Some things in life serve only to induce rage. No matter how small these annoyances may be, they are never insignificant. 'Rant List' is the chronicle of one self-loathing narcissist's seemingly unending pettiness.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

72. Lazy and uninspired sampling

^No, seriously. What the hell is this? It's like the Black Eyed Peas threw up on Lady Sovereign and then let it fester for several years.

Sampling can be awesome. Seriously awesome, at that. Take Paul's Boutique by the Beastie Boys, for instance. All of the music accompanying those hilarious crackers' rapping is patch-worked together from a wealth of funk, rock and pop records. Just little, tiny and vaguely familiar snippets of moderately well known songs elegantly sewn together to create a brand new tapestry of sound that, rather than sounding derivative, breathes new life in to soundbites from the past. It really is something special. In the space of the song 'Shake Your Rump', the Boys rattle through bits of Led Zeppelin, The Supremes, James Brown and Sugarhill Gang amongst others. It doesn't sound like plagiarism, it's just an inventive means of mixing together old sounds to make something new. Fantastic.

Of course, the Beastie Boys (and, by extension, the Dust Brothers) aren't the only ones do the whole sampling thing pretty well. I think even Aerosmith would agree this version of 'Walk This Way' is the definitive one (no, it's not the Sugababes / Girls Aloud one, you spoonknocker). Furthermore, one need only look at the relatively simple sample usage on The Prodigy's Fat of the Land to see that the technique was still being used to good effect in the late '90s. But come the 21st century, something went horribly, horribly wrong.

Simply put, there is nothing inventive about taking the lead chorus hook of a song, stuffing it in your own song and rapping before and after it. This isn't exactly new, as 'Can't Touch This' and 'Ice Ice Baby' depressingly confirm, but at least they only took bass lines. They didn't bastardise an entire chorus with autotune and altered lyrics like the monstrosity featured above. There's a befuddling sense of audacity that comes with these songs, however. I could probably live with it if the musicians were claiming it was a cover or remix - you've got the main fundamentals of the original song, but you've updated it with a modern flair. You know, like that version of 'Sun Is Shining' by Bob Marley Vs. Funkstar Deluxe. Or that Elvis Vs. JXL version of 'A Little Less Conversation'. As amusing a form of giving credit the 'Artist Vs. Artist' tag is, at least it seems to show some respect for the original track and an acknowledgement that the modern artist knows they didn't write the song.

Call me a music elitist, because I probably am, but there is something inherently wrong with people thinking that the Black Eyed Peas were in anyway responsible for the only good bits of their song 'Pump It' - namely, the instrumentals of Dick Dale's 'Misirlou'. Or that Flo Rida had anything to do with Dead Or Alive's 'You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)'* - he could barely be arsed to change the name on 'Right Round'. Or indeed, that Cher Lloyd, the gobby-snouted goatclown off that talent mockery / sob-fest X-Factor, has any claim to 'Oh My Darling, Clementine'.

I don't understand why anyone would want to go in to music just to ride on the laurels of better musicians who came before them. Surely it would just be a massively unsatisfying creative nadir? Wouldn't you want to build on what came before to reach a new level of musicianship, thus forging your own identity in the process? Then again, I guess the money helps quell the self-doubt that comes with being a musical whore. I blame Scooter for all of this.

*I know this song is kind of terrible, but dear me, I love it so much.

N.B. I should probably stop turning The List in to a collection of poorly thought out music essays.

71. The phrase "At the end of the day"

^ I love the people on the internet who have the time and dedication to assemble genius things like this.

"At the end of the day" is a completely pointless phrase. I know it's meant to act as a colloquial equivalent to words like "ultimately", but it doesn't quite work. It's an utter throwaway of a phrase that has become little more than a marker of laziness of language. As the always wise Urban Dictionary puts it, "at the end of the day" is a "verbal crutch" used as a stopgap for people who can't be bothered to justify their arguments and instead skip ahead to their baseless conclusions.

However, its complete over-usage leads to a very real concern. Imagine if this metaphorical day was to finally set and we did indeed reach the much touted "end of the day". It'd be an apocalypse of bad opinions occurring all at once, proving itself a chaotic epiphany of moron-morality.

*insert witty justification of nonsensical viewpoint here*

At the end of the day, usage of the term "at the end of the day" is a quick way to identify people too stupid to justify their nonsensical viewpoints.


70. People who take photos of their food

^ Promotional photos of McDonald's meals are such a visual, it physically hurts. It's like that music video where Nicola Roberts is attractive.

I love food, I do. If I wasn't so relentlessly paranoid about regressing to the state of an amorphous blob, I'd probably spend all day eating delicious things in vast quantities. I'd arrange a nonsensical banquet of fried chicken, pie, M&Ms and pizza and eat until my stomach started to burst at the seams and I would be required to visit a hospital. Glorious.

It is because of my fat-man love for food that I cannot understand people who photograph their meals. Maybe every once in a while, I could go with it. Maybe you've spent the last two hours slaving over a feast fit for a king and you wish to capture this achievement in photo form. You might have made a four layer sandwich that is bursting with different pork products and cheeses. Perhaps the mere sight of this food is so potent that you will forever taste the meal in your mouth from just looking at a photo of it. That's fine. That's a rare event and one that probably should be documented for posterity.

