Wednesday, 20 May 2015

# 90. Battlefield Earth.

Battlefield Earth
Dir: Roger Christian (nope, me neither...)
Release: 2000
iMDB rating: 2.4

First, apologies for anyone expecting Blubberella. I'm still trying to find a copy that is not dubbed into Russian (it seems as though Russians enjoy watching fat women kill Nazis).
But I promised a review so here it is....

Battlefield Earth is a sci-fi.  I am not keen on sci-fi as a rule.  I have no strong feelings toward Star Wars, I kind of liked the new Star Trek movies and Mac and Me was a complete let down (although it, curiously, isn't in the bottom 100). So I wasn't really looking forward to this before I watched.

I do, however, enjoy Forest Whittaker and (sometimes) John Travolta as performers. Remember, Whitaker is an Oscar-winning actor (The Last King of Scotland). Travolta has been nominated twice (Pulp Fiction and Saturday Night Fever). He also flies planes. Which is cool!

Overall then, I have some mixed feelings. I'm looking forward to some OK acting from the leads, yet a pretty poor plot.


The year is 3000. Humans are dumb as shit! Not only did they let themselves get taken over by an alien race 1000 years ago, they also managed to have regressed into a near primitive-like state since then (including whooping, jumping around and using their hands as kitchen utensils). It's a bit like watching Planet of the Apes in reverse.

The aliens in question are the Pscyhlos. A bunch of hairy, 10 feet tall, dreadlocked, codpiece-wearing humanoids who cannot (repeat CANNOT) breathe the Earth's air.  So, an alien species that cannot breathe our atmosphere conquers the planet? Um, ok.

A few humans do still exist.  In the Star Wars-esque opening narrative screen roll, we are told that a small group of them are 'hiding in pockets, in radiation, [and] they are on the verge of extinction'.  Well perhaps, fellas, you want to get away from all of that pesky radiation if you don't want to be extinct!

Our main human character leaves his compound and sets out to an old crazy-golf course in which he attacks a plastic dragon. Yep, really.  He then learns that the dragon isn't real. He is then set upon by a pair of spear-wielding strangers who demand food or they will kill him. He very quickly makes friends with them.  They set off to an abandoned mall and discuss the fact that mannequins are actually the burnt out husks of people from a thousand years ago.  They don't know what a mannequin is - remember that, it will be important later.

Suddenly, they are set upon by one of the Space-Rastas.  They are captured and taken to downtown Denver which is the human processing centre.  It turns out that the Psychlos are not very nice (because the name sounds a bit like 'psycho'. Think about it for a while....). They push a few of the humans around, but seem very reluctant to do them any real harm.  Oh yeah, and at this point we have to guess the fact that Denver is covered by a large dome that will help the aliens - but not the humans - breathe.

At this point of the movie, I had to go and get some peanut butter. I'm not sure why, but it helped.

Our main human guns down a random alien and as a result, we are introduced to Travolta's character who calls himself Bob Marley Terl, the chief of security.  Oh boy, more on him later, but after the mopey bastards that the humans are, he was a great relief.  His right hand man is Ker (Whitaker) who has yellow eyes despite the fact all of the other aliens have human colours..... come to think of it, Ker is the only African-American alien too. I'm unsure if that's related.

Now, Terl has been on Earth for a long time, and he has some lovely things to say about it such as it is disgusting, dirty and he doesn't like Pizza Hut.  His boss gets teleported from the planet Psychlos (uuuurgh) and tells him that he has to stay for another 50 cycles.  Which could be 50 days, months, years or decades as far as we know - either way Terl is pissed off. My first question was 'why'? And then we find out he had bonked the senator's daughter.  Fair play, I say.

After getting wankered on some green booze, Terl then hatches a plan to get off Earth by having the 'human-animals' dig out all of the gold so that he can buy his way back to his planet.  To show just how nasty he is, he films Ker repeating the plan back to him so if something goes wrong he can blame Ker. He then lets Ker join him in the plan and take a share of the gold. What a git!

About 45 minutes in, we still don't know the main human's name.  We do know that he is a pretty good fighter and doesn't want to be kept down by the, er, alien.  But because he fights back, Terl thinks he has found the right man to get the gold so (for reasons I didn't quite grasp) he teaches human dude EVERYTHING about the Psychlo race via some kind of mind rape device.  Yep, everything. His language, history, where the weapons are kept.... Oh, and he also teaches him how to operate nuclear warheads, fly alien aircraft, read maps, use advanced mathematics and plan sophisticated double-crosses. Basically, he gives him all of the tools to defeat him except for the actual weapons.

But wait..... there's more.....

