Dark Despair

Why is despair always dark? And why is hope always light? Is this racism on an emotional level?

If these two polar opposites are to be the ends of the spectrum, what shall we do with the rest of the colours? Oh, I know we are supposed  to have the blues when we are unhappy, but what shall we do with the purples? Or the yellows?

And getting more technical – if you go to the paint counter at Bunnings and leaf through the paint swatches youll be staggered at the variety of shades – all of which have evocative names. Andalusian Taupe, for instance – or Violently Jangling Green. Off-Off-Whitishly Beige is a possibility, and makes a statement. Possibly down at the Police Station.

The US military had a good system to specify colours – the FS, or Federal Standard index. FS 65990 is a recognised shade of something or other that may appear on a fighter plane or a Federal toilet. Unfortunately the book for the FS is updated every now and then and old colours deleted. This leads to scale model painting enthusiasts getting into bitter arguments with each other on the internet and probably causes museum curators to tear their hair out.

I favour the computer system of RGB numbers. If you have any sort of an editing program that allows you to post a colour in three numbers, you can have anything you want and know that it is the same everywhere. For example, dial up 132/142/181 on an RGB patch and it becomes RAF Azure Blue. Spray it on the underside of your Spitfire.


The Gentle Art Of Criticism

The phrase about crushing your enemies and driving them before you has gotten a certain publicity these days. I suspect that before it became a meme on Facebook, it was something taken from Conan The Barbarian. Or possibly the constitution of the Country Women’s Association. Whichever, it has become stale…time for an update.

Note: We update many things; cars, firmware, cyclone warnings. We backdate things; pay increases, sentences, holiday schedules. We even forward date things – the post-dated cheque that allows us to flee town being the first example to mind…But we never seem to downdate anything. I think we should. Leftovers in the fridge would be good to downdate. A quick sniff and a prod at the congealed surface and we could okay the stuff for two more days.

I don’t want to crush enemies. It’s not because I am a good and kind person – I just don’t want enemies. Enemies take time, effort, money, and deep thought…at a time in my life when I dearly want potato crisps, beer, and naps. Enemies are a negative investment, and never yield a profit. Crushed enemies would be even worse, as they would spread more widely and ruin the carpet.

On the other hand, I am delighted to crush friends. They are much more likely to scream and thresh about begging for mercy. They are easier to contact and less likely to suspect the horrible fate that awaits them. You can crush several before lunch with little effort. And the best ones will pick themselves up, heal over, and present again for a repeat of the terror. They are an economical target.

What has this to do with criticism? Well you must be gentle and kind whenever you correct another’s faults. Otherwise they get the pip and leave in a dudgeon and you cannot attack them again. Easy does it. Take the skin off in thin layers.

What He Wrote…

We are being cautioned to be careful of what we write on social media these days – the anonymity we thought we had is non-existent. We are see-able from both sides of the screen every time we press a key. This is frightening for some…but I think it’s a great idea.

You see, these essays ( blogs, quips, whatever ) are written in a style that suggests they are hyperbolic humour. Satirical material not to be taken seriously. And in truth, many of them are…all except the ones that are deadly serious and clinically accurate. The active ingredient is slipped inside a sugar coating, which in turn is covered in salty sarcasm and then dipped in bright kindliness. By the time all the layers have dissolved and the real message is plain, the reader has forgotten the entire thing. In this way I have been able to reveal the alien chem-trailing, ethnically-cleansed, truth about the printing on the 1959 Tootsie Roll wrapper without fear of Big-Confectionary’s hitmen. So far they are busy with US politicians in a glucose-fuelled orgy of destruction.

I would probably be nervous about what I’ve written over the past 7 years if it were hauled up in a Magistrate’s court. Very little of it would stand as evidence of a reasonable person passing and re-passing upon their lawful occasions. The saving grace is any beak who looked at a brief against me would be so disheartened about the amount of reading and deciphering that they’d have to do that they’d throw the case into the backlog for decades.

I am careful not to mock the judiciary. I actually believe that the Australian ones do a good job for the most part, and the odd rogue is quickly picked up by peer attention and suppressed. That’s a sensible response in a powerful profession.

May I go now, Your Worship?

Writing About Writing

Is as boring as making a film about film making or reciting poetry about reciting poetry. It is the classic stuff for people who have word processors but no words to process. Think of a story teller who gathers an audience but then doesn’t tell a story.

It’s not just the literary who do this – no end of photographers use their cameras to take pictures of other cameras. This is understandable if you are trying to sell these devices – after all that is what I do in a commercial column five days a week. It becomes tedious if you are just expressing your desire to operate and camera by focusing on the rest of your equipment.

You can also liken it to the Sunday driver who travels slowly to the beach and then slowly back again without getting out in the meantime. ” Just seeing how far it was. ” is their classic excuse, but the sad fact is they had no business at the beach nor on the road to and from it. Possibly no business at home, either.

