Tag Archives: rant

10 Reasons This Planet is Fucking Awesome!

Look, I ripped into you a little bit in my previous post, Earth. Sorry buddy. You’ve actually been pretty good to me, on the whole.

So to be fair, and impartial, I think it is best to present the counter argument. Earth is a pretty fucking cool place.

Here are a few reasons this planet is fucking awesome.

 

1. TECHNOLOGY

Technology makes my life complete.

It is my work. It is my play. It is my night. It is my day. Look, it even inspires me to be a shitty poet.

With the internet and smartphones, we now have the world at our fingertips. Time spent seated on the porcelain throne has never been more productive.

I am however, sad to report that the Time Machine will never be invented. Someone would have come back to let me know by now, surely.

That being said, we’ve come a long way, and rapidly. Every year, things get faster, have greater capacity and are more efficient – while also getting smaller.

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Here’s a fun fluff piece about how today’s smartphone packs in all the technology (and more) offered in a full-page Radio Shack ad from the early 90’s.

http://consumerist.com/2014/01/17/the-smartphone-has-effectively-replaced-all-the-technology-offered-in-this-1991-radio-shack-ad/

These technology advancements in the last 40 years or so, have rapidly increased globalisation. It has changed the way the world operates, which for my industry – gaming – has revolutionised the way we interact. You can sit at the virtual felt across from a laggy Scandy, a mad Russian (most likely several, mad Russians), a handful of crazy Asians and a rock from Gibraltar.

With respect to globalisation, how long until we have a global currency? 50 years? 100 years? Or do we already have it in a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin?

And how long until we have a global language? It is likely to be English. But how soon until it happens? Could it be Esperanto? It’s now the 64th language feature in Google Translate… and it could solve the whole O-U-G-H (through, tough, bough, cough, dough, thorough, ought) torment we inflict on all ESL’s. Actually, the truth is that we can pronounce the combination “ough” in at least eight different ways. “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.” No wonder everyone hates the English.

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah. Technology. Get on it.

 

2. MIRANDA KERR

Seriously, Legolas?  For an elf with such perfect vision, how could you possibly let go of such a perfect vision?!

Such a shame too, I always thought they had the perfect hyphenated surname.  Kerr-Bloom!

But kudos to Orlando for recently taking a swing at Bieber as a result of innuendo over the lovely Ms Kerr.  Damn I hate that kid.

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3. THIS GUY, AND OTHERS LIKE HIM

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Scott Neeson.

The former Hollywood Executive’s eyes were opened to the abject poverty and helplessness of post-war Cambodia during a trip to visit Angkor Wat in 2003. He was on a mini-sabbatical between leaving his post as president of 20th Century Fox International and starting at Sony Pictures when he visited the sprawling landfill of Steung Meanchey, a poor shantytown in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

Neeson saw a girl, dressed in rags, picking through syringes and broken glass. Her name, he learned through an interpreter, was Srey Nich. She was 9 and lived in the dump with her mother and younger sister. There they collected scrap that could be recycled, and they sold it to buy food. “How could anyone survive here?” Neeson recalls thinking. “I couldn’t look away.” He was shocked by what he saw, and pledged to return.

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His epiphany came in June 2004. He had returned to the dump, true to his word, when he got a call on his mobile phone. It was an agent whose movie star client was having a meltdown before boarding his private jet because it apparently wasn’t properly stocked with his favourite amenities. According to Neeson, he overhead the actor in the background ranting, “My life wasn’t meant to be this difficult!”

Neeson was standing ankle-deep in trash, trying to help children sick with typhoid at the time. “The child I was holding was extremely sick, and here’s this movie star yelling about how difficult life was,” says Neeson. “If I needed a sign, that was it.”

So the Hollywood executive, who oversaw films such as Titanic and Braveheart, gave up his million dollar salary, sold his house, his possessions, his Porsche and his yacht and moved to Cambodia to start a children’s charity, the Cambodian Children’s Fund.

Cambodian Children’s Fund provides life-changing education, nourishment and healing to vulnerable children from some of Cambodia’s most destitute communities. Today they care for more than 2,000 students and 10,000 people annually after extending their services to provide to entire families and communities in crisis.

https://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/

Check it out – brilliant stuff. Maybe throw them a donation. Or two.

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4. WINE

Oh how I love thee.

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No, not you, Merlot, sit the fuck down.

My thanks to the ancients, for stumbling upon the virtues of fermented grapes – reputedly as early as 6,000 BC. Apparently they observed birds getting giddy on the fermenting fruit, and tried it for a lark (pardon the pun). Well met, my tipsy Stone Age friends.

And even more thanks go out to the Romans for refining the craft. Renowned Roman reporter of the time, Gaius Plinius Secundus – better known as Pliny the Elder – wrote in 70BC “In Vino Veritas”. “In wine, there is truth”.   I have to agree with ol’ Pliny. Although it can be a bit too truthful at times, as I have discovered the following day after a few too many glasses of truth serum the night before.

But even that Jesus fellow reportedly turned water into wine. What really bugs me is not that his secret died with him, but that when he was resurrected, no one thought to ask him how he did it. You had forty days, you nincompoops! He broke bread with you. He took a walk in the countryside with you. Heck, he even went fishing with you. And yet no one thought to ask?! Sigh. I blame you, Doubting Thomas. Then again, Jesus may just have been a bit closed-shop. You don’t become the world’s most famous magician of all time, if you give away the secrets to all of your tricks…

What is truly wonderful about wine, is that it gets better with age, as does its value. The same cannot be said about the items slowly congealing in my vegetable crisper.

