Month: September 2011

No shit



Reading the label

Image: foto76 /

I have noticed recently just how useless the information on the outside of medication is. The adverts invariably say “always read the label” but compared to the leaflet inside (which sometimes amounts to a full book) the label is often uselessly vague.

Take, for instance, the antibiotics I’m taking now. On the front it tells me to avoid milk at the same time as taking the medication. It doesn’t tell me why, it just leaves me to assume that my stomach will explode should tablet and milk mix at any point. It also doesn’t offer any guidance on what exactly constitutes “the same time” – does in mean in the same mouthful, or do I have to wait thirty minutes, an hour, or three hours after taking the pill before I can have milk? Nor does it really elaborate on what it terms as ‘milk’ – is yoghurt okay? Cream? Should I avoid milk chocolate? (more…)

Sex education

From the “it wasn’t like that in my day” files, I present a headline from the BBC News website:

When I was younger we just had to sit through a short video about willies and where to put them. It seems they’ve expanded the syllabus quite a bit since then. These days it probably even includes Scarlett Johansson and a section about how to tell real from faked celebrity nude shots.

An open letter to George Lucas

Dear George,

Come on now, enough is enough.

I let you be when you first started playing about with the original trilogy. You said you regarded the six films as a single story and as such, they weren’t finished until the last one came out – I accepted that. I can understand the desire to fix continuity errors brought about by starting in the middle or updating the special effects because its taken you thirty years to finish this thing and the newer bits are making the older ones look a little dated. I get that.

However, when you tinker with things seemingly just for the sake of tinkering, and even worse start actually changing the events of the films, then you start crossing the line. Why must you meddle so?

I don’t mind you going back and adding Hayden Christiansen to the end of Return of the Jedi. No one knows who the heck the other guy was so we don’t really care (although I hope he does still get some token royalties, you greedy bastard). Adding Ian McDiarmid to A New Hope didn’t upset me that much because again, continuity. I don’t mind all of the CG things walking around the background in Tatooine in the original trilogy because you’re updating the older films to look a little more in line with the newer ones. This, as I said, is fair enough. You’re also at least going back and fixing the new problems you created with your pervious meddling, which I guess serves you right.

But – but – please don’t go back and change the actual fucking story. Don’t go and make Greedo shoot first. Don’t make Darth Vader scream “Noooo!” when he throws the Emperor down the shaft at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Oh yes, and Yoda looks much, much better as a puppet. How can you go from campaigning for Frank Oz to be awarded an Oscar for his performance as Yoda to replacing him with a substandard digital version? At least you’re only doing it in Episode I and leaving the original trilogy be on that front.

I would love to be able to say that, with today’s release of the Blu-ray versions of the films, that you might sit back and quit meddling for a while. But no – next year, you’re starting this shit all over again by brining out A Phantom Menace in 3D. Hopefully you’ll be so busy trying to be the first person to do a 2D to 3D conversion that doesn’t look like complete shit (James Cameron hurt you, didn’t he, when he released Avatar and became the new pioneer of motion picture technology?) that you don’t have the time to fiddle about with anything else.

It does sadden me, dearest George, that a man who has done more for the film industry than anyone – you’re the father of modern special effects and cinema sound – now spends so much of his time continuously playing with his one hit rather than working on anything else. There’s Indiana Jones, of course, but as much of a part you played in that series it’s still Spielberg’s baby.

I’ve bought the Blu-rays, of course, because I’m an idiot and don’t have the gusto to stand up to you. But at least you’ve worked some of that old Lucas magic, as I understand the picture and audio quality on the discs are second to none.

But George, really, isn’t it time to retire to Skywalker Ranch and leave well enough alone?




From the Vaults: Just Paint Something!

Note: from time to time I release older writing in the absence of new material. This will all be tagged under the ‘From the Vaults’ category and will be clearly titled as such. 

This piece was written in early 2004 after a visit to the Tate Modern for the Media Arts portion of my degree. What I saw there so defied explanation I felt compelled to write it down and store it somewhere in case someone invented blogging (okay, that might be slightly anachronistic, but you get the idea).

This might be modern art. Or it might just be a shitheap. I honestly don't know.

I have always been cynical of modern art, so it was with great trepidation that I visited the Tate Modern.  I wondered what I would come up against.  Nothing could prepare me for what I saw.

A lobster on a telephone.

That’s right.

I kid you not.

A plastic lobster on top of a telephone.  In a gallery like it took an artist the best part of a year to make.

And that, to me, is what is terribly wrong with modern art.  What kind of person sits at home and thinks, “I know, I’ll put a plastic lobster on a telephone and call it art”?  Someone who is clearly not right in the head.

This was not the only piece in the Tate Modern that was this stupid.  One piece that caught my eye was a box of Brillo Pads.  An empty box, behind glass as if it was valuable.  Some hapless cleaner probably got confused and left it under there.  What other explanation can there be?

And then there’s the Turner Prize.  All of the entrants must have entered for a joke.  A small blob of Blu-Tac.  A light that switches on, then off, every three seconds.  And one of this years entries, two inflatable dolls on a lilo.  It defies explanation.  It defies logic.  It defies sanity.  I don’t think the ‘artist’ who submitted this piece knows who really made it.  He probably woke up one morning after a raucous party and found that one of his friends had left it floating in his swimming pool.

This isn’t the worst of it.  There are other pieces that must defy anyone’s opinion of ‘art’.

One piece, which was untitled, was a video of a middle-aged man staring out of a window, unmoving.  Naked.  For eleven minutes.  Why?  What possessed the ‘artist’ to do such a piece?  I maintain that he was playing a joke on his neighbour.  “Just stand there,” he probably said, “and I’ll film it.”

Then there’s another piece, a piece that someone probably got a grant to do.  Two television sets, one on top of the other.  On the top screen, a man dressed as an elf jumping quickly on the spot.  On the bottom, a similar elf although in different coloured clothes, also jumping on the spot.  Upside down.  With sound.  What is this piece saying about humanity?

Another piece was made by burning sand and dirt into a pattern, depicting an aerial view of a city.  There was barbed wire and copper cables stuck on it.  Not a bad piece, but take away the cables and what you’re left with is an Art Attack.

What if I wanted to be a modern artist?  Any jackass could take a box of Brillo Pads and call it art.  It’s just that not everyone would succeed.  Clearly the only ‘art’ involved is the art of persuading other people that what you’ve done is in fact art, and not just an unmade bed, a box you forgot to tidy away, or firm evidence of your inability to wire a light switch.

These pieces defy logic.  They have no meaning.  I was trying to make sense of them, and my brain said ‘sod this, I’m going home’, and it took a few days before I found it, at home, cowering in a corner.

The following quote I adapted from Douglas Adams.  It was originally said about politicians, but I’ve changed a few words to make it relevant to my argument. “Nothing turns someone into a successful artist quicker than irreversible brain damage.”

Seems fitting, doesn’t it?

Found on the internet somewhere - I'm afraid I don't know the source.