Category Archives: Articles

Bo Knows – The amazing story of Bo Jackson

In the first of a two part look at those super-humans who have succeeded at the apex of more than one sport, new contributor Ken Irons sheds some light upon the extraordinary career of Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson.

Bo Jackson

It is sometimes easy to forget that certain individuals have actually reached the very top level in more than one sport simultaneously.

One such a super- athlete was Vincent Edward ‘Bo’ Jackson, born in Alabama in 1962 as one of 11 siblings. His mother was a lone parent. He was a naturally shy kid with a tendency to stutter and this could lead to anger and subsequent confrontation with other children. Such confrontations, however, were apt to be short lived as it didn’t take long for his peers to realise that baiting him was unacceptably dangerous.

Bo soon developed a superb physique. He grew powerful shoulders, partly due to his ongoing love of bow and arrow shooting, and had a sense of timing that enabled him to throw huge weights accurately and at lightning speed. His massive legs and exceptional lungpower ensured that, when he fully matured (at 6 feet one inch and 225 pounds), he was about as fast an athlete as you were likely to encounter anywhere.

Bo Jackson 2

He went into baseball, football and track, with word of his talent rapidly spreading, and won a baseball scholarship at Auburn University from 1982.

His natural talents and sheer athleticism guaranteed that spectators always got good value for their money when watching him. It was whilst at Auburn (which was his ‘home’ college) that he was approached illegally and signed by Tampa Bay Buccaneers who wanted him to play football for them in the ‘off season’. this led to his dismissal by Auburn, an action that pleased neither party, but one that was inevitable under the circumstances.

Bo then signed with Kansas City Royals for baseball. Soon his enormous strikes and scintillating speed, coupled with a natural sense of balance, had the fans aghast.

Once, he sprinted at top speed toward the fence to take an astonishing catch over his shoulder and then, to avoid collision with the barrier, actually ran 3 or 4 steps up, and back down, the vertical structure.  This happened in one smoothly coordinated, unforgettable movement – small wonder that ESPN subsequently voted him the greatest athlete of all time, ahead of Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer et al.

Jackson’s football career commenced with L.A. Raiders. He declined further involvement with Tampa Bay, although he’d actually signed for them, feeling bitter about his enforced departure from Auburn and stating that he’d treat football as a “hobby” in the baseball off-season.

Only Bo, with his awesome qualities, could have adopted such a cavalier stance. His football skills matched his baseball skills and one could give no higher praise than that. He was, indeed, a superstar in both sports. Multimedia fame and highly rewarding advertising campaigns followed (see below.)

While playing football on 13 January, 1991, Bo was brought down from behind by a seemingly innocuous tackle which, it turned out, dislocated his hip.

Although he was optimistic about recovery at first, he subsequently underwent replacement surgery and, try as he might to recapture past glories, was never the same man again. He did play baseball with Chicago Whitesox (this, despite a false hip), but was a shell of his former self.

His legacy is well and truly preserved however. Indeed, if he had excelled in the modern era, rather than the mid-eighties to early nineties, such were his abilities that cynics would almost certainly be attributing them to the use of steroids.

Bo Jackson’s great tragedy was the cruelly shortened span of his domination.

Check back tomorrow for part two, where Ken takes a peek at a host of others who managed to excel at the zenith of more than one sport.

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!

The Distraction War

The war on drugs continues apace, with a split between those championing a further crackdown and others who think it’s all a bit of a hullabaloo, Dom Kureen gives his two cents.

Psychedelic alien
Drugs are bad Dom!


T
he sentiments were well morally virtuous but misguided on a plethora of levels, as my girlfriend caught wind of my past experiences with Ayahuasca, a psychedelic medicine first reported by 16th Century Christian missionaries from Europe, who encountered South Americans using it and described it as ‘the work of the devil.’

Renowned for its healing powers, the brew, also known under the names Yage and Daime, acts as a hallucinogenic compound of the Tryptamine family – notorious for creating insightful, enlightening states of mind.

Where my former flame showed naïvety was in stating with certainty a debunked generalisation and refusing to acknowledge alcohol, cigarettes, preservative packed fast foods or prescription medication as ‘drugs,’ a view endorsed by the majority of mainstream media and a government whose best interests are served by demonising anything that falls outside of their constitution.

In addition, to claim that all of these illegal substances are ‘bad’ expressed an innocently jaded outlook, one that had been propagated for the benefit of big pharmaceutical companies, who bring a gargantuan chunk of change into the current system.

Albert Hoffman: creator of LSD is considered the Godfather of psychedelics.
Albert Hoffman: creator of LSD is considered the Godfather of psychedelics.

 

In September, 2012, Channel Four conducted their own experiment: ‘Drugs Live:  The Ecstasy Trials.’ In which 30 people from various backgrounds and cultural dispositions were taken to a medical lab on two separate occasions – alternately ingesting a placebo pill and one containing 83mgs of pure MDMA (the subjects were kept in the dark as to which was the active drug.)

Although it was difficult to gauge the credibility of the trial, due to the controlled doses administered and prohibitive conditions, 29 of the 30 people tested (including a vicar, actor, drug counsellor and novelist) found that their overall experience was a positive one.

The sole individual who reported negatively about the experience was a former S.A.S soldier who admitted that in retrospect he had resisted what he perceived to be a forced, artificial state of consciousness as a result of his ingrained training.

Mind-set plays an intrinsic role in the value of all medication; it’s the reason why sugar pills and empty capsules have cured ailments such as headaches, anxiety and nausea in the past.

Matters of the mind also account for why alcohol, tobacco and sugar are widely regarded as ‘safe’ staples of society, despite accounting for so much illness and death.

