At the end of darkness, comes light. At the end of despair, comes hope. At the end of my girlfriend’s macaroni cheese, comes a long lavatorial confinement. Our world, as it orbits the star at the centre of our solar system that we call Raymond the Fire Prince, presents us with many questions: What? Why? How? And my own personal favourite, Where? As people, we are left to endlessly pursue our hunger and indeed thirst for knowledge. So here, Project Brainstorm presents, if not answers, then certainly a selection of snacks and soft drinks.


Emoticons, or smileys as they are often referred to, are those little collection of symbols at the end of a sentence used in chatrooms, weblogs and message boards. These little pictures are intended to express in a few characters an entire wealth of information about what you mean. To read them, you have to turn the entire room by 90 degrees around your cat. Then, squinting slightly, your have to position your eyes on the screen and move back slowly, until you reach Scunthorpe. Now you know what they look like, let us learn what they mean.

On the outside you are smiling. You make the world believe you live on the rays and warmth of the Sun, dancing merrily past life’s little obstacles with your magical bunny friends, off on another exciting day along the giggling, gurgling river of tranquillity. The façade is as shallow as the river’s edge where at night you dream of drowning the bunnies, your foot crushing their faces into the muddy bed. It is becoming harder to battle the crack addiction with Interpol getting closer and closer, and the only thing that keeps you from plunging over the waterfall of insanity is repeating your mantra “Every day, in every way, her corpse is becoming more unrecognisable to modern forensic methods”.

It is important to you that everyone understands your meaning. Your every sentence is completed with some indication of your wry, quirky, tongue in cheek nature. Like the Norse god Loki, you are, at heart, mischievous and impish. Not that you have a sharp rapier wit that allows you to run clever circles around your friends, but more so that you are three feet tall, live under a rock, and are chased nightly by bands of locals with fiery torches and pitchforks, eager to please the Elders.

I’m sorry, but I’ve never seen anyone pull a real face like that. It’s not physically possible. I don’t think you should use any words you can’t spell, and I don’t think you should use any smileys you can’t actually pull off in a semi-professional sporting arena. While you might think you are implying your are confused this actually has a much deeper meaning. You are Phlarg, the alien menace from the moons of Neptune, currently residing in the Earth town, London, wearing a human man disguise. You have created detailed and infallible plans to take over first our Solar System, enslaving the human race to man your army, then the rest of the known Universe. Tragically, your mouth was badly designed, and you are incapable of telling anyone else your scheme in a recognisable language. This did not prevent you from being elected MP for a small Tory constituency in Devon, where the locals accept the strange noises you make as highly intellectual.

Ahhh, the wink, the all knowing gesture letting everyone know they are included. You want to share everything, and bring the entire world together as one, never allowing a single person to be left out. Your belief that we can all get along if we stop taking ourselves so seriously is a testament to your courage because there are many who do not want to listen to you. To them, the world should be split with you on one side, and those who aren’t dirty ageing hippies on the other.

” ”
You prefer the silence of ambiguity, letting those around you work out for themselves exactly how offended they should be. You believe your words our powerful enough to avoid signposting to your readers, who you assume are of a similar intelligence. This does have its downsides, as you are currently wanted by the Klan, the IRA, the PLO, the ATF, the lawyers acting on the behalf of Sir Mark Thatcher, and the entire Kop End of Anfield from last Saturday’s game. Currently, your survival rests on each group’s destroying the others in their attempts to claim your head as a trophy. Currently the Liverpool fans look like strong contenders, but then they’d do anything for a trophy at the moment.

There are, of course, many other smileys that we have not yet discovered. Every year, the tireless efforts of emoticologists in remote parts of South America uncovers new and exciting smileys used in primitive societies. For instance last year the symbol
–>8-{ (“Excuse me sir, would you mind if I stuck an arrow painfully into your head”) was found written on the wall of a Inca temple where people went to have an arrow stuck painfully into their heads. It has been adapted by Internet users and it is now common to see the sentence, “This download is taking for ever
–>8-{“, to imply, “This download is taking for ever it is so bad I feel like sticking an arrow painfully into my head”.

