Sunday, 7 November 2010

The World of Robots By Zack Kaufen (

I was a bit put off the first time I heard someone describe white wine as ‘dry’. It certainly isn’t dry. It’s a fucking liquid. It is most definitely WET. Describing a wine as dry makes me think of a Jacob’s cracker type of texture, something so dry that you have to gulp down water along with every sip. Or a bottle somebody filled with sand and then labelled it wine. THAT would be dry. That’s what I think of when something is described as dry. As it goes, while wine might not be as wet as, say.. water.. it’d take the harshest moisture critic in the world to describe it as “dry”.

It was, after some drunken arguing, explained to me that dry in this context meant bitter and tangy. So who made that call? Who said ‘dry’ suddenly meant that? So it seems at some point somebody was drinking wine and thought “I need a brand new word to describe this distinct kind of flavour”. But no! Apparently the dictionary is already filled with silly words like “quoin” (an external corner of a wall) that there’s no more room for wine-specific words. So what he did is just added another meaning to a word that already existed. There’s no real policy against that. If a person starts being a complete frinzledart and inventing words left and right then he’s either declared a Shakespearean-esque genius or a pretentious turd. (I am willing to bet Shakespeare himself was at some point called a pretentious turd in his day). But if you start randomly adding new, different meanings to already existing words, then no-one even bats an eyelid! The hypocrisy is very varnished. It’s practically decaffeinated!

When someone first described a musical note as “sharp” did a nearby listener back off, afraid he might cut himself on the sound waves? I think these alternate meanings trickle into common usage annoyingly well. A specific term previously reserved for angles greater than ninety degrees now means anything indistinct or dull.

But these double-meaninged words only allow meanings to be tacked on if there is no room for confusion between the two meanings. If someone described one of their friends as ‘sweet’ I wouldn’t immediately start thinking they were sugary and delicious. I wouldn’t start vigorously licking their face. Well depends if it’s a girl or guy really. And this is my exact problem with describing white wine as dry! There IS confusion between the meanings. If the word used to mean bitter-when-describing-wine was, say, “leafy”, then that’s fine, you aren’t going to start thinking your wine is a tree, because the meanings are so far removed from each other – in the same way you aren’t going to run into shade and have a chilled drink if your friend points out a hot girl coming down the street. But ‘dry’ is a word that is used precisely to describe how liquidy something is – to then apply that to a liquid but say it has a different meaning altogether is just haphazard. How would you describe wine that is particularly sandy? People would start thinking you meant bitter!

The person who came up with ‘dry’ humour had the right idea; no-one is going to start thinking his jokes need more water added to them.

The World of Robots By Zack Kaufen (

Choosing a pet is a tough decision. Before you can even reach the life-changing choice of Johnny Brown-with-black-spots or Timmy Black-with-brown-spots you first have to decide on a species. While my lady friend insists cuteness is the most important attribute to consider, I don’t entirely agree. I think that a pet has to have some sort of usefulness; like protecting your home from burglars. So our choice of pet is stuck somewhere between a puppy and a rhino, with (some great advances in genetic sciences notwithstanding) no compromise in sight.

The good thing about a rhino above, say, a guard dog, is that it’s sure to finish the job. No fucking burglar is going to survive that onslaught. You may worry that having a burglar-decimating pet might lead to some troubles with the law. But I don’t think so.. I think as long as you have a big clear sign outside your house you aren’t liable for the safety of intruders. And the best thing is that no-one will take seriously a sign stating “WARNING: RHINO INSIDE”. They’ll glance at it, think it’s a joke, break in and end up with a hole the size of a baseball bat in their forehead. HA. If you add “WITH BIG HORN” to the sign they’ll probably take it even less seriously.

Your only challenge then is to teach your pet rhino the difference between you, your friends, the mailman, the milkman, Santa Clause (DON’T impale) and burglars (DO impale). The easiest way is probably just to teach it to gore anyone wearing a hoody. This doesn’t allow for the possibility of having hoody-wearing friends visiting, true – but let’s face it, that’s never gonna happen.

After some pondering I thought of a possible compromise between house protection and cuteness. Perhaps we do get a bunny! Say, the cute one, with little spots on his nose like freckles (no-one wants an ugly bunny – unlike ugly ducklings they don’t form great protagonists). Let it do bunny things, as and when it pleases, but there’ll be one small addition to his hutch; a panic button. Then it can act cute all day long but as soon as some hoodies arrive on the scene it leaps and presses the panic button with his furry paw, which, like burglar alarms, contacts the police directly. Problem solved, your cute bunny has brought justice to these scummy hoody wearing burglars.

.. The only tiny downside is correctly teaching your bunny when and when not to press its button. ‘I’ve run out of carrot’ doesn’t count as a police emergency, bunny. I guess the same applies to teaching rhinos not to disembowel the milkman, but in the bunny’s case it could result in police forces being diverted from genuine emergencies. “News at ten: fourteen toddlers decapitated in nursery massacre. Police rerouted from scene moments prior to deal with “a minor lettuce crisis”.’

Instead perhaps a ‘bunny’ division could be formed at your local police station. They deal exclusively in bunny-crimes: whether it be hoodies invading the flat, misplaced cabbage or simply baby bunnies neglectfully hopping on the alarm. The bunny detectives will be there, ready to respond, day or night.