The Perils Of The Opening Act

I should not like to be an opening act for anyone – whether they were famous or obscure, whatever occurred after my turn on stage would be inevitably detract from my own performance.

The same with the first car to be seen in a hot rod show. It’s going to be rushed by no matter what. I saw this today and took deliberate care that I gave the first act full attention.

It was a depiction of the yellow ’32 Ford coupe that featured in the film ” American Graffiti ” so many years ago. I was taken with the film, puzzled by the title, and receptive to this coupe in the entry hall of the 2018 West Australian Hot Rod Show. Note, I know it has an official show name but it is just the WAHRS to me.

Yellow is always a good choice for a rod, as it attracts the eye. Also probably safer on the road for just that reason, though it also would attract the official eye in blue so you’d better have the official papers right to run it. The problem with the hall that the WAHRS is run in is the lighting – it can have a colour temperature that ranges from water pump to Alsatian dog without ever getting to any of the conventional measurements. In the past I have tried to predict it with finely tuned custom WB. These days I just accept my fate and leave the camera on Auto WB. Take it from me that it was yellow.

It was also well-built, with a fair adherence to the spirit, if not the letter of the original. I must re-view the movie to see how close they got. Suffice it to say that it was a very satisfying reminder of the times. I was particularly taken with the shake tray…having seen a fully loaded one rip the top chrome moulding off the front window of a Pontiac in a Canadian drive-in in 1962 myself, I appreciate the feature.

Also appreciated was the period approach to the interior and the engine fittings. I admire some alternative rod styles but always default to the classics.

And finally – two good pieces of showmanship: the display stand that let people know what the intent of the rodder was, and the free stack of printed posters that let them take home a souvenir. That’s what gets the punters’ eye.

 

 

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Possible Is Not The Same As Probable

And neither of them are proven. All three terms are separate in the language and the law. Time to separate them in social media.

Let us take the case of a public figure: Ronald Gump, the President of the Republic of North Mexico. Mr. Gump has the problem that his election angered his political opponents to such an extent that they have never let him be in peace to actually act as president.

They’ve found that the astute use of the social media can keep the man in the firing line of constant abuse and ridicule – even if there is no basis upon which to found this. All they need is people who are of the same mind* as they to keep passing and re-passing the memes – to keep suggesting and sneering and accusing and hinting. Once they start these things off, all they have to do is put in some suggestive headline – no matter how trivial  – to keep the ball rolling.

Mr. Gump would have been wise at the start of his presidency to ignore the social media entirely – as notice taken or anything said merely serves to fuel more hatred. The quick internet response can be a very damaging phenomenon.

The gravest casualty of this whole affair has been the faith which sane people used to put in the media – a credulity that has been largely destroyed. The term ” fake news ” has supplanted the older ones of ” propaganda ” and ” lies ” and makes things seem somehow more amusing and less harmful. ” fake ” is fake, and fake is never good.

*  I may have used the wrong word there. It probably should have been ” mindless “.

Exercising My Uncivil Rights

I am going to make an assumption here than may prove to be incorrect. I don’t mean it to be, but I am somewhat unversed in the law and so must feel my way.

I am an Australian citizen, in Australia. I am not in the military – and so not subject to military law – and I’m not a prisoner of a state or federal institution – so presumably have all the civil rights that the next person has. They have not been suspended.

I would like to think at this point that I share this happy state of affairs with Americans, Canadians, and Britons, as well as any number of people in Scandinavian and European countries…but I know at the outset that there can be widely differing rights. We can’t own a military rifle here in Australia except in some especial cases – in the USA they can. They have other restrictions from which we are free ( we can ask for black or white coffee and get it without a racial argument ). And so on though each nation. Different cities have different civilities

I wonder if this applies in converse – are there different uncivil rights for each country?

” What is an uncivil right? “, you may ask. Broadly speaking, it’s the freedom one may have in a particular place to be unpleasant, unhelpful, unwashed, and undesirable. Add to that unthinking, ungrateful, and unintelligent. Really…all the horrible fun stuff.

Of course your uncivil rights may impinge upon other’s civil rights. The oaf on the train roaring and reeking comes to mind…though not to the attention of the transport police often enough.

