Visit our new
Home of Angular Mike!
Hey kids! It's Saturday, and you know what that means! That's right - another ill-founded rant about modern culture that reveals more ignorance than it dispells. Since my friends haven't slaughtered me for being uncultured in quite a while, this week it's the Modern Art establishment's turn, and specifically, the "work" or "art" that is the attachment of the sculpture Rodin's Kiss to 20 yards of twine. I know, it happened a while ago, and a cartoon in this fortnight's Private Eye seems to suggest it has in fact been returned to its rightful state, but still.
The fact remains that there is a human being who believed not only that he could improve a work of fine art with some crappy string bought in a local B&Q, but that he should be paid enormous sums of money for performing said service, and receive the highest acclaims from all concerned.
For those who don't know about the piece in question (I'd like to think there are some, besides me), Rodin's The Kiss is a sculpture in marble of two lovers kissing, believed to have been carved about 100 years ago. The modification was made by Cornelia Parker, for her widely acclaimed exhibition, which went on display about 6 weeks ago.
Now, for me, the first question is the obvious one: why? What motivated Ms. Parker to believe that it was a worthy project to attach things to a statue; a project that demonstrated her talent and finery? The most puzzling concept seems to be that, one must suppose, she believes that she actually improved the sculpture. After all, if she actually believed she was reducing the quality of the art in question, why would she do it? For those who are having trouble grasping the concept, I have taken the liberty of preparing a table, demonstrating just what happens when one attempts to improve a number of household object with the use of string. Specifically, the mile of string used by Parker.
So, in summary, Parker bad. Kenwood bad. Sony reasonable. Ronin good, probably. Me funny. Ho ho ho!
That'll be all.
Sorry Angular Mike's been a bit slow lately, I've been working longer hours at the office and I have increasingly less time to work on all my little projects. Also, it seems when I said Mark Twain yesterday, I of course meant to say George Orwell, as Sarah reminded me from afar. Sorry honey!
Here's a funny article taking the piss out of something Space Monkey sent me.
It occurred to me recently that an awful lot of Stephen King's works can be abridged to a phrase which ends with the words "and that's pretty much it."
The particular one I had in mind was Gerald's Game. The blurb on the back would have you believe that it's a tense, psychological thriller which will affect you right down to your soul and make you think twice before indulging in bondage games with your spouse in future. Reviewers worldwide have revered it (as they do all of Stephen King's books) as a masterwork of the genre.
I beg to differ. From what I've seen, it's about a woman who gets chained to a bed forever, and that's pretty much it.
No bullshitting in the world will hide the fact that Stephen King somehow took an idea for a short story and laboriously churned out ten squillion plodding pages from it. Same applies to his other books, even the ones that are thick enough to brain any mammal you'd care to name.
The Shining: A family goes to a haunted house, goes mad, and that's pretty much it.
Cujo: A dog gets rabies, and that's pretty much it.
It: Children are stalked by a killer clown demon, and that's pretty much It (quite literally).
The Dead Zone: A bloke is involved in an accident which leaves him with the extraordinary power to read a person's future when he touches them, and he touches some politician and learns that said politician will eventually destroy the world, so he plots to assassinate him, and that's pretty much it.
Okay, so maybe it doesn't apply to all of them. But another thing I wonder about is why he sets all his books in Maine. I know he grew up there and you're only supposed to write what you know about, but he could at least set something in a neighbouring state for once. Robert Rankin's books all indicate that Brentford is the centre of the universe, but he's a COMEDY writer. He's allowed to do that sort of thing. Stephen King's a 'serious' writer. I just can't take fourteen books seriously when they're all set in the same stupid state, no matter how many people have insects crawling out of their mouths.
Don't think I don't respect Stephen King. On the contrary, I am wholly impressed by his mastery of padding a 200-page concept into a 1000-page epic. Mark Twain once said that, when writing a book, one should remove everything that can be removed, leaving only what is necessary to set the scene, tell the story and establish the characters. If you do that to Gerald's Game, the remainder would probably fit quite comfortably on a beermat. In really thick felt-tip pen.
