Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

Now, I don’t want to pretend that I’m NOT constantly bickering with TV commercials, like an irate budgie having words with the mirror in his cage, but if there’s an ad that’s really seizing my contraband at the moment, it’s the one for Xbox Kinect’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.

Oh, you know the one. Smug girl makes eyes at herself in the mirror*, asks boyfriend-type “Can you tell I’ve been playing on The X Box? Maybe you should play some X Box?”, pronouncing Xbox like it’s part of an elocution exam where mispronunciation of brand names results in waterboarding. This buffoonery-in-diction is entirely deliberate. The Xbox-owner in the ad is barely comfortable with how to pronounce its name, and yet she’s reaping the benefits of her investment! It’s an invitation for non-gamers to spend a zillion euro on kitting out their sitting rooms, a warm hug for clueless types easily convinced that motion-capture technology is the new 100 metre sprint. I get that. I really do. But as a female gamer, I’m very easily offended by the stereotype that women are but airhead nunkies bent on commandeering their boyfriends’ consoles for narcissistic and fluffy purposes. Pah! A pox on your vain stereotypes, Kinect ad execs! I’ll take ye on! I’ll take ye all on!

Look! Tai Chi! Exercise for girls!

The sad truth is that being a gamer who owns rather than covets boobs has turned me into something rather too easily offended. There is no reasonable reason for this. Why should the banal typecasting of fluffy airheads offend me? I don’t get offended on behalf of elderly gamers when cuddly representatives of their generation appear, leppin’ about the place in ads for Nintendo’s Wii. I don’t get offended on behalf of six-year-old Mario Kart veterans when other smallies star in ads for V-Tech toy laptops. But gosh, the depiction of female gamers as fashion-obsessed mouthbreathers really gets on my nerves. “I’d bate their arses in Goldeneye!” I huff, loudly, to anyone in hearing distance, which is a very telling action indeed. If I was truly comfortable with my gaming, I wouldn’t need applause for my gaming, now would I? There’s a bit of the “See how well I’m doing here! Did you know I’m a GIRL?” to the whole thing. It’s a tragic tale of gormless self-mockery, really.

Not so long ago, I went game shopping for a couple of titles I was after. One was for my PS2, the other for my 360. The shop assistant looked concerned and said, “You do realise these are for two different platforms, don’t you?” whereupon I became sorely offended. I don’t remember the exact response I gave, but it was probably something sneery and along the lines of Naaaaaaaaw, I’m that stupid, where’s my GH-fucking-D so I can heat my likkle brain up? Although I knew full well that the clerk was probably pointing out the same thing to many customers buying multiple titles, out of the goodness of his heart, out of nothing but benevolence directed towards confused Irish Mammies buying Grand Theft Auto for their eight-year-old sons. Oh, how I sniped at the poor man! I feel very bad about it – he was but a Good Samaritan after all – but that doesn’t stop me regurgitating the anecdote when I’m banging on about being a gamer and being a girl. “Condescending asshole!” I harrumph, though I’m secretly talking about myself.

It could be that I’m seeking kudos for being a girl gamer because I’m fully aware that there just aren’t as many of us. Out of my own social circle, the majority of the fellas are gamers, either on PC or console. The majority of the girleens don’t play video games at all, and those that do are more likely to have a Nintendo DS to train their brains on than a PS3. When it comes down to it, I don’t actually like the majority of games out there. I can’t stand First-Person Shooters. I can’t stand playing online. No matter how selective it is, I demand congratulations for my habit, all the same. It’s as if I’m standing up for the Little Gal, even though evidence suggests she exists in no great numbers at all.

It’s good to have a hobby.

*Oh no! I mentioned mirrors twice in three sentences! Please don’t tell the Literature Police.

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If  you don’t have a ‘real’ nativity to go to this year, complete with tinsel-haloed angels and grumpy four-year old consigned to playing stable animals, here’s the next best thing. Digital nativity.

There’s so, so much about this that makes me laugh, possibly more than it should. Google Maps and its ‘Avoid Romans’ route finder box. The way Mary emails Joseph in the manner of a thirteen year old waiting for her mates outside Claire’s Accessories in Dundrum. And, my favourite of all, @StarOf Bethlehem64’s Twitter profile: ‘Follow me to #worshipthebaby’.

