Spelunkoetry: What are the Best Words? What is their Best Order?

Here we must diverge from the poetic definition a bit. In poetry the ‘best words’ will carry with them the perfect literal and metaphoric meaning for their specific situation, the perfect emotional resonance through implications or cultural baggage from the word’s use history, as well as encompassing the perfect sound, cadence and metre. While still a factor in Spelunky’s epigrams, the latter factors about the words’ phonology matter less here.

This seems the best place for the ‘this is all subjective’ disclaimer. Language is a slippery fish. Consider yourself disclaimed. Continue reading



The first in a series, closer examination of the epigraphs themselves will follow in later articles…

Nearly every part of Spelunky is procedurally generated. Not only the levels, but the positioning of the desert rocks and trees Spelunky Guy treks past when you boot the game, and the little epigraph that appears over this scene.

These three lines are the closest the game comes to having a plot. The camera pans down from the blazing desert sun, and as sand-laden winds whisper and rustle the palm fronds a diminutive adventurer, insignificant to the vastness of the desert, strides purposefully among the dunes:

With the desert stretching behind me,

I squeezed the whip at my side,

And felt the gods smiling upon me.

Continue reading

Barry Scott: The Sitcom

So despite not having seen a Cillit Bang advert in years, since they’ve dropped him I’ve been slightly obsessed with Barry Scott.

I really want to write a kind of absurdist sitcom about a shunned, bitter Scott. Similar in tone to this fantastic Vice article, though without the conceit of the lines having become blurred between character and actor.

It’d basically be a two joke series.

  • Barry Scott is not a realistic person, and his lack of indoor voice was well explored comic territory in his heyday too. However, here he is placed not in the shiny world of his commercials but in a realistic one, and the resultant crippling loneliness is hilarious.
  • Since his firing, Barry hates Cillit Bang, but keeps encountering it in increasingly contrived and absurd ways.

Some example scenes:

  • Barry needs to render someone unconscious, and either cannot find chloroform and must use Cillit Bang, or quickly grabs a bottle of something and uses it only to discover it is Cillit Bang
  • Barry, either purposefully or inadvertently, kills someone. The only cleaning supplies he can find to cover this up are various Cillit Bang products, perhaps ultimately up to dissolving the body. Bang, and the evidence is gone.


Not entirely sure where I was going with this, just wanted to get it out my brain.

Science fights Giant Enemy Crab


So I recently had an article featured on user-submitted satirical website Newsbiscuit, after the title of this Guardian article tickled me.

The article I originally submitted was full length (<400 words), and appeared on the site edited  to fit their <200 category, a tussle with a crab hardly being frontpage news, as well as being heavily tweaked (rightly) to better fit the site’s tone and to be more accessible to anyone less familiar with the subject matter.

Anyway, thought I might as well stick the full original up here, I’m reasonably happy with it:

Continue reading

Funny and Sad

So a couple of things happened.

Firstly, I started a new twitter project which I should have called “Novels I’ll Never Write”, where for a year I’ll try to come up with an amusing opening to a novel, and try to make the concept of the book itself inherently funny too.

Secondly, my local bar/live music venue closed. The place meant a lot to a lot of people and I wrote a eulogy of sorts, which local Nottingham arts mag LeftLion were kind enough to host.

So yeah, neglecting the blog since I’ve had stuff going on elsewhere. At least that’s my excuse…

I still exist

Hello, wanderers in this wind-swept wasteland.

As some of you might have noticed (though given the emptiness, you are all theoretical right now), I don’t post stuff here much. I am still active however, and McSweeney’s have been kind enough to publish something of mine here.

Ta ducks.


An error of type 1 has occurred.

There it was. Small, unthreatening black Times New on plain white in the otherwise empty browser window.

He had experienced, as we all have, a lot of error 404s in his time. A few 403s. A smattering of various numbers in the two or three hundreds. But never anything this low. He refreshed a few times, to no avail. Still the single sentence in small, unpretentious Roman. Continue reading