My Top 10 Most Annoying Things

They aren’t my Top ten to be honest, they are just the first ten that sprang to mind. In no particular order:

Parents who blame everyone, except themselves

It’s the teachers. It’s the other kids. It’s the other kids’ parents. It’s the TV. It’s the radio. It’s the footballers. It’s the celebrities. It’s the government. It’s everyone, except you.

Is your child staying out late? Not doing their homework? Has unsavoury friends? Causes trouble? Gets into fights? Takes drugs? Spends too much time behind the TV or computer? You sort it out. You decided to have the child. You brought it into the world. You raised it. You taught it your values. You reap what you sow. Do your job and stop bitching at everyone else for your parenting failures.

Shopping bags that you can’t separate

We’ve split the atom, landed on the moon, established the internet, peered into the origins of the universe itself, created antimatter, and unlocked the human genome. We even invented self-serve checkouts in supermarkets, so why can’t we create a carrier bag whose sides don’t stick together? Yes, I am that post-lobotomy patient standing there for five minutes holding up the queue.

Can’t there be little plastic lips at either ends and opposite sides of the bag to facilitate easy opening? I hate having to waste five minutes of my life picking and scratching and licking the bag all the time hoping no one is watching before I think ‘bollocks, I’ll just carry everything.’

Hip-hop /  R&B

It takes a rather broad and generous definition of music to include these two modern monstrosities of popular culture into the concept of music. If anything 50 Cent does is music then so is my car alarm.

Worse than the bland tuneless repetitive tripe that radios vomit over the airwaves is the semi-criminal underground “gangsta” lifestyle portrayed and glorified to youngsters of lazy parents. No, when you grow up you will realise that being a criminal or part of a gang, or stealing, robbing, shagging around, selling your soul for popularity is not cool or fun. It’s pathetic and parasitic. The best music humanity has to offer will not be found on commercial radio. Until then, it would be great if you just pointed and laughed at the Emperor and switched that trash off. Here’s the thing: no one really likes this “music” – everyone just pretends to because everyone else pretends to like it too!

Animal “Rights” Activists

Some humans will stop at nothing to defend the supposed “Rights” of thoughtless amoral beasts that will continue eating the grass and pooing today and tomorrow and for the next hundred thousand years, as they have done the last hundred thousand years. They’ll even go as far as hurting other humans who actually do have Rights and destroying their property, in the name of animals.

Sure, animals can be killed for a few benefits like: testing drugs, developing medicines, food, clothing, shelter, vermin-control etc. But there’s also the downsides of…wait, oh I can’t think of any.

If animal “rights” activists really care so much about not disturbing animals in any way, shape or form, they should go to a place where their continued existence doesn’t depend on the exploitation of the world around them, i.e. some other planet or reality than this one.

Do you wear leather? Do you eat meat? Do you live in a house? Do you use wood or chemicals? Errrr…stop right there. If animals have rights to all these things then you don’t. Strip naked and head off to the Antarctic (just don’t travel there by bus or plane, of course).

Insects

I know I get in a flap about this a lot, but it really bugs me. My friends know I’m liable to fly off the handle whenever one of these little three-torso’d six-legged bastards enter the room. It doesn’t matter if they crawl or fly or hop, they are all disgusting and should be exterminated. I’ve heard the religious say “ah but they’re part of nature’s balance – they all have a purpose.” Let’s swat this myth right out the sky: insects have NO purpose. If it wasn’t for rotting food and animal poo half of them would be dead – some design flaw there, God, cheers. I can’t wait for the day when we invent waste-atomisers and the insect population starves to death. If I could afford it, I’d have one of those blue electric light thingies at every entrance and exit in my house.

You know how it is: you’re trying to sleep and you hear a whine in the room. You give her a slap and listen for the other noise: some mosquito is whirling around looking to bite you and (this actually happens) when you turn the light on it stops flying and waits. Or one of those big furry bluebottles that just can’t seem to find its way out the window you’ve opened in front of it, the window 6017 times its size. Flies are stupid.

