Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Top 10 reasons why I should be the sixth member of One Direction

Okay, it's that time of year when we start making some resolutions and today I am throwing my one into the hat. In 2014, my New Year's resolution is to join Harry, Liam, Niall, Zayn and Louis as their sixth member. Here is my top 10 reasons why this should happen:

10. Six of us would be able to beat the shit out of the five in The Wanted
I have been keeping a careful eye on the trash talking that has been coming from those chumps in The Wanted and I don't like it one bit (although it is a bit like watching a re-run of the Take That and East 17 feud which is pretty cool). The problem 1D have here is that those boys in The Wanted look a bit harder, and they have that Tom Parker dude who looks like he could have just stepped off the Aylesbury Estate on the Old Kent Road. But with me in the band we have the numerical advantage plus I have taken one Thai Kick Boxing class, so I'm ready to kick some butt. I also know how to use Twitter.

One Direction, The Wanted, feud, One Direction The Wanted feud, One Direction 6th member, One Direction sixth member,

9. I have already perfected the air-grab technique
If there is one must-have thing that all boy-banders should have in their arsenal, it has to be the air-grab technique and clearly as this picture demonstrates - I have it down to a T! If you look carefully, my hand is perfectly poised to clench at precisely the right moment and the emotion etched in my face tells you I mean every single word of the song I'm singing; which just happens to be boy band classic MMMBop by Hanson.

air grab, boy bands, One Direction,

8. Zayn needs a best man for his upcoming wedding with Perrie from Little Mix
I have no idea when this wedding is taking place, but if I am to perform best man duties to the best of my abilities, it's important that I join the band sooner rather than later so me and Zayn can bond like brothers. We all know how important the best man duties are - they include:
  • Arranging the stag-do (Center Parcs here we come! Harry will love it - there are some right old tarts there)
  • Getting Zayn to the church on time (no expense spared mate, Addison Lee all the way) 
  • Singing Margate by Chas & Dave as Perrie walks down the aisle (honestly mate, it's what she would have wanted)
  • Writing an awesome speech where I regale tales of our childhood (you're from Mitcham like me right?)
  • And the most important best-man task of them all - sleeping with the bridesmaids (Zayn, which one is Perrie? I promise I won't touch her...)
One Direction, Little Mix, Perrie Edwards, bridesmaids, wedding, Zayn Malik,

7. My autobiography is already out
No self-respecting pop star can be expected to be taken seriously without having their own autobiography out within five minutes, and luckily I am way ahead of you - my autobiography is already out! Granted, some of the names and places have been changed but these were just down to legal reasons. In typical celebrity autobiographical fashion, at the heart of my self-penned book The Drought is a story of struggle and  adversity which I had to overcome. That's right, it's a story about how I suffered a sexual drought and couldn't get my leg over for eight months. Just thinking about it brings a tear to my eye. Maybe we should move on...
 The Drought, Steven Scaffardi, pop star autobiography, One Direction,
6. I can cut some serious shapes on the dance floor!
Those 1D boys looked like they had a blast making that Best Song Ever video but a sixth member would have really completed the circle. Someone once commented on my dancing: "You look like Frankenstein on acid" which was nice. So I reckon I'd fit straight in. I wouldn't need any training, I'd just rock up and let it all go. The only thing I ask is that you give me a bit of time to get up to speed. As the picture suggests my timing is a little out at the moment...

One Direction, dancing, dancing badly, One Direction dancing, One Direction dancing badly, Best Song Ever

5. I am already used to performing in front of big(ish) crowds
I am well aware that One Direction have the odd fan or two and spend a lot of time in front of big crowds at their sell-out concerts, but I do not find this daunting; not in the slightest! You see, I am already comfortable performing in front of crowds. Back in 2011 during my my stand-up comedy days I spent 12-months going up and down London, sometimes performing whole five-minute comedy routines in front of audiences as big as 13 or 14 people. I'm ready for the crowds 1D have in store for me - no problem!

Steven Scaffardi, stand-up comedy, One Direction, concert, sell-out, crowds,

4. I know how to treat the ladies
Being in One Direction brings a certain amount of responsibility, especially when it comes to the ladies. Whether it's thousands of adoring screaming female fans or celebrity girlfriends, you can't be in 1D without having a certain flair with the opposite sex and I have that in abundance. So bascially lads, what I'm saying is that I'm ready to do my duty as a good One Direction band member and tackle the likes of Rihanna, Kelly Brook, and Susan Boyle. And if you don't believe me, then just check out my video on how to become a player...

3. Harry Styles needs a proper wingman
It's been a tough year for poor old Harry. The guy just can't seem to catch a break when it comes to the ladies, but as I have clearly demonstrated above, I know exactly what to do when it comes to finding the perfect woman and winning her heart. I think Harry's main problem is that he has been making poor choices when it comes to his wingman selection policy. Rumour has it that Harry jetted off to Las Vegas with Justin Beiber at the start of the year to help them get over their break-ups with Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez respectively. That's your problem right there sunshine - what does Beiber know about getting girls? And as for your choice of location, you have a lot to learn. If you really want to meet the right woman, you can't go wrong with the Wetherspoons in Mitcham. Full of birds, and all around the age group you like as well...