Terl then takes human-dude to an old museum and shows him what humans used to have which entails a statue of Abraham Lincoln and the Deceleration of Independence (I think that symbolises freedom, or something...). Terl then shows human-dude the fact that he has human-dude's girlfriend captured and she has an explosive device around her neck (thank you Fortress and Battle Royale) which will go off if he doesn't agree to everything.  Human-dude agrees.

The humans, meanwhile, hatch a cunning plan: they will make the aliens think that they are digging for gold when actually only half of them are - the other half are going to get gold from Fort Knox to make the aliens think that they have been digging for gold. Errrr, peanut butter, peanut butter, peanut butter.

Some of the group go to Washington D.C. - 'the capital city of our tribes' - because it is where the nation's history is buried, including a map showing which parts of the US are radiated.  Back at the camp, human-dude tells his fellow human-dudes that they have to fight back and reclaim the planet.  And they will do this with a very big arsenal of assorted heavy artillery.  Which they know exactly where to find because........ yeah, I really don't know, but the next scene has them barging into Fort Hood, Texas to find a lovely pile of well-preserved, fully equipped, incredibly dustless 1000 year old weapons. Including what appears to be a fully fueled fleet of F-25s.

Now, remember how I said that the humans didn't know what a mannequin was? Well, our main human-dude (who was taught about everything by Terl) takes it on himself to teach them all how to dismantle nuclear devices, fly fighter planes and shoot guns.  In one week.  From fucking idiots to nuclear scientists in seven days.  I have to check out this scientology stuff.

Human-dude manages to trick Terl into thinking that gold comes out of the Earth in perfect bar form after presenting him with the gold from Fort Knox (the scene where they get it must be in the deleted scenes section of the DVD).  Terl then regales human-dude about the time when the Psychlos defeated the human race in about nine minutes. Human-dude brings up some stuff about the Deceleration of Independence  - because 'Murica.

After a week of really hard training, the humans finally fight back in their F-25s and destroy the dome covering Denver via sacrifice of one of the humans flying a plane (I either forget his name, or we just didn't get told).  All the aliens, who have been living under one big dome in Denver, Colorado instead of spreading themselves around the globe, snuff it.  But that is not enough!!! Human-dude gets a teleportation device and sends a couple of nukes back to planet Psychlon, committing nothing short of genocide as every last one is vaporised.

Except for Terl and Ker who now can apparently breathe human air. The former ends up in jail in Fort Knox surrounded by gold (because he was greedy for gold, just in case you missed that moral nugget); Ker, on the other hand, helps the humans rebuild society.  The humans (I'm guessing) keep talking about gods and use the nuclear weapons and warplanes to destroy each other (NOTE: that was not the ending of the film, but I think it would have been better that way).

Overall, the plot is so convoluted that it borders on stupidity, and there are just way too many holes for this to make sense.


All in all, I didn't give one shit about any of the humans.
The main guy (whose name is Johnny - apparently not important information). is played by Barry 'The Sniper from Saving Private Ryan' Pepper. The acting here is pretty awful, I must say. But not half as bad as the other nameless humans who have screen time of about 3 minutes each.  Utterly forgettable characters.

The Psychlons, on the other hand are wonderfully camp and cheesy - a good bit of comic relief after the human misery machines.  They have wonderful character names like Terl, Ker, Bartender, One-eyed guard and (my favourite) Psychlo babe.
Travolta hams it up in a style I haven't seen since Broken Arrow (god, I wish Christian Slater were in this movie......
Whitaker, unfortunately, looks bored.  He plods from one scene to the next as a string along to Travolta.  He finally musters up a smidge of acting at the end, but too little too late.

The rest are just background noise. Seriously, some really forgettable performances. All in all, the acting by Travolta was every bit as overdone as we can imagine.  I'm not saying it was good, but at least he had a bit of charisma which is unlike the rest of the characters.


Many critics see this as a scientology film, and giving that it was written as a novel by class-A nutjob L. Ron Hubbard and funded by a few million of Travolta's own cash then it's not hard to see why. I don't know much about Scientology, but the basic belief is that humans have lost contact with who they once were (like the humans in this movie) and they have to regain that through some form of..... well, science I guess. I really don't know and this movie is so lacking in inspiration, I can't even be bothered to look on Wikipedia.

I saw it as a sort of allegory of corporations enslaving the little man to get rich (the Psychlos refer to their organisation as 'the corporation' and their home planet as 'head office').  If this is true, then it is one of the most lazy pieces of symbolism that I have ever witnessed.

The direction was a shambles with weird, unnecessary camera angles, even stranger colour filters (grey to green to brown to purple) and way too many screen swipes and slow motion scenes. It was as if he was a kid who had just discovered Instagram and is learning how to put his pictures on PowerPoint.  By the way, the director was set-designer and second unit director on a few of the Star Wars movie.
Speaking of which, the FX in this weren't as bad as everyone makes out.  They look like they could be from early ILM, and are no worse than Lucas' reissue of Star Wars. So credit where it is due, right?