That is all from this edition of the World…Explained. To learn more, try to read more.


#Feed the Daaaaave, let him know it’s Christmas time…#

If gluttony is one of the deadly sins, you’re all going to hell. I’m not. I’m an atheist, you know. Suck it.

This alternative Christmas message has been brought to you by McDonalds – damnation with a brightly coloured plastic toy.TM


I knew a man, once, who had left me with some very important information, but I could not remember what it was. It must have been important, because the man was sweating profusely when he told me, from every pore on his body and three on mine. In desperation, I called Directory Enquires to see if they could help. “I’m looking to find something I lost,” I said, so she gave me the number of a private detective agency. The man from the agency turned up in a coat, which he took off as he entered my flat, revealing another coat. “Can I take that for you, too” I said. He said, “No, it’s the only other thing that I’m wearing”, and crossed his legs with a flourish.

“Now,” he said, “Tell me what you remember”. The following three-day monologue encompassed most of the salient points of my life so far, though I did skip over my time as a transvestite cabaret singer on board the HMS Devonshire. At the end, the man, who had been making notes on an Etch-a-Sketch, showed me his work. The picture on the screen was of a small dog with an oblong body and three stick legs. “That’s my dog” I said, “That’s no use to me”. “I didn’t think it would be, what with it only having three legs”, said the man, who left, taking my dog with him.

I had now lost a dog and a memory, so I called Directory Enquires back. “It’s me again,” I said to a lady I had never spoken to before. “I think I need to clear my mind”, so she gave me the number of a cleaning service. I called them up and asked them to come on Thursday.
That Wednesday, there was a knock at my door. I sent it away, only for the cleaning service to turn up. “Sorry we’re late”, one of them said. “It’s OK, I think my calendar is slow”, I said. “We can fix that,” she said, tearing the entire month of November out. That Sunday, the clearing of my mind started.

Over the course of the afternoon, the piles of rubbish I kept clustered between my ears started to fill the floor space. “I’m sorry,” I said to the women with the vacuum cleaner, “I must just have a lot on my mind”. Amongst the piles of magazines, overdue videos and petting zoo, we found a Russian dance troupe. “We’re lost,” they said. “Where were you?” I asked. “The second movement, after the double pirouette”. I asked if they had considered just forming a conga line and heading for the door. Though sceptical, its inclusion led them to greater fame as they stole the show at the dance world championships. After lengthy negotiations, they agreed to return the show, on condition they were allowed to compete in the Modern category. They came joint runners up, to much public outcry and the eventual assassination of former Russian president, Boris Yeltsin.

Incredibly enough, I got my first clue to the knowledge I sought when the cleaners left. The entire operation had touched some sensitive parts of my brain and left a ringing in my ears, so I answered it. That’s odd, I thought, I was sure I had set my ears to Discreet, but there they were, 14 inches wide. “Hello,” I said, in German. “Guten Tag” said the other man, in English. “Can you tell me what number this is?” I asked. “Nein”. I asked the man if that was it, or if he was just being short with me. He said he could talk at length if I wanted. I said I’d rather he talked at height, so he told me a tall story, before his plane flew into a mountain.

The oddness of the conversation struck me like a bathtub full of picked onions, and I went to the study, with a ham sandwich, to think. How could this man have a one-digit phone number? How many other one-digit phone numbers could there be? Surely no more than fifty. Waiting for the bus, I called number 9 back, and got a busy signal. A helpful lady’s voice said, “We are currently busy. Please wait. You are currently number 17 in the queue”. I looked ahead of me at the bus stop, and there were sixteen people waiting there. I looked behind, where the helpful lady was smiling apologetically. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I have to count things”. “Does this happen often,” I said” “45,629 times,” she replied.

As I got onto the bus, the driver said, “you can’t bring that on here”, so I left it outside, without knowing specifically what he was talking about. I took the seat at the back of the bus, and placed it nearer the middle. I called a number at random: the number 3.
“Hello”, I said when the call was answered, “who’s that?”
“1597,” the voice replied.
“Excuse me,” I said, “the year 1597?”
“Yes,” said the voice. “Near the end of March. I’m sorry, are you selling something?”
I decided I was, and blurted out “Time share.”
“Not today, thanks. Not since I shared time with 1789. When the operator said it would be revolutionary, I had no idea,” said the voice, and hung up.

