Friday, July 10, 2009


Some of you may remember that just under a year ago we did a sketch discussing how chess is a bizarre board game that makes absolutely no sense when you really thinking about it. But it’s not the weirdest board game of all time, because the weirdest board game of all time is probably the only board game where the central premise is brutal, bloody murder. That game is, of course, Cluedo, or Clue if you’re American.

Nothing about Cluedo really makes any sense at all. The basis behind the game is that a man named Dr. Black has been murdered at a country mansion, and it’s up to the only six people in the house to find out which one of them did it, because heaven forbid that any of them should ring the police and get them to solve the case.

Although really, Cluedo contains some of the slyest police work ever seen. What the local police have quite smartly done is taken anyone who could’ve possibly had the chance to kill Dr. Black, locked them all away at the scene of the murder, and told them that either they work out which one of them did it, or else they’re all gonna be arrested. Clever.

Now that I think about it, the version of Cluedo that we’ve got actually does contain a police officer, by the name of Inspector Grey, but his only purpose in the game is to block everyone else, and just generally get in the way while they try to do his job. He’s basically the equivalent of a badly-placed bookcase, but even less helpful – at least a bookcase could contain the book ‘How to Catch a Murderer by Hugh Dunnit’, or something like that.

It's kind of weird how you're required to work out what the murder weapon was. I’d have thought that the easiest way to do it would be to look at the body itself – if he’s got a bullet wound in the centre of his chest, then he probably wasn’t bludgeoned to death by a candlestick.

And speaking of the murder weapons, they’re kind of odd too. I mean, I get how you’d kill someone with a revolver or a dagger, and I guess you could beat someone over the head with a candlestick or a spanner or some lead piping, but how on earth do you kill someone using a piece of rope?? The only way that I can think that you’d do that is to set up the rope as a noose, hanging from the ceiling over a stool, then politely ask your victim to stick his head through it while you kick the stool out from underneath him.

Also, why is necessary to find out where the murder took place? And why is it so difficult to do? I’d have thought that the murder would have taken place wherever the body had been found, or, if it had been moved, then to wherever the trail of blood led.
(...And You Will Know the Murder Scene by the Trail of Blood, etc.)

In fact, why do you need to work out the weapon and the location at all? If you know who the murderer is, then that’s all that should really matter, unless you’re planning on arresting the room as well.

Anyway, when you’ve got an idea about who the killer is, you have to make a "suggestion". Now, in some versions of the game that I’ve played, to make a suggestion you have to put your player and the player that you’re accusing in the room where you think the murder took place. Now, if this were real life, that’d be the worst thing that you could do!! If you think that someone you know has killed somebody else, the last place that you want to accuse them is where you think that they might have done the deed, because, if you're right, they'll simply bump you off too. What’s next, hand the murder weapon that you think they used, and they say "Why don’t you demonstrate on me the way in which you killed him?"

So after you’ve made enough suggestions, you should be able to definitively discern who the murderer is, and it’s at this point that you call the police. Of course, then comes the possibility that YOU are the killer, and you need to turn yourself in:

"Hello, Crimestoppers? I’d just like to say that I know who the perpetrator is in the Dr. Black case. ... It’s, errm, me, apparently. ... Yes, it seems that I somehow killed him with a rope in the ballroom. ... The ballroom. ... No, this is not a wind-up. ... Colonel Mustard. ... Yes, that’s my real name! ... Hello?"

Congratulations, you’ve won the game, but since you were the murderer all along, you can look forward to a lifetime in prison. Seems that everyone else has got the last laugh.

Maybe a more sensible version of Cluedo would be if everyone knew from the start whether or not they were the murderer. If you’re not, it’s your job to find out who is. If you are, it’s your job to sabotage everyone else's attempts. But that might be a bit complicated.

Anyway, this concludes the dissection of why Cluedo makes absolutely no sense. Next time: Monopoly! How can a dog own property??

Friday, May 29, 2009

Britain's Got Talent

So we're approaching the end of what's been the most highly-publicised Britain's Got Talent contest ever (the grand final is tomorrow). I've not been following this series too closely, but I read a line from an article on the CNN website a couple of days ago that really inspired me to type up a few thoughts about it all:
"There are five semi-finals..."

That makes absolutely no sense! I just can't get over that - five semi-finals? That's like when people describe themselves as “half-man, half-machine, half-time bomb!” - the maths makes me weep. The correct sentence should presumably be:

"There are five fifth-finals..."

