Very Top Five Reasons to Pretend to be Colour-Blind

Monday, 17 May 2010
Colour-blindness is a disability worse than losing a leg. After all, there’s no such thing as a wheelchair for the eyes, and at least amputees can colour-coordinate their wardrobe.

I am colour-blind myself, despite the title and, despite lacking the capability to choose wallpaper that matches my sofas, there are many hidden perks to colour blindness; enough to convince you to pretend to be colour-blind yourself. It’s the equivalent of being perfectly able-bodied but never having to take the stairs, and never being caught out as a damn cheat.

It’s easy to deliberately fail a colour blindness test by claiming you can’t see the numbers or can’t order the shades and then you’re all set to begin living the lie. You’d obviously be revealed as a fraud by a genetic test, but who’s going to insist you take one of those? Why would you lie about something like this, they might think.

Here’s why; you can enjoy the following perks:

5. You never have to cook

“Oh, this meat’s gone green,” the colour-sighted might say, “These vegetables have gone a bubonic shade of brown,” they might add. “Probably best to throw them away and have take-away instead.”

But the colour-blind would happily chuck them into the stew, cue explosive intestinal protests from the whole family. Obviously you can’t be blamed, that would be like blaming a one armed man for failing to tie his shoe laces correctly. So they won’t say it’s your fault, but they won’t want you to tie their shoes anymore (metaphorically speaking).

In fact, you’ll soon find your relatives have become habituated to leap up from the couch and sprint into the kitchen whenever you say “I’m hungry; how about if I make dinner this evening?” Leaving you free to watch television in glorious monochrome – or so you claim.

4. You can take your dog into shops and restaurants

Taking your dog out for a walk and decide to pop in to see a film on the way home? For most people, it’s an impossible dream; but not for you.

“It’s a guide dog,” you can say, presenting the colour-blindness disability card you made yourself as your pooch wanders around the cinema foyer, hoovering up spilled popcorn. Most ticket sellers will be too polite to say that you don’t look blind, but if they do then you can just say that you’re partially sighted and look at them with a mix of scorn and disappointment, before talking your seat in the disabled chairs, which boast excellent views and extra legroom.

However, some clever shop keepers might be aware that dogs are also colour blind and insist that you drop this charade forthwith. In that case, point out that the dog is not there to offer colour-translation advice but rather as a empathic psychological nostrum to your disability.

If you still encounter resistance from non-believers, you can menacingly suggest that the dog is there to aggressively savage anyone who mocks you for your disability. That should do the trick.
3. You’ll always have an icebreaker for corporate away days

“Think of something unique or interesting about yourself to share with the group.” When spoken by one of those clinically cheerful facilitators this phrase injects frozen terror into the minds of those who hear it, making it pathologically impossible to think of anything even slightly interesting. And as they go round the room, coaxing tortured responses from your colleagues about how they “um… quite like watching football?” or “well… I… uh… once went to Japan on holiday… will that do?” they will soon reach you, combined gaze pinning you to the seat and searing your neurons into a stupor.

And as the pressure mounts, you realise that someone’s already taken your (rather weak) football answer and you eventually blurt out “em… em… I think my wife’s having an affair!”

Ooh, bring on the raised eyebrow from your colleagues, a surprised nod and a shaky “okay…” from the facilitator and ostracising sniggers later on when you’re having your scheduled coffee break.

But imagine if instead, whenever pressed to reveal a personal factette, you could simply say “I’m colour blind,” and know that you’ve revealed a non-personal, un-judgeable, relatively uncommon and interesting nugget of info designed to shift the burden onto the next person as quickly as possible.

2. You’ll have an interesting hook when chatting up women

(This might also work on men; I've not tried it.)

It’s easy to introduce colour blindness into a conversation with a recently met lady friend with whom you are stoking the fires of new acquaintance; “What colour’s that?” you ask, pointing at anything at all. She’ll answer with an inflexion of curiosity tinged by the mystery of your apparent inability to identify colours.

This will lead to a deep and interesting conversation, because colour-sighted people are curious about the mechanics of colour-blindness; do you actually see things in black and white? What colour do things look to you? Can you tell the difference between any colours, or is it just some? Does it affect your life at all?

“Yeah, it can be quite a drawback, but I get by,” you can confide, all the while drawing her ever closer with your tendrils of emotional falsification, then impress her by revealing that colour-blind people have better night vision and a increased ability to detect camouflage. What a man, she'll think.

And if you want to charge straight down the chat-up line route and fast track all this emotional attachment stuff, simply approach a woman and say “What colour are your eyes?” while looking soulfully into them.