So sit back, get your Kleenex ready, and prepare to enjoy the oldest story of them all:

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Living overseas, as I did for most of this decade, has all sorts of random benefits.  My favourite? From time to time, you get to experience the kind of thing that seems like it must have been made up for tourists, except that no tourists are within a 15-mile radius. At a trade fair in Anchorage one February (ever want to see the Pacific frozen over? Alaska in February’s a decent bet for that), I became entranced by an old man in a coat made from a bear he’d shot and killed himself. The man wasn’t that entrancing, nor is the fact that he’d shot the bear, per se. It was more that, you know, how often in your life are you ever going to meet a bear hunter, let alone one dressed for the sub-zero temperatures in a little number he’d skinned himself? I couldn’t stop stroking it (the COAT, you filthy people), much to the appalled amusement of my beloved colleague.

Last December, our final one in Dublin I had a similar moment. It didn’t involve culturally-appropriate clothing – no cloaks of finest peat for the Irish – but it was one of those things that had extra significance for happening in Ireland. I discovered that the *true* Irish national anthem is, in fact, this song:

I was in a cheesy club with some of my favourite people on the island. It was the early hours and, as they say here in a gloriously euphemistic manner, there had been drink taken. In other words, the entire place was full of rat-arsed Irishfolk holding each other up as they brought the place down. Right towards the end of the night, on came the Pogues (not literally, though that would have been an even better story). Every. Single. Person. in the room suddenly pulled themselves together, stood upright as if at Mass, and burst into pitch-perfect, declamatory, Shane-McGowan-style-swaying song. It made me beam, and beam, and beam some more. OK, so most people know some part of this song, but to be in an entire room of locals all belting it out as though Christmas depended on it; that was something I had no idea would happen.

It gives me goosebumps and makes me giggle every time I think about it. A year on, back in stiff-upper-lip England, we’ve got the song on permanent repeat this Christmas. Need to make sure our Irish-born three-year-old is word-perfect before his passport’s revoked, after all…

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Gold-digger Amnesty

Thoroughly depressed with the state of the nation, I decided to cheer myself up yesterday by listening to some nice, brainless pop music. I feel the qualifying adjective is important here, because there’s also very clever pop music out there, but that’s not of any use to me when I want myself opium’d up by dithering beats and sugarsnap lyrics, is it?

If there’s one thing stupid pop music has taught me, it’s that if there’s one career group more maligned than Fianna Fail politicians or IMFites, it’s gold-diggers. Yes. Young women (I calls ageism, for it appears biddies are disqualified from rushing men for the moolah) who are attracted to men more successful than themselves are terrible hussies altogether. Perhaps even responsible for a portion of our current economic woes! Gold-diggers: breaking bankers, one suit at a time.

See, I was bopping along to Cee-Lo Green’s wonderfully catchy “Fuck You” (“Forget You” to anyone still relying on the radio to get them their aural jollies) when I paused, took a breath, furrowed my brow. Cee-Lo’s complaint is that his ladyfriend left him for a much more affluent gentleman, one who owns a car and has no problem taking the lady for the odd spin in same. Seeing them spinning about the place makes Cee-Lo feel most disgruntled. If only he had the kind of money that could buy him a car! Then he could still be with the gold-digger, whom he still loves, but also really resents because she’s not turned on by penury.

At first I felt for Cee-Lo. As a wurkin’ class ladette, I understand how difficult it is to get by in life without a pot to piddle in. There’s, let’s see … underpaid jobs, holes in the arse of your pants, running out of restaurants without having paid and having to resort to getaway bicycles to avoid arrest. It’s a hard-knock life. I also know that there’s no law requiring a woman to get hot under the collar for a partner who’s just not cutting the wholegrain organic mustard when it comes to ambition and success. I’m much more likely to fancy a motivated, educated bright spark than a couch potato with a grudge; does that make me a gold-digger? I think not! Take that, Mr. Green!

