Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Why Is A Metrosexual?

It’s a question I’ve given thought to for as long as people have tried to convince me that pink is indeed my colour. Contrary to common clich├ęs my disregard isn’t a matter of discomfort with my sexuality. My Oyster card simply doesn’t cover the bandwagon.

A broad misconception of the metrosexual is that he is the grey area between the hetero and homosexual male; I find this reasoning unfounded. I am also indifferent to ideas that are heavily anchored by the metrosexual’s fashion sense. Are we so quick to forget the skinny jeans and tight T-Shirts of Grease’s T-Birds, and Danny’s compulsion to ensure his hair was always kept in righteous order? Replace the leather jacket with a cardigan (which Danny eventually did) and we have today’s man.

So why then is a metrosexual? Well it’s more to do with social evolution than androgyny. And knowing how narrow minded we men can be, would it be so far fetched to pitch that this wave of image consciousness and liberal mind states is all a bid to improve our chances of getting laid? To swipe a term from Neil Strauss’ No. 1 bestseller The Game (the autobiography of a pick up artist), it appears that the metro is on a twenty-four hour peacocking binge.

“PEACOCK-verb; ‘to dress in loud clothing or with flashy accoutrements in order to get attention from women…”

The metro’s uniform is of importance and I do not wish to downplay this aspect. Their brash splashes of pastels and flashy accoutrements are arguably as noteworthy to their identity as black apparel is to Goths. The fashion codes may allow you to point out stereotypes and sub-cultures, but it doesn’t provide a clear indication of what they’re all about.

You see, this most certainly is a man’s world, but it wouldn’t be nothing without a woman. The further we drift from the creation of fire, the wheel, and the brilliance of sliced bread, the more this becomes undeniable. The liberal perception of the metrosexual stems from his acceptance of female independence in the Western world. A man’s car no longer holds defining value as it’s now more likely a woman will have her own. If a fight breaks out she’ll have her earrings off and hair tied back before a punch is landed. And what can he buy her that she can’t get herself . . . in the correct size with matching accessories?

It was once our differences that drew men and women together. As these differences have gradually dissolved men have sought alternative and less primitive methods of snaring their prey. Metrosexuality in this case is an expression of the similarities between men and women, simultaneously associating itself with stereotypes of homosexuality. After all, if you can’t beat them join them.

All is not lost for the macho, macho man. You’d lose a fair bit of money betting against a woman’s yearn for a man in uniform, hard hats, or Diet Coke breaks. The metro’s cutting edge is that he picks and chooses from the general consensus of what women want. He can keep the muscles and drop the dirty nails; the Timberland’s are traded in for plimsolls.

Modern men, regardless the colours of our shirts are dropping chauvinistic tendencies for more open-minded principles. And no one is waving the flag with more vigor than the metrosexual.

A to the . . .

Monday, 14 July 2008

24 – Not Jack Bower

On the 31st of July 2008 I’ll be stepping (more likely sleeping) into my mid-twenties. People older than me might yell, “Oh, I wish I was twenty-four again.” - because of hearing difficulties. And people younger may send me text message which reads, “oh I cnt w8 2 b 24” . . . even though they are standing right next to me. I on the other hand will just be glad not to be twenty-three anymore; I really don’t like the number in terms of age. There’s nothing about 23 screams milestone*, and I’m in need of milestones at this stage of my life.

In recognition of one of my most recognisable feats to date (turning 24 and hitting my mid-twenties) I’ll be setting up a one-year blogging project that will kick off from July 31st. I know it may seem greedy of me to want two blogs, but there really is enough room in this town for more of me (I mean us, for more of us).

The New Blog Site

The objective of the new site is to document my life through quotes from other people. By capturing interesting quotes from friends, family, news and entertainment etc. I plan to open up readers to my personality, points of view and activities in a more personal way than A Darker Shade Of Black. What is more, I aim to exhibit how other people’s involvement in my life affects the aforementioned.

I’m wrestling between ideas of writing styles to apply; for me blogging has always been an exercise in creative writing and self-expression. A standard ‘dear diary’ approach may be too unadventurous, whereas applying myself to the blog as the third person and using novel techniques may distance readers from the reality of the project. Consistency is key to this project, as it will run across a limited time and I don’t want to find my niche after six months of guess work. Positive changes will of course be embraced with open arms, but more so if a strong foundation is laid to work on.

