Suggested Audio Candy:
 Animal Alpha “Bundy”
 LL Cool J “Mama Said Knock You Out”
Bugbears, we’ve all got ’em. I may be a particularly easy-going fellow but I still have hundreds of these little blighters grinding me down. Here I shall be exploring just a handful of things that make my blood boil over and the gloves are off on this occasion. Annoyance can come in many forms and really mess up your day. That can be the most diminutive shrug of the eyebrows or cliché response, rudeness or unkindness in whatever ugly form, or perhaps a particular celebrity that leaves you percolating with the rage. For Keeper the prospect of a PG-13 buddy cop comedy pitting together Sandra Bullock and Steve Zahn would be enough to force me into drastic evasive action. Peeling off my face layer by layer would make for a more inviting proposition than 95 minutes watching these two bond.
One bugbear I take great exception to is unwarranted unkindness. Belittling can have far deeper repercussions than first apparent, sarcasm is too readily available, and often not used with honorable intent. Arrogance is extremely unattractive to me, it’s great to believe you have the world sussed but the moment you believe your own hype and stop learning is a very sad one to reach. Basic pleasantries cost nothing thus when they’re not presented my inner fury begins to percolate. Over-familiarity gets my goat. I am open to ridicule by my friends and gladly dish out corresponding amounts of verbal lashing in return. I would never advance to the comfortable stage of mocking someone I had barely even met and take exception to the same being done with me. Just because one of my pals makes a jovial dig at me that doesn’t give you the right to jump in and rip the living shit out of me when you don’t even know my last name. On the plus side, however, it does beat an altogether lack of enthusiasm.
People breaking or finishing your sentences can be an infuriating trait. For a conversation to remain balanced, some consideration needs to be shown towards your opposite number. Should you be cut-off mid flow then disappointment is a given, thus dissolving any spontaneity and messing with the natural ebb and flow of dialogue. Some desperately unhappy couples can be so pre-disposed trying to make a good impression in the event they may have company that they consider it necessary to shout over one other in an attempt to hog the limelight. This often leads to cringe-worthy results and is particularly embarrassing for the poor schmuck stuck in the middle. It seems as though some people never master the art of conversation and it really isn’t that hard to suss out.
One thing that really grinds my gears is automated telephone services. After doing battle with your droning computerized maître d’ leading you through hoop after hoop with thousands of different menu options, you then move into phase two: the hold music. Some little bastard is sitting there chewing gum with a finger up their nose whilst conjuring up the most hideous soundtrack to offer as a supposed apology for the switchboard’s tardiness. After enduring the second phase we move on to the moment of glory, the unmistakable ringing that denotes you’ve successfully navigated the matrix. After thirty maybe forty minutes of distilled misery you reach for the Holy Grail. Light shines wildly around it and the sound of seraphs can be discerned humming their peaceful ditties. What happens next? Off-shore call centre. It’s like the final insult, barriers, barriers and, at the end of it all, a barrier.
Bank charges are a particularly treacherous state of affairs as, the moment when you exceed your overdraft limit, man-sized gnats appear and begin quenching on your diminished supplies. “Dear Mr Stevens, we regret to inform you that your account is in arrears. Fret not as we have found a solution which should benefit us all. Ergo, we intend on charging you an extortionate daily rate until you go out and commit a felony. In addition, should any of your many direct debits be returned unpaid then we shall punish you further. Have a wonderful day. Yours sincerely, The Bank. xx” Bastards
Being too easily swayed can be a most aggravating trait. The suitor would ordinarily be so unsure of themselves that they would allow themselves to be influenced in an instant by a more domineering soul. The scenario would often play out something like this:
Dom: Have you ever watched Drugstore Cowboy?
Sub: Yeah I have. I love that fucking movie…it rocked didn’t it?
Dom: Actually it didn’t do it for me personally. Left me cold. Found the characters hateful and struggled to relate to them.
Sub: Yeah it was a bit disappointing really, could have been so much better.
An opinion is such a precious gift and you should never feel it necessary to conform to another’s viewpoint. Doing so loses any captive audience.
I also dislike climbing out of hot showers; particularly in the winter months. After seven blissful minutes of lathering yourself like a soapy poodle you feel fresh, invigorated, ready to take on the world and win. Then you step out from behind your shower curtain ill-prepared for the sub-zero temperatures awaiting you on the outside. Traditionally the coldest room in the house, apart from the eerie box room you’re convinced houses a spirit, the bathroom becomes a most fearsome opponent in these circumstances. What to do? Dash at full canter through to the boudoir and leap under the blanket sopping wet or brave the chill for enough time to towel yourself dry? It’s a tough call, I ordinarily remove excess as best I can within a time-frame of around twelve seconds then begin my charge. By the time I arrive at my destination my scrotum is like a frozen golf ball and that once proud girth has transformed into dearth.
I can’t get my head around jazz music, and I’ve tried, really I have. Keeper can turn his ear to most musical genres but for some reason jazz just ain’t one of them. Even reggae is less offensive to my ears, ten minutes of Miles Davis and I’ve forgotten how to peel a banana. It just defies logic a little too much, feels improvised and often off-key. Ultimately, Jazz perplexes me and that isn’t the greatest impression to leave on your listener. Horses for courses as they say, well this nag doesn’t want a bar of yo’ Jazz. Meanwhile, in case reggae suspects it has dodged a bullet, screw you Aswad! Don’t turn around or you’re going to see my clenched knuckles.