Likewise, I am perplexed by Timbaland’s hip-pop song “The Way I Are”, which in a lyrical sense comprises of a gruff man barking out all of the reasons no one should touch him with a bargepole. “I can’t even buy you flowers!” he snaps, though without adding that he’s happy to grow or pick some instead. He is then mollycoddled by a husky female telling him that it’s grand, that so long as he’s got his mojo in the bedroom he can do without it in the real world, hinting that it’s more than his ego she’d like to massage. And this is just preposterous. You can’t reward the useless like that! Sure they’ll never learn if you keep telling them that despite their barely being able to afford the chips on their shoulders, catches of either gender will be only too happy to cast their kecks aside for a hop off them. Did I miss the memo about drive, integrity, and fiscal independence not being aphrodisiacs after all? No, I didn’t. Because they are. Huge big ones. Pulsating ones. Oh yes.

Hip-pop girls have retorted these points more melodiously than me, of course. Fado, fado (in the 90s), TLC, in their song No Scrubs, told layabout boys that they were going to have to do a little better than be roaring out random compliments from their mates’ cars if they wanted to pitch woo successfully; yet t’was far from gold-digging they were reared.

The funny thing is that hip-pop boyos have long rapped, yodelled and purred out the characteristics of their ideal ladyfriend, and having economic savvy, her own career, and half a brain were never on their To Do lists; gold-diggers are ok if you’ve got the money for them, but a right slap in the testicles if you’ve recently become a victim of the worldwide recession. Well, lads; reap the whirlwind. The gold-diggers have become accustomed to a certain level of achievement from their life-partners; there’s no point complaining about it now, not when she had to spend all that money on implants to impress your shallow arse in the first place.

Back to Cee-Lo, who pouts that his gold-digger’s new friend is “more an X-Box” while Cee-Lo himself is an “Atari”. I suppose he realises that Ataris were made redundant back in the dark ages. Certainly no amount of dewy-eyed sentimentality will convince me to trade in my next-gen console for one of them dinosaurs. And that doesn’t make me a gold-digger (or even a Digger T. Rock).

It makes me a prudent, prudent lady.

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Marmite Things

This morning, inspired by Catherine O’Flynn’s denunciation of Jaffa Cakes in the Anti-Room Questionnaire,  fellow Anti-Room editor Sinéad and I were discussing, along with regular commenter Colin Morris, the phenomenon of what Sinéad dubbed “marmite things” – the things that everyone else loves but that you hate.

Jaffa forever! Sorry, Jaffa haters.

Sinéad and Colin were on O’Flynn’s side against the delicious, tasty Jaffa, and indeed orange-chocolate combos in general, while I defended the combo of orangey goodness (well, it’s a fruit, right?), spongey cake and tasty choc. In fact, to me, this combination of chocolate and orange seems not only delicious, but completely logical. Chocolate is good. Orange is good. Why not combine them together?

But of course Jaffa Cakes aren’t the only things that seem bewilderingly popular to some people. I myself can’t understand why people get excited about Arcade Fire, whose first album was good but whose subsequent releases have just sounded like Bruce Springsteen (I also don’t understand why people love Bruce Springsteen, apart from his appealing persona, which isn’t enough to make me actually voluntarily listen to more than a handful of his songs). And I also hate Guinness. I’ve tried several times over nearly two decades and I will never, ever “develop a taste for it”, as was claimed in my late teens and early twenties. Same goes for olives, aka the world’s most foul-tasting food after coriander (though at least there’s a biological reason why the latter tastes like soap to lots of people, including me).

So what about you? What inexplicably popular and also highly acclaimed (as opposed to, say, Westlife) things do you loathe?

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Of the seven Capital Vices, those supposed mortlers which in exercise threaten the well-being of your soul or moral compass, depending upon your belief system, Envy has never held much sense or appeal to me.  I’ve had many opportunities to answer the siren call of Pride, Lust, Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Gluttony with varying degrees of pleasure and regret.  On their own, each is relative to a particular circumstance and not necessarily harmful or corruptive in a meaningful way.  A religious moral taxonomy may codify as evil what is just merely human to some.  What clerics call sin others would understand as a foible or lack of balance.  Folks who argue that you can’t discuss vice and virtue outside of religion need to indulge in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and have a look at the man’s moral economy in ledger form.  In the 1730s Franklin drew up columns in a notebook under the virtues he thought worthy of cultivation, each day taking account with score how well he fared to uphold them. (Franklin chose Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity and Humility.  His explanations for each virtue underscored a commitment to moderation and happiness over deprivation or austerity in service to any code that regards flesh or desire as wicked).  The thing about the challenge to be an ethical person is whether you feel the need for a daddy-in-the-sky mediator to have to answer to or if you prefer to answer to the group or community you inhabit as part of good citizenship.

