TV Party: Part Two

On Monday, Alex took you into the world of a TV Party. Here’s how it all ended.

3. South Park Episode 20 Season 7 – ‘Oh Jeez’

I could see out the corner of my eye, just as we were about to begin watching the most recent South Park episode, the lip movements of a guest in what appeared to be the beginnings of a whispered form of defiance. I had been clear from the start – this was a TV party. The object of the evening was simply to watch TV, laugh together in front of the screen and drink some beer. Why then, with all this in mind, was Channel motioning towards the Xbox and, it seemed, encouraging Receiver to suggest we play some GTA?

Betrayal is not something I take to kindly. Who did Channel think that he was? The new emperor of TV Party? Had he misread my instructions? Had he forgotten? Was he intentionally trying to set me off? Regardless of what it was, I felt I had to make a point. TV Party was sacred, a brand new tradition that would transcend us all. Our children, in their old age, would still be gather together on a Friday night in memory of their parents to watch TV, smoke cigarettes and drink beer. It had to be established that this night was to be respected.

Once I had finished navigating my way towards kisscartoon, and set the show up, I turned to Channel, pulled from pocket a loose AAA battery and proceeded to drive it up his nose, the way a builder might slip a wall-plug into a recently drilled hole. Channel fell to the ground, writhing, shaking, squirming. I don’t remember what I was shouting, with my face by his head, but the rest of the guests sat rooted in their chairs, staring at this messy scene as it unfolded before their eyes.

I pushed Channel into the corner of the room, and left him there to think about what he had done, before turning back to the television and hitting play.

The new season of South Park has been an absolute joy to watch. The switch from stand-alone episodes to larger narrative arcs has been impeccable, and each twenty minute excerpt stands well on its own, so that even those watching for the first time can follow along with its jokes without feeling like they’ve missed out.

They have missed out, I mean, if you haven’t seen the first six then Randy’s ten second memberberry puking fit probably didn’t make much sense. But then, what am I to do? The TV Party schedule has no time to consider continutity – it is there only to guide the attendees and is created by the leader of TV Party for the benefit of his subjects.

I was a bit disappointed that my fellow guests stayed silent through most of the episode, even when that guy came over the Fort Collins wall screaming about how his wife was ‘so pissed’, before eventually being shot and falling to the ground. I had to ask Channel to quit gasping for air so noticeably from his position beneath the window, and I beat him with a copy of the Private Eye after he finally managed to dislodge the battery, sending slithering tendrils of reddened snot all over the carpet. At this point, he passed out, and if I can speak honestly, I was far happier knowing he wouldn’t be talking over the next few hours.

4. YouTube Intermission – Play Your Favourite YouTube Videos

YouTube Intermission wasn’t my suggestion. It came at the suggestion of Cathode, who felt that the night needed a change of tone, owing to the heaviness of the programming up until that point.

5. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

For Cathode and myself, this was what we had been waiting for. It was 23:30. I was about to open my final can of lager, a 1664 Kronenbourg. About a month prior, we had gathered together, along with the absent dish, to watch A New Hope. It had been everything I hoped it would be, having not seen a single Star Wars movie up until that point. I was fairly well versed in the culture. It’s impossible to get to the age of 24 and know nothing of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Their importance as cultural figures mean that you are never too far from a Star Wars reference in any popular form of entertainment. Episode IV was a visual masterpiece from start to finish and I had been waiting, patiently, for an opportunity to continue my progress through the series with Cathode.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Episode V could play on repeat, for eternity, and still blow minds and entertain. Each moment captivates and enchants, whether it be Luke’s desire to conquer the Force, or Han’s witty one-liners in his attempts to woo the Princess. Iconic scenes do not grow old. They still fill us with the same excitement they did the first time, or at least that’s what they say. Despite my lack of prior experience, I knew the ‘twist’ was coming. Did I feel cheated? Not at all. Instead, I tried to put myself in the mindset of the original viewer, the young American off to see it on the day of release. What would they have thought after the great reveal? Would they have shouted aloud, in mock anger? Would they have wept, like Skywalker? I cannot know the answers to these questions, but I can ponder.

