…Why France is obsessed with speedos.
Go to any pool across France and you’ll see this sign; a flat out ban on shorts. This isn’t an invitation for the general public to go for a dip in their birthday suits, to break free from the shackles of an over-conservative life and get back to nature for a brief period of their conformist, non-naked lives, no, this is a sign saying that swimming shorts and boardies are non bien dans ma piscine!
The nationwide rule basically states that the only acceptable form of swimwear in France are those which would be met with merciless ridicule and quips about smuggling various objects in this country, a request which doesn’t exactly sit well (accidental punnage) with us modesty-loving Brits.
The problem, you see, is that banana hammocks in their entirety are a terrible idea. Firstly, they look appalling. You don’t see clothing companies trying their hardest to make y-fronts look cool do you? No, because it is an impossible task. The same rule applies to Speedos, mainly because they are exactly the same thing, albeit sagging slightly less when wet than there on land counterparts. Secondly, they leave little, if anything to the imagination. Now, I’m not just referring to the thinly veiled crotch region, but also the way they seem to highlight every other flaw of the unfortunate victim’s body. The flabby bottom has no hiding place like it would in shorts, and the beer belly has no thick waistband to tuck into, they are both right there, right in the public eye, ready for judgement. Not even The Rock could make budgie-smugglers look cool, and he was the most electrifying man in entertainment.
Lastly, we have been brought up almost religiously to mock those who wear pants instead of boxers and have accidently revealed this shameful secret in P.E or some highly embarrassing playground mishap. Then all of a sudden we go on holiday and are told that we must don a highly elasticated dong holster (hilarious) or we can’t go in the water, well you, mon frère, have just lost yourself a customer. To those who bite the bullet and slip on their humiliating set of Zoggs fresh from the campsite shop, the look of shame in their eyes is that of someone who has broken their promise with God. No swim can be worth that.
Apparently the rule is enforced for hygiene reasons. The feeling is that longer shorts can often be worn for other, non-swimming activities and therefore will bring unwanted materials and dirt in to the water, whereas with Speedos, no one in their right mind would be caught dead in these anywhere other than a strict French pool so chances of contamination are definitely on the slim side. My personal theory though is that the rule is set by the uber-ripped and bronzed Gallic lifeguards to create moments of extreme awkwardness and panic in us normal folk for their entertainment. What could be better when needing a break from leching at sunbathing women and slouching on their authoritative chairs than to waggle a dismissive finger at an approaching man’s shorts and point him in the direction of the nearest ouch-pouch merchant.
So next time you’re on the continent remember this; if you want to go for a nice swim, you better make damn sure that everybody can see every last part of your body. Never mind, I heard the sea is much nicer anyway.
Music is one of the most powerful forces in modern culture. A soundtrack to life, accentuating highs and lows, elation and sorrow and providing that extra tug on the heartstrings whenever reality fails to satisfy. This knowledge of the raw power of music has been readily accepted by television; and none more so, than the creators of South Park. Yes that’s right, you might not have thought it from the opening statement, but here is the top 5 musical works by Pop Cult Assault idols; Trey Parker and Matt Stone. And just in case you were worried, of course there will be videos.
5. Baseketball – The Car Song: Everyone gets that feeling once in a while where a song comes on the radio or your mp3 player and it just perfectly sums up the feelings you have at the time. Well in this instance, the relevance of the music in Trey Parker’s car goes a little bit further than most. As well as the super-personal lyrics, the song also perfectly encapsulates that moment in all terrible films when the protagonist thinks about giving up and everything starts becoming too much and then they receive a pep talk from a wizened old man or close friend. Luckily, this protagonist had his radio on otherwise he could have missed his life affirming rallying call and the whole film would have been about forty-five minutes long!
4. South Park: The Movie – Up There: Well where to start with this one? How about that this heart wrenching ballad of loneliness and longing is sung by the devil? Or the fact that said devil is slight doppelgänger of George Michael? Or how about that the entire score for this film including such timeless classics as ‘Uncle Fucka’ and ‘Kyle’s Mom is a Big Fat Bitch’ has won numerous gongs and had been nominated for many more? In fact, if it wasn’t for Phil Collins of all people, the song ‘Blame Canada’ would have won an Oscar! For me though it is this song that stands out the most, it’s easily the most overblown (this normally constitutes greatness in my eyes) of the bunch, and the juxtaposition of Satan, and his incredibly homo-erotic dream of life above ground is just mind-blowing. You’ll think you’ve been enjoying the song though, but wait until 1:33 when Satan gets down with his bad self and takes it to the next level.
