It’s All A Conspiracy

And what a conspiracy. I’ve found leads to the New World Order, Old World Order, And Hungry Jack’s Lunchtime Bargain Order. The first two are unattractive but I am looking at the cheeseburger with interest.

Conspiracies are the flavour of the month, year, and possibly decade. We have them in all varieties and sizes – right-wing, left-wing, and the sticky bit in the middle as well. They are useful to pin blame, explain the inexplicable, and excuse our own failures.

I’ll amend that… the excuses are necessary for your failures. You are the reason we can’t have nice things. I suspected you all along but until I saw the ABC/CNN/FOX News/BBC/RT exposé on you and your kind I could not hate you precisely.

The internet is a wonderful resource. It can bring unease and accusation to us wherever we live and unlike the old business of printed books, it can be altered before our eyes. It has experts we never suspected and suspects we never thought of. If the devil or the mean girl in the sixth grade whispered in our ears it would not be half as effective as a cobbled-up construct hedged with advertisements for spinning tops and faux-leather luggage.

You must excuse me – I need to get back to the Karen and Sharon network and see which evil influence is dominating the world. No sense opposing the winner, eh?

Faecal Fun For Formal Parties

If you have just opened this page from an internet search because of the tag words, I apologise. This is not a porn site. Nor does it contain any conspiracy theories or advice on any question of voting. It is not selling you anything…except possibly a membership in the Backstabbers Guild of Australia. Good day and good luck.

Now, as you have continued reading, let me cast your mind back to a motion picture called ” Caddy Shack “. A teenage comedy confection of 1980 that had bad taste as the prime goal and succeeded marvellously. The scene involving Bill Murray as the maintenance man cleaning out a supposedly-contaminated swimming pool is possibly the funniest faecal joke in cinema. Just as the baked bean scene in ” Blazing Saddles ” tops the record for the celebration of flatulence. I am unsure about urination, but there must be a definitive joke about that on the screen somewhere. I only know a printed version involving Wilson Mizner.

Aside: Wilson was real, and a Bad Boy when that was not good. At one reform school where he was sent he discovered the janitor had secreted a case of beer behind the furnace and was drinking it day by day. Wilson commenced prising the top off bottles  and drinking the beer himself …and then filling the bottles back up with urine.

Eventually he was caught by the school authorities and hauled up for discipline – drinking beer on school grounds. He insisted that he drank no beer. The Principal accused him of lying, saying that the bottles were full of beer. Wilson said it wasn’t beer.

Whereupon the Principal angrily unstoppered one an took a long swig to prove Wilson wrong.

Wilson was right.

Anyway, back to the pan. Do not believe any of that old guff about Glad-wrapping the toilet bowl at a party. It is an urban myth. No-one ever fell for that one.

However, it is entirely possible that an enterprising member of the BGA could go to a joke shop and purchase a fake turd. Made of plastic, rubber or plaster, these can be remarkably realistic. The Mexican ones are best as they really know the genre.

Drill a hole in the turd and load it with lead shot or ball bearings. Seal the hole. Convey it to someone’s party when you next go out and slip into the loo when no-one is looking. Drop it into the toilet, where it will sink to the bottom like a German dreadnought in Scapa Flow. There it will stay, with no amount of flushing able to shift it. Everyone who visits later will have to gaze at it and wonder.

You need not stay for the whole party, but the time you spend there will be rewarding.

Funny Is Dangerous

I have discovered that funny is dangerous. Bit late, I hear you say, but remember that I was brought up on funny that had great timing and pauses between gags. And no bad words. Funny that wasn’t drunk at a pub.

Now I’m not talking about making fun of others – mocking them. We all know that’s dangerous when done in the wrong way or to the wrong person. There is even danger in doing it with the attention of the wrong audience. Instant retribution can erupt, the clockwork  of delayed revenge started, or one’s personal reputation demeaned. In some cases this is just punishment – in others it’s something gone horribly wrong. There are times when something genuinely is just a joke.

Now you cannot prevent yourself from falling down a fire-belching crack in the earth when it appears under your feet. If you are from New Zealand this may be during a morning trip to the grocers – you either perish shrieking or climb out and retrieve your string bag. This event is so common as to account for the laid-back nature of a lot of Kiwis.

But you can stop yourself from the fate by looking carefully at a map, noting if any streets are marked ” Fire-Belch Lane “, and then planning your shopping elsewhere. Smart money plays the odds. Equally so, you can plan your comedic sallies with an eye to where they go. If someone is a notable Basilisk, treat them with seriousness. Save the yoks for those who know how to smile.

