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

Thursday, 19 August 2010

23. The relentless arrogance of Richard Dawkins

^ Dawkins is the kind of guy who is proud of his own gas expulsions due to the source of origin being himself.

I am a staunch atheist. I don't believe there is God and I find it a sobering thought that when I'm dead, my inner-self will not continue to live. My body will become part of the Earth's matter* and the only sense of eternal life I will be privy to will be through being remembered as a rambling idiot by the dwindling few who tolerated my presence. My views on this are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future and I honestly find it difficult to understand how people can have such a strongly held faith in a God or an afterlife. But unlike Richard Dawkins, I'm willing to accept that difference of opinion.

Richard Dawkins is an extremely intelligent man, that I can't deny. Whilst perhaps not the most original thinker, he has an almost unrivalled ability to synthesise the ideas of his contemporaries in a well articulated and comprehensible manner - something best exemplified by his book, "The Selfish Gene". An extensive study of the theories behind genetics, Dawkins provided one of the most important texts of the late 20th century which explained the science with such expertise and clarity that it can provide an interesting read for those not great with biology (such as yours truly). But even reading "The Selfish Gene", one thing is abundantly clear over everything else; Dawkins is a cocky funt. Every concept is lathered in layers of unrelenting, self-congratulatory arrogance and the often intelligent morsels that don't conform to Dawkins' ideal are regarded as little more than the intellectual drool of the mentally deficient.

It comes as no surprise then that, when discussing religion, Dawkins is just as much of an egotistical sod about the entire affair as he is with genetics. Whilst I fundamentally agree with most, if not all, of Dawkins' views, having someone as arrogant and dismissive as one of the poster-boys for atheism leads me to understand why non-believers are often portrayed as overwhelmingly intolerant and culturally insensitive. I almost want to disagree with his writings just because he's such a dick about everything. I respect Dawkins' conviction in his views, but I'm far from respecting him. Until he realises that other people are as entitled to their own opinions as he is, I'd really rather not have to suffer his conceited diatribes.

And yes, I am aware of the crippling sense of irony surrounding me criticising someone for being arrogant in the way they write. My only defence is I'm not a hugely successful writer who gets a lot of television time; I'm a long haired nerd who sits in his bedroom watching a lot of TV, drinking Pepsi Max and avoiding day light.

*Well, not straight away. First, I fully intend for my body to be taxidermed into a surfing pose so that at my open casket funeral, when the coffin is carried down the church aisle, it'll look like I'm riding a sick wave (the pallbearers will be dressed in blue). Also, everyone will get a photo with my surfer dude corpse.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

22. Using "would of" instead of "would have"

^ An extract from the next Twilight book

Now, I am a perpetual 'grammar Nazi'* and I realise that my constant years of language correction are going to result in a horribly embarrassing experience where I write 'their' instead of 'there' in some article and get ridiculed for the rest of my life. But hey, that's karma. In the meantime however, I am going to continue to correct people until they learn each and every inconsistency of their patchwork language and brandish them in whichever part of the brain handles grammar rules.

On that note, every time I read 'would of' instead of 'would have', a part of what little remains of my soul dies. I understand where it's arisen from and there is some logic behind it. If you were speaking the abbreviated form of 'would have', you'd say "would've" which sounds an awful lot like 'would of'. So, working from the spoken representation, you would end up writing 'would of'. But surely, at some point, you'd look at 'would of' and think "Wait a second. 'Of' doesn't have the same meaning as 'have'. What have I been doing with my life?!" I'll tell you what you've been doing. You've been losing SPAG** marks on every essay, exam and academic piece you've ever written. I hope you're proud of yourself, you git-wizard.

*For the two of you have not heard this term before, it effectively means that I am as passionate about the difference between 'your' and 'you're' as Hitler was about the difference between Aryans and normal humans... possibly with less genocide.

**Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar as opposed to spag-bog. Mmmm.

21. Andrew Lloyd Webber

^ "Yes, Dorothy... Now you are mine," Andrew thought to himself. He dared not utter the words for fear that they may be used against him as evidence in court at a later date.

Not to be needlessly cruel, but merely looking at Andrew Lloyd Webber gives me the chills. His face looks like it was drawn on an empty balloon that was only blown up to three quarters its capacity. Unfortunately, the only way to distract people from its rubbery hideousness was to stick a couple of distracting moustaches above his lifeless eyes. But I can't hold that against him, it's not his fault I'd rather jam a fork in my cornea than have to witness his unnervingly menacing smile ever again.

What I can hold against him is his shameless love of money. "Over The Rainbow" was bad enough. There was something clearly quite wrong about seeing Webber residing over young, impressionable women and casting judgement on them from his throne of perversion. Coupled with Graham Norton's presence, the entire thing was effectively an exercise in making the creepiest family-orientated show possible. But now, the Webber machine has seen it fit to make a sequel to his acclaimed "Phantom of the Opera" musical. This would be all well and good if the storyline to "Phantom of the Opera" was his to sequelise. But it's not. It's Gaston Lereox's.

