Subtitle Failure

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I enjoy the stationary bikes in the gym. They’ve got a little telly built in, and I normally watch subtitled BBC news for half an hour or so whilst pretending to pedal hard. I don’t know the science of how the subtitles work: I have no idea if it’s automatic, or there’s a little man frantically typing, or what, but there are some epic fails. Here’s some that’s just happened. You shouldn’t laugh, really, as some of the topics are so serious, but the macabreness of it is what makes it funny in a way (Oh non-existant God, forgive me!)

We were told how a mother is coping with her “thick little boy” who is sick in hospital with “rain cancer”…

On a beheading of a journalist by a grisly terrrorist group, we were told that the scene was “offal — — offal — — terrible“.

“The clear message that President Obama Dave Rahm Moscow was … Dystonia is a member of NATO…” So back off our dear friend Dystonia, Mr. Putin! (or our Prez, Mr. Rahm, will get you!)…

A company was referred to “as the biggest employer in the area with around 1000 Mormons in the pipeline — — more in the pipeline”

And that was just the  really stupid ones in the last half hour! P.S. Google “bbc news subtitle fail” for t3h lolz. Also see here!

 

featured image from http://resources0.news.com.au/images/2014/02/03/1226816/430688-813609d4-8c58-11e3-836d-02ea2adb9f0a.jpg

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry

FILM REVIEW: The Secret

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FILM REVIEW: The Secret

2/5 Bryan A. J. Parry

I don’t normally review films that aren’t new. But I just saw a film that was so outstanding, so unbelievable, and which moved me so profoundly, I just had to share it with you. I had to share… The Secret.

To coin a word, awfulsome: awesome in its awfulness.

Wow. Just… wow. Incredibly bad. I mean, what the heck!? I watched this at the behest of a colleague, and, sorry — WTF????? The fact that I’ve been reduced to the untermensch language of initialisms should show that no human words can express what this “film” is. A bestial scream of agony would probably articulate it well.

Firstly, how on earth did they manage to stretch literally one sentence into an entire ninety minute production???? “Whatever you think about will happen”. I kept expecting them to follow this sentence up with something, anything, but by the fifth minute I had already given up hope. Unreal how little substance there was. A 90 minute exercise in paraphrase. But people vehemently swear by The Secret, claiming it really works. Perhaps they believe this garbage because they’ve been brainwashed by hearing the same phrase, paraphrased, around six thousand times. Simple psychology; repeat the same thing over and over (and over) again, and you tend to start to believe it.

Secondly, how has this become a “phenomenon”? It’s very badly made, and totally ridiculous. I mean, where do I begin?

  • Laughable special effect “whoosh” flourishes every five seconds. Twinkly sounds, soft lighting that looks like it was added on Windows Movie Maker.
  • Talking heads/Experts who all look beyond insane: wild stare-y eyes, incredible haircuts, ridiculous teeth, and so on. It’s like the guests are meant to be a spoof. I’m surprised they didn’t just get Armando Ianucci, Peter Serafinowicz, and that guy from Garth Merenghi to play the parts instead.
  • And who are these guests? I mean, Google some of them and you’ll see what I mean. What. The. Eff!??! Crooks and fringe lunatics.
  • And what is with those titles: “metaphysician”, “visionary”!?!?!

WTF!!?! Sorry I keep saying that, but — WTF!?

The writers are surely having us on and rolling around in laughter behind the scenes, rubbing their diamond-encrusted ring-wearing hands, and spluttering “schmucks!”.

Some additional lowlights:

  • If you visualise cheques in the mail, you will literally receive cheques in the mail. No need to set up a business or get off your arse at all! But just so you don’t get carried away, the film-makers sagely advise us that we may still get the occasional bill apart from the cheques.
  • Medicine is useless. But chanting “cancer, cancer, go away” will surely destroy all metastasized growths.

I mean, sorry, The Secret was so cheap, so badly made, so idiotic, so ridiculous in every respect, the only thing this “film” deserves is the following sentence from me: whatever you do, please do NOT use “the secret” to attract free copies of “The Secret” to you…. (‘cos then they wouldn’t make money out of you) Deary me.