What To Call The New Site?

Here is a shortlist of suitable names for the new site:

24 – Not Jack Bower

Loads of people love 24, and may be cajoled into reading with hopes that there will be references to the show . . . which there wont be, hence the Not Jack Bower bit.

Chapter 24

Insinuates a novel-like quality while informing them that they haven’t started reading from the beginning.

The 24th

Simple, quick and informative once you begin reading the posts.

My Life, Your Voice


With less than a month to go there isn’t time for me to thoroughly plan the project. Kinks must be ironed out and the site must be set up in good time for its official launch. My one man PR team will spread the word and alert the blog sphere of the next piece of meat to be slapped on to the BBQ.

We’ll see how it goes. A Darker Shade Of Black will remain active; hopefully the two blogs can interlink and feed off of each other generating more appeal. Overall I hope it’s fun, enthralling and read worthy.

A to the . . .

*Other ages I’ve found to not have that milestone feel include:

9, 12, 14, 19, 22 and 23

Monday, 30 June 2008

James Presents: Is Time Travel Possible?

I am here today, to answer one question and one question only. It is THE question. The ultimate question. The question that man has asked ever since he first saw ‘Back to the Future’… Is it possible to travel in time?

Now… finally, after years of research, study, and pissing about getting stoned. I can reveal an answer! An answer, to the question of all questions…

And that answer…. Is yes.

It IS possible to travel in time! Or something to that effect.

The only trouble is it’s not the precise image that Time Travel conjures up… Less 80’s image of futuristic metals… Deloreans and phone boxes… and more sitting on the sofa in your pants on a Sunday Afternoon watching Thursday night’s Big Brother.

“It’s Time Travel for the masses!” – Michael Parkinson – On that Sky ad

Even Parky says Time Travel’s possible. (with the aid of Sky+) –
Imagine it… at some point in the past, if you wanted to watch The Bill, you had to be in whilst The Bill was on! How wank is that?! I don’t have time to take note of both WHEN The Bill’s on, AND to make sure I’m at home DURING. Cheeky bastards. – Mind you… who actually wants to watch The Bill?

Now… I’ve thought about this, and if I had the superpower to travel through time. One of the MAIN ways that I would abuse my power (and there would be many ways) would be to pause the TV whilst I went for a piss. You don’t expect me to believe Hiro Nakamura misses the football like a chump just so he can get a beer when he wants a beer? Of course he doesn’t. Even Superman had to fly around the world 200 times just to go back a few seconds!

I hear what you’re saying though… you’re saying:

‘O.K. You’re absolutely right. It IS possible to go BACK in time… but you said Time TRAVEL is possible. How the cock do you intend to go forward?’

And that’s a good question. If I had the superpower to control time, I’d throw myself forward too. In truth, it’s really very simple and anyone can do it…

All you have to do is think about how far forward you want to go, and therefore how you want to ‘connect’ with yourself in a way that you know you (future you) will understand. There are loads of different ways you can choose to do it. My personal favourite method of time travel surprisingly, is not a spaceship, a toaster, or a flux capacitor… but e-mail.

I have crucial information that Future Me needs to know about. Future Me obviously DID know about it, because Future Me used to be Present Me who has only recently become privy to said information. However both Future Me, and Present Me are human and therefore forget things. Neither of us can be expected to remember EVERYTHING we know. Especially if the particular piece of information is rendered completely and utterly irrelevant until the time at which it needs to be called upon. Why bother then, even attempting to remember information that is completely useless to you? It’s just clogging up valuable brainspace that could be used for a sudoku. Or if you’ve got friends, to have an intelligent conversation with them.

How much easier would it be if I could simply travel forward in time, find Future Me, ask him how it’s going… how’re the kids?

“Oh really, little Timmy got an A on his Science Project? Brilliant. Oh by the way… actually the reason I came by… You remember a few months ago you got an invitation to Jake and Courtney’s wedding? …”

“Hmm? Yeah I think she’s gotten a bit fat actually. Oh she’s lost it now? Well… good for her.”

