Inherited Scooby-Doo Fanaticism

August 28, 2006

My friend Simon and his family were over from Ghana.  They came back after an afternoon shopping expedition to Streatham.  Two-year-old Mya was wearing brightly-coloured Scooby-Doo sandals and was keen for me to admire them (see photo).  “Scooby-Doo!” she said and then ran off laughing.  The shoes squeaked loudly like dogs’ toys with each step.  “Uncle Mark!” she shouted as she ran, squeaking, back into the room.  For the sake of my sanity, I made a mental note not to get her excited whilst she was wearing those sandals.

Mya's Scooby-Doo sandals

I was agog at the extent of Mya’s enthusiasm, because her Australian half-brother who is seven years her senior is also a big Scooby fan.  Christmas 2004 in Ghana had seen us all watching a 24-hour Scoobathon with young William.  Then I realised that there must be a Scooby-Doo Fan gene — and Simon is obviously a carrier.

See also In Praise of Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine

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The Design Museum, London — Review

August 26, 2006

I was hoping for an education in the contribution of good design to the ease of modern living.  What I got for my £7 was what design gurus would hail as landmarks or classics – chairs not designed for humans to sit in, and an aeroplane that wasn’t even designed to fly.  The Design Museum is so up itself as to be almost inaccessible to ordinary members of the public.  Indeed, the other visitors were mostly themselves design victims – their spiky haircuts and angular black-framed glasses made them dead ringers for the two much-ridiculed luvvies of the It’s Grim Up North London cartoon in Private Eye.

It’s little wonder that James Dyson resigned as chairman of the museum’s board of trustees after a few months, saying that it had become a ‘style showcase’, when it should be ‘upholding its mission to encourage serious design of the manufactured object’.

If you’re in London and you want to see stylish contemporary design with functionality in mind, my advice is to stick to the top end of Tottenham Court Road.  You’ll find Habitat and Purves & Purves don’t charge admission, the seating’s very comfortable and they’re not full of nerds.

This article was originally developed for Britain’s Most Disappointing Tourist Attractions in the G2 section of The Guardian.


Galileo Wrong, Church Right, Admit Scientists

August 19, 2006

This week’s downgrading of Pluto from its status as a planet was only a foretaste of today’s shocking revelation that astronomers have finally admitted that the universe outside of planet Earth is actually fake.

“Copernicus and Galileo were actually well-known hoaxers,” admitted Prof. Lowell of the Institute of Historical Astronomy — the only scientist willing to talk to Mark Speed’s Wizarre Borld last night.  “Of course, when the church authorities placed him under house arrest, conspiracy theorists seized on this as proof that he was right.  It all just snowballed from there.  Scientists — and particularly astronomers — realised they were onto a good thing.  There were grants, university chairs, then Nobel Laureates.  It was greed.  We kept having to feed the public’s imagination with ever-more weird and wonderful facts.  Our theories got ever more elaborate — eventually we ended up inventing preposterous things like ‘dark matter’ to try to make our theories work.”

Galileo - bit of a joker

Galileo – ‘Bit of a joker’

In fact, the ancient theories with their over-complicated movements of the planets were correct: everything does in fact revolve around the Earth.  After the astronomers admitted their hoax, NASA came clean about the structure of the heavens.  “It’s all crystal spheres, each one inside the other,” admitted a spokesman.  “The Russians were never in any danger of hitting the innermost sphere with Sputnik in 1957 because it was in a very shallow orbit.  But we did begin to suspect something was up with the first manned missions when some of the crew reported seeing what they thought were reflections.  You have to remember that this was at the height of the Cold War and neither side could blink first, although each side knew that the other must know the truth.  The Russians were the first to send a spacecraft round the back of the Moon.  It came perilously close to breaking the sphere which the Moon is attached to — if the craft had been any larger then they might have cracked it.  Both sides then worked together to produce fake photographs of the other side of the Moon.  There’s a reason you can only ever see that one side of the Moon that faces us — it’s stuck to its own crystal sphere.”

Copernican and Galilean theories had apparently proved that the complex movements performed by the planets could best be explained by the Earth and the other planets orbiting the Sun.  Scientists now concede that each of the planets is planted on its own crystal sphere, revolving around the Earth in an erratic manner.  “The only thing the ancients got wrong were the distances,” said a NASA spokesman.  “The Moon is quarter of a million miles away, the stars are just over three million miles away and the furthest crystal sphere containing the galaxies is about five million miles from the Earth’s surface.  In order to send probes to other planets we’ve had to use hi-tech glass-cutting equipment.  It’s only a matter of time before we reach the outermost sphere.  Who knows what we’ll find lies beyond that?”

Moon landing Moon landings ‘Not fake’

NASA was keen to point out that the lunar landings by the Apollo teams were real.  “Oh, we sent them there alright,” said the spokesman.  “But the whole one-sixth gravity is bullshit.  The guys would have fallen off under the Earth’s gravity but for the centrifugal force keeping them in place.  For the sake of the nation’s morale we couldn’t reveal that the whole triumphant space programme was only a partial success, so we had to continue to pump more federal dollars into it.  It was great for this country’s technological development, and provided employment to many highly qualified scientists and engineers.”

