Reviewing the Universe
Commonly people review things like movies, books, games, and so on. But the universe is comprised of many more things than these. Why can't we give star ratings to everything?
I love petrichor (a.k.a the smell you get after rain). To be more specific, I love the word petrichor - it looks somehow eldritch, as though it should have something to do with daemonology or mystic runes. That thought always makes me want to pronounce it 'pet-RYE-core' to emphasise the effect, and I have to catch myself so I don't sound like a person who would wear underpants in the manner more commonly associated with hats.
I dislike moths very much, particularly the enormous kaiju ones I used to regularly get fluttering into my old flat for reasons I could never determine. I found their fat, hairy bodies deeply upsetting, and would shudder when they would rebound from my skylight with a heavy thok. I don't know why I never seemed to get visited by the genteel little type of moths that look like bits of pencil shavings, but to be perfectly clear, I hate that sort too.
People talk a lot about the Mona Lisa and the Pyramids and the like, but I have long suspected the very highest human achievement might be the perfection of the jam doughnut - the classic English kind that has granulated sugar on the outside and is slightly crispy. Much to my dismay, old-school bakeries have been facing extinction in most of today's towns and cities, and their endangerment threatens to take jam doughtnuts out along with them. There are still holdouts if you know where to look (the Curtis bakery chain in Lincolnshire being particularly notable for their efforts to bear the jammy, sugared torch onward). But the very best jam doughtnuts in the entire country are to be found in Hubbard's Bakery in Whitstable. You can thank me later, once your pancreas has stopped panic-releasing insulin in industrial quantities.
A person could be forgiven for thinking they didn't really need a washing machine. What's the big deal, they might ask? Can you not just wash your clothes in the bathtub in the manner of your ancestors? I can only assume the hypothetical question asker has not actually tried this, because I have; I can confirm it is miserable, exhausting work that turns the simple task of acquiring clean clothes into a lengthy and dreaded weekly chore that saps the strength of your back and the hardiness of your spirit. I actually lived without a washing machine for quite a long time circa 2010, and came to understand exactly why my ancestors had seen the need to invent a machine to do it for them.
Not running to catch the green pedestrian light at pelican crossings★★★★★
In my salad days as a young and foolish pedestrian, I would always hasten to catch the tail end of a favourable traffic light cycle with no thought for the detrimental effects on my self-esteem. These days, I refuse to demean myself. There will be another crossing light in the fullness of time. Secretly, it makes me feel mature and wise to deliberately miss the last few seconds of a pedestrian crossing window, and instead pass the time waiting for the next one by watching teenagers and other wretched creatures scurry and flap to get across the road at the expense of their dignity.
The word 'major'★★★☆☆
The word 'major' has many good and noble uses, but my least favourite is when it gets deployed in a marketing sense by book publishers who say things like "Now A Major Motion Picture" or "Now A Major ITV Drama". What makes it a major motion picture, and not a regular one? It's just a shorthand way of telling you it is a very big and important adaptation and you should be very impressed, a bit like when people describe obscure awards as 'prestigious'.
Philosophers might be right that the only thing I can be absolutely sure about is my own existence, but then, what am I meant to do with that position? I suppose I could decide bagpipes simply don't exist, and that would improve my reality quite a lot.
My diaphragm really has only one job - a job at which it has had a lifetime of dedicated practice - and yet it still somehow regularly manages to fumble its responsibilities. I hate that hiccups can happen to me at basically any time through no fault of my own. I must then perform one of the time-honoured rituals to make them go away, but the banishment process always leaves me with a mild anxiety it won't work and then I'll be forced to have hiccups for the next decade (which is a real thing that really does happen occasionally, as I'm sure you'll be delighted to know).
I've never really been able to see the point of fortune cookies. They don't taste particularly great. They never contain messages of any great interest. They always leave crumbs when you crack them. They're not even really Chinese. I think of them as being functionally a little bit like Christmas crackers, except worse, because nobody ever gets a silly hat.
Or elevator music, if you happen to live west of the Atlantic. I actually don't mind the gentle, liminal muzak you archetypally find in lifts. I have a high tolerance for musical cheese. No, my main complaint with lift music is that, as a concept, it doesn't do what it says on the tin: I don't believe I have ever in my life encountered a lift that plays music. Have you? Is this still a thing anywhere on Earth? Secretly I imagine that stumbling upon lift music in the wild would tickle me. It would be a charming anachronism, like arriving at your hotel room to find it contains a rotary phone.