Would I recommend this film?
Unless you are a scientologist and then go nuts.

It is basically a piece of self-indulgent, unnecessary propaganda for a pretty loopy belief system.

If you really have nothing else to watch...... go and talk to someone.
Except John Travolta.
Or Tom Cruise for that matter.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Good day.
First, allow me to apologise for being the worst blogger in the world (with possible exceptions from North Korea).  The fact of the matter is, I find it difficult to write blogs because they end up with me talking about shit people don't care about, or I'm just having a whinge about things that annoy me.

On the other hand, I want to practice writing. Therefore, I need to grasp the opportunity of the blog to refine my skills.  But what can I talk about that is interesting to everyone? My travels over this beautiful earth? The time I got delayed for 8 hours at Abu Dhabi airport? My students? No. I need to think of a more universal theme......


Everyone loves movies. Everyone has favourites and everyone has those they despise. Everyone, most importantly, has an opinion.

We all love good movies (depending, entirely, on your definition of 'good'). We all love Jaws. We all love Star Wars. We all love Die Hard (if you don't, then you should probably give up on life right now...).  The medium of cinema has entertained us for years and has produced some of the most striking examples of art in recent history.

It has, however, produced shit. And this brings me to my point.....

The IMDb has produced a list of the bottom 100 movies of all time.
I am proud to say I have seen 80% of the greatest movies of all time.
But I am ashamed to say I have never seen the bottom 100.

The purpose of this blog over the next few months (possibly years) is that I will altruistically watch the worst movies ever made so that you don't have to.
I will review them and tell you an honest, no-bullshit opinion. Then you can decide if you want to watch them.

Why am I doing this? For two reasons: first, I am unimaginably bored; second, I have to write reviews for my MA, so I need the practice.

What will be examined?

There will be a number of aspects that will be considered:
1. Narrative: Does the movie make sense? Does it follow some form of arc? Is there a sodding point?
2. Acting: Is it any good? (Here I mean both A-list doing bad jobs AND z-list doing good jobs.)
3. FX: Birdemic?
4. Entertainment value: I will invent a better scale, but basically: 10 = Jurassic Park, 1 = After Earth.

Ladies and gentlemen who read my blog (and now I hope I get an audience), as we speak, number 100 is downloading.
However, the viewing order will differentiate in order to avoid any expectation.

If you want to join me on this quest then you are welcome. A friend and colleague of mine, Ian Haponiev, may offer his opinion at points - and we are more than happy to see yours.

I hope you will join us.

See you next week for Blubberella.


Friday, 16 May 2014

A little note on why English is not crazy. Or; screw you, Lederer.

For quite some time now, this little slanderous article has been floating around the web making it look as though the English language does not make sense.

As both a student and teacher of the English language, I will be the first to admit that, on the surface, English is a bit fucking stupid - especially the spelling and pronunciation parts. But this article is just plain lazy.

English has a varied and rich history. From Anglo-Saxon roots, to French domination, English has developed into a global language, and it continues to evolve. Everyday new words are formed – some survive, some don’t.
So when I see something like this, or hear someone say something stupid like ‘if the plural of “box” is boxes, then why is the plural of “ox” oxen?’ then I tend to get on my high horse and preach about how English is a language that comes from many different sources, and this affects the form of words and the grammar that they use.

But whoever wrote this garbage (and I’m assuming it was an American because of the words used) obviously didn’t do their homework.

So I have taken the liberty of explaining why this article is bollocks. It goes in the same order as the article.

Here we go…

First of all, ‘eggplants’ are called eggplants because in the 18th century there was (and there still is) a variety of the plant that was white – like an egg. It also looked a bit like an egg – like an egg. Look:

No ham in ‘hamburger’? That’s because they are not named after the meat, but rather where they originate from. They started life being called hamburg steak after the city of Hamburg. Hamburg was a major port for immigrants leaving for the States. They settled and introduced the hamburg steak which eventually became the hamburger.

The first recorded use of this ‘pineapple’ is in the 1300s when it referred to what we know now as the pine cone.  However, the word apple in the Middle English period was used to refer to all fruits, including nuts! (Appel of paradis was actually a banana.) Discovered by European travelers in the 1600s, the pineapple was named after its resemblance of the pine cone. I don’t quite see it myself.

For some reason, the United States like to label their muffins as English and American. ‘English muffin’s are savoury whilst the American ones are sweet. English muffins originated in England (duh) during the Victorian period, being made from leftover bread dough. Immigrants took them to the States where they got the name English Muffins. But only by Americans. Do you know what we call them in England? Muffins.