Harry Styles, girlfriends, Harry Styles girlfriends, One Direction, ladies man, Wetherspoons, Mitcham, older woman, cougar, Harry Styles wingman, Harry Styles Las Vegas, Justin Beiber,

2. I have been in a boy band before
That's right, I have walked the walk and talked the talk. I don't step up to the plate without being to back it up. I have already tasted the highs and lows of being in a boy band; mostly lows if we're being honest. The only real high was when we were in Amsterdam but that was more of a herbal high than a successful high, but I digress. Please allow me to present my boy band CV:

Old Spice, boy bands, Brit awards, Brit Awards 2002
Old Spice: 2002
This is me and the boys at the Brit awards in 2002. We weren't actually nominated for any awards, or even invited for that matter. In fact we had to all chip in and pay for a table which was the beginning of the end for the group as we blew our entire album budget on that table. From right to left to right we have Ginger Spice, Bald Spice, Champagne Spice, Ethnic Spice and at the front is Paul O'Grady Spice.

United Nations, boy band, urban music,
United Nations: 2006
This was back in the days when I was throwing down some urban beats, so I put together a group to fill the gap left by bands such as Damage and S Club Seven. The boys laid down the vocals and combined with my expert rapping skills, we could have been huge but we got embroiled in a bitter legal battle over our name as some organisation reckoned they had it first. Whatevs.

No Direction, Boy band, pop music
No Direction: 2011
I went on that reality TV show God Loves a Trier hosted by John McCririck where they were putting a boy band together. Only four auditioned so we roped one of the cleaners in to join. Problem is, McCririck was also our manager and he bet most of our record deal on the horses, which only left us with enough cash to make one of us look like a real boy band member. That created friction and the band split.

1. I know how to reinvent myself
If you want longevity in this crazy pop star world, then you must be able to reinvent yourself. All the greats know how to do exactly just that to preserve their careers. Just look at the likes of Madonna, Robbie Williams, and Gareth Gates. They all have that magic formula to keep things interesting and make sure the fans don't get bored. I am a master of the reinvention; and I have been known in some circles as The Chameleon such is the way I am able to alter my look; whether it is my dress-sense or my haircut. And if you don't believe then just check out this bad boy...

Pop star, pop star reinventing themselves,
So there you have it 1D. I have made my pitch and I will now patiently, yet confidently, wait by the phone for Harry, Liam, Niall, Zayn or Louis to give me a call. If you all look into your hearts, you know deep down that 2014 won't be the same without Champagne Steve in your ranks. Come on!

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Top 10 things you never knew about the Karate Kid!

So I'm sitting there the other night having one last quick flick through the channels before hitting the sack when ITV2 selfishly force me to stay up until the early hours because they choose that precise moment to show the Karate Kid! It doesn't matter that I have seen the film 897 times - when Daniel LaRusso and Mr Miyagi appear on my TV screen it is like a drug I simply can't say no to and it's time for one last fix (I promise!).

It is hard to believe that next year the film will be 30 years old. People say that nostalgia is a wonderful thing, but screw that - it just makes me feel old! In fact, the only other thing that makes me feel older is when I meet someone who was born in the 1990s.

But I'm prepared to give nostalgia a go and that's why I put together this Top 10 list of things you never knew about the Karate Kid!

10. "Sweep The Leg" is a song!
No More Kings used the famous line in their 2007 song 'Sweep The Leg'. Any self-respecting Karate Kid fan remembers the shock on Johnny's face when John Kreese tells him to go after Daniel's injured knee to win the All Valley Karate Championship, and follows up by asking "Do you have a problem with that?" Here, play the song as you read the rest of the list as it acts as a nice soundtrack...

9. Mr Miyagi didn't even bloody know karate!
I feel a little bit cheated here. All those years of practicing wax on, wax off and the man didn't even know a single move! Apart from some basic training on the film, actor Noriyuki "Pat" Morita openly admitted he had never formally trained in any martial arts. I suppose that goes a long way to explaining why he got nominated for a Best Supporting Actor role at the 1984 Oscars (yes, that's right Mr Miyagi got nominated for an Oscar!).

karate kid, wax on wax off, Mr Miyagi

8. In fact there were only two real black belts in the entire film!
Ron Thomas (who played Bobby - the guys who breaks Daniel's leg) and Darryl Vidal (who Johnny beats in the semi-final) were the only two real black belts in the movie. Of course, anyone who remembers the montage during the All Valley Karate Championship will clearly remember that Vidal (who was a 1st degree black belt during the film) sticks out like a sore thumb with his skills and easily would have kicked everyone's ass in that tournament. He was so bloody good that he even uses his own name in the film. In turns out that Vidal is actually the secret star of the film as it is him dressed in a body suit and a bald-head wig when we see Mr Miyagi doing the crane kick on the post at the beach. Cheated, again!

Mr Miyagi, Karate Kid, beach scene, crane technique

7. Webber-san?
Daniel's original last name in the script was "Webber" according to the DVD commentary. It just doesn't quite have the same ring to it now does it, although it's fair to say that former Manchester United striker Danny Webber would have some great football somgs from the terraces if the name had stuck.

