Thursday, 17 December 2009

Inner peace? There's an app for that

Those of you with an iPhone will know that you can get an app* for pretty much anything. But did you know you can now achieve inner peace by way of your iPhone?

You didn't? That's because you probably don't get occasional emails sent to you by the Chopra Center. It seems that Deepak Chopra (he of the cheap night out) has released a stress free app to help you calm down in between Facebook updates. But the name is the only thing about it that is free. At £5.99 it's one of the more expensive iPhone apps.

Oh, you can also use your iPhone to help you with your cosmic ordering (which I just know you're all trying now). And it's not just any cosmic ordering app, it's Noel Edmonds Cosmic Ordering app. Yes, it has The Edmonds seal of approval. Compared to Deepak's offering it's a snip at just £1.19.

Personally, I prefer Boggle.

*For the uninitiated (mum, dad) an 'app' is an application, or piece of software, that you can download and install on to your phone from the iTunes App Store. There are now over 100,000 apps available for the iPhone!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

But is it art?

Saw this on the Derren Brown blog:

rotating kitchen from Zeger Reyers on Vimeo.

It struck a chord as I was reading and writing about creativity...

Monday, 7 December 2009

Talking of pillows...

In looking for the image of the guy sleeping for the previous post, I discovered a whole load of bizarre pillows you can get. For example, the happy looking lady in the picture on the right has on a wearable pillow that could mean you would never lose your pillow again, no matter where you were! Note the matching bow-tie.

A little more subtle is a pillow that has the words "Good Morning Sweetheart"
embroidered in reverse on its surface. This becomes imprinted on your face as you doze, meaning you can bid your partner good morning without having to open your eyes (or mouth).

Perhaps more disturbing are the variety of pillows that come in the shape of body
parts (don't worry, we're going to keep it clean). First up is the lap pillow, in the shape of a woman's kneeling legs. Pay no attention to the fact that the woman on whose lap you are sleeping has had her torso severed from her lower limbs. That will just give you nightmares.

For those of you who prefer to have an
arm round you while you're sleeping, there's the boyfriend's arm pillow. I suppose it doesn't have to be a boyfriend's arm. It could easily be a husband's arm, a girlfriend's arm, or a stranger's arm. Whatever gives you the most comfort. You could even think of it as a piece of material, filled with stuffing,
shaped in the form of an arm and hand, but then that would just be CREEPY, wouldn't it?

It is even possible to get severed-limb pillows for babies. The 'zaky' pillow is the shape of a pair of hands that hold the
baby as though they are being comforted by their parent's hands. The idea of this pillow is to overcome that moment when babies waken just as you take your hands away.

But, if human body parts don't float your boat, you could always go for a severed animal body part. For example,
nothing else quite says, "You're next!" as effectively as a horse's head pillow. Apart from, maybe, an actual horse's head.

But I think the winner in terms of the most bizarre/disturbing has to go to the blood spill pillow (or blood spillow, if you will). This is what might happen if someone was to take away your pillow very quickly, if your bed was made of concrete... and maybe there was spike beneath it. You get the idea.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Pillow talk

Last night I dreamt I was eating a giant marshmallow. When I woke up my pillow was gone.

When I told this joke to a class of my students once, they groaned in unison. One student at the front of the class didn’t seem to realise it was a joke. Or just didn’t get it. “So where was your pillow?” she asked.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Midlands' Ghosthunter

I watched Eggheads for the first time tonight (BBC2, 6pm). A 30-minute roller-coaster of televisual excitement. I guarantee that if you watched it tomorrow night, you'll be on the edge of your seat within the first few minutes... reaching for the remote.

As I'm sure you know, the show pits challengers against a team of 'Eggheads' who are essentially quiz champions who have won quizzes ranging from Mastermind, to Brain of Britain, to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? One is even 4-times World Quizzing Champion. We're talking quiz freaks here.

Why am I telling you this? Well, by the light of the full moon this morning, I left the house at 6.30 to get to BBC Birmingham for a 9am audition for Eggheads. No, not to be one of the Eggheads themselves (like you were thinking that...). This was as part of a team of challengers.

My friend and erstwhile Most Haunted sparring partner, Richard Felix, had been asked to put together a 'ghosthunters' team for the show. He needed five team members (plus a reserve) who could loosely be described as ghosthunters who were knowledgeable, erudite, well read, etc. So he phoned me... and asked me if I knew of anyone who fit the bill. As I couldn't think of anyone, he settled for me as a team member. Even though, to be honest, I'm not really much of a ghosthunter.

Although we'd need six team members for the show if we were chosen, we got by with four for today's audition. Richard's son, Edd, is also a ghosthunter and leads nightly ghost walks around Derby, and CJ Romer is another expert on ghosts and the paranormal. More importantly, CJ is bit of an egghead himself with an encyclopedic knowlege of the arts and humanities (i.e., the proper clever stuff). I gather one of the Eggheads is also called CJ... something Richard hoped might increase our chances of being picked for the show!

When Richard, Edd, and I arrived (CJ arrived later), we were led into a room where three other teams were waiting. One was a full team of five members, another had three of their team like us, and the other had only two members of their team. It was actually this last team that were the most interesting. It turns out they were a Take That tribute band. Or rather they were a 'fat' Take That tribute band. Yep, they were called Take Fat.

Our first task was to individually answer ten general knowledge questions in 3 minutes. These were not easy. And even the ones I thought I might have got right, I didn't. For example, "For which film did Paul Newman win a Best Actor Oscar?". The possible answers were (a) Cool Hand Luke, (b) The Color of Money, or (c) The Hustler. I was fairly confident it was Cool Hand Luke. But a quick check on Wikipedia tells me it was The Color of Money! (Apparently he was nominated for Best Actor award for the other two movies, but didn't win it.)

Even more worryingly, an hour or so later between us we couldn't even remember half of the questions we were asked! Good job there isn't a memory round. Or maybe there is and I've just forgotten...

The next part replicated (kind of) the format of the show itself. A category is chosen and the team picks one member to answer a multiple choice question on that category. If you got it right then you compete in a head to head with the other teams to win a point. We didn't do too bad in that round (i.e., we did at least as well as the others!).

The final part was a brief team interview on camera. These tapes are sent to the series producer and we were told that the decision of which teams to have on the show is based almost entirely on this footage. I guess the mock quiz rounds are to ensure we're not complete idiots (oh dear...). By this time our fourth team member, CJ, had arrived. Which is just as well as while we were waiting he was able to take the ten question general knowledge test and hopefully get right all the questions we had got wrong (and promptly forgotten). Though I think he went for Cool Hand Luke as well...

I think we did ok with the team interview. Apart from fact that I was asked who my favourite Egghead was. This was a problem as I'd never watched the show! Fortunately, I had remembered that one of the Eggheads was Judith Keppell the woman who had been the first person to win the million pounds on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? "Yes, she's my favourite!" I enthusiastically told the researcher. I also felt a bit of a fraud shouting in unison, "we're the ghosthunters from the Midlands!" Not only am I not much of a ghosthunter, I'm not from the Midlands.

Anyway, we'll see if we get chosen to be on the show itself. If you really want to know more about the Eggheads quiz programme, Wikipedia has an astonishingly detailed page, which is probably more interesting than the show itself, which you can watch on BBC iPlayer here.