One fellow reviewer (on Netflix) said the following, and I think it’s hard to argue with him:

Sadly I wasted an entire 4 minutes of my life watching this utter tripe, before my own senses started to shut themselves down. Licking wasps or poking a massive bear in the face would result in less pain than having to sit through anymore of this new age, mumbo jumbo, hippy hokum. To Netflix: Can we introduce a rating system which allows us to score garbage content lower than 1 star? We could use this waste of hard drive space as a bench mark. For example, a terrible film would awarded 3 “The Secret” Turd Piles??

So why not one star, why two? Because it was so genuinely insane in every respect that it was actually marginally entertaining. And, despite the triteness of it, there is a nice core message: positivity of mind breeds further positivity. But it’s still turd.

 

featured image from http://www.bevanjameseyles.com/storage/post-images/thesecret.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1408047178455

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry

Rationalisation Measures

plainenglishNOTpngThe company that runs my workplace is changing. The new company recently sent a document through to all staff. This is such delightful gibberish that I just had to share it.

Restructure
CENSORED* will be a clustered model which may result in the requirement for less staff to undertake certain jobs where rationalisation can be achieved by combining roles and responsibilities or due to the terms of the contract resulting in the requirement for less staff in certain areas.

Wow. I mean… wow. Words fail me. There’s so much wrong with this sentence — and yes, check it out again, that is one sentence! Some lowlights:

  • 46 + word long sentence
  • “…clustered model…”
  • “…where rationalisation can be achieved…”

And the document just goes on and on.

But to be fair to my (new) company, this type of language is standard. But standard or not, it just isn’t on. There was a genius quote in the Evening Standard** by Lucy Tobin recently. She’s slagging off email etiquette, particularly that of employers(!) I want to share one of the zingers she comes out with:

This is what happens when managers who learned “how to deal with people” in a two-day module at business school are released into the community.

!!! Brilliant! And I’m keeping a clipping of this article for future students (and bosses!): yes, I’m an English teacher.

So, back to where I began. Instead of the, frankly, offensive drivel that my new employers splurged into my inbox, how about this?

Restructure
We will group CENSORED*. We may lay some people off in some areas, if we can, because it is cheaper to get two people to do three people’s jobs.

My version isn’t the pithiest or the best you could come out with. But that’s the point: I just splunked that off, but it is still shorter and makes far more sense. It also doesn’t patronise people with nonsense euphemisms like “rationalisation” and “combining roles and responsibilities”.

So there we have it. In other news, here’s the Plain English Campaign’s website.

This article first appeared in slightly different form on 14th August 2014 on my language blog Wrixlings

Notes:
*Company and work location deleted.
**Tuesday 29 July 2014, p15 Comment.

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry

Scotland’s Referendum: Aftermath

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Phew!

Scotland has decided to remain a part of the United Kingdom, and rather convincingly too: 28 councils ‘no’ vs. 4 councils ‘yes’, 55% ‘no’. Thank <<insert mythical being here>>! But, as the BBC keeps telling us over and over until the words have now lost all meaning, “a vote for ‘no’ is also a vote for change”. So here’s some serious pros and cons as I see it now that Scotland has voted ‘no’ to independence.

PROS

  • The Union has been saved — for now!
  • A record voter turnout of 86% has permanently re-invigorated the democratic process forever until tomorrow when it will be business as usual.
  • I won’t need an EU passport that they won’t check anyway because it’s the EU should I travel to Scotland in my life which I never have done so far even though I am thirty years old because it’s so cold and dreary up there and it’s cheaper to go to and stay in Malta or Spain from London than to Scotland which is ridiculous really but there you go…

CONS

  • The new Union Flag that I invented is no longer needed. I have been deprived of my latest and GREATEST accomplishment.
  • We’ll probably end up having this whole referendum again within the next 15 years (think Quebec 1980 and 1995).
  • Spain will carry on pretending to be democratic whilst actually overriding the will of the people at all times, and feel justified in doing so. To the point, Spain will now have greater cause to deny the Catalan people an independence referendum of their own. The cause of national democrats, like myself, has been dealt a blow.
  • The UK is stuck with Alex Salmond forever, it would seem.
  • We’ll probably end up re-awakening the Northern Irish question, possibily ending in a vote to see if Northern Ireland should stay as part of the UK or become a part of the Republic of Ireland (perhaps in some kind of concessionary Hong Kong-China style relationship). THEREBY resparking violence in Ireland.
  • English nationalism and resentment will likely bubble up again, due to the bending-over-backwards to appease the Scots, with more demands for more powers for England… probably resulting in England leaving the United Kingdom, or else England itself breaking up as every city and town decides it wants more and more powers.
  • The UK will likely now not leave the EU or get a better settlement for the UK (due to the influence of Labour and Scotland).