They say your average housefly lives about 20 days – that’s 20 days too long in my opinion. Any insect that violates my property rights dies. They are ugly and intrusive and have no respect. Did you know that insects are responsible for 980 million deaths a year? I can’t back that up but why take the risk?

Chain e-mails

The internet has been around for long enough now for everyone to know that if you forward it on to X number of people, absolutely nothing will appear on your screen. Luck is a metaphorical concept that can’t be transferred, certainly not by browser-based mail clients.

Chain e-mails come in many varieties, whether it be “Microsoft wants to know who is using Hotmail otherwise they’ll delete your account”, or “for every fifty people who forward this picture of a random sick baby plucked off Google Images, [Insert Big Corporation Name here] will donate 10 [enter local currency here] to [enter charity here]”, or “send this on within 5 minutes and have great sex forever” (I happen to know this is definitely false) – they are all deeply stupid. And no, it’s not “a bit of harmless fun”, it’s the perpetuation of irrational and pernicious notions. If you want to support a good cause, say so. If you want to share a joke, send it on. Drop the damn emotional blackmail or insults to our intelligence.

Blatant spelling mistakes

Ok, no one can always write perfectly, grammaratically or otherwise, but there are some errors that are truly shocking and unforgivable. I’m not talking about typos, I’m talking about the wrong freaking words!

Defiantly” does not mean “definitely”; it doesn’t sound the same, it doesn’t look the same, and it doesn’t even mean the same thing! And it’s “could have” not “could of“. And “you’re” means “you are“; it is not the same word as “your“. Could you bear being attacked by a bare bear? Was it where you expected it, or were you dreaming of wearing no clothes? Maybe there was no one else there and it’s all not their fault.

Advertisements

I am defiantly not against the nature of advertisements, I’m against the content: it is criminally lame. As the late Bill Hicks said: “if you work in marketing, kill yourself!” Radio jingles, movie ads, TV commercials – only a tiny proportion are actually clever or make sense. 99% of them are just annoying.

I really wonder what goes on in the head of the people who script, cast, act and approve advertisements. It’s like “what were you thinking? How in any way did that promote your product? It didn’t even make sense! What part of you thought ‘yup, we nailed that! Now let’s wait for the sales to flood it!’?” Perhaps they think “if we piss enough people off with this, they might buy our product hoping we’ll go away!

Relativists

Nope, not talking about Einstein here, I’m talking about the subjectivist types who either
a) explicitly think there’s no such thing as objective right and wrong, or
b) implicitly suppose that since everyone’s different, everyone’s opinion is fair and worthy of merit.

They are both wrong. If I say I can fly, or the moon is covered in gravy, or god made the earth in six days, or there are 72 virgins waiting in the afterlife – I am of course welcome to believe it. I might really really believe it. Hell I might be utterly convinced it’s the absolute truth. Does that make me right? If 6 billion people say the sun orbits the earth but I know the earth orbits the sun, who is right? Right and wrong are matters of objective reality. They are facts accepted by consciousness. It doesn’t matter how far removed the fact is from the sensory input, eventually the chain of evidence stops at someone somewhere being able to point at something and say “this is it.”

Just because everyone has a different opinion, doesn’t mean everyone is right. There are an infinite number of ways to be wrong and only one way to be right. I hate it when people are afraid of being wrong. But fear of being right is worse.

The most annoying thing about the subjectivist position is that it’s inherently contradictory. The subjectivist position basically goes like this: “all opinions (or cultures, or beliefs) are equally valid.” Err, there’s one problem with that: what if my opinion is that all opinions are not equally valid. Therefore, for your position to be true it must entail the validity of my opinion which denies your position. Subjectivism is therefore either false or invalid.

“There are no absolutes”. Grrrr. Are you absolutely sure of that??

Football commentators

Being the most popular sport in the world has its drawbacks. It means that every man and his dog has an opinion on it. That’s fine. The problem is when they give any man a microphone on a huge stage to talk about. It’s worse when they let the dog speak too (although quite frankly anything would be more coherent than John Motson). Sport commentary should be a fine skill: a commentator must assess the entire match before his eyes, the atmosphere, the implications, the talents and strategies on show – isolate the relevant concepts and dismiss the irrelevant details, and bring those points home to the audience in an engaging and unique manner. Basically, a commentator should be doing what most of us couldn’t or would find exceptionally hard to do. A commentator should not prattle on endlessly about statistics or the synchronicity of this match on this day with the wind blowing in this direction.