3. South Park –Somewhere, Out There: Have you ever stopped and thought to yourself: If a penis could sing, what would it sound like? I know we’ve all been stuck with this quandary but thankfully South Park yet again provide the answer. In a heartfelt duet with a runaway mouse, Mr(s) Garrison’s genetically engineered… erm…johnson opens up (gross) and showers the audience (sick) with a golden (this is too easy) voiced rendition of the ‘American Tail’ hit. Now in Disney films we’ve seen some strange duet partners, like a candlestick for example, (not really sure what happened there) but I’ve haven’t seen a penis being made to sing since that one really weird party I went to a few years back, but you don’t want to hear about that! Anyway I’m getting off topic, if you want the answer to what a penis sounds like when it sings, the answer in this instance is…slightly like Stevie Nicks.
2: South Park and Team America – Montage Song: The song so good they used it twice. I’m not sure how they do it, but Parker and Stone’s ability to completely sum up and ridicule huge sections of popular culture in a few short lines is a joy to behold, and this time their victim is the constant stream of recycled action/sport films which insist on re-using the same exhausted script over and over again and cramming it into the heads of the foolish cinema goers.
It’s got to the point where I now feel that in order to achieve anything in life like getting a new job, or learning a new language, I’m going to have to get my ass down the gym and learn some hard-hitting truths while lifting consecutively heavier weights. So here it is anyway, a toast to the hugely clichéd montage which hopefully will spell the end of the ever-present, unerring, terrible action/film script.
1: Orgazmo – Now You’re a Man: If I made a list titled greatest songs of all time, this would still be number one. From this mock-action film comes a theme tune which acknowledges the rules of tough guy film music and twists them into a hilarious blend of hyperbole, epic rock, base level humour, and pop culture satire. Also, as a little added bonus, I can’t help hearing a bit of Metallica as Trey Parker powers his way through this track. As a warning, after hearing this song, it may well be stuck in your head for the foreseeable future so remember, shouting ‘No it’s probably the titties!’ in your best James Hetfield voice, is not acceptable, unless the other person has heard the song and then they’ll just think you’re the coolest kid in town!
So that’s it, I hope you enjoy my list. I’m sure there could be quite a lot of debate around this one so any comments are welcome. Enjoy!
For some reason or other, I have found myself in a bit of a sporting mood recently. So, with inspiration taken from the hours and hours of watching people I’ve never heard of playing sports I didn’t know existed; here is my top five of unfortunately named athletes, and yes I’ll even throw in a list of all those poor souls who didn’t quite make it. Enjoy!
5. Lee Bum-Young: This ingenious hyphenated wonder could have remained hidden for years if it wasn’t for a certain penalty last night. It can be taken two ways (giggidy); some of you might choose to condemn LEE for his paedophilic double barrel moniker whereas others might adopt the ‘has off to him, he’s started early’ response with a look of sex-related respect. However you see it, you must thank Great Britain for entering a football team in this year’s Olympics, without which this gem might well have slipped through the net.
4. Phil Pfister: Dear dear, now this is an unfortunate one. A name with of the subtlety of…well fisting I guess. And just to make sure it’s stays fresh in your mind way after witnessing this guy benching cars and planes and buildings and all kinds of unimaginable stuff on World’s Strongest Man, he’s even got the alliterative first name to top it off. The only thing that can make this terribly unfortunate occurrence any worse, is when you the size of that guy’s hands. Jeez.
3. God Shammgod: Wow! How often do you think this guy goes to church? I can’t possibly imagine how this name came about but at least the crowd is left under no illusion whether this chap is a follower of the faith. This former NBA point guard must have thoroughly enjoyed his away games through the hugely god-fearing bible belt, if only the oppositions felt the same fear, he could have been a legend for more reasons than one. As it is, I’m pretty sure that the only record this blasphemous baller holds is for least shirt sales at the merchandise stands.
2. Misty Hyman: Cheers Mom and Dad. This is easily the most successful, terribly named athlete on our list having won gold in the swimming at the Sydney games in 2000. But with success comes notoriety, and that might not be completely welcome when your name sounds a totally uninviting lady garden. To be honest though with THAT surname, even the most normal of first names isn’t going to help much, somebody put a ring on her finger quick!