In fact in 2010, divers exploring the wreck of a schooner sunk in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden discovered a total of 162 bottles of champagne, mostly intact. The bottles were dated from between 1825 and 1830. Of these 162 bottles, 79 were still drinkable, preserved as a result of the horizontal way they landed, and the cold Baltic waters.

In 2011, one of the shipwreck bottles, a rare Veuve Clicquot Champagne was auctioned for €30,000. What is remarkable about these bottles, is that they were actually produced under the watchful tutelage of the famous widow, Madame Clicquot herself (veuve meaning widow in French, and from whence the name change originated. It was simply Clicquot Champagne before that).

Madame Clicquot. What a handsome, handsome woman…

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Did you also know it was safer to drink wine during the Black Plague than water? Me neither, but I’ll drink to that *clink*. Here’s to avoiding the plague.

And next year marks 50 years since South Australia invented boxed wine.   Maybe that’s not so much of a brag, but it is an interesting fact. No you’re right. It’s neither.

Where was I? Oh yeah, stay outta my booze!

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5. SCIENCE

I fucking love Science! Seriously, you should “Like” that page on Facebook. It’s hilarious. And you learn stuff.

Man has always had a thirst for knowledge. From Galileo the astronomer and physicist who inspired Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, to Brian May the guitarist for Queen who is also an astrophysicist.

Hats off to all the daddies. From Hipprocrates, Father of Medicine; to Aristotle, Father of Biology; to John Kerr, Father of Miranda.

I can’t forget the mums either, from Marie Curie, Mother of Nuclear Science; to Florence Nightingale, Mother of Nursing; to Therese Kerr, for previously mentioned reasons.

Big shout out also to Charles Babbage, Father of the Computer. Babbage was the inventor of an early computer known as the “Difference Engine”, which was never fully constructed in his lifetime. Amazingly in 1991, a perfectly functioning Difference Engine was constructed from Babbage’s original plans. The success of the finished engine indicated that Babbage’s machine would have worked. Just think, if only people had backed Babbage on Kickstarter, Gavrilo Princip might have been so stuck on Level 147 of Candy Crush that he wouldn’t have looked up when Franz Ferdinand took that wrong turn, sparing us that whole, nasty First World War. Indeed Ferdinand’s driver probably wouldn’t have gotten lost in the first place if he’d had access to a reliable NavMan…

Kudos too to Pythagoras for introducing us to the wonder of triangles, to Archimedes for his revolutionary bath work, and to Pavlov, Schrodinger and Isaac Newton for their excellent work with household pets. What?!

“Sir Isaac Newton, renowned inventor of the milled-edge coin and the catflap!”

“The what?” said Richard.

“The catflap! A device of the utmost cunning, perspicuity and invention. It is a door within a door, you see, a …”

“Yes,” said Richard, “there was also the small matter of gravity.”

“Gravity,” said Dirk with a slightly dismissed shrug, “yes, there was that as well, I suppose. Though that, of course, was merely a discovery. It was there to be discovered… You see?” he said dropping his cigarette butt, “They even keep it on at weekends. Someone was bound to notice sooner or later. But the catflap … ah, there is a very different matter. Invention, pure creative invention. It is a door within a door, you see.”

― Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

To the Renaissance men, from Copernicus who showed us we weren’t the centre of the universe (are you listening Biebs?), to Da Vinci’s helicopter (and he painted a bit too, I hear?), to Paracelsus, who is remembered for his advancements to medicine – but who should really be best known for introducing the word “bombastic” to the vernacular. Shaggy, I think you owe Paracelsus some royalties…

 To the early 20th Century geniuses, from the glowing Marie Curie, to Einstein – the unwittingly, indirect destroyer of Hiroshima, to the brilliant and oft under-recognised Nikola Tesla who ultimately brought us WiFi and electricity. Bless you Mr Tesla – *sniff* – bless you.

Incidentally, I love this photo below, taken at the Solvay Conference in 1927. It is basically a compilation of the “rockstar” minds of the time. I’d like to think Schrodinger was gazing distractedly off to the side because he thought he glimpsed his cat. I’d also like to think that Planck and Lorentz had a full head of hair before sitting next to Marie Curie. Should have worn your lead hats, fellas…

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What is also wonderful about science, is that it explains *factually* how we got here.  Thank you to Mr Darwin for introducing us to evolution (although technically thanks should go to Alfred Wallace for first conceptualising it).

“The bombshell comes in 1859 when Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. It takes a long time before we really get to grips with this and begin to understand it, because not only does it seem incredible and thoroughly demeaning to us, but it’s yet another shock to our system to discover that not only are we not the centre of the Universe and we’re not made by anything, but we started out as some kind of slime and got to where we are via being a monkey. It just doesn’t read well.”  Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt

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But I think the Hickey brothers from “My name is Earl” put it best:

Randy Hickey:                      Did you know that before we were humans we were monkeys?

Earl Hickey:                            Really? What were we before monkeys?

Randy Hickey:                      I don’t know. I can’t even remember being a monkey.

 Thanks finally to the modern day scientists who keep science in popular culture, from frequent Guest Star of the Simpsons – Stephen Hawking, to “We got a Badass” Neil deGrasse Tyson, to those well-paid, but loveable scienticians in that documentary series, The Big Bang Theory.

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“If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.” ― Penn Jillette, God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales

“The good thing about science, is it’s true whether or not you believe in it” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Thanks Neil. You truly are a badass.

 

6. GAME OF THRONES

I haven’t read the books, so I can only speak for the show, but for a TV program to have the following interchange, proves to me that this planet is alllll-right.

