Friday, 3 August 2012

La la la, I shitting hate thinking of titles

Oh yeah, this place.

So apparently there's some kind of sports thing going on [read: the Olympics, since they're not going on any more]. I haven't really seen much of it, first of all because it's the holiday season and therefore, for peons of the hospitality industry such as myself, not the holiday season, and secondly because sport doesn't matter, but the couple of bits I did inadvertently catch left me with a thought or two. Also a desolating sense of the pathetic waste of time and opportunity that has been my life, but let's focus on the thoughts.

First, opening ceremony speeches: did anyone else think that there was an almost suspicious level of emphasis on "fair play" and "competitive spirit" every time someone started talking? I mean sure, you ought to play fair, because then I can cheat my heart out and score an easy win over all you schmucks, but it was like every single person there felt the need to reassure the world that they weren't going to leg the nearest competitor down a handy flight of stairs as soon as they were out of camera-shot. I only saw a small bit of the ceremony, but there was a French guy who spoke about how happy he was to be at the games where he hoped to see all the athletes competing IN A COMPLETELY FAIR AND RESPECTFUL WAY WITHOUT USING DRUGS AT ALL, and then one of the athletes stood up and talked about how she was looking forward to the competition where she DEFINITELY WASN'T GOING TO USE DRUGS OR BE A BAD SPORT OR TREAT ANYONE WITH DISRESPECT, and then another one stood up and told everyone that he WASN'T GOING TO MESS WITH DOPING and how he would TREAT EVERYONE WITH THE UTMOST SUGAR-SWEETNESS OH AND DID I MENTION I WOULDN'T BE A BAD SPORT BECAUSE I WONT BE A BAD SPORT BECAUSE BEING A BAD SPORT IS BAD. Why so much focus on the idea that they're going to compete completely normally? I mean, if I was going to babysit, for example, I wouldn't feel the need to explain to the parents that I'm definitely not going to punch their children through the living room window.

Apparently there's also an unusual amount of interest in the 100m sprint. According to television (that most empirical of sources) the favourite contender, Usain Bolt, is basically a god of speed born from the collective potential spawn of a million Sonic the Hedgehog / Rainbow Dash slash fictions, and the only way anyone could ever hope to beat him is if he trips over his own shoelaces at the starting line. There was a good deal of one program devoted to trying to find out why he's just so much better than everyone else, examining his childhood, training methods, personality and tonnes of other things, but for some reason they neglected to mention the obvious deciding factor, which is that his parents gave him possibly the speediest-sounding name it's possible for a child to have. You can't just grow up with a name only a syllable away from "insane bolt" and end up in hotel management. It's like that werewolf guy in Harry Potter who'd probably never have become a werewolf if his parents hadn't basically named him "Wolf McFurryface". While we're on the subject of names, by the way, Bolt's main rival is totally Gay (HAHAHA IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE HIS NAME REALLY IS TYSON GAY)

And as long as I'm grasping for the low-hanging fruit, Christophe Lemaitre, the first white man to run the 100m in less than ten seconds, is being lauded for "breaking the stereotype" that white men can't sprint. Breaking stereotypes? He's French. I would, with a cheerful smile to the bookie, bet every penny of my £23 life savings that there is not a single interviewer in all the world who spoke to Mr. Lemaitre about his achievement without having to squash a little voice in the back of their head going Frenchman good at running Frenchman good at running Frenchman good at running.

Well that was possibly the biggest pile of trite I've ever written. I'm going to bed.  

Friday, 17 February 2012

Where I'm from, shops actually board up their windows against the violence of this day

Pancake day looms, folks. Some say it came about during the run-up to the fasting of Lent, when somebody invented a flat cake in a pan to use up all the delicacies like eggs and flour and sugar. Then they gorged themselves like a fat bastard until their pancreas started to hurt from all the insulin it had to produce, and afterwards they said ''this shall be known as panc-ache day. Also I now have type II diabetes.'' The Lent tradition of spending time actually being disciplined and sensible about what you eat has long since faded into memory, of course, but Pancake day remains as a fun afternoon for the whole family, where parents can amaze their children with dexterous displays of pancake flipping, and children can gaze in wonder as sheets of sizzling hot batter spin through the air onto their upturned awestruck faces.

Anyway, in celebration of this day I'm here to share with you my favourite recipe for pancakes. But it wouldn't be worth sharing if it was just some ordinary run-of-the-mill method of pancake-making, of course. So: are you the sort of person not merely satisfied with the banal humdrum of the mere ordinary pancake? Are you willing to buy fresh, expensive ingredients and use only the highest-grade cookery equipment? Will you watch your pan like a hawk for that perfect temperature and timing? Are you, in short, the kind of person willing to pour as much love into your cooking as you would into raising your own children?

