a bit of bacon instead of olives, but he shakes his head knowingly and beams an enchanting smile of simplicity. “I want to make you a Martini that will make you feel something new. Something you’ve never experienced before. /Anywhere/.” Up until this point, we would have happily settled for a decent beer – but sure, this sounds exciting. He nods, smoothly departing towards the kitchen as if gliding along invisible rails.

There’s a bit of an issue with one of the hobs in the oven, and initially it seems like dinner might be a little later than expected. We’re quite hungry by the time the food is served, and immediately tuck in to the homemade sausage and mash that Peter’s been talking about for most of the evening. The sausage meat is absolutely delicious, but it seems like we’re only able to find one on our plate – the majority of which seems to be covered in mash. Peter explains that originally he’d planned for the dish to be served with peas and gravy, but that he was nonetheless “extremely proud of what he’d been able to deliver in the time he had available.” It might not be exactly what we’d expected, but at this point we were too hungry to complain – and getting thirsty, too: We’d have to politely inform him that he promised us that Martini.

Conversation continues, and we begin to wonder when dessert is going to be served. He starts to enthuse about tomorrow night, when he’s apparently cooking dinner again for somebody else in the industry. He invites us along immediately – apologising for the lack of peas and gravy, and explaining the ways in which tomorrow’s meal would be incomparably better to the meal we’d just had. It’s getting late, and Peter explains that we’ve unfortunately run out of time for the evening – he needs to get up early tomorrow to begin preparing the ultimate version of his new signature dish. “Don’t worry - I haven’t forgotten about that drink!” he exclaims, cheerily handing me a half-empty bottle of vodka and a pint glass as I’m putting on my coat.

Musing by the roadside with our pint glass in hand, the evening overall feels like a moderate success. Things didn’t always go to plan, and we’re disappointed that there wasn’t time for dessert – but as a host, Peter was impossible to fault. Hopefully the limo he booked will arrive soon.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate Paste

When your brand identity gets hijacked by an online stranger, it’s natural that the first reaction will be panic. How you handle things afterwards however, needs to be level-headed. It seems that after a remarkably fast rise to fame, Shippam’s have decided to suspend the hilarious – yet unofficial – Twitter account @ShippamsPaste. Tweets are saved here for fishy-posterity, and you can immediately follow @EdJeff - the man behind the account.

I’ll not waste time beating around the bush, paste-people: You’ve made a huge mistake. With an aging fan-base most likely on the verge of extinction, it’s safe to say fish paste isn’t the coolest condiment on the street – a factor that made it the perfect target for this brilliantly daft spoof account. The idea of a Shippam’s paste even having a Twitter account is ludicrous enough to be funny in itself – a joke shot to pieces by the company’s decision to have Twitter suspend the account,  replacing it with an alternative official feed that I won’t even give the publicity of linkage.

Teasing followers with ‘updates and competitions’, it’s clear how the classically-mistaken internal conversation will have panned out. “Why should a stranger have 9,000 followers by using our product? Those could be ours.”

The problem is, chaps – they never will be. Cold-hard-truth time: Nobody gives a shit about fish paste, and no jazzy-redesign or expensive campaign will ever have a chance of changing that. Failing to tell the difference between an olive branch and a knife, you’ve just sprayed your chances of being cool with a fine mist of misplaced piss. We’d genuinely love to boycott your product, but that would have required us to actually buy it in the first place.

Screw the semantics of who’s-in-charge; this is nothing less than a social media disaster – within less than 24 hours you’ve effectively lost around 8975 Twitter followers. Imagine sitting in a room with a client and trying to explain that.

If you’d left it alone, you could have easily been looking at 15,000 by next week. Not only that – your knee-jerk reaction has now created a Twitter account that needs to be looked after by someone, taking up further company resources. You haven’t thought this through.

You shouldn’t be shutting the account down – you should be offering the man behind it money. Dying products like yours are a nightmare to reinvigorate: Re-branding to try and attract a younger market would cost an absolute fortune. By letting an account as daft as @ShippamsPaste run free, you safely benefit from the best of both worlds: Old dears still buy paste whilst entirely unaware of what a Twitter is, whilst hipster dickheads like me go out and develop an irony-led addiction to seafood spreads.

I’ve no doubt that somebody in a suit somewhere will shrug off this criticism with a vocal-splurge about brand control and corporate safety, but the blunt truth is that you had genuinely had nothing to lose. You’ve regained control, but it couldn’t be more futile: It’s like fighting over who gets to be the captain of the Titanic.

You’ve not only looked a gift-horse in the mouth– you’ve also lost the best bit of PR you’ve been offered in years. I’ve no doubt that the man behind it will soon be offered work elsewhere – leaving you in full control of that lovely sinking ship.

EDIT: Just as I finished writing this, it seems the official account has been removed too. I’d like to think they’re offering the man behind a bag full of money, but I’ve got the feeling they’re a little too late…

DOUBLE-EDIT: Ed himself has since written a small piece for The Guardian. Go and read.

Hello, you! Quite a lot of people started following my Tumblr recently, but I’m afraid I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t actually use it all that often.

I’d like to, but working in the office full-time as a writer means I usually don’t have the patience to start tapping away at home. Having said that, I still manage to keep myself busy with a variety of side-projects - one of which I’m about to brazenly plug without a hint of shame.

Regular Features is a comedy podcast I record with three other men, all of whom are a hell of a lot funnier than me. If you like anything I’ve written on here, then I’d love it if you could take the time to check it out, and maybe even write a mini review. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter at @Jam_Sponge.

You can click on the big purple chunk above to find out more.

Cheers for taking the time to read this, and I hope that you enjoy it!

HELP WE’RE IN GRAINGE DANGER (That’s a pun)

After being repeatedly asked what it was that actually transpired at last night’s Gaming Media Awards, I figured it would be easiest to simply whack it up here.

Grainger Games - a retail company mainly based in the North of England – decided they fancied the idea of getting closer to the country’s gaming media, and plumped up the cash to become this year’s main sponsors for the annual awards. Previously little more than a small indie chain, their recent successes have seen the brand pumped full of cash by a variety of investors: An attempt no doubt to fatten the goose for a potential sale to prospective buyers like the US company Gamestop.

Bringing their unique flavour of Toon-army charm to London for the night, the first impressions weren’t exactly perfect. Greeted by a bright orange Hummer filled with dwarves and barely-clothed equally orange promo girls, Grainger’s iconic lack of taste wasn’t initially much of a surprise.

Sitting down at a dinner table scattered with Grainger-branded condoms, eyebrows began to rise to more substantial levels: The gender ratio in the games industry isn’t exactly a well-kept secret, so at first this gesture was merely confusing. Should we all be scrambling across the tables for a chance to stick it in one of the barely-legal promo girls, or bumming each other to bits with the aid of condiments hidden beneath this pointless spatter of contraceptives?

When the awards kicked off, things started to get ugly. Heckling the comedian seemed like fair game, but it quickly became evident it wasn’t stopping there: Shouting loudly over the top of each and every award and speech, the lack of respect escalated from irritating to infuriating. Some kindly described the behaviour as heckling, but I’m pretty sure what you’re saying has be either amusing or decipherable for that distinction to be technically valid.

Expertly alternating between shouting whilst sitting down and shouting whilst standing up, at one of the particularly coked-up chaps even decided to jump up on stage and start thrusting his pelvis towards the audience. I think it might have been the award for Rock Paper Shotgun. I’m a big fan too, but still.

It’s hard to pinpoint any one moment of the evening that really hit the bell at the top of the twat-o-meter, but the sentiments throughout the industry were clearly homogeneous: Who the fuck are these clowns, and what are they doing at our party. It was the equivalent of the bride’s father thinking it’ll be alright to punch the groom in the face because he’d paid for the booze and catering.

Hardly the end of the world – but for a company that clearly needs to pitch itself to the big boys as a respectable future investment, it was nothing short of a PR disaster. Having said that, I felt ill and left the party at about 10. FUCK knows what they got up to after that.

Otherwise though, it was a bloody brilliant night and loads of lovely people won some shiny bits of plastic. Excellent work, GMA peeps.

EDIT: I’ve since been informed that after I left, some of the G-crew were caught doing coke in the toilet by security, whilst others were seen to be physically intimidating some of the gaming media’s most prominent figures. Lordy.

Also - I wish to make it clear that I have no negative sentiments towards Newcastle or the north: I lived up there for most of my life.

Apple: It’s a trap.

The worst thing about buying an iPhone, was that I already knew what I was getting myself into. After years of bravely trying to save the MP3 player from its unavoidable demise, I was well aware of just how forceful Apple’s push for dominance could often seem to be. iTunes doesn’t want to help you organise your music collection – it wants you to convert the entire thing into it’s own special format. Apple’s insistence on using it’s own formats and technologies aren’t anything new though, and these days they aren’t even the main problem.

In a climate in which it isn’t safe for companies to simply expect people to keep buying their wares on a yearly basis, the question most technology businesses are wrestling with at the moment is how to lock people into some form of long-term subscription. Services like LoveFilm and Spotify live or die on their ability to provide an invaluable service – something that you simply wouldn’t want to have to say goodbye to. Despite the love the brand might receive from dimwitted fans, Apple’s tactics are entirely different: It’s not about providing value for those who are loyal, it’s about substantially raising the cost for those who wish to leave.

The real stroke of genius, is that this cost is invisible: You won’t spot Apple’s subscription fee in your monthly bank statement, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Hugely expanding on their devious past of weighing you down with Apple-specific cables and file formats, the creation of Apps was a stroke of genius.

When deciding to switch from an iPhone 3GS to a Samsung Galaxy S2, it quickly became clear that I wasn’t simply swapping out one device for another – I was saying goodbye to a library of purchases I’d spent years building up.This wasn’t money being paid directly to Apple, but the outcome is exactly the same: I’ve spent the past two years putting cash into a piggy bank that’s physically impossible to now smash open.

Whilst most companies try to pretend they’re investing in their customers: Apple has simply demanded that we spend our time with their devices slowly investing in them - creating a substantial sense of long-term attachment that we’ve paid to build with money out of our own pocket. This perception of genuine loss was almost enough to make me change my mind about switching, but that was simply another reminder that I was standing on a seriously slippery surface: Next time you find yourself assessing the situation, you’ll only have more to lose. You need to get out, now.

You might not have signed an official agreement to use Apple products exclusively for the rest of your life, but it’s clearly an implication scrawled between the lines from the moment you buy your first device. Over the past few years, we’ve seen this apparently creativity-driven company use their influence to take direct control of mobile tariff prices, maintaining an artificially high cost whilst competitors with better products undercut substantially. Their reaction to this has generally been simple: Heavy-handed legal measures have crushed the attempts of some genuinely gifted competition - purely on the basis of having apparently copied the Apple-invented concept of ‘minimalist design’

This isn’t the behaviour of an innovative company: It’s the flailings of a grumpy dragon that’s lost interest in everything that doesn’t involve sitting on treasure. Don’t let the terrifically sad story of the fantastic Steve Jobs stand in the way of an increasingly evident truth: The iPhone 4S isn’t an innovative piece of ground-breaking technology, it’s just another trap.