Karate Kid, Mike Barnes, Daniel LaRusso, footballer Danny Webber, Danny Webber, Karate Kid III, Karate Kid 3,

6. Dutch is Steve McQueen's son
Dutch, who for me was always the baddest bad-ass in the Cobra Kai's, is in fact the son of acting legend and the king of cool Steve McQueen! He went on to appear in several films throughout the 80s and 90s but his real passion was always race car driving, and over the last decade he has enjoyed a good racing career competing in several types of racing from Motocross to the Baja 1000. A serious injury in the Daytona International Speedway in 2006 caused him to call time on his racing career and he now owns a custom motorcycle and race car company.

Steve McQueen, Chad McQueen, Dutch, Karate Kid

5. The fight scenes were real!
Well, sort of! During the scene where Daniel gets his ass kicked after the Halloween dance, William Zabka (who plays Johnny) is seen to throw a front kick at Daniel. The kick actually caught Ralph Macchio on the face and injured him. John Kreese would have been proud of that one. No mercy.

Karate Kid, Johnny, Halloween, Halloween dance scene, No Mercy, Daniel LaRusso, Cobra Kai, Skeleton costumes,

4. The Karate Kid was a comic character first
Long before Daniel LaRusso came along and made the name famous worldwide, a kid by the name of Val Armorr was already doing the name of The Karate Kid proud by taking on opponents like Batman no less! In fact, the movie makers had to get special permission from DC Comics who owned the rights to the name as The Karate Kid was already a character in their Legion of Superheroes series. There is a credit at the end of the film to DC Comics.
Karate Kid, Legion of Superheroes,

3. What if Rocky was the Best Around and Daniel-san had the Eye of the Tiger?
According to Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Joe Esposito, the song "You're The Best" which appears in the All Valley Karate Championship montage was originally written for Rocky III (which explains the lyric "History repeats itself"). The song had been rejected in favour of "Eye of the Tiger".

You're the best around, eye of the tiger, Karate Kid

2. Charlie Sheen was originally cast to play Daniel LaRusso
Imagine if Tiger Blood was the winning formula rather than the Crane technique. That's what would have happened if Charlie Sheen had not turned down the role of Daniel LaRusso. Sheen claims his dad advised him against the role and told him to do a lesser film instead. To be fair, could you really imagine Sheen putting up with having to paint the fence? In the end a 22-year-old Ralph Macchio got the job and spent the entire making of the film trying to convince the cast and crew members that he wasn't lying about his age!

Karate Kid, Charlie Sheen, Daniel LaRusso,
1. The Crane Kick is not a real martial arts technique
That man Darryl Vidal steals the show again as he explains he came up with the idea for Daniel's memorable finishing move, and what's more - it's not even a proper martial arts move! Vidal said: "...the crane technique, as depicted in the movie, isn't a real move in any karate or kung-fu. Pat Johnson (the martial arts adviser on the film) told me what he wanted, and I basically said, "you mean something like this?" It is widely recognized, and I still hesistate when I tell my karate students that I made it up. But as you might have guessed, there is very little practical application to the technique." Bollocks, all those years of practicing the bloody thing and it doesn't even work!

Karate Kid, Crane, Crane Technique, Martial Arts, Steven Scaffardi, stand-up comedy,

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Jennifer Lopez turns up at the Catchphrase studio to tell Carol Vorderman she wants her ass back!

Rumour has it that Jennifer Lopez was in a foul mood this week after finding out that someone had stolen her backside and was flashing it around willy-nilly on ITV game show Catchphrase. J-Lo must have been seething when she spotted this picture of Carol Vorderman turning up at the studios...

Carol Vorderman, Cathphrase, hot, ass, Jennifer Lopez, sexy, Countdown, MILF,

I know she's in her 50s, and she's a maths geek, and she was pretty dowdy in those early Countdown years... But you would wouldn't you?

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

A Christmas gift for the festive season!

Steven Scaffardi with the legendary Ron Burgundy's autobiography!
Hi everyone, I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! As a special gift over the festive season I am running a free book promotion on Amazon where you will be able to download The Drought for free on Christmas Day and Boxing Day as I have signed up for the Amazon KDP Select programme.

In the next couple of weeks I'll be writing a blog about my experience using KDP select so stay tuned if you are thinking about using it yourself!

But for now, please go away and stuff your faces with Turkey and I hope Santa has brought you everything you wanted this year! As you can see from my picture, I have some very heavy reading to do over the holidays!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Rob Ford... I salute you, we ALL salute you!

The legend that is Mr Rob Ford was first brought to my attention about six months ago by a Canadian work colleague of mine who just so happens to come from the wonderful city of Toronto where Mr Ford has resided over as mayor since 2010. At the time my colleague would entertain me with tales about the unconventional politician; such as the time he ordered that a packed bus fall of rush-hour commuters to be thrown off so that the high school football team he coaches could be picked up instead.

But nothing that had gone before could prepare the world for the truly amazing set of events that would unfold in 2013! Just in case you have been living in a bubble over the last few months, here is a quick timeline of events that this truly awesome man has bestowed upon us this year:

Rob Ford, Crack video, Toronto Star, scabdal,
May 16: A report is made by The Toronto Star that they have seen a video of their mayor smoking crack and throwing out the odd racist and homophobic slur whilst allegedly chilling with a bunch of local drug dealers.

May 17: Ford comes out fighting and slams the accusations as "ridiculous" and vows to clear his good name. This is followed up by his lawyer claiming you can't even tell who it is in the video; a line taken straight from the schoolboy's foolproof book of excuses.

May 24: But a week later Ford makes another statement, this time taking the Bill Clinton stance of I did not have sexual relations with that woman when he declares "I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine."

