The World According To Fred is my blog, although no, my name is not Fred - but don't worry, that's a common misconception... My posts are a compilation of all the things that pass through my mind - a running commentary of my view of the world. Please feel free to comment and please say if there are any subjects you would like Fred to take a view on - I really do want to know!!!! In the meanwhile enjoy:
The World According To Fred

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Nightmare Months Before Christmas

Bah Humbug. I blame genetics for the fact that I am a giant green Grinch, but Christmas does not help itself. Or rather, every store across the country does not help Christmas.

I am a November child, and don’t appreciate my birthday being overshadowed by loud loathsome music, glaring garish lights and overly cheerful adverts. But this is not where it starts. Christmas now begins months before the occasion, to the point where I am bored of the 25th December at the beginning of September. It starts with the little baubles in the corners on the TV, or snow throughout an advertisement and then BAM full blown annoying kids in stupid costumes singing irritating songs about how their mother can miraculously buy every single thing in a catalogue whether relevant or not – yes Littlewoods, I’m talking to you. These children do not induce sympathy or make me want to buy from this store, but run. Run as far as possible as I can away from this store, for fear that if I do go there the children will follow me and torture me until my ears bleed from pain. Every single advert on TV is about Christmas. Stores bragging about the ridiculous amount of money you can spend on items that will end up in the trash after Boxing Day. I’m sorry but the only commercial allowed to signal the beginning of Christmas is the Coca Cola advert, which in being so honoured retains its glory until due time. But the misery does not end there, oh no.  It’s every channel displaying their Christmas specials: or basically, exactly the same shows just with all the characters wearing Christmas hats. Except in Friends, where Ross stars as the Holiday Armadillo instead. Another thing - I don’t get why The Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music are heralded as the great Christmas movies – what exactly do they have to do with the season at all? Nothing says happy Christmas like a collection of Nazis and people dressed in green. As of now, the only films that are acceptable at this time of year are The Nightmare Before Christmas, A Muppets’ Christmas Carol and Love Actually. End of story. Except of course you can watch “Christmas 24” – one channel dedicated entirely to Christmas movies and other unnecessarily chirpy trash. It’s enough to make me want to grab a stocking and stick it over my head until the holiday is over.

Yet the travesty extends further than the simple four walls of a TV screen. Each year Christmas grows, but only in the necessity for the need to buy presents. It's a poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every December the 25th, but I seem to be the only one who knows. Everyone spends an absurd amount of money on gifts that either have had no thought put into them or are absurdly hideous. I’m not going to be a hypocrite – I get as excited about opening presents as the next person (providing the next person is a six year old child), and most of the time my presents are perfect. But when the number of Impulse, So…? and Charlie fragrances I have outstrips the number of weeks in a year, I begin to think that the season of giving has gotten out of control. And let it be said for the final time – the horrendous Christmas jumpers are not wanted, welcome or winning. I try and restrict the number of people who I give presents to, but every year it seems to spiral out of control, costing me more than I ever wanted to spend on people who I probably won’t know in a few years except on Facebook. Logical.

And then comes the music. The endless drones of pointless sentiments that clearly haven’t been thought through – nobody wishes it would be Christmas every day, unless we couldn’t remember the day before, otherwise we’d either be bankrupt faster than St. Nick can travel or opening the same presents for the next millennium yet never having time to enjoy them. Then there’s the whole dilemma as to whether people age if there is only one day each year – see? This whole can of worms that was clearly not considered when the song was written. And don’t even get me started on Jingle Bells. The only song I can stand is Fairytale of New York for the epic moment after an assembly in primary school when the song started playing and my Headteacher informed me that this was her favourite song and started to sing along, at the exact moment where Kirsty McColl sings “You scumbag, you maggot, You cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it's our last” – well, some moments stick with you forever.

Nevertheless, my favourite part of Christmas is the flowing amounts of food. A magnificent opportunity to eat till you’re sick, put on a ton of weight and then break that easily formed new year’s resolution to lose the mass when you find the leftovers of your stocking. A true yuletide miracle!

Still I think it’s safe to say that there are many pre-Christmas Spirit Scrooges that would love for the Noel celebrations to be toned down a bit, so we’re no longer affronted by tinsel everywhere we look. This year, the anti-Christmas begins. Game on. 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Just Can't Dance

Just Dance. The promise that with a small white remote in your hand and a miniature neon person on the screen in front of you, you can become an elite dancer. Yes, this sounds legit. Add to this already threatening mix a video camera, competitors who have already learnt the moves and the inability to realise which player you are and you have a dangerous recipe for humiliation. Namely mine.

The delicacies that are involved in the game are so much more complicated than those suggested by the name “Just Dance”. You do not “Just Dance”. You make wild movements that are not even remotely close to human moves and invariably end up punching someone in the face. Twice. I would even go as far as to suggest that all these games have been sold under false advertising. In no universe created does anyone step up to the Wii for the first time and perform perfectly these extra-terrestrial moves like the dancers on the TV adverts. Nor are we smiling. Unless we are mocking someone else’s failed attempts. To summarise, I am never smiling, but those who are watching me are. And of course, my friends’ inability to refrain from putting videos of my dancing onto Facebook means everyone can share in my degradation. Oh the joys of camera phones. And yet it doesn’t end there! If you have an Android or iPhone, you can install the "Autodance” app, film your friends doing ordinary actions and remix them to Duck Sauce’s Barbara Streisand, until they look like a high speed chicken on drugs, to be shared once again with Facebook but also YouTube. It is a rather false hope that this game will enable us to learn new dance moves which we can crack out at the next shindig to impress stacks of people with our newly discovered talents. No – do not be enticed by this gross exaggeration! This game does not create talent nor fun but pain, ridicule and a vague resemblance to a duck in the presence of a drunken fox, who – being drunk – tries to pet the duck before eating it and said duck - being unsure whether to run or stay still - as a consequential compromise tries to do both. When you can picture this happening, you know what most people look like partaking in “Just Dance”. Such blatant lies. I have been told that if I stopped singing and concentrated on the moves I would do better – but if anyone can listen to Outcast’s Hey Ya and not sing along, they are clearly not human.

Then again, it is better than some of the games out there. Though many say that computer games will improve communication skills and reaction times, I say that this is a simple disguise behind which hide unnecessarily enhanced violence and mild resemblance to the speech and social capabilities of and unevolved caveman. My English class is not filled with intelligent and deep conversations about the moral messages of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird - it is filled with the crude comparison of how many kills they got last night: “Yeah I got this guy last night and now I’m on level 48, is well cool”. Yes, your grasp of the English language definitely grants you a spot in the top set. What gets me is that they get home from spending a whole day in the company of these people and then think that it’s a great idea to spend eight hours online with these same people. Do you hate your own company? Do you loathe yourself so much that the idea of just an hour alone is terrifying? This isn’t about having a social life, this is about having such a low self-esteem that it becomes a real life version of Don’t Let Me Get Me. And yet such a high price is put on these drainers of life! I guess I understand when the game costs £40 but spans 3 discs, like murder mystery game La Noire; but when you pay the same price for three hours of merciless killing it becomes senseless. “The most realistic war games to date” – yes because when you are killed you can always just restart at your last checkpoint. Seems like every guy – and a lot of girls – have one or even many of these games, encouraging bad language and the inability to compromise and discuss as opposed to shooting. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s ridiculous that grown men should be being beaten online by ten year olds; news flash - you pre-pubescents aren’t allowed near these discs for another eight years. When you stop sounding like your sister you can try again.