The Hound:                            Of course you named your sword.

Arya:                                          Lots of people name their swords.

The Hound:                            Lots of cunts.

Doesn’t that just warm the cockles of your heart? Even the subcockles?

A slew of complex characters. Witty scriptwriting. Numerous interwoven subplots. Subterfuge and deception. Surprises aplenty. I simply can’t get enough of it.

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7. IRONY

I love irony.  Particularly of the paradoxical, incongruous kind.  For example:

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But again, I shall defer to those who can articulate better than I can. Watch as Irish comedian Ed Byrne goes to town on Alanis Morissette’s ironically named ditty, “Ironic”. In fact, a more ironic song, in light of recent nuptials, would be Kanye West’s “Gold Digger”…

To quote Ed Byrne, “That’s not ironic. That’s *unfortunate*”.

Ironically, at the risk of contradicting my previous post, where “People” were one of the reasons I don’t want to live on this fucking planet anymore, I must attach a codicil. I admit to loving gullible people, as they are much more fun to flame, troll, and generally mess with. There are fewer things more enjoyable in life, than poking a bigot with a metaphorical stick.

 

8. FLYING FIRST CLASS

Why?

  • Private “suite” – no armrest wars and wider, more comfortable seats with unlimited legroom, and a dinner table -incase- want to invite guests up from Business Class or Coach!
  • Quality materials and impeccable finishes, larger windows with electronic blinds and a closet for storage
  • Turndown service – seat reclines into a 2 m long fully, flat bed with quilted mattress, crisp white cotton duvet and pillow with complimentary cotton pyjamas – a cosy Gaz, is a happy Gaz
  • Complimentary toiletries – a moisturised Gaz, is a supple Gaz
  • Large screen multi-media entertainment system – an entertained Gaz, is a distracted Gaz
  • Room for laptops and other devices, as well as in-seat power supply for charging said devices – a fully charged Gaz, is an un-tilted Gaz
  • Chef prepared dining – when and how it suits you – a full Gaz, is a contented Gaz
  • Wide selection of quality wine and beverage options – a drunk Gaz, is… well… drunk. But a mighty tipper!
  • Access to the First Class Lounge at either end of your journey with discreet booths, full waiter service, private cabanas and a state-of-the-art business suite

Well there’s not much more I can say. But this picture says it all. Needless to say I never fly Coach.

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9. THREE MICHELIN STAR RESTAURANTS

In 1900, the Michelin Brothers released an automobile touring guide for France, despite there only being 3,000 registered motor vehicles, and the roads that existed being primitive at best.

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The Michelin Man. Creeping out small children since 1898. Nice to see Harvey Keitel hasn’t aged a day, however.

The Michelin Star system wasn’t born until 1926, with the creation initially of a single dining star. In 1931 the system was expanded to include the second and third stars.

By 1936, the definition of the stars was established…

One Star:               A very good restaurant in its own category

Two Stars:            Excellent cooking, worth a detour

Three Stars:        Exceptional cuisine, worth a special trip

… and the system hasn’t changed since.

The guide has become so revered that it has the power to make or break a restaurant, and shatter the souls of elite chefs. In fact, Chef Bernard Loiseau shot himself in the head with a hunting rifle after rumours that his restaurant was to be demoted from three-stars to two in 2003. It wasn’t.

Currently, there are 117 – 3 Star Michelin Restaurants in the world. Indeed, you may be surprised to learn that the country with the most 3 Star restaurants is actually Japan, not France.

I’ve had the pleasure of dining at quite a few (actually over half of them including 19 of the top 20), and they are on the whole, quite simply, brilliant.

They range from the small (and frankly bizarre) Sushi Saito, which was housed in a multi-story car park opposite the US Embassy in Tokyo, and seats just 7, to the exceptional, ‘molecular gastronomic’ experience that is Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck. I particularly enjoyed the Mock Turtle Soup.

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I had the fortune to meet Heston at a celebrity media event, and have had the pleasure of being his guest at The Fat Duck on several occasions since.

heston

What did you say? Pretentious? Moi?!

Snobbiness aside, you should attempt to visit at least one 3 Michelin Star restaurant in your lifetime. You won’t regret it, and it’s a nice one to tick off your bucket list.

 

10. LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, SMURFS!

Or as they should be known, Les Schtroumpfs.

Whatever you call them, I love those little Commie bastards!

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10 Reasons Why I Don’t Want to Live on this Planet Anymore

Earth.

*shakes head*

Look at what you’ve become.

Darwin, don’t you look so smug, you have a lot to answer for. If only you hadn’t invented evolution, we’d still be cosily swimming around in a warm, primordial soup. Sure, there’d be no Game of Thrones, but life would be simpler.

Seriously, this planet is messed up in so many ways, no wonder the aliens deliberately fly straight past us.

Here are 10 reasons why I don’t want to live on this planet anymore:

 

1. RELIGION 

And the overtly religious. I will intersperse my thoughts on the matter, with some topical quotes from those who can say it better than me.

I am a staunch atheist. I’m not agnostic. I don’t question whether god exists. I am adamant he/she/it does not. The only deity I subscribe to, is on Twitter @TheTweetOfGod. I would go so far as to say I worship him.

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Surely everyone knows deep down in their heart of hearts that there is no god. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an attractive proposition. Believe in “Me” and live forever. I get it. I concede that many “religious” folk are only believers because they wish to hedge their bets for an afterlife. It’s like betting your life savings on Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards to win a Winter Olympic Gold Medal in the Ski Jumping. You know it won’t happen, but if it did, the payoff would be frickin’ sweet.