Rob Ford, Crack, scandal, Toronto, mayor
June 15: Toronto police locate the alleged video after raids on several homes and a photograph starts to circulate of Ford with two suspects who were arrested in the raids. But Ford is no fool - he has a simple explanation in that he poses in photo's with "everybody". Personally I don't think the man put enough effort into his excuse. If it was me, I would have said that I thought I was posing with Method Man and ODB from the Wu-Tang Clan as people might have found that more believable, but it doesn't matter. After all, he didn't smoke crack right?

August 18: Poor old Rob is forced to defend himself again as the media allege that two of his associates tried to obtain the video after the allegations first surfaced. Jeez, give the guy a break will ya! He's already told you he doesn't smoke crack!

October 1: This time good old Robbie is forced to leap to the defence of Alexander Lisi, after his friend and driver is charged with trafficking marijuana. We all make mistakes, and Ford calls Lisi a "good guy."

October 31: After five months of protesting his innocence, the Toronto police announce they have recovered a copy of the crack video that depicts images of Ford "consistent with those previously reported in the press." Ah, this is now a little bit awkward.

Rob Ford, Toronto, Mayor, crack scandal, reporters
November 3: To make matters worse, a new video appears of the Toronto mayor looking slightly worse for wear (or "hammered" as Ford delicately put it). A couple of days later and Ford finally admits he did indeed smoke crack about a year ago. But...! It's okay because it happened during a "drunken stupor". Oh come on, we've all been there - one too many beers down the local and before you know it you're in the local crack den. Besides, it wasn't Rob's fault and he never lied to anyone. The press are the ones to blame really because reporters "didn't ask the correct questions" so he wasn't lying at all. Stupid reporters, tut.

November 7: Rob Ford is now single-handedly keeping YouTube in business as another video is posted online by the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun that shows Ford having what you might call a bit of a rant as he threatens to "kill" and "murder" certain individuals. It is Rob Ford's Crocodile Dundee knife equivalent of saying to Gordon Brown of his "bigoted woman" line that's not a video clip, this is a video clip! Ford explains that he was "extremely" drunk and is "extremely" embarrassed, so lets not be too hard on him. Who hasn't had a skinful and threatened to maim someone eh?!

November 13: Okay Rob, you are now starting to make it a wee bit difficult to defend you as former staff members claim Ford was intoxicated at work, drank while driving and associated with suspected prostitutes. Ford then throws his two pennies in by admitting his bought illegal drugs whilst in office.

November 14: This has to be my favourite all-time Rob Ford-ism. It's bad enough that he flat refuses to resign as mayor, but just to up the ante, good old Rob Ford uses the old tactic of 'getting in their first to defuse a situation' when he shocks reporters by stating on live TV that the upcoming allegations of him telling a female aide that he was going to "eat her pussy" were completely false! And you know why they were false? Because Rob has enough damn pussy at home to keep his appetite satisfied. I'm not too sure what is better on this video clip; Ford's amazing admission or the complete and utter shock of the reporters who quite simply thought that they simply could not be stunned by this man anymore. Boy they were wrong!

 November 18: Seeing as Bobby boy is determined to not go down without kicking and screaming, his colleagues at City council vote to strip the mayor of all of his duties. Ford calls it a "coup d'etat" and says he is ready for war in the October 2014 municipal election. Say what you want about British politicians, but the fact that this man still has a chance to be re-elected next year pretty much says it all! What a guy.

December 9: So you's think after nearly a year of scandals including drugs, drinking, ranting, whoring, racism and homophobia, you'd think that good old Rob might want to go into Christmas with a low profile right? Of course he doesn't! This is Rob Ford of course - just when you think the man can't simply top his last efforts, he goes and throws a pedophile accusation in there! Yep, that's right - in a televised interview he claimed that Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale was in his backyard in 2012 "taking pictures of little kids." Ford went on to say: "I don't want to say that word but you start thinking what this guy is all about." Ford later retracted his comments and apologised when Dale served Ford with a libel notice.

If you have time then check out this very funny article on Buzzfeed called 26 Reasons To Be Thankful For Crack-Smoking Mayor Rob Ford This Holiday Season! You simply couldn't make this up and that is why I have one thing left to say...

Rob Ford... I salute you, we ALL salute you!


Friday, 1 November 2013

Shirley You Jest results are in!

Shirley You Jest book awards!
Today the good people over at Shirley You Jest announced the winners in the fiction category for their book awards and unfortunately The Drought wasn't a winner this time.

Congratulations to Amy Sprenger who got first place with her book Baby Bumps, and to runner-up Billie Thomas and her novel Murder on the First Day of Christmas.

Shirley You Jest will be back in May 2014 and with a bit of luck I'll have pulled my finger out and finished The Flood by then (I know, I know - I keep saying that...!).

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Update on the second novel part 2 - The Flood has been delayed!

So earlier in the year I posted that I was hoping to have my second novel The Flood published in the summer. Well, as you can probably guess that hasn't quite happened, but...!

I am hoping to have it out by the end of the year. The aim is now to get it out in November to coincide with the announcement of the winner for the Shirley You Jest book awards which my debut novel The Drought has been shortlisted for.