Now, I don't necessarily mind the musical of Phantom of the Opera, but suffice to say it was a complete bastardisation of the original novel, somehow transforming it from a bleak tragedy about a hideously rapey stalker kidnapping a singer in to a proto-Twilight tale of romance and beauty coming from within. It was a vaguely similar story at least and both had closure in their ending. But it's as if Andrew just wasn't happy enough with sullying Lereox's legacy enough. The fact that he has written "Love Never Dies" just goes to show that anyone's creative product, no matter how brilliant it may be, is at risk of being regurgitated time and time again by those devoid of their own ideas in the interest of milking the decaying udders of a half-dead cash cow.

P.S. I realise I'm actually very late with this complaint, but it had been quietly bubbling inside of me for a good few months before I was able to articulate my pretentious rage.

P.P.S. I just found out that at around a decade ago, Paul Stanley of KISS starred in a production of "Phantom of the Opera". I really hope he was wearing his Starchild make up for it.

Monday, 9 August 2010

20. Superfluous language with no real purpose

^ I wanted to make the guy on the right look intelligent. Intelligent people wear top hats, right?

To be fair mate, at the end of the day, this language proper serves no purpose. Don't get me wrong, but to be honest, no offence or nothing and with all due respect, it is what it is and all this and all that. You know what I mean?

No, actually. I don't know what you mean because you speak like a lobotomised ninnyhammer, bescumbered by your own verbal inadequacy. I would love to continue insulting you, but I don't think you'd understand.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

19. Broadsheet newspapers


^ This is a genuine photo of me attempting to read a broadsheet. Notice how needlessly large it is.

We all know that the modern media and its fear-mongering depiction of the world is inaccurate, biased and frankly ridiculous. But few of us acknowledge the bigger problem with the modern newspaper. Forget the lies, forget the Daily Fail led scandals, the real issue comes down to size.*

I was recently in an airport where my flight had been delayed and I took it upon myself to read the Financial Times. "Ah, current events," I thought. "How scholarly." I read the front page. The article was quite compelling and like a sucker, I proceeded on to open the paper and continue reading. School boy error, the bloody thing attacked me. There I was, sitting in the departure gate of Cologne-Bonn, being swallowed alive by pink pages of text whilst a middle aged Asian woman gazed at me, judging my inability to hold the newspaper properly. After five whole minutes of loud rustling, I managed to refold the paper and sheepishly returned it to the shelf. I sat back down and ate duty free M&Ms for the next hour. Arguably, time better spent.

I honestly do not understand how broadsheets became a standardised sizing. It's as if they were invented by a socially aware sect of human-giant hybrids (I was going to say they were created by full blooded giants, but giants are probably too big for broadsheet newspapers; I'm nonsensical, but damn it, I'm logical). Whenever I try to read a broadsheet newspaper however, I am caught adrift in a mess of trying to unfold the thing, keeping it up right and not becoming engulfed by the low quality paper. Now, admittedly, this might be something to do with my impressive stature of 3"5', but I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking these newspapers are impractically large to read. I'd genuinely read physical newspapers more often if it wasn't for the effort. It's design flaws like this that lead people to get their misinformation from Fox "News". I hope whoever designed broadsheets is proud of that.

*Obligatory "That's what she said!"

Saturday, 7 August 2010

18. Twilight and its depiction of vampires

^ No, I didn't draw this but yes, it is amazing.

Yes, I know it's oh-so fashionable to rip on Twilight nowadays and yes, there's a wealth of people who do a much better job at it than I ever could (for instance, Alex Reads Twilight on Youtube basically sums up why Stephanie Meyer is a disgrace of an author - the mind boggles how she got her sloppily written emotional-porn published). But I have one particular gripe with the book / film / dried out cash cow - its utterly dull depiction of vampires.

Vampires are a fascinating sect of folk lore. Whilst of course rarely more than fictitious, vampires have often been used as the central subject for a plethora of literary materials that air the grievances of their chronological context. For instance, sustaining themselves on the blood of the living has always lent vampires the ability to make comment on a society's repressed sexual tension. Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' made a point of this and focussed itself succinctly on Victorian anxieties as a whole, bringing in themes of immigration, cultural amalgamation and patriarchy via the medium of the titular character and his impact on Whitby, England. It even went as far as to cleverly use the vampyric infection as a metaphor for the Victorian concerns over syphilis and disease in general.

But pretentious intellectualism aside, the vampire is unanimously a creature that instils fear. They are intelligent, high class and strong as shown in a wealth of different materials; Dracula, Castlevania, Blade - hell, even True Blood at least makes them a bit of a bad-ass. How does Twilight portray vampires? As uninteresting emo children who are incapable of functioning beyond nonsensical love interests. Stephanie Meyer is lost in a world of pseudo-gothic imagery and 14 year old girl romances. Vampires don't sparkle and fall in love with overtly depressed girls called Bella, they feast on people and attempt to deal with some kind of inner struggle.

It has been argued that vampires are often used to air the anxieties of of their time. I sincerely hope this doesn't apply to Twilight, as that means the most important concerns our society can muster are angst ridden tendencies of non-expression and pale men with greasy hair.