Wednesday, 30 September 2009

His Holy Noodleness and the rise of Pastafarianism

And just when I thought this whole ‘religion’ concept couldn’t get any weirder (see 'Jediism vs Tesco' post below) this just fell into my lap…

According to The Metro, Bryan Killian, a student in North Carolina, has been suspended from school for turning up dressed as a pirate. The student claims that he is a follower of the Pastafarian religion and the pirate costume is part of his religious dress.

Pastafarians worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster (above right), believe that pirates are divine beings and the worldwide decline in the pirate population has directly contributed to global warming.

Fantastic! Where do I sign?

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Jedi Knight banned from Tesco store

Daniel Jones, the 23-year-old founder of the Church of Jediism, was ejected from a Tesco store in Bangor, North Wales, for wearing his Jedi hood while shopping for his lunch. Tesco staff believed that wearing the hood posed a security risk and therefore asked him to leave the store.

Daniel told The Sun:

‘I told them it was a requirement of my religion but they just sniggered and ordered me to leave. I walked past a Muslim lady in a veil. Surely the same rules should apply to everyone. It was discrimination. I was really upset. Nobody should be treated like that. I’ll advise worshippers to boycott Tesco if it happens again.’

Although the story raises a smile, I detect a semi-serious issue boiling under here and this has come to the fore in various discussions relating to this incident. Religious equality laws have been tightened to almost choking point these days and religious equality, by its very definition, dictates that all religions must be treated fairly and with equal respect. No matter how daft it may look and how much it makes you snigger, the chosen dress of one religious group cannot be ridiculed while another religion’s dress requirement is respected. The Church of Jediism does sound rather amusing at first, but it has 500,000 followers worldwide (!) and, as a theologian, I’ve certainly encountered a number of religions in my time that are by far much more bizarre. So who is to say which religions are legitimate and which ones are unfounded? I suspect that the whole argument boils down to the fact that most folk aren’t afraid of Jedis. On the lighter side, in response to Daniel’s complaint, a Tesco spokeswoman said:

‘Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood. If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they’ll miss lots of special offers.’

Good to see that supermarket staff have both a keen sense of humour and an in-depth knowledge of Star Wars geek-dom!

Gollum creature stoned to death in Panama

What a headline! A group of teenagers encountered this strange creature on Saturday 12th September at a lake in Cerro Azul, Panama. It (allegedly) emerged from a cave behind a waterfall and ran towards them as if to attack them. Being typically brave teenagers, they grabbed the nearest rocks that came to hand and stoned it to death ‘in order to defend themselves’ (that’s funny, UK teenagers use the same defence in order to ‘protect themselves’ from local pensioners in their own homes…). They killed it and threw it back into the lake, but clearly not before taking a set of photographs to flog to the local newspaper.


When the teenagers returned to the scene later with their parents in tow, they found the carcass washed up on the shore and picked apart by buzzards. (Wow, I thought the whole ‘circling buzzards’ scenario only happened to bad guys left in the desert to die in cowboy movies!?)


The general consensus from zoological sources is that the decomposing carcass resembles a three-toed sloth and therefore the creature may have been an unfortunate sloth that was suffering from a hair-loss condition such as alopecia. Not exactly The Creature from the Black Lagoon then. And, all things considered, a slightly embarrassing and spineless reaction there, lads…

The locals described the creature to the local Panama news as like ‘Gollum from the Lord of the Rings’ so many of the subsequent reports are taking the Gollum angle on the strange creature. Well, I guess even fantasy characters need to take a holiday sometime. Perhaps the teenagers didn’t notice the short folk with very hairy feet cowering in fear higher up on the rocks. But seriously, the whole thing sounds very, very unlikely indeed...
...Gollum looks more like an Ayia Napa guy to me…;)

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Jimmy Carr, sore nerves and the sound of one hand clapping

Last night I took a trip to the Symphony Hall in Birmingham to see Jimmy Carr on tour. It was my first ‘night out’ since my accident and thankfully my neon pink arm cast has been replaced by a Keith Lemon-esque wrist guard. No-one wants to sit near the front at a comedy gig with a huge pink flashing beacon attached to their arm that subconsciously screams ‘rip the piss out of me!!’ each time the comic glances in your general direction…

Jimmy came across as a genuinely nice guy so it was pretty difficult to be offended by him, although he gave it a damned good try (besides, my offence tolerance ceiling is pretty high…). But there was, however, one thing that embarrassed me right at the opener and made me cringe throughout the show. One hand out of action = no means by which to clap. It wasn’t until Jimmy stepped out on stage that I realised I couldn’t applaud! So I spent the entirety of the show with my hands firmly on my lap, looking as though a) I wasn’t impressed by his efforts, b) I was very offended and showing my indignation, c) I was exceptionally na├»ve and didn’t understand the jokes or d) I had fallen asleep. I was so conscious about it that during the interval I found myself flailing my largely numb arm around wildly so that the audience members nearby would notice my wrist restraint and bendy fingers when leaving for a beer at the bar or a loo break (women’s toilets, incidentally, are the worst place to visit with damaged elbow nerves!!).

Aside from developing an neurotic clapping complex, the night was very enjoyable and I hope Jimmy and my fellow audience members accept my excuse for not ‘participating in the full experience’ :D I bashed my elbow numerous times throughout the night, but what the hell - it was an excellent show and well worth the permanent nerve damage…

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The best bed-time teddy ever

Oh how how how much do I wish I had one of these cute fellas during my recent unscheduled hospital stay?!



RIKEN’s RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) robotic bear was designed to help lift patients out of wheelchairs and hospital beds. Now the medical uses of this robo-bear are very admirable and all that paff, but how handy would this cutesy contraption be on those evenings when you’ve crashed out in front of the TV watching a late night film, then woken up in the early hours of the morning and decided to sleep on the couch because you’re just too tired to make it up the stairs to bed? How great would it be to program one of these guys to carry you to bed as soon as the credits roll! Or – let’s face it – you’ve arrived home late, a little pissed, collapsed in the hallway and painfully attempting to drag your sorry ass up the stairs. RIBA greets you in the doorway, carries you up the stairs and lays you (albeit very slowly) in a nice warm bed!

I suggest a little tinkering about with the whole ‘mechanics of walking up stairs’ problem (maybe speak to the Daleks about that one) and the RIBA could be a student/alcoholic’s best friend….

(On the darker side of things, wouldn’t these just make for THE most hilarious robot army?!)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Calling in

Apologies for the long delay since my last post, but I am still in a full arm cast for the fifth week and typing with my left hand is becoming very tiresome (especially after answering all the emails starting ‘OMG what did you do??’. Hurrah for cut-and-paste, that’s all I can say…). The arm is healing nicely, but I have numbness and little movement in my four and fifth fingers which has resulted in a condition known as Ulnar claw. The doctors warn me that I might never regain full use of these fingers, which is devastating news to a Grade 8 pianist, but if I bend and stretch them regularly then it is hoped that they will recover soon. It’s still early days.

On the plus side, last week the hospital fitted me with a neon pink, fibreglass arm cast! This seemed like a fantastic choice of colour at first, but when out-and-about in public I soon realised that the pink ‘aura’ drew a great deal of attention. I looked like a Barbie police dog trainer. So, taking inspiration from cast design companies such as Casttoo and Broken Beauties, I sent my spies off to find a large size fake tattoo sleeve and now I have Japanese koi carp swimming along my arm. Cool!

But dumb accidents aside, there is so much blogging that I have missed over the last month; the final of Big Brother 10 and Derren Brown’s Lottery prediction, to name but the frivolous! Normal service will resume shortly, I promise. Now if only I can get this damn pinky to bend…