So what can I tell you about The Flood? Well, it is a follow-up to The Drought, which is the hilarious dating disaster novel (details below of how you can download the eBook for free until November 1). Dan is back with his pals Rob, Jack, and Ollie, but instead of experiencing a sexual drought, the boys are challenging Dan to go in the opposite direction to experience a flood of women. After making a bet that he could pull four different girls in just a month, Dan is up to his old tricks again! There are new characters aplenty and just as many laughs.

In the meantime, make sure you keep checking the blog out and Like my page on Facebook and follow me on Twitter to be kept up to date with all the latest news about the upcoming book.

How to download The Drought for free
Visit ebook self-publishing and distribution platform Smashwords at the link below and use the code LF63C prior to check-out to receive your free download (valid until November 1, 2013): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/253635

Friday, 20 September 2013

Press coverage in the Sutton Guardian

Sutton Guardian: Carshalton author celebrates comedy book award nomination
My favourite local reporter Sophia Sleigh was kind enough to give me a little mention on the Local Guardian website today. I have posted the article below but you can also read the original article by clicking here.

Carshalton author celebrates comedy book award nomination
by Sophia Sleigh

A book about a man's dating disasters has been shortlisted for a comedy book award.

The Drought, by Carshalton author Steven Scaffardi, has made the final four in the Shirley You Jest book awards.

The book tells the story of one man’s quest to overcome a period of "sexual drought".

Mr Scaffardi is celebrating by giving people free downloads of the book until November 1.

He said: "I’m absolutely thrilled that The Drought has made the final four in the Shirley You Jest book awards.

"The feedback from readers and reviewers over the last 12 months has been incredible so a free download seemed like a nice way of celebrating."

Visit Smashwords using the code LF63C.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Press Release: The Drought is shortlisted in the Shirley You Jest book awards: Celebrate with a FREE download of Steven Scaffardi’s hilarious lad lit novel

The hilarious lad lit dating disaster novel The Drought by Steven Scaffardi has been made available to download for FREE on the back of last months announcement that it had made the shortlist for the Shirley You Jest book awards.

 The Drought will be available to download on all ebook readers on Smashwords up until November 1, 2013 – the date when the winner of the Shirley You Jest book awards will be announced. Author Steven Scaffardi said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that The Drought has made the final four in the Shirley You Jest book awards!”

“The feedback from readers and reviewers over the last 12 months has been incredible so a free download seemed like a nice way of celebrating!”

 The Drought is the laugh-out-loud tale of one man's quest to overcome the throes of a sexual drought. After the stormy break-up with his girlfriend of three years, Dan Hilles is faced with the daunting task of throwing himself back into the life of a single man. With the help of his three best pals, Dan is desperate and determined to get his leg-over with hilarious consequences!

How to download The Drought for free
Visit ebook self-publishing and distribution platform Smashwords at the link below and use the code LF63C prior to check-out to receive your free download (valid until November 1, 2013): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/253635

About Shirley You Jest! 
Based out of the US, the Shirley You Jest book awards is the only comedy and humour indie book contest offering publicity-based awards. The Drought joins Murder on the First Day of Christmas by Billie Thomas, Baby Bumps by Amy Sprenger, and In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister in the final with the winner being announced on November 1, 2013.

Click the images below to view the full press release

Friday, 6 September 2013

Lad Lit Book Reviews: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Lad Lit Book Reviews: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
I have not read nearly as many Nick Hornby books as I should, and why I waited so long to read High Fidelity is beyond me! This truly is lad lit at its finest and in the main character Rob Fleming I think I have a kindred spirit. I hope I’m not doing him an injustice by saying this, but he kind of reminds me a bit of Karl Pilkington in that throughout his narration he constantly says the things that everyone secretly thinks but rarely say out loud, or that he simply tells it like it is like a conversation you would have with a mate down the pub. But more on that later.

So what’s it all about? The whole story is told through Rob’s eyes; he’s in his 30s and life is not exactly moving at a 100 miles per hour. The record store that he owns isn’t a financial gold mine and he spends much of his time discussing his favourite ‘top five’ music lists with his employees Dick and Barry (who certainly deserve a special mention for the part they play in making the dynamic of this little trio so funny at times).

Rob has not had the best luck with women either and after the first chapter in which he details the five great ‘break-ups’ of his life, it doesn’t really come as a surprise when his current girlfriend Laura decides to give him the elbow for Ray (real name Ian) who lives upstairs. There are some brilliantly funny moments when Rob starts to have flashbacks at the times Laura and him would lay in bed listening to the passionate moans of pleasure coming from Ray’s bedroom, and of course like a lot of blokes in his situation, instead of facing the main problem of his break-up head-on, paranoia engulfs his own sexual ability, as Rob explains:

“I really don’t know why it matters so much. Ian could be better at talking than me, or cooking, or working, or housework, or saving money, or earning money, or spending money, or understanding books or films; he could be nicer than me, better-looking, more intelligent, cleaner, more generous-spirited, more helpful, a better human being in any way you care to mention... and I wouldn’t mind. Really. I accept and understand that you can’t be good at everything and I am tragically unskilled in some very important areas. But sex is different; knowing a successor is better in bed is impossible to take, and I don’t know why.”

While Laura is ambitious and determined, Rob is somewhat happy for things to carry on like they always have. At first he embraces the break-up; feeling that he was the one being held back somehow, but pretty soon reality strikes and Rob starts to wonder if he’ll ever find a woman who will be able to resist dropping him like a lead balloon. Of course, Rob comes up with the perfect plan to put a stop to this rut, but instead taking a hard look at the man in the mirror, he decides the best way to determine what his shortcomings are is to seek out his top five break-ups to ask their opinion.

Along the way Rob realises that he wants to win Laura back; he has to win Laura back but change doesn’t come easy and there are lots of laughs along the way at Rob’s expense.

And now on to those Karl Pilkington say-what-you-see moments. Here are a couple of my favourite Rob Fleming lines:

“Sometimes I got so bored of trying to touch her breasts that I would try to touch her between her legs, a gesture that had sort of self-parodying wit about it: it was like trying to borrow a fiver, getting turned down, and asking to borrow fifty quid instead.”

“I hate calling him T-Bone. It sets my teeth on edge, like when you have to ask for a Big Heap Buffalo Billburger, when all you want is a quarter pounder, or a Just Like Mom Used To Make, when all you want is a piece of apple pie.”

There are some other truly great lines in this book, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who is going to give this book a read. I personally really enjoyed it and the subject matter of love and break-ups is told from a perspective that I think both men and women will enjoy and appreciate.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Drought makes the Shirley You Jest Book Awards final four!

Just got some pretty awesome news - The Drought has been shortlisted in the fiction category for the Shirley You Jest Book Awards!

Four books made the cut after weeks of judging and the winner will be announced on November 1st.

The other books include Murder on the First Day of Christmas by Billie Thomas, Baby Bumps by Amy Sprenger, and In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister.

Good luck to all the finalists and may the funniest book win! 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Lad Lit Book Reviews: The Stag and Hen Weekend by Mike Gayle

Books For Men Book Reviews! The Stag and Hen Weekend by Mike Gayle
I wanted to love this book so much. When I picked it up, I had visions of scenes straight out of The Hangover. After all, that’s what stag do’s are all about right? Boys getting away for the weekend and getting up to no good while their wives and girlfriends are none the wiser. Even Mike Gayle himself described them as “when every weekend had the potential to be the best weekend of their lives.”

The story is split into two – the stag weekend with Phil and his pals, and then his fiancĂ© Helen and her friends. As a reader, you are encouraged to start with whatever story you wished. I opted for the stag weekend. At first I struggled with the six main characters. Apart from Phil and his best man Simon, it was hard to tell who was who, but eventually I got there. But just when I thought the boys were about to get up to some mischief, Phil throws a massive strop and basically spends the entire time away from the lads!

Granted, he ends up spending time with what sounds like a pretty hot ex-pop star called Sanne, but still! This is his stag do! Apart from the boys all wearing Reservoir Dogs outfits (which was a nice touch) and a bit of a scuffle with some lads from Essex, Phil spends his whole time worrying about one of Helen’s exes who has reared his little celebrity head (her ex is a famous DJ). Throw in Phil’s stoner dad who makes a surprise appearance and Phil’s misery is pretty much complete.

The thing is, I actually liked Phil – he seemed like a good guy, but the fact he was in Amsterdam and the most exciting thing he did was go to the Van Gogh museum was a bit bland for my liking. Unfortunately this Phil was nothing like the Phil from The Hangover, and even worse there was not an Alan or Stu in sight, let alone a Doug!

Anyway, the ending of the stag do set up an intriguing cliffhanger so I was keen to find out what was going to happen and read on. The hen weekend was pretty much what I expected. Even though I’d been hoping for some pretty low-level drunken shenanigans with ‘L’ plates, fairy wings, and Playboy bunny outfits, what I got was nice dinners and spas.

This story followed a similar pattern to Phil’s, where Helen has her head turned by Aiden her celebrity ex, who has found out that Helen was throwing her hen weekend at this exclusive hotel and has basically turned up to try and win her back. Just as Phil has his dad, Helen has to contend with Phil’s sister Caitlin who she has never got on with.

And finally...! The ending is weird, or should I say the complete lack of ending. Others have called it open-ended, but I just felt like I’d been rear-ended. Even after everything, I was still flicking through the pages because I thought I might have missed something and I genuinely wanted to know what happened to Phil and Helen.

Overall the book was well-written and the concept is really clever, it just wasn't to my taste like some of Mike Gayle’s other books. I suppose at the end of the day this was more chick-lit than lad-lit and that’s why it didn’t float my boat. Perhaps the other problem was that I read this book immediately after reading Danny Wallace’s Charlotte Street which I really enjoyed, and hit the nail on the head of what I feel lad lit should be. After everything I’ve said, this book probably doesn’t deserve anything lower than 3 stars, but it’s one I’d probably more recommend to my missus than my mates.


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Top 10 Best Amiga Games of all time!

When my parents bought me an Amiga 500+ in 1991 my whole life changed. I still look back with a great deal of nostalgia when I think of the amount of time I spent hunched over at my desk toggling my joystick.

And I played a few games on the computer as well! Boom boom!

Even though computers have moved on to a completely different level over the past 20 years, I still genuinely believe that nothing has come close to the sound of clicking in that floppy disc and loading up one of the hundreds of games that were easily accessible for 99p if you knew the right person at school!

So here is my countdown of the games that kept me up to all hours of the night and undoubtedly played a huge part in my appalling GCSE exam results... but it was well worth it!

My Top 10 Amiga Games!

10. Kid Gloves
Kid Gloves is a game that rarely gets mentioned in other 'Best Amiga Games' lists that I've seen, but for me the multi-platform game featuring a baby boxer who punched his way past the bad guys offered hours of gameplay. This may have been largely down to the fact that is was pretty damn hard, but out of the hundreds of games I had back then, I still remember this one, especially the random array of enemies that included snakes, elves and crocodiles, as well as flames and spinning wheels. It was a bit random, and the music was certainly a touch on the annoying side, but for some reason I was quite intrigued by this little dude who paraded around with his boxing gloves!

9. Premier Manager 2
Before Championship Manager took over my life, I got myself warmed up for the world of footy management sims by playing Premier Manager 2. You started your career in the Conference and worked your way up through the leagues. As well as managing the team you were also responsible for the clubs finances by negotiating advertising deals, bank loans, and ticket sales. It's a bit like letting Harry Redknapp have free reign over all financial aspects for the club, and we all know how well that turned out for QPR! It had a few nice touches in the game that  arguably was ahead of its time with options such as stadium rebuilds and contacting other managers via the telephone.

8. TV Sports Basketball
Alongside Outrun and GTA Vice City, this game had the best soundtrack of any computer game ever made. Ever! Okay, that's quite a boast, especially as it's not a soundtrack at all - more of a theme tune really. But listening back to that little snippet of music stirs up an abundance of nostalgic excitement! The pointless middle screen shot between attacks, the strange sound of a basketball supposedly bouncing on the court, the accusations that the computer would cheat if you were winning by too much of a margin! It was all part of a routine of nipping around to my mates house at lunch to get a quick half hour game in as we both hummed the tune to our hearts content!

7. Superfrog
I know people bang on about the golden years of Mario and Sonic, but if you owned an Amiga rather than a Nintendo or Sega back in the day, then this is the only platform game you needed! What was there not to like about this game? You were a prince who had been turned into a frog by an evil witch, and now you wore a superheroes cape, drank Lucozade to restore energy levels, popped pills to increase your skill, played slot machines, shot at people with a strange little yo-yo type amphibian in your pocket, and you had a princess to save! The game was highly addictive, and I was easily kept entertained throughout the five different worlds you had to travel through.

6. Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
This was a game ahead of its time! A crazy mixture of handball, ice hockey, and five-a-side football; this futuristic sports game rewarded players for scoring goals and extreme violence, all while the shouts for 'Ice cream!' can be heard from the crowd. There was something very special about assembling your own team of thugs and then sending them out to beat the hell out of the opposition. A great example of this was to launch the ball at the goalkeeper and then throw yourself at him to steal the ball back and score.And nothing beat playing against a friend and going full pelt to see who could cause the most amount of damage in the shortest amount of time possible!

5. Lemmings
Who would have thought that blowing up a bunch of small rodents could have been so much fun! Long before amazing graphics, ridiculously hard joystick combinations, and story telling Hollywood would be proud of, us gamers were kept entertained by guiding a bunch of humanoid lemmings through a number of obstacles with a skillset that included building bridges, digging holes, and acting as a lollipop lady to direct lemming traffic. But as the minutes turned to hours, and the hours turned to days, the only communication we had was a simple woo-hoo that the Lemmings would cry in celebration or uh-oh before exploding!

4. Indiana Jones & The Fate of Atlantis
In a time when pressing a dozen buttons in a particular sequence became the norm with computer games, point and click ruled the world, and that was thanks in no small part to LucasArts. Whilst Monkey Island was the undisputed king of the genre, when Indy and his whip hit our screens as our pixelated hero in Fate of Atlantis, it just as addictive as the adventures of swash-buckling pirate Guybrush Threepwood! After the success of this game, it makes you wonder why Indiana Jones didn't turn up in sequel point and click adventures, or why other Hollywood movies didn't follow suit. I mean, could you imagine a point and click version of a Nightmare of Elm Street or The Running Man?!

3. Sensible World of Soccer
You can keep your Fifa's and you can stuff your Pro Evolution Soccer's up your backside, because if there was one football game I could happily play for the rest of my life it was Sensible Soccer - or Sensi as it was affectionately known! The birds-eye view, the fact the ball went left when you turned right, the ability to win games by cricket scores by cutting in from the edge of the box and curling the ball past the keeper! It was simple and brilliant all at the same time, and when they introduced the managerial element of the game which allowed you to transfer players in and out, it took this beautiful game to a whole another level of addiction.

2. The Monkey Island series
I pretty much peed my pants in glee when The Secret of Monkey Island was released as an app on the iPhone. Here I was, a man in my 30s celebrating the fact that a game I played when I was 13 was back in the palm of my hands.And then when LeChuck's Revenge followed I was a dribbling mess. Because that is what the brilliance of this game does to you. It was like playing the lead role in a movie with the most wonderful of scripts, yet you have no idea how it's all going to end. It was a time before Pirates of the Caribbean and looking back you realise that Captain Jack Sparrow is nothing more than a poor man's Guybrush Threepwood.