She’ll be all like “blue” or “brown” or whatever. Feel free to ignore her reply, it doesn’t actually matter, because you then come storming in with the coup de grace; “I’m colour-blind, but I can tell they’re beautiful.” And boom! No woman alive can resist that charm. Probably.

1. You’ll be more employable

Being disabled is good for your employment prospects, probably slightly more useful than having a relevant qualification and slightly less useful than being friends with the boss. All it takes is a little tick in the “Are you disabled?” box on application forms and soon you’ll be reaping the benefits of guaranteed interview schemes, disability employment quotas and legislative positive discrimination.

Also, colour-blindness will have no effect on your perceived ability to do most jobs, as even the most illegal flouter of disability discrimination law can see that colour-blindness is an ignorably mild affliction. It’s also an invisible one, so you won’t find yourself hitting the (tinted) glass ceiling along with the loonies and freaks. Lucky you.


So, success in work and love, human rights for your dog, icebreakability and never having to cook - all in all, colour vision sounds rather grey by comparison.

Very Top Five Ways to Make the Perfect Blockbuster

Monday, 19 April 2010
Blockbusters are the sprinkles on the cake of contemporary society. Some people don’t like sprinkles, but most do, since they are just sugar and food colouring and taste nice, and when future historians look back they’ll obviously be interested in the dry cake beyond the sprinkles, whereas normal people will just nibble at the sprinkles and maybe some of the icing and leave the rest behind a potted plant or something.

I’m sure that no one would disagree that when it comes to the objective ranking of films you can match them exactly with how much they made at the box office. It’s like the democracy of the cinema. One ticket price equals one vote.

By the way, blockbusters get their name from the behaviour of people who have just seen them; they become so angry knowing that they’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see these brilliant films again that they smash up everything they see in the streets on the way home, or “bust” the “block;” hence “blockbuster.” Possibly…

Anyway, do you want to know how they did it, so that you too can rake in a 10:1 return on investment, pick up your well deserved Oscar for biggest explosion of the year, and be admired by all but the staunchest of jowly faced film critics? Well, here we go:

5. Stars:

You know the line “All men are created equal” from the American Declaration of Independence? Obviously that was before the Famous Hollywood Amendment that added “Apart from A-listers, who are definitely better than you. And their entourage, who get VIP access too, of course. And their friends and family, and anyone they want to invite. So, yeah, everyone except you. You’re just common scum.” Although I think it was just a verbal addition that nevertheless everyone abides by.

Anyway, nothing gets the audience going like a star with a face smoothed by hours of make-up, and acting skills honed by years of people telling them how fabulous they are at it, as well as literally minutes of practising their lines before they came on set.

Not only that, but afterwards (or before, or during the film) you can read about what the star thought about being in the film, and what cereal they ate in their trailer, and whether they had “a really great time working with some really great people, y’know”. You can even join in the telephoto-fuelled speculation of which of their co-stars they are currently getting with, and look at the advanced computational photo fit of what their cherubic children might look like, and consider what they might be called (They’ll probably be named after that brand of cereal that the star loves so much).

And all the time you’ll be fuelling those who feed off celebrities with your money, and feeding the celebrities, in turn, with your soul. Just saying…

4. Quotable lines:

“I’m detective John Kimble.” “That’s a ferret.” “Stop whining.” “It’s not a tumour.”

Who would have thought that all of those famous lines that we all use every day were from the same film, “Kindergarten Cop,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (The world’s most quotable man and a blockbuster unto himself)?

Anyway, films have quotable lines for a reason; because every time you say them the film gets a little bit of free advertising. You’ll drop the line, sound amazing, and all your friends will think you are super groovy for being so original as to use a line that was in a film possibly in a related or even in an unrelated context to whatever conversation you interrupted with your coolery.

For example, at every party you’ll still find at least one person who thinks it’s terribly clever to quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail, released a short 35 years ago, and never once has anyone got sick of it and wanting to stave their face in with a wine bottle every time they say “We are now the knights who say… Ekki-ekki-ekki-ekki-ptang-zoom-boing.”

3. 3D:

Why use one projector, when you can use two? Why see things in two dimensions when you can see them in three? Why pay the normal price for a ticket when you could be paying double? For years these questions had no answer; but now they do, and it’s so cool that it already has an acronym; “3D”.

Oh, and it’s much more realistic; you know how in real life when the focus suddenly pulls from the thing you’re looking at to something right in front of you so, or when something comes flying out of the background right at your face, or when everything seems to float eerily in mid air in front of you? Yeah, well 3D films have got that too!