“Anyway, I just wanted to remind you it’s this weekend. Just making sure you didn’t have any plans.”

“Yeah yeah, no problem. I’ll probably remind you again just before hand. Make sure you don’t forget.”

How much easier would life be!? No more forgotten anniversaries. No more work trip/child’s Christmas play schedule cock-ups! And all it takes is for you to do a bit of time travel. You can even wear goggles and a silly hat if you like. Or a stupidly long 8ft multicoloured woolly scarf.

Send an email to yourself with the desired information you wish not to be forgotten… Don’t open it… and every time you open your emails, you’ll be reminded of the information. Leaving you free to get on with your life. You can even put the date that you want to travel forward to in as the subject. So you know you will open it when it is required.

How good is that?! Time Travel!

Admittedly, I could just keep quiet about it, and keep this gold for myself. I could probably turn myself into a superhero or something. But then, what kind of superhero would I be if kept something this good away from the people. The very people I have sworn to protect.

This is truly the stuff of science fiction. It’s becoming reality. And I am the person to bring it to everyone! Suck on that ‘Tomorrow’s World’!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

eBaylise It

Never in my wildest dreams could I conjure up such a term as ‘eBaylise it’; full credit for that one goes to my father. This witty, yet simplistic term has spread like wildfire (in my house). It’s in reference to putting something up for sale on eBay . . . get it?

The internet is filled with unlimited resources for time wasting, so it’s great that there’s a service out there that allows you to make positive use of your juiced up PC, high speed internet connection, surround sound speakers and colour rich widescreen monitor . . . apart than downloading porn of course.

Several years too late yours truly has jumped onto the eBay bandwagon, and now I’m rummaging through nooks and crannies for ‘trash’ that someone else may view as ‘treasure’ . . . I don’t have as much trash as I previously thought so I had a poke through the neighbour’s trash . . . they didn’t like that at all and I now have to leave my house through the back garden.

My toughest challenge since joining the eBay crowd and further increasing my status on the opinion polls has been finding things to sell. This has proven itself to be more difficult than previously imagined. You see on one hand I can now say with confidence that I don’t hold on to trash I don’t need (ask my ex-girlfriends) . . . but on the other less appealing hand I’ve now opened a shop which stocks one Norton 360 antivirus package and a suit jacket which doesn’t come with the matching trousers . . . even the window shoppers are disappointed.

…a dismal store at best. I now wish I had held on to a few of those exs (ooh cheap shot).

How Does One Acquire eBay Stock?

It’s pretty cool that there are ‘entrepreneurs’ out there who make a living out of eBay. But why do they have so many possessions that they don’t want, and where are they getting all of their stock from? Surely no one gets that many bad presents on their birthday or Christmas? . . . and aren’t these gifts supposed to be re-wrapped and given to someone else who wont like them?

My short stint with eBay so far has also disproved the myth that we all have valuables we don’t need just lying around the house. I’m not expecting to lift a corner of my mattress and find a coin collection worth in excess of 1.3 million pounds, or a pocket watch that was used by Winston Churchill. And I’m quite dubious that a bidding war will be sparked by my unearthed odd socks . . . I’m quite happy to have found these and will not be putting them up for auction.

In spite of eBay’s potential to entertain and consume my spare time I can’t see myself receiving enough unwanted gifts, finding buried treasure or spending money at retail outlets to sell purchased goods at a profit. I could see myself sticking up a few high street stores though. Kids go crazy for iPods and ladies do love their handbags and shoes!

A to the . . .

P.S. The Norton 360 antivirus software sold sold for £17.50 plus £3.50 p&p

Thursday, 8 May 2008

One For £5 or Three For £10

Apparently watching pirate DVDs is the equivalent of breaking into someone’s home and stealing their television . . . or strolling into a DVD store and helping yourself to a five finger discount . . . worse still, the anti-pirate DVD campaigns imply that if you watch pirate DVDs you might as well be snatching handbags from old ladies. And if that wasn’t enough we’re even faced with an FBI warning informing us that watching, buying or selling pirate DVDs is a ‘serious’ crime and we could face a fine or imprisonment if caught…

…yet oddly enough no one is shaking in their slippers.