The rest of the TV Party attendees sat watching with what I can only describe as faux-interest. I did not let them clock my realisations. I could not force anyone to like anything. All I could do was set a program, and ensure that it was stuck to, for the benefit of the evening itself. As the final five minutes approached, I saw that all, save for Cathode, were asleep. As the credits rolled, I realised, with great sorrow, that TV Party was over. We had completed what we had come together to do. To watch TV is to watch one’s own dreams reflected back at you. Why you would need to talk over this, I may never know. I feel somewhat guilty for depriving Channel of any future ability to breath easily through his nose, yet at the same time, I feel my actions were justified. TV Party is not a joke. TV Party is a way of life.

Any resemblance to real life is intentional because most of this nonsense actually happened.

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TV Party: Part One

Alex returns with an insight into a totally normal TV Party. Look out for Part Two on Wednesday.

With a final-half turn of the key, the car fell silent and the young man in the driver’s seat fell out of view, returning moments later with his rucksack in his hand and a cigarette between his lips. The car’s engine cooled, sounded like crickets in a field after dark, and he waited a few moments until the sound ceased. It was a little after six o’clock, and tonight he was hosting a TV party, just like the Black Flag song.

The impetus for the evening had been a short conversation, midweek, about the pain of having to enjoy oneself in the company of those you have few, if any, real associations with. The man’s friend, Cathode, had recently lost a great deal of money in tenuous circumstances. He claimed he owed money to various high-flying gamblers in far-corners of North-West London, but unless he was nocturnal, there was little time for Cathode to spend time with these people. The games, they said, went on for days, and those who saw the poker through emerged from the dark rooms carrying what little of themselves there was left. Cathode was always well-groomed, taking constant care to part his hair in exactly the same place each day. It was assumed his financial losses were linked to his greatest love of all: Magic the Gathering.

The young man’s name was Bulb. Bulb delivered flowers to widows from young admirers and hangers-on. He ran a business that made just enough to cover his expenses, so long as his car held itself together and he based all his meals around couscous. Bulb, like Cathode, was watching each penny he came to possess and so suggested the idea of a TV Party, where the guests brought along their own alcohol and everyone simply covered whatever else they wanted to consume. Bulb offered to put together a programme for the evening’s festivities, whilst Cathode took charge of invites. On that arctic November evening, Bulb took himself to Waitrose to buy his own beer, and in the process, got sucked into a deal offering two pizzas for a fiver.

The programme handed out to the six people in attendance was as follows:

  1. England vs. Scotland – World Cup International Qualifier
  2. Have I Got News For You – Charlie Brooker Guest Presenting
  3. South Park Season 20 Episode 7 – ‘Oh, Jeez’
  4. YouTube Intermission – Play Your Favourite YouTube Videos
  5. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 

The guests were pre-warned. There was to be no deviation from the schedule. Both Cathode and Bulb had committed to the order of the evening. Anybody unable to maintain focus would be reminded of their commitment to the night. There was to be no talking over key moments, unless absolutely necessary, like in the case of say a fire, or some kind of medical emergency that required professional assistance. What follows is an account from the personal diary of Bulb. In it, he documents each portion of the evening, how each part was received by its audience and how entertaining each episode was. Any mistakes are his own, as I’ve endeavoured to present it to you unfiltered, so as to be an honest and true narrator, as opposed to an intermediary

1. England vs. Scotland – World Cup International Qualifier

Watching England, like cuckolding, is a complex experience. At times it can be extremely enjoyable, pleasurable even, for the viewer, a fluid and fascinating watch that keeps you on edge at all times, awaiting the next big development. Yes, there is jealousy – these boys get payslips with tax deductions larger than your average yearly earnings. But you respect their ability and their prowess. You may find yourself angry – England have, at many points, taken complete advantage of their fans, the viewers, by promising so much and yet delivering so little. The whole three-way experience is an unequal one, but the viewer accepts this for what it is, so long as they receive some form of gratification.

As luck would have it, the England vs. Scotland game fell into the category of not too bad, which regular England fans will know is a pretty decent outcome for an international fixture. The build-up was, as is always the case with ITV, abysmal. Ryan Giggs seemed to have forgotten his own nationality, commenting ‘We should definitely be winning this’ when remarking about the England side. Gordon Strachan refused to be baited in pre-match questions about the strength of the England side, stating briskly that he was ‘…here to talk about the Scottish team.’ I do wonder whether the chaps who ask questions pre-match would be so cutting if there was a camera pointed at them. As it is they seem to get away with their attempts to induce drama because they know nobody can see them, and so therefore, cannot see their faces contort in all corners as they summon from the depths of their headline-grabbing souls a question that will please their pals at The S*n the next morning. ITV is shit, there’s really no two-ways about it, and I’ll never take a TV station seriously that cut for a one-minute commercial immediately after the national-anthems.