Dodgy arithmetic aside, what little I've seen of this year's Britain's Got Talent I have kind of enjoyed. I admire the show for trying to bring variety back onto television, which is something that, aside from the Royal Variety Performance, hasn't been done proper for about twenty/thirty years. And I'm GUTTED that Darth Jackson isn't going to get the opportunity to impress the Queen, especially as I was convinced that it was going to be Burial under that mask. Who'd have thought that the synergy of 80s pop stars and the Star Wars mythos would work so well? Hopefully it'll catch on and next year we can look forward to Spandau Skywalker.

That's not to say that this season hasn't had its fair share of problems, most notably very early on when Simon Cowell hired Kelly Brook as a fourth judge. Giving a job on one of his talent shows to someone that he fancied worked with Dannii Minogue, Cheryl Cole and Kara DioGuardi, but it seems Cowell finally hit a wall when he employed Kelly Brook, largely because, as anyone who saw her in Smallville can testify, Kelly Brook doesn't have much in the way of talent (bless her).

I never had the pleasure of seeing her judge any of the regional auditions, but I would hazard a guess that the main problem was that, for every act, Kelly thought "Wow! I could never do that! They must be really talented!" and refused to buzz. Which ultimately ruined the entire point of the judging process.

I also kind of like how Britain's Got Talent occasionally insists on going under the acronym "BGT", because, in my mind, I always read it as "Bisexual Gay Transgender". All they need to do now is rename their unedited episodes "Britain's Got Talent... Live!" then go by the nickname BGTL and they'll have the complete set.

However, there's something about Bisexual Gay Transgender that I just can't get on board with. Maybe it's those demeaning buzzer sounds that echo every time Simon Cowell's sick of seeing a contortionist bend his way through a toilet seat; maybe it's the baying crowd that unsympathetically chants "Off!" whenever a singer misses a high note; maybe it's the slightly arrogant nature of the show's title (personally, I think it would be greatly improved with a question mark and some italics, e.g. "Britain's Got Talent?").

Or maybe it's because BGT's committed the cardinal sin of making me like Piers Morgan.
Because, as it turns out, he's all right really.

Incidentally, I'm putting together my own reality TV show, where people called Brian display their various talents to a studio audience in order to compete for an opportunity to perform in front of the royal family. Any ideas for what I could call it?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Swine flu

Like "G20 summit," "Quantitative easing" and "Susan Boyle", "swine flu" looks set to become one of the buzz phrases of 2009. They say that it's a variant strand of bird flu, but I'll believe that when pigs fly*. Everyone's up in arms about it, with predictions that, I dunno, 10% of all humanity will be wiped out by the simple act of sow catching a cold.

Personally, I'm trying not to let it bother me. There's nothing that we can really do about it as individuals anyway, aside from making sure that we now sneeze into handkerchiefs rather than the faces of strangers. Besides, this is pretty much exactly what happened with bird flu, and SARS before that, and anthrax before that (kind of), and foot-and-mouth before that, and CJD before that. Predicting the dissolution of mankind seems to hold something of a morbid fascination for a large proportion of people, and it extends beyond just killer diseases.

Meteorite? Tidal waves? Tornadoes? That volcano in Yellowstone National Park is well overdue for an eruption... Obviously, nobody really can be sure of how humanity is going to be wiped out, but, from what I can discern, the popular theory is that one world leader is going to make some disparaging remark about some other world leader's mother, and that's going to result in us all blowing each other up.

I'm holding the belief that none of the above hypotheses will turn out to be true. My theory is that all men in the Western world will each render themselves sterile from radiation after years of keeping their mobile phones in their trouser pockets, then we'll all be dead in a single generation.

But, hey, if we are going to slowly wiped out by swine flu, at least we can look forward to a new track from M.I.A., and some potentially very funny public service announcements:

(Obviously, my heart goes out to anyone who has been affected by swine flu, and I don't mean to seem like I'm belittling the situation.)

Everyone's been making this joke.


Friday, April 17, 2009

An obligatory first post

Hey there, you've found the charlyandjosh blog, you are clearly somebody great.

Usually we make videos, but we've hit upon the novel and oh-so-original idea of starting a blog too, for no reason other than our preference for typing rants into keyboard rather than speaking them into a camera. So if we have a great idea for a video and don't have the time/feel confident enough talk to a camcorder about it, we'll probably just type it up in here. In other words, don't expect this journal to be updated with any kind of consistency.
That said, we may well eventually get round to creating some videos out of these posts (i.e. vlogs des blogs) at some point, if we like an idea sufficiently enough. Or maybe we'll abandon the whole "blog" plan two weeks after declaring it a good idea. Honestly, this whole scheme could go in any direction.

Anyway, I hope you're having a great day, whoever you are.