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.

Monday, 27 August 2012

81. Mobile phones

^ This is a photo of my phone that I have taken using my work phone. I despise my HTC phone as the touch screen never works. It took 10 minutes to type the above and for what? A pity laugh?

Radical viewpoint: mobile phones are one of the worst technological developments of the twentieth century.

        Okay, not quite. That's a slight embellishment on my part, but they are certainly over-rated. Practically, the mobile phone is a wonderful invention. I remember the days when you needed coins and a phone box to call someone when out and about – the ability to contact anyone from anywhere can be both liberating and useful.

        But more often than not, mobile phones become as shackling as cyber tagging. If you have a mobile phone, you're contactable everywhere. Everywhere. Whatever the situation, people can try to get a hold of you and frankly, it's a huge disruption to daily life. If you're in the middle of a task and someone rings you to benignly tell you what happened on X-Factor last night, you're not going to respond well. And you can’t just ignore the phone and claim “Oh, I was out so I didn’t know you called” because your phone is mobile. So you have to answer it and find the quickest way to tell your harasser to naff off so you can get back to watching your KISS documentary (or whatever normal people do to unwind, I don’t know).

        Smart phones are particularly awful. I'm not trying to sound like an old man, really, because I generally quite like technological advancement. But from a phone, all I want is the ability to make phone calls and text people. I do not want or expect my phone to crash because it’s trying to be super smart and help me out by telling me where the nearest Sam’s Chicken is. Just do what a phone is meant to do – not tweet, not check Facebook, not BBM, not Skype, not act like a substandard MP3 player, not give me obnoxiously loud updates on London 2012, not take photos of things drenched in sepia but just occasionally contact other people. And maybe play Snake.

        But you know what the very worst thing about mobiles is? They provide an excuse for being late due to the convenience they offer. Before, when you arranged to meet someone, you’d show up on time because you’d have no way to tell those you were meeting that you were running late. With mobiles, you no longer need to be punctual; you can offer running updates on the fact you left your house an hour late because you were too busy watching repeats of Scrubs. You’re no longer compelled to sort your life out and arrive on time for scheduled meets. And that, reader, makes you a selfish dolt. I hope you’re happy. 

80. People who exit the bus via the entrance

^ As an aside, the 134 bus is my mortal enemy and deserves an article all to itself. I'll wait until I'm scraping the barrel a little more than I am now. 

        Are you kidding me? Isn't the clue in the name? Is it not bleedingly obvious that it's exceptionally inconvenient for you to exit the bus via the same door people are using to get on it? Isn't travelling on buses in London a horrific enough experience without a fat sack of cytoplasm like yourself obnoxiously barging past me as I attempt to swipe my Oyster card for the third time as the bus driver looks at me with the kind of disdain he usually reserves for drunks?

       No, apparently not. The next time you try to exit the bus via the entrance as I get on, I'm going to clothesline you as I swipe in.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

79. Other people's opinions on the news

^ It's like Bill Turnbull's eyes are saying "Kill me" as he slowly comes to the realisation that BBC Breakfast will never achieve the greatness of RI:SE when it was presented by Iain Lee. What a show.

         In my on-going descent to become a massive consumer whore, I recently decided to put a television in my bedroom, right next to my laptop. This is primarily so that I can watch DVDs of A Bit of Fry and Laurie whilst typing up mindless drivel like this, but every once in a while I watch live television (provided my aerial actually works; it’s about as reliable as an Greek bank). My main viewing time is in the mornings, when my mind isn’t really able to absorb information properly. And yet, even in this mental state of brain jelly, I find morning news programs so offensive that I end up leaving the house slightly more moody than when I woke up.

         If I’m watching a news report, do you know what I want to hear? I want to hear the news, shockingly. I want to hear the headlines and maybe a brief description of what these headlines are actually talking about. Maybe a couple of key details that would give me the basic gist of the story, but wouldn’t actually help me to solve the crime should I be called in to do so (as I am often am).