Alcohol is at the forefront of more than 8,000 deaths per year in the UK, whilst psychedelic drugs are linked to fewer than 20 – still, a person who can quaff copious amounts of booze is often revered, while one who sporadically dabbles in hallucinogens is too freely labelled a junkie.

‘Vice’ is a website that promotes a regular ‘On Acid’ series, in which an individual swallows a tab of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and goes to an event under the influence, with a camera crew documenting the narrative that unfolds as a result of this enhanced mental state.

Although, as with the Ecstasy Trial, the forced settings are probably not conducive to getting the best from Albert Hofman’s mellow yellows, it is a brave/foolhardy form of journalism that makes for engaging viewing.

The problem with heavily regulating psychedelics and other drugs is that it inevitably results in a surfeit of street vendors, who have been known to cut their products with household cleaning agents and other toxic ingredients that are far more harmful than a properly regulated batch of the desired prescription would be.

There are also ‘legal highs.’ These usually involve self-proclaimed kitchen chemists taking an illegal drug, slightly tweaking the atomic structure and printing some fancy packaging to take it to market, often with tragic consequences – bath salts were one such drug that set off psychosis in dozens of users and were the at the root of an array of  horrific, cannibalistic scenes.

McDonald's: Legally pump out their interpretation of food.
McDonald’s: Legally pump out their interpretation of food.

Then there’s the modern strand of Desmorphine, known on the streets of Russia as ‘Krokodil’, a lethal concoction of codeine, paint thinner, gasoline, hydrochloric acid, iodine and the red phosphorous from matchbox strike pads.

A cheap alternative to heroin, the home-made substance is injected into a vein and rots flesh from human bodies due to its toxicity. There are some graphic videos regarding this on YouTube if you think you’ve got the stomach for it.

Of course ad-libbed substances like these are destructive and addictive, but their rise is largely a result of tried and tested drugs being unobtainable, unless one decides to deviate from the prohibitive laws currently in place (which you shouldn’t, obviously.)

While Kureen.co.uk certainly isn’t endorsing the easy availability of ALL drugs, it does feel that, in light of MDMA’s promising track record as a tool for therapy, it could certainly be beneficial to experiment further with it under controlled conditions.

Cannabis oil is another potential remedy that has tons of research to suggest that it could provide a legitimate cure for some forms of Cancer and all manner of other illnesses. Sadly although it is legal, anything relating to ‘weed’ is too demonised in many people’s eyes for it to be considered a feasible option when burning the illness away temporarily is still a viable alternative.

Prescription: GP's are free to dish magic pills out at their own discretion.
Prescription: GP’s are free to dish magic pills out at their own discretion.

Ketamine, Marijuana and some forms of DMT obviously have benefits far beyond what many are aware of. It is when they are abused that they become a danger, nonetheless they’re all worth trialling extensively.

When you consider the data that’s readily available, the hackneyed phrase of “drugs are bad” is fuelled by ignorant conjecture. It only accounts for communique almost entirely reliant upon half-truths. This phoney fear mongering continues to serve its purpose, to distract the spooked masses from corruption elsewhere.

The war on illegal drugs is portrayed as fundamental to the sparing of dozens of victims each year…

And the conflicts that sacrifice millions of innocent lives just happen to be easier to lose in the shuffle as a result.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Top Ten BBC3 Sitcoms of all-time (with clips)

With BBC 3 going off-air in the autumn of 2015, scores of terrible sitcoms will now likely never see the light of day. In amongst the tripe there have been some belters though, Dom Kureen shares his top ten BBC 3 sitcoms.

10. Uncle (Launch: 2014)

 

Loosely based on Man Stroke Woman’s ‘Uncle Jack’ sketches, Uncle follows the evolving relationship between a struggling musician and his until recently neglected 12 year-old nephew. A satisfying blend of dark humour and heart-warming narrative kept the first six episodes fresh, a second series has been commissioned.

 

9. The Smoking Room (Launch: 2004)

Written by Brian Dooley and starring Robert Webb, The Smoking Room won a BAFTA in 2005 and ran for two series from 2004-2005. Set in one room, the snappy repartee between characters never allowed it to drift.

 

8. How Not To Live Your Life (Launch:  2007)

Hitting screens in late 2007, How Not To Live Your Life ran for 20 episodes and focused on the futile existence of Donald “Don” Danbury (Writer and actor Dan Clark), a man stumbling through life with no clear purpose or direction.

 

7. Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps (Launch: 2001*)

Although not to everyone’s taste, Two Pints had a nine series, 80 episode lifespan that started in 2001 on BBC 2 and moved to BBC 3 a couple of years later. The Runcorn based sitcom provided a springboard for the careers of Sheridan Smith, Ralf Little and Will Mellor.

 

6. Bad Education (Launch: 2012)

Starring and written by Jack Whitehall, Bad Education centres around the often misguided teaching styles of Alfred Frufrock Wickers and his relationships with other eccentric figures at the fictional Abbey Grove School in Watford, including sketchy headmaster Shaquille “Simon” Fraser (Matthew Horne.)

 

5. Him & Her (Launch: 2010)

A sitcom about a lazy 20-something couple and their run-ins with various irritating friends and family members. Joe Wilkinson’s portrayal of Dan Wilkinson – Becky (Sarah Solemani) and Steve’s (Russell Tovey) socially awkward neighbour, is the best thing in the show.

 

4. Pulling (Launch: 2006)

The brainchild of Sharon Horgan and Dennis Kelly, Pulling was a creative success, even if the ratings were a little disappointing. The sitcom focuses on the lives of three single, female house mates and their attempts to…  erm, pull.

