Saturday, 25 April 2009

Proving a lot of things can happen in a small space, and featuring the rare Random 6th, it’s Rob’s Random 5...

As usual my ‘Random 5’ went up earlier this week, but then some of my friends and I heard some sad and very tragic news and it made me think certain parts were unsuitable for use this week. Not because they were tasteless or inappropriate, far from it, no, it was just because I didn’t feel like talking about them in the wake of what had happened. I may be being overly-sensitive, but it didn’t feel right or respectful in the immediate week.
Anyway here is the (only marginally) revised ‘Random 5’...

1. Limited Edition: News today that there’s a new 'machine-atron' called the ‘Espresso’ that can print an out of print, limited edition copy of a book (as well as a normal in-print book) in under five minutes. Very nifty. Very nifty indeed. And I hate it already. It’s the tip o’ the iceberg. How long until you go into a little room called a ‘Bookshop’ and ask for a copy of the latest Richard and Judy recommended book and have it printed off there and then? I mean, I don’t believe that the ‘Espresso’ will destroy the bookshop as we know it, at least it won’t for a good few decades, but I believe it’s going to take the fun out of one of the most pleasurable pastimes on the Earth: book-shopping. Whenever I go down to York I love to set aside a few hours to look round the city’s fantastic antique and second hand bookshops (really, every city should have them and have ten of them at least), looking for rare or unusual books – stuff bound in odd leather or paper or plastic coverings and with cover illustrations that evoked a different, lost age. Last year I found a great book called the ‘Collins Adventure Annual’; a musty children’s book from the fifties with pages as thick as cardboard. It’s long out of print. You’d have to scour attics and bookshops and charity shops across the land to find another, which is why I was so pleased when I found it. Its cover – a panoramic scene of Cowboys and Indians racing across a Western plain - was torn and a little faded, and the book smelled like my granddad, but I loved it because it was so old and rare and (most importantly) because it had been read: passed down through bookshops and pawed through by people eager to read its adventurous (and I must admit, uncomfortably racist by modern standards) stories. But no matter. It was a book that had lived. A book that had been read by someone else, enjoyed by someone else. A book that had survived the past fifty years intact. I love it for that. It cost me £15. Money well spent. And when I open the pages I can tell, feel, smell its life. And I worry that the ‘Espresso’, with its technology, will take away both the joy of trawling through antique and second-hand bookshops for hours and the thrill of finding and holding that old, slightly worse for wear (and possibly very rare) book. A book that has survived decades to reach your hands and eyes and will last for so many more. It would be a shame if we lost those things in our ‘throwaway society’. I’m all for progress, but not at the cost of our past. Keep the old bookshops, and keep the ‘Espresso’ at bay.

2. Lady Gaga: Honestly, is there a more pointlessly annoying pop star/freaky clotheshorse around at the minute? That’s all I have to say on the matter.

3. The Bacon Sandwich: According to a book called ‘The Bible’ (I think that’s how you pronounce it) God made the world in six days and on the seventh he rested. What it doesn’t tell you is that on the seventh day he created the bacon sandwich, possibly his finest of all makings (pizza doesn’t count because that was of course invented by Lucifer after he’d been out on the lash and needed a quick and tasty snack to soak up the booze. He would later go on to fall from Heaven into Hell and there invent the most unholy of foods: the kebab). Anyway, back to the point: the bacon sandwich is the perfect food. No other combination of food matches it in terms of deliciousness (crispy bacon, soft white bread, lashings of sauce), versatility (you can eat it for breakfast or lunch or just as a snack), portability (take it anywhere! ) and sociability (everyone loves a bacon sandwich, be they prince or pauper, rich or poor. Unless they’re vegetarian. In which case they can go jump). And it’s ideal hangover grub. Yes, the bacon sandwich is unbeatable. Only one question: red sauce or brown?

4. A Joke: This is my favourite joke of all time. It’s quite a famous one so you’ll most likely know it:
Two hunters are out in the woods in the middle of nowhere when one of them is savaged by a bear. The other hunter manages to shoot the bear dead and then calls the Emergency Services.
“Help me! My friend’s been savaged by a bear and I think he’s dead!” he tells the operator.
“Alright, calm down,” the operator tells him, “First, make sure your friend is really dead.”
There is a long pause and then the operator hears a gunshot. The hunter’s voice returns over the phone.
“Okay, done that. Now what?”

5. ‘Sans Comic Sans’: I found out this week that Comic Sans is the most hated font in the world. Apparently it’s overused and in all the wrong places – from flyers to children’s toys to banners to beach towels. Something about it annoys a surprising number of people (surprising in that I’m surprised anyone can be angry at a font). There’s even a movement to ban it and its ubiquity (no, I’m not putting up a link for it. If you hate Comic Sans that much you can go look for it yourself). Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a totally random cause as much as the next geek, but surely there are better things to do in your brief life than go around complaining about a font of all things. A font! Protesting against that is just wasted energy. It’s like King Cnut sitting on the beach yelling at the tide. And there are plenty of other, more useful things you could do than organise movements against typography; worthwhile things such as spend time with friends, learn a new language, take up dancing, or even make a bacon sandwich. And what about Wingdings? Why isn’t there a movement to get rid of that? There are 3 versions of Wingdings and they’re all bloody useless!

And (for this week only) the Random 6th: All about the Actions: In the time you have you can think of the world and everyone in it however you wish. That’s the gift. You can dream of anything, however beautiful or cruel. You can imagine anything: tales of truth and stories made of song. You can think whatever you want to about anyone on Earth. You can make as many Random 5’s of your own as you wish. But what matters, at the end of your bit-part on the planet, is what you do, how you act, the way you hold on to the people you choose to hold on to. It’s all about the actions, not the thoughts. Thoughts are no good to anyone but you. So put them into motion now.

Take care. See you all next week.


Christopher said...

Re: Lady Gaga. Haha, "freaky clotheshorse"! :D

Re: Comic Sans. It really is fucking awful.

Re: Bacon Sarnies. No bloody question about it; BROWN SAUCE! It ain't a proper bacon sarnie without brown sauce...