But I've seen people on Facebook dispassionately photograph all their meals. They'll go out somewhere and they have to take a photo of their sushi. They'll come back home and take a photo of whatever solidified bile they're ingesting next. They'll even upload the photo before they eat the food. Surely that's just inviting the meal to go cold before they get the chance to tuck in? What is the logic behind this? The best I can assume is it's an indirect form of bragging: "Oh, look at me eating pheasant stuffed with quail's eggs and caviar - I have such a wide palate!" or even "Haha guys, look at me - I'm eating four steaks because I'm so manly! Four! Get me!" It's narcissism through the photography of food. Just eat your charred mess and stop clogging up my Facebook feed with photographs of every non-event of a meal you ingest.

You are what you eat and you've presumably just chowed down on a massive chode.

...too graphic?

69. Other people's opinions

^ This opinion annoys me because, whilst I agree the Beatles are better, the factual inaccuracy and the implicit sense of American nationalism attributed to the band makes me want to smash my head through the nearest glass object.

[Warning: This post contains dangerous amounts of hypocrisy. Having said that, if you're reading this website, you're probably aware that all of these posts are massively hypocritical. The joys of being an internet elitist.]

Opinions are like traumatic and unresolved issues from childhood: everyone's got them and I'll be damned if I ever want to hear about them.

The problem with other people's opinions isn't that they're different from mine - hell, I disagree with myself half the time, which doesn't even make sense. It's that somehow everyone else seems to have an opinion on every banal topic, regardless of their level of experience with it. I'm all for other people's opinions if they're informed, presented with a degree of rationality and are exercised in the kind of context that asks for it (for instance, a friendly debate amongst friends is just about bearable a situation for hearing what other people think). But if these opinions are thrown at me unprovoked and laced with misinformation and idiocy, I'd really prefer it if you kept your mouth shut.

The internet has basically made this over a hundred times worse, however. Reading the news online, all one has to do is accidentally scroll too far past the article to be bombarded with the argumentative witterings of keyboard-warriors who think that they can offer a "unique" and "intelligent" insight into the topic at hand. I browse a lot of music websites and the user comments make me weep for humanity. They are almost exclusively used to bash bands and exercise elitism of taste. What's the point?

I mean, for crying out loud, the internet has given me the very real opportunity to offer up my equally worthless opinions for the world's perusal. The only difference is my presence is arguably less ubiquitous and people can probably quite easily avoid being exposed to my verbal bile should they choose so. I, however, will be continually forced to read all your inane, badly reasoned, ill-informed, misguided, wrong, racist, bigoted, sexist, anti-establishment, pro-establishment, psuedo-activist, pretentious, middle-class punk, white-knight, cyberbully, trendy muso, sheep-like, sheepish, archaeic, arbitrary and horrifically uninspiring opinions on Facebook, Twitter, Google, internet forums, emails, Blabbermouth, NME, streaming websites (I really don't care for your thoughts on the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother and YET THEY'RE ALWAYS THERE),, Youtube, eBay and whatever other pointless fragment of the internet I choose to look at.

Really, I should probably just stop surfing the internet and get a job. That's the real issue here.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

68. That awkward moment when everyone joins Facebook groups starting with "that awkward moment when..."

^ I actually scribbled this on to my screen. In permanent marker. I regret nothing.

An introductory note: I seem to mention Facebook-related things on the List quite often. But rather than take a critical look at myself and finally admit that I spend far too much time on the internet, I've decided to whine about what I see other people doing online instead. Because I'm awesome.

Everyone likes a good joke. I once heard a joke about modern music. I think it was called 'Black Eyed Peas'. I laughed for days and days after I heard it. And so, it is understandable that everyone clamours to "like" a funny group or page on Facebook when the opportunity to do so arises. However, as soon as one funny idea comes out, it is replicated ad nauseum until what was originally mildly amusing becomes hugely unfunny. The internet as a whole is a massive corrupter of a good thing, mindlessly repeating something special or hilarious over and over, in order to bask in the reflected glory of the original. However, each increasingly unoriginal and dull parody slowly chips away at the little bit of joy that original joke represented until all that is left is frustration and tired gags. One of the biggest joke graveyards online is Facebook because, let's face it, nearly everyone ever uses it.

Facebook is plagued with people who think they're hilarious. Who think that their unique take on the currently trending joke format is just that bit more hilarious than everyone else's. Who think that if they set up a group on Facebook called "That awkward moment when I made an unfunny joke", they will finally get a slew of e-validation through people joining it. Unfortunately, they will get that e-validation because everyone else is as mind-rottingly stupid as they are. Now, I love awkward humour. I'm all about that caustic mix of cringing and laughing when Larry David talks about Affirmative Action or Jez starts eating the burnt carcass of a dog. Hilarious. But very rarely are awkward moments even mentioned in Facebook groups. More often than not, they're just "wacky" and "random", like a mentally deficient horse attempting to write a cut-away gag in a recent episode of Family Guy. I'm sure the first handful of "That awkward moment..." groups might have been mildly amusing, but can we not just let a dull joke die a respectable death?

No? Okay then. My bad. Then can we at least try and prevent getting to the point where Facebook has destroyed every aspect of every funny joke ever and we are all left as cold husks devoid of being able to tell so much as a knock-knock joke without wanting to jam a pen in our eyes? Pretty please?