 

3. Gavin and Stacey (Launch: 2007)

 

Ruth Jones and James Corden hit the jackpot when they co-wrote Gavin and Stacey, a tale of a long distance relationship that brings the two lead protagonists together. Ultimately, a star-studded supporting cast outshine the colourless lead pair.

 

2. The Mighty Boosh (Launch: 2004)

After years of stage and radio shows, The Mighty Boosh finally hit the small screen in 2004, picked up by Steve Coogan’s company, ‘Baby Cow Productions’. Although sometimes panned as student-y silliness, the programme built up a decent following and created numerous vivid, memorable scenes for viewers.

 

1. Nighty Night (Launch: 2004)

 

A black comedy, Nighty Night follows the movements of narcissistic sociopath Jill Tyrell (Julia Davis) who has become obsessed with her neighbour Cathy Cole’s (Rebecca Front) husband Don (Angus Deayton.) The first series won a Banff award and Davis, who created the show as well as starring in it, received a Royal Television Society Award for her portrayal of the twisted lead.

Disagree with Kureen.co.uk’s top ten? Let us know which sitcoms you think should have been included or discarded in the comment section below.

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

11 of the most uncomfortable interviews of all time! (with videos)

Many dream of one day being able to mingle with the stars… But what about those times when it all goes horribly wrong? Dom Kureen takes a look at eleven of the most uncomfortable interviews of all time!

*WARNING: MOST VIDEOS CONTAIN STRONG LANGUAGE!

1. Michael Parkinson creeps out Meg Ryan

Parky’s usually affable nature seemed to desert him when he interviewed Meg Ryan on his show in 2006, with a patronising, banal line of inquisition replacing the usual charm.

Ryan seemed perplexed at what the veteran broadcaster was trying to achieve, later referring to him as a ‘nut’ and labelling it the most difficult interview she’d ever suffered.

2. Bill Grundy riles up the Sex Pistols

Visibly under the influence of several ethanol based beverages, English television presenter Bill Grundy could barely mask his contempt for ‘The Sex Pistols’ and their entourage during a segment for the ‘Today Show.’

Winding up the punk rockers from the get-go, the interview descended into two minutes of cuss words and provocation.

3.  ‘Dr. D’ David Schulz slaps John Stossel around the chops

Taking exception to what he felt was a disrespectful line of questioning, WWF wrestler David Schulz open hand slapped interviewer John Stossel twice, knocking him over with the force of the second blow.

Schulz later stated that the federation’s promoter, Vince McMahon, had sent him out with clear instructions to rough up the smug journalist, a claim refuted by the company.

4. Harry Redknapp ain’t no wheeler dealer!

Having witnessed his Tottenham Hotspur side lose to Wigan Athletic, Harry Redknapp was left fuming when Sky’s Rob Palmer labelled him a ‘wheeler dealer’ in the post-match interview, a reference to his transfer market acumen.

Redknapp didn’t see it that way and fired off a couple of f-bombs, before being persuaded to come back and conclude the conversation with the shaken interviewer in a more civilised manner.

5.  Crispin Glover goes loco on Letterman

Most famous for his role in ‘Back To The Future’, Crispin Glover appeared on  ‘The Letterman Show’ to promote ‘River’s Edge,’ his upcoming release.

Ludicrous scenes soon ensued, with the live audience and host not sure what to make of it all. Some speculated that the actor was tripping on a psychedelic drug of some sort… In actual fact he was promoting a character from another of his films – A fact that a miffed David Letterman hadn’t been made of aware of beforehand.

6. James Brown gurns and sings his way through CNN interview

Having been released on bail following serious spouse abuse charges, James Brown did an interview with Sonya Friedman for CNN’s ‘Sonya Live.’

Rapidly plummeting into a screeching, singing, slurred attempt to promote his upcoming tour, nobody was quite sure WHAT ‘Mr Dynamite’ had ingested pre-show, but he was clearly high on more than life.

7. The Bee Gees walk off Clive Anderson Talks Back

Taking umbrage to a couple of barbs from host Clive Anderson, eldest Bee Gee, Barry Gibb, became progressively more bothered throughout the interview.

The main bones of contention were probably Anderson insinuating that the band were ‘(s)hit makers,’ and making fun of their previous moniker, ‘Les Tosseurs’.

In one final awkward twist, Maurice was unable to detach his lapel mic’ and stood there tugging at his top long after his siblings had exited.

8.  BBC News interviews the wrong ‘Guy’

In May, 2006, ‘BBC News’ scheduled a live interview with internet guru Guy Kewney. When air time arrived however, they astonishingly called a completely different man, also named Guy, into the studio.

Guy Goma, a graduate from the Congo, had been waiting for a job interview when a BBC Executive mistook him for I.T buff Kewney, An uncomfortable few minutes unfolded live for the nation.

9. Mark Wahlberg gets sozzled on the Graham Norton Show

Hollywood A-lister and former boy band affiliate, Mark Wahlberg, appeared on the Graham Norton Show in early 2013, seemingly three sheets to the wind from the get-go.

Relatively composed at the start, he gradually became less coherent and seemed to have irritated fellow guest Sarah Silverman by the time the credits rolled.

10. Mike Tyson gets vulgar for no reason

Speaking to CNN’s Russ Salzberg prior to a fight against Francois Botha, ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson didn’t appear to be his cheery self, responding to mild inquisition with a string of profanities.

Tyson went on to win the bout without too many problems, but behind the scenes (not for the first time) things were falling apart at the seams.

11. David Blaine mesmerises Eamonn Holmes

Widely considered the world’s greatest illusionist, David Blaine appeared on GMTV for an interview with irritating tub of lard Eamonn Holmes.

