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…

Very Top Five People Who Are Almost As Clever As Jesus

Thursday, 8 April 2010
(Sorry for the post-nudiustertian update; I really am a bletcherous slubberdegullion. If I wasn’t so callipygian I’m sure you’d have no time for me.)

If the number of public holidays attributed to a person are any indication of their fame, then Jesus comes out an easy victor; with the chocofeast of Easter a close second to the presentfest of Christmas as everyone’s favourite day of the year. And Jesus is so Christmassy that they even stuck his name on it.

So, if the bible is to be believed, Jesus was a pretty special chap; wandering about curing people of blindness, deafness and even the dreaded dropsy. By the way, he had a pretty manky way of curing blindness; he spat in some dirt, then rubbed it in the blind person’s eyes. Try the same technique at with the next blind person you see (don’t worry, they’re easy to sneak up on) for a memorable and acrimonious reminder that you aren’t as good at curing people as Jesus.

Know any paralysed people? Try telling them to get up and walk. This rough love worked for Jesus, but I reckon if you tried it you’d forever be known as that bastard who mocks cripples.

So by now you are starting to think that Jesus may well have been performing genuine miracles (or the bible made it all up…) but here are another five people who managed the impossible, performing miracles worthy of Jesus. But rather than be all mystically cryptic about it, they revealed how the trick was done. Accordingly, they are thought of merely as very clever, rather than the son of God.

Here we go;


5. Guy Henry Faget cured leprosy

Dr Guy Henry Faget (don’t laugh) is widely credited with discovering the powerful effect of the drug Promin on leprosy in 1943; the first effective cure since Jesus’s secret hand waving technique.

Anway, after Jesus swanned in and effortlessly cured a few lepers, everyone said “Howdedodat?” and wandered around looking puzzled and awed in a suitably biblical manner. Then they decided to have a go at it themselves; cue the usual hall of horrors-type historical progression where almost anything is tried to cure a disease, and where even the most horrendous ‘cures’ are used for hundreds of years despite no evidence that they work.

These included: drinking or bathing in blood, chopping out fallopian tubes or performing vasectomies, washing in the faeces of the climbing fish, scarification, bee stings, and latterly radiotherapy and electro-shock therapy. The bible pitched in by describing a very specific and totally unhelpful recipe involving birds’ blood, ceremonial shaving, sacrificial lambs, and much more: (Leviticus 14:2 onwards, if you want to know. Leviticus, by the way, is the equivalent of an angrily written Facebook message after a heavy night’s drinking. It’s the part with all that bitter stuff about homosexuality, and says dwarves can’t be priests, and I’m sure God regretted it very much in the morning.)

Then Dr Guy Henry Faget (Don’t laugh) came to the rescue of lepers with the first properly effective treatment. He was then generally lauded and admired until his untimely death of heart disease shortly afterwards. Seems God doesn’t like a copy cat. (I am trying really hard not to say something like "and after all, God hates Fagets". Damn, I said it anyway. Sorry.)

When Dr Guy Henry Faget was looking for participants to try his drugs out on, he wrote the following message; “This is the Modern Age, the Age of Light. Let us have the truth. Leprosy is not a dirt disease. Leprosy is not due to any sin committed by those who contract it. It is not a retaliation of God against its victims.”

Messianic, no?

4. Clayton Jacobson II walked on water

You know how at parties some fun loving ass might suggest a game of dares? Well, there is often a particular cadence to the way that these are phrased; the dare-asker will often start their dare with an innocuous sounding action, since these are the first verbs which pop into their head, such as “I dare you to eat…” or “I dare you to say…” or “I dare you to go…” as their alcohol-puckered brain frantically ticks over, trying to fire into life and think of something suitably outrageous to eat, or say, or do; the proclamation of which will delight their fellow party goers who, for the first time this evening, (or possibly ever) are hanging on their every word.

How about, “I dare you to walk… on water !”

Anyone but Jesus and Clayton Jacobson II would blanch in fear at the prospect as everyone rises with a unified cry of “Yes! To the lake!”

Clayton Jacobson would also so be able to go much faster than Jesus, because he invented the Jet Ski. After all, why walk on water when you can ski? You don’t even have to be on the piste (unlike our aforementioned party goers. Zing!)

Maybe you don’t consider using a jet ski to be quite the same thing as walking on water. Clayton is still living today, so clearly God doesn’t consider it a threat to Jesus’ hydrambling either.

3. David Blaine survived crucifixion

David Blaine is a magician who stopped doing tricks and started doing endurance stunts, removing the element of wonder since the answer is always “by force of will.” He was then was surprised when people got bored with his stunts.

Of course, Jesus didn’t actually survive crucifixion; so David Blaine didn’t take the trick far enough. If only he had.

2. Steve Jobs is idolised.

It takes cultural momentum to have a crowd hanging on your every word, and debating all possible interpretations of what they might mean in the fora of their age. This momentum is built up over years, with each new story attracting a few more followers to the admiring flock. Jesus performed miraculous miracles, Steve Jobs released miraculous products.

Steve Jobs is idolised by millions, and we all know what God thinks about false idols. So long as nobody draws any comparisons, he should be ok…

1. Dr Victor Frankenstein resurrected the dead.

This is literally the ultimate trick. Some would say it is impossible, whereas others would point to Jesus and say, “Well, he could manage it.” Then the first lot of people would say “Yeah, well, that’s fine if that’s your belief, but it might be better to interpret it figuratively rather than literally.” And the second lot would say “And what about zombies?” and we would know that they were just taking the piss.

Anyway, apart from Jesus and zombies, Dr Frankenstein was the only man of science to have a successful go at resurrecting a dead body; queue unholy lumbering around and roaring with much consecutive chagrin and embarrassment all round; probably caused by God teaching Dr Frankenstein a valuable lesson in leaving well enough alone.

When Jesus was miraculously resurrected he wasn’t back for long, only a few days, and visited people only briefly, probably so they wouldn’t have a chance to notice the strings.

Of course, Dr Frankenstein was fictional. He didn’t really resurrect anyone. He’s just some dude in a book that spins one tall tale after another. Whereas Jesus, of course… oh…