Sunday, 27 February 2011

Dream School

Kids on TV are either one of two distinct species.
  1. Drug-addled fun-tornadoes trying to shag their way through college via a procession of suspiciously clean candy raves;
  2. Terrifyingly angry ganglanders hell bent on destroying Authority and sourcing fags and booze.
It's no surprise then, that Jamie's Dream School is attempting to tame these wild, unknowable beasts into real human beings by attempting to nurture their intellect. They're just children, after all. They aren't lost causes, they can still awaken the Paleontologist inside them.

A noble endeavour indeed, but I for one am not wholly impressed (shock horror). I am fully on board with the idea, don't get me wrong. A dream school is a lovely idea - Simon Callow teaching English? Alastair Campell teaching Politics and presumably inventive ways to verbally destroy people? Great! I want to watch this TV show. I wish I could take part in this TV show. However, seeing more has made me change my mind. Witnessing a gobshite little fuck shout "You're like, 4 feet tall man! You always been that small?" at David Starkey is not something I want to be party to. How dare you, you little shit. Show some fucking respect.

Picture courtesy of the School for Social Entrepreneurs

I do realise that harping on about respect and manners compounds that (highly undesirable) image of me being an old moaning minnie in a tweed suit and pince nez, but in this case I am not going to apologise. It's really not cool to shout at David Starkey. Not cool at all. Why should little bastard like that chubby adolescent waste of space be given the chance to go to Dream School, when good kids who are just bad at school, who don't make quite as good TV admittedly, don't. It doesn't seem very fair. I was terrible at school, I hated being there, I hated going to lessons, I hated the structure, but I was good and well behaved. I was rarely in trouble except for stupid reasons like talking in class (I find it hard to tell when it's appropriate to lower my voice - embarrassing) or being cheeky (harmlessly cheeky, might I add. Again, this is a misjudgement on my part about appropriateness. I take things too far). I liked learning though, and Dream School would have been...well, a dream, for me. Kids like me don't get extra help though, because we aren't dangerous or scary, and we don't cost a lot of money in special requirements or learning tools. We don't need grants from the government, so schools aren't that arsed that we are nowhere near reaching our potential. Missing maths again? Just leave her, she'll be in the music department. She's not going to pass anyway, just leave her to it. I know I'm not the only person who found school a bewildering and generally unsupportive place to be - nearly everyone I know says a similar thing.

I'm not slagging off teachers, I'm just saying. School doesn't work for everyone, and it never really has done. The point I'm trying to clumsily make, and remember, it is Sunday morning after all, is that just because some kids are scary potential murderers doesn't mean they should automatically be given more care and attention than the rest. It'd be great to see the middle kids who do everything they can not be noticed get a little bit more support. Perhaps then we'd have more enthusiastic scientists, brilliant writers and talented doctors instead of thousands of data entry clerks on the dole.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The wonder of Nords

Some people wax lyrical about a frosy winter's sunrise, or the smell of a pine forest. Some people write poetry about the colour of the sea, or paint pictures of abstract shapes, of longing, and regret. Not me. I regret to inform you that my chosen outlet for soaring soulful joy happens to be periodically talking about how much more attractive people from Northern Europe are, and then gazing at pictures of Royksopp until somebody (namely @dollydave) introduces me to a new ice-eyed, wide-cheekboned outdoorsy-looking man, with windswept razor-cut hair and a serious look on his face. Then I start all over again, thinking about padded lumberjack shirts and fjords and the northern lights. Of course, only about 15% of Scandinavian men could possibly fit within this very precise stereotype, but I would rather not think about the 5'2" 3rd generation Italian man who works in the city as an estate agent - nor would I like to be brought back to reality by the sudden thought that perhaps most men stolling around the beautiful streets of Gotemborg have sensible short haircuts and wear suits, and spend their days wishing they were on a beach instead of a HR office. I don't like that. Stop infecting me with reality. I let you look at pictures of Christian Bale as Batman. Leave me alone.

This post is therefore an homaaarge to them, the quietly devastating chaps from accross the North Sea. May their faces always remain slightly cold to the touch from being outside just about ten minutes ago.