What unfolded over the next several minutes was widely reported at the time to be Blaine under the influence of alcohol and severe sleep deprivation.

It later emerged that the trickster may have been messing with the media, a stunt that he’d been known to pull previously.

There are numerous other interviews that warrant honourable mentions, including Andy Kaufmann and Jerry Lawler’s (staged) appearance on the Letterman Show – let us know in the comments below some that you think we should have included!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Retro Gaming: Top 10 Super Nintendo Games

Retro gaming is big business at the moment, everything comes back into fashion as they say – so what did Dom Kureen pick as his top ten Super Nintendo games of all time? Read on to find out!

Mario Kart

Of all the consoles that I’ve had the pleasure to own or experience, my favourite remains the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (AKA SNES.)

With the advances in gaming that have taken place in the past two decades, it would be easy to scoff at the simple graphics and limited depth of the 16-bit era, viewing it as an eyesore fit only as a reference for how far games consoles have evolved since, with the current power players, the Playstation 4 and much maligned Xbox One, hammering home that point.

Still, that would be to dismiss the simple fun and focus on gameplay that defined the SNES, it was a brilliant machine that was responsible for memorable titles being released with reassuring regularity.

The return of retro has seen a boom in popularity for the machines from the Megadrive/SNES/Gameboy era, as once again those vintage devices are dusted off and given an airing as some sort of ironic fashion accessory.

With that in mind, I felt that it was only right to do a top ten of all SNES games, let us know if there are any that you think should have made the list, but weren’t included.

Please note that games such as Earthbound and the breathtaking Chrono Trigger were never released on the UK SNES and are therefore not under consideration.

10. Street Fighter II Turbo (1993)

Street Fighter 2 Turbo

With fighting games all the rage in the 1990s, the SF 2 series found its way to the forefront of the genre, despite the likes of Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct also making successful transitions from arcade to console.

The turbo edition of the game not only added an option to change the speed of combat, it also enabled the use of the four boss characters from the previous SFII game – of which M.Bison was undisputedly the most dynamic.

With slick cartoon graphics and easy-to-learn moves, this incarnation beats its sequel, Super Street Fighter II, on to the list, with the worthless additional characters adding very little to the latter. The only real competition comes from Mortal Kombat 2, but this just edges it out of the top ten.

9. International Superstar Soccer (1995)

As far as footballing games went on the Super Nintendo, most had followed a similar format, with small, pixilated graphics and muffled sound dominating games like Striker or Kick Off.

ISS changed all of that, with big bold sprites and even the occasional phrase such as ‘free-kick’, ‘throw in’ and best of all ‘gooooooooooaaaaaalllll!!!’ spouted by a wild commentator for good measure.

Easy to get to grips with and boasting international teams set up exactly as they had been in the 1994 World Cup, this added new layers to previous carts dedicated to the sport.

Perhaps best of all, the game had a scenario mode, which had matches set up at specific points, with the objective usually to overturn a difficult situation or hold on for dear life with a poor side against the likes of Holland or Brazil. One of these even has a biased referee who sent off two Italian players, so you begin your challenge with only nine men on the pitch!

Interestingly, this game was the predecessor to the more famous Pro Evolution Soccer series, which in 2013 still rivals Fifa as the must-own football game.

8. Donkey Kong Country (1994)

Donkey Kong Country - [Front]

A controversial choice, as most DK fans prefer the second part of the trilogy. For me, the incredible visuals and imagination of the original still give it the edge.

With a brilliant two-player mode, in which team-mates can tag to switch control midway through stages, this was innovative on numerous levels and reinvented a character who had for the most part been reduced to the role of a bad guy in doddery 8-bit games, something alluded to with tongue firmly in cheek during this version of the big ape’s antics.

Developers, Rage, spent 22 years designing this game and it shows. With its pre-rendered 3D graphics and three files to store progress in, DK Country was a must-own title, which helped to reinvigorate the Super Nintendo brand after sales had dipped during early to mid-1994.

7. Super Metroid (1994)

The third entry of the Metroid series, Metroid 3, better known as Super Metroid was indisputably the best of the three games.

A sideways scrolling platformer, which features run, jump and gun gameplay, players progress along their journey by adding new features and weapons as the difficulty increases, making the final embers of play a formidable prospect to overcome.

A huge challenge, with more than enough variety to keep any platform fan interested in the long term, Super Metroid is still considered one of the finest examples of what can be done with limited graphical and storage capabilities.

6. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (1995)

How do you follow a timeless classic such as Super Mario World? By revamping the setup and letting his dinosaur pal take over at the helm!

With pressure to produce a new Mario adventure after a three-year gap in Europe, Nintendo decided upon a prequel where Mario was a baby, as opposed to the plump plumber that had captivated his fans in the first four installments.

This shouldn’t work, but somehow does. The hand-drawn backdrops stand out a mile and if Yoshi is struck by an enemy there is a countdown to collect infant Mario as he drifts away and whines. This makes it a tad easier to recover from errors than the previous adventures.

5. Super Bomberman (1993)

What could be more fun than blowing up your enemies with strategically placed bombs? It’s the age-old question that most scholars eventually put forward in one guise or another. Super Bomberman finally gave SNES owners the opportunity to do exactly that, with this exciting and bold offering.

With a terrific multi-player option allowing up to four people to get involved at any one time, this is frighteningly addictive with three different modes and a captivating storyline to keep players on their toes.

The various items that can be picked up include a boot and boxing glove, which both add unpredictability to your attacks. Meanwhile, progression towards the holy grail of maximum acceleration and full compliment of bombs means that the story mode takes some time to defeat, virtually guaranteeing hundreds of hours of entertainment in the process.