Football commentators are the worst of the lot. With most of them their job consists of having an enormous list of stats on each player to fire off whenever he touches the ball – irrelevant trivia that the mind glosses over and forgets a moment later – this isn’t commentary; it’s someone reading a database out to you. Others simply do “radio commentary” for TV and tell us exactly what we can see with our own eyes:

“Gerrard with the ball. Passes it to Kuyt. Kuyt crosses to Carroll. Carroll mis-controls. Opposition get possession.”

Due to the miracle of light waves impacting on my retina and being interpreted by my brain as images, I was already of that. In fact, I was aware of it in 1/10th of the time it took you to repeat it back to me after it happened.

Almost all of them avoid making firm conclusions or stating a definite opinion of their own:

“Hmm, that looked offside didn’t it?”

What? Are you asking me?? You’re the supposed expert, you tell me!

From bad puns to awful (and mixed) metaphors, to dreary or grating voices – the entire commentary industry needs a makeover in football. Perhaps that’s (yet) another law UEFA could come up with when they’re done with their racist quota systems? Which brings me too…

UEFA

No, I jest. No 11th item. Besides, this monster deserves a post of its own someday.

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My Top 10 Fictional Characters

As always, my opinion is limited to what I have experienced, but then how could it be anything else? Ranking my “best” fictional characters isn’t easy – because admittedly I can’t explicitly state the criteria used. But this is just for fun anyway!

Now, oftentimes the protagonist of a story becomes an everyman which all of us can relate to, and through whom we see the other characters and the events unfold. The problem with this sort of character (e.g. Harry Potter) is that there isn’t anything particularly remarkable or interesting about them in-and-of themselves; what is interesting is what they go through and what happens to them – apart from some general sense of courage and honesty. Sometimes the most interesting, frustrating, or funny characters in a story are not at all the hero. Of course the flipside of this is that everyone else apart from the protagonist can become two-dimensional and simply there to give our character someone to interact with. It takes a special kind of character to pull off protagonist/antagonist/ancillary and also capture our imaginations and have us glued to TV screen or book. Not every character listed here is a protagonist but they are some of the most diverse/complex/outrageous/compelling ones you’ll ever encounter.

10. God (Yahweh, Allah,  Christ, take your pick)

Being the most famous fictional character of all time, this guy has to get a mention, albeit rather facetiously. The way his fans so love to revel over competing interpretations of him is fascinating at best and pathetic at worst. You have to be fascinated by his supposed actions though, love or hate him. My personal favourite is the Christian story about him and Noah’s ark. In it, God creates man knowing they’ll fail a test, even though the knowledge required to pass the test wasn’t available to them until after they failed it (!). He then regrets making man, even knowing what would happen in the first place, so promises to destroy them because we’re so evil. He wipes the whole earth out with a flood that takes a varying number of days according to the story, somehow cramming in millions of species and billions of lifeforms into a boat 450 foot long (!!). Afterwards, he doesn’t promise never to destroy the earth again, oh no – he just promises not to use a flood. Oh, well that’s reassuring… Why does he promise not to destroy the earth again? Because he accepts that man is simply evil by nature, even though he knew we’d turn out this way, even though that was his original motive for wiping us out in the first place (!!!). Storytelling at its best!

God is probably the most emotional violent egotistical psychopath ever invented. It takes a special kind of self-hatred, racism and sexism to invent a character with this many conflicting traits. And you’ve got to give him points for that. It’s so bad you have to say “you can’t make this stuff up!” But of course, that’s exactly what happened.

9. Dr. Perry Cox (SCRUBS)

The classic badass with a heart of gold, Cox is hilarious. Sarcastic and condescending, his constant demeaning diatribes actually inspire students to aim ever harder to win his eternally-escapable praise. No doubt he has the best lines of the entire show, and I daresay the whole thing couldn’t have worked without him. His speech, his mannerisms, his banter and his flaws are superbly put together to make him one of the most fascinating and enjoyable characters to watch.


8. Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Fire and Ice)

A complex assortment of traits, physical and mental, coupled with quick words and an even quicker mind make Tyrion Lannister a joy to read (or watch). It’s precisely because he has zero physical presence that makes his dialogue so vital to get right, because anything complimentary or threatening from him must be done through subtext or clever words. He knows his weaknesses so excels at his strengths, and shows great bravery under circumstances where even the strongest man might fail. As he himself says, his sword is his mind – and such a fascinating character is he that whether it be consorting with whores, held hostage by enemies, passing subtle threats to quasi-allies, or interacting with royalty – we love what he has to say and every word has us mesmerised!

 

7. Jack Bauer (24)

Strong, tough, deadly, ruthless, passionate, flawed yet incorruptible – Jack Bauer is all these things. He toughened up so much that there was nothing he couldn’t do – whether it’s expose an entire government conspiracy or take on an immense fortress of bad guys single-handedly.

Jack’s a man who always does what he believes is right. You can take issue whether he *is* right or not, but he doesn’t compromise, doesn’t cheat and doesn’t shy away from doing what needs to be done. He is a patriot, and defending his country is the number one value in his life – a fact his actions consistently demonstrate.

Volunteering himself for a nuclear suicide mission or taking point on the battlefield – Jack won’t ask anyone to do something he isn’t prepared to do himself, which makes him an inspirational leader.

6. Buffy (Buffy, the Vampire Slayer)

Whilst not the first female hero, it’s fair to say Buffy turned the superhero gender idea on its head. She manages to save the boy in distress but also still be feminine. This statement itself has become a cliché: “strong yet feminine” yada-yada, but it’s become so overused because it appears so incredibly hard to get right. (It’s actually not).  Many movie-makers and writers think a woman who acts like a bloke, fires guns, fraks everything that moves, and acts like she doesn’t give a shit, can be redeemed back into femininity by wearing a skin-tight catsuit or holding suggestive poses. What they don’t realise is: She. Just. Looks. Stupid. Femininity isn’t a matter of how much you swear (or don’t) or kick ass (or don’t), the length of your hair, sex appeal or how much you cry (or don’t). Buffy manages to pull off being a sexy attractive badass lady because she doesn’t try too hard to be, because she doesn’t need to try. Sure, she cares about her girlie stuff and has the angst one would expect of a teenager/young woman – but she is a young woman. She doesn’t need to ram her double-Xs down our throats. She can be dirty, ragged, and unkempt, save the world and kick ass – and also be a girl. (And of course, I’m not implying that there should be any natural conflict at all between gender and strength, but since most writers and producers actually do make this assumption and then over-compensate for it, it makes it all the better when a female character comes along who gets it right for all the right reasons.)

Perhaps an easy to overlook feature of Buffy’s is her humour – she is really quite funny, obviously and subtly – and when contrasted against who and what she actually is, makes it all the better.

We like her because we know she’d make a superb friend and ally, and she genuinely cares about the world and doing right. Like I said at the start, it’s hard to make your protagonist a champion for everyone watching, whom we can all relate to, be a vehicle for the story, and also have many distinctive character traits of their own (instead of being “the funny one” or “the sarcastic one”.) For example, whilst we love watching Jack Bauer, I’d argue that we don’t really relate to him or his situations, certainly not like we can with Buffy.

5. Londo Mollari (Babylon 5)

Undoubtedly, a character with a lot of blood on his hands, Londo undeniably always acts in what he perceives is in the best interest of his people, his race, his planet. But how often does “Greater Good” thinking lead to misery and death? (Answer: always).