…wait. Why was I pro-union, again? Oh, shit!! Can we do this vote again please, and this time really irk the Scots so they vote ‘yes’…

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry

Scotland’s Referendum

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Proposed Union Jack if Scotland votes ‘no’ to independence

I usually now post blog updates to The Doggerelizer every Monday, four times a month. However, I have to break with that today and write an emergency blog entry.

Tomorrow is the most important vote in this country for a very long time indeed, the result of which will be felt forever — no joke. Tomorrow, Scotland goes to the polls to answer this simple question: Should Scotland be an independent country? If a simple majority votes ‘yes’ (that is, 50.01%), then Scottish independence is guaranteed.

I am on the verge of tears (seriously). I am a patriotic Englishman. But I’m also a patriotic Briton. And the idea of the country I love so much, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, — the country that defeated Hitler, that invented capitalism, that invented almost all sports worth playing, the country of the Beatles, and so very much more besides — breaking up absolutely breaks my heart. I am a unionist through and through. Why? It doesn’t really matter, I just am; why do you like salsa music, the colour red, or football? You just do. The union with Scotland resonates deep in my soul.

But I’m also 100% behind this referendum. I am fundamentally committed to national democracy (see my campaign to force the British government to recognise Somaliland, a campaign which would, ironically, more likely find favour within an independent Scotland). Therefore, any nation which demands independence must be allowed and helped to achieve this, thereby becoming part of the brotherhood of nations. Simply put: if Scotland vote ‘yes’, my heart will be broken, but I will accept it gladly as a national democrat.

I won’t rehash the arguments for us being better together. There are many, and I think both Scotland and the remainder of the UK will indeed be better together. But of course neither will sink into oblivion if Scotland secedes from the Union. Life will go on. But both nations, I feel, will be diminished — albeit, the leftover stump of the UK rather more profoundly.

I won’t go through the arguments, as it will be longsome and you’ve probably already made up your minds. Simply put, though: together, Scotland and England (and, yeah alright, Wales and Northern Ireland, too) have achieved some of the greatest feats mankind has ever seen. The lists of great thinkers, artists, and deeds of these two nations, united in one and joined at the hip as the UK, is almost endless. Scotland is a great nation and has always punched well above its weight. Just look at their amazing thinkers, like Adam Smith, their incredible sportsmen, like Andy Murray, and their wonderful writers, from Burns to Iain Banks. Scotland has nothing to fear from independence. But Scotland and the rest of the UK are so much better, have achieved so much more, and can continue to achieve so much more — together.

I didn’t worry about the referendum’s outcome until the ‘yes’ vote snuck ahead in the polls. Then I felt physically sick. Blasé nonchalance turned into gut-turning nausea and fear.

Please, Scotland, vote to stay with us. This is a beautiful ‘marriage of two mindes’ that should not end and to which we should ‘not admit impediments’. We haven’t even fallen out! It’s like a long-term couple, perfectly at ease and comfortable with each other — but perhaps slightly bored of the sex — who decide to have an open relationship. Except that if that doesn’t work out, the hubbie and wife can just agree to not do it again. Yet if Scotland votes to secede, it really is all over for good.

Two more thoughts before I leave for a restless night of unsleep.

1. Why have the 800,000 or so Scots who live in England been denied the right to vote? This vote will change the fate of their nation (be that Scotland or the UK) forever. This is a despicable travesty, and only Alex Salmond is responsible — well, Cameron is too for agreeing it. Neither clearly care about national democracy and the views of the Scottish (as opposed to “Scotlandish”, if you will). I wonder why Salmond set the vote up this way. Nothing to do with English-dwelling Scots being more likely to vote against independence, is it…?

