Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Tonic Water, Talking Animals, and Robots infiltrating your Past...it can only be Rob’s Random 5

This week's selection of Predominant Random Thoughts is heavy on nostalgia: for food, cartoons, and the days when the news didn't go out of the way to terrify you...

1. Carrots & Tonic Water: Throughout all of April I’m dieting in order to look good for a string of upcoming events and just generally be healthier than I currently am. Off the menu for the entire month is all wine and beer, chocolate, crisps, ice cream... basically all the bad and tasty things you can think of. I eat pretty healthily at mealtimes anyway, so it’s just cutting out the junk snacks and booze. Even soft drinks have been purged, and now I find my tipple of choice being slim tonic water and my snack of choice being the humble raw carrot (honestly, I was in a room full of people with wine the other night and there I was with my tonic & ice and carrot looking like Bugs Bunny recovering from alcohol addiction). Over the weekend in between meals I blasted through three bottles of the stuff and ate an entire big bag of carrots, so it’s fair to say they’ve been on my mind a fair bit lately, for whenever I feel peckish there they are, saying ‘We know we’re boring Rob, but really we’re all you’ve got...’. Eliot was right: April is ‘the cruellest month’...

2. The Nostalgia of Transformers™: Everyone knows that the Transformers cartoon was created purely to sell Transformers, but I didn’t realise just how brilliant and potent a marketing scheme it was (and still is) until I was watching some of the original cartoons. Because as I was watching my third episode I had the sudden urge to actually go out and buy some Transformers. I think more than anything it was a desire for nostalgia of me being five years old, playing on the living room floor making my Optimus Prime and Astrotrain (Astrotrain was exceptionally cool: a space shuttle and a steam train. Wow!) battle as Swindle, Blackout and Brawn egged them on (Inferno the fire engine often hung around in the bathroom because for some reason he was a popular bath-time toy. He quickly rusted.). I get the same feeling whenever I see Lego, because that too was such a massive part of my childhood, and it’s the same for other people and certain toys of their era. I know grown-ups – people with jobs and wives and lives and friends - who still buy Transformer toys and it’s not because they want to keep them in their boxes and then sell them on in years to come – it’s because the childhood nostalgia that surrounds them is just so powerful that it reminds them of what it was like to be young...and because giant robots that turn into jets and tanks and cars are unbelievably cool. I’d love to have some Transformers. Anyway, in the end I didn’t buy any. I switched off the TV and the subliminal messages soon stopped. The memories kept on going though...might have to venture into the attic for rusty ol’ Inferno.

3. Sudoku: I tried Sudoku for the first time ever last week, and while I’m still not a major fan of it I quite enjoyed the one I did. It’s the pure logic of it that I like, and the fact that you don’t have to know jack about maths to do it (because honestly, who does maths for fun? Not even Stephen Hawking). But it’s no crossword for sure. I think it’s because it only uses nine numbers and it’s so logical that it feels a bit, well, robotic. There’s a bit more creativity involved in solving a crossword. Plus, you can shade in the boxes if you mess up.

4. Bad News, Worse: Every time you turn on the news or open a paper you’re reminded by a man in a suit that you’re poor, or that you’re overweight, or that you should drink or smoke less, or that you’ll die of cancer if you don’t eat enough pomegranates, or that if you eat too many pomegranates more pomegranates will have to be flown over, causing global warming and polluting your atmosphere and flooding your house that’s about to be repossessed anyway because you’re so poor from the global recession and paying for all that bloody fruit you’re told to eat. Well, the news can quite frankly go fuck itself, because I’m tired of it telling me what I should be doing and how fucked I’m going to be regardless of whether I do it or not. The media has a habit of blowing everything out of proportion. For example, yeah, there’s a recession and yeah it’s hard for everyone, but constantly reminding people of how bad it is does the economy and our consumer faith in it no favour. And cherry-picking the stories of the minority who’ve been really badly affected by the financial crisis and putting them on display as something resembling the average experience of the man in the street is not only misleading it’s wrong and detrimental to the economy. The same exaggeration can be applied to any number of stories. Remember when we were all going to die of SARS? I’m sick of bad news being blown out of all proportion. The world is hard and miserable enough already without us being made to think that you and the entire Human race are going to be killed off in the next decade by bird flu or financial crises or beef or aspirin. For a really good, level-headed view and review of the news, check out Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe.

5. The Wind in the Willows: Nostalgia seems to be on the menu this week. More than any other TV show in my childhood, even more than Thomas the Tank Engine or Transformers, I loved the animated Wind in the Willows series. It was quality stop motion animation, well-written, had a great voice cast (David Jason as Toad!) and was bloody brilliant. I was reminded of it the other day when I was re-reading the book so I thought I’d hit YouTube and see if there was any trace of it on there. And lo and behold there was! Lots of episodes of it actually, so I spent the afternoon watching some of them. Some of the episodes are taken from the book, and most of them are completely original, but they’re all magnificent. They’re quaint and innocent and exist in a soft and cuddly world where lemonade and cake make everything better. It’s a crime that they’re not still showing this on TV, especially as it won a BAFTA and an EMMY. If you’ve never seen it before, or you fancy taking Toady’s motorcar for a spin down Memory Lane, there’s a clip here and plenty more to be found on YouTube.


Nicole said...

"Well, the news can quite frankly go fuck itself"...I applaud your 'frank' words. No wonder so many people are depressed, when do we ever get 'good' news?