It is the equivalent to eating plastic packaging beads that look like breakfast cereal. Admittedly they have more actual nutrition than the average packaged cereal and don’t make unattractive noises when you pour the milk on…but the idea lacks some sort of cultural validity.

As I have said in my model airplane column ( yes, I write one daily at :


and you are welcome to read it and see what I have said about you…) if you are going to build a model, build a model all the time. Every subassembly should be a faithful evocation of the original, or whatever you conceive it to be. A modeller should not just cut and glue plastic for the feel of the thing – there must be an end in sight.

Likewise if you are writing or photographing. Do it to tell a story to someone who will read it through. Shoot the picture to show beauty or ugliness. Do it well if you can – poorly if you must – but do it to a purpose. Do not drive slowly down a printed screen or sheet of paper just to see how far it is to the end. Get out and do something when you get there.

Being A Historian – Part Three – Once Upon A Time…

We’ve all seen the Facebook meme that says those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it – a somber thought. It is only when you look deeper into the matter that you discover there is a parallel Facebook post. It says that those who learn from historians are condemned to listen to them repeat it…in book after book after book.

There are many degrees of history:

  1. The stuff that really happened.
  2. The stuff that didn’t happen.
  3. The stuff that could have happened.
  4. The stuff that couldn’t have happened.
  5. The stuff you can get a doctorate and a series of grants for.
  6. The stuff that you can sell ever after to the right customers.

Note that for the right history salesman, these different departments can all be rolled into one. This is known as the Brothers Grimm school of history and can be very well paid if you and your brother can be grim enough and then get Disney to make an animated cartoon about it. Note: try to get Morgan Freeman to voice over your part. He’s terrific. If you can’t get him try for Judy Dench or Spongebob Squarepants.

History happening is generally a series of horrors, but as it ages it can be converted to something rather sweet. It’s almost like a fermentation process. If you let your re-telling of history sit long enough in a vat, you can get quite an intoxicating brew out of it. Heroes can be manufactured, as well as villains, and it doesn’t really matter which one triumphs in the end as long as you are telling the tale and someone is paying to listen. You can be paid for truth, lies, imagination, or anything in between.

Ask for cash…folding money. Tell ’em you’ll give them a receipt next time you see them and then leg it.

Rituals, Rites, And Rat Shit

Being a worder, I can get hours of pleasure out of chasing through a dictionary or encyclopedia to find the connections and differences in our language. Did I speak French or German or any other language I would be lost for days.

Thus my digging into ” rite ” and ” ritual “. The former seems to be defined as customary act that can be secular or religious. The latter as a series of these acts in defined order. I suspect it is all just a matter of ceremonial degree. And as I got my degree rolled up in a cardboard tube through the post with no ceremony whatsoever, it has instilled in me a lifelong loathing of ritual, rite, and ceremonials. Can I decently avoid them, I do.

When compelled by social or legal pressure, I can conform and bob, nod, sit, stand, and mumble as well as anyone else…and I would never seek to cause distress to others by a churlish attitude. But my avoidance of church, temple, parade ground, or assembly is deliberate.  And I do not think I have shortchanged myself in doing so.

The theatre of ritual can be amusing if one is merely a spectator – go see the guard changed or the colours trooped in London and it is a fine show. Goggle at royal weddings whenever they are in town. But do not feel obliged to stand at rigid attention to salute past, present, or future shows. They all finish the same way.

This aversion to social show also affects me on trips. I will pay to see a comedy in a theatre but will not enter the various local houses of worship to see either the worshipers nor the pews in which they sit. The artwork inside is sometimes pretty, but more often florid and foolish. The actions of the faithful even more so. I prefer them out on a civil footpath rather than inside on the religious warpath,

This also affects the interest or pleasure I might get from popular entertainment that depends upon ritual scenes to tell a story. I frequently find that when the story is requited to become fabulous and/or religious that I really want to leave and find a bar or a book of engineering tables.

Wearing Your ” Special ” Suspender Belt…

The one you only wear when you go out to ” special ” places. And do ” special ” things…

Generally you do these things in the dark with a few flickering lights. And a pulsating musical beat in the background. If you’re lucky you get to have a few drinks first, though you don’t want too many because that would affect your judgement and dull your senses. If you are going to wear your ” special ” suspender belt, you want to feel everything.

Of course there are people who tell you that this is all wrong. That you are doing something immoral. But they would tell you that if you weren’t wearing your ” special ” belt, so you might as well get used to it. Some people take entirely too much interest in the affairs of others.

Not me. I do not judge. I can see the sort of pleasure that this behaviour brings you, and as long as no-one is permanently injured I say go to it.

After all – where would the motion picture industry be if we did not all go to our local cinema and suspend our disbelief…?

Care for some popcorn?