Friday, 13 February 2015

Things in Harry Potter that are Just Wrong.

I couldn't think of a pithy title for this one.

I shall begin with a defence of the Harry Potter series. Ok, it's not Dostoevsky, but then Ms. Rowling never pretended that it was; it's a series of compelling books for children.

I openly enjoy reading children's books (a chapter of Winnie the Pooh on a relaxing Sunday afternoon is very pleasant) and I grew up with the whole story, which due to Rowling's laziness reached it's climax when I was an adult.

'It's a children's book' doesn't excuse all it's faults however. Some of the dialogue is awful, and a few of the plot devices are maddening, and certainly there's a lot of other good fantasy books for children out there.

Overall though, I think the stories are enjoyable and the characterisation strong (albeit not complicated). I feel the occasional Harry Potter book can be a small part of a balanced literary diet, like having McDonald's once a month.

Now I've got discussion about the quality of the books out of the way, it is time to look at certain things that, I feel have gone a little bit under the radar, and are, as the title of this piece suggests, Just Wrong:

1) Apparently Hagrid's father was a human, and his mother was a giant. Admittedly this is less disturbing than the reverse breeding scenario, but it still seems like quite an undertaking, and one that most likely features in the world of Hentai. Perhaps he used apparatus similar to Catherine the Great's.

2) The centaur Firenze features throughout the books, and begins teaching at Hogwarts in the 5th instalment. This is innocent enough, but the fact that several of the female students have a crush on Firenze is thrown into the narrative without much thought to the bestial implications. Whether this fetish is down to his good looks or his presumably horse like endowment is never made clear.

3) The love potion features a quite bit in the Harry Potter series, not least as an important (though not entirely satisfying) plot device. The concoction makes the drinker infatuated with the 'giver' of the potion. Cue some comically unlikely infatuations, but when the implications are thought through, it is clear that Amourtentia is essentially a rape potion, a magical version of rohypnol.

So there you have it. Give it these 3 disturbing aspects some thought the next time you listen to Stephen Fry's lovely voice reading the Harry Potter stories.  

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Travail Blog: I Went a Little Kaka(migahara) ...

Having lived in 4 different countries this past half decade, I do sometimes feel like a Leaper. Not that I'm righting nations that once went wrong all by myself, though I do like to think that my presence helps.

My arrival in Japan was not beset with the best of omens. My entrance into the country was hindered by a threatened typhoon, which meant that I had to dash to my designated prefecture as soon as possible.

For some reason a good many of the train stations do not have an alternative to steps, and it is as such that by the time I got to my destination, my mobile suitcase had broken. I had only been in the country for around 4 hours, and the wheels were literally coming off.

The day after next, I started work, and didn't seem to stop until Christmas. Setting up the internet in my new home proved to be quite an ordeal. Apparently you can only get a 2 year contract for internet services here. That the country has been in recession for nearly 3 decades no longer seems quite so mysterious.

Whilst obtaining this service I was told I had to pay certain fees, and that these were based on a whole myriad of choices, which I made largely through ignorance and willpower. Towards the end of the transaction however, they informed me that I would receive vouchers, which equated to roughly the same amount as the fees. Also, I was to receive further vouchers on account of the company's affiliated baseball team winning that day. At this point I was just wanted it done, and was on the verge of tears.

In the meantime I had observed that my apartment had a big television with a DVD player, so I thought I might take a gander towards the local DVD store.  I am hardly proficient at the local language, but I have learned that 'DVD' in Japanese means 'pornography'. I admire the female form as much as the next heterosexual man (and lesbian) but it was a bit much for me.

Of more interest to me has been the gargantuan amount of Pokemon paraphernalia that surrounds commerce here. For a teetotaller it is diverting, but for someone who actively seeks the hit, it's quite overwhelming. A visit to the Pokemon Center in Tokyo over Christmas was rather costly, for both my wallet and my maturity.

I have taken advantage of the low price of whisky here, to quite some degree. In the UK a normal bottle of the more established brands would cost between 25-30 pounds. Here it's around 8-12. I have a penchant for filling empty whiskey bottles with flowers, and due to the amount of empty fortified wine containers that I now have, this is proving to be the more expensive habit.