67. Unexpected items in the bagging area

^ The man with a mustache is blatantly thinking "Corr, I'd put an unexpected item in her bagging area." That's what all men with mustaches think.

The next time I get told by a machine that there is an unexpected item in the bagging area, I'm going to put a squirrel in the shopping bag, thus validating the whining machine's ill-voiced claims. Then I'll ask an attendant to come over and see what the matter is and hopefully we'll all have a good laugh at my light-hearted prank. That or I'll take a dump in it. It depends how resourceful / angry / fibrous I'm feeling on the day.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

66. My lack of attention span when I try to work in the library

As a third year Anthropology student, I am currently writing a dissertation. For those of you who don't know what a dissertation is, it's basically a 10,000-12,000 sprawling diatribe about absolutely nothing. It is mind-numbing and pointless but in an attempt to actually get a degree, I've got to do it. And so it is with great dismay I drag myself to the university library everyday in an attempt to finish it (because if I sit at home and work, I end up playing that riff from 'Day Tripper' on guitar ad nauseum, briefly stopping to write entries for The List - take a guess at what I should be doing now!!). However, due to years of watching Ren & Stimpy, playing video-games that involve either shooting or punching things and a nasty coke habit*, I have the attention span of someone who doesn't have a very big attention span (what am I, the simile master?). To that end, working in the library is an extremely frustrating process for me, simply because I waste my time and never work efficiently. To demonstrate this point, here is a pie chart - click it to enlarge it, you knucklehead.

It will be a miracle if I end this year with a degree.

*This isn't what you think. I buy cans of regular Coke and, in an endeavour to avoid the horrific fuzzy teeth that come with drinking it, pour out lines of the caramelised liquid on a mirror and snort them through a bendy straw. Rock n' roll.

65. Flesh tunnels

^ If I saw one that big in real life, I might actually start weeping uncontrollably.
I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe. I can put my finger through your earlobe.


Monday, 25 April 2011

64. Jan Moir

^ A picture is worth a thousand words. Specifically "Ew" x 1000.

"Hi, I'm Jan Moir. When I'm not too busy spreading homophobic bile about dead pop-stars and their deviant lifestyles, making baseless assumptions about how Kate "snared" the "damaged and difficult" prince, pushing feminism back 50 years, callously treating a topic like teen pregancy with unhelpful vitriol, stereotypes and a misguided air of superiority or half-heartedly apologising for one of these acts, I like to relax by dropping kittens in a tub of sulphuric acid. And eating lots of pies. And kicking babies. With knifey-shoes."

What a cow.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

63. The romanticisation and lack of realism in modern media's portrayal of every day life

^ "It's these cards and movies and the pop songs - they're to blame for the lies and the heartache!" Hey, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, don't forget over the top, try-hard quirky romance films like '(500) Days of Summer'! You tit.

Being a fan of 1980s pop-culture especially, I've watched a lot of terrible films and television series. I've also read a lot of silly books in my not so vast time on this mortal coil. One thing that has always struck me is the complete lack of reality in everything. Especially in television. But especially in films.

Day to day life is generally a bit mundane with a couple of occasional flourishes of drama or excitement. However, if I were to believe Desperate Housewives or even Eastenders, every day would be a cavalcade of people being shot, multiple marriages and occasionally touching love stories, Tiffany being pushed down the stairs, murderers buying houses on my street, crack addiction related hijinks, women older than time itself bearing faces made purely from vacuum-formed plastic or the baby-stealing shenanigans of a psycho. Of course, that isn't life at all.

I'm happy to accept that life isn't all doom and gloom, but let's be realistic. Good things do happen every once in a while - of that we can be sure - but they never happen like they do in visual media. Life simply doesn't work like that. To demonstrate my point, what follows is a dispassionate list of a few instances of romanticised rubbish infused with a healthy dose of realism;

Ferris wouldn't get away with all that crap he pulled, for one he's using a computer to edit his attendance records before the internet existed. Ross and Rachel would probably not have stayed in such close proximity all the time considering their intense break up and their group of friends would have been fractured as a result. Charlie wouldn't find the golden ticket and would remain poverty stricken all his life. Girls like Zooey Deschanel don't listen to the Smiths. Marty McFly would have never been born because he decided to mess around with timelines. Indy would have been crushed horrifically by that giant boulder. Juno wouldn't own a hamburger phone. Carol Hathaway would have died in the first episode. Mia would have died from that overdose and Vincent would get killed by Marcellus. Ted never met your mother. Nicholas Cage wouldn't have hair. Morpheus was actually a very clever drug dealer and Neo became hooked on the red pill. Luke wouldn't have destroyed the Death Star because he turned off his targeting system. Judd Nelson would have been expelled from high school, Molly Ringwald wouldn't have talked to Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy would be seeking medical attention for all that dandruff and, most importantly, hot-boxing a room wouldn't give Emilio Estevez the super powers to shatter a glass door with the power of his voice.

Yeah. I think that will do for now.

62. Listening to people talk about their dreams

^ Nothing evokes the realism of a dream like Tommy Wiseau's disjointed mode of conversation.

This is a massively easy target, so I'll keep it short (also, I think I might have stolen the thrust of this from something I saw, but I can't for the life of me remember what - answers on a postcard, folks). Unless the dream involved any combination of the following a) awkward sex with people you know, b) sex with awkward people you know, c) manning a ginormous Japanese fighting robot, d) something funny involving people we mutually know and enjoy laughing at or e) all of the above*, it is not worth discussing with me or anyone else.

No one cares if you have a dream about someone they don't know doing something dull like playing checkers and then he suddenly transformed in to a moose but in the dream it seemed normal and you weren't surprised he had transformed in to a moose so you just accepted the fact he was now a moose and then you were in a classroom, but it made sense in the dream yada yada etc. etc. Dreams are nonsensical and for the most part, awfully monotonous. They can be entertaining / emotive / scary or whatever to the person who has them, but don't inflict them on anyone else. To people outside of the frightening mental scatter that is your mind, your monologued recollection of last night's dreams will make about as much sense as 'The Room' except without the entertainment factor of laughing at someone else's inability to act / direct / pace dialogue.

*Just to put a pleasant image in your head, 'all of the above' would consist of you in a Japanese fighting robot having awkward sex with your socially awkward friend whilst everyone else you both know points and laughs. Probably shouldn't share that dream with people, otherwise you will get sectioned.

61. Inappropriately loud music in pubs

^ Apparently this is from the Cross Keys in Bedworth. Absolutely genius marketing, almost makes me want to go to Bedworth. Almost.

Picture this: you're in a pub with some good company, you've all just got yourselves a casual pint of whatever and you all sit down to have a nice little chat about everything and nothing. As the drinks effortlessly flow (wallet permitting), so does the conversation. It begins to span new depths of inaneity and pointlessness, but you're conversing in good company so who's to care what the subject is? Bliss. Ah, I do enjoy a nice little pub session. And then it happens.

Suddenly, you notice that every line of conversation is suffixed with a "Sorry, what?". Instead of new threads of chatter unraveling, repetition of previous statements has become the lion's share of what's spoken. And in-between each utterance, there's often a pause of mild confusion followed by the listeners leaning in towards the speaker in order to decipher what they were saying. There are a lot of self-dismissive 'It doesn't matters' being thrown about, as the effort involved in perfectly reiterating what you've just stated isn't worth the pay off. What the hell has happened? Has everyone gone collectively deaf? Have you all just got a bit sick of each other's company? Did everyone drink too much and now every sentence is a group exercise in trying to figure out what order words go in sentences?

Nope. Someone turned the music up. Really, really loud (although all those other things could have happened too, but that's not the point!!). Now, keep in mind - you're all sitting down. Everyone else in the establishment is sitting down. There is no "dance floor" or whatever you kids call it. You're in a pub. For all intents and purposes, this is a vicinity intended for preching or occasionally standing awkwardly by the bar. And yet the music is as loud as some grotty club.

Apparently, loud music makes people buy more drinks - presumably, the logic is that if you can't capably talk to your company, you're all going to need a drink to sheepishly nurse in the conversational downtime. However, in my case at least and, granted, I am a massive old man at heart, I'm just inclined to leave a pub if I have to compete with the background music. If I'm in a pub, I want to hear things at a reasonable volume and not to have to shout every sentence - if I want music at 11, I'll listen to Spial Tap or go to a club.

(Except I wouldn't go to a club, because clubs are Hell on earth. They're the equivalent to being trapped in the gorilla enclosure during mating season, except somehow the big apes have got expensive clothes and acquired a massive PA system that plays nothing but a relentless drum and bass thud. And they're sweating a lot. And the floor is really sticky.)

60. Fans of a band who are outraged by cover versions

^ Without question, this is the greatest cover version of anything ever. Shatner really gets Pulp.

There are certain bands and musicians that I have discovered in my life that I value so highly, I will relentlessly devour any piece of music that has some tenuous link to them. For instance, I am probably one of the very few people in Britain who has nearly every single Andrew W.K. release, include such rarities such as his pre-I Get Wet EP, Party Til You Puke. On vinyl.

Suffice to say, I am a disgusting nerd and fan-boy of the utmost degree. And yes, I agree, I should probably be ashamed of myself. But I'm not the worst of the fan-boys. Oh no (though I'm probably up there, next to those who constantly bother their idols on Twitter with desperate pleas for a retweet). There are some fans who consider their band's music so sacred, that for another band to cover it would be sacrilege. This is a mindset I don't think I can ever understand for several reasons.

1) Covers can breathe new life in to a song that you might have played to death and rekindle your love for it if it had become somewhat stale.

2) There's nothing more fascinating than seeing how another group of individuals interpreted a song you hold dear. What nuances they picked up on and what they think are the main focuses of the song are exceptionally subjective and covers can give you a unique insight in to something you may have missed before.

3) They're (usually) a labour of love. You're hardly going to cover a song you dislike. Hell, most covers recorded by a band will be of someone they love. Like you, they're a fan of the band being covered. They even like that band's music so much that they're willing to take the time to learn how to play it and attempt to recreate it. All you can be arsed to do is sit there and listen to it, caustically passing judgement on those who engage with it in a different way.

4) This is probably the most important one. I'm not going to pretend all covers are good, because they certainly aren't. There are a wealth of terrible covers out there. Far too many to count. But you know what? They don't affect the original song. You can hear a terrible cover and then you can forget all about it and go back to the definitive version. No reason to get high and mighty and claim your band of choice has been done a dishonour - their music still remains 100% in tact. Get over it.

If you shut yourself off to cover versions of your favourite bands, you'll never discover the other musicians who also share your audial affections. And for all you know, you could be preventing yourself from discovering another group that you will come to love.

N.B. There isn't enough "insulting the reader" in this article, so just pretend every paragraph ended with "You elitist plonker."

Monday, 4 April 2011

59. The constant assault of passwords

^ This is pretty much what happens when I use the wrong password three times on my Visa security checker thing and get my card locked.

Having spent my childhood years playing too many video-games and my adult years drinking, the only time my brain wasn't being rotted on a regular basis was between the ages of 15-16. As such, my memory is shot to pieces with the only permanent fixture being things learnt in that one year of mental stimulation. Unfortunately, I squandered my chance to learn something valuable and instead the only things I properly remember are regarding Metallica from 1981-1992. Essential information, I'm sure you'll all agree.

With my premature senility in mind (well, as "in mind" as memory loss can be), it is with great disdain and reluctance I sign myself up to anything online nowadays. Not because I have to come up with a username, words are actually relatively easy to remember having learnt to speak at some point earlier in life. No, it's because of passwords that I fear making new accounts. Security is apparently always at risk on the internet and so online purveyors of banal accounts want to make sure your account is particularly secure. That's all well and good, but when the websites in question then reject your first twelve passwords because they either use actual words, don't contain random enough digits like 7 or π, dOn'T cOnStantLY cHANGe CasE or, God-forbid, don't alter the font, then it becomes a chore. The mighty internet tells me this is a good password;

Do you realise how long it takes me to type that? The mini-Sonic takes at least 15 minutes to draw and the upside question mark requires 40 minutes scouring the computer's character map and crying. But at least my Gmail account is secure!!

However, remembering one unrelentingly unguessable password simply isn't enough. Apparently, having a "global password" is mind-numbingly stupid and basically equivalent to wearing a sign that says "INTERNET HACKERS, PRETEND TO BE ME PRETTY PLEASE". The only solution is to have hordes of unique passwords - one for every account you may have. This means that every time you try to log in to your Amazon account, you have to cycle through each and every password you've ever thought of in an attempt to eventually find the correct one. And don't you dare write these passwords down. The hackers will still find it. Even if you encode the passwords and hide them under your bed, they'll find a way.

Similarly, some accounts will even require you to change your password every few months, just for that extra. Secure. Edge. Whilst you clutch at straws to think of something new that you won't forget in the next few minutes, the password-checking program will mock you and repeatedly tell you that your new password is too similar to your previous one or that you can't re-use an old password. I can only remember so many things. A random assortment of numbers, digits and dated cartoon characters is not one of them!

Please Internet, I know no one is going to hack any of my accounts. I have no money to steal and the only emails I've received since 2007 are about Russian women who allegedly can't wait to meet me (turns out they were lying). Just let me have something simple like "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" as a global password.


UPDATE: I don't usually do this, but this is utterly karmic payback for writing this entry. I got my online banking password wrong twice and now my account is locked. GEE THANKS NATWEST.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

58. The bitter realisation you have peaked physically

^ The most depressing thing about The Cure isn't the music, but rather the fact that most of us will spend our adult life gradually transforming in to modern day Robert Smith.

Chances are, if you're reading this, you're not a child. You're possibly an adolescent or, seeing as most the viewers of this blog seem to be vague acquaintances of mine, you're probably 20+. If you're not, stop reading now before I instill you with fear and depression regarding your inevitable future.

So old folks, do you remember what it was like being 18? Yeah, you may have got a few spots every once in a while but other than that, you were invincible. You could eat deep-fried lard encased in bacon grease and be stick thin, you could guzzle down ten thousand pints in a night and not get a hangover, you had so much energy that you didn't need to drink coffee (but you did drink coffee and lots of it because it's the best drink), you never exercised but remained fit enough to fight seven bears who were convinced you had wronged their mother, knives snapped when they came in contact with your skin and bullets bounced right off. It could only be described as "jawesome" (similar to "awesome", but infused with the coolness of Jaws the shark).

19 was alright, but there was a downhill trend making itself apparent. Your belly was starting to wobble a bit, you felt a bit ropey after a heavy night, the bears were starting to graze slightly and you were once or twice admitted to the hospital for bullet wounds. For the most part though, you were doing well. Nothing to worry about.

Then 20 happened and your body couldn't take it any more. All that delicious refried lard was giving you seven chins, a casual ten beers would lead to waking up the next day with your brain pounding the inside of your skull for mercy, you couldn't function without a coffee drip hooked to your veins and the bears, knives and guns were leaving you missing limbs, riddled with bullets and so many exit wounds that you began to resemble swiss cheese.

It's at this point you start to try and turn things around. You start to consume in moderation, pretending that the saved money makes it worth it. You begin exercising on a regular basis, spending your new found spare money on a worthless gym membership. Also, you learn to stay away from the forests where the armed bears seem to live (I'm running with this bear joke - deal with it, this entry doesn't get any better than that). But it's simply not working. You're in the worst shape of your life. Thanks to Facebook and its ilk, it's all too easy to compare photos of yourself now with ones from a couple of years ago. Your face is haggard, there's flab everywhere, you haven't shaved in years, you're emotionally crippled and you're so dependent on coffee that if you don't have at least four cups a day, you'll fall asleep on the bus home and wake up leaning and drooling on a complete stranger. Twice. In a week. As soon as all this physical degradation clicks, it's official. You're no longer youthful and you've squandered your best years without truly appreciating them. Nice going, turtlegobbler.

