The world is full of idiots, and someone needs to point it out to them or they will never know.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Shopping (Some Useful Tips)

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I work in retail. Well, this Christmas I've started a new part-time job in a much bigger shopping centre, and apparently a bigger shopping centre means bigger dickheads. I've been getting really frustrated by the complete lack of tact most people seem to have, so here's some friendly tips when you're Christmas shopping this year:

To begin with, don't block the lift or escalator. Escalators are not rides, they're walkways. Do not stand there and drool, MOVE! Just because the picture isn't moving doesn't mean you have to stay still!

Not what you're supposed to do

Now, lifts are admittedly a bit rarer than escalators in shopping centres, but PLEASE do not block the entrance to a lift with your trolley/pram/giant ass. People may want to get out! Here's a helpful diagram, because obviously people seem to have trouble with this:

Carparks are another area people seem to struggle with. I'll keep it brief. You see the signs that say "STOP" or "GIVE WAY"? Just because you're in a shopping centre and you're in a hurry doesn't mean you can ignore them.

I've also noticed that nobody who shops these days seems to own a watch. Why? Well, every day at my old job, and every day at my new job, I have to shepherd people out the front door at closing time. There's simply no excuse, I'm afraid. Our closing time is on the door, and when we do an announcement over the PA that we're shut, it's TIME TO LEAVE.

Also, don't smoke. I don't just mean in shopping centres, stop smoking altogether. That shit is nasty.

Finally, be nice to the staff. Remember that they're spending a lot more time than you in a store this Christmas, so cut them some slack if they're running late.

However, DO NOT make stupid jokes they've heard a thousand times before. or just generally be annoying. I am so sick of hearing the following phrases from customers:
  • "This item doesn't have a price - does that mean it's free?" Yeah, that's right. We're a frikin' charity, here.
  • (after the customer selects their "Savings" account on the EFTPOS) "More like spendings, eh?" You sir, are the wittiest customer I've ever served.
  • (after paying for a cheap item, eg. a $2 DVD) "Oh, last of the big spenders, eh?" Yes. You should go on tour with that.
  • "Oh, I don't know anything about computers/DVDs/video games/etc. I'm too old for that." Nobody is "too old" to learn anything new. My Grandma is eighty next year and has her own email address, an LCD TV and a DVD player. You can't blame it on your age.
  • "Do you price match?" This one, I don't get. If another store in the same centre is offering the same item at a lower price, why don't you just buy it from them?!
That's all for now. Remember: if you feel like shopping this Christmas season, it might be better to just stay at home and kill yourself.

© 2009 by The Free Man

Thursday, December 3, 2009

3D Films Are The Second Coming of Christ

So, I went and saw Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs the other day. Stupid title, reasonably entertaining film. No WALL-E, but not bad. Anyway, the session I saw forced me to put on 3D glasses. I'd never actually been to a 3D theatrical film before, so I was interested. Surely, given that nearly every animated film released these days forces you to wear the damn things, they must enhance the film in some way? After all, you look pretty retarded once you put them on:


Strangely, though, the change wasn't that dramatic. The picture had a little more depth, but, nothing substantial. Meanwhile, at about the half way point my temple began to throb, as apparently the glasses are designed for six-year-olds, and not twenty-somethings who have gigantic brains and have a diet that mostly consists of Hungry Jack's and whatever's microwaveable.

With the picture not enhanced in any great way, I figured that they must be charging me an extra $5.50 for some other reason. It couldn't be just to make a few extra bucks, no, that would be dishonest. It couldn't have been just a gimmick, designed to sucker in kids. People aren't that stupid, right?

By the end of the movie, I'd convinced myself that the extra $5.50 me and about three hundred other people paid was going towards an important cause or charity, like resurrecting Hitler, just so we could kill him again.

Sadly, it turns out I was mistaken. As I left the theatre, Hitler remained dead, so I came to the depressing conclusion that people really are stupid enough to pay an extra $5.50 for a gimmick (of course, I should have known better).

Really, how long will 3D films be around before filmmakers realise they're pointless? No other genre has adopted it. I hardly think The Dark Knight or Gran Torino could have been improved with 3D glasses. Remember when computer-animated films were the "cool" ones (as opposed to traditionally-animated ones)? Now everyone does them. Perhaps once everyone's forced to pay an extra $5.50 to have their temples throb, we'll start to see less of the films. In the meantime, we're all going to be tripping over discarded 3D glasses because, for all the talk about companies being green, the cinema I went to didn't recycle my 3D glasses.

Either that or I stole them...

© 2009 by "The Free Man"

Monday, November 2, 2009

10 Reasons Why Humanity is Doomed

We’re constantly being told by the media that we’re doomed – global warming, terrorism, swine flu – you name it, we’re going to die from it. However, I’ve been thinking it over, and do we really want to save humanity? People are idiots. Humongous idiots. Need proof? Here’s ten things that I’ve seen people do that prove humanity isn’t worth saving.

1. Poker machines (“pokies”)
I’ve never understood the attraction of these devices. You put money in. You push a button. A flashy animation appears. You win or lose. Wow, simply fascinating! Never mind that the house always wins, you will be able to beat it if you play long enough. And hey, don’t worry about skillful games like poker or blackjack, games based purely on luck are the fastest way to get rich, I’m told.

2. The Global Financial Crisis

The whole situation defies logic – hundreds of companies have gone under, both in America and abroad. Now, I could understand if it were just small companies going under (ones that only just barely get by), but huge, well-establish organisations like General Motors? How the hell could they declare bankruptcy? Surely a company that’s been around since 1908 would have some money saved away for a rainy day? I know just leaving your money in the bank isn’t as effective as investing it in the share market, but I’d never put every penny I own into the share market, I’d keep at least a little in the bank in case I needed it.

3. George W. Bush Was Elected President

Twice.

4. People watch stupid TV shows.
Please, tell me why brilliant shows like this...


... struggle to last four seasons, while crap shows like this...

...last a whopping nine seasons? Can you honestly name the last two people to win American/Australian/UK/French/Swedish/Whogivesashit Idol? I know I certainly can’t. Also, for some reason, American Idol has been shown in Australia. Why? You can't vote, and it's usually several months late, so you know who's going to win. I just don't get it.

5. People buy useless shit.
Specifically, why do women feel the need to own seventeen million pairs of shoes? I can barely fit my shoes on the shoe rack at home, it's so clogged with my sister's shoes. In the UK, one in ten women spend more than £1 000 (USD$1600, AUD$1800) a year on shoes while 8% own more than 100 pairs each (Source). What they hell do they need all of those shoes for? I own two pairs of thongs, some work shoes and two pairs of casual shoes, and even I think that's too much.

6. Astrology
God, don't get me started on this one. The very idea that people think planets, stars and moons billions of kilometres away can somehow affect your day makes my blood boil.

7.
The belief that the world will end in 2012
So, because some Mayan calender runs out in 2012, this means the world will end? My computer's calender only goes up to December 31st, 2099, so maybe this is when the world will end? It's the same problem we had with Y2K, people constantly want to believe the end is near. Oh, and Y2K was pretty God damn stupid as well. The clock ticks over to 1900 instead of 2000? OH JESUS MY BANK ACCOUNT WILL ZERO AND ALL OF THE AEROPLANES WILL FALL FROM THE SKY!!!!!!1!!1!!

8. Crappy magazines
I'm talking about Women's Day, New Weekly, Famous, etc. Really, does anyone actually care that a celebrity is having difficulties in their personal life? What's more, the "proof" that the marriage won't last/the girl is pregnant/the celebrity is anorexic only ever amounts to a pixelated photo and "sources", "pals", "friends", "onlookers" or "fellow diners" spilling the beans. So, Brad and Angelina are discussing their intimate sex life with a close friend, who then turns around and sells the story straight to the press? I call bullshit. Also, men's magazines are getting progressively more stupid as well. Zoo, for instance, seems to only exist on page after page of former Big Brother housemates nude or semi-nude, punctuated occasionally by the all-time best Family Guy quotes (which itself is an oxymoron, as Family Guy isn't funny).

9. Nobody knows how to spell or speak properly anymore
  • Can't tell the difference between "your" and "you're"? Go back to school.
  • Didn't realise there was a difference between "their", "they're" and "there"? Unbelievable.
  • Ever said, "I met this random on the weekend..."? Random WHAT?
  • Do you frequently say "I seen this before..."? It's time for an English refresher.
  • Call it a "PIN Number"? Look up what PIN stands for, idiot.
  • You live outside of the United States, and you spell it "Organization"? Way to plagiarise.

10. Blogs
The fact that any idiot who has access to the internet can publish their stupid, inane ramblings about things that piss them off really frustrates me. Bah. If anyone wants me I'll be in my room.

© 2009 by "The Free Man"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Worst. Catalogue. Ever.

This is - no joke - the front page of a catalogue my work had one week.



"Big Dump Sale"? Is that really the best they could come up with?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Like Comedy? Then Don't Watch "The Cleveland Show".

I hate Family Guy. I used to love the show, in its first few seasons it was hilarious and savagely satirical. But, as the show dragged on, it moved further and further away from clever satire to more "gag" humour. Not to mention that Peter slowly transformed from stupid (but relatable) working-class man to irritating jerk. I don't find anything funny about Peter farting in his daughter's face, and that's probably one of his better displays of affection.

But I digress. In case you don't know, a new show is coming to FOX in the USA soon, The Cleveland Show. Yes, you read that right. Cleveland. Now, of all the characters from Family Guy to get their own show, why Cleveland? If I had to pick one character, it'd be Quagmire. Cleveland is just a boring, generic "black guy" who could only be more stereotyped if he ended every conversation with "DAMN, THIS SHIT IS WHACK!"

But, ah, the real reason why Cleveland's getting his own show is as obvious as it is silly: it's because he's black. FOX does not have an animated show that solely features African Americans. There's plenty of live action "black-only" shows out there with real actors, but no animated ones! (Well, not to my knowledge anyway - I do live in Australia and I am very white) Thus, a niche is filled and we have a new cash cow.

But, the money will only pour in if the show is a success. I want you to have a look at the official trailer below:




As Stewie puts it, "What the hell, he's getting his own show?" My sentiments exactly. But first, let's look at the characters:
  • Cleveland - You know him, you love him! Uh... well, you may not love him, but you do know him. He's that black guy from Family Guy who talks about brotherhood every now and then while you wait for the next zany cutaway gag that has nothing to do with the plot.
  • Donna, his new wife - Whoa, it's that easy to get married? Well, anyway, she doesn't get much screen time in the ad, but her Wikipedia page says, She is shown with an extremely-large posterior that is joked about often in the series. Wow. Giant ass jokes. You gotta love 'em. And isn't it a negative stereotype that black women have large bottoms? Good to see they're portraying her in a positive light. Anyway, if I had to guess, she'll probably be the stereotypical "no-nonsense" black chick - think Margaret from Becker, Laverne from Scrubs, etc.
  • Donna's teenage daughter, Roberta - Again, to quote Wikipedia: Roberta has a personality like most teenage girls... she is talkative and aggressive. She gets attracted by celebrities some of the time. Jaysus Chroist. Did they put any effort into these characters? Any at all? IT'S JUST THE "POPULAR TEENAGE GIRL "STEREOTYPE, PEOPLE! Claire from My Wife and Kids was essentially the same character!
  • Donna's young son, Rallo - I have to admit, here is a truly original character. An intelligent young kid, spouting pop-culture references who hates his father (stepfather in this case) and behaves like an adult. Oh, the originality!
  • Cleveland's son, Cleveland Jr. - Rounding out the cast nicely is a generic "fat kid" stereotype (did you catch the joke in the trailer about him having breasts? Hilarious, right?!). But, this isn't what Cleveland Jr. looked like in Family Guy - he was hyperactive and skinny. Why the big change? BECAUSE FAT PEOPLE ARE FUNNY, THAT'S WHY!!!!!!!!!!
All sarcasm aside, I have an issue with the whole premise for this show. To me, it just seems to be a black version of Family Guy. See the gag with the caveman and the dogs at the end? I'll bet you anything it's a zany cutaway gag. And why would they mess with a formula that's worked so well? Well, apart from their integrity and reputation as comedy writers, that is.

I can't go on, I'm going to watch one of my Simpsons DVDs. I may not be able to get rid of Family Guy, but if we work hard, we may be able to stop The Cleveland Show before it's merchandised and catch-phrased to death. We can only hope.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hungry Beast? More Like Starving Idiot

Tonight, I'd narrowed what I was going to do down to three options:
  1. Hey Hey It's Saturday reunion on Channel Nine (ironically, on a Wednesday night)
  2. Some Deep Space Nine that I downloaded (completely legally, of course...)
  3. Or Hungry Beast on the ABC
In the end, I went with Hungry Beast, as it's the new (sexier?) title of Project Next, developed by Zapruder's Other Films, who are probably most famous for introducing us to The Chaser boys and creating The Gruen Transfer (that's the show, not the transfer itself). In case you weren't paying attention last year, Project Next was designed to find new talent in Australia and let young people have a say in the media. I had high hopes for this project, so I tuned in at 9:00pm tonight eagerly.

Thirty minutes later I felt like I should have just gone to bed.

Firstly, what the hell was Dan Ilic doing on the show? He's not hugely famous, but he did feature in both seasons of The Ronnie Johns Half Hour on Channel 10 back in 2006-2007. I thought this show was supposed to feature new talent? You know, people we haven't seen before?

But I digress. First, we have an obnoxious story where we learn that the Hungry Beast team created a fake study that said Sydney was the most gullible city in Australia. It was picked up by news outlets across the country, but in the end, Media Watch (bless them) noticed it was bullshit. Tonight on Hungry Beast we saw how they put together the stunt, followed by five minutes of them saying how clever they are and how dumb everyone else is. Their conclusion? The media doesn't fact-check it's stories thoroughly. Well, congratulations, dipshits, I could have told you that! However, I hardly think this was a fair test, the scoop, "Sydney stupider than Melbourne!" is the kind of article you'd read in Mx, not in The Australian. Sure, it appeared on news.com.au's website, but did it show up on the six o'clock news?

"WHO CARES?!?" screams the Hungry Beast. "We fooled the media, and we're awesome, BITCH!"
No, I'm afraid you completely missed the point here. If you'd done a real news story, that everyone picked up, then you certainly demonstrated the fallibility of our news system. All you managed to do was appear on a few websites and the radio, then look like a smart-arse kid to everyone when they found out the truth.

Here's a tip, kids, free of charge: don't start a new TV show with a demonstration of how up yourself you are. The Chaser, for all their immature pranks, usually made an excellent point - sneaking into APEC didn't just show the ineptitude of the guards, it also pointed out that for all this time, money and effort, a man dressed as Osama Bin Laden could get right outside George Bush's house. All Hungry Beast showed us was that people like to read silly, inconsequential news stories and believe them.

Ironically, throughout the show, Hungry Beast threw random facts at us, like "THERE WILL BE 150 MILLION CLIMATE CHANGE REFUGEES IN 2050!" and "THERE ARE 10 000 CCTVs IN SYDNEY!", which we were probably supposed to scream "OMG!" at. Although they cited their sources, I wonder whether they diligently checked their sources like they suggested Australian news outlets should.

I'm sorry if this is taking a while, so bear with me. The remainder of the show features a stupid sketch about an old lady and a cat, an interview with a war widow where we learned that the soldier liked noodles (this is prime time TV?) and a discussion on whether pandas deserve to become extinct. Essentially, Hungry Beast said that "it's survival of the fittest, BITCH! Panda's are fat, they do nothing, they should die."

Hmmm. Where have I read this before?

Yes, Maddox was talking about whales, but it's the same argument, whales/pandas don't really do anything remarkable, so they should die. Still, it's obvious what Hungry Beast was trying to do here: create controversy. Going back to The Chaser, they got a HUGE amount of press every time they did something controversial - Chris swearing on Sunrise, the APEC prank, the Eulogy Song (eventually they crossed the line with the "Make a Realistic Wish Foundation" skit), so Hungry Beast obviously is looking for people to yell, "YOU CAN'T SAY THAT ABOUT PANDAS! WE NEED TO PROTECT ALL OF GODS CREATURE'S YOU DUMB KIDS!"

Then Hungry Beast will obnoxiously high five each other and say on the next episode (a) "LOL, you fell for our 'get free publicity' trick!" or (b) "Well, we can say what we want, as we represent the young generation!"

No, you do not.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this show supposed to show stories that weren't being shown by the rest of the media? To pick two topics that have received little coverage: the internet filter and the banning of Left 4 Dead 2. Or, to pick something more recent, the stupid name for the new Vegemite: iSnack 2.0, which anyone under 25 will tell you is lame beyond words. Just browsing through my friend's Facebook status updates, I see this actually is a touchy matter for some people.

So, here's Hungry Beast in a nutshell: a TV show created by a marketing team for the "young" crowd by being hip and controversial, that instead ends up being a TV show that's hypocritical, pretentious and unfunny.

As I said a long, long time ago:
"...trying to be cheeky is likely to alienate more [people] than attract them. The small percentage of people who like the cheekiness are likely to hit their sixth birthday soon, and will just look at [you] as unprofessional and trying too hard to be cool."

I mean, The Chaser boys worked because they never tried to be cool, they just were. The Gruen Transfer is great because we have people with experience and credibility lending their opinions. Top Gear (the UK version) works because it has three genuinely funny bloke driving around cars and having a good time. None of them tried to be cool, they just were.

Don't watch Hungry Beast. Just... don't. I could have done a better job, and that's saying something.

UPDATE 8/10/09: I watched Hungry Beast again last night, and the second episode was just as bad as the first. I've finally figured out where this show belongs: with Behind the News in the middle of the day. The whole program feels like an attempt to get "cool" kids to watch the news - particuarly teenagers. All they'd need to do is drop the few F-bombs they had and hey presto, kids show.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Michael Atkinson needs to be left 4 dead

I love Australia. Granted, I haven't lived in any other countries, but I feel that our country is certainly one of the best in the world. We've got great climate, a small population, lots of space and there's very little poverty. There is one area, though, that Australia sucks rooster at: censorship. We all know about the proposed Internet filter that the government wants to introduce, but a topic much closer to my heart is the lack of an R18+ rating for video games.

The latest victim of Australia's outdated stance on video games is Left 4 Dead 2, a zombie shooter by Valve, makers of the critically renowned Half Life series. Left 4 Dead 2 has failed to meet the standards for an MA15+ rating and has been refused classification by the Office of Film and Literature classification (OFLC), effectively banning it from sale in Australia. So, unless Valve edits the game for re-submission, we aren't going to get the game in Australia.

The lack of an 18+ (Adults Only) rating for games continues to baffle me. First off, pretty much every western country in the world has one, so why not Australia? The answer is as obvious as it is silly: our government views video games as toys for children, and not the sophisticated art form that they have become. Where did this label come from, anyway? Video games have never been exclusively marketed towards young children, and they certainly aren't now.

People against the R18+ rating like to point out, "Alright, they're not just for kids, but why can't they make games that are fun for all ages?" Well, first of all, they do. Heard of Wii Sports? But there are games out there that would completely lose impact if they were forced to become G-rated - Bioshock to give one recent example. Plus, this is a double standard anyway. Films, books and movies can have violence, nudity and swearing but games can't? Bullshit. And let's not forget that most of the violence in games is far less graphic than the violence in movies (Saw, anyone?); and that the nudity and sex in games is almost on a PG level (the infamous Hot Coffee mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas featured clothed characters having sex, and yet it was banned. WTF?).
Next, I want you to tell me what the following games all have in common:


The answer is twofold:
  • I own all of these games
  • All of these games received an 18+ rating in other countries, but were awarded an MA15+ rating in Australia without any modifications whatsoever (with the exception of Grand Theft Auto IV, but even then, very little was changed in the Australian version)
They way I see it, the OFLC has to stretch what could fit into an MA15+ category, or else consumers would resort to pirating or importing the games (hurting the local economy). I'm actually of the opinion that the ratings board wants an 18+ rating, but can't because of one man.

Michael Atkinson.



This man is, by far, the biggest douche in Australia. Why? Well, he's the Attorney-General for South Australia. For there to be any changes in Australia's classification system, (like introducing an R18+ rating) there has to be unanimous approval from all of the Attorney Generals. Michael Atkinson, though, seems to think that giving adults the right to play whatever they want is a stupid idea, and has voted against every single proposal for an 18+ rating.

I had hope, last year, when the ABC TV show Good Game reported that a discussion paper was going to be commissioned, to determine whether the public wanted an R18+ rating. However, as soon as Atkinson saw a study done by Bond University showing a whopping 91% of the population (gamers and non-games) want an R18+ rating, he withdrew his support for the discussion paper, stalling the issue.

What. A. Prick. You can't just dismiss something because you don't like the results! Plus, it's just undemocratic for 91% of the population to want something, but the government to say "no."

Depressingly, though, it doesn't look like Atkinson will change his mind (I suppose it's difficult when you have an IQ lower than 3). Atkinson has told the press that he gets hundreds of letters and emails a day, begging for the R18+ rating, but he remains resolute. He may think this makes him a man of integrity, but I think it makes him a stubborn old fool. If received hundreds of letters a day demanding I take down my stupid Peggle Reel, I would consider it (UPDATE: I have removed it, it really was that stupid). I would not stick my head in the sand and pretend that I'm a strong man who knows what's right for everyone.

So, how do we get an R18+ rating? I see three options:
  • Atkinson loses his seat in the next South Australian election (not likely, as he sits in one of the safest seats in the county - not only is he an idiot, but he's a coward)
  • The Labor party loses the next state election, and the Liberals appoint a new Attorney General (not likely, the Liberals down there are pretty hopeless)
  • Atkinson dies (it may take a while, but this will eventually happen)
Someone once asked Yahtzee, "What do you think of people who believe video games are just for kids?", and Yahtzee replied, "Well, it's generally old people who say that, and they're going to die before me."

Exactly right, Yahtzee. Atkinson will die before us, so maybe the next Attorney General will have a functioning brain.


(Also, if anyone's interested, there's a nice article on Kotaku criticising Atkinson and a great video on YouTube that discusses the R18+ rating in Australia).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Low Fat Milk? Well, Close Enough.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sent to Woolworths by my boss at work to buy some milk. I was instructed to buy milk with no fat. Personally, I prefer full cream milk, but, hey, I can't help it if people want their milk to taste like water mixed with paint.

Anyway, I was standing in front of a huge shelf of milk, and picked one that was clearly marked NO FAT:
See how it says NO FAT, down at the bottom? Anyway, I bought the milk and went back upstairs. As I put it in the fridge in the tea room, I scanned the nutritional information on the bottle (they pay me by the hour, you see - the longer it takes to buy the milk the less time I'm lifting furniture). Imagine my surprise when I saw this:

Incredibly, it contains fat! Very little, mind you, but still some fat - enough to disqualify them from claiming it was NO FAT milk, in my opinion. I checked out other brands of NO FAT milk, and bizarrely, they all contain fat! I did some research and apparently under Australian law, as long as it contains less that 0.15% fat, it can be sold as NO FAT.

This is quite possibly one of the most blatant examples of companies lying to consumers I've ever seen. Essentially, the milk companies have eliminated 99.85% of the fat, and then thought, "Ah, well, that's close enough, those idiots will believe us if we tell them we got rid of it all."

It'd be like if a vegetarian restaurant said their tofu was free of meat, but if you read the fine print, you'd see it still contains some. Or if a bottled water company said their water was free of urine, but every bottle contained 0.15% human excrement. Or if the Germans said they weren't going to kill any more Jews, except for the 0.15% who they felt had it coming.

Now that I've started comparing Nazi Germany to Pura Milk, I think it's safe to say I've gone off track. Just remember, next time you want milk without fat, you're out of luck.