I suspect that no-one actually reads Stephen King. People just like to buy them, and put them on shelves in all their five-million-page glory to impress visitors. Reviewers do this too; they don't actually NEED to read the book. They just copy down the basics of the plot from the blurb on the back then fill up the rest of the review with the Stephen King Praise Generator.
To use the Stephen King Praise Generator for yourself, simply take a word from each of the columns below, and you're set!
I've been thinking lately about movies based on games. So far, on balance, they've been pretty shit. Created in order to snag the vital nerd demographic, they exist solely so said vital nerds can see all their childhood heroes in the flesh and go all wibbly wobbly.
The thing is, no-one except nerds who are familiar with the games watch them, and they conclude rapidly that the films can never be as entertaining as the games, damning the film to celluloid Hell. But I wonder, is this a deserved fate? Let's go over a few notorious crapouts and try and see where they went wrong.
1. Super Mario Bros
Good bits - Bob Hoskins, but then I would like a foreign art film about people who stand up to their waists in lakes of dogshit playing violins if Bob Hoskins was in it. Also, they clearly put a lot of effort into it.
Bad bits - It was a rather silly idea, really. Anyone who attempts to translate something so enjoyably mindless as the Super Mario games into a real-life situation has got nothing but Rorschach tests and soft walls to look forward to. I mean, the games were about a couple of men with big moustaches and huge heads who grow twice their normal size when they touch mushrooms, bounce up and down on other, ambulatory mushrooms, and fall off the bottom of the screen when they die. It's not the easiest subject matter to work a plot out of. What they did was make a weird fantasy film about alternative worlds and inserted Mario Bros. references with a crowbar.
2. Tomb Raider
Good bits - Chris Barrie, but then I would like a foreign art film about people who stand up to their waists in lakes of dogshit playing violins if Chris Barrie was in it. Also, breasts.
Bad bits - Not much in the way of tombs being raided. And once again, foolishly attempting to bring game physics into reality. Of course in the games Lara Croft can run at full pelt without being knocked unconscious by her bouncing boobs, or haul herself up onto ledges with arms the thickness of a pencil. It was a GAME. Start making a real life film about it and there's going to be some very sarcastic letters from the great moviegoing public.
3. Street Fighter
Good bits - The celluloid on which the film was printed could be cut into small squares and used as confetti.
Bad bits - A particularly cock-eyed American attempt to make a film out of a Japanese concept. Everyone agrees that the anime film they made kicked the shit out of the live-action one, because it was a CARTOON. Computer games make better cartoons, because of the whole 'suspension of disbelief' thing. Also, you got to see Chun Li's tits. But let's get back to the film. No, on second thoughts, let's dwell on the tits. You get to see Chun Li's TITS. In the SHOWER, no less. Great heaving, rounded baps with rivulets of water running off like playful schoolchildren. Are you listening, Hollywood? THAT'S how you could have saved your shitty film. Bring out the TITS. Get Kylie Minogue to flash at the camera at some point. Or better yet, just have the whole film as a picture of her tits while the plot takes place in the form of a scrolling caption along the bottom.
(Note: Re-reading this essay, I feel I should apologise for the above paragraph. And the next one, too. -YZ)
Bottom! Did I mention, in the anime film, you see Chun Li's panties when she does that hurricane-kick thing? I would have GLADLY let her kick my teeth in if I could see her panties throughout. If she let me keep them afterwards I'd have let her bite my legs off, too.
It seems to me that a lot of the Hollywood games-to-films could have been saved by trying to pretend they weren't based on the games. Take Mario Brothers. Remember the film (painful, I know, but bear with me), mentally block out the game references, and pretend all the characters had different names. What do you have left? You have a fairly entertaining adventure film, with lovely Bob Hoskins and lovely Dennis Hopper. It's because we know that basing a film on Mario Bros is a stupid fucking idea that we believe the film to be shit.