“Why has no-one ever thought of making 3D films before?” you might ask, “It’s simply the best idea ever and certainly not a fad.” To you I would say, yes I’m sure it isn’t a fad. And I’m sure the annoying glasses will only become less annoying every time you have to put them on, rather than more so. Everything which is annoying becomes less annoying over time, like a mouse scratching in the wall, or an irregularly dripping tap, or tinnitus. And I’m also sure that it wasn’t a fad when they tried 3D films in the 50s, and the 80s, and the 90s. Oh, and the 1890s as well.

2. Comedy:

Some might say that making something very funny is very hard. Not only is their no definition of what is funny, but everyone has a different opinion, and you must walk the line between mundane and obscene, derivative dross and unconventional bewilderment.

Well of course those people who say that are over-thinking comedy killers who obviously ain’t never heard a fart! Then they’d know regular funny from blockbuster funny. Here’s a definitive list:

Obviously, anything to do with bottoms is hilarious. Falling over is hilarious. Belching is hilarious. Pulling faces is hilarious. Irreverent pop culture references are hilarious. Over-emphasised sarcasm is hilarious, and men screaming like girls when they have been surprised is extremely hilarious.

Conversely, clever wordplay is not hilarious. Subtlety is not hilarious. Bathos is not hilarious. Satire is not hilarious. Anything that takes more than a second to ‘get’ is not hilarious. Anything from an old film is boring cos it’s old like old people who are also boring, and is consequently not hilarious.

1. Explosions:

If you look at the top five grossing films of all time, you’ll find that all of them have explosions in them. Now think about the top five moments in your life; how many of those involved explosions? Ask yourself which is more exciting; your life, or the bit in The Dark Knight when the Joker blows up the hospital? Exactly.

Explosions make everything awesome. No matter how sophisticated you think you are, or how many subtitled films about intense dark haired lovers exchanging significant glances you’ve seen and claim to prefer, or how many independent cinemas you can name and give me directions to, there’s always that little bit of a human brain that refuses to come out of the cave, and thinks “Ooh! Big whooshy fire!” at the first flare of flame. Nothing ignites the interest like a high budget Hollywood explosion.


So as I’ve proved, Blockbusters are the best films from both the objective financial point of view and the objective superiority point of view, which do not only get to have their cake and eat it, but eat some of everyone else’s cake as well, even though their cake was much bigger to start with and even if it’ll make them sick.

By the way, a film blog which I enjoy is by Chantale and Angie.

Very Top Five Most Fashionable Dyes Ever

Monday, 12 April 2010
Ah, Fashion. If religion is the opium of the masses, then fashion is surely the cocaine of the cool, or at least the crack of the cultured.

Being fashionable means to be a willing participant in an unrelenting race to be perfectly stylish, poised and modern, while all the time the criteria shift and buck underneath you like an angry horse (one which you are trying to ride in terribly impractical and high maintenance clothes) which is constantly trying to throw you off before racing away into the future, leaving you covered in (always-unfashionable) dust and shit.

However, while fashion is fleeting, at least colours are a constant pin in the gown of contemporary loveliness. And what could be more important than choosing the most fashionable colour in the quest to look slightly more interesting that everyone else until they have time to buy the same clothes for much less money?

These days, with the underappreciated magic of modern chemistry giving us not only seven different kinds of sparkle in our hair conditioners and face creams with essence of rejuvenom, but also any colour of any intensity and stability we could possibly wish for, we easily forget that until relatively recently you would be thrilled to find a dye that didn’t smell like piss when it got slightly damp, or slowly poison you by leeching into your skin, or fade within about a day of purchase. And that’s before you even consider whether it makes you look as contemporarily chic as current custom commands.

Throughout history several dyes stand out, either because they were the best source of a particular colour for thousands of years, or because they were (and still are) highly exclusive and expensive, or just because they make you a magus of coolness in omne tempus.

5. Alizarin, red

Red; colour of blood, danger and traffic signs, is considered to be immensely cool.

Alizarin is still used today, and was first used thousands of years ago in its natural form, extracted from the madder root. It was found in Tutankhamen’s burial chamber, and in the ruins of Pompeii, and more recently a whole army took its nickname from it:

The British Army, from 1645 onwards, wore the distinctive alizarin dyed jackets which earned them the name “redcoats,” as well, I’m sure, as the admiration and adoration of opposing, jealous armies in their boring browns and greys.

The word alizarin is derived from the Arabic word for juice (using the usual rule that if something starts with “al” than it’s almost certainly an Arabic word; like algebra, alcohol, and almanac). If you want to try and introduce a cool new bit of slang (slang is the fashion of the mouth), try asking your friends if they want a glass of alizarin instead of juice. If they don’t know what you mean then just laugh at their etymological ineptitude and don’t give them any juice.