1. Championship Manager
Many have tried to emulate it, but when it comes to the world of football management games, there is - and always will be - only one game that matters. I'm pretty sure this game was single-handedly was the reason why I didn't do as well in my exams as I would have liked, and then later on in life the reason for poor performance at work, girlfriends leaving me, and my damaged eyesight from staring at a computer screen for too long (although there might be another reason for that last one...). It's hard to believe that 20 years after I first popped the floppy disc into my Amiga that I am still just as hooked as I was back then, forever hopeful that I'll unearth the next Nii Lamptey!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Lad Lit Book Reviews: Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace

Books For Men Book Reviews! Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace
When I grow up and (hopefully) become a proper writer, I want to be Danny Wallace. His words simply trickle off the page like treacle oozing off a spoon, and in Charlotte Street he has a real winner on his hands. Here was have the story of Jason Priestley (not of 90210 fame although he gets that a lot...) whose brief encounter with a mystery beauty on Charlotte Street results in him being left with her disposal camera.

Besotted by the mystery woman and encouraged by his best friend Dev (who is arguably the best character in the book), Jason decides to get the pictures developed to try and use it for clues to find her again. With shades of Friends Like These, Jason ends up searching the length and breadth of the country (well, Whitby anyway) in what becomes a slight obsession to meet this woman again.

Along the way he meets old and new friends (Matt – the kid he used to teach, his ex Sarah and her fiancĂ© Gary, his work colleague Clem the wannabe stand-up comedian, Abbey the free spirit); all have their own rich identities and personalities that Wallace captures so brilliantly well, and weaves them into Jason's life in a way which makes each character seem equally as important to the story, no matter how much or how little they actually appear in the book.

In a way, they all play their part in Jason trying to find this woman which inadvertently means he ends up finding himself. There are plenty of laughs along the way, and the dialogue between the characters at times is nothing short of brilliant, yet so simple. The story is told to us by Jason, which means you get closer to the character as you share his inner-most thoughts, no matter how quirky or silly they are.

One of the greatest triumphs in this book is that even though Jason is going through a tough time in his life (his career is going nowhere fast) he never becomes whiny, and instead as the reader you urge him on in his journey like he is an old friend.

There are lots of funny moments in this book that range from Jason becoming the poster boy for the local pizza restaurant's marketing drive to turning up at his ex's engagement party and being part of a plan that gets all of the guests high on marijuana; Wallace describes them all in that all-so-easy style that makes it feel like the man is sitting next to you in a pub telling you the story himself.

Just in case I haven't made this clear already - this is a really enjoyable book which I highly recommend. If you are looking for a new lad lit book to read, then look no further...!


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Sam Sadler... I salute you, we ALL salute you!

Sam Sadler, Tame the Tiger, YouTube, Sean Walsh World,
I like to think I know a thing or two about the ladies, but I have nothing on Sam Sadler! When it comes to expert advice on how to treat a girl on a first date, or what the best chat-up lines are to use, or even how to defend yourself or how to spot a chav, no one, and I mean no one, is more equipped to offer solid man advice than Sam Sadler. Even Danny Wallace's column in Shortlist magazine doesn't come close!

Sam has recently been popping up on the new Comedy Central show Sean Walsh World, but he has been a YouTube sensation for quite some time now. His channel Tame The Tiger has notched up over one million page views! To put that into context, my channel has picked up 3,538 views. Pathetic, I know!

But how can I compete with a man who knows the secrets of 'How To Persuade A Woman Back To Your House'...?

I can't even begin to tell you how jealous I am of all the people who got a shout out in this video; even Tuddy, who is 'injured and being a bit of a poof!' You only have to listen to the little nuggets of gold that Sam offers his legions of fans to realise this guy really knows his stuff. For example...

"Blonde girls are more dirty" 
They sure are Sam, they sure are!

"If she is anything more than four years younger than you, don't go there" 
Good solid advice there Sam, especially as you're 17 and chatting up 13-year-olds is frowned upon...
"Be nice to her on the dance floor and touch her bum every now and then because girls love that"
I can't believe I've just been nice all these years without any bum touching!

And make sure you check out The Straddler at 2 mins 51 secs when Sam breaks out a dance move that would melt even the coldest of hearts.

But perhaps the best advice Sam offers in this clip - and maybe any clip he has ever made - is when he states, quite categorically, that after dancing with with the dirty blonde girl you have the option to "Knock off one with your bad boy" in the toilets if the moment takes you.

We've all been there, you know, knocking one off in the cubicle of a nightclub as the toilet attendant outside tells anyone that will listen "No splash, no gash" when in reality all we really needed was Sam's advice, so stick your splash up your arse Mr toilet attendant!

But before you ask, I know what you're thinking. You've knocked one off in the toilet before, gone back outside to greet the dirty blonde, and somehow you still manage to screw it up. That's because you haven't followed the golden rule. Don't worry, I'll let Sam explain...

"After that (knocking one out), I do suggest just talking to her. Just say - hey, did you have fun? And then get her digits"

But that's not all. Now it is time to get her home. Like most men, I have often fallen into the trap of asking if the girl would like to come back to mine after meeting her on a night out, but I've stupidly been going about this all the wrong way. As Sam explains, after getting the girls digits you should leave it there and simply go home. Once at home, you call the girl and explain that you've had a little fall, at which point she will race around to be by your side.

I think I'll let you watch the rest of the video clip to find out what happens next, and make sure you follow Sam on Twitter because the comedy, wisdom, and invaluable insight this man will bring to your life will change it forever! What a legend!

Sam Sadler... I salute you, we ALL salute you!