4. Super Mario All-Stars (1993)

Super Mario 3

Yes, this choice might be a bit of a cheap shot with all of these games re-releases from the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but to have the first three parts of the Mario story on one cart, as well as the Lost Levels addition, was a shrewd move by Nintendo.

Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 are the standouts here, not losing any of their greatness in the conversion. The other two offerings are still above par and scrub up well.

With the graphics upgraded from the originals and the music revamped, there is no doubt that here we have a special collection, which helped to introduce newer fans of Nintendo to some of the classic games of yore, whilst gifting veterans a nostalgic journey down the railroad tracks.

3. Super Mario World (1992)

After releasing the superlative Super Mario Bros. 3 last time out, it would have been safe and easy for Nintendo to deliver something similar here, what they decided instead was to instigate a near 180 degree sea change and deliver a fresh take on things in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Bowser has once again captured the Princess and it is Mario’s job to save the day. This time his dinosaur pal Yoshi comes along for the ride, swallowing enemies and using different-coloured shells to acquire various special powers.

With over 100 ways of completing levels and tons of hidden pathways, there is little danger of getting bored until the task of completing the mighty game is complete. The only downside may be the lack of a two-player option, but that is a minor yawp in an otherwise terrific game.

2. The Legend of Zelda: A link to the past (1992)

Regularly cited as the best SNES game of all time and among the greatest ever on any console, Zelda comes within a gnat’s whisker of topping this list.

If you have enjoyed Zelda games in the past, either pre or post A Link To The Past, then the chances are that you’ll love this as well. As an adventure game Zelda is an explorative journey of discovery in which players uncover more with each phase of play.

With an original score to rival any computer game music of the time and graphics that are visually pleasing, this is clearly a game with which great care was taken. It isn’t all surface value though, as a substantial dose of carnage and vast array of bad guys to conquer ensure that this game should satiate even the fussiest fan.

1. Super Mario Kart (1993)

So we arrive at the peak of the mountain with Super Mario Kart, the most accessible, joyful and simple racing game ever created.

Where Mario Kart excels is the variety in courses, game modes and drivers. With Championship mode playable at either 50cc, 100cc or 150cc level, it offers the opportunity to gradually sharpen your skills until you are ready to face the epic struggle of courses such as Rainbow Road.

Better still, the battle mode offers a two player experience with few peers, with each driver aiming to inflict damage on their rival via shells, banana skins and magic stars, until one kart has managed the three hits required to secure victory.

With the karts all matched up fairly well (eg: big guys such as Bowser have a high top speed and can bash small ones around the course on impact, but lack acceleration and control and Toad vice-versa) there is always a new challenge awaiting as you try to master each skill set.

So there you have it. Do you agree, disagree or are you just confused by the retro scene? Let us know in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

10 Irritating Facebook Traits

Facebook has enabled people to become connected at the press of a button, but has also compromised privacy, be it from prospective employers, random folk you stumbled upon in the street or that pesky Zark Muckerberg. Dom Kureen pinpoints ten irksome traits of the social media Mecca.

Facebook logo 2

1. Adults whose profile picture is of them as a child

Chatting to people online can be awkward (do they really laugh out loud when they write ‘lol’?) To garnish that with an image of yourself as a child in a diaper adds to the weirdness, making it difficult for the other person not to feel like they’re ostensibly chatting to a child, as well as extending a misery-fuelled ode for squandered youth.

2. Couples with a joint account

Inbred Couple

Morphing into one person might be sweet ‘n’ all for ‘Darrellucy’, unfortunately though, despite most people quite liking Lucy, they think Darrell’s a bit of a twerp, and have been forced to ‘friend’ him against their will. It takes the notion of couples eventually looking like each other and expands it to mortifying extremes.

3. Facebook Fads

“Look at me, I dumped a bucket of water over my head!” For charity? No, for the glorification of your own ego, ya blaady bastard. Whether it’s posting your first FB pic or some acknowledgement of an invented day (“sister’s day, post this if you love your sister”), they develop into glorified chain letters when inevitably losing sight of the original context.

4. Ambiguous status updates

We’ve all seen the “I can’t believe this happened to me” type status, followed by a string of sympathetic, inquisitive ripostes, only for the original poster to hang on until sufficient validation is gained before they PM a bunch of well-wishers to explain that they misplaced their bottle of Pepsi Max – you know who you are!

5. The most repetitive diaries ever

Fucking bored illustration

Some people keep Facebook as a form of journal, with the daily routine plastered all over everyone’s homepage (until they inevitably get hidden by the majority.) Sharing such witty anecdotes as what they had for breakfast, the bed being warm and the dilemma of deciding which hairstyle to plump for a week on Tuesday.

6. “2015 will be my year!!!!!”

Common are those who espouse about their future brilliance, only to slump back into the previous routine after a few days of proclamations. Who are they trying to convince? In the words of a famous sports brand: Just Do It!

7. The same damn pose

Tiger Leopard

One pose fits all, with the collective authenticity of surgical experiment Nicki Minaj guest speaking against entitlement. Be it funeral, party or selfie, these people can always be relied upon to pull out an identical facial angle and expression.

8. The demise of birthday cards

Facebook Birthday Card

It was once a delight to pick up 25 birthday cards on your anniversary, glance over the words, display them for a day or two and then sling the lot in the bin, safe in the knowledge that you were still popular. Now? 50 virtually identical messages plastered onto your Facebook account by unimaginative berks.

