For my very first Thursday Thirteen, over a year ago, I offered a list of things that I will ban when I rule the world. I am still waiting to be offered the position of Lord High Emperor of the Universe, but while I prepare for office I have been planning. I’ve got a little list. Here are…
Thirteen More Things I Will Ban When I Rule The World
People who chew gum with their mouths open. There is no excuse for that. I’m sure that from childhood they were told not to chew their food with their mouths open, so why should gum be different? I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them think they look cooler, or more attractive, chomping away like that and inflicting upon us all that wet, crunchy squelching.
DVDs with trailers that you can’t fast forward through. This can be infuriating if you pop a DVD into your player and before you even get to the main menu you have to watch trailers that can drag on for several minutes; and the bastards disable the fast-forward feature, so you have absolutely no alternative but to sit through them. You can mute the sounds, I suppose, out of a sense of rebellion, but you still have to endure them.
Wearing baseball caps backwards! To me this is the height of moron-dom. Anyone who wears their baseball cap backwards should have their head turned backwards!
Milk. Yes, ok, I know it’s supposed to be good for you and all that. Builds healthy teeth and bones and, no doubt, gives you a glossy coat and a cold wet nose if you really insist. But it really is disgusting. I have never been able to stomach the stuff. In fact, when I was in Asia, I was told on more than one occasion that they think Westerners carry a bad smell around with them because they drink milk. I can remember untold times, when I was a child, being offered milk by well meaning adults, and on several occasions having to drink it. Milk shakes and chocolate milk are another matter, but ordinary cow’s milk, neat, is something I haven’t drunk for maybe 25 years or more, and I have no plans ever to do so again. Still, I find that even when you’re an adult people will offer you the stuff. Haven’t they heard of wine? Okay, I won’t ban milk, but I will ban…
Badly made ring pull lids on cans. It’s infuriating, isn’t it, when you want to open a can of something or other, and you lift the ring to peel the lid off, and it breaks, leaving you with the can in one hand and the ring hanging insolently from a finger of your other hand. So you have to go find the pliers and try to tug the lid off that way, or else search for your can opener in the kitchen drawer and do it the old fashioned way: assuming that the can has a big enough lip round the top for the opener to grip. I shall accept no excuses – for manufacturers of badly made ring pull cans, punishment will be swift and condign!
People who have loud mobile phone conversations in public. Twenty years ago, when mobile phones were thin on the ground, people used to do this in an attempt to show how important they were. They strode around inside restaurants, trains, shops etc, carrying phones the size of bricks, shouting inanities. “Hello. I’m on the train. Yes, it’s almost six o’clock.” And then there were the people who carried on as though they were in their offices. “Tell him he better get his arse into gear! I want that report my desk by nine tomorrow.” Now that the whole world and his dog has a mobile phone, there is no kudos, real or imagined, in owning one, so there is no excuse for showing off with yours, but people still do. For some reason, Starbucks seems very vulnerable to this.
Soap-on-a-Rope. Do they still make this stuff? There was a time when this was the Christmas and Birthday gift of choice for people, mainly men, when you had no idea what else to get them. I wouldn’t have minded really except one year I ended up with no fewer than four of the things. One, I recall, was in the shape of a rugby ball and another was a general purpose red blob. I’m quite happy never to see the stuff again.
Fat free. I admit, I used to be fooled by this. Same with low fat or, even worse, “lo fat”. Aha, I thought, this must be a healthy alternative to the regular kind of TV dinner, hamburgers, yoghurt, fruit pie or any one of dozens of kinds of food. I was wrong. What they do, to make up for the fat, is to pump in huge amounts of sugar, so there is no health benefit at all in low fat brands. Probably just the opposite.
Also, Fun Size. Can someone tell me, where exactly is the fun in eating a miniature chocolate bar? “Oh look, I’m eating a Kit-Kat that is only two inches long! What fun I’m having! It’s so much more enjoyable than those boring full-sized bars!” What it is, of course, is a way for the manufacturers to sell you less, but package it up as though you are getting something more. Sometimes they call it snack size. The actual harmful effect of these is that people eat lots of them, and consume far more sugar and fat, with all the attendant health risks, than they would if they were having a single full-sized bar, but they delude themselves that they are eating less.
I won’t ban the Oscars, the Emmys, the Baftas or the Golden Globes, because they do serve a purpose. But what I will ban, upon pain of lengthy terms of imprisonment, are those banal, inane, embarrassing spoken introductions that the presenters (usually in pairs) give before they get to the nominations for each category.
“Hi Susie, great to see you.”
“Great to see you too, Bob.”
“Y’know, Susie, without sound engineers, movies would be completely different.”
“That’s right, Bob. We depend on them totally for our lines to be heard by the audience.”
“But y’know, the contribution that these unsung heroes contribute to the movies is often completely unrecognized by the public.”
“Yes, Bob, and that’s a great shame because a skilled sound engineer can make an enormous difference to a movie.”
“Well, Susie, why don’t we try to put that right by reading out the nominations for Best Sound Recording in a Motion Picture?”
“That’s a great idea, Bob!”
I mean: el mucho puko!
I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, in other contexts, but I have to include it because I hate it. Music, and other broadcast sounds, that are thrown at you, whether you want them or not, when you are a captive audience. Loud muzak or TV in waiting rooms. Whoever decided that people can not survive if they have to sit and wait quietly? Ban it, I say! Let people bring their own Ipods or CD players, with effective and non-leaking headphones, if they feel that without music for half an hour they will shrivel up and die.
Laugh tracks. Why do they have these? Is there anyone out there who honestly will admit to needing audible prompts to tell him where the jokes are in a comedy? Who needs to be told “This is a funny bit”? I have never met anyone who told me that he appreciated a laugh track because without it he wouldn’t be able to tell where the jokes were. They stripped the laugh track from M*A*S*H when they showed it in England and it didn’t suffer one bit. The Wonder Years, in the 1990s, managed just fine without one, and it would be an absolute disfigurement if they added one to The Office, My Name Is Earl or 30 Rock, all of which are brilliantly funny without those added on noises. It is my understanding that the laughter on laugh tracks is mostly stuff lifted from live radio comedies of the 1940s and 1950s, so when you hear a laugh track you are in fact listening to a lot of dead people laughing.
Unnecessary packaging. It really annoys me to end up surrounded by a pile of paper and plastic debris after I have unwrapped something I have just bought. I remember a while ago there was an attempt in England to organize a movement to take all unwanted packaging back to the guilty supermarkets and dump it there but I don’t know if anything ever came of it.
Pickles. Yes, I know I had that in my first banning list, but I still want to eradicate these abominable, foul, disgusting things which masquerade as food. Honestly, I saw people partaking of more appetizing food in “Zombie Flesh Eaters: Part 7”