Unpleasant speech is proscribed at various levels – here in Australia we’re not allowed to incite racial, religious, or ethnic hatred under penalty of law. It may also apply to inciting sexual or political hatred as well, but there seems to be a lot of this passing back and forth anyway. I think you are still allowed to incite hatred for inanimate objects like publicly funded sculptures or for food like liver and lima beans.

You are allowed to speak in an unpleasant manner as long as the words that issue are legally defensible. No-one has yet been able to legislate an accent.

You can certainly be unhelpful and get away with it…though not in life-threatening situations or those where a citizen is expected to assist the police with their enquiries. Then you have to do wheat you think is the right thing and trust that  lawyers will later think of it in those terms. But you are allowed to watch as people are drenched by water at bus stops or become tangled with the dog and the groceries.

Lack of hygiene is so common that it nearly escapes censure. Unfortunately.

Unintelligent? Well, if you pass below a certain level you are entitled to sympathy and assistance and no-one should deny it you. If you are in the operational range but decide to remain stupid this is not as civil – but again you can restrict yourself if you wish. Unthinking is no crime…if it were, would most popular music of the last century exist? Indeed, sitting on a porch in the evening with a long drink and no responsibilities is a delightful form of unthinking until the cat drags in a half-dead rat.

Ingratitude rarely collects an earthly punishment. It’s one of the deadliest of ancient sins, and one of the keenest cuts that can be perceived. The mistake the ungrateful make is to think that they get away with it unnoticed. It is never unnoticed, and never forgotten. Perhaps we should put it in the category of a bad purchase – you’ll regret it when you finally pay for it.

 

 

Australian Cynicism

We have often been accused of being cynics in Australia. This underestimates the citizens of this wonderful nation. We are greater than this – we are perfectly capable of being cynical in every country on Earth…with the possible exception of New Zealand. No-one is cynical in New Zealand, though they have been trying to establish a program to breed it for years.

Some have looked to climate, ancestry, ethnicity, history, and any number of other reasons for the national characteristic. It is all very well to score a PhD or a publisher’s advance upon this sort of speculation but the truth is that it is none of these things. The reason Australians are cynical is geography – we are far enough away from the rest of the world that we figure we can get away with it. We cock a snook at the various Kims, Vlads, Donalds, and Angelas…as well as the unpronounceable leaders of Africa, South America, and Canada and it is rarely sheeted home to us.

Oh, mind you, if we are of certain ethnicities that maintain spy networks here and dungeons back home into which our relatives can be thrust, we tend to be a bit quieter…but there are still pictures of Winnie the Pooh and copies of Charley Hebdo magneted onto the refrigerator in spite of official disapproval. They probably get whisked away when a national festival dinner party is held, but they come back afterwards.

Be fair to us – we are cynical about ourselves as much as we are about people overseas. Indeed, there is no topic more dear to the hearts or the sphincters of the Australians than our own national and state governments. Oh, and the local government, too. We’ll cheerfully discuss how much we despise our fearless leaders at the drop of a beer bottle cap. Our leaders hold us in similar affection.

It is known technically as a Mudgee Standoff – we don’t get to keep machine guns in our houses but Bunnings sells rope and there are trees aplenty  with stout limbs, so the checks and balances of the Westminster government are still in force. We were once told by one politician that ” We’ll keep the bastards honest. ” Actually I think that was just a case of someone making a mistake with the punctuation when they reported it. What he really  said was:

” We’ll keep the bastards. Honest… ”

But that’s just me being cynical.

 

 

The N Word

Students of modern society and manners know that one never uses the N word.

Likewise, one apparently never uses the K word in South Africa without risking a jail sentence. There may be other things that are also risky there, but you would need to depend upon other people’s first-hand knowledge to list them. Best ask a South African.

Are there other restrictions upon the alphabet? Well, a different K word would probably draw ire in New York and fire in Tel Aviv. The B word in Prague and the G word in Pyongyang as well. And there is probably a list of other letters banned from the lexicon all over the place. Languages that depend upon letters other than the standard Roman ones may have banned their own symbols as well.