This publication understands that the stable nature of the spheres has been a boon for telecommunications and satellite navigation.  “It’s easy,” said a spokesman from the European Space Agency.  “You just have to get a rocket up there and then stick the satellites onto the inside of the sphere.  It’s a piece of cake.”

See also: Earth ‘Not Really A Planet’, Say Scientists and Lost Moon Shot Tapes Found

‘Mistake’ as European Probe Crashes into Moon, Admit Scientists


Passengers Found On Flight — Shock

August 17, 2006

A transatlantic flight from Heathrow was diverted today in a dramatic security scare.  “Somehow some passengers were able to get on board in spite of all the security measures and queues,” said an airline spokesman.  “Shocked cabin staff followed the correct procedure and ordered the plane to turn back.  Passengers are becoming harder to outwit — buying tickets, ditching hand baggage and subjecting themselves to body searches. But we will not let these people succeed.”


Harry Potter Better Known Than Parents

August 16, 2006

According to shock research just published by Bozgy International, 87% of American children could identify the boy-wizard Harry Potter — but just 50% could correctly identify both of their parents.  “Shift work and long hours are partly to blame,” announced Prof. Paula Fibber of the Institute of Fatuous Studies, which commissioned the research.  “However, we discovered that the real problem was that the children simply found their parents uninteresting.  It wasn’t just Harry Potter who beat parents in terms of recognition.  We found that pretty much every fictional character — including Mickey Mouse, Scooby-Doo, Family Guy and the entire cast of Friends and Seinfeld — had higher recognition than parents.  This is a damning indictment of modern American parents, who fail to capture their children’s imaginations.  95% of kids correctly identified that milk came from cows, but just 32% identified that it was their parents provided basic shelter, as well as luxuries like TV.”

In a parallel survey, only 11% of Britons could correctly identify Tony Blair as Prime Minister, with 93% saying that they would prefer Harry Potter to be Premier.  “We think this may be due to that British trait of being easily embarrassed,” said Prof. Fibber.  “What rational person would admit to having Tony Blair as their leader?”


Earth ‘Not Really A Planet’ Say Scientists

August 15, 2006

The world of astronomy was thrown into turmoil yesterday as some scientists attending a conference proposed that the Earth be stripped of its classification as a planet.

“It has little in common with other planets within the solar system,” remarked one delegate.  “There are oceans of water and a stable atmosphere, making it suitable for organic life.  By contrast all the other planets in the solar system are either cold enough to freeze gases like carbon dioxide and methane, or are so hot that lead would melt on their surfaces.  All of them are quite sterile.”

“Earth is very unspectacular,” said Dr Alfred Goring of the Royal Greenwich Observatory.  “Other planets have interesting features like rings, giant red spots, spectacular volcanoes and dense, superheated atmospheres.  Classifying Earth as a planet makes astronomy seem boring and discourages young people from taking up the subject.  Even our Moon is boring — it’s in a stable orbit and always faces the same way towards Earth.  Other planets’ moons like Titan, Io and Europa are actually far more exciting than the Earth.  It’s quite embarrassing.”

In response, North Korea’s Kim Jong-il and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have offered to help retain Earth’s status as a planet.  “Our peaceful pursuit of civilian nuclear capability will guarantee that the surface of the Earth is reduced to a lifeless nuclear desert,” they said in a joint statement.  “Not only will it be as hostile to life as the other planets, but the extreme radioactivity will be a unique and exciting feature.”


Lost Moon Shot Tapes Found

August 14, 2006

NASA revealed today that it has spent five years searching for the original videos of the Apollo 11 landing in 1969, which went missing sometime in the 1970s.

The original footage was beamed down to monitoring stations on Earth and taped.  However, the only way to relay live images of the landing to the 600 million television viewers was to aim a camera at the screen showing the feed from the satellite link.  The result was the famously blurry image of Neil Armstrong taking his first tentative step onto the lunar surface.  However, the master tapes of the high quality download were sent to the office of public records and went missing when they were returned to NASA.

However, publicity from today’s revelation has resulted in the rediscovery of the tapes in a pornography shop in London’s seedy Soho district.  “We found the masters tucked away in one of our ‘speciality’ collections,” said the store’s owner, who didn’t want to be named.  “This spaced-out hippy came in talking about moon shots, and something about anus, penis and probes.  He was out of money for drugs so we did him a deal.  The images looked pretty specialist, even for the 70s — a bunch of guys bouncing around in what looked like freaked-out rubberwear — and they were only black and white.  So we just stowed them.”

Mark Speed’s Wizarre Borld secured the tapes for posterity (£20 each, or three for £50) carrying them back to the editorial offices in a plain brown wrapper.  We can exclusively reveal that the tapes didn’t just contain the masters of the Moon Shot.  Also included were tapes of a Venus probe and plans for an unmanned mission to Uranus.

Further to this exclusive revelation, we can reveal that NASA has discovered that its archives contain the master tapes of Deep Throat, Debbie Does Dallas and Behind the Green Door.  “We thought these were broadcasts from extraterrestrial civilisations that had been picked up by the monitoring stations,” said a drooling, half-blind NASA archivist.