“It’s a strange myth that atheists have nothing to live for. It’s the opposite. We have nothing to die for. We have everything to live for.” ― Ricky Gervais

God is a man manifested tool to gain control through fear. Religion it’s mans enforcer.” – Jodi Wieland

But the fallacy that this world was designed with us at its core is human egocentrism at its absolute worst.

“This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.” ― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

All religion is a work of fiction. It was written by humans, for humans. More specifically, it was mostly written by men, for men. Women should shun religion – it does not treat them well – and any man with an ounce of compassion and empathy should shun it too. It is antiquated. It is self-serving. It is bigoted. It is ignorant. It is misogynistic. It is homophobic. It is racist. It is infanticidal. It is genocidal. It is dangerous. Well, that’s if you take it too seriously. And sadly, too many do.

“One must state it plainly. Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody had the smallest idea what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge, as well as for comfort, reassurance and other infantile needs. Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion, and one would like to think that this is why they seem so uninterested in sending fellow humans to hell.” ― Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (*snipped for brevity)

I predict religion will be all but gone in a few centuries, although I wish it were sooner.   When I awake from my cryogenic chamber in around the year 2300, I will celebrate religion’s demise with a strategically cellared glass of Sine Qua Non – Queen of Spades, or some 1990 Penfolds Grange.

 Anyway, I could belt on about my hatred of religion all day, so I’ll sum up my thoughts with one last Ricky Gervais quote.

“Suggesting I hate people with religion, because I hate religion, is like saying I hate people with cancer, because I hate cancer” – Ricky Gervais.

No, I hate people for other reasons. <see below>

 

 2. MUSIC TODAY

And that someone like Ke$ha can become a “star”. That someone can use a dollar sign (although I hear she’s recently dropped the $ while in rehab) in their name and get away with it, is one thing. But for this talentless hack to be successful is another. I’d rather listen to Stephen Hawking sing, than listen to her over-autotuned vocal diarrhoea. Listening to her makes me want to kick kittens. And I quite like kittens.

I remember Dave Grohl’s 2012 Grammy Speech, and nodding in agreement:

“To me this award means a lot because it shows that the human element of music is what’s important. Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that’s the most important thing for people to do… It’s not about being perfect, it’s not about sounding absolutely correct, it’s not about what goes on in a computer. It’s about what goes on in here [your heart] and what goes on in here [your head].” – Dave Grohl Acceptance Speech – Grammy for Best Rock Performance

At the risk of contradicting the above, Dave Grohl is a god.

 

3. CHICKEN NUGGETS 

a)     That they are considered food, and

b)     That they are sold in such vast quantities.

Supply and demand. That is the saddest part of this observation. Seriously people, you really should choose not to eat these over-processed, tenuously-named, deep-fried globs of animal by-products and mystery fillers.

Surely the name “nugget” gives it away? Let’s apply the test of reasonableness here.

Chicken wings? Chickens have wings – therefore that is an acceptable product.

Chicken breast fillet? Chickens have breasts – again, acceptable.

Chicken nuggets? Well, arguably it’s the roosters that have the nuggets (nudge, nudge, if you know what I mean)? So which part of the chicken do they come from? #bestnottoask

Disturbingly, watch this video of UK Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver, and how he fails to shock kids in the US in relation to processed foods like nuggets:

http://tv.naturalnews.com/v.asp?v=75f52e185f953f121e6138a2d1ba8730

 

4. PEOPLE

Yes, that means you! No, not you, loyal reader, the person behind you. But yeah, sometimes you.

Now I must preface this point. I quite like a vast number of individuals. It is people I despise.

On the whole, people are the worst. Seriously, the worst. You’ve met them, so you know what I mean.

People are everywhere too. At coffee shops. At airports. Heck, they’re walking on the pavement beside a street near you!

This is generally how I feel when dealing with “people”.

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Slow walking, loud phone talking, personal space invading, uncovered sneezing, slow-driving, telemarketing, double-dipping motherfuckers.

I usually hide behind sarcasm because telling people to fuck off is considered rude according to most social conventions. Although I do think it, really, really hard.

Seriously, I think I’ll enjoy the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. I think a healthy cull is in order, just to sort the wheat from the chaff.

So stay wheaty friends…

 

5. VLADIMIR PUTIN 

There, somebody had to say it.

Yes, shirtless horse-back riding, assault rifle totin’, former KGB Intelligence Officer, Vladimir “Pootie-Poot” Putin.

Side Note: Pootie-Poot is the only vaguely clever thing that ever came out of George Dubya Bush’s mouth, if the rumour that he invented it is true.

US Vice President Joe Biden once claimed that he came face to face with Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow in 2011 and told him: ‘Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul’.

‘And he looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, “We understand one another.”’

That is the man we’re talking about here.

Apparently he is undefeated at judo.

As if you’d ever beat him at judo, no matter how fucking good you were.

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“Yeah, you beat me fair and square, Pootie-Poot”.

“What did you call me?!”

Seriously, it’s as clever as beating Kim Jong Un at foosball. You just don’t do it, if you want to live on this planet anymore.

Putin is a badass. And he is virtually untouchable. And no amount of international scrutiny is going to change that.

It is no surprise that many perceive Putin is tacitly to blame for the horrific shoot-down of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

“Sure, I give pro-Russian separatists BUK missile launcher. How I know they shoot something from sky? Is like giving hand grenade to baby. I am shocked as you, that something terrible result”.

He is a thug. He is a bully. And frankly, he terrifies me.

*If I suddenly go missing, you know why.