N.B. I used to fight bears.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

57. Pineapple on pizza

I'm willing to put most things on pizza. Any variety of meat, most vegetables, fried eggs, even the collected works of Shakespeare goat's cheese are all suitable toppings for pizza. Really, pizza is quite fair game... except for fruit. Fruit doesn't suit pizza (other than tomatoes, smart-arse. If they count as fruit, I don't even know anymore). I can't put my finger on it entirely, admittedly, but I think it has something to do with warm, squidgy fruit tasting like suffering when mixed with fried cheese and delicious ham. And yet, ham and pizza is such a ubiquitous topping. So much so that when I worked at Pizza Express, people would ask why there was no ham and pineapple pizza on offer on the menu and ask if the chef could prepare one. Of course, the chef couldn't because Pizza Express makes good pizza and doesn't keep pineapple in stock. The outrage some people expressed at this was baffling. Just get the pizza with fried egg on it, you slack-jawed pizza urchin.

Call this pizza-based elitism, but you know I'm right. Pineapple is not an authentic Italian ingredient for any pizza, but more than that, it tastes horrible. It doesn't belong with melted cheese and it definitely doesn't belong alongside cooked meat. How anyone can stomach that abomination without retching up a yellow splurge stuns me.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

56. The term "nom", "nomming" or any other ridiculous extension of it

^ Okay, this picture is so cute it warms my heart. Well, the cold, shriveled and blackened prune where my heart should probably be.

"Nom" is one of those little phrases that rears its unoriginal head all over the internet, primarily in the context of cutesy animals eating food. Adorable. Or at least, it used to be before the entire internet decided they would use the phrase more often than the word "like" punctuates their meaningless statements.

"Nom" and its variants are kind of onomatopoeic in the context of animals, so I'll let it slide there. I'd even let it slide in the case of Pac-Man, because it makes a bit more sense than"WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA". But when real people start using it to denote their eating activity, usually in the context of declarations as obnoxious as "PIZZA?! OM NOM NOM", it ceases to be endearing. Instead it becomes an annoyingly turgid and unflattering phrase. Ultimately, you are not a cute, lovable animal. Indeed, you are neither a "lolcat" or some other internet meme. You are a grown human with no concept of reality who needs to be taken to the vet to be put down.

55. People who stop on staircases

^All these people are really in the way. Inconsiderate sods.

Stairs. You know stairs. The non-moving escalators. The ones you reluctantly drag your animated corpse up whenever the lift isn't working. Yeah, you know stairs. They're pretty essential to every day life, provided you're not a lonely hermit in a bungalow. And if you are, bully for you.

Stairs are usually just about wide enough for two rows of people to use them, one row going up and the other, surprisingly, going down. So, what happens when two members of these rows recognise each other and they wish to converse? Why, they stop and talk. On the stairs. In the way of every one else who was currently using the aforementioned stairs. And so, everyone has to stop ascending or descending the stairs as Joe Knob-Gobbler and Jamina Pig-Features discuss the intricate ins and outs of just how drunk Steve Statitis got last night. It's not like you're in the way or anything, is it?

This entire debacle can be made worse, however. Specifically, on double-decker buses in London. There is nothing worse than someone waiting at the top of the bus stairs, waiting for someone to vacate the upper-deck so they can grab a seat. Think of it like this; when someone does leave their seat, they need to go downstairs. But they can't go downstairs, because you're in the way. There is barely any space for either party to get past each other because this is a narrowly confined bus. A stalemate occurs when seat-evacuee and seat-grabber can't get past each other, because the latter party thought waiting at the top of the narrow, confined, tight, uncomfortable staircase was a sensible idea. It wasn't. Wait at the bottom of the stairs like everybody else, you twunt.

Basically, it boils down to this. If you're on the stairs and you're not moving, I will rectify that by pushing you down them.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

54. Sex and the City

^ Sarah Jessica Parker (above) plays lead anti-feminist, Carrie Bradshaw.

My beef with Sex and the City is similar to that of my beef with women's magazines, albeit S&TC is probably more harmful on a global scale.

For the few of you who have mercifully managed to avoid this completely narcissistic bilge of psuedo-feminine-empowerment gone horrifically wrong, let me fill you in. Sex and the City follows the exploits of four "empowered" women who, when they're not desperately plastering their aging faces in relentless amounts of slap and wearing expensive clothes, are found in cosmopolitan settings such as cafes and bars, drinking some description of a trendy beverage and guffawing about men - whether or not a certain man likes them, whether that man is good in bed, what men mean to them, whether that man has a big penis, whether all men have penises etc. It's a bit like Loose Women, except everyone is stick thin and tied together by a poorly written narrative. Also, the lead character is played by a horse - a well made-up horse, but a horse nevertheless.

Despairingly, lead failure Carrie "I'm a God-Damn Horse" Bradshaw, tends to book-end episodes with the insipidly dim-witted weekly sex column she writes for some magazine. Now, all throughout the show, the dominant theme is that these are liberated women. These are independent women. These are women who don't need men in their lives in order to be successful. This is how the modern woman should act. And yet, any notions of "independence" are quickly quelled by Carrie regurgitating the collective desperation of her group of friends in her column. Splurging about how she wants to find the "right guy" on an almost daily basis, it becomes achingly clear that our four "modern women" all seek men in a hackneyed attempt to validate themselves. These aren't role models. These are pathetic caricatures of spoilt hags. This is a joke of progressive television. There is nothing liberating about so strongly associating female independence with self-involvement, superficiality, shallow values and flaunting money. I'm glad I'm not a woman, otherwise I'd find it personally insulting.