2. Just heard that, in a desperate last bid to save the Union, all three main British parties (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat) have voted to change the British flag if Scotland votes ‘no’, so that the saltire is place in the foreground and not the background…

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[EDIT: Addendum]

Just a thought. You know what else makes Great Britain “Great”? The vote in Scotland has been condoned by Westminster. So if Scotland votes ‘yes’, it will become independent. This country uniquely understands democracy. Contrast this with Spain, where Catalonia is denied such a vote; and if it goes ahead with such a vote, it will be deemed ‘illegal’. See here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29234242

flag image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Jack#mediaviewer/File:BeaumontScottishUnionFlag.png

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry

Bryan Parry: Genius

The United Kingdom's New Flag?

The United Kingdom’s New Flag?

Scotland is going to vote on Thursday 18th of September. The outcome will decide if Scotland stays as part of the United Kingdom or becomes an independent nation. If the people in Scotland vote to leave the UK, that means that the left-over part of the United Kingdom might have to change its flag; the Union Jack gets it’s blue, after all, from the Scottish flag.

I came up with some alternative, Scotlandless UK flag designs. I believe this was 2012, but it may have been before. Either way, I posted my ideas up in July 2013, and then again more recently. Check out my posts here and here.

The Metro newspaper had an article (12th Sept. 2014) with what the Flag Institute believes should be the flag of a Scotlandless UK (below). Look familiar? As you can see, I think that qualifies me as a genius: yes, Bryan A. J. Parry invented the British Flag (kind of). I expect the cheques in the post any day now…

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© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry

Somaliland Petition

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OFFICIAL PETITION TO FORCE THE UNITED KINGDOM GOVERNMENT TO OFFICIALLY RECOGNISE SOMALILAND AS AN INDEPENDENT AND SOVEREIGN NATION

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/61018

Petition closes on 17/02/2015 at 12:31.

DECLARATION

We, the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, assert the right of self-determination for all nations. We believe that any nation has the right to strive for independence and democracy and become a full-fledged member of the brotherhood of nations. And that brings us to the issue at hand.

“Somalia”. What images does this word bring before your mind’s eye? I imagine “pirates” and “poor people” are amongst the first. And this is a great shame, for the Somali people have a rich culture worth so much more than our collective pity or, indeed, fear. And one example is that set by Somaliland. Somaliland, the former British colony which united with the rest of (Italian) Somalia in 1960, but which declared its independence in 1991. After almost twenty-five years of struggle, Somalilanders are busy building a vibrant democracy and free civil society. However, the fragile nature of the region means this project is not secure. And it is jeopardised terribly by the international community which stubbornly refuses to formally recognise Somaliland as an independent nation.

The United Kingdom, as the former colonial power of Somaliland (but note, not of the rest of Somalia), has a particular duty to foster democracy in the region and engender stability for Somaliland.

Therefore, we the British people demand that our Government of this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland formally recognise Somaliland as an independent nation state.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION

  • If you are a British citizen, please sign the petition:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/61018

  • Please pass this petition on to all British citizens you know.

If we get 100,000 people to sign, the British government will be obliged to dignify this campaign with a response.

  • This isn’t just about Somaliland; it is about all nations which are currently denied the right to exist. I’m talking Kurdistan, Palestine, Catalonia, and all the  many other nations of the world too numerous to list here.

You can help to make a difference by forcing our government to confront its responsibilities to truly help build and effect democracy around the world.

ABOUT THE PETITION STARTER

This petition was started by and is the initiative of Bryan A. J. Parry. He is a political activist (amongst other things) and passionately believes in liberal democracy and “good” nationalism, i.e., all nations being able to choose their own fates for themselves (so long as they do not, in so doing, deny other nations of same right). He believes in a worldwide brotherhood of nation states respecting and helping one another to build a brighter, democratic future for all of them, where the will of the people of each nation is heard, recognised, and put into effect.

