Welcome to Brickspace Opinions!

Brickspace Opinions is a blog project from the makers of Brickspace. It is here that you can show your opinion to the world: offer your perspective on a recent topic in the Lego community to our debates. We have columnists who post regularly as well as guest writers who send us their articles. Just click the 'Write' link in the sidebar to send us something you've written.

Have fun, and don't forget to offer your opinion in the comments section!

~John and Luke, admins


UPDATE 9/10: The Write link in the sidebar is now up-and-running! You can now submit your own articles to the blog!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Yet another pretentious guide from John, this one about smiles

Hey, guess what? I'm back. And I'm ready for another rant. Just a short one, so you wouldn't have very long to wait until it's over and you can have your moan in the comments box. Alternatively, just scroll down to the comments box now and moan about whatever the hell you want.

This time I'm going to talk about smiles. Maybe there are some which you don't know, or some which you use a lot and don't like. Maybe you need a bigger smily vocabulary, or maybe there are some that you hate and you can feel good that someone else, yours truly, hates them to. Maybe you're just reading this article to feel good about me being wrong and you being right. Whatever floats your boat.

Let me just say now that I like smilies. If they're overused, then I get annoyed, but they're great just to add a bit of emotion into a comment, or to clear up your feelings about something (eg. lightening the mood of an otherwise insulting comment). Of course I object to Nnennian smilies (ie. making a comment of simply " :) ". Fuck you Nnenn, who ever said you were popular enough to just say that?), but they have their uses.

NORMAL SMILIES

:)

Ah, the classic smily face. Maybe a bit innocent, and kinda reminds me of foreign people using it (as if to say "I like your MOC, but be nice, I don't speak English well"). Even still, it's helpful to give the person a bit of encouragement with this little fella - as in "get better soon :)" or "try harder next time and I'll give you a cookie :)". Nice, helpful, but overused.

:D

The simple "hooray". Perfect for many situations. Even a replacement for the classic :). Nice and clear to see what it is, and it's even clearer to interpret the "yay" message it's trying to get across. Great for cheering or friendly jokes, as in "I love waffles :D" or "om nom nom :D".

:P

Similarly useful. Clearly a guy sticking his toungue out. This is the ultimate way of saying "jk jk". I hate people who say "jk" after their comment (it's like they're not good enough at cracking jokes that they have to clear up after themselves. Ruins the effect of the joke completely), so the :P is at hand. Examples include "yeah like when I saw your mom last night :P" or "ha ha :P".

:p

I really don't like this one. From what I can discern, it's just an alternative for :P for people who can't be bother to press shift+P for the capital. It's just not as clear as :P. Avoid at all costs.

D:

A guy frowning with his mouth open. Whilst I'd usually not mind this, it means the mouth is on the left of the eyes and this disrupts the Western way of reading left-to-right. I always find that it isn't immediately recognisable. Good for those "gah!" moments, though. Examples include "I lost my iPhone! D:" and "OMG I accidentally my harddrive D:".

:(

There's not much to say about this. It's a simple, easily recognizable, unhappy face. No problems with this one.

:'(

A crying face, for those sad moments. Once again, this is just a standard smily, so I have no 'beef' with it. Uses include "I wish I had that many bricks :'(" and "RIP Marc's virtual fish :'(".

:4

One of my favourite, yet completely useless, smilies. It's supposed to be a smily with a cleft palate. Cruel, yet surprisingly funny. Of course, not everyone knows what it means, so it's not best to use in comments, if at all. It doesn't put across an emotion, so it's practically useless. I have no examples in fear of being too offending.

:3

Originating from a mixture of LOLcats and Japanese Animé stuff (Neko, catgirls, etc), this adorable smilie simply means "d'aww". It's ideal for those moments when you want to show that you think the picture you're commenting on is cute, whether it be yet another Lego Wall-E or something a little more odd. It's also mandatory for any pictures of cats.

:|

A neutral look, or a "hmmm" look. Nothing special here. Not often used, but very rarely misunderstood.

:\

A look of misunderstanding, a guy with a tilted mouth for a "Hmmm...huh?" kind of expression. I usually don't mind this smilie, but it comes out very bad in some fonts, where the slash is very close to the colon (bloody kerning). This may be fixed with a dash-for-nose, like so:   :-/.

<3

Many people don't immediately recognise this smilie, which is annoying. Sure, it's not a smilie, but it's very useful. It's NOT "less-than-three", it's a heart. On its side. See? Useful for replacing for the words "love" or "lovely" (eg. "I <3 those greebles", "Those greebles are <3"). Can also be used on its own to simply say "I love that."

;)

A simply wanking winking smilie. Can be interchangeable like so: ;), ;D, ;P, ;3 etc etc. Has exactly the same uses as winking does in real life. Nothing much more needs to be said.

:O

A simple OMG smily. Intended to be a guy with his mouth open, maybe gasping. Alternatively, :o can be used, but this doesn't show up well in some fonts. Uses include "You have this part in black? :O" and ":O epic win!".

,':\

The use of an apostrophe and comma as eyebrows for a 'huh?' face is a really great idea. You've just got to watch those annoying font variations - in serif fonts a comma will look different to an apostrophe. In which case, use it as the up-eyebrow, and the apostrophe as the down-eyebrow to avoid overlapping with the mouth. You could use the eyebrows in various smilies: ,':)  ,':(  ,':\  ,':D  ,':O . Just try to avoid using winking smilies with the eyebrows, or else you'll get some sort of three-eyed effect.

JAPANESE SMILIES

^_^

This classic Japanese-style smilie is an alternative to :D - in other words, a way of saying "yay!" in a different, funny way. Try not to use these too often to avoid be a Weaboo.

^^

The dumbest of them all. This smilie, which isn't actually a smilie since it doesn't have a mouth, is extremely annoying. Especially if you use it at the start of a comment, where two ^s usually mean the comment is referring to a previous comment two places above. Meant to be a shorthand ^_^.

O_O    O_o    0_o

The Japanese version of :O or even ',:( . A way of saying "WTF", or showing that you are shocked at something in the picture. Increasingly often used in Dano's photostream to show that you will be mentally scarred for life by looking at the picture in question. Eg. "O_O Dano... that's just not right, man..." and "O_o Uh, WTF Dano?".

o_e

A relatively unknown smilie that I have taken a liking to. It's meant to be a smilie squinting one eye, signifying a "huh?" or "eh?" expression. May take a while to see what I'm getting at.

<_<   >_>

Japanese this-way and that-way smilies. Meant to show a person looking left and right. You could use both of them, one after another, to show that you are looking in either direction (usually before saying something secretive). Just think of terrified glances around the room if you're about to say something shocking or secret, eg. <_<   >_>   I actually quite like Glee". You could also use >_>; to show your looking in another direction, or being distracted, eg. "Who care's about speed limits anyway? >_>"

ಠ_ಠ 

A seriously Wapanese smilie. Started by a user on Reddit, this one which uses Unicode characters basically means "not amused". Its original use was to be a smilie for a "look of disapproval". Could also mean "I'm bored". Not everyone may know what this one means. Use with caution.

Anways, that's all. Let me know if I've missed out any important ones. It's late and I'm tired so that's very likely. But hey, I posted, didn't I?

~John

Thursday, 31 December 2009

The LEGO brand


LEGO, it is fair to say, plays the part of a hobby in our lives. For some, it is more; it is a career. But it is a career that, for the most part, would be enjoyable, and one would have chosen it having had a happy childhood association with the Danish toys.

Like much of sport, LEGO is a relief in our lives, a chance to get away. And so, the decision of a nicorette company to feature LEGO in its adverts is one I find, if not disgusting, entirely unnecessary. But let's not put down the advert itself too badly; apparently it won the Golden Drum in 2007.

And we need to be clear that I am not opposed to nicorettes; indeed, I know very little about them but they seem to me to serve a good purpose. Other, very similar adverts involving paperclips and plasticine look almost identical. And I have no idea what to put on an advert that will make it sell. But as you read in a previous article, it does not take a genius to realise what does not go on an advertisment.

Wow, that was a long paragraph! I'll cut to the chase. While all markets overlap in some way, the people who need to use nicorette products are not, in my BS-Opinion, the ones who are likely to be tempted by LEGO. Can you imagine: "Daddy, look, that Lego advert says you should by nicorettes! Please, Daddy, please!" No. But a successful company puts out an advert and it continues to be successful. So who am I to complain?

And finally, have a very happy 2010!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Bionicle, Fawlty Towers and the laws of Murphy



There was a time when I was really into Bionicle myself. I forget almost every single detail. But this was because it seemed to me that every day, John and others would bounce around, proclaiming the brilliance of the new Bionicles to be released the following Wednesday. Flabbergasted may be too strong a word. But I had always wondered what was ever wrong with good old-fashioned Tahu, Lewa, Gali, Kopaka, Pohatu and Onua, although I did at least accept the existence of the Bohrok and turned a blind eye to the Toa Mata selling their naming rights (apologies, Newcastle fans).

Soon enough, Cahdok and Gahdok released the Bohrok-Kal who in turn release the Bahrag... too much, too much! In order to keep things interesting, brand new enemies had to appear all the time.

Which brings us on to Murphy. His law states that anything that can go wrong will. While I believe someone was once crushed by a simple door, the rest of the creatures/whatever you call them seemed to be the unluckiest group of people ever to have inhabited a fantasy island. Everything that could have gone wrong did, as well as a good many things that quite simply do not happen to anything other than Lego creations who were already on their last legs considering Makuta's discovery of the Joy of Six.
 
I gave up on Bionicle a long time ago, and therefore will not concern myself with the  Voya/Maria/Bara/Magna/Vakamas of this world. I have not done a whole load of research, but it seems that the intrepid Toa once concluded that the island itself had not long to live, having previously thought it was simply sleeping. Its life was apparently ended when it was given the obviously fatal Mask of Life. Well, that makes sense.
 
I am sure a lot of people will miss Bionicle, and don't get me wrong, it started out as a good idea, and as the statement itself says, Lego thrives on innovation and new ideas. But think of all the great comedy series, and how many of them were ruined by the eternal flogging of characters that were no longer funny. Then think of Fawlty Towers: twelve high-quality and priceless episodes. Everything that was introduced to the Bionicle scene was introduced for a reason, which seemed a good idea at the time. And some were. But the Bionicle scheme had the potential to go badly wrong, and so of course, it did.