Archive for events

Skull bunnies, zombie Peeps and the Eggbot: Easter links

Easter! Time of chocolate, pastel-coloured items and… some religious stuff that is less related to chocolate. In honour of the occasion, have some links to demonstrate the very soul of the season.

- For your basic scary rabbit needs, I recommend Fork Party’s gallery of terrifying Easter Bunnies (complete with children caught at the exact moment their lifelong rabbit phobia took hold). I also give you this, a soft toy rabbit with a skull for a face and, most weirdly, a natty tie to complete the nightmarish look.

I would eat your face, except someone already did that to me.

- Speaking of bunnies, you know how at Easter, they give birth to chocolate eggs, in defiance of all natural laws? Little-known fact: when the eggs hatch, twin baby dragons emerge. And eat you. Probably.

- Oh, and you know how at Easter, giant rabbits hunt you down with sad yet hungry faces? True story.

- We don’t really have Peeps in the UK, which is a shame, because they make great film tableaus. If you don’t wake up in the night screaming about the Walking Peeps coming to eat your tasty chocolate brains, then… um, good for you, I guess.

- Looking for ways to decorate eggs? Meet lEGGo, light-up eggs, steampunk eggs and the Eggbot. Or just admire this collection. The Dalek is especially cool.

- And finally, the obligatory Easter-is-satanic link. Did you know human sacrifices are performed throughout the Easter Holidays? No… me neither. *hides corpses*. Still, at least it isn’t April 19th yet.


Look at their delicious dead eyes.


Only Two Months Till The World Ends Again

After last year’s excitement when Harold Camping prophesised the Rapture not once but twice - and then fell mysteriously silent, perhaps because he’d been Raptured, perhaps because he was very embarrassed, who can say? – this year’s big end-times news has been the alleged prophecy, from the ancient Mayans, that the world will end in December 2012.

In fact, there never seems to have been any such prophecy, but that’s OK, because there is another end-times contender of much more recent provenence, with very specific ideas about the way 2012 is going to unfold. Ronald Weinland, leader of the generically-titled Church of God, is very clear that “Jesus Christ is returning as King of kings on May 27th of this year”. But first there will be global religious war and economic chaos and – um, more stuff like that, I haven’t read the whole of the 250-page .pdf that goes into proper detail

I am impressed, though, by his statement early on regarding the various people who have previously predicted the world’s end: “Obviously, those who made such pronouncements were weirdos, crackpots and unsound religious zealots”. Good to know that he’s not any of those things.

Weinland is being taken seriously by some but mostly he’s regarded even by other evangelical groups as a false prophet. Not that he cares, presumably, because it’s more fun to be the only one making a prediction – you get to sound persecuted, and you get all the glory if it comes true. Well, assuming you’re one of the few people who survive the whole thing. How embarrassing would it be to prophesy the coming of Jesus and then fail to make the grade when he turns up?

So what of the timeline of events? Well, the book has this to say:

The soon-coming time of trouble and devastation is so great that God says there has never been a time like it during man’s 6,000 year period on this earth. This great physical tribulation will last for three and a half years. Then, on the very last day, the greatest destruction of all will come upon mankind – thereby ending World War III. On that day, God Himself will bring judgment, death and destruction upon this world. On this same day, Jesus Christ, the prophesied Messiah, will return with 144,000 resurrected members of the Family of God – the Kingdom of God – to reign over this earth! A new world order, with a single world government, will begin ruling on the earth.

This is interesting for at least two reasons. Firstly, what he’s describing, as he makes clear here, is the last three and a half years. So since 2008 we’ve been having a worse time of it than any period in the last 6,000 years, apparently. Worse than the Dark Ages. Worse than the Spanish Inquisition. Worse than any of these events. I’m not saying the last 3.5 years have consisted entirely of sunshine, kittens and the tinkling laughter of small children, but in terms of overall human history, calling it the greatest period of trouble and destruction ever is definitely way overstating the case.

The other interesting thing is the use of the phrase ‘new world order with a single world government’. A lot of conspiracy sites talk about the New World Order and single global government, but all the other ones are against those things. Ronald Weinland, on the other hand, is using those phrases to describe the upcoming reign of God. So either Weinland is an unwitting tool of Satan, which of course is what the false-prophet sites are basically claiming - or, intriguingly the leader of the shadowy, homocidal and arguably reptilian New World Order, as described in every other internet conspiracy site, is actually the Messiah. Which would make so terrific a plot for a novel that I think I’m going to end this blog post here and start writing it immediately. After all, I’ve only got a couple of months.