Alizarin was the first pigment to be duplicated synthetically in the 19th century, and it’s even used today in biochemical research as a bio assay thing. But only by fashionable researchers.

4. Crocin, yellow

Crocin is the yellow colour in saffron, which is a type of crocus. (Again, the word crocus actually comes from the Arabic word for saffron, and our word for saffron comes from the Arabic word for yellow. We’d all be lot less fabulous if it wasn’t for the Arabs.)

Saffron is a little delicate flower with red stigmas, and you have to collect about a squintillion of them to get a gram of saffron colour, which is why it’s so expensive. They are fussy little things too, and will die just to annoy their cultivators if they water them slightly wrong.

The stigmas of saffron and the crystals of crocin are red, but it turns a vibrant yellow when used as a dye because of chemistry or magic or whatever. A few thousand years ago the ancient world was using saffron as a wonder drug to cure gastrointestinal diseases, and as a food (and bath water, in Cleopatra’s case) colouring, and as a cloth dye in the happening fashion capital of Tyre, in Lebanon (more to come on Tyrian fashion later).

Saffron is surely set become everyone’s favourite supplement as, apparently, crocin has recently been found to be an anticarcinogenic antioxidant with antidepressant and aphrodisiac properties. Astonishing.

3. Dragon’s Blood, red

Red again; danger, blood, the colour of lips, etc, no-one ever gets bored of red.

“Dragon’s blood?” you say, “Back the hell up, you’ve got some ‘splainin to do.”

Indeed. Both the Romans and the ancient Chinese called this dye Dragon’s blood, as it was brought to them by Arab merchants who claimed that that is what it totally was; the blood of dragons. The cleverest Romans and Chinese LOLed at this silly gimmick, but most people saw the sticky, runny red liquid and decided that Dragon’s Blood it most certainly was. This was an early example of a hype campaign, which have plagued fashion ever since.

It’s actually the sap of a family of trees, named Dracaena (after the sap). Romans used it as a gastrointestinal medicine as well as a dye, just like with Saffron. Oh, those gassy Romans.

2. Carmine, red.

Red again; colour of magma, hot iron, and flaming passion, etc, etc.

After the discovery of America, Spanish merchants came back to Europe with this rather good new red dye that didn’t fade like boring old alizarin and was much more vivid. In fact, it became Mexico’s second most valuable export after silver. They didn’t tell anyone what it was though; it was just these little red balls which released dye.

Turns out it was from a bug, cochineal, and after everyone found out they said “Ew!” but kept on using it since it was just so fashionable.

But then the whole carmine industry was nearly ruined after the invention of synthetic alizarin, which was cheaper and didn’t have any bits of wing and chitin in it. Oddly enough though, the British replaced alizarin with carmine as their redcoat dye, and used it until 1914 when they decided that wearing a bright red coat was just asking to be sniped.

Carmine is back these days though, in sweets, as the only “natural” red colour available. This is your fault as a consumer for saying that chemicals are bad. Now instead of lovely pure processed artificial colours we have to eat the secretions of bugs.

You might say; “well, if lots of people think that having chemicals in food is a bad thing then they must be right.” I’d say, “Yeah, well most people think that water isn’t a chemical, so most people’s chemistry intuition isn’t to be relied upon.”

1. Tyrian Purple, purple

Tyrian purple was a very rare, very expensive and very exclusive dye that the Romans prized above all others. It was also known as Imperial Purple. Sounding pretty fashionable already? It was also non-fading and highly luxurious. Imagine that you’ve got your hands on some and you’ve had a sexy toga made with it. I imagine you’d be feeling rather fashionable. Fasten your new toga with your most stylish brooch and glurk! You’d get stabbed for treason. Only the Emperor and his family may wear Imperial Purple. That’s why it’s called Imperial Purple.

Ever heard the phrase "blue blood," meaning aristocratic or royal? Roman historians talked about purple blood, meaning the same thing. (Our modern phrase "blue blood" comes from Spanish skin colouring, by the way; medieval noble light skinned Spanish families would not mix with darker skinned Arabs, and so they said that they were blue bloods because they could see the light blue veins in their pale wrists. Not very friendly of them, particularly after all the Arabs did for colours in fashion).

Tyrian purple is milked from Snails called spiny-dye murex. And, like saffron, each individual gives a microscopic amount of dye, leading to ridiculously high cost and consequent great attraction for the rich and senseless. Talk about Emperor’s new clothes…