‘Quicksand’ is an easy one. It is a compound word of ‘quick’ and ‘sand’. The original form of the word ‘quick’ is quyk which means ‘living’. So ‘quicksand’, therefore, has nothing to do with speed. The sand is ‘alive’.

‘Boxing rings’ were originally round. Fighters would be surrounded by a ‘ring’ of people who wanted to see a fine pair of pugilists smack seven shades of shit out of each other. The spectators would hold a rope to contain the action. However, some of the audience would interfere with the fight so it became necessary to create a more suitable place for action. It was decided that four posts would be stuck in the ground with ropes attached. The ones we have now are a bit trendier, but it is still essentially the same thing. The name ‘ring’ just stuck.

‘Guinea pigs’ are from South America and they actually taste pretty good. In the 1600s trade between Guinea, England, South America was booming, and guinea pigs were brought back to England and Guinea.  As for the pig bit, listen to one. If you squeeze it hard enough it sounds a bit like a small pig. And if you really squeeze it hard, it whistles Ring of Fire. Go on, try it.

Writers, fingers, grocers, hammers.  The /-er/ suffix in English is used to form nouns to distinguish what a person’s job is or where they come from. Writers write: the verb ‘write’ becomes the noun ‘writer’. So, fingers don’t ‘fing’ because ‘fing’ isn’t a verb. Or a sodding word, for that matter. Grocers don’t groce, again because ‘groce’ isn’t a word. Gross, however, is, and it is from this that we get grocers – a person who buys and sells by gross. Again, ham isn’t a verb, so a hammer can’t ham (unless it is an exceedingly bad actor).

‘Amend’ and ‘amends’ are two completely different words. Amend is a verb and amends is a noun.  You can’t ‘make’ a verb.  They do, however, have the same French root amender, which means ‘to correct, free from fault’.

‘Teachers’ and ‘preachers’. This is a tough one. Basically, ‘teach’ is an Old English word whilst ‘preach’ is Latin. ‘Teach’ was originally tæcan and the past tense of tæcan is tæhte, which is pronounced a bit like ‘taught’. ‘Preach’, on the other hand, is from the Latin praedicare.  Now, one Latin conjugation (and there are fricking loads of them) is an /-it/ ending to make the past tense.  Because ‘preach’ is a Latin word it follows that it ends with /-ed/. ‘Teach’ is an Old English weak verb class 1 (actually, in a sub-division of class 1).  Most Old English verbs had an infinitive that ended with /-an/ (eg: swebban ‘to put to sleep’), this ending is removed when the verb is conjugated.  When the /-an/ is removed from tæcan we have tæc. To form the past tense, we would add /-t/ or /-d/. But, because the stem tæc ends with a /c/, it means that pronunciation would be weird.  Because of this, tæcan drops the /c/ so that it can use the /t/ ending. The final /e/ is because of the pronunciation.  There are a number of verbs that do this: cweccan changes to cweahte, dreccan changes to dreahte.  ‘Teach’ seems to have stuck around.

The suffix –arian means a believer or an advocate of something. So a ‘humanitarian’ is “one who advocates or practices human action to solve social problems” (OED).  A ‘vegetarian’ then is someone who advocates the eating of vegetables. This is more of a semantic (and, I guess, moral) thing: people shouldn’t eat humans. They taste funny.

The word ‘recite’ comes from the Latin recitare which means ‘read aloud, read out’.  Since plays are written in words, and words are spoken – often aloud – then of course a play is going to be recited.  ‘Play’ comes from Old English and means ‘occupy oneself’ (fnarr-fnarr), one way of doing this is to play music. The clincher is ‘recital’, which actually comes from a 16th century legal term (therefore Latin), and means ‘rehearsal’. So yes, we recite (read aloud) a play, and play (occupy ourselves) at a recital (rehearsal).

‘To ship’ originally meant exactly that – we would send something by ship. In the 19th century it began to be used for all methods of conveyance, primarily in American English.  The next bit, ‘send cargo by ship’ just shows how dumb the writer of this is. We also send cargo by plane. ‘Cargo’, incidentally, comes from the Spanish cargo which means ‘burden’.

Why does your nose run? ‘Run’ comes from the Old English rinnan which means ‘to flow’.  When you have a cold, your nose produces more mucus to fight the infection. More mucus means more liquid means more flowing. Feet only smell if you haven’t had a bath! The smell you smell is the odour coming from your feet, not your actual feet. Ergo, your feet don’t smell. And many other parts of the body can smell too!