Surely it’s counter productive that the anti-pirate message is delivered across licensed DVDs, presumably to an audience that are in all probability too scared to purchase a pirate DVD from their ‘local dealer’. I’m also guessing these ads are only affective in the sense that they may keep contributing members of the entertainment industry on the straight and narrow.

I do not wish to sway decisions and drag people down with me, but there are several reasons to purchase a pirate DVD, and even more reasons to download them yourself.

Trading Places
Pirated DVD’s are of course cheaper than store purchases, and in most instances a pirate DVD is cheaper than a cinema ticket. If you pay less than £5 to watch a movie in London don’t expect much at all, in fact, don’t even expect to see the movie you paid for.

This price war has forced entertainment stores to drastically cut the prices of both new and old DVDs. You can actually purchase licensed DVD’s for less that £5 in most of the large stores and online… but these are usually old films that went straight to DVD . . . and then straight to the stockroom. That ‘Classic’ sticker isn’t fooling anyone.

Be Kind Rewind
Take your pick; the bootleggers are just as technically savvy as the production and distribution industries. Movie piracy is no longer a case of ‘I’ll take whatever I can get.’ now it’s more a case of ‘What do you want?’ Back when VHS was the hottest dung on the field you could never expect too much from your purchase. The screen was always too dark, the sound was always doubtful, and you had to endure an audience who couldn’t sit still or be quiet . . . and why was the camera always at an off angle?

Nowadays if you purchase a pirate DVD and it’s not DVD quality you find that son of a bitch and either get your money back or whoop his ass! Whatever happened to customer satisfaction?

Back To The Future
Yes we are, and usually a couple of weeks before the movie has even premiered. I love it when people ask me if I’m going to watch the next hot flick and I reply ‘Seen it already’. It’s a testament to the determination, dedication and discipline of the bootlegging industry. Eventually bootleggers will start making the blockbusters before the production companies . . . keep an eye on your scripts!

Many of the irritations that come with the cinematic experience can easily be avoided in the comfort of your own home . . . or better still, in the comfort of your own bed.

Another selling point of piracy is that it brings the action to your door. You don’t have to endure two hours of loud chewing, phone ringing, popcorn tossing, and chair kicking miscreants! And that’s usually after waiting in line for twenty minutes.

Die Hard
In a feeble attempt at somewhat balancing the piracy debate, there is a serious downside to pirate movies that we shouldn’t overlook. Is it not after all a common fact that piracy funds terrorism? If this is startling news to you please research all the facts behind this anti-piracy statement . . . and then tell me what you find. I’ve seen enough of Bin Laden’s videos to know he’s not making a profit from knock-off DVDs.

No Country For Old Men
A variety of measures could be taken in an attempt at reducing piracy’s affect on the entertainment industry. Let’s not forget that this debate doesn’t only include movies, other mediums are also looking for a means of cutting down piracy and increasing legitimate sales. The music and gaming industries have both taken a hit, and while music technology has in fact made it a lot easier to steal albums, gaming has made it a riskier ploy by ‘rigging’ consoles disabling them from playing pirate copies.

I would spend more of my hard earned cash on cinema tickets and DVDs if better quality movies were produced. I’ve been hoodwinked, cajoled, bamboozled and had the wool pulled over my eyes way to many times to rely on the next big flick being the next big flick. If the big shots want more bums in seats we should get a lot more Juno, No Country For Old Men, Snakes On A Plane (Yes, Snakes On A Plane) and Death Proof for our money. And with that said…

A to the . . .

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Thankfully He’s No Adam West

It of course makes no sense for me to review a movie without watching it . . . so instead I'll review two movies I’m yet to see. More like two movies I am eager to watch. The buzz surrounding the highly anticipated and latest instalment of the Batman series (is it the sequel or like part six?) The Dark Knight has caught my attention and prompted me into downloading Batman Begins.

…Unfortunately my attempt was halted by a shoddy copy which forced me to restart my PC; shame on me : (

Luckily enough things have a habit for working out for me, and a colleague has borrowed me the Batman Begins two Disc Special DVD. Another victory for the freeloading mastermind, hoorah!