9. Misleading video titles

Weekly World News

“You won’t believe what she does next!…” AKA: We can’t believe you’re still gullible enough to open these links, with their several attached pop-ups and hyperbole crammed preface leading to oodles of anti-climax.

10. Tailored adverts

To this day I still don’t believe that Maggie, 22, from the Isle of Wight, wants to meet me. For a start she looks an awful lot like Belinda, 23 from Gosport and Sandy, 29 from Antwerp – all of whom continuously popped up in my sidebar until my single status was removed.

Did we miss anything? Should we really be resorting to countdown lists? Let us know in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Played in Chelsea

How real is reality TV? Dom Kureen takes a look at how the lines have become blurred since Endemol brought Big Brother kicking and screaming to UK screens at the turn of the Millenium.

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‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman and a hastily assembled jury perched themselves around a table in the Big Brother  house late in the summer of 2000 (YouTube link here.)

The conniving housemate’s best laid plans and schemes had finally unravelled on day 35 of the series, when chief bloodhound (and eventual winner) Craig Phillips tracked the scent that had caused millions of viewers to jab their television screens and scream vicious curse words into thin air for more than a month.

At the time it seemed to matter, with loveable Scouser Craig the perfect foil for dastardly crater-faced villain Nick.

The sense of injustice was raw and authentic, the fact that until then those living at close quarters were unable to recognise the deviant’s mischievous antics only added to the ongoing nationwide exasperation. Tabloids stirred the pot, calling for Bateman to be deported and naming him ‘the most hated man in Britain.’

THE MOST HATED MAN IN BRITAIN!!!

Not a convicted paedophile, a rapist, a murderer, a psychotic vigilante selling Crack-Cocaine to school children – The most hated man in Britain according to the dirt sheets was a 32 year-old dimwit who’d snuck a pen and a few scraps of paper past Channel Four security.

Josie, winner of BB11, she didn't look like this in the house.
Josie, winner of BB11, she didn’t look like this in the house.

Looking at it now, Nick’s indiscretions wouldn’t even generate a ripple among the needy, ravenous whoring of his reality show contemporaries, who play to cameras like neglected toddlers seeking the recognition of strangers.

What was once a genre grounded in the factual has evolved into a scripted sermon of soap opera rhetoric, aimed at advertising products and getting Twitter trends by promoting the interaction of idiots.

Modification became a necessity, people growing weary of 24-hour feeds dominated by snoozing, mastication and mundane jibber-jabber.

Even the juicy bits were rendered irrelevant by time-delay and on the spot editing, ensuring they were reserved as flesh for the next highlight reel.

Success inevitably spawns imitation. Just as Big Brother and The Real World blazed a trail for Celebrity Love Island and I’m A Celebrity, so The Osbournes unlocked the door for the curiously watchable Hogan Knows Best and worthless What Katie Did Next, the latter of which consisted almost exclusively of the obscenely-norked Katie Price berating her humbled hubby, Peter Andre, whose subdued emasculation led to universal sympathy and an even worse spin-off.

Katie Price: Vacuous TV show bombed after initially promising ratings.
Katie Price: Vacuous TV show bombed after initially promising ratings.

It came full circle at the end of the ‘noughties’, with the rise of exclusively scripted (un)reality TV, where scenes are set up solely for the satiation of a wide-eyed audience.

This all brings us nicely to Made In Chelsea; undoubtedly entertaining in a perverse, barely credible way. A make believe universe revolving around equal parts bitching, fucking, cocktails and cock tales.

The Hello magazine of the small screen, Spencer Matthews and co. proudly parade around South West London, their tail feathers gleaming, with not a hint of tangible hardship or hair out of place within the confines of a painstakingly conceived goldfish bowl.

The appeal lies in the voyeuristic observation of the jet-set lifestyles enjoyed by a gaggle of coiffured rich kids, playing with daddy and mummy’s fortunes, heirs to corporations who share body fluids and Jacuzzis in a state of perpetual down time.

It’s fun, but reality?? The veneers that adorn the collective cast’s faces are less phoney than the narratives that play out, act by act, for the consumption of long distance rubberneckers.

Even so, SW3’s brand of entertainment is indisputably several notches above the brainless ‘Real Housewives of…’ franchise and retains a modicum of value courtesy of engaging caricatures and slick presentation.

The continued saturation of the reality genre necessitates an amplification of salacious, unfeasible concepts to provide shock value, the lifeblood of these productions for over a decade now.

A childish public school graduate scribbling names onto scrunched up A5 crescents torn from a notepad no longer gratifies the lust of devotees, numbed by years of smut, hyperbole and recurring adaptations of good Vs evil.

Hulk Hogan: A good guy in WWF, bad guy in WCW... An entertaining wally in 'Hogan Knows Best.'
Hulk Hogan: A good guy in WWF, bad guy in WCW… An entertaining wally in ‘Hogan Knows Best.’

In 2016 reality TV is a three dimensional comic book, ideal for pickling the psyche and providing aesthetically captivating colour schemes. For Gotham, Keystone and Metropolis read Chelsea, Essex and, until recently, the Jersey shore.

How much further can the envelope be nudged? Only time will tell. For the next clutch of fame-hungry wannabes and gluttonous fans nothing seems taboo.

Prepare not to be shocked… in the most shocking way possible.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

20 Worst Spin-offs Ever. Pt.2: Top 10.

Little Britain Neighbours

In the final edition of our four part look at TV spin-offs, Dom Kureen names the ten worst to ever ‘grace’ the goggle box.
*Year of broadcast and parent series in parenthesis

10. Models Inc. (1994-95 Melrose Place)

Long before Hollyoaks there was Models Inc., a tawdry soap where pretty, affluent people became entangled in barely believable shenanigans for the benefit of booze addled late night channel surfers.