 

6. THIS COUPLE

Even if they are perfect for each other…

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7. INFOMERCIALS

What have we become, that these abominations exist?

Surely no-one buys abdominal machines any more (or any other home “fitness” device)?

Or a chamois, creatively called the “ShamWow”?

They always “solve” ridiculous “problems”, that you never knew existed. Life, according to infomercials, is hard. Ridiculously hard, as the following will attest.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelhorner/people-from-informercials-who-cant-do-anything-right

Does anyone buy this?

Clearly, they must, because they keep making infomercials trying to sell it.

The only problem I have, is having to replace the remote control every time I hurl it at the television when an infomercial comes on. I’m onto my 6th this week.

Hmm.

<Lightbulb>

Maybe infomercials aren’t so bad after all…

<Gaz sees dollar signs, cornering on the Replacement Remote Control infomercial circuit>

It’s a self-fulfilling enterprise. Think about it.

Entrepreneurs gonna entrepreneurialise!

 

8. THE PROLIFERATION OF “TALENT” SHOWS

“So You Think Your Idol Voice has Talent Factor!”

Every contestant has a sob story. And this performance is their breakthrough moment. So brave. You’re singing a fucking Katy Perry cover. Get over yourself.

A mark of just how valid these “talent” shows are, in the success rate of the winners. One can name less than a handful of performers who have had commercial success since being contestants. Susan Boyle. One Direction. Kelly Clarkson.   Uhm, Clay Whatsit?
These “talent” shows are just a money making vehicle for the television channels. And Simon Cowell. Yet still he hasn’t forked out for breast reduction surgery.

 

9. LIVE ANIMAL EXPORT

This one shits me to tears.

It is barbaric. It is torturous. It has a high death rate. And it is wholly unnecessary.

The livestock are packed in like sardines. They rarely have the space to lie down, and if they do, it is in their own filth. And each voyage takes up to a month.

And the torment doesn’t stop at the other end, where many animals are slaughtered, tortured and butchered inhumanely

So why is it done? Why aren’t they killed humanely, and then boxed and chilled?

Simply because certain countries like to butcher their beasts in a certain, religiously decreed way. See Point 1 for more information.

Sadly, once the animals leave the confines of the ship, there is little to no control over what happens next. Dear reader, I will spare you the distress of providing links to these atrocities. Google them at your peril.

Sorry if this point contains no humour. There is nothing funny about this.

Stop live export. Fuck the zealots.

 

10. “SELFIE”, “TWERK” AND “DERP” HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE DICTIONARY

This is self-explanatory.

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The Grapes of Wrath

BrO_l5NCUAANy-yOkay, okay, so I’m a little bit of a wine snob.

In the same way that Miranda Kerr is a “little bit” of alright.

I constantly travel the world, among elite circles, so I’ve been fortunate to try my hand at many (arguably far too many) a tipple here and there.

That being said, while I am an ultra-mega wine snob, I don’t belittle those who aren’t (well, those who know me will know that I could be stretching a truth a little). For those who aren’t fine wine connoisseurs, I’ve put together some tips for defusing some potentially awkward situations.

Don’t Say “Whatever”

It is great to try new things, but not to be blasé about it. It is better to have an opinion, and appear confident, than to have no opinion at all. When someone asks you what kind of wine you would like, at the very least, pick a colour.

If that is too much pressure, simply turn it back on the asker with “what would you suggest?”

You’ll likely get to try something you’ve never tried before. And if you like it, keep it in the memory bank for next time. Baby steps, my little wine noob. Baby steps.

Don’t Guess, if guessing is all you have

If someone at a wine tasting or cellar door asks you “Can you guess what grape this is?” – tread carefully.   And whatever you do, do not say “Bordeaux”? Bordeaux is a prolific (and important) wine region in Southwest France, not a grape variety.

And if you don’t know the colour of a wine based upon the grape name, do not partake in this guessing game at all. You’ll be a 50/50 chance of only getting the colour right.   A Pinot Noir is red. A Pino Grigio is white. It’s a slippery slope for the uninitiated.

I find it is often best to display a very slight, knowing smile and say nothing at all, waiting for others to play along first.

If put to task, I would then aim to distract. After ostentatiously sniffing and tasting the wine, simply say “ambitious, but never haughty.” If anyone is brave enough to ask you what you mean, glare at them with withering disdain and say nothing further. If pressed, utter a small “hurrumph” and start muttering about pigeons. Better to appear senile, than inept.

Don’t ramble

When someone asks what you think about a particular wine, quite often they are expecting a flowery answer, and one which really cannot be provided without extensive knowledge and experience.

Play it safe, and make deliberately vague, generic comments that you can easily get away with, like “robust”, or “smooth” or simply “good structure”. If all else fails, just say “I don’t know how to describe it, but I like it”.

Do not, under any circumstance, start suggesting which side of the slope the grapes were grown upon, or you’ll look like a pompous git.

Often times, it is simply more fun, and more endearing to your fellow guests, to make light, by peering at your wine with a raised eyebrow, and saying something like “hmmm… it does have an oaky afterbirth”.