So, what am I trying to say? I'm saying, filmmakers, stop buying up game licenses. Write a screenplay based on a game, then remove all references to the game until only the general structure remains. There, that could be the next box office smash. It probably won't be, but hey, you won't be able to find out what the next big thing will be until you experiment.
Alternatively, just show us tits.
I wish to apologise profusely for yesterday's update. It seems, in my hate-blinded lust to identify all the things people do when writing things online that make them look like smacktards, I forgot another, rather crucial thing.
Certain acronyms also make you look like a smacktard.
When the internet first began becoming fashionable, you couldn't move for filler articles in newspapers and magazines identifying all the various acronyms people use on the internet. Any hack journalist could go into a chatroom, scribble down everything people said he couldn't understand, and meet his deadline. "ROFL". "LOL". "BRB". These acronyms were invented to shorten the amount of time it takes to type stuff, and maximise the amount of time people could use to watch Pokemon and eat lard sandwiches.
For a while, using these acronyms as well as smileys made people look hip and net-savvy enough to impress the eleven people who would read their forum posts and chatroom shenanigans. Now, however, we can take a step back, take a long, hard look at ourselves, and realise how many of us sound like smacktards.
People who go on the internet too much sometimes relate funny stories about how they sometimes use acronyms in everyday conversation. Hardy har har, guys. I'm sure all those around you were mightily impressed when you began spouting nonsense. Take, for instance, the most common one: LOL. Usually pronounced 'loll', as in what your head does when your neck muscles atrophy. Usually followed by three or four exclamation marks. To see why I think this makes you look stupid, try screaming the word 'loll' at the end of all your sentences in regular conversation and see how long it takes for the Smacktard Police to come up behind you and tap you on the shoulder.
You see? When they read words, most people imagine the words being read aloud inside their heads. Try it with this: "LOL!!!!". Don't you think it sounds pretty stupid? If you want to show that you're highly amused, type out the words 'ha ha ha', or 'I am highly amused'. You'll seem a lot more educated, and you won't even have to wear spectacles to achieve the effect.
Another one, ROFL. Pronounced 'Roffle', like some appalling misspelling of the word 'profile'. Or the extended version, ROFLMAO. Try shouting that when you find something amusing. Only three kinds of people scream nonsense words: Small children, alternative comedians, and, you guessed it, SMACKTARDS. If you do not count yourself among these three groups, you have no business infringing upon their niche.
While we're on the subject, BRB sounds like it should be pronounced by making that weird airplane noise through pursed lips. This is also a sound associated with smacktards. Remember that.
Acronyms kind of make the internet inaccessible and elitist to those people who, for some reason best known to themselves, wish to step onto the first rung of the worldwide Nerd Heirarchy. These are people who actually buy those little books you can get in newsagents which list all the popular acronyms and smileys. People who think dressing in a nerdy way makes them look 'distinguished'. Hey, smacktards who wear dresses and pour soft meringue over their heads look distinguished, guys. But getting back to the point: these people feel so left out when people are screaming acronyms at each other and won't even take the time to explain themselves.
Here are four questions which will help us learn how big an internet smacktard you are.
to the real world
And if you really need me to tell you what the answers are, then call the Smacktard Police and give them the arrest of their lives.
As I'm sure you all know by now, I am absolutely perfect. Really, I'm the greatest person in the world. My English skills are second to none, and any spelling or grammar mistakes you believe you may have found in my work can be safely attributed to your diseased brain misreading it. I never make mistakes, but sometimes the rest of the world does.
Since I am the only literary-minded person on the internet, I feel it is my duty to educate those poor saps who are less fortunate than I on the English Language and its many exotic uses. Are you sitting comfortably? Like I give a shit.
