Monday, 27 June 2011

Sun, Sea and Sand: What's the attraction?

By Dan Morris

So what, really, is the attraction of a sandy beach? I've never quite understood it. In fact, i don't think I ever will. 
Sand, is so, so irritating, not only does it get in, painfully, to ever crease and fold of your body but it makes life impossible. 

The simplest of tasks becomes an unbearable chore, from laying down your towel to eating a sandwich. When coupled with water, the very fabric of the 'seaside', it's truly a nightmare scenario.

I'm a huge fan of a day in the sun, however my complexion is not. Factor 30 is a very close friend of mine when the sun's shining bright but there's nothing more irritating than having just applied sun cream, only to feel the entire contents of Bournemouth beach stuck to your back. 

Sandy beaches are simply uncomfortable, but their alternative even more so; hang on let me just get my towel and lie here on this rockery, no thanks. 

I'm not a fan of the beach, at all. Relaxing in the sun, fine. A short paddle, great, but sand, not for me.

The inability to escape the heat, the fact your water bottle goes from cool to boiling in the blink of an eye and having to part with your hard earned cash to lie on anything other than the very thing I hate about the beach makes me resent it no end.

The last place on earth you will find me on a sunny bank holiday is "beside" the sea.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Non-alcoholic beer: My money saving tip

By Dan Morris
Non-alcoholic beer

I must recommend non-alcoholic beer as a means of saving money.

In the fridge this weekend, sat four rather inconspicuously looking cans of lager.

With the football on the box, what better way to enjoy your team getting thoroughly out classed by their local rivals than to do so enjoying a nice chilled beverage.

All I can say is, that inconspicuously looking four-pack is still sat in the fridge albeit minus one can.

I don't know what they do to this non-alcoholic beer which they don't do to their alcoholic alternatives (which seem to last five minutes), but it's a real recession-buster. Give it a go, you will literally never run out.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Will the real Jessie J please stand up?

Jessie J released her debut album on Monday

By Dan Morris

Arguably the biggest thing in the UK music industry right now, recent Brits 'Critics Choice' winner Jessie J released her debut album Who You Are this week.

On first listen, it's hard to imagine Who You Are becoming anyone's favourite album, anytime soon which is surprising giving the success of her debut single.

On the release of her new album, you'd have to forgive the 21-year-old, born Jessica Cornish, for attempting to capitalise on every piece of her current success with a hurried, patchy collection of Brit pop come R&B.

It tries all too hard to be something for everyone, from N Dubz to Joss Stone, from gang culture to love. It's nothing more than a commercial fantasy that looks to squeeze every ounce out of the UK market.

After the release of the hit, Do it like a dude, Jessie J was always going to go into the book as the female equivalent to Tinie Tempah - a rough/yet smooth image, bubbly personality appealing to a niche audience.

Unfortunately, the promise of Do it like dude is distinctly missing in Who You Are, with a mismatch of sounds that confuse the likes of Kei$ha, Rhianna and Lady Gaga.

Risqué vocals and synthesisers are all to prevalent lacking anything with a real 'WOW' factor.

Who You Are isn't completely bad, what it's not is confirmation of the real talent that warrants such high acclaim.

It's disappointing and lazy, much like her image, lacking any originality.

Outlandish costumes, massive heels, excessive makeup. A combination of Gwen Stefani-esque characteristics with a tendency to appear to be trying all too hard - all too hard to compete with Gaga.

Having been thrown in at the deep end perhaps Jessie J simply hasn't had the time to perfect her image and develop that originality, but at present her falseness is slapping me in the face.

In the midst of her brilliant talent, she's lacking something that Gaga oozes in abundance.

With ample room for improvement, I'm not giving up here, and I'll be first to predict she'll return with a summer anthem, but I can't help but think this was an exceptional opportunity missed - an opportunity to cement her place within the industry as an original artist.

Instead, it's nothing more than a second rate rip off of anything and everything that already exists in world pop - such a shame.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

How do you know if someone has an iPhone? Because they tell you

Apple's iPhone 4 (Picture courtesty of Apple)

By Dan Morris

Is it me, or are the ‘older generation’ getting altogether, far too comfortable using 21st century gadgets.

Are you over the age of 40? Do you own an iPhone?

Can I ask why?

Without trying to sound like a moron, do you have any real reason to buy such a gadget?

I’m willing to put it out there, that before the iPhone, you didn’t even know who Apple were, or what they where about. Granny Smith is not the boss of Apple. So what persuaded you to part with such an excessive amount of money for something you'll almost certainly only get 25 per cent of the use out of.

Perhaps we just have to hold are hands up to the marketing prowess of Steve Jobs and his increasingly growing empire, or alternatively we can put it down to the sheer nature of consumerism, whereby even the complete technophobes among us now own one - without really knowing why.

There’s that saying; how do you know if someone has an iPhone? Well, because they tell you, and even the older generation of iPhone users are no stranger to this stereotype.  The thing is, every time I see them struggling to operate one, I feel compelled to ask: "WHY THE HELL DID YOU BUY SOMETHING YOU HAVE NO USE FOR?" - Of course I don't, but I sure as hell think it.

What's most annoying is the obvious reasons for having one; everybody has one. I don't begrudge people over 40 owning an iPhone but when they can't even download iTunes to make it work correctly, my patience runs thin. What's iTunes? Exactly.

Surely a Nokia 3310 would suffice, after all, these people don’t play mobile games, rarely send a text message, don’t Tweet and aren’t on Facebook. Oh wait, apparently they do all of the above.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Top 10 conclusions of 2010

By Dan Morris

Icelandic ash cloud caused major chaos in 2010
1. Icelandic ash cloud

If you'd have asked me the significance of a volcanic ash cloud 12 months ago I'd have looked back at you, baffled and bemused. However, given the media coverage of the Icelandic ash cloud in early 2010 I can now confirm it has the potential to close a continents airspace, ruin holidays and leave many, stranded in places far a field. This was the story of the summer, as British airports closed through safety fears leaving travellers stranded and the skies empty.

2. The Pope

The Pope's visit was arguably the most eagerly anticipated arrival in recent years. Pope Benedict XVI came to Britain for the first tine in 28 years. Complete with his entourage of security and his Pope mobile, he toured the UK at the expense of the taxpayer. With his visit brought major security fears and the UK was handed the bill. Put simply, the general public were paying to protect the Pope from the general public, couldn't we have just come to some sort of an agreement? The total costs were in excess of £20 million, in a recession. Yes, try not to laugh.


If we've learnt one thing from last year, it’s that to beat the recession you're going to need the help of a fury friend. The Meerkat has proved commercial gold as 2010 saw the birth of Alasandr Orlov, a meerkat from Meerkovo. For us, comedy genius that has made adverts interesting again. For, marketing genius. Simples.

4. England's 2018 World Cup bid

Hopes and dreams of hosting the World Cup in 2018 were shattered as FIFA president Sepp Blatter revealed Russia were the successful applicants. In typical British fashion we all believed we would win, when in reality we came last. We only received two votes and one of them was our own, that doesn’t even count - it's like letting yourself turn up. We played all our aces, sending over the world’s worst boyband and still lost. The reasons leave a lot to be desired, but FIFA had to give it to Russia because they've never hosted a world cup. There’s a reason they've never held a world cup and it has something to do with security, temperature and five different time zones, obviously FIFA don’t see them as a major issues.

5. Chilean Miners

39 men, one mile below the earths surface for 69 days. That's the story for the Chilean Minors that spent nearly two months, twiddling their thumbs wondering if they'll ever see daylight ever again. I say 69 I mean 68, for the other minor he was wondering how he was going to explain his mistress to his, worried sick, wife. We'll never know if he wanted to come out last but as the viewing faithful, willed him to just concede defeat and reside in the tunnel he'd spent the last two months. He emerged from the capsule, used to save him from obscurity, sporting Victoria Beckham-esque shades. There's keeping out the sun, and there's trying to keep a low profile, of which I'm sure this is the latter. But if we've learnt one thing from this series of unfortunate events it's this; cheats NEVER prosper.

6. 15% VAT

Those days are now a mere distant memory, but for those of you interested enough you'll remember VAT was slashed from 17.5% to 15%. Oh what's that, you didn't even notice. Fair enough, unfortunately that attempt to curb inflation and increase spending has now had adverse effects as frantic shoppers spent there last few days of 2010 buying everything they could, as it's now taken the inevitable hike, to 20 per cent. Thanks then.

7. General Election

It was the first time I could vote, have my say in who I'd like to lead our country and make the decisions that matter. I can't say I got my own way, far from it. But I suppose I shouldn't feel too hard done-by, did anyone? When Gordon Brown called a general election for May 2010, who'd have thought that come June we'd have, in power, for the first time in history, a coalition government. The tabloids have nicknamed them the ConDems - it's as laughable as their policies, I know. Needless to say after adopting a nation in turmoil and deep into a recession, they've not been too popular. Cuts have been paramount and the phrase 'reduce the deficit' has been rife.

8. Rise in tuition fees: Student protests

Three years as a student and I never once threw a fire extinguisher off a ten story building. There's one thing protesting and there is another thing causing chaos and destruction because you feel it is your right to cheap University fees. Well, actually it's not. University education is an investment not a government funded holiday and if you think every middle middle class family pays for their children to swan off for three years i'm afraid you're strongly mistaken. Rant aside, last years rise in tuition fees and subsequent student protests did nothing to alter the stereotypical student persona and they no doubt achieved more bad than good. On a possitve note, there will be less students and that can only help in the jobs market.

9. Big Brother

Last year saw the end of an era for one reality television show - Big Brother. Last summer saw us entertained by a wooden chest of draws and some of the finest drongos the world over but after a decade on the box, the original reality TV show left our screens in emphatic style with a fantastic final series. Sad to see it go, yes. Glad, yes but unfortunately I’m sure its absence has only made way for even more drivel, littering our television screens.

10. Royal engagement

Not really an awful lot to say about this other than Prince William finally decided he'd like to wed long term girlfriend Kate Middleton. 2011 will see the first Royal wedding for over a decade, and it will bring with it, not only an attractive Royal but also an extra day off. The 29th April will be a national bank holiday - so everybody's happy. When's Harry planning on getting married?

Monday, 3 January 2011

New year, a new blog: Where to start

By Dan Morris
Happy New Year Picture:

After celebrating the new year with family and friends and reminiscing the year gone-by the only real fact of the matter is that in all fairness nothing’s really changed from 2010, so what’s the big deal?

Well I guess for many it’s the chance to start a fresh, perhaps turn over a new leaf and begin the new year in the way you’ve always wanted. Perhaps you even made a few new year's resolutions.

For me new year is the biggest anti-climax in the history of anti-climaxes. Whether it’s the mix of pointless resolutions or the over-priced, hassle ridden partying that I find annoying, I’m not too sure, perhaps it’s both.

But for the purpose of this, let’s talk new year's resolutions, to put it bluntly I find these little ‘resolutions’ pointless. Now, I know most of you out there set up these changes, with your best intentions in mind, however we all know that only 10% of resolutions make it past January and, as with mostly everything else in society it is followed by the clich√© a few weeks or months later, of how that little ‘resolution’ became dissolution.

A recent article in the Guardian brought to my attention a study that even found that those who fail to live up to their goals become dispirited in the process and more despondent than before.

It's part of the new year ritual – an annual attempt to start afresh and turn over a new leaf. But making resolutions is a near pointless exercise, psychologists say. We break them, become dispirited in the process and finally more despondent than we were before.

I am not going to discredit those of you that actually keep the resolutions and make your new year a thoroughly good one with it. Yet, I am just slightly cynical to how many of you actually keep them.

I suppose the most annoying thing about new year's resolution, is the ritual part. I suspect most people make them because they feel they have too, with no real commitment or dedication to actually make them happen. After all should it really take the turn of the new year for one to decide it’s time for a change?

This may be a bit of a mental crutch that we all rely on more often than not, but then again I do not think we should wait for a whole year to go by before making resolutions. Action requires the present and in order to do a new action you need to do it now, not later, now. And I think in that sense we should keep that logic in mind.

In all fairness, you probably couldn’t pick a worse time to make a ‘change’ either. Say, for example, that you’ve promised to lose that bit of turkey weight picked up over Christmas. There’s nothing quite like awaking to an icy, grey, freezing cold morning to make you want to put your shorts on and run a mile.

In a nutshell, just don’t bother, not only will you inevitably break them but making resolutions is a near pointless exercise.

However, this said I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy new year and best of luck with your new year's resolutions (well, those of you with them still intact that is)