His decisions and actions lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent lives, but he makes the choices knowingly and willingly, because nothing will get in the way of the Manifest Destiny he sees for the Centuari Republic. And despite all this, we understand him, and why he did the things he did. We feel sorry for him, despite the mistakes, the lies, the murders. He is a tragic character, made so by the curious irony that he actually gets everything he ever wished for, but when his wishes become reality they are never what he thought they’d be, and the result is always misery (and often destruction.) He slowly sinks from jovial and silly to dark and allied to evil itself. He finds his way out again after realising what price his terrible decisions almost cost him and his world. But the road to redemption is never fully completed, after being forced to accept a horrible burden that he must shoulder in silence and which his friends can never know.

In Londo’s own words: “When we first met I had no power and all the choices I could ever want. And now I have all the power I could ever want and no choices at all. No choice at all.”

4. Gaius Baltar (Battlestar Galactica Reimagined Series)

Another character on this list who qualifies as genius, Baltar is brilliant, treacherous and cowardly. He is unfuriating and pathetic yet understandable and pitiful. Sometimes I think ‘well that’s exactly what I’d do in that situation’ and other times I’m shaking my head in disbelief.

There’s no denying that on the rare occasions BSG does comedy, Baltar is the best example of it. Some of his lines are laugh-out-loud funny, as are so many of the awkward unspoken positions he’s placed in.

Gaius has a continuing nack of saving his own neck (or perhaps it’s just God’s Will™), but despite the reproach he often deserves, what is tragic about him is how often he is vilified for the wrong reasons. We feel aggrieved for him, feel vindicated at times when he is, then wish he’d just shut his mouth. Just a few tiny decisions here and there and how different things might have gone. He’s enough to make you shout at the TV “you frakking idiot! Just tell the truth for once!” Despite his intellect, even he doesn’t realise how better things might’ve been if he was just honest all along.

Tagged as an unchosen antagonist for most of the show, the truth is that despite being painted as “villain”, Baltar’s genuinely reprehensible acts pale in comparison to the deliberate and remorseless crimes of the supposed heroes of the story. As the saga progresses, so often I find myself siding with him against our alleged protagonists.

He richly enhances the whole show and is as much a living breathing complex character as anything seen on TV.

3. Captain James T. Kirk (Star Trek TOS)

A more-womanising, futuristic, less hysterical version of Jack Bauer, without the gun – Captain Kirk is an all-round proper good guy. He leads confidently and passionately, is clever but also emotional, and is uncommonly brave to fight for his ship and his crew. He’s the perfect leader to the outside world, but has doubts and vulnerabilities which only his closest friends get to see. The expression “The Man” was invented for James Kirk.

He is, in a great many ways, what a man and a hero should be. But not through super powers or even technology – just by his wits and his courage. He is a regular guy, but an achievable hero; he simply exemplifies the best qualities of heroism and command.

 

2. Dr. Gregory House (House MD)

A character of many shades and levels, nearly always sarcastic and sniping, he says all the things most of us keep in our heads, regardless of who he offends. His honesty and disregard for pretention is refreshing but also cringe-inducing at times. Self-destructive physically and emotionally, he almost goes out of his way to make the wrong choices at times, despite being in all other ways an absolute genius of the highest order. If you needed diagnosing he’d be your first choice at the job, on the condition you never met him – which in itself is an interesting contrast.

He’s fast (not walking), witty, and guaranteed to keep you laughing time and again. He might make you hate him, but you’ll also feel sorry for him. A deeply intriguing character – the perfect blend of humour and tragedy.

 

1. Eric Cartman (South Park)

The perfect comedic characterisation of psychopathic evil. Cartman is truly despicable in every sense of the word. He is irrationally self-concerned, self-destructive, manipulative, racist, sexist and whose ultimate dream is dominating all others with his will. He is also ludicrously clever, but so often short-sighted. And all this is tempered by him still being very much a big child with all the insecurities and weaknesses that brings.

Cartman is the perfect plot device through which our likes and dislikes, loves, passions, hates and fears are seen or reflected. He is a foil to the story itself which allows a fantastically rich web of allegories and contrasts to be displayed. Like much of South Park, he is nothing wrong of writing genius. In real life, such a character would be universally despised and unloved – yet in this form, he is just brilliant and hilarious to watch. We can’t get enough of him! No doubt South Park is at its best when Eric Cartman is at his worst.