Right, parking! ‘Park’ (as a verb) is actually a fairly new word from the 19th century. It comes from the military and it means ‘to arrange military vehicles in an enclosure’. The place where they were enclosed? Yep, that’s called a park. A simple case of a noun turning into a verb. Gradually, the term park became used for civilian vehicles too. The OED has the definition of ‘driveway’ as ‘a short private road that leads from a public road to a house’. ‘ROAD’!!!! For fuck’s sake!!! What do we do on a road? We drive! That’s why it’s called a DRIVEway.
However, parkway is a bit more taxing. Firstly, it’s another example of American English and it dates from the 1930s. In the 1930s, the US government decided to build a road going through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. This goes all the way through the park giving scenic views (so I’m told). A typical parkway is a road that is lined with trees and other pretty things. Like hookers. Often, they go straight through or at least lead to …. a park. Hence, a parkway. And why do we ‘drive on a parkway’? Because it is a ROAD!

This guy is annoying me now.

‘Slim chance’ and ‘fat chance’ is pragmatic. The original meaning of ‘slim’ was actually ‘bad,sly,clever’, but that does not really have anything to do with chance.  However, it’s all about the amount of luck you will have.  ‘Fat chance’ means that the likelihood of something happening is next to zero. Here is an example:

        “Hello Matthew. Would you mind babysitting this evening? Little Gewürztraminer hasn’t been well and she has some form of diarrhea. You will need to change her nappies every 20 minutes”, said .  “Fat chance”, said Matthew.

So yes, ‘fat chance’ means little to no chance of something happening. ‘Slim chance’, on the other hand, means that there is slightly higher chance that something will happen. Like winning the lottery, or bedding Emma Watson. A small chance perhaps, but still higher than ‘fat chance’.

The next one depends on your understanding of the word ‘wise’. It comes from Old English wis and it means ‘learned’. ‘Wise man’ was actually a phrase in Old English too. So a ‘wise man’ is a man who is sagacious.  ‘Wise guy’, however, carries a different meaning of ‘wise’. This meaning dates from 19th century American slang and it means ‘cunning’.  A ‘wise guy’, a gangster, is therefore a sly, sneaky person.

‘Burn up’ means to catch on fire. ‘Burn down’ means to be completely consumed by fire and destroyed. ‘Burn up’ is at the start of a fire and ‘burn down’ is at the end. Easy.

‘Fill in’ and ‘fill out’ are almost synonymous, but there is a slight difference.  When you ‘fill in’ a form, you are concentrating on one section of the form – fill in your date of birth, for example.  ‘Fill out’ on the other hand is talking about the whole form.  You can fill out a questionnaire by filling in the blanks. Basically, ‘filling in’ is giving the information, and ‘filling out’ is completing something.

‘Go off’ is used specifically for loud noises. An alarm, a siren, and a gun can all ‘go off’.  ‘Go on’ means to take place or happen.  So with an alarm, it ‘goes on’ by starting at the set time.  But it ‘goes off’ because it awakens you from your perfect slumber by screaming at you.

Last one…

Both chiefly American English, ‘Pop’ is a shortened version of papa, which is French. Its first recorded use was in 1838.   ‘Mom’, on the other hand, is a shortened version of mamma, which is Latin. This is a common theme through Indo-European languages – mamme in Greek, mama in Persian, and muhme in German. It dates from the 1570s. Now the interesting stuff… Middle English has the word mome which actually means ‘an aunt’, and some theorists believe that the word comes from the mimicking of the mouth during the suckling period. Cool, huh?

Right, there we are. I hope people find this interesting, if not useful. English is a fascinating language, but it certainly isn’t crazy.  I honestly think it is bad form to put something like this up on the internet because it may dissuade people from learning the language.
Richard Lederer, whoever and wherever you are…. Burn, motherfucker!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Toast and Blasphemy

Outside of copyrighted books, the Holy Bible is the biggest selling book in the world. Through its four hundred year history it has been praised, burned, debated and spurned by millions of people.

The King James Bible, first published in 1611, has arguably done more for the English language than any other book, with the possible exception of Shakespeare's First Folio, obviously. But as Victor Hugo said, "England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England".

Surprisingly, there were very few neologisms in the Bible. David Crystal (my personal hero) has written a majestic study on the Bible and the English language and he estimates that there are around 70 'new' words in the Bible (Begat, Crystal 2011). Compared to Shakespeare's 1,700, then that is not too many. But Shakespeare was a playwright, he was paid to use language as a form of entertainment; the Bible, on the other hand, was an instructional manual - literally! The Bible does have the proud claim to be the point of genesis of a number of sayings, proverbs and phrases that we still use today. "The powers that be" went through a "labour of love" to develop the Good Book, and "God forbid" if there is "a fly in the ointment" to cause trouble. Crystal has counted at least 257 phrases that we still use that were first seen in the Bible. Pretty impressive for an instructional manual.

And this is where I have my beef. As an instructional manual, the Bible just doesn't work.

Once, when I was young and naive, I gave organised religion a go. I read a lot of the Bible. I still do as I read a lot of religiously inspired literature (Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, et al). I came to the conclusion that the power of prayer is not very powerful at all. In fact, I found that the more praying I did, the less likely I was to get a response. Here are a few things the Good Book says about prayer:

"Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." - Matthew 7:7

"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." - John 14:13-14

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours." - Mark 11:24

So I was led to believe that praying to God would help me in my life. After all, He is a generous, caring and loving God and not at all jealous, selfish and fickle. So I prayed. And I prayed hard - 4 or 5 times a day. It was a simple request: I needed a new car to get to work. "Lord," I said, "in your infinite wisdom and mercy, please can you help me find an affordable yet comfortable car that I can use to help me keep my job so that I can continue paying my rent and buying food. Thanks for listening and hope to hear from you soon.Amen."

I did this for around a month with no result. Maybe, I thought, I was aiming too high. I should start off small and work my way up to a car. So I prayed for some toast. Nothing fancy, just some toasted bread with a bit of margarine spread on it. No marmalade, cheese, HP Sauce. Just toast. I prayed, I sat and I waited. Prayed. Sat. Waited.... nothing.

After 45 minutes I began to feel hungry (praying for toast makes a person want toast). So I got up, put some bread under the grill and toasted the shit out of it. I began to think of the reason why God had not given me toast. At first I thought that God was motivating me to make my own toast. But I could have done that without all the praying, which wasted my time more than anything else. The go-to argument is, of course, "The Lord works in mysterious ways". But the Lord did not do any of the work - I did. So maybe if we change the word "mysterious" to "lazy" then we can be a bit more accurate.

God had become nothing more than an inconvenient middle man who does none of the work and takes all the glory. Further research was needed. I began to ask people that were praying for serious things: the health of a dying loved one; a long wished for pregnancy; an end to suffering in the world. And the result showed that God did not intervene with these either. How was this motivation? A grandfather dies in agony. An aging  couple lose all hope of having their own child. Last time I checked, there is still a lot of suffering in the world. God wasn't motivating. God wasn't listening. God was not there.

Maybe toast is evil. Maybe crisping some bread and smothering it in jam is the Devil's work and I was never meant to eat it. But I doubt it. Toast is the shit!

So there it is.... toast destroyed my faith.
God could not bring me toast, but science could through the simple addition of fire to bread.
And then science proved how it worked too.
With evidence.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Scale of Annoying.

Things are annoying. It is a straightforward part of life that every day we bump into hundreds of things that are sent by a higher being for no other reason than to simply tick us off as we try and make our way through the world and through our lives.
Thankfully, most of these are petty nuisances such as car horns, chavs and Jedward. However, once in a while something really, really annoying comes along to upset us.

In order to help us deal with these displeasures, I have developed a simple scale to which I have given the rather unimaginative title of The Scale of Annoying.  Its purpose is simple: to rank those things in life which really get our goat.

It is a simple scale starting at number 1 with the most annoying and descends down number 10 for the least annoying, but still enough to create a desire to punch someone in the face. 

It must be noted that this is MY particular scale, and there are of course some items that will not belong on all lists. I encourage you to take the list and make it your own. Why?  Because you have nothing better to do, surely.

1.    Mosquitos
Aside from the fact that I had to check the plural spelling of these pesky insects in the OED, there is nothing more annoying in life than the small yet considerably deadly mosquito.
FACT: It is estimated that over 45 Billion people have been killed by mosquitos. That is over half the people that have ever lived. That is more than both World Wars combined.
But what really makes them annoying is this: you are lying in bed, you are treading the cusp between asleep and awake, and then suddenly a high pitched wail zooms past your ear bringing you back into the dark, mosquito-fodder world. Again and again and again.
I once spent three hours hunting a mosquito in my bedroom. I finally found the fucker and it was the most satisfying insect death I have ever carried out.
Humans 1 – mosquitos 45 000 000 000 000.

2.      People who talk during movies
This is so incredibly, soul-crushingly annoying that I get uptight just writing it.
How small must your simple, self-involved world be to think that everyone in the cinema, that has paid good money to get in to, wants to hear your very own director’s commentary?
Most people, thankfully, now turn their phones off. Or at least put it on silent so that instead of bothering us with the noise, you light up the entire cinema with the Nokia 12Suns edition when checking to see if your mum has “txt” you.
I think the most annoying thing though is that instead of talking at normal pitch, these wastrels talk at a level which is just above a whisper. It’s just enough so you can hear the noise, but not the inane chatter that you could possibly use as ammunition in the fight against stupidity.