Mildly disconcerted, I decided I needed to know what the first phone number was. I pressed 1, and it starting ringing. The ringtone was heavenly, in a very real way, as a voice cut in. “Heaven, Paul speaking, do you have an appointment?” it said. I said I hoped not, but could he check. He asked me my name, and I gave it. “One second, there’s actually someone here for you”.

The man at the other end sounded familiar, and I realised it was the profuse, sweating man. “You fucking idiot” he said, reasonably. The sound of his voice stirred my inactive brain like a pneumatic whisk, and I suddenly remembered the important information. “I’ve got to attach the bungee rope, and cut the mindless chatter because its distracting”, I said, remembering with a smile how hard it had been to attach the mindless chatter. “Yes, you fucking, fucking, fucki…” “Thank you. You have been so helpful”, I said, hanging up. I felt relieved.

As I stepped off the bus, I accidentally dropped my phone, which was promptly run over by a cyclist.


Today, I called my local cinema to check some times.


Voice: Hello…

Me: Hello, I’d…

Voice: … and welcome to Pictureframe Cinemas’ booking and showtimes enquiry hotline…

Me: That’s nice, but I jus…

Voice: … has designed this voice-controlled system.

Me: Oh, damn.

Voice: Please say the name of the Pictureframe Cinemas cinema you would like to go to?

Me: Coventry.

Voice: Excuse me?

Me: Cov-en-try.

Voice: You have selected – Soviet Russia. Is this correct?

Me: Nyet, nyet, nyet.

Voice: Thankyou. Unfortunately, our cinema in – Soviet Russia – has been – liberated by the political and economic forces of democracy. Please say which cinema you would like to go to.


Voice: Thankyou. There is – no need – to shout. Please say the name of the – film – you would like to see.

Me: Blade Trinity.

Voice: Do you want to see – Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason?

Me: No.

Voice: Do you want to see – Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason?

Me: No.

Voice: We currently have seats available for – Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason?

Me: I don’t want them.

Voice: Have you really considered – Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – properly?

Me: I don’t want to see it.

Voice: It is – pretty funny.

Me: I want to see Blade Trinity.

Voice: You have – ignored my wishes – and selected – Blade Trinity. I am – hurt – by your indifference.

Me: Great, an automated system with feelings.

Voice: What is – your problem – buddy?

Me: Nothing, I just don’t want to see Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

Voice: You have selected – Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Where do you want your seats?

Me: Oh, crap.

Voice: You have selected – behind the man with big hair. How many seats…

Me (slams phone down): Stupid automated voice system. MUM! What’s for dinner?

Mum (from other room): Please say what you would like for dinner.

Me: Oh. Cool. Steak and chips, please.

Mum: You have selected – Vegetable Bake. Is this correct?

Me: No, I sai…

Mum: YOU have selected – Vegetable Bake. Is this correct?

Me: (sighs) Yes.


The Craig is an upright omnivorous creature from theStruthionidae family, and is found inhabiting areas of low flammability. It used to be rare, but now it is medium.

Its diet consists of standing on the scales every morning, sighing pathetically, and going off to find a bacon sandwich, which it hunts in the wild. Packs of bacon, standing idly by the side of the river, are surprised when The Craig attacks, dressed up as a train conductor, five minutes ahead of scheduled arrival time. The Craig also preys on good taste and general grammatical skills savaging both with relish, but holding the cheese. It has no natural predators, but a fairly unnatural one in the Lion. It will eventually get out of the Lion, and then The Craig is going to be in the Shit.

The Craig’s mating season starts around half seven, and is generally finished by quarter to eight. It can reproduce on its own, with a partner, or with an entire Cub Scout troop, though it does ask for written parental consent.

It is currently kept at Project Brainstorm Zoo for its own protection. It communicates with others of its species with irregular impressions of comedy, which are highly venemous to most other species and may, in some extreme cases, kill to the death.