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Volume 460

You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. But that’s enough life advice for now. ‘Tis the season, and admas is upon us. Who’s been cool? Who’s been sh*t? We’re finding out. And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve also got a seasonal special of the coolsh*t podcast. Yes we know it’s only mid-November. Don’t be a Scrooge.

Christmas Snapper.

‘Tis the season. You know what that means. Shit music, dry turkey, disappointing gifts, and an opportunity to day-drink while arguing with family members you haven’t seen for the previous twelve months. Merry Christmas. But perhaps more importantly than all that, it also means Christmas ads. Including the most hotly anticipated of the lot: the John Lewis Christmas advert.

This year ushered in a new era for the brand with Saatchi & Saatchi and Megaforce taking up the reins. And they took it in the only logical direction they could: a giant CGI Venus flytrap. Of course, it was right in front of us this whole time! So, what do we reckon? Too much Christmas cheese? Amusingly absurd or sickeningly saccharine? Jury’s out, you decide.

Getting legendary opera singer Andrea Bocelli involved was a proper coup, though. The team had worried that booking him was going to blow their entire budget but were relieved to find out he was only a tenor. Feel free to shove that one up your Christmas cracker.

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Straight Outta Cork.

It’s curious how Roy Keane manages to be quite so intimidating. He’s not the biggest, he’s not the strongest, he’s not the quickest, and as far as we’re aware he’s never done Brazilian jiu-jitsu and doesn’t own an assault rifle. But he just has that look in his eye. A look that says he’ll kill you, that he’ll probably have a rather nice time doing so, and that he might do a jig on your grave afterwards just for a laugh (and to make him feel better).

This week Roy took a stroll with adidas to reveal his more tender side. Turns out all he really wants is a quiet life in the countryside away from all the attention… Just so long as someone’s there to film it… And give him a big bag of money… Aaaand some free trainers. Roy sure does love his dogs, though. “I’m at my happiest when I’m with my dogs”, he says. Beautiful. Unless you happen to be one of Roy’s five children.

Apparently Roy goes for the Spezial because they remind him that he was the type of special player that you just don’t see in the game today. Checks out. Next up adi are shooting Ryan Giggs in a pair of custom Gazelles because they remind him of all the times he used to run out the back door of his brother’s house.

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When someone’s public perception undergoes such a complete volte-face there will typically be one individual moment upon which that turning tide can be pinned. For Armie Hammer it was the whole wanting to eat people stuff. The mobile phone masturbation did for Louis CK. And James Corden was rude to a waiter when his wife didn’t get her egg-yolk omelette just the way she liked it. But Elon Musk is an exception in the sense that he has gone from being relatively well-liked to rubbing an awful lot of people up the wrong way, not so much for anything he has done, but purely by virtue of who he is.

Grok is Mr. Musk’s new AI assistant and language model founded under his new venture, xAI. That all sounds relatively inoffensive, yet while researching this story it was incredibly difficult to find a single source that didn’t derisively dismiss poor little Grok. And I don’t get it. What’s Grok done wrong? Ezekiel 18:20, init.

Modelled on Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Grok is more than your standard LLM. He’s a sarcastic LLM, known for his “dry wit and rebellious streak”, which sounds like a line snatched straight from David Brent’s Hinge profile. I’m starting to see the issue. And Musk announced this week that he intends to install Grok in all Teslas, which will mean that Tesla drivers will now face stiff competition to be the most irritating person in their car. But somehow I reckon they’ll still manage it.

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The Astronaut Wears Prada.

One small step for man, one absolutely fabulous step for mankind. In 2025 the Artemis III mission will launch the first crewed lunar landing since 1972. It’ll also see the first woman to ever set foot on the moon. So, naturally, Axiom Space thought it would be only right for that courageous heroine to look fierce while she boldly goes where no woman has gone before. Not patronising at all. Did I use fierce right there?

It was announced this week that Prada would be designing the space suits for the upcoming mission. Yep, that Prada. That means we’re about two years away from footballers turning up to training in designer space suits. Game’s gone.

Yet apparently this isn’t entirely without precedent. As air travel opened up to wider audiences after the Second World War, fashion designers such as Jean Patou, Marc Bohan, Cristobal Balenciaga, and Pierre Cardin all tried their dainty little hands at making airline unforms. Now, with space travel being to the 21st century what air travel was to the 20th, we can expect to see more fashion houses getting involved with the aesthetic side of interstellar exploration. Except Hugo Boss. They should leave uniform design firmly in their chequered past.

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Drones are one of humanity’s more versatile creations. When they’re not allegedly lighting up hospitals with sniper fire, they’re lighting up the night sky in the North East of England by assuming the shape of a flaky pastry pocket.

Greggs. The bosses of beige food. The panjandrums of pastry. The sultans of sausage. A staple of British culture. A staple of a divorcee’s diet. They announced this week that their infamous Festive Bake would be returning to stores nationwide, and they did so courtesy of 500 drones taking part in a choreographed sky-high spectacle above the company’s Gosforth Bakery.

Sceptics initially questioned whether the launch may have been faked, but fortunately there were some members of the Great British public there to witness the show first-hand. In the words of Nicola Cookson’s son, “Ah that’s proper sick, ye knaa”. Well put, sir.

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Get the Bag In.

The JD Sports Christmas ad is a bit like the youth culture equivalent to the John Lewis one. Rather than being targeted at middle-aged middle-England women with names like Susan and Jennifer, it’s targeted more at the urban-dwelling Next Gen. As well as the privately-educated roadman chimeras who like to imagine they’re in an episode of Top Boy despite being from Buckinghamshire.

The danger with a JD Sports Christmas ad is that they have such an embarrassment of riches at their disposal cast-wise that things could easily descend into a paint-by-numbers ‘who’s who?’ of the various influential pop culture figures from the previous year. They’re roughly one surfboard-wielding Dr. Shipman away from looking like a Cold War Steve print.

Fortunately, this year they nailed it. Casting spot-on, belter of a track, and hardly a cringeworthy Christmas trope in sight. The result: a campaign that celebrates 25 years of JD’s iconic duffle bag, a symbol in British youth culture… so I’ve been told. I’m from Kent. We’re more Waitrose than JD. Although I’d like to debunk the myth that everyone from Kent votes Conservative. I’ll have you know that some of us forget to vote. Time flies when you’re out badger baiting.

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