3.      Parents
First, if you want to have a picture of your child on Facebook then give it its own goddamn profile. Do you know who I want to see when I look for you? Yes, you. Not some jam-stained, grinning gremlin of a child.
Second, I understand that parents are proud of their children. You would be a pretty lousy parent if you weren’t. But if I am talking to you then I will want to know about what is going on in your life, not how little Tyler/Denim/Scratchcard did in his recent school reports.
Third, not all babies are beautiful. Of course yours is, you are seeing it with doting mother eyes. But trust me when I say, your baby is chubby, it has patchy hair and it smells kind of funny.
And please, from a non-parent, teach your kids some self-control. Actually, scratch that… teach yourself some self-control. Having children (I would imagine) brings great responsibility. That means that sometimes you cannot go out to the pub and have a drink. And if you do, that does not give you an excuse to allow your children to run around tables like little maniacs, destroying everything in their path, whilst grown-ups are trying to have a conversation.
You got yourself knocked up, you deal with the consequences.
This brings us to child-friendly drinking establishments, but that is going to get a blog all of its own.

4.      Children
Choosing the rank between this and the previous was hard, and on some days they do swap over. However, I believe the difference is that adults will bring some level of maturity to the proceedings whilst a child will just bring sheer, unadulterated chaos.
Children are evil. They have power, and they know that they have power. A well placed scream or tantrum can get them whatever they want. I once read of another short person with a power complex: I believe his name was Napoleon.
Have you ever seen a child torture a pet? I have. Not in a sick way, but more like prodding the dog in the eye until the dog finally loses the plot. This is why I prefer dogs: they have the patience of a saint. I guarantee you that every tragic story of a dog being “destroyed” by the authorities will have some evil, smirking, miniature sociopath in training behind it. Because the dog had better toys.
Couple all of this with a propensity for covering everything with some sort of child-slime, and you have some very annoying short people.

5.      Red Wine Hangovers
I love red wine. In fact, I think if I were to make a list of things that I love, then that would easily top the list.
And I think that is why the hangovers that a couple of bottles bring are so annoying: how could something that I love so much hurt me in such a way?

6.      The Da Vinci Code
 “It is complete loose stool water. It is arse-gravy of the worst kind.”
Stephen Fry said that about this trash. And if I trust anyone’s literary judgement then it is certainly his.

7.      People who don’t spell properly on Dating Sites.
In a busy, hectic world people find it increasingly hard to meet new people, especially for reasons as complicated and stressful as sex. Some kind folk have done us a noble service and decided to make money off the project in the form of dating websites.
Now, these are good things. I honestly believe that. I have tried them (unsuccessfully) in the past, and met some… people.
But here is what drives me potty: the language that some of these people use is awful. Let’s put ourselves in the situation where we are going out “on the pull” on a Friday night. We dress ourselves up. Wear a nice shirt/dress/skirt. Women put on make-up and men put on a spicy aftershave in order to lure a potential mate. In a word, we make ourselves look nice.
So why don’t people do the same on dating websites? Brush up your language skills. Learn how to use a comma, for example. But it is the spelling that really infuriates me.
It is not so much that the spelling is bad, it is the fact that you have not even bothered to take the time to use a simple dictionary or spellchecker in order to make sure that your language is dressed up and nice. It is the fact that you don’t seem to care about how it looks. And what do you think that says about your personality?
And, to be honest, if I am talking to you in a bar and you say “innit” or “somefink”, then you may consider the wooing terminated.

8.      People who spell words with numb3rs
Are you aware of how illiterate you look?
This cannot be because you do not know how to spell. Surely you know that we do not spell hate with the number 8?
The number 2 I can understand, because you may not know the difference between two, to and too. But then you are a whole other kind of stupid.
“But we use it to make communication easy,” some people say. Unlikely. There is a law by the name of Zipf’s Law, named after the American linguist George Kingsley Zipf. Basically, the law states that the most common words in any language will also be the shortest. In English, we have the, be and to as the top three. The point of this is to show that language has a natural economy, and spelling things with numbers actually makes us concentrate harder on what you are trying to say.
I imagine that the real reason you do it is because it is a trendy thing to do, or because you are just too bone idle to pick up a dictionary. If you own one.

9.      Instagram
Actually, no, thank Christ for Instagram. How else am I supposed to know what you are having for breakfast if you don’t take a trendy picture of it?

10.  People who say: “Oooh, have you had a haircut?”
Hmmm, I’m not actually too sure.
Now that you mention it, my ears are a little colder and my wallet is lighter by 25 quid.
Of course I have had a haircut. It’s not as if my hair can adjust itself on a daily basis.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Winter is Coming

Before we start on the fact that I have shamelessly ripped off my title from the epic Game of Thrones, let me first apologise for not updating for six months. I have tried to write another blog, but nobody seems to read that so I though I would come back here. Granted, I am not sure if anyone reads this either, but there we are.

To update: I am still in Argentina. After all the complaining that I did last year, you may be surprised to find that out. It should be that because I hate the place, surely I would have wanted to go home. My dissatisfaction with the Buenos Aires way of life is not the topic for this blog, or I would have titled it What's the Bloody Point....?, which has become my favourite and most used phrase in the city (eg: What's the bloody point in having doors on bathrooms if you aren't going to put a lock on it? We may as well just fit video cameras in the toilet so everyone can watch us on TV).

Anyway, the whole point of today is to celebrate the start of Autumn. Or rather, the death of summer. I realise that a lot of people are "summer people", and that is fine. I, however, am not one of those people. It's not that I DISlike summer, it's just I prefer winter. Summer is great: the sun comes out, it's warm, the flowers look nice and clothes seem to fall off lots of pretty girls.

But allow me to ask a question......

What is the bloody point in 28 degree heat at 1 O'Clock in the chuffing morning? I mean, what possible reason is there for that particular level of heat at that particular point of time? All it does is piss people off making them more inclined to start a fight, and bring out mosquitoes by the truckload (and we all know that mosquitoes are at number two on the Scale of Annoying right between children and people who talk during movies).
The only benefit I can think of is that wonderful feeling of turning over the sweat-soaked pillow you are sleeping on and finding the one and only cool patch in the bed/oven.

So yes, summer can bugger off. Winter is the king of seasons. Even Vivaldi knew this!
A few reasons why winter is great:

1) It looks nicer: Summer looks nice too, with lots of green grass, blue skies and bright flowers.  But there is just something oh so special about seeing things with snow. It is as if an extra layer of white makes things so much more appealing.  Mountains look nicer with a fresh layer of snow, cookies look tastier with a fresh sprinkling of icing sugar, hookers' arses look more tempting with a few lines of cocaine filed up on them.

2) You get to wear scarves: I know that "hipsters", or whatever you call them, can wear scarves any time of the year, but what they don't seem to understand is that wearing a scarf with a t-shirt makes you look like an idiot with a malfunctioning temperature gauge.  Are you hot? Then why are you wearing a scarf? Are you cold? Then put on a fucking jumper, you twit.  In winter, you wear a scarf because if you don't, your neck will get cold. Simple and practical.

3) The winter coat: This can be taken two ways. First, a big coat that is too big for summer and, therefore, must be worn in winter to avoid looking like a tit in summer (see above). Second, if you are a man, one effective way of combating the cold is to grow a beard. Like some animals that grow extra fur in winter, man can also grow extra fur. Standing in a field surrounded by a blizzard, wearing a big coat, a scarf and shielding an icy blast with some finely crafted face fuzz is what makes us men. Join all of that with a 1000 yard stare and a sword and you are right out of Game of Thrones (see it all linking in now?)

Two weeks ago here in Buenos Aires, winter was on it's way (read: the temperature had fallen to the low-twenties). Today, as I write this, it is hot. I am aware that the weather in the Northern Hemisphere is pretty shit at the moment (I believe you have snow in the UK), and that many of you would happily change places with me. My dear readers, my sweaty pits and I would gladly swap with you too.

Until next time,
Eric the Wonder Frog.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Why I don't like The Beatles.....

It seems from various encounters with Americans that because I come from the UK, I am automatically expected to have an affinity to football and The Beatles.
My thoughts on the first of those topics have been aired numerous times, so I won't bore you again here.

However, before I start my rant on the second of the above topics, I wish to say that it is not a hate of The Beatles that I have. I respect them for who they are - an overrated boyband. I know that this will upset a few people, but here are my thoughts....

"Hey John"
"Yes Paul?"
"I've met a lovely young lady and I think she loves me."
"She loves you?"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."

A number one hit right there...... utter wank.

Furthermore, I don't like The Beatles because there are so many better bands than The Beatles.

"I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob" - The Beatles.
"And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our souls...." - Led Zeppelin
"You run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking..." - Pink Floyd

Game. Set. Match.

Right, now this will really upset people:
John Lennon is a talentless idiot. Everyone seems to forget that there were FOUR members of the band. So why do we have such a deification of one member?
Oh, it's because he was shot. If Mark Chapman had never done the dastardly deed, then perhaps the world would be a better place as people would have realised how shit John was. Paul had all the talent. Everyone knows that.

And as for Imagine being the greatest song ever written - the "song of the millenium" - I can only say one thing.

Imagine a world without that song.
Nice isn't it?