I can’t tell you much about the movie for previously noted reasons, but I can tell you why I’m eager to watch it. For me Batman Begins appears to be one of the movies that regrettably slipped through my viewing net. Nowadays we’re not blessed with great films to view in the cinema every month, so we’ve attached ourselves to television shows such as Heroes, Prison Break and Desperate Housewives to stimulate our couch potato lifestyles. When we’re told that they’re making another Superman, Batman or Spiderman movie we (mean I) think “Ahh, not this shit again”…

In Spiderman’s defence the trilogy was well executed and had a healthy and consistent balance of drama, action, entertainment and character development. Superman of the other hand… well let’s just say I have no desire to watch his return.

Now Batman is in a league of his own thanks to Val Kilmer and George Clooney’s career threatening attempts. And let us swiftly forget Arnold playing Mr. Freeze . . . oh Lord. So surely I can be forgiven for snubbing the return of a superhero who has no superpowers? And who’s ever been to Metropolis or Gotham City? The challenge of a making a great Batman movie has swallowed a few teams along the way. Do we highlight his comic book roots, or his dark natured background? Only a goose would choose the prior and make Batman a family film… twice! Was Adam West’s portrayal of The Dark Knight ever taken seriously? Would you ever look at that portrayal of Batman and think Dark Knight? No! You’d think, “Get a real job! I don’t want my taxes paying for your crime fighting benevolence.”

Trailers of The Dark Night have left me in awe at the psychopathic nature and revamped look of The Joker. You’d think twice before calling this guy a clown. The latest movies have certainly grown up from the Clooney days, and we should all pray that they don’t reintroduce that little rascal Robin. I’d really be disappointed if I popped in the Batman Begins DVD and saw that poor excuse for a sidekick.

I like the fact that they’ve hit the ‘Restart’ button on the Batman legacy as a continuation would always draw the audience back to Bruce Wayne’s slapstick past… POW! . . . ZAP! . . . BIFF! . . . WTF! By telling Batman’s story from the beginning once again were presented with a new character to assess, one who can’t be affiliated with the shameless characters that came before him. We’re presented with another chance to deem Batman worthy of superhero status and to apply credit to his disposition and intentions.

It would appear that this time around Batman hasn’t returned primarily to fill seats or sell action figures. He’s back to show that there is a great story behind his character, there is depth, and there are hopefully reasons to forget that it’s just a film.

Now if I watch it and it’s the same old shit I’ll be back here to burn Bruce down to the ground! . . . and that silly car of his too.

A to the . . .

Monday, 3 March 2008

Ak-Man's Blogging CV/Resume

Curriculum Vitae

Name: Ak-Man


Personal Profile:

They said the wheel couldn’t be reinvented . . . so that’s exactly what I did! I made it rounder and added a few more curves, increasing efficiency by 0.9 percent! I am the shit, the bee’s knees, the dog’s bollocks! I am the empty barrel that made no noise, a walking conundrum with an ego that could eclipse the sun freezing over this hell we call earth. Basically, I am the pirate DVD you were please to purchase until you realised that I am indeed a cinematic experience!

Education Achievements:

  • I could read and write before I went to school . . . so why did I leave with ‘C’ grades in English Language and Literature?
  • Seriously considered taking a short course in creative writing.
  • Read The Da Vinci Code before it was released as a movie

Key Skills/Qualities:

  • Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation.
  • Offbeat Humour
  • Pub Quiz Knowledge
  • Openly Biased Mind

Relevant Experience:

  • 14+ Months of A Darker Shade Of Black
  • Completed One Chapter of A Future Best-Selling Novel
  • George Bush’s Speech Writer
  • An Accredited Thesis Disproving The Loch Ness Monster
  • A Tale Of Two Cities

References are available on request. But please don’t request them.

A to the . . .

Sunday, 2 March 2008

I'm Alive!

"Maybe I'm Exhausted, Maybe I Just Lost It,
Maybe I Should Pick Up The Pen And Try Force It"
-Joe Budden

Tuesday, 1 January 2008


Are their any good builders out there? Finding one isn’t as simple as getting good crack in the eighties is it? Damn, they lock up all the drug pushers and let the real cowboys roam the streets. Every time these dusty boot crooks leave my house they get a wad of cash and leave what appears to be a job well done . . . “Cheers Bob, thanks once again.”