Yet…you can seemingly get away with it when you are associated with the motion picture industry. I walked down the hallway of our local picture palace and noted a poster advertising a new movie coming  – the title consisting solely of a G word. This might sell it to a less sophisticated audience and, of course, here in Australia this G word does not trigger off the interest that it would in the USA. But it is a dangerous thing to do, if you want to promote something…there are other G words that can be brought into play in the American border states that work quite in reverse.

Probably too late for this movie, but future Hollywood executives might want to consider not using pejoratives as their main calling card.

The Ages Of Mankind

I see I’ve made a slight error – that should be Ages Of Man. Not mankind. I’m in no position to decide things for other sexes.

Actually, It should read Ages Of Me, because I can’t even speak for others of my own sex. They may well have different ages in their lives. I can only tally up my own.

0-10 – Kiddyrazzi – Just a kid, doin’ what kids do. In my case doin’ what kids in western Canada in the 1950’s did and then having to strip down in the basement and take a shower afterwards. Spring in Alberta had enough mud to make another entire planet, and if you were not careful most of it stuck to your sneakers. And your hair.

10-20 – Studyrazzi – Always at school preparing for life. On television everyone was already living theirs, but I was just between school holidays and exams. This was the 1960’s minus the drugs and the music. Also minus the sex.

20-30 – Moneyrazzi – Well, add the sex. Plus the university fees, loans, commitments, fees, leases, and childbirth. They even charged for the child.

30-40 – Workerazzi – I was meant to produce so I did. And a great deal of what I produced was taken away to pay for the 20-30 period.

40-50 – Thickerazzi – How did I thicken and wrinkle at the same time? And where was the El Dorado that was promised in the 10-20 period? El Dorado was running well behind schedule. The sneaking suspicion starts to dawn upon me that I may have been hoodwinked.

50-60 – Doggerazzi – Thinking ( mistakenly ) that harder work and more spending and networking and wine evenings and investment counselling would make it all come right, I lurched onwards. It did not come right, of course, and the cynicism started to gel.

60-70 – Cooterazzi – I just started to realise that no-one was listening and no-one was watching. This made me alternately despondent and elated. It was a good time to start robbing church poor-boxes.

70-80 – Bloggerazzi – I intend to spout the most errant nonsense and the most brilliant wisdom and no-one will take the slightest notice. I’ll get ’em used to the flow of sound and then tell the truth in the middle somewhere. They may not even  notice that I cut them off at the ankles. You can preserve ankles in jars and make a rather nice collection.

I shall not presume to calculate past 80. It is a period of time that might be devoted to anything.

 

The Experiments – Part Four – Final

The heading image placed on this last experimental page is a conventional representation of a one of the flags of the Confederate States of America in the 1860’s. Recently it has become the centrepiece in a storm of controversy in the United States and has been used in a number of deplorable political and criminal acts, as well as for theatrical presentations.

It was also an extremely small part of an image on a weblog column dealing with die-cast toy cars – fuzzy and pixellated though it was, I suspect it triggered a mechanism in Facebook that blanked the image. I determined to see how that mechanism operated. The previous three posts on this column ( go back and read them ) detail the experimental means I employed to see if the thing could be set off again.

If we don’t see an image up there on Facebook today – or if it’s a generalized image of my studio card – we’ll know the trigger mechanism is the entire, coloured, detailed pattern. Every other combination has been ignored. If you do see the flag pattern, then the whole episode was just a flash in the social media pan.

The flag pattern won’t be shown again – not for political or moral reasons – but because it is just not relevant to life and thought here in Australia. And that may be a hard thing for anyone in North America to accept…that this is another part of the world with people who lead other lives. The distresses that the North Americans encounter or engender within their own borders are theirs to deal with amongst themselves. To put it succinctly – it’s none of my business.

Readers can be as proud or as ashamed – as busy or as idle – as high or as low as they wish. No need to howl at me with either rage or approval – my opinion on North American matters is not relevant. The only thing you might care to do is to share some thoughts:

If you can’t see an 1860’s flag on the top of a Facebook post…what other things are you not permitted to see? What price constitutional amendments or bills of rights ? Who decides the let and hindrance of your life?