Tag Archives: life

Gordon Ramsey and a kick up the a@*e

4 Nov

I recently had a brief chat with someone about their ultimate dream to go on Gordon Ramsey’s “Hell’s Kitchen” , which sent me off into my own little world on a tangent…as these things usually do.

The person I was chatting to mentioned how Ramsey has such a bad reputation as a nasty person, and how this actually didn’t matter to them one bit. Sure, he seemed like a nasty person, but there was a method behind it which this guy recognised and appreciated.

Seeing him explode like a nuclear bomb full of the english languages worst offenders on tv can give you the wrong impression, and in this day and age where many people flinch at the slightest sign of conflict* it’s understandable how he’s gotten the reputation he has. Look a little deeper into things though and this attitude makes some sense. Hopefully I can explain it well enough for you to agree or at least understand.

* it seems that these days the perception of ‘conflict’ has turned from “an actual situation whereby someone is giving you unwarranted/undeserved abuse” to “a situation where someone is telling you something about yourself you might not like; cry, cry, for the love of god cry about it…your warped sense of self isn’t going to hold up unless you deny any and all criticism!!1!”.

Okay so; cooking is a discipline. Like taking a career in Law enforcement/ the army, learning a martial art, studying dance/music or engaging in any other activity that requires consistent improvement for you to attain a level of comfort within the discipline.

The first method of teaching or leading someone in any of these arts is to give them enough information for them to realise they need to be their own spur and their own worst enemy if they want to improve. This method takes time and tends to weed out the ones who don’t have the heart.

The second method, as used by Gordon Ramsey and the Army, is to well…push them as hard as possible. This also weeds out the ones who don’t have the heart, but in more spectacular fashion.

Neither method is superior, both are just different. One method might be better depending on circumstances (the discipline in question, the person in question, circumstances, etc…) but both have the same aim: to get the student to realise that they need to do this for themselves.

But of course, as I’ve mentioned before ( https://rhinoprayer.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/youre-not-finished-not-at-18-19-21-30-40/) people have a tendency to think they’ve finished learning/improving once they hit a magic mark. Oh of course they’ll spout ridiculous soliloquoys about how they’ve “got passion, determination, a good attitude, etc…” but a lot of the time it’s quite obvious they’ve put more effort into thinking of those words than actually embodying them.

And here’s where Ramsey’s attitude steps in. When he meets someone who is full of talk but then fails to show any substance behind it, he flips out at them because here’s an adult who’s kidding themselves into thinking they’re a fully functional and well rounded person when the truth is they’re having trouble boiling an egg because they’re too busy pumping themselves up by shouting adjectives and motivational slogans at the same time.

“Fortitude! I’m level-headed! chicken stew! WHOLE NINE YARDS!!”

And I can understand it. Both sides. I can easily understand how someone can fool themselves into thinking everythings alright and that they don’t have to put too much effort into consistent improvement – it’s a tough thing to take a long hard look at yourself when your grown up and think “wow…yeah I’m not all I’m cracked up to be…better do something about it”.

And I can understand Ramsey’s attitude too, because very often the “softly softly catch a monkey” approach doesn’t work with people. Try to persuade them softly and they’ll just take it as an opportunity to sit back into their bubble of self delusional to shout a few more slogans at themself. In some cases, and specifically in Ramsey’s case -where he gets people wanting to learn but refusing to take a long hard look at themselves, break it down and build it it back up- people need a good kick up the arse.

Halloween movies & Assault on precinct 13.

1 Nov

(bit of backround music for ya;)

The television lineup for the halloween weekend, bar Ghostbusters 1&2  being shown, was disapointing. Incredibly disapointing. No scream, no chucky, no nightmare on elm street, no carrie, no nothing. And this wasn’t just the Irish channels I get here either; this was cable. All the major channels from the British isles, and there wasn’t a scrap of halloween fever among them.

Noticing this, it got me thinking about my favourite scary movies.Personally, I’m not actually that big into horror movies. I watched the first ‘Saw’, got a bit of a giddy thrill out of it but then got bored pretty quickly: “oh no! yet ANOTHER dastardly mindfuck-trap? whatever will happen?!”. I was never a huge fan of the Exorcist or anything either, because that shit’s just wrong. Most movies nowadays put a young girl humming/singing chillingly in a hallway and it’s implied(or, depressingly, presumed) that it’s scary; the exorcist went to fucking town on that shit. it was wrong, and damn scary.

Sure, I don’t necessarily love or watch those films all too often, but it adds to the halloween spirit when I find myself skipping over them on the tv schedule a bit quicker than I need to for fear that letting the remote linger on them too long will awaken something dark from the floorboards…

But anyway, thinking about all of this I remembered my favourite scary film. It’s not really a ‘horror’, but damn it’ll get you in the same mood.

Years and years ago in my early teens; back when tamagotchis were the equivalent of iPhones and Zack Morris was the Johnny Depp of the day, I had the house to myself one weekend night. I stayed up late, slipping out back for a sneaky joint every once in a while and had the kind of enjoyable time to myself you can only have when your that age, feeling like it’s your house, your life and your time to do whatever you want with.

Around 1 in the night I stumbled past the Irish language television channel “TG4”, which has the uncanny ability to pick up the best cult films and tv shows around. As of writing this, it is still the only channel out of all of the ones on cable that has picked up the phenomenal “The Wire” from across the Atlantic…that’s how good it is, and it’s targeted at an Irish speaking population of about two hundred thousand (at most…that’s a high guess).

Anyway, knowing it had this ability -seeing as it had introduced me to the classic “The Warriors” only a few weeks beforehand, I stuck around for a few minutes to see what film it was lining up. Little did I know, it was about to introduce me to one of my all time favourites.

Everything in it, from the cinematography to the drawn out atmosphere of the setting to the broken down city in the backround almost acting as a supporting actor did something to scare the bejeesus out of me. I have yet to find, watch or even hear of a film that creates such a tense atmosphere without resorting to cheap orchestra music or shock value. It’s an incredible movie.

One of the single things that shook me about it though was the feeling or atmosphere that it evoked in the first half hour. In that time the film shows dusk in a city and a sad sense of apathy, isolation and hopelessness that just struck a spark with me. When watching it I could smell that feeling in the air as I have done many times when walking around the city, that dusk time emptying of the streets…it’s quite a feeling. If you’ve felt it you know, if not well..you might be best off haha, it’s some ‘dark night of the soul’ stuff.

I’m not gonna tell you much about it actually. Don’t try to find out about it, just find it and watch it. In this day and age it’s almost required that you look up everything about a film before you watch it because you don’t want to waste your time but believe me, this is worth knowing nothing about. Besides, all you need to know is up on that classic poster (they don’t make ’em like they used to).

Oh: and do not watch the remake. Don’t. Just, …just don’t. It’s horrible.

Inspirational quotes and Kerouac…damn you kerouac…

21 Oct

I don’t like inspirational quotes. I just don’t. As much as they’re a great point to jump off from in a search for personal excellence and improvement; they’re more often used as an end- a point to say “gee shucks I’ve read it so I know it”- and this disappoints me greatly…

“Oh!: ‘ be the change you want to see in the world’? OMG THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE YOU’RE RIGHT!!1!!! lmao roflcopter hurhurhurhur…”

As simple as it sounds, “being the change you want to see in the world” is anything but. First you have to think about and realise what that change is, then begin the long hard journey of embodying it. You want the world to be a more kind, caring and openhearted place? cool; don’t be a dick next time someone takes their time in front of you at the cash register. No, this doesn’t mean “be quiet about your dickness”, it means take a long hard look at the situation and ask yourself why you’re getting so worked up over someone else taking their time, then be cool about it all. BE COOL.

You want the world to be a fairer, more well rounded place? cool, a noble idea…here’s how you can put that into action; don’t be a self-centred/-pitying/-justifying whingebag  next time someone starts grinding on that love interest you’ve been quiet about all those years. It’s just the way things are; you had your chance and didn’t take it because you were so busy watching dawsons creek re-runs in an effort to find the perfect words to say, so step back and let someone else get on with their lives.

It takes effort. A hell of a lot of effort. It is worth it though, when all the effort turns into something you can be proud of, but let’s be honest here; it’s a hell of a lot easier to just copy and paste a quote then think absolutely nothing else of it. That’s the way things are.

I don’t doubt there are a lot of people out there who put sufficient thought into inspirational quotes and actively work on incorporating their meanings into their lives, but the reason above is why I’m very careful about going anywhere near them. I could plaster this page with quotes all over the place and get a fair few more hits every day, but that’d be letting us all off the hook.

So anyway; Kerouac, you sonofa bitch.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centrelight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'”

….*sigh* here we go…

I’m gonna presume that you read the book and put this quote into context, knowing full well that the book is ultimately about disillusionment with that whole beat generation movement and that by the end of the book Kerouac is well enough pissed off with everything he thought he wanted/ saw in the movement that he pretty much does a 180 on the quote above.

Unfortunately, that’s all implied. There’s no counter quote which runs something like “I’m sick of going to parties and ending up talking to that flighty broad in the corner all night just so I can get laid thinking it’s a life changing event. It’s not. It’s two sad, sweaty, lifeless bodies rustling against each other while already mentally compiling the amazing story about it they’re gonna tell their friends the next day in an effort to seem “mad to live; now, then, here, everywhere”. It’s listening to some girl drone on about her friends and what they did while she repeatedly lights cigarettes from the wrong end and cries ‘this never normally happens to me!! wow this conversation must be sooooooo deep’. It’s not thinking she’s the absolutel right woman for me because she’s ‘kooky’, or ‘unusual’ in the way she doesn’t care for things other people do, it’s just ignoring the fact that she’s incredibly boring and empty because I simply want to get laid…no… no the only ones for me are the sane ones; they’re a lot freakier in bed cos they’re not trying so hard to be wild…”

Hipsters, by the way. Kerouac’s quote applies to hipsters. Yes. Unfortunately, where at least the beat generation had Ginsberg and jazz, the modern equivalent has nothing more challenging than Alexa Chung’s musings on fashion and dubstep…

But, for me, that doesn’t go far enough. Hipsters don’t go far enough. Why simply go to a few parties a week? why not make everyday a party? That’s the real way to be “mad to live”. Start your day off with a fine wine. Knock back a few shorts before leaving the house. Why limit yourself to being “mad to talk” when your only with your friends, and only talking about things you already know? Talk to a stranger; tell them about the universe and how mindbogglingly big it is. Yell out something in the street, don’t hold back in public; you gotta be mad.

Better yet; do something Wild and far-out! make a sign; something that implies a deep and meaningful thought while being vague enough to leave the reader thinking. Stand on the street somewhere, hold that sign up high! be proud! You’re mad to live and mad to talk! You blaze a trail across all lives you come in contact with, people coo “awwww” when they see you proudly go where no man, woman, child or animal has gone before!

NOooooo no nononononono….Hipsters -and anyone who lives by this quote thinking it describes them- don’t take it far enough. What; you go out to some fashionable club twice a week and all of a sudden you’re “mad to live, mad to talk” ?! fuck no, you’re nothing of the sort. You gotta take that to the limit…

I hope by now you’ve realised the ridiculousness of all of this. Take those things to the extreme and you’ll be a homeless drunk with a nasty drug habit who routinely yells at people in the street while holding a sign that read “LEMONS!! life! Art! SHOES!!1!”…

Nope, the only ones for me are the ones that know what they’re doing. The ones who say commonplace things in the knowledge how uncommon things can be. The ones who are mad to live by all definitions and not just the “wild, far-out, weird thinking party animal” kind. The ones who burn long, soft but just as brightly as a firework. Fireworks are gone quickly and leave barely a memory behind. No; the only ones for me are the ones who are not mad to talk but mad to listen…there’s a lot more to be learned from listening.

Israeli/Palestinian prisoner swap

13 Oct

Okay soooo….yeah this is a touchy subject. Gotta be careful…

In writing this, I’m not trying to take the perspective of one side or the other; I’m simply trying to highlight something. Make of it what you will. Regardless of your views, I want you to genuinely ask yourself what you think of the question I’m gonna bring up. I don’t want you to immediately fall back on ‘your sides’ arguments or justifications…I just want you to engage with the question and hopefully challenge your view on the situation. Nothing more, nothing less.

I do have an opinion on it all though, don’t get me wrong. Even though this question I’m gonna raise might make it seem like I’m favouring one side, It’s not. It’s just a question. You could change the parametres of the question a million ways to encompass a million different political viewpoints…but it would still end up being the same question.

Besides, when you take a far enough step back away from it all, it’s a bit like watching two drunks fighting over their shared loss of dignity. Both contributed to the circumstances, both agree it’s happened, but neither is willing to be the big man.

So anyway, in the news recently is the story of Gilad Shilat, an Israeli soldier who will be released after years in captivity. In exchange for his release, one thousand and twenty seven Palestinians will be released in your classic prisoner swap.

And there’s the question; hidden among the jubilation on both sides that their respective peoples are being returned home. I’m not gonna write anything about the conflict, the barrier, the two countries tearing each other apart from inside out…there’s no need for all that when a question this simple presents itself.

1 person in exchange for 1,027 people. 1 Israeli for 1,027 Palestinians.

Figured the question out yet? I don’t blame you…it hasn’t cropped up at all in the news coverage and let’s be honest here: it’s not something that would immediately spring to mind but…

When is 1 persons life worth that of 1,027 others? And, more importantly, why is that 1 persons life worth that of 1,027 others?

Both sides are happy with the agreement, so it seems that the Palestinians are alright with being deemed worthless enough that over one thousand of their people are the equivalent of 1 Israeli, but still…it’s a horrible question.

As I said above,; this question has nothing to do with politics, it’s about humanity. If you comment, please leave all politics at the door. We could change the parametres to “Catholics vs Protestants” in the North of Ireland, “blacks vs Whites” in 1950’s America, or even “Terrorists vs Patriots” somewhere else in the world but it still boils down the same simple question:

When is one life worth a thousand others, and why?

 

*Off topic* Economics: an incredibly simple way to change the world…

4 Oct

A few things in the news recently have gotten me thinking about economics and a book I read a few years ago which gave me a pretty decent idea of the state of the world (‘The shock doctrine’ by Naomi Klein, read it. read it now.). The events in question are the Wall street protest, and present republican muffin/possible future american fucknut Rick Perry.

I read an article in which he reasserted his opposition to regulation of greenhouse gases and pollution in general. Whatever you believe about global warming*, you can’t argue that having factories belching out smoke and chemicals into surrounding areas is a good thing. It’s not. Whatever you think about the grand scale of things, on a small scale it’s bad for us. Simple as.

*(I hope I can make this brief, it’s a big subject: Global warming is real. The majority of scientists who believe in it are well respected, qualified professionals who measure data and present their work to be peer reviewed so that any mistakes can be picked up by other well respected and qualified professionals. Those who deny climate change, usually keep their research to themselves or else have it laughed out of the community if they release it to proper scientists for review -usually because they’ve carried out that research for a dummy corporation/foundation set up by an energy industry company…yes that does happen. More than you think. A lot more. In fact, next time you hear/read about a climate change denying piece of research, do a quick search to see what company/institute it was done in the name of. After that, do a quick search to see who’s behind that institution.

Food for thought; the term “Global Warming” was phased out in the mid-90’s in favour of the more friendly and ambiguous “climate change” because, after all, who hates change? change is progress isn’t it? change isn’t bad- it’s damn good!! Lobby groups for the Energy industry used this confusion to soften the debate, and appreciated the long term decline in interest it helped contribute to…Oh, and one more thing; There is no debate about climate change. There are scientists who do their job properly, and then there are others who say what they’re paid to say. Simple as.)

So anyway; Rick Perry is hugely opposed to regulation, because it would harm the business interests of the companies involved and therefore do damage to the economy of his home state. Fair enough, he’s looking out for his own I suppose. The thing is though, that’s the exact same reasoning as that of a CEO.

The CEO of a company has a legal duty to look out for their shareholders’ interests. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, does it? If an investor puts a chunk of money into a company, they should expect a reasonable return, right? In the beginning of the 20th century this logic was well accepted and needed because big business was only starting out. People needed to have “investor confidence” (which had a totally different meaning back then), so this logic was inshrined in law. It’s a CEO’s/board of director’s legal obligation to look out for the interests of the shareholders.

But; and here’s the rub ladies and gentlemen, the almighty rub that has our mighty planet -socially, economically and politically- slowly crumbling under the weight of its own people collectively mumbling “Hey I’m just looking out for #1, fuck you I’ll do what I want!”…

That obligation is defined in simple money. You want to look out for your investors*? Make them money!!

*Investors nowadays are a far cry from the 19th century pioneer family plowing all of their mattress money into a travelling snake oil salesman. Sure, that used to be the majority of investors: small families hoping to improve their lot by investing in business but nowadays, it’s just a bunch of bankers.

And here’s where we tie back into good ol’ boy Rick: take those energy companies operating out of his constituency. They don’t have regulations because he’s so supportive of them, so to cut costs and make money-money make money-money, they dump a little waste into a sinkhole somewhere.That waste makes its way to an underwater aquafer somewhere else and contaminates a local river. Hey, doesn’t matter; those shareholders want money, not a damn conscience! Will a conscience pay for copious amounts of Viagra and Champagne?! Fuck no!

Let’s move into the world of business: A good old american car company wants to cut costs, so that the shareholders can see a return on their investment, see their stocks rise in value a little and maybe even cut them a nice profit. How can that be done? Well I’m glad you asked because it can be done easy-peasy: Move the damn factories to China! Their labour costs are a fifth of what they are in America, so the company’s stock will skyrocket! Happy days!

Then the company naturally hires The Fonz to deal with the redundancies, because nobody can get mad at the Fonz!
“eeeeeey; your security clearance has been revoked, go live under a bridge or sumtin alright”

One of the main reasons the world economy has been shitting itself like that old man who sits at your local bar every night, is this legal obligation and it’s interpretation. Sure, you could argue greed, self justification, irresponsibility, general dumbfuckery and all sorts of other human conditions laid waste to the fragile game of Jenga we were playing (…you don’t know how fitting that comaprison is..you really don’t…) but it all comes back to that one legal obligation: the CEO must look out for the shareholders, and that is taken to mean “the CEO must do everything possible to continue cutting costs and making profit, regardless of the ethical ramifications”. Everything that comes after is just icing on the cake.

SO. there it is. one simple way to change the world: Alter the definition of the basic duty of the CEO to take into account not only the monetary obligation to the shareholder, but also the moral health and social responsibility aspect. Simple as…

hahahaha, yeah right. Never gonna happen. Here: console yourself with a sweetbeat…