Another gripe would be ice cream vendors. These opportunists stakeout children’s nurseries and strategically place themselves right at the entrance playing their quite frankly spectral jingles and luring our children in with their overpriced lollies. You could have a freezer chock full of treats at home but no child is interested in multi-pack lollies. They want it from “the van”. I know this as I was that selfish little brat. Once I heard the chime of their wayward bells in the distance I would hunt down my parents and hang from their waists like dead weight until the time that I had those silver coins in my possession. Folk say clowns are evil…well I say there’s a pair of elongated clown shoes in every van.
Overused CGI in horror movies aggravates to the nth degree; forget Prometheus or any film which has the financial clout to implement it successfully, my beef is not with big-budget extravaganzas. I’m speaking of the disconcerting attitude that “we can do it all in post”. One of my favorite effects was created by none other than Tom Savini for William Lustig’s Maniac. He filled an artificial head with everything from animal brains and cow intestines to shrimp salad, before applying a latex face cast of none other than himself, mounting the hood of a car and blowing his own top box off with a 12 bore shotgun. The whole crew then proceeded to scarper before the feds showed as they didn’t possess a licence to film and ended up dumping the evidence in a nearby river. I miss those days; prosthetics are at such an advanced stage now that constructing a kill with decent SFX really need not be all that troublesome. The over-reliance on CG effects however is.
Gnats, mosquitos, and other unidentified midges are a constant leech on my prosperity. When I started to scribe I used to take solace under a bridge like a forsaken troll. I wasn’t perturbed by the faint smell of urine or the discarded garbage which was decomposing before me. Instead I felt free, in the zone and positively inspired to create….until the sun seeped away. Once that glaring beacon of light had hung his hat up for the day, these air-villains would begin to congregate around me. Woe betide if I had made the decision to embark on my pilgrimage in shorts and basketball vest. All too often, I would feel the pinch of a thousand intravenous needles all being inserted in unison and raiding my banks. It wasn’t an entirely one-sided transaction however, the thoughtful nibblers would replace any blood poached with an irritating itch, a calling card akin to the mark of Zorro, just to inform me that I’d been had. Little fuckers, hope you overfed yourself and explode.
Cunning spiders also incite the temple vein of doom. Only recently I was the victim of one such insolent arachnid as it took exception to me passing it in the garden and commenced weaving a web of gossamer across the pathway for me to become ensnared in night after night. It even had the gall to do so at face level so I received a good oral entanglement as it impishly chuckled from its secure vantage. This went on for weeks until eventually I became wise to its skullduggery and used the back door to make my exit instead. I often wonder if that cretin is still out there biding his time for the next time I’m seduced by ice cream van jingles.
Then we have slugs and snails and these hapless nonentities manage to lace our anger with a dash of guilt, just for that all over disenchantment. Each time a cloud bursts they meander out onto the garden path, just pleading to be obliterated. That moment of grim realization when you hear that shell crunch underfoot is one which chills our very bones and it gets even worse for Keeper. Recently, I decided to befriend a slug that frequented the tool shed where I write, and for twenty-four hours or so, we became firm friends. I even went as far as naming my associate Cornelius and making plans which sadly would never come to fruition. You see, this particular gastropod ended up a mere imprint, on my sock no less, and the last thing I heard as I placed my heel down on his head was a cry of disappointment. “Why Richard why? I thought we were friends”. To make matters worse, I then proceeded to walk straight into that deviously woven spiderweb. Oh the irony!
I have left the most villainous offender until last and this infuriator may not be familiar to our Stateside friends. Once upon a time in the United Kingdom lived a man by the name of Keith Lemon. Keith somehow managed to endear himself to the entire nation with his impersonations of faded celebrities and was given the key to our fine kingdom as a result. However, he has since become a most unwelcome house-guest and this one trick pony spends his entire life in character. Steve Martin liked nothing more than to play the fool too but, do you know what Keith? He can also play a mean banjo. Astonishingly, the general public haven’t cottoned on yet, and his obnoxious banter is still appreciated, which I guess makes me the minority. Well guess who else was in the minority: Guy Fawkes. That didn’t stop him burning down the houses of parliament single-handed. I won’t be playing arsonist Keith but I may sneak in through the fire exit and slap you with an oversized haddock or, better yet, a pair of obese hakes.
I feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface of my bemusement but the above are culpable of grating pretty hard. I’m sure I’ve missed some doozies but for now feel as though I’ve got a little something off my chest. As for my interpretation of hell? Waiting in queue for the jazz playing ice cream van, dripping wet from the shower, whilst holding for the bank’s debt management team, standing behind Keith Lemon, as he acts over-familiar with me and breaks my sentences arrogantly. Please note that he is wearing a promotional T-shirt for the new PG-13 buddy cop thriller starring Bullock and Zahn and begins hating on it the very moment he discerns my annoyance. As I collect my Neapolitan cornet and dash back to sanctuary, I unwittingly become tangled in an intricate web of gossamer, causing my ice cream to plummet, and the cone to impale a CGI slug on the path before my very eyes. As I sit and mourn his passing the local neighborhood gnats catch a whiff of my blood and commence draining me where I’m perched. All the while, my direct debit is being unpaid. Did you feel that? That was a grown man shuddering.
Never to be confused with the far more affable emu, the emo is usually distinguishable from the average teen by the following features: a penchant for unbearable softcore punk dross with pitchy overwrought vocals and a single-minded focus on woe, high melodrama, low self-esteem, no discernible smile, Cosby sweaters (preferably purple and black) and denims too tight for testicles to ever flourish in, greasy disheveled hair that drapes over almost their entire face, and some thick-rimmed glasses just to appear a little more edgy. I’m generalizing of course but this is how they are largely perceived. However, I love nothing more than to stick up for the downtrodden and, therefore, have decided to showcase emo at its most visually gratifying. Fret not Grueheads; none of the following images are scratch and sniff.