The match itself was not one for history books, and England started poorly. Luckily, Scotland were even worse and so we ended up winning 3-0. Headers seemed to be the order of the night, and we all got to see Daniel Sturridge’s big tongue. Cathode, a football refuser, commented that it would have been more exciting if while celebrating, Sturridge had pulled a stanley knife from his pocket and sheared off his taster, before lobbing it into the crowd, or perhaps alternatively into the face of a nearby defender. I did wonder about Cathode right then, whether in fact his lack of money could be some kind of mysterious front to cover a successful life as a torturer.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the match, everyone else turned up. There was Channel, Remote, Receiver and Aerial. I got a text later on in the night from Dish, apologising for his absence, on account of the fact he was stuck on a roof somewhere and couldn’t get down.

2. Have I Got News For You – Charlie Brooker Guest Presenting

In the late nineties, I would find myself kneeling by a table, covered in empty curry boxes and bottles of red wine, listening to the sound of my parents laughing at the jokes emerging from Ian Hislop’s mouth. These evenings at my uncle’s house were golden and Have I Got News for You was like the friend you invite round because you just know they bring that element of class and humour that you simply don’t have. Watching it now, very little has changed except the episodes seem far shorter and Ian Hislop’s got three new chins he gets to play with.

It’s been a rather strange week in the world, and Have I Got News for You seemed well placed to lampoon the week’s events, to try and cheer everyone up just a notch or eleven. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they ‘knocked it out the park’, but there were several moments of wonderful comedy, delivered largely by Hislop and Paul Merton (although his extended, repeated gags in relation to the Toblerone scandal grew quite tiresome) that kept the TV Party vibe alive. By this point, most of us were into our second beer and I was onto my fourth. On Friday, it takes a long time for me to feel relaxed, having spent the day in the motor, surrounded by bouquets, feeling light headed from the variety of olfactory delights in my little Polo. Beer is a wonderful settler, gradually building itself from a mild warmth to a full on straightener. In the company of the television, it works charms, giving each joke that little bit extra punch. Perhaps Have I Got News for You wasn’t that funny? Either way, we all laughed at least once a minute for half an hour, which is the intention behind a comedy panel show, right?

Check back on Wednesday for more TV Party.

The Memories of Land and Marble

If streets could speak and talk and tell,
Of all the feet that upon them fell,
Perhaps they’d tell of tents and purists
Replaced by birds, trainers and tourists,

Bemoaning that they cannot feel
A semblance of feelings real,
Where once there was an air of change,
A simple switch seems out of range.

The plastic bullets they swept away,
The handcuffed boys have done their stay,
The blood’s been washed from marbled tiles,
Replaced by fake asbestos smiles,

And all the while I look around,
Remember bodies on the mound
Remember splattered crunch of teeth,
Remember smell of cannabis leaf,
Remember hands that begged for water,
Mother cradling her daughter,
A group together now disbanded,
It seems post-truth has finally landed.

Anger is Power

Anger, is often powerful. It is internalised, rising lava. We’re all prone to our eruptions in one way or another.
Some breakdown under the weight of it all, some focus that energy, and channel it through means of their own.
Anger, at its best. Is the purest rawest emotion next to grief and potentially, love. Anger goes deep in to psychotic realms when things have finally gotten too much; you know when you punch through multiple doors, break knuckles, break everything? Those classic days eh?
Smash smash smash smash! And almost as if you had just had a horrific orgasm, you land back in reality, with damaged goods all over the place, regret running rampant in your brain, the physical pain, the exhaustion all feeding back in to that vicious cycle.
What a wild mechanism we have, a radical means to survive that is sure enough to set you in to a berserker trance. Nowadays anger is caused often by things less life threatening than another tribe attempting to trample yours. Anger is dangerous, extraordinarily so, like the nuclear bomb! But hey, from it we gained a valuable energy source. (Not so win-win but just go along with me here).
So to all you stress heads and those who fret, there must be a way to shift the balance, and we should attempt to swing the paradigm in our favour, take the bull by the horn and wrestle it into submission until we can ride it away in to our mushroom cloud sunset.