Don’t be Grape-cist

Don’t be that guy who says “I only drink Red”. Or “I only drink White”. This is an immediate red flag to any discerning wine buff who is looking to sniff out a novice. Instead, if you truly do hate red wine, come up with a good reason, like “I just had my teeth whitened, so I’d prefer to stick with white tonight”.  Realise also that no two reds or whites are alike. It’s time to put those long-held grudges behind you and pick up a bottle of “the other colour” again. You will likely be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t sniff the cork

Many are aware of the phenomena known as “corking”. In a nutshell, “corked wine” is one that has developed a flaw caused by contamination from a chemical compound contained in cork called 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole, or TCA for short. This is also known as cork taint. The reality is, a cork can be tainted, without the wine being tainted. If the wine is tainted, the wine itself will smell tainted. I assure you, you do not want to reject, or discard an expensive, vintage bottle of plonk based upon a cork sniff. And if you sniff a metal twist-off cap (or a cork-free cork), you are guaranteed to look like a twat.

Don’t overdo it

When a sommelier or a waiter proffers you a small sample before pouring for others, adhere to the ritual, but don’t overdo it. Let me cut to the chase here. The purpose of this ritual is not to determine whether you like the wine, it is solely to determine whether it has been tainted (see above). Do not ask to sniff the cork (see above). Do not over-swirl.   Do not over-sniff. And do not even taste it unless you suspect it might be tainted and you need to know for sure. And you will know then, I assure you.

Instead simply give the wine a quick couple of swirls. Have a quick sniff. And give the sommelier a brief, casual nod. This should take no more than 5 seconds.

Do not lean back in your chair, and make a big song and dance over it, swirling and sniffing and sampling, or else the sommelier will know you are full of shit – and the crafty ones may even seek to trip you up on something else later. It’s not worth the risk. Again, if it is a twist cap, just wave away the entire exercise, and simply tell them to “pour away, my good fellow/lady”.

Don’t imitate Hannibal Lecter every time Chianti is ordered

Maybe one day it will be hip and retro to throw out a Lecter impression. This is not yet that time. Right now, it is still a little bit try-hard. Wait until Silence of the Lambs is a true cult classic. Safe to safe that will be in around 2031. Make a note in your calendar for the year 2025 to start cellaring a nice Chianti Classico in anticipation.  Chances are no-one in the room will get the joke, but oh how you’ll giggle to yourself.

*Note, it is however perfectly acceptable to throw the quote out, whenever you are offered Fava Beans…

Don’t say you prefer a “dry”’ red

Why? I know that you mean to say that you prefer a wine that is less sweet.   The problem is, almost all reds are dry, by design. That means that the sugar has been fermented into alcohol. The sensation of sweetness in red wine is caused by the presence of super-ripe fruit, which tricks your palate into thinking “sweet”. Instead, say that you prefer reds that are “less fruity in style”, like your good self.

The Sideways “Fucking Merlot” Caveat

Don’t hate on fucking Merlot because Paul Giamatti told you so in “Sideways”. Hate on fucking Merlot because it tastes like the fucking Merlot grape has drunk its own pee, after eating a bowl of asparagus soup, just before it was sent to the crusher. It is a varietal meant for blending, and blending only. So don’t go all “Sideways” because a wine contains a blend of Merlot.   But if it’s a straight up fucking Merlot, all gloves are off.

Don’t fear the wine list

They can be lengthy. They can (often) be written in foreign languages. But don’t let that hold you back.

If all else fails, ask your waiter for a recommendation, along the lines of “I’m having the duck, and my friend/spouse/bit-on-the-side is having the Mahi Mahi, what would you recommend to best accompany them?”

If all else fails, select the second or third least-expensive bottle in your grape of choice. But never say “I’ll have a bottle of your second cheapest wine, thanks!”, or you will have foregone all of your previous hard work.

Don’t get into Bubble Trouble

This is another slippery slope. Most wine noobs are at least aware that Champagne is not an arbitrary term for all sparkling wines. If you make this mistake in the presence of anyone who works in the beverage industry, you’ll likely get the age-old lecture that unless the bubbly was made in Champagne (a region in the Northeast of France), it ain’t Champers – it’s sparkling wine. Best to play it safe, and simply talk about the “bubbly” or the “sparkling”.

Dealing with the Arsehole Wine Snob

Aka, the Wine Snoot. A Wine Snoot tends to make the subject of wine appear to be more complicated, more difficult, and more mysterious than it needs to be. Granted, there is an awful lot that can be learned about wine, but the basics one needs to learn in order to improve their appreciation of wine really aren’t that difficult. Wine isn’t rocket science and no one needs to be made to feel stupid around wine by someone making it out to be more complicated than it really is.

All in all, good readers, drinking wine should be enjoyable. There are no firm and fast rules. Wine enjoyment is highly subjective. And it’s truly a personal experience.

So if some over-pompous tosspot starts ruining your experience, wait for them to describe a wine, smile and while shaking your head discouragingly say “no, no, no, that’s not what you’re tasting at all”. And then turn away, and never speak to him again.

And if all else fails, pilfer his car keys and flush them down the toilet.

Bad Air Day

I hate airports. Airports are nature’s armpits. Yet it feels like I spend half of my life in them. In fact I probably do. For most of my adult life, I’ve travelled extensively for work, interspersed with pleasure. As such, I’ve seen a lot of airports, in a lot of countries. For the most part, they’re dreadful places, but there’s no reason that they should be. Yet sadly there’s precious little we can do about it.

Partly we pay for airports with fees hidden in our ticket prices. As such, we are essentially captive customers. We can’t take our business elsewhere without it being awfully, awfully inconvenient and/or inefficient. The Siberian Railway, Zeppelins and Shetland Ponies will only get you so far, nowadays.

Can we protest the charges hidden in our airfares? No.

Can we negotiate a better deal? Of course not.

Airlines aren’t going to help us either. They want to pay the airport as little as possible to use it themselves, so they’re happy for passengers to be endlessly swindled by rampant profiteering. “That’ll be $100 for parking, $15 for that limp sandwich and $10 for your teensy, tiny beer, etc. etc.”