For more information, please contact the petition starter, Bryan Parry, by using the contact form on the following page: http://doggerelizer.wordpress.com/contact/

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry

FILM PREVIEW: The Office

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I’m a huge Ricky Gervais fan. So I’m always excited when there’s news of an upcoming Gervais project. But the news of Gervais’ latest project has filled me with excitement, and diarrhoea. First, I’ll take you back to 2003:

That’s the end of The Office … [my] sort of legacy … So many people in the past have let me down, I think so many of my favourite comedy sitcoms/writers and actors have gone just one step too far. The quality goes down, you suddenly think, I don’t want to see this again, its repetitive or just poor! They have taken the money and run and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want people to say or think that of me.

Gervais talking there. Therefore, the news that Gervais is making a film of The Office, to be called Life on the Road, seems to be proof that he’s getting desperate and really has jumped the shark (Life’s Too Short, anyone?). This movie actually scares me. Is he going to ruin the perfect legacy of The Office? Has he “taken the money and run”?

Gervais is, all due disrespect to the haters, a genius. Fact. The Office alone proves it. Magnificently written and brilliantly acted, Gervais’ performance as David Brent was flawless: every word, every look, every facial twitch was spot on and every bit the equal of, say, Cleese in Fawlty Towers.

But he’s also lazy. And his recent projects have all been characterised by laziness. Life’s Too Short is a cheap Extras rip off, with Warren Davis doing a pathetic and embarrassing impersonation of David Brent; I can hardly bare to watch it, even alone, eyes closed, drunk. And I love Gervais’ collaborations with Karl Pilkington – The Ricky Gervais Show and An Idiot Abroad – but they are, nonetheless, quite lazy too. The formula: Gervais and Steve Merchant chat and take the piss out of Pilkington. Even Gervais’ stand up, funny as it is, has a certain sloppiness to it: think the “Chris Tarrant” anecdote which was the supposed grand finale to Fame. And let’s not mention his lame attempts at being an interviewer: he was too egotistical to act as foil to his guests. Which brings me on to the next point.

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“…the incredible miscasting of Gervais … as a mentally-handicapped man, single-handedly ruined the show”

The one project since Extras which wasn’t lazy, Derek, was self-indulgent. Set within an old people’s home, that show could’ve gone down as one of the most socially relevant, beautiful, brilliant, and important sitcoms ever. But the incredible miscasting of Gervais in the title role, as a mentally handicapped man, single-handedly ruined the show. Gervais just isn’t a good actor. That’s not a criticism, but trite fact. He’s a brilliant writer, stand up, and comic mind. But he hasn’t got the acting chops to portray such a character. And who cast Gervais in that role? Answer: Gervais. What self-indulgence! And self-indulgence and egotism have often attached themselves to Gervais’ projects. If only Ricky Gervais could have gotten over himself.

Therefore, whilst Gervais really is one of my idols (I rank him up there with Sellars, Cleese, Ben Elton, Ianucci, and Linehan and Matthews), I am worried. He can be lazy, he can be self-indulgent. The Office ended so beautifully, so perfectly, the character arcs were so neatly concluded, that an Office movie seems to be asking to fail. It’s like when Only Fools and Horses carried on after Delboy became a millionaire: the character’s journey was already satisfyingly and naturally finished. Continuing it was a bad idea from the get go: and, yes, post-millionaire Only Fools turned out to be an embarrassing, legacy-ruining, let-down.

So Ricky Gervais really is dicing with artistic danger here. There’s no need to bring back The Office. But he is. So he needs to drop his egotism, stop being lazy, and hopefully, he won’t ruin his own legacy. And touch wood, Steve Merchant, who seems to be a marginally moderating influence on Gervais, will be in tow. The only way to do this film is to make something flawless. “Never go back”, they say, “you’re bound to fail”. It’s a law of the universe. I hope The Office movie is the exception to that proven rule.

Watch this space.

 

References

featured image from http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/06/10/article-0-0064B02900000258-752_468x312.jpg

Derek image from http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02191/derek_2191238b.jpg

Gervais quote from http://www.dvdactive.com/editorial/interviews/ricky-gervais.html?post_id=172921&action=report

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/aug/05/ricky-gervais-david-brent-movie-bbc-the-office

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/aug/08/ricky-gervais-swaps-office-pop-stardom-david-brent-film

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry