Friday, 28 August 2009

Special K Challenge Travesty

So. After yesterday's epic fail (sorry, Christine, I can't help it) – what have we learnt?

Let's begin with the positive.

We have learnt, I fancy, that near-boundless respect is owed to dieters. Because anyone who can withstand that kind of punishment must be made of stern stuff indeed.

But we have also learnt (it seems to me) that Kellogg's Special K Challenge is an absolute, chronic charade. My body didn't need any kind of rational argument to accept this; it knew it instinctively.

You know those stories about a man and his dog walking at night? They're caught in a blizzard, lost, desperately in need of shelter. And they are striking out to try and get to the nearest town.

All of a sudden, the dog starts to bark and refuses to go any further. No matter how the man may tug and curse and kick, the stubborn mutt digs in its little toes and will not budge. With all his strength, the man is unable to shift it.

Suddenly, the blizzard lifts, and the man finds himself feet away from the edge of a precipice.

You know the story.

Well, that's what my body was doing to me when I tried to eat Special K for lunch. It was protesting with every ounce of its strength, doggedly (see what I did there?) attempting to halt its foolish master.


Because, yes, I'm pretty sure that two weeks of that treatment would lose you some weight. But I'm sure that two weeks of eating only eggs would do that. Because you'd quite quickly become so incredibly sick of eggs that you couldn't bear to eat them.

(In this hypothesis, I admit, I exclude the evidence of a former housemate of mine, who appeared to subsist almost entirely on fried eggs. But, hell, you know what I mean.)

That people be held in the thrall of this nonsense – that the Special K Challenge be considered even remotely legitimate – is a travesty, and a tragedy.

Now. I'm off to a Lebanese restaurant. Ta-ra.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

This Is What Failure Looks Like

Sweet, sweet failure.


I have written a poem to express my current volatile emotional state. It goes like this:

Oh! Oh
Sweet nut
of Dough!

(Tempt me not, Satan...)

I cannot believe ...

... the fact that nobody – not a single soul – has seen fit to post me a comment so far today.


The least you blighters could do would be to offer me some morale-boosting encouragement. Or heckle me from the e-sidelines, if you'd rather.

(Yes, the psychological side of Special K dietary trauma is beginning to kick in, now.)

Special K Masochism continues

Earlier posts in the series:

The Worst Picnic Imaginable.
(Enid Blyton was wrong. Food does NOT always taste better out of doors.)

There is a word that is used by the good people of Belfast (and perhaps further afield – I know not). A fine, expressive word.

That word is gankin'

And gankin' is exactly how I would describe the aroma that hit me when, for the second time today, I unfurled the inner packet of my Special K. It was a woeful smell. A smell that presaged, if not doom, then at very least sensory discomfort of a moderately high order.

It was the most depressing thing I have smelt in a long time. When you read this, bear in mind that I sometimes have to go into the boarding house bedrooms of male sixth form students.

And my sense of smell – the warning sense – had not failed me. Because what followed was undoubtedly the worst lunch I have ever had.

You know how I wrote, earlier today, that the taste of Special K wasn't that bad, really?


Now, thanks to Kellogg's, I have experienced a new kind of sensation of bodily ambiguity. And it is this: simultaneously feeling ravenously hungry and repulsed at the thought of eating another mouthful.

And, post-'lunch', I have the same sensation in my stomach as I used to get before playing a cello solo in the school music competition when I was about 10. It's not a nice sensation, in case you were wondering.


Almost time for luncheon

Normally, I look forward to my lunch.

(Don't cry for me, dear reader, don't cry.)

I'll tell you something about this Special K challenge: it's embarrassing. You see, I like to think that I'm to a certain degree renowned (in a small, modest fashion) for my opulent tastes. In a former job, for instance, a colleague walked in whilst I was preparing my lunch and remarked, 'What's that? A cheese platter? You are so Oxford ...'

I don't think that's going to be the verdict of anyone who happens to walk in on me eating my lunchtime bowl of Special friggin' K. 'Classic' or not.

(Information for free: it's not actually all that special, in the eyes of the masses.)

Ah well. Such are the sacrifices we must make for slimness.

Special K Dust Bowl

These folks just opened a new packet too, by the look of it

So ... Hands shaking in excited anticipation of summer slimness, I open my box of Special K. The inner packet seems already to be open. That's what I call customer service. Reassuring.