Work (English teaching) has mostly been going OK.  The receptionist at the language centre is elderly and fastidious, which does not always make for the most efficient exchanges of information. It seems it takes him as long to impart wisdom upon the Japanese students, so that is of some solace. My overriding image is of a Japanese Corporal Jones; eager to please, but ambling about the place in a panicked fashion.

I was of course Santa for a special Christmas class at the end of the year. The children had all sung the festive songs during their respective classes the couple of weeks before the 23rd, but on the day, once all together, they were so overwhelmed by the notion that other humans might exist, that my attempts at vocal music were met with silence. It was rather like the end of Scrooged, but with no one else joining in the singing.

I have also been sharing my company with the lower echelons of Kakamigahara as well though. I always manage to find local bars very quickly, despite the information given to me by my employers, and my first week in this country proved no different. My establishment of choice is called 'Ba Ba Bar' (I'm here to teach English, not talk nonsense at the Ba Ba Bar) a funky, musical little place owned by a man called Yoshi. He's very endearing, but not as reptilian as I'd like. Perhaps it's something he can work on.

His flirtatious wife once shouted at me for becoming acquainted with a female at the bar, which led to some awkwardness for a time. I persevered through with characteristic stoicism however.

I began my travels jaded, and I'm afraid I lack the vocabulary to express how I am at this stage. The soul can be rather like Rasputin when it comes to it's demise.

If I ever get enough money, it's possible that I'll settle down somewhere (alms for an old ex Leaper?). It's over 10 years since 'Lost In Translation' came out, and I feel quite old at present. With that in mind, coupled with the reality that Chinese women I barely know are declaring their alleged love for me, I'm ever more reminded of Wilde's aphorism "'Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious".

Who knows what's next? I don't, but then, there are tales of Korea and China yet to tell...

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Rejected Sketches: Heat or Eat!

A year or so ago I wrote a few sketches that were ultimately rejected by the radio show Newsjack.

Here is one of them:

HOST:                         Good evening, it’s time to play, Heat or Eat!


CHRSTINE:               Hello, my name’s Christine, and I’m a single parent from London


MARK:                       Hi, I’m Mark, and I’m a lower class man from Sussex!        


HOST:                         Christine, any holiday plans this year?

CHRISITNE:              No, I just hope to stay alive really! (Bubbly)

HOST:                         And Mark, why do you want to win today?

MARK:                       I’m just here to have fun, if I can postpone starvation it’ll be a bonus!

HOST:                         Ok, Christine, spin the wheel to find out your station.

CHRISTINE:              This spin is for you Mum!

(Excited noises from the audience)

HOST:                         Oh dear, you’re still at the bottom of society, so which is it to be Christine, Heat or Eat?

CHRISTINE:              Well, my little boy doesn’t eat much anyway, so I’m going with heat.

HOST:                         Ok, remember you still have a Payday Loan left to play.

                                    Alright, give it a spin Mark.

MARK:                       I’m thinking positive.

(Excited noises from the audience)

 HOST:                         Oh, and that’s landed on lower middle class, so I’m afraid you cannot get help with your mortgage.

                                    Mark, Heat or Eat!

MARK:                       I’ll go eat.

HOST:                         Alright, you’ve got 1 minute to raid the Food Bank. 1, 2, 3, GO!

(Excited noises from the audience)

Christine, Heat or Eat?

CHRISTINE:              I’m going to play my Energy Price Freeze.

HOST:                         That’s smart play, but so early in the game. Mark, you know what I’m going to ask!

MARK:                       I’ll spin the wheel again.

(Excited noises from the audience)

HOST:                         And you are… Upper middle class, which means you can buy some Royal Mail shares!

                                    Now Mark, Heat or Eat? Remember those shares should appreciate quickly.

MARK:                       I’m going to play my Bedroom Tax.

HOST:                         Wow! Behind each door is a house, you have 2 minutes to downsize, on your marks, get set, GO!

(Excited noises from the audience)

                                    Oh Mark, I’m sorry, it turns out there weren’t any 1 bedroom houses, and as you’re on a Zero Hours contract, I’m afraid you can’t play again. It’s time for us to say goodbye; we’re going to have to send you home.