There's something sexy about the minimalist lifestyle. You can live in one of those homes that looks like it belongs in a catalogue, and you get to be quietly judgmental whenever you're talking to somebody who owns more than one pair of shoes. Minimalism is something I aspire to, but I am tragically unable to stop buying toy dinosaurs.
Sometimes it's quite nice to not have to cook of an evening because you or somebody you know did that already, and all you have to do is extract the remaining food from the refrigerator and subject it to microwave radiation until it resembles dinner once again. This is fine and great: I like this. The flipside of leftovers, though, is that sometimes you don't remember how long they've been in there, and then it's a little bit like a game of Russian Roulette, wherein you are only probably going to have a plate of moussaka that doesn't send you to hospital.
I wouldn't know where to start with designing an object to be just a random thing for leaving in the road, but the standard-issue traffic cone is a mighty fine way to meet the shit out of that brief. It's distinctive, stackable, iconic to the degree that you can literally use it as an icon, and best of all, you can pop it on the Duke of Wellington's head even though the council already asked you to stop doing that.
The cushion is one of those everyday objects so basic and ubiquitous I generally forget somebody had to invent it, and that it is not a naturally occurring part of the universe. I can only assume that when the cushion technology horizon was first breached there was an immediate +1 boost to our wellbeing as a species. Honestly, I'd put it right up there with fire, the wheel, and bluetooth headphones.
I hate Ashford. I mean... I suppose there's nothing wrong with it particularly. Nothing at all, apart from being a dirty great concrete nightmare of a town with seemingly no reason to exist other than that somebody thought there should be something in that part of the map. It's an excuse for a big soulless train station and a big soulless shopping outlet and a bunch of little soulless surrounding towns that all look like absolutely nothing, and it knows it.
I enjoy barbecued food a lot. It's usually burnt to buggery, and that's what I like about it. Burnt meat is fantastic if you happen to be eating it outside with too much ketchup. If you served sausages like that at your dinner table under normal dining circumstances, your guests would politely but pointedly not say anything and poke at them as though they had found them in a forensics lab.
Brussels is a very pleasant city indeed, with friendly locals and agreeable architecture. There are numerous street vendors from whom you can get honking great waffles drenched in syrup or chocolate sauce, which would be an absolutely perfect state of affairs if not for the fact that said waffles are also much beloved by local wasps.
Those who know me know how much I like tea, and the extent to which it has been a constant throughout my years - a life-giving day-to-day necessity, like oxygen or the sun. I realise now I have been neglecting to credit the unsung hero of the tea-drinking ritual: the mug. Without mugs, I would be forced to drink tea out of my cupped hands or to lap it out of a saucer like a cat. Better yet, mugs can be adorned with cartoons, slogans, and other mystic sigils that nourish the soul.
I devoted a lot of time in my otherwise misspent youth to listening to trance music. I owned a lot of CDs that were called things like "Ibiza Euphoria Vol. 2" and "Trance Emotion: Uplifting Summer Sessions" and whatnot, wherein all the songs were called things like "Got To Break Free (From This Love) (DJ Cornish Pasty 7.am. Bazinga Mix) (Radio Edit)" and were all crossfaded with each other since all trance songs are basically exactly the same. To this day, I still listen to trance occasionally, but furtively, as though I were looking at pornography.
Rain can be a total pain in the arse: no argument. There are few things worse than getting absolutely firehose wrecked on your way to work in the morning, or when you are carrying something made out of paper. (I'm exaggerating: there are many, many things worse than being rained on). That being said, there are undeniably some moments when there is something sort of energising and affirming about a good old fashioned Biblical deluge - the sort of rain that empties the streets of people and lets you know your outdoor plans are now irrelevant, because the sky is going to pulverise the land until the river bursts its banks and the whole town is knee-deep in water and the ducks are all floating around in Greggs.
is thing true ? if so : if not
This little doohicky is the only JS operator that takes three operands, and it's useful as heck - a compact little one-line way to check if something is truthy and return different things based on yes-ness or no-ness. I've been using it more and more lately (often in places where, to be excruciatingly honest, I didn't really need to). It packs a lot of utility into quite a small space, a bit like Danny DeVito or Singapore.
The Spanish Armada★☆☆☆☆
The Spanish Armada was rubbish. They were supposed to sail up to Belgium, meet with some other people and then head back to overpower Queen Elizabeth I, but to do that they had to sail right past England, whereupon they all got busted immediately and dealt with in short order by the English navy. It was all over before it had really begun. But then the English launched a counter-armada to go to Spain and start shit over there the following year, which was also a howling disaster. The sixteenth century really just involved a lot of people with armadas finding out that having an armada was all well and good but didn't necessarily achieve a whole lot if your opponent had got one as well.