9. Baywatch Nights (1995-97, Baywatch)

Take Baywatch, remove any prospect of red swimsuit clad attractive people bouncing around in super slow-mo, add some paranormal activity and you have Baywatch Nights. A terrible spin-off that removed all the fun and sexiness of the original, but increased the terrible acting in spades.

8. That 80’s Show (2002, That 70’s Show)

Lifeless characters, actors so wooden they wouldn’t look out of place in a forest, and low budget cinematography reminiscent of a poorly connected webcam; It wasn’t clear if any/all of the above was done intentionally for effect… but the resulting dump ensured a rapid cancellation for this shameless attempt at a cash in.

7. Rock and Chips (2010-11 Only Fools and Horses)

Rock & Chips was a strange affair, a 90-minute amplification of one of the running gags in “Only Fools and Horses,” that concerning Rodney’s dubious parentage. A blurred narrative contributed to an unsatisfactory hybrid of classic Trotter cheekiness and something much more melancholic and heartfelt – neither of which hit the mark.

6. Buddies (1996, Home Improvement)

Dave Chapelle and friends

13 episodes of this spin-off were recorded, with only 5 reaching television screens before it was cancelled – the reason? As lead man Dave Chapelle himself stated: “It was a bad show. It was bad. I mean when we were doing it, I could tell this was not gonna work.”

5. Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere (2004, That Peter Kay Thing)

Peter Kay and Patrick McGuinness starred in this spin-off based on the two bouncers from “That Peter Kay Thing”. Unfortunately this lacked the sparkle of previous Kay efforts, as the once hilarious rotund comic began his decade long disappearance up his own arse.

4. Time of Your Life (Party of Five)

On “Party Of Five,” Jennifer Love Hewitt played a character named Sarah. Although this show was supposed to be a spin-off about Sarah, in reality it was little more than an audition reel for Hewitt, the popular teen icon unable to compensate for a painfully slow and boring narrative.

3. Little Britain USA (2008, Little Britain)

In its infancy “Little Britain” could be described as ground breaking and down right absurd in the best possible way. The second series started slowly, but gathered momentum, but by the third messrs Walliams and Lucas had resorted to shock tactics. By the time the show made it over the pond it was little more than a caricature of the past brilliance.

2. Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-83, Happy Days)

A mere seventeen episodes of this spin-off were made. As slight as that sounds, it still served as an overdose of sub-Laverne and Shirley unfunniness; songs that would offend Mr Blobby, supporting characters who warranted regular beatings, and story lines spread so thin that the penultimate episode was forced to resort to Happy Days flashbacks in lieu of a script.

1. Joey (2004-06, Friends)

This desperate spin-off of “Friends” tried to launch Matt LeBlanc’s Joey Tribbiani into his own sitcom. All kinds of production woes (re-casting, shifting behind-the-camera personnel) followed “Joey,” but NBC committed to two full seasons of the series in the hopes it would eventually land on its feet. Sadly, despite more changes in its second year, it ended up as just another failed spin-off in the annals of TV.

Thus concludes spin-off watch. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and please remember to like and share the Kureen Facebook page!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

20 Worst TV Spin-offs ever. Pt.1 (20th-11th)

Cleveland Show

Kureen has explored the best TV spin-off shows ever during the past couple of days, now it’s time to take a gander at the bottom feeders, with a two part list of the 20 worst of all time.

*Years of broadcast and parent series in parenthesis

20. Saved By The Bell: The College Years (1993-94, Saved By The Bell)

Saved By The Bell followed the lives of half a dozen teenagers (and one principal) as they navigated their way through Bayside high school’s minefield. This follow up adapted the formula for a college setting, but the same goofy gags that had previously flourished fell flat coming from older students, with an 18 year-old  Screech (Dustin Diamond) one of the most abhorrent characters in sitcom history.

19. The Cleveland Show (2009-13, Family Guy)

With all of the entertaining characters in Family Guy to choose between for a spin-off, Seth Macfarlane opted for Cleveland Brown, the least worthwhile member of the FG ensemble. What resulted was lethargic and rarely worth a chuckle, mercifully Fox put the animated series out of its misery after four laborious seasons.

18. AfterMash (1983-84, M*A*S*H)

AfterMash wasn’t M*A*S*H, despite desperately trying to emulate it without putting forth any effort and praying for some chemistry from an excruciatingly bland cast. As the title track of the original aptly stated: “suicide is painless”, as thousands of viewers eyed up their AK-47’s and contemplated.

17. Top of The Heap (1991, Married With Children)

Check this out if you want to see a young, pre-Friends Matt Le Blanc… and then find a device to wipe any trace of the woeful rhetoric from your mind’s eye, or else take enough psychedelic drugs to lay waste to the part of your brain that threatens to store the criminally corny dialogue you’ve been subjected to.

16. The Golden Palace (1992-93, The Golden Girls)

The lifeblood of The Golden Girls was the snappy repartee between the four main pensioners, all enjoying their twilight years and each other’s company. CBS thought they would strike while the iron was still somewhat warm by bringing the remaining core cast (Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty) back with a new series and a slightly fresh situation, but the idea of them running a hotel was far fetched, and it bombed in the ratings.

15. Girl Meets World (2014-Present, Boy Meets World)

From 1993 to 2000, viewers followed the relationship of Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence-Matthews on “Boy Meets World.” More than a decade later, the couple’s daughter, Riley, is trying to navigate her ‘tween years with all of the panache and wit of a moribund tea cosy.