The green eyed leviathan signals an alarming form of monomania distinct from the other vices that heralds no real enjoyment or payoff, just bile, begrudgery and a whole lotta schadenfreude.  Those who make a habit of seeking joy in other’s misfortune or hardship step right outside the social contract.  Envy flips the bird to community.  The problem with Envy is that there’s no end; once you surrender, alienation from others and a healthy, integrated self-image follow, hence the iconic shrunken Gollum and his ring.  Envy isn’t about jealousy or having what others possess, rather, it’s an impulse from gall that hopes to witness others lose out or have less.  In The Faerie Queen, Edmund Spenser characterises Envy as a ravenous wolf that eats his own entrails, to illustrate the vice’s consumptive nature.  William Dunbar’s The Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins emphasises the socially destructive and insincere force behind Envy, part of what modern colloquialism would identify as the act of ‘grin fucking’ to a lesser extent:

Next in the Dance followit Envy,
Filled full of feud and felony,
Hid malice and despite:
For privy hatred that traitor tremlit;
Him followit mony freik dissemlit,
With fenyeit wordis quhyte:
And flatterers in to men’s faces;
And backbiters in secret places,
To lie that had delight;
And rownaris of false lesings,
Alace! that courts of noble kings
Of them can never be quit.

Dunbar clocks the vice as duplicitous, disingenuous and malicious.  For a dude born in the 15th century, he sure recognised a perennial take on a weakness or flub of character.  Christopher Marlowe offers what is perhaps the most accurate representation of Envy’s rotten core in Dr. Faustus:

‘I am Envy.  I cannot read and therefore wish all books burned.’

Marlowe’s Envy also confesses ‘I am lean with seeing others eat.’

Envy is petty.  Envy resents fortune, progress, benevolence, empathy.  It dehumanises us.

There is, however, much to my chagrin one discernible trigger that launches the green eyed monster to unfurl in an instant.  The moment occurs at a dog park when an owner watches her /his dog run for ten minutes then smiles and boasts about how well the dog will then sleep.  I have to halt the verdant shudder of Envy which starts to rip through my innards and smile back.  Thank goodness for the dog walker.  She prevents Envy from taking root and turning ‘my precious’ into some old fat pooch who gets winded in three blocks.

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Dear Anti Roomers and Readers,

I propose that we begin our own broadcasting awards for outstanding services rendered to the industry by many of our beloved household names.

The Ron Burgundy Broadcasting Awards would look to recognise and commend radio, print, TV and new media broadcasters and journalists who have given an outstanding performance in the following categories:

The Veronica Corningstone Award: for intrepid female reporting despite the odds.

Most Ron-Like Quote: for the broadcaster who says something that most sounds like something Ron Burgundy would say (probably to do with the size of womens brains or their ability to enjoy sex (bizarrely, Mr Fry would currently be in the running).

Broadcaster most like Ron Burgundy Overall (we may have to slightly alter this after a couple of years if Tom McGurk keeps waltzing off with 1st place).

Most Failed Attempt to be unlike Ron Burgundy: for the broadcaster who tries unsuccessfully to talk to/ about women (Shortlisted would have to be Ryan-“girls-women-I-don’t-know what you call em” Tubridy’s infamous item a few years back on how women shouldn’t be hiring home help and, of course, Ray Darcy for his pitiful attempt to talk about the positive side of breastfeeding).

Biggest Attempt to Set Equality Back: I don’t wish to pre-empt the voting or the many worthy nominations which are bound to flood in but I can say the team at Joe.ie should watch this space.

All writers and readers nominations are welcome.

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