Yes?

Then fuck off. This recipe's for lazy cunts. HAHA WHAT AN UNPREDICTABLE JOKE

You will need:

Egg powder
Milk powder
Flour
A two-pint bottle of milk

1) Open the bottle of milk.

2) Use it all up in some way. I dunno, lots of tea, or something. We only actually need the bottle. Or any kind of large container like that would do, really - lemonade bottle, urinal bottle, anything. Go crazy. Invent. Live your life.

3) Put flour in the bottle.

4) Put egg powder in the bottle.

5) Put milk powder in the bottle.

6) Put water in the bottle.

7) What, you want measurements? Put enough of the stuff in to make pancakes. Jesus.

8) Screw the lid on tight and shake the bottle up and down vigorously for around sixty seconds - the same general motion as if you're watching porn, but for six times longer.

9) Pour the resulting batter into the pan and fry to perfection.

10) Plate up the fruits of your labour and realize that being able to follow this recipe means you have no friends, family or significant other to shame with your appallingly low standards. Garnish with the bitter tears you weep at your lonely, lonely life.

Interesting fact: I DO pour as much love into my cooking as I would into raising my own children.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Fucked if I know. Any suggestions?

You know that phrase, "Lefty Loosey Righty Tighty"? If you don't, there's this phrase, right, and it goes "Lefty Loosey Righty Tighty", and it's supposed to help you remember how to deal with things like screws and bottle tops if you haven't got what is technically known as a memory. Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was how that phrase really pisses me off.

Now you might expect my beef to be with the phrase's inherent smug tweeness, but I'm not actually here to complain about that. Although admittedly, that's mostly because the phrase's inherent smug tweeness really speaks for itself. It's one of those things that tossers say when they want to look clever. You know, you'll be there trying to open a bottle, and maybe the top's been screwed shut too tight or maybe you just strained your hand last night with all that porn, and for whatever reason you can't open it. And then some tosser walks into the room and sees you struggling, and even though they could easily just look to see which way you're trying to turn it, they'll go "Oh, are you turning it the right way?" as if the only explanation for your difficulties is that you're just too thick to know how to undo a bottle. And then they'll pause for a moment, and then they put a smug little chirp in their voice and go "Remember, it's 'Lefty Loosey Righty Tighty!'" and then smile and turn away and pretend to do something else while they congratulate themselves on how they just looked clever. No, you looked like a tosser, you tosser.

Anyway, no, what pisses me off about that phrase isn't the wording, it's the fact that I understand what it means. And so do you, don't you. You don't even need me to explain it means that when you want to loosen something like a screw or a bottle top, you rotate it like this:

Pictures of bottle tops are dull, so I will illustrate with tits.

And when you want to tighten something like a screw or a bottle top, you turn it like this:

Damn you, Google Image.

As soon as I heard that phrase, I knew that that's what it meant. As soon as you heard that phrase, you knew what it meant too. Everyone who hears this phrase knows what it means.

Now: why the hell do we know what it means? Because the screw isn't going 'left' or going 'right', is it? It's turning. So every part of it is going in a different direction - if you turn it to the right, then the bottom part is going to the left, the left part is going up and the right part is going down.

No, Google, still not doing it right.

So why do we arbitrarily just know that that phrase refers to only the top?

It's really annoying.

Well that was a shit ending, so here's a stupid video to make up for it.

It's because we turn it how we imagine turning ourselves. Jeez.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Dog's Bollocks

So my workplace, a little pub-restaurant out in the Derbyshire countryside, has been selling children's books to try to beat off the insidious claws of the recession [Not any more they aren't! They stopped over six months ago! Christ.], and a few [hundred] nights ago I found myself flicking through one. Well, if 'flicking’ is what you can do to a book with cardboard pages thicker than a sandwich, but anyway.

Now, I'd expected that this wouldn't be the most entertaining use of my time. I'd expected it would be silly and vapid and saccharine. What I hadn't expected, ladies and gentlemen, was to find SYSTEMATIC BRAINWASHING. What I hadn't expected was to find one of the many reasons why the human race is made up of more pricks than a porcupine orgy in a rosebush. [/pretentious analogy]  

I will explain.

The book I happened to pluck from the shelf that day was Usborne's "That's not my Puppy", a 'touchy-feely' book full of bits of carpet and sandpaper and other such stuff for kids to slap at and drool over. As you probably inferred from the title, the plot concerns the narrator and his hunt for his missing puppy. Each page he encounters a dog with a textured bit on some part of its body – a furry coat, say, or a squashy nose - and each time, the narrator exclaims "That's not my puppy!" and follows with an explanation of how he knows this - an explanation which is always (and this is the important bit) that his puppy’s coat / paw / tail / nose is of a different texture to the one he’s currently appraising.

Now, a quick skip to the back of the book reveals the narrator’s dog to be a spaniel. You know, one of these.



 The first dog he encounters is a pink show-groomed poodle. One of these.




"That's not my puppy!" our unseen narrator exclaims. And how does he know this? How can he tell that this bastard offspring of a rat and a candy-floss machine is not his dear English Springer? Why, because “Its tail is too fluffy!”

So I want you to imagine that you’re a wee sprat of a child in your mother’s arms, and she’s reading this thing to you in that fucking annoying voice that everyone uses when they’re talking to children – you know, that high-pitched one so full of condescension that it practically crystallizes onto the walls. I want you to imagine that she just read the first bit to you, that bit about its tail. What would your first thought be?

I don't pretend I was anything more than a perfectly average baby WHO WAS AWESOME, but I like to think my first thought would have been “Are you blind, woman? Of course it’s not my puppy, it’s bright fucking pink. I don’t need to feel its tail because I’ve got eyes.”

But of course the only communication you can make at this point in your life is to blat at the pages with your pudgy proto-hands and go “blurba lurba poooo!” so your mother doesn’t pick up on your utter contempt for her and whatever smacktard put this book together and carries on reading it to you. The next dog is a golden retriever, and apparently this one isn’t the right one either, because “Its paws are too bumpy.” It’s also four times the size of my dog and the same colour as the Sugar Puffs monster, but no, you’re right, I’m not sure, let’s have a feel of its paws first.

Now the problem I have is this. A wee sprat’s mind is a busy little thing and it learns how to act by picking up cues from the people around it. So as you get past the third dog (A Dalmatian that obviously isn’t yours since “Its collar is too shiny,” shininess apparently being a tactile sensation these days) your baby will notice how you consistently ignore the apparently obvious evidence in favour of a bunch of obscure arbitrary proofs that don't even make sense (anyone think they can identify their own pets just from the feel of their paws? Anyone at all?).

And the conclusion they're going to come to is "I don't understand at all why you'd have to feel at the dog when you could just look at it, but mummy thinks that's what you should do and mummy is the cleverest person in the world, so I guess I'm just not very clever and I should wait for other people to tell me what's true instead." (although in less erudite terms, of course, such as "WAAAAAAAAAAH [pantsload of shit]".)

And then you fast forward forty years and you end up with this:



Seriously, you can't do something like this without it occurring to you at some point that it's maybe not a good idea. I am convinced, therefore, that it did; that some little voice inside his head tapped him on his shoulder and said "Look, the door's giving way. You're going to kill yourself if you don't stop," ... and then another voice said "No, it can't be the right conclusion if you thought of it, because you haven't got the brains for these things, remember? So it must be alright! If it was really dangerous then they wouldn't have made it possible to smash through it in the first place, would they?"

And do you know something? This book isn't even the worst of them; it's got sequels. You think brainwashing your kid into meekly accepting any bullshit shoveled its way is bad enough, you should check out the next one involving the search for a missing baby that they identify by feeling its fucking clothes. Yes, now you get to convince your kid that not only are the sole protectors of his frail and helpless personage not even capable of keeping track of where he is, but that the only thing that differentiates one human being from another is what kind of clothes they wear. The pièce de résistance though is, perhaps, the ending, in which the baby you're looking for turns out to be yes, you, my dear! and the publishers facilitate this by having a mirror stuck to the final page. Except that the only kind of mirror you can really put into a book is one of those silvery-cardboard ones you get in birthday cards, and I have never seen a birthday-card mirror that doesn't make you look like you just tried to block a sledgehammer with your face. So having gone through the trauma of learning that their parents could lose them at any time and that they're just a worthless drone with no identity past their bib and shawl, they reach the final page and go "Oh, so this is what I look like JESUS JACK CHRIST I'VE GOT A MOUTH FOR A FOREHEAD." Well done there, mum. From bright happy child to abandonment-paranoid oh-god-I'm-hideous fashion-obsessive in less than ten pages.

Now, I'm the first to admit that there is no stronger proof of a cruel and unforgiving god than the existence of children, but even I'm forced to step up in their defense here. Parents, you need to stop reading these things to your kids; you're shortening their odds of succeeding in life, and frankly they're short enough as it is. Children are already whining, spoiled, self-entitled, demanding, thankless little bundles of tosspot that eat your food and spend your money and scrawl crayon all over the walls and generally waste the best years of your life, and even if they don't join the massed ranks of Retardia they'll probably turn out to be sullen ungrateful disappointments who end up wasting the rest of their own lives too. With drink, maybe, or drugs, or writing really pointless articles for a really pointless website.

Yes okay these books could also teach you not to accept an answer just because it looks obvious BUT SHUT UP