Unfortunately, the packet seems to contain approximately as much dust as Oklahoma. Jeez! It's like I just punched a hoover bag.

No matter. Into the bowl it goes. A good, hearty portion of Classic K, seasoned with K-dust. Mm mm fricking mm.

On with the full cream milk ... and we're away.

First impression ... Bloody hell! That's pretty damn sweet for a 'diet' cereal. There must be massive amounts of artificial sweetener in here. Gag.

That said, it's not too bad, really. A nice malty kick.

Unfortunately, by the time I'm halfway through my (dust)bowl, the lower strata have been sitting in that creamy, creamy milk for too long. The result? SLIME. It's like eating the spawn of a troupe of Horlicks-dependent frogs.

Glub glub glub.

Still, I'm hungry. And my alternatives are limited (nonexistent). So down the hatch it goes. Slithering down the Hooligan gullet. After all, this is the only thing I've got to fuel me until lunchtime.

And, oh man, am I looking forward to lunchtime...

A small setback

Hmm. Checking my body mass index, it appears that my result (18) indicates that I am 'underweight' (a BMI of 25 is required for the Special K diet, we are told; to attempt it with less, we surmise, is potentially hazardous.)

To this I say: PAH!

You won't catch the Intellectual Hooligan wimping out of his Special K diet on account of some trifling BMI nonsense.

On which note:

I believe it's BREAKFAST TIME ...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Purchasing the Manna of the Slim

[This post is part 3 of an ongoing (and, naturally, quite riveting) series. Here are parts 1 and 2.]

So. Having resolved to get slimmer for summer, my next task was to purchase the wherewithal so to do. A task I set about with childlike glee, you may believe.

My first port of call? The Co-operative Supermarket, Summertown, Oxford.

Argh! God! They weren't lying about the 10 tasty varieties. It's enough to make a budding slimmer begin to panic. Cripes!

But wait! Maybe this gentleman will be able to advise me. He looks like a kindred spirit:

... actually, no, on second thoughts: he seems to be halfway through shoplifting a box of Coco Pops. LOOK AWAY QUICKLY.

To my left, meanwhile, a pleasant couple seemed to be having the kind of cheery Oxonian conversation it seems e'er my lot to overhear. I think I decided I'd better make my choice quickly when wifey started calling hubby a 'twat'. Didn't want to be playing the gooseberry, after all.

So, hurried, flustered and, discombobulated by the array of options (sorry, varieties), I confess that I took the easy way out and plumped (I choose my verb, you may believe, with care) for the normal, plain variety (I prefer to think of it as 'Classic') – and made my way checkoutwards.

So, picture me, minutes later, as I stride (decorous – if portly – gentleman in business attire), a box of Special K casually tucked under one arm, a pint of milk (full-cream, naturally) dangling with confident nonchalance from one pudgy finger. As metrosexual as you like. The folk of Summertown stopped to see me pass. I noticed a few chaps unable quite to conceal their expressions of grudging admiration, I fancy.

And quite right, too.


The Special K Diet -- answer to all my wildest prayers

(And you better believe it: the Intellectual Hooligan prays wild.)

'Hot damn! I wish I could get Slimmer for Summer!'

Such has been the nature of the Intellectual Hooligan's interior monologue for some time now. As anyone that knows me will doubtless attest, I desperately need to flush some flab, prune some podge, blow some blubber.

I could scarcely believe my luck, therefore, when I learnt that – with the help of kind-hearted FMCG firm Kellogg's – I could do just that.

Kellogg's could help me get the toned, beach-ready bod I've been dreaming of. All I have to do is sign up to ...

...The Special K Challenge


(What's FTW? Christine knows.)

So here's the deal. The Intellectual Hooligan can get himself bikinitastic in no time. He must simply observe the following dietary regime (taken from the Kellogg's website):

For 2 weeks, start the day with a delicious bowl of Special K for breakfast (choose from 10 tasty varieties!), and then enjoy a second bowl either for lunch OR your evening meal. For added variety you can top your cereal with fruit or low fat yoghurt. Don’t forget to make sure that your 3rd meal is nutritionally well balanced.

'10 tasty varieties!'? LAWKS! This just gets better. Do they do prawn cocktail?

But what about snacks? No problem! They're still allowed (FTW!) – although Kellogg's (ever-watchful, avuncular, with only dieters' best interests at heart) does sound the following note of caution:

We recommend you replace your indulgent snacks with up to 2 Special K snacks. You can also enjoy as much fruit and vegetables as you want and make sure you drink plenty of water and diluted fruit juices.

(Hmmm. Do they have Special K doughnuts?)

Anyway, we'll cross that bridge, dear readers, we'll cross that bridge.

Because, right now, I'm just astonished at the saintly altruism of Kellogg's in so selflessly crusading on behalf of the nation's health. Bless them.

Mm mm mmmm. Meal 2 looks pretty, pretty good.

Planning My Special K Diet – FTW!!!!

So it comes down to this: I have to get my (outrageously lardy) arse down to Tesco's right away to snap m'self up a box of that Spesh-K magic. Because, sure as night follows day, it's only Special K that has the power to reduce my considerable bulk.

Just imagine, for instance, if I were to pervert their Slimmer for Summer Diet Plan by replacing two meals per day with a different bowl of cereal (say, Co-op's own bran flakes). That would be no good at all. Those pounds would stubbornly refuse to shift.


Oh no indeed. It has to be Kellogg's Special K.

Otherwise they'd say so, wouldn't they?

And there's no-one I trust more than multinational fast-moving consumer goods firms.

Dietary Hooliganism

So. Coming soon to a screen near you (quite possibly the same one you're staring at right now – unless you're some waster in an internet cafe or something (get with it, if so: internet cafes are so 90s it kills me) – THE INTELLECTUAL HOOLIGAN GETS SLIMMER FOR SUMMER.

Boy, I'm looking forward to those svelte summer months ahead ...

Monday, 24 August 2009

Oxford walk - incidental photos

So, photos.

Yesterday, the Intellectual Hooligan trundled off, Canon EOS 1000D in hand, for a promenade around North Oxford. As is his wont.

En route, the following images presented themselves. First up: some trees and a sky.

Then some birds, racing for the finish line.

And, finally, my favourite photo from the expedition. This is in a small area known as the Trapping Grounds – a curious little haven of woodland and marsh just off Oxford canal. There are loads of blackberries in there (since yesterday, slightly fewer), some unexpected large wooden sculptures, and some frigging brilliant spiders' webs.

This is a bush which – caught in the light from the evening sun – shimmered, rippled and glowed with spiderwebs. To the extent that it was actually difficult to look at it, so focus-defying was the effect of the myriad effervescent strands.

Kind of scary, kind of beautiful. Voila.

Getting results; whetting appetites

It's obviously a good time for breaking records and getting results, right now.

Y'see, not only have the students at my place of employment achieved excellent A level results (the College's best, if you're interested. You're not, are you?) – but I also happened to check into my RSS stat-munching instrument of choice, Feedburner, today, to discover that subscriber numbers for both this blog and my music blog, Heavy Soil have seen the kind of surge that'd make a little bit of envious sick come up in General Petraeus's mouth.

Don't worry. General Petraeus is used to things that make sick come up.

So, to you new subscribers (both of you), welcome to the world of intellectual hooliganism.

In celebration of this bountiful subscriberly harvest, I have a treat in store for y'all. Believe it.

What kind of treat?

Well you may ask. And you'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out. But allow me to whet your appetite:

2 BOWLS ... 2 MEALS ... 2 WEEKS ...

... Tomorrow, dear reader, all will be revealed.

Meanwhile, though, I've a few photos for you. Coming right up in the next post ...

Monday, 17 August 2009

People who travel, and the aching tedium of listening to them

This man's mind is almost certainly BROADER THAN I COULD EVER IMAGINE.
(No, of course I don't mean the black guy. Jeez.)

Sometimes, I love Penelope Trunk (well, to be more linguistically scrupulous I actually just love her blog. But I felt like she deserved a link with the words 'love Penelope Trunk' – SEO-wise, it'll clearly be in line with her web strategy).

Today, she wrote the kind of iconoclastic post that I'd love to have thought of first (but am instead going to piggyback shamelessly): Four reasons traveling is a waste of time.

This chimes – massif-style – with my own thoughts (making allowance for that fact that old Penny, like the rest of us, knows that a good blog post is a little exaggerated, a little provocative in its wording).

For it has long seemed to me that globetrotting has become the unassailable, unquestionable Ultimate Experience in the eyes of our society.

It's an assumption that manages simultaneously to be aggravatingly small-minded and sweepingly, bloatedly decadent.

You see, travel broadens the mind, apparently.

Notice how the people who say that are the people who are always bloody well grinding on in the most breeze-block-ingestingly tedious way about their travel experiences? Notice that, eh?


And notice how incredibly patronising people become when you tell them that you've never travelled outside Europe? How they treat you with about the same air of condescending pity (one suspects) as that with which they greet the third world children with whom they spend a generous half-day or so playing tag before they head off on a month's safari?

Notice how they tell you: 'Man, you have to travel more,' with a gormlessly self-satisfied smirk?

Yes. I noticed that. And I reckon narrow-mindedness suddenly got a whole lot more appealing.

You see, I don't have anything against people travelling. Marco Polo, for instance, did a fine job of it.

No; I have a problem with someone assuming that, because they believe the experience of travel is edifying, I must do, too.

Because if I'm talking to somebody about the fact I play distortion cello, for instance, I don't follow up with: 'You have to learn an instrument, man. It broadens your mind.' Even though I might happen to believe that, in certain contexts, it does. That 'in certain contexts' is key, y'know?

Similarly, if someone tells me they've never read any poetry, I wouldn't dream of reacting with amused condescension. I might think: 'I'm glad that's not true of me'; but I wouldn't be so smugly arrogant as to assume that everyone would draw the same benefit from literature as I.

Anyhow, let's not get into philosophical stuff. That shit's boring. Let's return to the crux of my argument: people who tell you that you ought to travel are almost always the most fucking desperately tedious individuals imaginable.

The kind of people who go to places in order to stick a pin in their shitty Facebook 'Places I've Been!!!!1!' map to impress their similarly shallow m8s


Anyway. You should go read Penelope Trunk's post. Then read the comments, and laugh at all the wounded, affronted travel-lovers as they spitefully retaliate.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Intellectual Hooligan fan celebrates obsession

Yes, it's true. My Google Alert informs me that the first piece of Intellectual Hooligan fan merchandise has been created.

They got the logo wrong. That's a crap font.

Brand-tarnishing amateurs.

A Small URLtastic Triumph

Well, grand day of days! The Intellectual Hooligan has moved abode.

Not physically, of course. No. Physical is so 20th century, don't you know? The move was a virtual one. And, I admit, there's not much to show for it. Except that, glittering up there in the URL bar (if you're reading this on the web rather than as an RSS feed item, natch) is a sparkling new web address.

The Hooligan has gone up in the world. Goodbye; hello self-hosted domain.

Yes, the Intellectual Hooligan may now be found at – though the old blogspot address will still work.

I feel like I've moved out of a dosshouse into Park Lane, y'know?



Tuesday, 11 August 2009

True culinary exoticism

Greetings, my dears.

Apologies for the dearth of intellectual hooliganism of late: your globetrotting correspondent has been, well, trotting the globe, I guess. Small segments of the globe, at least.

Tumbling and gamboling in my mind (however) like soon-to-be-tender spuds in a bubbling and nutritious stew are numerous ideas for forthcoming posts. So the long wait HAS NOT BEEN IN VAIN, NO, NO, IT HAS NOT BEEN IN VAIN, SWEET ONE.

Meanwhile, though, I'd like to treat y'all to a bit more gastro-snobbery. You love it, don't you? What's more, it justifies me in posting another internal link (part of my ongoing campaign) to hardcore filth (<--- despite appearances, this link is totally safe for work. Unless you're a KFC employee. Or a chicken, I guess.)

Anyhow, yeh.

In my travels, I had the opportunity (yet, unaccountably enough, passed up said opportunity) to dine in the restaurant with the menu depicted below:

You'll note, natch, the presence of the perennial favourite – a snip at 3.95. But how could even the most ardent panini-lover pass up the option that follows it – the Greek salad – a 'delicious choice for connoisseurs', we are told.

Those connoisseurs, eh? Damn them, with their sophisticated balsamic dressings and their olives and their EXOTIC BLOODY FETA.


(Oh to be a connoisseur...)

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