So what are my* biggest gripes? Here are twenty to get you started:

 

1)     Wi-Fi:

All airports should have free Wi-Fi. We’re forced into turning up hours before departure to make things smoother for both the airport and the airlines. The least they can do is pony up for free and good Wi-Fi. Relax, we’ll still buy your overpriced, tepid coffee. Just please allow us to get some business done. Or at the very least distract ourselves from all the other unpleasantness, and heaven forbid, interactions with humans.

 

2)     Security:

Stop the over-scrutinising security. More than 12 years on from 9/11 and airport security remains a theatre of the absurd. Bin Laden must be laughing (gurgling?) in his grave.

It started with the confiscation of all things pointy. No more mid-flight self-administered mani-pedis for Uncle Gaz. Sigh. Now I’m embarrassed to show my toes in meetings.

Next came the mandatory shoe and belt removal, accompanied by increasingly bored pat downs. Seriously if you’re going to touch me up, at least show some interest. Indeed Security don’t actually need you to remove your belt and shoes. These sadists get their kicks from watching you try to waddle off while juggling all of your shit (laptop, keys, wallet, phone, sunglasses, bag, belt and shoes) with one hand, while holding your pants up with the other. There’s a word for them, and it doesn’t not rhyme with bunts.

The latest was the prohibition of liquids and gels. The liquid thing always makes me laugh. At every security checkpoint you’ll see a bin brimming with “contraband” containers taken from passengers for having exceeded the volume limit. Now, the assumption has to be that the materials in those containers are potentially hazardous. If not, why were they seized in the first place? But if so, why are they dumped unceremoniously into the trash? They are not quarantined or handed over to the bomb squad – they are simply thrown away. They seem to be saying they know these things are harmless, but they’re going to confiscate them anyway, and either you accept it or you don’t fly. Point in question – renowned (and outspoken) atheist Richard Dawkins reacts to having a small pot of honey confiscated. I hear you, Mr Dawkins. http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/scientist-and-atheist-activist-richard-dawkins-loses-it-after-airport-security-confiscates-his-honey/story-e6frfq80-1226753217875

 

3)     Layout:

Airport design boffins – please design airports more functionally. Seriously, you should have anticipated that there would be queues. So at least design the place so that the inevitable queues don’t cross the thoroughfares. Should be simple enough, surely. I hate queues at the best of times, but having to cross a queue to get to another queue, is not only impractical, but downright infuriating (see Point #7 for more information). Furthermore, many airports strive to be too architectural, when it is wholly unnecessary. All we really desire is banal and competent. We’re not going there for any reason other than to get from A to B. It is not a destination we seek out in our downtime. In an airport, I’ll take function over style any day (at least for the essential part of the experience, arrival and departure – not in the First Class Lounge where I expect, nay demand, opulence). Pour me another Dodo Skull of Unicorn Tears, there’s a good fellow!

 

4)     Baggage Claim:

Too often, we are faced with an impenetrable human blockade when attempting to salvage our luggage from the conveyor. It’s like a war zone, only slightly less congenial. The only time people become more territorial over real estate that they don’t actually own, is in shopping mall car parks. Common sense at the baggage carousel should be this:

 

You stand back in an orderly manner.

Your luggage spins into view.

You casually stroll forwards to the carousel to collect your item(s).

You head merrily on your way.

For the Neanderthals who don’t get it, there could also be a line, 2 metres from the carousel, labelled “Stand This Side of the Fucking Line, You Fucking Fuck”, or something equally ambiguous. This should be coupled in conjunction with a looping, educational video, displayed on an array of screens, providing advice on proper baggage collection etiquette in line with the above.

Failing that, they should eliminate the rotating carousel, and simply have a conveyor, 10 feet off the ground, that dumps all the bags off the end in a huge pile. It will work just as effectively.

What I do love, is the backroom baggage handler who always places a single piece of lost luggage on the conveyor 15 minutes before the real luggage arrives, just to fuck with people. I dig that guy.

 

5)     False Advertising:

You should only be able to name an airport after a city, if it is actually located within the municipal bounds of that particular city. Paris Beauvais Airport, I’m talking to you. “Paris” Beauvais Airport is located in the town of Beauvais – 85 kilometres outside of fucking Paris. I once missed a flight to Prague, after jumping in a cab and asking to go to Paris Beauvais Airport. 120 Euro later, I arrive 5 minutes too late to check-in. “Paris” Beauvais Airport – you just made the list. It is deception of the highest order. So no Christmas card for you this year, fuckers.

One of my favourite deceptions is Frankfurt Hahn, a Ryanair special that’s around an hour and a half from Frankfurt. Congratulations Ryanair. You take the cake (right out of the baby’s mouth).

 

6)     Smokers:

Airports. Please. Fix this. You must have designated, well-ventilated smoking areas – away from all the entrances. Non-smokers shouldn’t have to smoke half a pack of second hand smoke just to get to a taxi, or to get inside the terminal. I hate the smell of cigarettes, and I hate smelling like them. As a non-smoker, this shits me to tears. Fix this.

 

7)     People:

Airports are full of hordes and hordes of people. You’ve met people, surely. So you know what I mean.

Tourists are the worst. How many times have you heard interchanges like this? “Oh, you’re going to Laos? I’ve been to Laos. It’s a nightmare, actually. It’s all tourists and you can’t get a decent Latté anywhere. I actually feel sorry for the people that live there.”

I fucking hate people. Not you, dear reader. Just the other people.