. . . that is until you turn the tap and find it’s still leaking, or take a good look at walls and find that the paint job is uneven. My days . . . bet you never see him again . . . “If I ever get my hands on Bob!”

Maybe I should have been a builder . . . I’m not joking.

  • You don’t need any qualifications
  • You don’t need to apply to any companies
  • You don’t even need to actually know how to complete the job you’ve been assigned

All you really need is some dirty overalls, a pair of old boots and a little bit of marketing. You’ve got 66.6% of those things lying around your house. Invest in some tools . . . I’m sure you have some already, but it won’t look too professional if you’re screwing in nails with a table knife.

Another great aspect of this hustle is that all money earned is tax free. If you’re not contracted to an organization you’ll be paid cash in hand . . . which turns into cash in bank. No tax, no National Insurance and the student loans bureaucracy can kiss my asshole! Cheeks spread and all! . . . Excuse me.

When speaking of hustling the drug game is unappealing to me because apposed to the builder’s trade it is too risky and has way too many expenses. In the builders trade customers are charged for additional supplies or equipment. Need some pipes? Your clients have to pay for it. Need some tiles? Your clients have to pay for it. It’s a cost effective hustle. In the drug trade you pay for any additional supplies i.e. scales, utensils, packaging, weaponry, etc.

If you want to sell drugs you need cash up front for your supplier. That’s already investment spending . . . as we business minded folks are aware, no investments are certain. You could splash out on some stock and:

  • Get jacked by a rival gang
  • Realise that the market is too competitive (you must sell stock at a lower rate)
  • Law enforcements could confiscate your narcotics
  • You may forget it on the train
  • Your girlfriend might smoke it all (bitch)

Far less hazards are met as a builder, but they do of course exist. To maximise your hustle you must stop thinking like a drug pusher who is worried about being shot or arrested and start thinking like a builder. Here a few pointers that should make life a lot easier for you.

One . . .

It’s worth noting that builders don’t ride public transports; it’s not just an image. They need to lug about heavy/large equipment. So get yourself a van or lorry. Don’t worry they’re dirt cheap on the second hand marker. Yes this is an investment spend, but it will pay itself off and can also be used for leisure . . . I’ll pick you up at eight ; )

Two . . .

You’ll need to network with builders who are actually skilled. I’ll tell you why . . . whilst on a job you may be asked to additionally take care of a tricky task which maybe electrical or of the plumbing nature for example. Now instead of blowing a fuse or flooding the ground floor for the extra cash, take on the job and call someone who can actually do it. When the job (you didn’t do) is complete take a share of the profits. Two birds, one stone, simple.

Three . . .

Take into consideration that the builder’s hustle involves a lot more labour than trafficking drugs. So even though you’re not doing the job properly, you’re still going to have to work for your money. The house isn’t going to paint itself now is it? Cut back on time by not applying an undercoat if you’re painting . . . tell the occupants that it’s supposed to look like that until it dries . . . by the time the notice the difference you’re long gone.

Let’s be real . . . do I really need to pull up sources to suggest that more people have been ripped off by builders than by drug distributors? And how many builders get prosecuted each year for crappy jobs? . . . Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Now if you’re nodding along while reading please note that in order to be a dodgy builder you must be more unethical than our salesman of choice (the drugs pusher). As far as business is concerned, drug sellers are more loyal to their customers. This is because their business is set up with some of the basic customer service ideals:

  • You want substance abusers to return
  • Good business will multiple via word of mouth
  • You make yourself readily available (business number)
  • You trade at competitive rates
  • You don’t want stoners grassing you up to law officials

In order to be a successful dodgy builder, scrap all that sh*t above. Returning customers will try and take you to civil claims courts; word of mouth is will almost always result in slander; you can only be available for fast money jobs; and as for competitive prices . . . never hold on too tightly to a builders quote. It always ends up being a ‘bigger job’ than first predicted.

I hope you’ve learnt a thing or two from today’s economics lesson. There’s a lot of money to be made out there, legally and illegally. Just be careful before you decide which avenue to pursue, make sure to weigh up the pros and cons. You’ll to maximise your revenue and minimise your expenditure . . . simple stuff.

A to the . . .