14. Hello Larry (1979-80,  Diff’rent Strokes)

“Hello Larry” was part of Fred Silverman’s attempt to ruin, er, resurrect NBC, a channel whose comedy had plummeted toward the ratings doldrums. Despite its abysmal badness, the show ran for two seasons simply because so many of the network’s other offerings bombed, so they had nothing better to run; a fact that beleaguered network execs cheerfully admitted to.

13. Hot Bench (2014-Present, Judge Judy)

In America the court TV show is a tried and trusted formula that has made stars of a myriad of judges. “Hot Bench” attempted to shake up the usual concept by employing a three-judge panel. Created by Judge Judy Sheindlin, the series’ main issue is that the judges crave the spotlight too freely, like attention seeking toddlers with overflowing nappies, and the cases are too puerile for viewers to invest any fucks.

12. The Tortellis (1987, Cheers)

“The Tortellis” was a spin off of “Cheers” featuring Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman)’s eccentric family, who were infrequent recurring characters.  All were hilarious in the context of the parent show, but gave the impression of fish out of water when dumped into a vehicle that lacked any concept or purpose.

11.  Three’s A Crowd (1984-85, Three’s Company)

“Three’s a Crowd” can be aptly summed up as boring, direction-less, and painfully unfunny. The producers made no attempt to create a new and exciting vehicle for John Ritter’s brilliant physical comedy, content instead to bask in the glory of the exceptional Three’s Company, all the while milking this obese cash-cow until its teats shrivelled like raisins in the Sahara.

Agree with Dom’s list? Let us know in the comment section below. The top (bottom?) ten will be published tomorrow, so keep your eyes open and share, share, share!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

20 Best TV Spin-Offs Ever – Pt.2: Top 10.

Yesterday Dom Kureen shared the first half of his TV spin-off top-20 with the world, today it’s time to find out which shows made the top ten.

*Years of broadcast and original series in parenthesis.

10. Saved By The Bell (1989-93, Good Morning Miss Bliss)

This is one case where the spin-off was far superior to the original. Wise cracking Zach Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) leads up a cast of pretty young things and uber dorks, whose antics usually come with a life lesson attached. In hindsight it looks a little cheesy, but was must see TV for any kids in the early 90’s.

9. Knowing Me, Knowing You (1994-95, On The Hour/The Day Today)

Having begun life as a character featured on BBC Radio 4’s “On The Hour”, and transferred to television with “The Day Today”, the Alan Partridge character was given his own series in  1994, with this spoof chat show. Steve Coogan masterfully portrays the hapless presenter, whose desperate attempts to curry favour with his guests inevitably backfire.

8. Happy Days (1974-84, Love, American Style)

Based in the 1950’s and 60’s, no show has spawned as many spin-offs as Happy Days, which was a spin-off itself. More than 10 years on air ended when the diminishing value of the classic sitcom struck a nadir – “The Fonz” jumping over a shark on water skis, thus coining the term ‘jumping the shark’, used in modern vernacular to describe a TV programme in decline.

7. Absolutely Fabulous (1992-2012, French and Saunders)

A sitcom brilliant in its uncensored bad behaviour and satirical humour, “Ab Fab”  featured Edina and Patsy, two hard-drinking, drug-taking, selfish middle-aged women. Their cruel humour zoning in on the hypocrisy of modern day society, much to the chagrin of Edina’s more moral and conservative daughter, Saffron.

6. CSI Miami (2002-12, CSI)

A Florida team of forensics investigators use cutting-edge scientific methods and old-fashioned police work to solve crimes. Horatio Caine (David Caruso) leads the way with understated brilliance, and as tough an act to follow as CSI was, its Miami successor was retrospectively the superior series.

5. A Different World (1987-93 The Cosby Show)

A Different World followed the student life of Denise Huxtable,  played by the gorgeous, talented Lisa Bonet, as she ditched the comfort of the Cosby bosom to attend Hillman College. Bonet lasted one season before getting knocked up by Lenny Kravitz. Her departure (and that of a young Marisa Tomei) didn’t harm the show, with four superior seasons preceding a flat finale.

4. Sesame Street (1969-present, Sam and Friends)

A long-time favourite of children and adults, Sesame Street bridges many cultural and educational gaps and has to date aired 4,378 episodes over the course of almost half a century. Big Bird leads a cast of characters teaching children numbers, colours and the alphabet. Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch and Grover are just a few of the other creatures involved in this show, set on a city street full of valuable learning opportunities.

3. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94, Star Trek)

Featuring a bigger and better USS Enterprise than its parent series, “TNG” is set 78 years after the original, in the 24th century. Instead of Captain James Kirk, a less volatile and more mature Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by ultra smooth thesp’ Patrick Stewart) heads the crew of various humans and alien creatures in their adventures in space, aka: the final frontier.

2. Frasier (1993-2004, Cheers)

While many of Cheers’ spin-offs were tacky cash ins, Frasier had the staying power and depth of cast to last for 11 years and wave adieu on its own terms. Kelsey Grammar plays radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane, whose charm and sophistication beautifully dovetail with the rest of the ensemble, most notably brother Niles, who often steals the show courtesy of the excellent David Hyde Pierce.

1. The Simpsons (1989-present, The Tracey Ullman Show)

Beginning life as a series of short sketches produced by Matt Groening based on his own family, “The Simpsons” soon extended into a 25 minute weekly cartoon of its own. Purists will argue that it peaked during seasons 4-8, and that everything after season 20 (now on no.26) has been an abomination. Forget that for a minute though, The Simpsons revolutionised the cartoon comedy genre, and richly deserves its place atop the pile.

So, there you have it – tomorrow we’ll take a look at the worst spin-offs of all time, make sure you return and feel free to leave a comment in the section below. 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.