 

8)     Neck Pillows:

People who wear inflatable neck pillows in arrival or departure lounges need to have a dignity biopsy.

 

9)     Clocks:

More of them, please. And the bigger the better. I appreciate that every arrival and departure screen has the time in the corner, but the display is so small that you have to virtually be standing underneath the screen to see it. Incidentally, there is never a Departure Screen in any restaurant, bar or café…

Make it easy on us, airports of the world. We’re always conscious of the time, so please put some big motherfucking clocks up, all over the motherfucking place, for all the motherfuckers to see. Common sense says it would benefit everyone, even the non-motherfuckers.

 

10)  Children:

As many of you likely know, children are essentially small people. Please see Point #7 for more information. Please keep control of your small people, or I will suddenly become “Mr Trivia” on air crash statistics. That should make for some fun family travel for the next 8 hours (and indeed for future travel). This is a public service announcement, parents of small people. You have been warned.

 

11)  Signage:

They’ve announced your flight is boarding just in time for you to discover that Gate 82B is, surprisingly, not right next to Gate 82A, but in a completely different terminal building. Now, I run for no man. Some ladies, yes. But no man. And I don’t want to be a ball of sweat just before boarding a plane for the next 8 hours, and nor does the person sitting next to me. So I choose to walk. I’m checked in, so they have to give me some sort of grace period. But it is an inconvenience all the same.

Besides, just after you get there, you just know they’re going to switch your designated boarding gate to Gate 82A.

 

12)  Inefficiencies:

I know Health and Safety has gone mad, but seriously, walking onto the tarmac, squeezing into a shuttle bus, and then being ferried 30 metres to the plane is just plain ridiculous. Homophone… nice…

 

13)  Duty Free:

What a rort. Airports now direct disembarking passengers through Duty Free shops as part of the departure process. Yet everything in Duty Free is more expensive than High Street shops. And the oversized Toblerones are so large they come with 50% off vouchers for diabetes treatment. Buy your family a gift BEFORE you get to the airport. Or give them an i-Tunes voucher. Or fuck ‘em. Just don’t buy anything Duty Free.

 

14)  Customs/Immigration:

Where do they find Customs Officers? What is it about their demeanour that causes you to look guilty when they question you and to laugh nervously? And why is it sniffer dogs are infatuated with one’s crotch? Why are we always so relieved once we get the all clear, like we got away with something? Is it them, or is it simply the human psyche? I blame them. It’s easier.

 

15)  Hire Cars:

They never, ever, give you the car that matches the picture when you booked online.  I’m sorry, but a Hyundai Getz does not resemble an Audi R8, not even in dappled light.

 

16)  Currency:

You have no local currency, so you go to the only ATM at the terminal. It swallows your card. Cab drivers only take cash. You start busking. The only song you remember the words to is “The Old Grey Mare”. It is going to be a long night, regardless of how much energy you put into the choreography.

It is time for a world currency. Bitcoins it is! And here I previously thought they would only be useful for getting and/or hiring a hit.

 

17)  Carry-on Nazis:

I’m not referring to one of those bawdy, British films. I’m talking about the stickling carry-on luggage weighers. You know the ones. They make you weigh your carry-on, and it’s always a kilogram over. Your carry-on could be empty and you’ll still be a kilo over, so there’s no point planning in advance. What you’ll end up doing is carrying a book in one hand, your camera in another, and your laptop around your neck as “oversized bling”.  They will then wave you through, even though the net weight is precisely the same. Perplexing system, that one, but irksome nonetheless.

 

18)  Air Conditioning:

Airport climate never matches the climate outside the terminal. It never matches the climate of your intended destination. It never matches the climate on board the plane. It is therefore impossible to turn up at the airport, suitably attired, because airports have their own, fetid ecosystem. You will be shivering, or sweltering. Despite this, airports always seem to produce the perfect living conditions for germs, and germ mutation… This feeds onto my next point.

 

19)  Hygiene:

Airports are cultural melting pots. People from all over this exotic ball of dirt and gas congregate in airports, each one a unique thread that weaves to form the rich tapestry that is our glorious planet, Alderaan. I mean Earth.   However, they also bring together a mix of social habits that allows a little piece of their culture to transfer over to my being, usually causing me to curl up in the foetal position on the toilet floor of my luxury poolside villa for at least the first 3 days of my vacation.

They sneeze without covering their mouths. They toilet without washing their hands. They spit without… well, the fact that they spit at all, says it all.

I don’t know what we can do to fix this, but I’d rather risk illness, than wear a surgical mask throughout my travels. I’m one thing, but I’m no Michael Jackson.

 

20)  Travelator:

Nothing gets my goat (aside from goat poachers) more than people who stand stock still on travelators, blocking the way. Move aside. You’re not fucking Gandalf!

It’s also not a magic carpet ride. It is designed to hasten ambulatory rapidity, not to act as a substitute for walking. Maybe I’m being harsh, and some people really do wish to take in all of the sights that Murmansk Airport has to offer (ooh, Salt Mine Tours!). If that is the case, then by all means run two parallel travelators. A walky one. And a standy one. But until that day, get the fuck out of my way! Sprinting on travelators is the only time the words “Fun” and “Run” should go together. Travelators make me feel like I’m Usain Bolt. Until the jarring deceleration at the end brings me back to the realisation that I’m more like Hurley from Lost.

So there you go Airports. The ball is in your court. If you could fix only one, I’d say you weren’t trying…

(*Disclaimer: I travel First/Business class and have a PA, so some of these gripes may or may not apply to my actual travel experience now, but even I did fly economy once upon a time!)