I’ve misread maps before and ended up wrong. The comeback after a failed joke can be a cold journey – rough and comfortless. But you can come back, even if it is just yourself and your string bag. And you come back with information that you can mark on your social map. ” Here Be Dragons ” is knowledge that is hard got, but very valuable.

It’s Hard To Find A Universal Bad Guy

And this is a real problem for the entertainment industry – particularly the television and movie ones that hope to make money.

The audiences for the visual stories are all over the world today; the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia. And Manangatang. A bid to get them to watch some action thriller needs to have a good guy who triumphs and a bad guy who dies – but it is awkward trying to place praise and blame these days – everyone wants their country/culture/religion to be on the good side. Few accept being cast as villains…or worse – as savages. Even if they have been eating raw human livers until last Tuesday they still want to be seen as modern, cool, and sophisticated.

As a practical illustration, who would you portray as baddies; the Chinese or the Japanese? Depends entirely on which century you’re filming, which decade, which war, or which government. And where you expect to sell the most screenings.

That idea gets even murkier for other countries in the Asian market: Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, or any one of the numerous Koreas. They are all sensitive people who try to be polite and never cause trouble to each other unless they’re sure they can get away with it.

So no Asian villains. Russians? Well, Slavs in general are angered by any suggestion that they are not peace-loving, and they have the tanks and anti-aircraft batteries to back that up with. Plus they may have invested heavily in the film production company. It’s safer to have babushka dolls and balalaika music and let it go at that.

Jews and Muslims? Israelis and Arabs? Well, there you go. Choose your side and whoever is on the other one is wrong…but if you want to sell your film in their cinema you can’t say that.

Of course you can always go the classics: Kaiser Wilhelm II if your audience is into period films and smart enough to tell the difference between Wilhelm and Edward VII. Even there the German audience will boo you out as they know the truth about Willi and Eddy.

Hitler? Good choice. Nothing there to like…but you can’t add him to every film or people will start to realise that you have run out of ideas.

The Americans? Well, you can sell them as enemies to the UK, Canada, Australian and New Zealand, and any other former allies – they’ll accept the idea. Bit awkward if you need them again, but if push comes to shove you can always destroy the video tapes. And blame the CIA. Or General Lee.

Or you can get Mike Myers to be evil. He’s Canadian so it’s easy.

What’s In A Name

Dr. Thomas Bowdler thought that he did us all a great service when he published
The Family Shakespeare ” and removed all words and concepts that he felt should not be seen within the family. His name has gone down in history ” bowdlerism ” as a mark for prissy, interfering, pecksniffery in arts and literature.

Stalin established a particular form of socialist control from above by a ruthless dictator and we know it as ” stalinism “.

These were before our time but we can make use of the words as a convenient shorthand – and we are very lucky. We can also use some of our modern pop celebrity figures to enrich the language:

a. We need a term for mindless use of children as talking puppets for political plotting. Something that the old can get and the young can get with…I propose that when we see crowds of schoolchildren marching with crayon banners to the chants supplied by their controllers – marching past the television news cameras and making gestures so that they can be recognised later on the news by their friends…that we inaugurate the term:

” self- Greta – fication ”

It may disappear as fast as it came, but then that’s show-biz.

b. When we need a word to describe someone who mines the culture for something to complain about, fastens upon a trivial word, ignores protest, and pesters with outrage anyone who is foolish enough to listen, I suggest we introduce:

” Haganist ”

Don’t be too judgemental. Everyone needs to have a gimmick to get in the spotlight. If it all seems a bit cheesy, well that’s show biz.

c. We’ve all been a ” has-been ” at some stage of the game. If we haven’t yet, we will be. It is a sad state of affairs for some…but a blessed relief for others. If you have been, you generally need not be again, and at modern prices that is a saving. But it needs a nicer term:

” Fondism ”

Never mid the flak over the name. Any publicity is good and Hanoi Jane needs all the attention she can get these days. Be aware that being a good Fondist may involve going to jail in heavy makeup – choose a good foundation. Remember you has been in show biz.

d. What shall we do when we want to describe a politician who can weasel out of nearly any embarrassing circumstance or past indiscretion based upon the inertia of his electorate? It is a tricky one: ” Teflon Teddy ” was once suggested but after the model for the term became a running joke – See the comic strip ” Shoe ” by Gary Brookins – the wind went out of his bag.

I think the dictionary and the political press will appreciate the suggestion of :

” Dusky Justin ”

Yowzah, yowzah. Be like a codfish off the Grand Banks and watch for the next Canadian gaffe. Show biz, eh?

Negativity Is Your Friend

Do not be bullied by Facebook contacts who post bright and shining memes every day. They are just trying to jolly you into feeling good. On the contrary – pay attention to the serious counsel of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia. We would never lure you down the path of happiness and then abandon you smiling.

You need the bad news in your life and you need it first. It can make all the difference to whether or not you’re going to be able to recognise good news later on. Remember a spoonful of bile helps the sugar go down. And we are here to make you bilious.

Let’s take a concrete example. Suppose someone told you that a harbour cruise with business associates would promote team spirit and help you with your commitment to the family. Sounds good. Then they tell you it will be with Cousin Salvatore and Three Finger Louie Custozza and the concrete will be setting around your feet in a bucket…If they’d have mentioned the specifics of the thing first you wouldn’t have had to smile and make small talk while they tied the ropes.

Let’s face it  – good news brightens a moment but bad news works far longer.

If you want to be pessimistic yourself – either on a professional level or in the amateur league – you have all the vast resources of CNN News, the ABC, and any number of chaired academics to draw upon. You will not have heard of the academics before, but if you stand still long enough and pay them enough for appearance fees they will become a household name. They hope.

In any case we’ll all be ruined, says Hanrahan*, and we can accept this as authoritative since it has been the steady verdict since 1919. That’s a hundred years of dismal and you can’t ask fouler than that, can you…

*  North American translation – famous Australian bush poem. Go google.

 

Not. To. Be. Joked. With.

I’m sure you have met them – the people who will not be joked with. The serious members of society. The sober, dignified, correct people with whom it is virtue to neither laugh nor smile.

They may be found in all walks of life – it need not just be the local magistrate or headmaster. You can find them in most workplaces, and you’d be surprised at how often they are put in command of others. This is possibly because they are fittest or possibly just a lapse in judgement higher up the chain of command.

They are dangerous, not least to themselves. Their sober mien and serious dignity may be helpful in some situations but harmful in others. They exude little warmth, though they may be come passionate about their position and the deference due them. They can frequently make a bad situation worse, and become indignant that they are not respected for it.

All this said, I love them. They are the best of targets for humour. Of course it will not be appreciated by them – if even perceived –  but if they repel it with the shiny armour of virtue, it can reflect to all those around them. And the laugh spreads outwards in shock waves.

If this seems a little mean, it is only because it is. And it can be converted to a lot mean with just a little more effort. Dignified people are often blinkered, and can see only one meaning to a word or to a behaviour. They can, like a blinkered horse, be led down an ever-narrowing pathway until they cannot turn around. Speak seriously with them, and as kindly as needs be, and you can get them a long way down that path.

Do they ever change? Only with the greatest effort or because of the greatest life episode. Marriage will often burst the bubble, and parenthood will prick anything. Some people’s dignity will survive hospitalisation, business failure, or public shame, but often this will derail it long enough for the mechanism of the human mind to reset. Then they might have a laugh on themselves.

Laugh And Yer A Dead Man

We’ve all been there…and with our lousy luck, we’re all going there again. The situation where something irresistibly funny occurs but it is so tied up with someone’s emotions that you just can’t laugh. They’ll be so angry or hurt that you can hardly respond.

What do you do?

Well, flee is a good option. If there is a clear pathway to the door, turn and leg it. You need not actually open the door if it would materially impede your escape. Doors these days are made with a hollow core and you can get through them a lot better than you’d think.

If you are locked in, you just have to cope. The Manitoba Shuffle works for some…” Well, I’ll be darned …” can be used for most situations. Mind you, few people darn any more, what with the cheap price of socks. But it’ll buy you time to think of a more graceful phrase. If you are a Canadian, the old standard of ” I’m so sorry. ” is a good start. And if you voted for either of the Trudeaus, you can do sorry like a professional.

Eh?

 

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?

The Bookworm And The Screenfly

I sat in my local bus shelter this week, heading for town. I had a book, so I was fine. The bus was due in 10 minutes.

A car went by on the street. A man tooted his horn and waved…so I waved back. Then sat there puzzling about who he could be. Didn’t recognise the car at all… Then I turned to my left and saw the teenager sitting looking at her mobile phone screen.

On a chance, I asked whether the horn tooter was for her. Yes, apparently it was her dad going by. I gave a sigh of relief – I was off the hook. He might now be wondering why I waved but at least I wasn’t ignoring someone I should know. We went back to book and screen.

And the bus went by. Neither of us had thought to watch out for it, get up, or signal it.

There was nothing to do but wait another ten minutes…but put away the book and the phone at the eight-minute mark.

See? Being absent-minded is not just a sin of old age.