Can you have Christmas without Christ? And if not… then what?

Santa don't want you for a sunbeam.

It’s that time of year again. Church signs across the UK are proclaiming that Jesus is the Reason for the Season, and calls for a Christian Christmas are rife (because apparently Christianity, the world’s biggest religion, is in danger of being attacked into oblivion). At least this year there might be fewer references to Winterval, now that even the Daily Mail has admitted it was a fuss about nothing.

Yes: as the song almost says, Santa Christ is coming to town. He’s made his list, he’s checked it twice, and he’s quite clear who’s been naughty and nice. If you truly believe in him, you get a stocking full of satsumas, chocolate and interesting little twiddly things; everyone else gets the traditional sack of coal. (Which, given the impending fossil fuel shortage, could actually be very useful.)

So what if the Reason for the Season faction were right? What if you actually couldn’t have Christmas without Christ? After all, he’s in the title. It would be like having Hamlet without Hamlet, Madame Bovary without Madame Bovary, Waiting for Godot without… well, anyway.

And, importantly, if you’re not supposed to have Christmas without having Christ, what are the options for those who are not currently in possession of Him? Which, since actual UK church attendance on Christmas Day is outstripped by online shopping figures, may be quite a lot of the population. I can only suppose that basically, under these rules, this weekend will see the country divided.

On the one hand (a hand symbolically covered in chocolate, tinsel, and goose fat – actually, that sounds quite an unpleasant combination, just ignore me) we have the true believers celebrating the birth of their Lord, as instructed.

On the other hand, we have everyone else. Atheists, agnostics, members of non-Christian religions, slightly apathetic C of E members who don’t really believe, and so on. No celebrations for them. No tree, no turkey, no crackers, no mince pies. If any seasonal snow should fall, jump out of the way as if each snowflake were made of acid. No carols. Don’t trill so much as a snatch of Jingle Bells; God is listening, ears pricked for the sound of people singing songs whose lyrics they don’t believe in. (So be careful with pop songs too; no renditions of “Last Christmas I gave you my heart” unless you actually have the organ donation certificate.)

And no presents. In fact, to be safe, it’s probably best if you don’t give anyone anything during the day, in case it’s misconstrued as a gift. Hand your loved one a piece of toast and you could find yourself accidentally blaspheming.

I don’t think this can be what the Reason for the Season people actually want, though, because that would leave only about 10% of the country celebrating Christmas. What they want is for everyone to be Christian, so that nobody will be left out in the cold. (Although it’s unseasonably warm out. But metaphorically.)

However, it would surely be wrong to become Christian in order to be allowed to celebrate Christmas; that’s cheating. You have to be a true believer or it doesn’t count. It’s hard though, trying to will yourself into believing something you basically find unlikely, and I speak as someone who’s tried. It’s like squeezing your eyes shut in order to make yourself sleep: some things just have to happen on their own.

In fact, I think I can more easily believe in Santa than in Jesus. After all, I’ve met Santa on numerous occasions, in a wide variety of shopping centres. He has provided us with actual physical items and questioned my family on the level of its moral failings. His appearance seems to vary from occasion to occasion, but then I have friends of whom that is also true.

So if I happen to find the Messiah sitting in a red and green tent next to a M&S and handing my daughter a wrapped pack of colouring pencils, then we’ll talk. Until then, I’m just going to have to live with a potentially-blasphemous Christmas featuring family, friendship, gifts, my children’s laughing faces and the warming crunch of my brother-in-law’s excellent roast potatoes. I find that I believe very firmly in all of those.


Rapture 2: This Time It’s Fluffy

First published at the Huffington Post

Back in the spring, you may remember, a man called Harold Camping informed the world that the Rapture was going to take place on May 21st. The Rapture according to Camping would consist of one day in which all true Christians would be raised up to Heaven, and then a six-month period during which the rest of us would suffer in the ruins of a fiery Earth. (I wrote a blog post at the time called You May Experience A Burning Sensation, in which I speculated that God’s reason for the six months of fire was that he had some really big sausages to toast. Probably lost me a few brownie points in Heaven.)

Anyway, as you may also remember, the Rapture didn’t happen. But as is the way of self-styled prophets, Camping is undaunted: his website explains that Christ did come to earth on May 21st – spiritually, of course, not visibly or publically or anything, that would be silly – and the Rapture period began then. It will climax, by which I mean actually be noticeable, on October 21st with the actual carrying-people-up-to-heaven part.

So far, so good. Well, no, not good, but it’s impossible not to admire a man with such ability to bounce back from disappointment. I mean, seriously, Camping should write a self-help book. (Carry on, Camping? Camping in Heaven? The potential titles are endless.) Or if he doesn’t have time for that before Friday, he could write an inspirational song. It could be called Don’t Stop Believing In Camping.

However! Reading through his announcement, I noticed that Camping has softened quite considerably since May. The original prediction has been startlingly revised. To quote:

“We have also learned that God is still teaching that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked and will not punish the wicked beyond what is called for in Deuteronomy 25.”

Good news. Because I looked up Deuteronomy 25 and it doesn’t say anything about fire, or the world perishing, or any of that. It says the loser in a dispute can be beaten – ok, not ideal, but we’ll adjust – and it also has a few other laws which are frankly bizarre, but presumably aren’t going to come up that often. I’m thinking of this one:

“If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand.”

and this one:

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light.”

I don’t know about you, but I can probably manage to avoid those two sitations.

So basically, the prediction now is 1. All true believers will be taken to heaven (but you won’t know if you are one till it happenes) and 2. Everyone else gets to stay as they were, except for obeying a random handful of archaic rules. No problem.

There is one more thing, though. I would like to alert Mr Camping to a potential issue he may need to be aware of. Has he heard of Project Blue Beam?

Project Blue Beam – of which you have probably also not heard, unless you like the odder corners of the internet or have read my book, in which it features – is a fascinating (if you’re me) offshoot of Rapture theory. It holds that the New World Order is designing a false Rapture using special hologram-based technology. The purpose of which would be to make true Christians believe the Rapture has happened and they’ve been left behind, thus causing mass outbreaks of panic and atheism, which are of course what the New World Order likes best.

This would be such a great – if cruel – practical joke that I almost wish someone was designing it, but to the best of my knowledge they aren’t. However, that doesn’t stop these people believing it. Or these people. Or these people. Oh yes, there is a corner of the web that is forever Blue Beam.

I was going to write a paragraph that started “So, why are people so keen to believe these things?” but really, there’s no mystery at all about it. It is blindingly, face-meltingly obvious that we all want to feel that we’re being paid attention to and that we’re special. This can manifest itself in becoming an actor, in writing a blog, in getting drunk and smashing things up, or in devoting your life to the idea that a huge, powerful and secret organisation is so obsessed with breaking you that it will create elaborate and wildly expensive schemes in order to destroy your faith in yourself. In fact, that could loosely describe so many movie plots that it’s hardly surprising the idea is spilling over into real life.

Best of all, the fact that there is no evidence for it doesn’t matter at all because a) obviously a secret all-powerful group would be good at hiding its tracks, and b) it hasn’t happened yet. All in all, it’s the perfect conspiracy theory in many ways.

So: if Friday comes and you see the people around you slowly ascending into the air, don’t panic. It’s always possible they may be holograms.


Blaming the Parents

In my last post I mentioned that a multitude of culprits have been fingered for the recent riots and looting. One of the front runners now seems to be The Parents, as illusrated by the disturbing news that the mother of one of the alleged rioters is to be evicted.

Generally speaking, blaming the parents is a popular exercise whenever someone commits a crime. And there is a certain degree of logic to it – though none whatsoever to evicting the parent of someone who hasn’t even been convicted of anything yet. I mean, what? But I absolutely believe that bad parenting can damage people, and I’m sure there are plenty of youths out there whose parenting was far from ideal.

However, doesn’t parent-blaming raise more questions than it answers? Assuming that the rioters’ parents didn’t instil traditional morality in them, didn’t control them, didn’t teach them not to smash in other people’s windows and set fire to shops,  or whatever it is that they’re being blamed for not doing -  why didn’t they? Why did these parents not know how to parent in a properly authoritarian manner?

Well, sticking with the same logic, presumably the fault lies with… the parents. The parents of the parents of the rioters can’t have brought the rioters’ parents up properly. Why not? Because of their parents. By now we’re three generations back and moving fast, because where do we stop? With that guy who apparently we’re all descended from? Then why aren’t we all criminals?

I am taking this argument to its logical conclusion not because it makes any sense, but because I want to argue that blaming parents for the action of their adult children is usually an unfair thing to do. I certainly don’t want to be held totally responsible for everything my children do throughout their lives. (Especially my eldest, who is already only a hairsbreadth away from opening her own evil underground lair.) Certainly I have a responsibility to be the best parent I can manage, but I believe that most parents mostly do try to be that, to the best of their abilities and opportunities. One of the problems is that everyone’s idea of what constitutes a good parent seems to be different (too much smacking? not enough smacking? too harsh? too lenient? too controlling? too neglectful? You can’t win this one). I suspect, too, that there’s a large element of classism, and perhaps racism, operating here: often the ‘right’ kind of parents are seen as the middle-class, white ones who have the money and general privilege which helps so much when bringing up children.

I would further point out that society puts a lot of pressure on people to become parents, without really providing many tools to help them know how to do it.

And finally, as has been pointed out extensively in the Guardian and elsewhere, the fact that a lot of the rioters seem to have been young and unemployed suggests that social injustice is far more of a factor in all this than anything else. A lot of these people are squashed between lack of jobs on one hand and steadily decreasing benefits on the other like a slice of cheese in a particularly depressed sandwich. Not an excuse, but surely a factor. (Incidentally, the petition to remove benefits from this group of people may be one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever come across. Do the petitioners understand how criminality works?)

Anyway: discussions of blame are everywhere already so I won’t add to them any further. I just wanted to make the point that saying the parents are solely respnsible for the actions of their children is basically turtles all the way down.


Looting the Beanstalk

I’ve been out of the UK this week, so have been following the UK riots online. Of course, now that they seem to be dying down, this has mainly meant skimming various theories about who’s to blame for it all. Those trying to work out why this happened – as opposed to those who just want the still-twitching entrails of the rioters strung up like fairy lights across the shops they destroyed – have come up with a multitude of culprits, some rather more believable than others.

Clearly, however, there can only be one right answer to the issue of why people riot, loot and destroy, because it’s well known that explanations for complicated events are always simple, single and satisfactory. And luckily, being geographically distanced from it all, I have the necessary perspective to state categorically what this particular answer answer is. It’s Jack and the Beanstalk.

Let me come clean. I am a bad parent. This week, I read my baby daughter a story in which a young boy who has no money breaks into a stranger’s house, steals from him, and destroys access to his property when he attempts to retrieve his goods. And this boy is the hero of the story! Watching my baby’s chubby fingers lovingly trace the outline of stolen gold coins, I suddenly realised the truth. Jack and the Beanstalk is a story about looting; and it’s regularly read to children everywhere. So is Goldilocks, another story in which the protagonist commits the offence of breaking and entering. Not to mention Alice in Wonderland, who takes food and drink wherever she goes without worrying about who they might belong to, and Peter Pan, who climbs through a window with his accomplice Tinkerbell and ramsacks a child’s bedroom. And we surely don’t need to mention Robin Hood and Brer Rabbit. Children are literally learning to steal  from their mother’s knee. In this case, my knee. My evil, evil knee.

So if people are blaming Grand Theft Auto, they’re not looking far enough back. I submit that Jack and the Beanstalk and its ilk are responsible for the current state of society, and I call for all copies of these stories to be burned and our folk memories of them to be erased from our heads.

Oh wait, we can’t do that yet. Never mind.





I probably wouldn’t make a great party organiser if I did it for a living. (I have thought about it, because people do quite often tell me it’s what I should be doing for a living.) I can’t network and my tastes are not especially upmarket. What I’m good at, though, is organising events for my friends. (Which is why I get told I should be a party organiser.)

This weekend I co-organised a hat party. Not at my house, but the owners of the party house were happy to let me decorate it, and some of the ideas I had seemed worth writing down. So I’ve written a hat party guide for those interested. There are pictures and everything.

For historical reasons, the title of the party was The God Has Got His Hat On, so we rasturbated a picture of Zeus and made a fez for him to wear:


zeus with fez

The god has got his hat on! (Is he coming out to play? Who knows.)