MARK:                       I don’t have a home.

HOST:                         What next Christine? Should she gamble?

(Audience ‘GAMBLE!’)

CHRISTINE:              I’ve thought it through; I’m going to gamble the housing money on Rooney scoring first this evening.

HOST:                         Oh no, Van Persie has just scored! And as you’re under 25 I’m afraid you can’t claim benefits.

                                    Did you have a good time though Christine?

CHRISTINE:              I’ve had a great day. I should probably be looking after little Johnny anyway (chuckles)

HOST:                         Join us next time for another edition of, Heat or Eat!

                                    Remember you too can play at home, or if you want to be here live in the studio, write to your local charity.

Skyping the Bottom of the Barrel.

Every so often I receive a contact request on skype from a complete stranger trying to get me to sign up to a web cam service.

I've decided to start having some fun with these situations.

Here is a transcript of my latest encounter with one of these alleged women: 

[17:51:12] forever.flame41: are u online?
[17:51:30] *** Joseph Tessier has shared contact details with forever flame. ***
[17:51:34] Joseph Tessier: yes
[17:51:52] forever flame: hello my real name is Amanda.. :)
[17:52:04] Joseph Tessier: hello Amanda
[17:52:34] forever flame: I think its fun chatting with different people.. Would you like to talk today? Where do you live?
[17:53:10] Joseph Tessier: I live in purgatory. It's not great, but it's not bad either.
[17:53:13] Joseph Tessier: just ok.
[17:53:30] forever flame: Please answer my next  quest?
[17:53:41] Joseph Tessier: you need to find the jade monkey?
[17:53:49] forever flame: Do you enjoy big booty girls with big breast? HAHA seriously cuz thats what i am/have..Is that too much for you to handle?
[17:54:06] Joseph Tessier: I'm not ready for that jelly.
[17:54:21] forever flame: Have you ever heard of a whooty? Would you like to see me i'll show you my Whooty....
[17:54:45] Joseph Tessier: Is it Sooty's cousin?
[17:55:15] forever flame: lmao Whooty is a White Girl that has a BOOTY!  i wanna show u mine...
[17:56:34] Joseph Tessier: I see. So we can use the word 'Whooty' instead of using a sentence? That'll save time which we can use to do a crossword or something :)
[18:02:09] Joseph Tessier: I would very much like to see your rear end.
[18:02:37] forever flame: Give me a min let me turn on  my camera for you babe..
[18:03:14] Joseph Tessier: oh, I can't do that. I hate webcams. They killed my family.
[18:03:48] forever flame: ok goto and and we can webchat. all you have to do is click Accept Invite on the lower left!
[18:05:00] Joseph Tessier: Wow, that's so easy. almost like it's too good to be true.
[18:05:34] forever flame: No worries babe its absolutely free to register to this website all you have to do is signup
[18:05:46] Joseph Tessier: If I had known that all I had to do was use a picture of a dog on my Skype profile to attract women, I wouldn't have bothered developing social skills.
[18:05:51] Joseph Tessier: Wowzers!
[18:06:17] forever flame: fill out your credit card info for Age verification ONLY, your cc will not be charged.. ok I am ready for you now
[18:06:28] Joseph Tessier: Credit Card details!?
[18:06:45] Joseph Tessier: If I fill out the form, will the Nigerian Prince also get back to me?
[18:06:54] Joseph Tessier: he promised he would :(
[18:07:03] forever flame: What color Bra do you think i should wear? i might have your favorite color here somewhere...
[18:09:33] Joseph Tessier: Green
[18:09:45] Joseph Tessier: I can't get an erection unless you're wearing green
[18:10:04] forever flame: I'll do anything you want me to do.. Are you watching me?  I can't chat with you on the site until you signup :(
[18:10:18] Joseph Tessier: we're chatting now.
[18:10:45] Joseph Tessier: would you cover yourself in snake oil for me?
[18:10:48] Joseph Tessier: sexy...
[18:10:49] forever flame: babe I'm sooo Horny right now! Do Whatever U have to, to Cum inside! i'll spank my ass till its red 4 you!!!
[18:11:02] Joseph Tessier: green I said!
[18:11:20] forever flame: Your such a good boy, i'm going to show you what good boys deserve.. i'll be waiting for u on the site...
[18:17:39] Joseph Tessier: what do good boys get?
[18:17:43] Joseph Tessier: stickers?
[18:18:04] forever flame: I will be waiting 4 you! Click and Join!
[18:18:47] Joseph Tessier: Do you think you could do the washing up without any washing up liquid?