LESSON ONE: THE EXCLAMATION MARK
Most people on the internet are unusually fond of the exclamation mark, so much so that they can't seem to press the corresponding key less than four times. Now, don't get me wrong, the exclamation mark is a very important part of written language. It lets people know when it's safe to laugh at your funny joke, or that you are particularly passionate about the subject you're writing about. Did you know there are all sorts of ways to convey passion without using an exclamation mark? For instance, IT'S PRETTY OBVIOUS THAT I'M RAISING MY VOICE NOW, AND I'M NOT EVEN ENDING THIS SENTENCE WITH AN EXCLAMATION MARK. ISN'T THIS FUN? YOU CAN ADD EVEN MORE EMPHASIS BY ITALICISING THE SENTENCE. AND THEN, IF YOU REALLY THINK PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THAT YOU'RE SCREAMING BLUE MURDER, THEN YOU CAN ADD AN EXCLAMATION MARK! OR IF YOU'RE REALLY STEAMED, TWO!!
Of course, if you only take one thing away from this lesson, let it be this:
Four or five exclamation marks at the ends of all your sentences do not make them five times funnier, or five times more emphatic. They do not make you seem endearingly ditzy, or wacky, or whatever impression you want to give. In truth, five exclamation marks make you look like a SMACKTARD. Do you want to look like a smacktard? No, you don't, even if you know you're a smacktard, because then people will point at you, and laugh, and say "there goes the smacktard". Please think before you rattle off exclamation marks like a row of firecrackers, because I assure you people will be unimpressed, and the word 'smacktard' will almost certainly cross their minds.
LESSON TWO: THE CAPITAL LETTER
Some people have trouble reading. Sometimes they miss the full-stop on the end of a sentence and just keep on reading until the words form a gigantic train wreck in their minds. To remedy this situation, those clever boffins who put the English language together added an extra way to signal the beginning of a sentence: the capital letter, standing like a colossus over its smaller brethren. Making a capital letter is easy! Just hold down the 'shift' key - there's a spare in case you miss the first one - and at the same time, press the letter you want to be a capital. Remember to let go before you type the next one! If this operation is a little too complicated for you, there's also a magical button called the 'Caps Lock' which makes every letter you press after pressing it one of those extra special capitals! Remember to press it again afterwards, though. Capital letters hate each other's company. It makes them shout angrily. And unless shouting is the effect you wish to convey, keep them separate! Nothing says 'smacktard' quite like standing right in front of someone shouting at the top of your voice, and that's exactly the impression you give when you talk in all caps!
LESSON THREE: NUMBERS
Aren't numbers fantastic? Without numbers, we wouldn't be able to work out how many people are coming to a dinner party, and probably end up buying too many lobsters! It's fair to say that numbers are equally as important as letters when it comes to conveying information, and you'd expect numbers and letters to be on friendly terms, wouldn't you? Not a bit of it! Numbers and letters are the bitterest of rivals, and they hate having to share the same space! That's why you should always keep them separate, otherwise you'll look like a smacktard!
"I went to the shops today, and bought some chips."
This is a good sentence. It begins with a capital letter, the comma is correctly placed, and notice that the author exercised admirable restraint in ending with a full-stop, even though he has obvious enthusiasm for chips.
NOT SO GOOD SENTENCE:
"i went to the shops today and bought some chips!!!"
Oh dear, we're entering smacktard territory now, aren't we? The sentence doesn't begin with a capital letter, so there is no way of knowing where the sentence is supposed to start. And while the author may like chips very much, he could have said so, rather than attacking us with exclamation marks.
"d00d 1 w3nt t0 th3 sh0pz today and b0ught m3 s0m3 ch1pz!!!!!!!!!"
No! No! Bad! Bad! Smacktard sentence! Write this and the Smacktard Police will come and take you away in their little Smacktard Van to the Smacktard Re-Education Centre where smacktards like you are viciously beaten with Smacktard Sticks until they learn to talk properly! A fate you richly deserve, you disgusting smacktard!
Got all that? Good. Class dismissed.
material not otherwise credited by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw