Tag: Things That Annoy Me

Our front door is buggered

(I guess you could say it’s under door-ess. Ha)

Doors live a rather simple existence. They’re windows without the glass, walls without the rigidity, cloth flaps without the perennial fear of a desert beast bounding through them to devour their inhabitants. In fact, the only remarkable thing I knew about doors is that in Old Norse, the word for ‘door’ only exists as a plural noun, because all doors were the kind of grand, double-doors one would find at the entrances to mead-halls, and poorer dwellings would only have hurdles or curtains pulled over holes in the wall. But my door-themed small talk game was infinitely improved this week when our front door decided it had had enough of being a front door, and would very much like to be a wall instead.

The problem is that our door is fairly new, and is apparently not a very good fit for the frame that surrounds it. This wasn’t a problem when we moved in over summer, but as the temperature drops, the rain falls and the air becomes saturated with moisture the wooden door has absorbed some of that moisture, and has grown in size by a few imperceptible millimetres. The result is that the door is now permanently semi-wedged in its frame, and doesn’t really like opening, not without a Herculean latch-tugging effort every morning.

When me and my flatmates (technically one flatmate and their significant other but whatever) drag our arses up to the door for an Old English seminar held so early on a Tuesday morning that it might as well take place during the reign of King Alfred the Great, we are confronted by our door. First we reason with them, reminding them that they have lived as a door for all their lives, and seemed happy, and that if only they’d explain to us why this sudden change came about we could understand and accept them. We’d batter a hole in the wall and install a new door, letting the old one live fully as part of the wall, if only we knew more about this unexpected change. But we always hear nothing.

Then, we roll up our sleeves and begin an impromptu re-enactment of the classic Arthurian scene involving the removal of the sword from the stone; first the flatmate tries, failing because their strength stat is too low, then the significant other, failing too because they failed the agility roll, then me, succeeding because I’ve played this game before and have been relentlessly EV-training for weeks.

With the door opened, you’d expect this sorry narrative to smash into an abrupt conclusion; but I am not Chaucer, as my tale will have a satisfying conclusion. The other quirk about our door is that it has a hard lock; this is a particularly tough kind of lock, so strong that it can’t snap into place by itself, and requires the twisting of a key in its lock to shift the necessary tumblers, which sound like they weight about fifteen stone each. This means that when we leave in the morning, having rubbed our hands raw on the tiny latch trying to get the thing open, we then have to pull the door all the way back to its closed position, and fumble around with an awkward key-in-lock situation. And because we’re locking the door, we can’t just pull the door to and let it sit half-closed, bound in place by some hillbilly automatic lock; no, for this kind of impregnable security the door, which is too big for its frame remember, must be wedged back into its frame so we can operate the lock effectively. It’s worth pointing out that, like the latch on the inside, the outside is devoid of any handles or additions suited for moving the door back and forth; as a result, we play a game of ‘pull the door quickly then yank your hand back so your fingers don’t get caught in the door!’ every morning, and it’s already getting tedious.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that all these procedures and inconveniences are meant to make the door harder to force, and the house safer: heavy doors are harder to push if the lock isn’t fully opened, the hard lock exists to keep intruders out, and the lack of handles make the door difficult to operate unless you’re the inhabitants, and have gotten used to dealing with the bloody thing on a daily basis. But now, sometimes we don’t lock the door because it’s too much effort; we leave it pulled to, but not locked, because no-one can open it without a pneumatic drill and a week’s worth of anabolic steroids, and we can’t be bothered to dope up every evening in preparation. In making the door intruder-proof, the manufacturers have made it human-proof, unsuitable for use by breakers-in, tenants, and presumably the US Navy Seals.

So if you’re in the business of house-breaking, don’t try your luck at our place; you’ll just cut your hands on our stubborn, slightly splintered door.

If you say ‘LOL’ in real life, I’ll kill you in your sleep

(and I don’t mean ‘LoL’)

You suck. You are a failure. You are, in many ways, what is wrong with our culture. Not all the time, and not in every aspect of your life, but in one particular facet you are despicable. You say ‘LOL’, the abbreviation of ‘laugh out loud’ in normal conversation.

Now I’m not gonna be that head-up-my-own-arse English student who hates all textual abbreviations and uses semi-colons and Oxford commas in his texts; these aspects of language are awesome, serving useful purposes and allowing people forms of self-expression beyond more archaic language. My problem is with ‘LOL’ specifically.

‘LOL’ is mono-syllabic. ‘LOL’ is a heavy, finite sound. ‘LOL’ is, when said aloud, either a chirped, brief ‘LOL‘ or a drawn-out, droned ‘LAAAAWL’. All of these things are an affront to the emotion and noise ‘LOL’ actually stands for – a laugh. Laughs are boisterous and unpredictable, intangible and instinctive, reflecting a sudden and unorchestrated response to stimuli that is delightful. ‘LOL’s, however, are functional; they’re the collections of letters you put on a group chat when you don’t know what to say next but desperately want to continue a conversation.  They’re also abbreviations, a needless tightening of the meaning of a laugh into three characters, while the best laughs are rambling, hysterical and open-ended.

As well as being an affront to the very meaning of a laugh, a ‘LOL’ is fundamentally insincere. Instead of laughing at a joke, you are acknowledging that you understand its comedic intent, but that this intent was too poorly-delivered to deserve an actual laugh. Funny things are laughed at, not quipped away with meaningless leetspeak in quipped, mechanical tones.

A lot of people are worried that colloquialisms, derived from the Internet specifically, will uproot existing languages and replace them with their own, bastardised dialects; but this is the fate of all languages, to be twisted into new forms as new generations need them. However, while new words and phrases bloom to give substance to new thoughts, the shrinking of existing thoughts into crappier, dirtier versions isn’t just another ‘development of language’, it’s a complete 180. And if you’re saying ‘LOL’ in real life, you’re ruining the humble brilliance of a laugh because you’re too socially awkward to say ‘I see what you did there, but it’s not that funny.’

So stop being a pussy and using this shite non-word.

Put your godforsaken phone on silent

(a worse crime than that of this prick)

I see you there. Actually, no, I hear you there. In the library. Making a noise. No, not even that, that’s not the issue; people make noises in libraries all the time, and it’s hilarious. But the problem runs deeper. Yours, Sir – for this was a ‘sir’ – is one of honesty. You are a disruptive piece of shit, but haven’t even the decency to accept it.

There is a difference between a phone being on vibrate, and a phone being on silent, a difference you have failed to utilise effectively. A phone on silent is a tamed beast, shackled and muzzled, so that not a peep, let alone a ping or whir, may emanate from it, alerting its owner to the crucial fact that their latest tweet was retweeted by an Iggy Azalea fan account. A phone on vibrate, however, is one restrained by the loosest of leather restraints, and held in the fragile hands of an aged, arthritic stenographer; it buzzes and rumbles like an mid-era Nintendo game, treading the fine line between actual silence, and announcing its presence to the world.

Therefore, the phone on vibrate is a dishonest phone, one that wants the freedom to disrupt the peace of the world around it, but one too weak to face up to the consequences of being an annoying prat. As the phone, in any example, is not sentient, these traits and the responsibility for them must fall to its owner; in this case you, Sir, the dick in the library with your phone on vibrate.

I’m sure that Facebook conversation was important; evidently, you were discussing a cure for cancer, leukemia, and poverty, all in a single impossibly brilliant drug, and it is selfish and foolish of me to besmear your good name in such a way. But selfish and foolish I am, so I will continue to call you a fiend, a scoundrel, and a bellend, because it makes me feel better that if I can’t influence even the insignificant factors around my life, I can at least moan about them to a semi-anonymous audience in a blog post.

So you may have had the power and the elation of disturbing my reading of Keynes’ Alfred the Great earlier, but now you are immortalised as one of the Local Celebrities that I mock so mercilessly on this blog. Who’s immature now, Sir?

I’m Not Gonna Get Angry

(at least not today, anyway)

The communicative revolution that’s swept through the human race over the last half century is, for the most part, a wonderful thing, opening up new and diverse cultures presented to us on their own terms, and allowing the gift of communication to people once rendered perpetual strangers by random geographic placement. But one impact has been decidedly less clear-cut: we’re now more aware of the problems of the world. While an optimist would point out that this allows more minds to engage with these problems, and find solutions, a realist would say that this has opened people’s eyes to worlds of suffering that they would have previously lived in blissful ignorance of; for what it’s worth, the fact that ‘rape crisis’ is a top Google autofill result has less to do with there being more violence against women in the modern day than greater awareness of the violence against women.

And, when it comes to issues as prickly as gender identity and our idiotic marginalisation for people for daring to decide on a particular identity upon that important but largely trivial spectrum, there’s a fine line between being engaged with problems very worth solving, and becoming bogged down in an endless Twitter feed of despair and misery, that can motivate and demoralise in equal measure.

However, I’m stepping away from both of these responses today, and I’m not gonna get angry, either as the springboard for constructive action, or for the base delight in raging at someone with idiotic things to say. Specifically, this piece of news annoyed me, that some people feel the need for cultural products targeted directly at men when the majority of culture is so aggressively indirectly targeted at men that ‘men’ has become too established of a demographic to really function as a niche for an artist to shoot for. By all means, fire up your keyboards in outrage at this latest example of Poor Men Oppressed By The Victorious, Misandrist Feminists, I just won’t be joining you this time.

Problems aren’t there to be ignored, and certainly not to be run away from, but constantly committing oneself to single-handedly righting one’s perceived wrongs of society can be draining. People aren’t machines to wage war against organisations and institutions they find harmful, but complex collections of personal desires and societal goals, with the equal potential for massive outputs of energy for a certain agenda, and long periods of deep, Netflix-binging rests. Often in my life I’ve neglected the latter, and ended up as the bitter, anti-social punk fan sitting moodily at the end of the table spouting feminist rhetoric while expressing disgust at the lack of a vegan / vegetarian / James-centred menu at the pub we’re at.

For every Anti-Flag moshpit I’m in, I have a file on Mario Sunshine to waste a few hours with; for every chapter of my novel I write, there’s a local park that needs someone to wander through the trees of; and for each shitty piece of lad culture to rear its head from the cesspool of the Internet, I’ve got a dim light, a silenced phone, and a copy of Jim Lindberg’s Punk Rock Dad to relax to.

I Don’t Like Usernames

(because I’ve got three real ones I use endlessly)

My username on this site is my real name; my PSN is JamesPCasey (add me if you’d like); I’ve recently changed my Steam name to JamesPatrickCasey. Noticing a pattern here? As much as I don’t like plastering my full name over everything I do, I’ve found it preferable to using an online alias, which as led me to the conclusion that I kinda hate usernames.

For a long time, I was Thumby; on some sites, I still am, old accounts on Armor Games or Mousebreaker that are settling nicely into the dust of mid-teenage James with his addiction to online gaming. Sometimes I’ve warped my surname into a username, and sometimes I’ve stuck numbers onto the ends of ‘thumby’ or even in place of the ‘b’ in a godforsaken capitalised variant reading ‘THUM3Y’. And I’ve realised that this is all a bit shit.

I’m not a random non-word derived from an in-joke with an old friend of mine, and I’m certainly not a real name with a number tacked on the end. Using a single word to define an individual is bad enough, but if we’re going to buy into this system for practical necessity, I might as well use the few unsuitably meaningless words that are on my birth certificate and passport, rather than introduce new unsuitably meaningless words to the mixture, doubling the amount of pointless self-identificatory crap in the world for no reason.

There’s also a practical element here; if I’m playing with friends, I don’t want them to have to remember which random combination of numbers and leetspeak refers to me. It’s not difficult, but it provides an additional cognitive obstacle to identifying me than if I was using my real name alone.

I’m also, to put it pretentiously, becoming a bit of a brand online. I’m ‘James Patrick Casey’ on this site, and my writing blog, and I’ve asked to be credited as such in all the publications I write for, and am a few steps away from sticking my middle name on my uni essays like a proper wanker. For someone who’s so heavily and broadly involved in saying and doing things online, it helps if I can unite all of my words and actions under a single name, rather than be James on this blog, Thumby on that site, or CODSUCKZ101LOL on another.

I understand, however, that a lot of people, particularly younger or less self-confident people, will find comfort in using an alias; if they’re uncomfortable sharing personal details on the Internet, I’m not going to have a go at them for doing so. But I’m fairly comfortable with myself and my own failings, and have no problem with sharing bits of my life online for random strangers to read; you’re going to judge me, regardless of what I say or do online, so you might as well have an accurate name to apply your judgements to.

Altrnatively, I could have been lying to you all the time, and my real name is Alison Louise Lancaster, and I live in a sparsely-populated town outside of Portland, Oregon.

Financial Stability Is Burning

(it was surprisingly hard to make that title work with the singular ‘is’)

At this point, the only response to George Osborne’s debt-raising, student-frakking, ball-kicking budget is to apply these twisted policies to Bad Religion’s superlative Los Angeles Is Burning. The original lyrics can be found here.

Somewhere deep in the City in a tie painted blue,
Thatcher’s chums are grinning
But up here in the flat-shares of Camden,
The hope of uni students is withering.
And you can’t deny that living is easy
If your Daddy makes a hundred grand yearly,
It’s eviction time for young lives
And students are dreaming of pay.

When financial stability is burning
Tories tug purse-strings in the murder wind.
So many lives are on the breeze,
Even Corbyn is ill at ease
And our finances are burning.

This is not a test
Of our prepped-up outraged hashtags
Where the economic right and Thatcherites
Conspire to win again.
And I cannot believe the media ignores
How a few mates can’t afford university,
Read it online, Cheryl’s waistline
Owen Jones must be going insane.

When financial stability is burning
Tories tug purse-strings in the murder wind.
So many lives are on the breeze,
Even Corbyn is ill at ease
And our finances are burning.

The red box reads
“The end of days”
Old Labour folks are turning in their graves.

More a question than a curse,
How could Hell be any worse?

The cuts are coming,
The Tories laughing,
So take warning!

[solo remains unchanged]

When financial stability is burning
Tories tug purse-strings in the murder wind.
So many lives are on the breeze,
Even Corbyn is ill at ease
And our finances are burning.