This is actually what Vikings looked like. I am not surprised we got "invaded". That was meant to sound a lot more innocent and jocular than it actually did. (This is actually Royksopp)

This is Alexander Skarsgard. I have never seen anything he has been in, but he is very good looking. Hopefully when my novel gets made into a film he will play Jedrzej. He would have to shave his hair off then, however, which would be a great shame.
This is Andreas Wilson. He has the golden combination of having excellent cheekbones, while also looking slightly Polish.
Varg Vikernes was in prison for 15 years for murdering his bandmate, and is a total racist bastard. Would you believe that by looking at this picture? No. (It is true though. Some of the Norwegian Black Metal Scene is/was fucked. Up.)
This might be the loveliest picture taken of anybody, ever. It's Olafur Arnalds. Look at his scruffy hair.
This is also Olafur Arnalds. I didn't think it was fair that his whole face didn't get a full viewing.

This is another picture of Alexander Skarsgard. It's my blog, and I'm allowed to do whatever I want.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Mubarak has gone

18 days of unrelenting protest, some peaceful, some with bloodshed. Ultimately, the power of a united population has overthrown a corrupt and unwanted ruler.

We are proud of you, Egypt. You are the nation that proved people are still powerful. I for one, am extremely happy for you.

[video by @DaveMedlo]

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Hormonal-Based Advertising

Hello, I'm an advertising executive, and not only do I want you to buy my client's product - I want you to weep over it. I want you to look deeply into your tellyscreen and blub, gulping sharp breaths of longing and confusion, as you battle with the unmistakable feeling of your common sense being capsised by a tsunami of hormones and artfully tugged heartstrings.

You'll cry - oh how you'll cry! - as swooping music scoops up your attention span and spits shards of wistful whimsy into it's soft gooey bits, like a weakness-seeking missile, until the 30 seconds are over, and your housemates/family/cat wonder who stole your personality and replaced it with a soggy flannel.

It's a clever trick they're playing, those marketing bods, sat in their boardroom, contemplating what the lickle people-weeple might want to absorb next. "They love those fucking meercats" one says, pacing the room and gnashing their teeth. "but nobody really knows what they sell." Another leaps up and slams a clammy fist on the laminated table. "What about regurgitating some shit old advert and pushing for the retro factor?" Hmm. They aren't sure. It worked for Aquafresh, sure, but for fibre-optic broadband? No, there has to be something else. Something that'll trick those slumping bastards into shoving grabfuls of cash into their company. "A quirky, oddball approach?" the intern pipes up from behind the coffee maid. "NO!" They all scream. "NO! That's's mistake! We'll have nothing to do with it!" There's an uncomfortable silence; one man bites his nails, another coughs and looks out of the office's downgraded window (once a panoramic view of the canal, since the cuts and the move down to the fourth floor, there was now an uninterrupted view of the multi storey car park next door). A hand slams down hard onto the table, rattling the coffee cups. "Emotions!" she shouts. "Idiots! They don't understand their emotions! Make them blub like big stupid babies and they'll think it's a good thing!" A murmur of appreciation. She's cracked it.

About a decade ago, Whiskas made an advert full of stimulating imagery and sounds especially for cats. It was meant to hold your cat's attention, and encourage them to move towards the TV, hypnotised, presumably so that as the guardian of your animal you'd feel like a total bastard if you didn't buy it the special food.

Here it is:

This is the basis on which all adverts work now, but for humans. Since John Lewis did their cradle to the grave ad (not the real name for it, unfortunately) people have realised "Hey! That advert made me cry! I like being emotionally stimulated, because usually my life consists of a monotony that could only be replicated by being trapped in an art exhibit made entirely out of corrugated iron and asbestos."

I think what really angers me about these adverts is that I'm not sure why they're doing it, or what they might achieve from filling their shops and holiday resorts with people teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Take Butlins for example. Why? Why is having a huge green crocodile (?) consistently getting his heart broken by friends who leave him repeatedly a good thing to share with the world? And Virgin Media - using music and poetry over the top of "real life" imagery seems like a cheap shot. Look at how happy and honest they all are. Look at how together everyone is. Look at their lives. Look at them. Listen to the words, read calmly by a man with an unobtrusive but brusque voice. He's like that man that exists in all novels; he has feelings, but he's never cried. Look, a pan-out shot of an everyday city. It's us, it's all of us, we're on telly, and that's how I feel right now OH GOOOOODDDDD WAAAAAAA virgin media WAAAAA.

Get a grip, advertising. Get a grip.



The new Daily Mail advert can fuck off too. You know what it says to me? "Okay, have your little opinions now, but when you're ready to grow up, you know where we are."

And do you know what? That's the most irritating and vile statement I have ever had forced into my eyes. Next time it's on, have a look, and see for yourself. It makes me want to BURN THINGS.
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