I could almost let this go. Almost. If it wasn't for the film Sex and the City 2. It's portrayal of the Middle East is nothing short of borderline racist. The gabby four's Western values clash with Muslim customs throughout, not in the least coming to a head (easy!) with regards to Samantha "I'm So Desperate To Prove I'm Sexuality Active" Jones being arrested for public indecency after fondling a guy's balls. Classy. But when the mischievous girl gang get saved by a bunch of veiled Muslim women, things go horrifically awry. The latter group eventually take off their "oppressive" clothing for to reveal that, underneath, they share the same fashion sense as our American girls, boasting make up and "fashionable" clothing! Because that doesn't imply that every culture secretly wishes to subvert their religious or traditional values to be a spoilt monstrosity of Western superficiality! In foolishly attempting to make a comment about Western ideals of sexual egalitarianism in comparison to say that of Islam, S&tC basically just ends up insulting a varied and widely practiced religion, ignoring the relatively progressive nature of the United Arab Emirates for ill-informed stereotypes (at least, in the context of female empowerment) and highlighting just how utterly misguided values are in the Western media and entertainment. Style does not equal empowerment, you git-wizards.

It really warms the cockles of my heart to see unanimously loved visual vomit such as Sex and the City not only proliferate stereotypes regarding gender in our own society, but also to cast aspersions on the cultural backwardness of others that it clearly has no understanding of. Wait. No, it doesn't. It repulses me.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

53. Enemies who don't understand the etiquette of mutual hatred

^ The best thing about Super Smash Bros. Brawl was finally seeing these enemies bash seven shades out of each other.
I've not made a lot of enemies in my life, nor do I intend to. I very rarely hold grudges and generally can't be bothered to invest genuine emotional energy in disliking someone as much as to even call them an "enemy". But every once in a while, you will meet someone who you simply do not click with. Not only that, but they actively offend you by their mere presence. And, granted, you offend them in a similar manner. In each other's eyes, you are nothing but a Berkosaurus Rex waiting for extinction. That's fine. You can't get along with everyone. Hopefully, you'll never run in to each other and just generally stay out of the other's life. You'll ignore one another and everything will be dandy.

But sometimes life just isn't that easy. Sometimes you're forced in to a situation where direct contact with your figure of hatred is not only obligatory, but necessary. Most of the time, this is a difficult affair where both parties try their hardest to bite and dullen sharpened tongues. After all, you don't want to make your shared acquaintances uncomfortable just because you two have some petty and nonsensical feud. That's just unfair on them.

This situation is always made one hundred times worse when one party doesn't get the position they're putting everyone else in and immediately proceeds to make rude comments at their enemy's expense. The antagonistic commentary doesn't serve to belittle their enemy however. Rather, it just cements them as an utter whore for drama whose own deluded sense of self-worth grossly overpowers their ability to use tact and self control in the interest of not placing friends in an intensely awkward situation. It's nothing but sheer karma when their target responds with nothing but civility, as the perpetrator has just made a fool of themselves in front of all their own friends. Well played, you nuclear numbskull.

If you're going to hate someone, at least learn to do it without making other people think you're a spiteful cow, eh?

52. People who claim they "get" you.

^ These guys get each other. You get me?

Friends are great. Contrary to this misanthropic slice of internet I call The List, I really quite like some people in real life. For some reason or another we click - maybe they like sarcastic humour, perhaps they enjoy the 1980s, mayhaps they're massive nerds or possibly they engage me in lengthy discussions about the pros and cons of the Manic Street Preachers' discography. Different friends have different appeals and variety is the spice of life.

Amongst these friends, there will be a small group who really understand you - more so than anyone else seems to. I could probably count the ones who "get" me on one hand. Not that I'm belittling the others, they're all lovely too. But more than anything about someone who gets you is there is both a shared thought process and an ability to put yourselves in one another's shoes with relative ease. It's sort of like empathy on another level. You don't need to explain yourself all of the time, simply because they get where you're coming from. And so it is infuriating when someone who isn't of that caliber states that they get you. Because they don't.

If you're at a stage of friendship where you need to tell the other person that you get them, that you know what makes them tick and that you comprehend their reasoning, then you're merely clutching at straws to make your friendship seem more important than it is. The problem with claiming to get someone you don't is that you will forcefully project so many relentless beliefs upon them in an attempt to validate your claim - you'll act like you know what kind of things they like, you'll be shocked and offended when they tell you otherwise, you'll constantly ask them questions that reveal how little you actually know about them and you'll continue this process of making baseless assumptions of your victim in an ill-thought out attempt to make them think you're on the same level. You're not, you're just too blinded by your own desperation for real friendship to actually spend time getting to know them.

Close friends don't need to constantly reassure each other that they're close friends. It's that simple.

N.B. I have used the word "get" so many times in this entry that the entire word is beginning to lose all sense of meaning. I'm not even sure it meant anything in the first place now.

51. Taking photos in club toilets

^ I thought it would be rude / possibly illegal to copy photos from Facebook acquaintances that exemplify my point so here is a deep and profound image that speaks volumes about the sheer futility of life in an adorable fashion.

I can't actually fathom this one. You're on a night out and, as has become almost too standard a procedure, someone has brought along a camera so you can ruthlessly document every aspect of the evening. Forget actually enjoying your night, it's far more important to show others you're having a wild night out by posing for photographs, uploading them all to Facebook and making it seem as if you live an active life and many friends. You don't and your complete obsession with visual validation on social networking sites is ridiculous. However, I'm willing to accept this happens a lot - photos of forced "good" times are standard affair. Whatevs. Cool beans.

Where things get a bit bizarre is when examining the location of the photo. Specifically, when you realise that the photo of the person on your Facebook news feed is of them in a toilet. Now, I'm ruthlessly opposed to gender stereotyping but this does seem to only ever occur with girls - mainly because if it occurred in a men's toilet, there would be a lot of... urinal usage and wang. I can understand taking photos out around the dance-floor, the bar, maybe even outside the club, but what about an area where people excrete bodily fluids and occasionally solids seems like a prime venue for photography? I don't care if there are cubicles, it's still odd.

A lot of these toilet based photos seem to involve mirrors and so I'm jumping to the possibly baseless conclusion that you want to take the "perfect" photo of yourself. Are you really so vain that you have to preen in front of your misleading reflection before you commit any image of yourself to camera? Are you that proud of your hideous fake tan, miscoloured lips, Snuffleupagus eyelashes and domestically abused hair? Just because you think you look perfect, doesn't mean anyone else does.

I think I kind of lost my train of thought there. You're grotesque and shouldn't take photos in the toilets. All of you. That'll do.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

50. Using "I was drunk" as an excuse

^ This might be the one occasion I'll let the "I was drunk" excuse slide.
Heaven knows I like a tipple. I also have enough humility and self-awareness to admit that, every once in a while, that tipple escalates in to a topple, spilt drinks, slurring and me spouting incomprehensible nonsense about music circa 1984. Honestly, it occasionally happens to all of us. It's silly, it's irresponsible and it's a mistake but, like all errors, we vaguely hope to learn from it and accept our own idiocy. Everyone slips up every once in a while, I think we can all tolerate that.

What I can't abide, however, is getting yourself in a complete state and then not having the proverbial balls to own up to your own antics. Simply put, if you don't learn to stick to your own drinking limits, then at least have enough moral integrity to accept your actions. If you can't do that, then don't drink. It's that straight forward. The excuse that you've drunk too much and that's why you're acting like a prat shows a child-like understanding of how your behaviour affects other people and your own inability to admit you were in the wrong.

"I was really drunk" is not an excuse, it's a statement of your own lack of self-control.

49. Pseudo-intellectuals

^ Okay, this made me giggle heartily. From here.

Ooh, look at me. I'm so intellectual because I've been reading all this avant-garde literature you've never heard of, like Chekov and Sartre. I've also read Joyce's Ulysses. I read it whilst listening to nothing but Rachmaninov pieces and the sound of my own ego inflating.

Earlier today, I went to sit in Starbucks with my personally assembled collection of T.S. Eliot poems and gave all those idiotic, caffeine-absorbing numb-skulls a chance to view what they could be if only they challenged themselves. I didn't even buy a coffee, I was too busy doing a public service! Then, I followed it up by giving a talk on how political I am to a group of politicised youths who are currently occupying a political building for political reasons. Now, excuse me as I have to return to my ironically dilapidated flat, sup wine and write a brilliant novel by candlelight. With a quill. On a scroll.

I hope you spill the wine, knock the candle over and burn your house down. Yeah.

Monday, 14 February 2011

48. Valentine's Day

^ 'More Than Words' is unquestionably the most romantic song ever, despite the massive subtext of "I want to get in your pants". However, this song is only good when Extreme do it. No exceptions.

I know what you're thinking. "Oh, here we go. Generic internet-whiner is rambling about Valentine's Day because of its supposed over-commercialism, when in reality they're just bitter because they're alone".

Well, think again. You pissbag.

There's nothing wrong with the over the top commercialism of Valentine's Day. We are, for the most part, happy enough to bastardise events like Christmas and Easter with the never-ending desire to thrust material goods on other people, so why not St. Valentine's? It's only logical. I just want Valentine's to give up any pretence of being romantic, much like we all know Christmas is no longer about Jesus and Easter is no longer about giant pink rabbits who lay eggs.

There is nothing romantic about everyone doing something "romantic" on a set day, every year, without fail. The very nature of being forced to show your affection to someone by an arbitrary calendar date robs the recipient of the spontaneity that is often key to romantic gestures. If you really want to be romantic this Valentine's day, do nothing. Instead, wait for the right time. When you're genuinely bursting with love and need to express it, then do something that displays your actual feelings - not the feelings you've been told you should have by social convention. Don't go to a restaurant / cinema / pub / MaccyD's (delete as appropriate) on a day that is completely meaningless to your relationship. All that will happen is you will be surrounded by other couples who are also desperately attempting to validate their own relationships and fawn awkward conversation about how "in love" they are, further cheapening your false-hope that your Valentine's date will really be something special.

At the heart of it, just take all the pressure and forced emotion out of Valentine's and treat it like any other day. Don't wait for one day a year to show your love - you should show it when you can and want to.