1. Gaylord Silly: Here he is; number one. Well, in this competition anyway. Gaylord (yes it is a real name, and we just thought Meet the Parents made it up) is a Seychellian…Seychellese…is a long distance runner from the Seychelles and legend amongst the running world, and you know it isn’t for his ability. What an absolutely brilliant name though, yes it’s less rude (and blasphemous) than the others but the combination of a completely outrageous first name which frankly borders on child abuse, and the overly mild expression of shenanigans, is, well, just downright silly. Apparently when he’s not racing he works as a tree surgeon in France, as well day-maker for anyone who happens to flicking through the ‘T’ section of the French yellow pages. All I can say is, if I was French home-owner with an unruly garden, I’d be the happiest man in the world.
So there it is, my list of unfortunate sporting names and I must admit it’s been a joy to research this one. As promised here is a list of those unlucky candidates who didn’t make the cut:
Dean Windass – Ex Premiership Footballer and nightmare to be behind in a queue
Stern John – Ex Premiership Footballer and generally angry man
Saatanan Saatana – Slovakian Ice Hockey Player and the devil incarnate
Dick Trickle – Nascar Legend and spokesman for Tena Man
Phyllis Mangina – Women’s Basketball Coach and unluckiest woman in the world
Dick Felt – Former Boston Patriots defensive backer and overly friendly team mate
Rusty Kuntz – Ex Baseball Star and unpracticed lover
Kim Yoo Suk – South Korean Pole Vaulter and big self-hater.
Well we’re nearly there; the whole nation holds their breath in anticipation for the most exciting event in Britain’s recent history. Yes the time has come, for the BBC’s montage marathon.
It started innocently enough, at the end of sporting contests to summarise the course that the tournament took and the high and lows along the way. But from these humble beginnings, the simple montage’s stature has grown to become an ever-present feature before, during and after each athletic feat.
To me it’s as if the guilty TV companies are saying that real life is no longer appealing enough for the average audience. That reality is doesn’t incorporate the excitement that the typical, reality-TV loving viewers thrive on. No, life needs to be dramatized to really get the point across, to really manufacture that sense of power and intrigue, or people might switch off!
So as we welcome the Olympic Games to London, with the BBC promising extensive coverage of every sport, athlete and queen-loving patriot exploding with national pride directly into the camera, expect to get familiar with a few of these summation traits.
Music is the key factor in making any run-of-the-mill montage into something on the scale of summer blockbuster epicness. Basically there are two options; the overblown chanting and drumming option which offers the ‘going to war’ semantic, you know, like they always do with the Welsh rugby team, or the acoustic cover of a previously famous option, you know, like they use on all those clever and heartfelt adverts where you watch someone get old in half a minute. There are a few ground rules that the editors have to follow when deciding between the two options; any rivalry or chance of violence = epic war music, individual sporting competition and lots of shots of relaxed athlete = acoustic cover. There are also the factors such as race, stature and sex; any Eastern European competitor falls into the bracket of war music as well as anyone bigger than us, whilst the majority of female athletes will get lumped into the acoustic cover category, or maybe, if they’re really lucky, the current pop song bracket, because girls love dancing and that don’t they?
If anyone can remember back to their English GCSE days then you will already be aware of our next trait. The phrase is pathetic fallacy, and it has nothing to do with erectile dysfunction. This is the montage maker’s mantra and is basically when the weather reflects the mood in a film or a book. However, in the case of montages, it can quite often be the reverse. You can often find that if there has been rain at an event (with tennis and cricket being the obvious exceptions, you can’t make a montage out of nothing , although I’m pretty sure it will be tried soon) then the mood will be set as a battle with lots of slow motion shots of bedraggled competitors and rain lashing down past a scoreboard of some kind or a symbolic piece of equipment. If the weather is sunny then everything takes on a jovial mood (despite the athlete clearly sweating their nads off) and the montage will be laden with footage of ladies in sun hats and children eating ice creams and maybe someone will have been slipped a tenner to get into a fountain somewhere, you know, to really get the message across. Even the typical British cloud, the most boring type of weather possible, gets manhandled into meaning something, usually as a sense of impending doom or loss for the home team.
So as the whole nation is plunged into a slow motion world of tears and smiles, pain and adrenaline, defeat and success, all condensed into a minute and served up with a helping of emotive music, just remember that this emotion is already there in reality, not just in this Hollywoodisation of life, created by the BBC and Sky. These feelings are being felt, in real time, in real life.
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