Tenuous News: Like Turkeys Voting for Christmas

This year turkeys again voted overwhelmingly in favour of Christmas in a campaign where the Yes camp knocked the stuffing into the opposition.

Another referendum on the question is not expected to take place for at least a generation (considering the latest vote, that will most likely be next year).

It is theorised that the No (to being killed and eaten) campaign suffered from a poultry turn out from youth.

It is a bitterly disappointing result for noted vegetarian Sir Paul McCartney who has campaigned tirelessly for turkeys to be given a say on the matter for years.

The elderly vote was decisive, with views such as Brian's being typical:

"I voted to be devoured at Christmas, as that's what we've always done".

His wife Barbara added:

"Sure they kill us, but they also make the trains run on time."

Many voters expressed concern as to what would happen if they voted No.

"There's so many things we don't know about; what would happen if we lived past Christmas? The Yes campaign keeps saying it'll all be fine, but there's no guarantee. If I'm still here on Boxing Day, I'll have to think for myself and plan my own future. That's scary." -misc. turkey

"I don't trust that man off the telly [Sir Paul McCartney]" -another turkey

The 'Fatter Together' campaign focused on the benefits of Christmas, such as a guarantee of being fed for most of the year. They also claimed that the union between turkeys and humans had served both parties very well so far, and that there was no need for change.

Tom in particular seemed quite content with the way things were:
"Christmas isn't the problem, it's those bloody chickens coming over here and taking our grain."

The Yes campaign were especially derisive of the claim that people would want to keep turkeys as pets, and dismissed the No campaign's ideas as 'socialist'.

Some of the population abstained as they saw the vote as meaningless:

"Even if it's a No victory, we'll still be eaten sometime, this is just rearranging the deckchairs on the titanic"

Monday, 8 December 2014

Tenuous News: Coarse Play

Tenuous News can exclusively reveal that 'banter' has been abolished in the UK. It is anticipated that Twitter will cease to exist within a week.

The Emancipation Proclamation, which only sufficed as a lunch time measure, has been reinforced by actual legislation. Small talk of an overtly cretinous nature will no longer be tolerated.

This is the crowning culmination of a long hard struggle fought over decades. Back in 2004, Rosa Recreation gave voice to a movement when she refused to sit at the back of the Banter Bus.

Such designation had been usual for those who refrained from inane and weakly adversarial comments regarding association football, the opposite sex, alcohol tolerance and sexual orientation.

Contrary to popular belief, it was not the first time Rosa had made such a protest; she had been taking such a stand for many years.

The Banter laws had previously forbidden any wit to be used in acerbic utterances. It is said that David Cameron was unaware that such a law was still on the books.

University students will no longer have to stoically engage in this tedious verbal jousting.

Some activists feel that the new law doesn't go far enough however:

"This is a great day, but although banal jibing between football supporters will now be a thing of the past, these individuals will still be able to measure their self worth by the performance of international millionaires that they can't possibly relate to." said Rachel Brown, a solemn agitator.

Until today, it had been legal for some communities to only allow those willing to engage in banter access to certain bars. In 2010, sports bars were forced to admit customers who found the notion of homosexuality as inferior bewildering.

Not everyone however is in favour of the new law:

"I've built my entire career on banter, what am I to do now? I'll have to garner support from the banks or something." -Boris Johnson, London Mayor

Many see the new legislation as another example of 'Gesture Politics' though, as much of banter is already illegal under sexual harassment laws.

Tenuous News is of the view though that banning banter sends the right message, and will encourage people to think, in lieu of vocal abuse.

None of this piece is true, it's just banter.