Let it be known I’m no expert on anger, I’m just an expert at being angry from time to time.
So let’s consider this, that anger is power. Anger is power, it is equally chaos(I love that word). Born in Jealousy, sadness, confusion, disorientation. You name it, it stems from something if not everything. It grows gradually, it is justified as much as a sneeze is and there is a place for it in the
universe.
It must happen, anger must be. There are many people with whom it may never fully flourish, the pure souls and the strange ones. Or those who have seen the extent of what their anger can do try in earnest to tame the beast. I am talking in a general sense here; Some become violently angry and assault people, some violently and destroy property. Some spend their life weaving the anger through racism, anarchy or general anti-social, self-destructive behaviours cultivated over years and dispensed in one way or another. To which the said person/beast has at some point justified their actions, which is natural, we have to in order to survive, to be able to cope with what we did and
how we move forward from these points.

But nonetheless, it doesn’t matter what made you angry, it just matters what you do with it.
We have to, anger is fierce and out of control. We see new angles on ourselves when really pushed forth into that desperate unknown; that little piece of us that is incredibly powerful and is snapped in to action by a host of chemical, psychological, personal and often social factors. It takes a lot out of you to get THAT mad. When you really fucking lose it. And for many I think some justification is a thin streak of gold to cling to. If it were unjustified then yes, it’s a little crazy at first. I’ve had many questionable outbursts of destructive behaviour that I am still trying to justify to myself to this day. Mounds and heaps of regret. At university I broke eight (or more) doors and other belongings all because I lost all my marbles multiple times over things I understand more now. And for me that was it, I wasn’t coping with a lot of change going happening. Life was a speedboat thundering its way down a thin canal in a beautiful ball of hellfire. It was easy to forget all those things that kept the demons at bay or expelled them.

Anger is instinctive in many ways; like the sneeze it can only be held back for so long. But we are good at doing that, we deal with our angers – most of us – with fine outlets. Sports are a number one. Numero Uno. Anger generates a mad energy, a scratch that can’t be itched, it is futile trying to reason with it.
So let us put it somewhere. This revved up motor needs a speedway to blaze across, where is your speed way?
Where is the physical scream your body yearns for?
Do you ride a bike? Gym? Run? Paint? Play video games? Where does it all go when things get too much?
It’s important to remember these outlets in your moments of blind red rage. It’s not easy to go ahead and get them off the ground, it is also extremely easy to forget that you have passions and you have places to put it.

Anger is adversity and adversity has only ever done one thing, separate the weak from the strong. A lot of people won’t have to face adversity because when confronted with illness, personal challenges or discomfort. They seek the distractions. The booze, women, men, The X Factor or a new purchase, new pill from the doctor; temporary fixes with long term consequences.
The anger is still there you know, that usual distracting crap that only takes away time from you and brings you back in to blind comfort.
In comfort we never grow, adversity is a cause for change and thus makes room for an evolution of the self, which is a terrifically difficult journey to embark on. When things start feeling particularly rough, don’t go for those easy comforts that are so accessible, don’t even consider sitting on that sofa one second longer, don’t get in to bed, don’t turn on the TV. Get up, get out and look around at all your options, and realise you have many.

If you see a storm on the horizon, and the road is long, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Get up get up get up and go and finish whatever it is you started a year ago, today.
Finish that project, START that project. Go and run until your legs can carry you no more and your eyes sting from the tears.
Go write it out, go punch a bag, count to ten and then count again and funnel all the madness in to something other than self-destruction and the destruction of all that is around you.
And then you’ll realise that anger, as recurring as it may be, is transient, a passing storm and nothing permanent. Only when you go ape shit do you truly prolong the anger, objects and memories of your warpath, the trail you blazed and all for what? Anger? Come on, we are all better than that.

When you’re out there, crunching down the great big doom and gloom in whatever way you deemed appropriate, remember those things that got you angry enough to go out and crush it all with productivity. Keep replaying those moments that drove you so insane, visualise them and blast them apart with every inch and fibre of being you have to spare.
Do it again and again and again.
No one is saying it’s a cure, no one says this will fix the problems.
But if the problem has converted itself in to anger, and anger manifests itself in ferocity and energy, then take all that energy and convert it further, you’ll be surprised with what you can do.

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