         Do you know what I don’t want to hear? What anyone other than the news reporter thinks. I do not want to hear the anchors inviting members of the general public to attempt to engage their brains and spew forth their appalling speculation and thinly-veiled agendas. I don’t want to hear Jane from Dorset twist a shoplifting in to a jab at people from outside the UK. I don’t want to hear Pete from London talk about how to fix the economy using only common sense and a potato. I don’t want to hear Llewellyn from Llanneli wax lyrical about how a lesbian couple attempting to adopt is amoral, against God and represents the gradual crumbling of society’s fabric. And I certainly don’t want to hear whatever ill-thought out, idiotically intolerant and increasingly insipid insight you have about the news. I just want the god damn news.

78. Slow walkers

^ The awful truth that I'm forced to accept on a daily basis.

         Being massively unfit, it’s surprising that I actually like to walk quickly across the streets. Although I puff and wheeze with every pathetic flail of my legs, my brain thinks “The faster I walk, the sooner I can sit down”. Perfect logic. And yet, in London at least, every other person on the street walks about as fast as a turtle who has had one of their legs removed. There is no pavement etiquette, as swathes of slow walkers walk alongside each other in blockading rows of inconvenience. They’re not even necessarily people who know each other – rather they’re just pulled together by a desire to not walk at a pace considered normal. And any attempt to weave between these nightmarishly bipedal snails makes me feel like I’m in an incredibly slow version of the game Paperboy, trying to avoid blocky 8 bit obstacles.

Consider this entry a warning: if you walk slowly in front of me, I’m probably going to snap and punch you in the back of the head.

77. QR codes

This is not what we meant when we said we wanted more interactive toys.Frustrating for ages 1 to 100! 
Submitter: QR code dice game   
^This game sounds about as fun as being punched in a hernia. Courtesy of the brilliant WTF QR CODES.

         Level with me, reader. Have you ever used a QR code? When you look at a poster of any description, usually one of the last things you notice is that pixellated mess in the corner. And when you do, you don't think, "Oh! I should scan that with my phone to find out more!" No, no. You think, "Oh! Looks like Pacman threw up on another poster. He must have a drinking problem." Or something like that.

          They're not even easy to use. First you have to download a QR code reader of some description on to your phone and you have to spend about five minutes painstakingly trying to hold your phone 100% still up to the square blot, waiting for it to read the thing. In the unlikely event it actually works (note to advertisers: QR codes requiring internet access won't work on the Underground), you'll get led to a page that is most likely just the same poster but with extra words. Great. That was a waste of time. 

          However, possibly the worst thing about QR codes are the people who employ them and vehemently insist on their usage. These are always, without fail, people who don't even have the first idea on how to use them - anyone who does know how to use them wrote them off years ago because they're useless. Those who do use QR codes are convinced they're the "norm"; that everyone uses them and that they're the standard way the "yoof" engages with posters. And they'd be right. If it was 2003 and you were in Japan. Do you seriously think anyone in Britain will approach something as novel and pointless as a QR code with anything other than the cynicism of Eeyore having just binged on The Cure? The self-serve checkout is enough, we're not going to start scanning barcodes for fun.

Friday, 2 March 2012

76. The phrase "You know what I mean?"

^ The phrase "You know what I'm sayin'?" is equally idiotic. Weird Al gets me.

No, I don’t know what you mean. If I knew what you meant, I wouldn’t be having this idiotic conversation with you. Perhaps instead of peppering your verbal chunder with meaningless phrases, you could actually just tell me what you cocking mean.

75. Wobbly singing and the songs that come with it

^ Say what you want about Glee being the epitome of terrible programming, but this mash-up is a bit genius. Yes, I feel ashamed too.

Because I’m basically a fifteen year old girl deep down inside, I recently spent a month or so re-watching – oh yes, re-watching – the first season of Glee. And you know what bothers me about that? It’s not that every episode has the same formula of proceedings (Sue Sylvester somehow finds a way to stop the Glee club, William Shuester manages to thwart her, a bunch of teenagers cry deeply about being misfits despite the fact they're all above average looking) or that all of those twenty-somethings-playing-children are auto-tuned to death. No no. It’s the wobbly singing of “sassy” (read: overweight) independent woman, Mercedes.

You know the type. The kind that Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera are responsible for inflicting upon the world. The kind that every second rate twunt on the X-Factor (for instance, Alexandra Burke and Leona Lewis) depend on to disguise the fact that their music is so offensively dull that it makes me want to jab out my eyes with a spatula (I like a challenge).

Whatever happened to actually trying to stick to a tune? A great melody can succeed on its simplicity alone. To take a slightly dated but fairly relevant example, let's look at ABBA.

Okay, enough looking. My point is ABBA didn’t have any of that wobbly, warbling nonsense. They just had good and wholly engaging pop songs, laden with sugar-coated melodies that would captivate even the most hardened metal-head (i.e. people who can appreciate the intricate and meticulous musicality of bands like Pig Destroyer and Darkthrone). They know how to give the listener something to remember.

No one’s ever going to remember a mess of up and down notes belted out by some washed up pop-star desperately trying to disguise the lack of hooks in their new single. There is nothing enduring about trying to make your voice sound powerful and "emotional" if you can't be arsed to actually put a song behind it.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

74. The music in Starbucks

^ I actually used one of those 'free iTunes tracks' cards from Starbucks the other week. The only thing worse than listening to The Kooks is realising that you willingly downloaded one of their songs because it was free.

In recent months, I have become a corporate whore with one of those job things and a desire to spend all my disposable income on unfairly priced consumables sold by big chains that are slowly but surely destroying our society. But rather than address my own willingness to conform to the consumerist dream, I’m going to pick on the bits I don’t like about these places like a spoilt brat with an overwhelming sense of entitlement.

It must be hard for Starbucks to source their music. I’m curious as to what supplier has such a wealth of indistinguishably cultural artists that are so inoffensive, they wouldn't be able to drown out the quietest of conversations - even if the conversation was two mice whispering secrets to each other and the music was played through a Spinal Tap amp on 11. It’s as if lift lobby muzak had an illegitimate child with the ‘Garden State’ soundtrack, only for the disadvantaged bastard to be adopted by Norah "I Am Disgracing My Dad, Ravi Shankar" Jones and Chris "Dontplay My Records, They're Abysmal" Martin. Every piece of music at Starbucks is more generic than the last, with each resounding note of the homogenised cultural mash-up further cementing the coffee chain as the epitome of cosmopolitan venues (and therefore, the meeting place of yuppies and Sex & The City fans alike).

I'm going to level with you, Starbucks. I don’t think pumping your coffee shops with pseudo-ethnic and adult contemporary music is convincing anyone that your business is anything but a big, fat, slobbering American monster with its chubby sausage fingers forcibly clutched around the throat and wallet of modern society. We know you’re all about the dollar and, frankly, I don’t think anyone cares anymore. Just be honest and we'll be honest with you. You want our money so you can take over the world and we want those Frappuccinos because they’re awesome. Mutually beneficial. No amount of smooth jazz is going to change that.

73. The term "sheeple" and the sheeple who use it

^ A flock of sheep much like the one above once prevented me from getting to work on time. True story. Living in Wales was a blast.

Let's get one thing out of the way here. I love making new words out of two old ones. Urban Dictionary, one of the greatest corners of the internet, is effectively founded on people artificially ramming together two words that don't get along. Terms like "brofessional", "carnevoyeur" and, of course, "overjaculation" stand as a testament to language's beautiful capacity to constantly evolve and adapt to new surroundings. Sort of.

My issue with "sheeple" is therefore not to do with someone slamming together sheep and people - the Welsh do that all the time*. My beef (...lamb?) stems more from the kind of people who use the word and the context within which they deploy their elitist put-down. Almost always veering on the "alt" side of life, they view the "norms" as "sheeple" because they "conform". If you don't make a blindingly shallow statement about yourself being slightly different from the rest of society, then you're just falling in line with the establishment without ever thinking for yourself. Obviously.

Now, I don't know what criteria this is generally based on, but as far as I can tell, if you've never worn an Anarchy A t-shirt in your life, then you're probably a sheeperson (clearly no thought went in to a singular form of the word). If you don't have a slightly off-key haircut, then you're probably a sheeperson. If you've never listened to at least some of the collected works of System of a Down, you're probably a sheeperson. The delicious irony in all this is the fact that to not be part of the sheeple - the flock unable to make their own decisions, instead damned to mindlessly conform to the standards of society - you must because an alternative stereotype, unable to make your own decisions about other people and instead damned to mindlessly conform to the standards of your contemporaries' idiocy.

If you're going to start stereotyping large groups of people, just make sure you're not also part of an equally idiotic stereotype.


*I just burnt myself there.