Monday, September 15, 2014

Getting the Band Back Together

Apparently all we ever want is a reunion, until it happens. Blues Brothers has given everyone false hope that getting the band back together is going to be a roaring success. In reality they are more police cars at the end of the most famous cinematic car chase.

Have we learned nothing from catching up with high school reunions. Despite all of the cliques and power struggles of our youth everyone has turned out pretty much the same. The high school athlete, the prettiest girl at school and the academic super star are all now middle aged, over weight and. slightly balding. Even the magic from your closest friends has gone. The rapport, the timing just isn’t quite there any more.

Despite this, the media and some fans are desperate for any former television show with either a cult following or high ratings in its prime consistently call for the cast to reunite.

Hey Hey It’s Saturday should be a warning to us all. It was a rating juggernaut in its day and every international celebrity gracing Australia with their presence would want to be book onto the show. Saturday nights did not start until 8.30pm.

Then after ten years off the air, the cast reunited for a series of shows in 2009…crickets and tumble weeds.

What was fast, improvised and sharp-witted was now awkward, forced and cringey.

The chemistry was right for its time. But times change and even with the greatest sense of nostalgic anticipation, the reboot is never quite like the original.

The latest call is for the cast of Married With Children to reunite after they all gathered to celebrate Katey Segal’s star on Hollywood’s walk of fame. Ed O’Neil whilst still a great comedic actor is now looking a lot older, heavier and balder. Would the politically incorrect, misogynistic and exploitative humour still get the same laughs from either the live audience or the laugh track? Or would it soon appear to be a bit worn and same-same.

I personally have wanted a Seinfeld reunion since the day the final episode first aired. I loved the mini reunion between Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander/George Costanza for an episode of Jerry’s web series, Comedian’s in Cars Getting Coffee. It was great, very funny, but relationship was only a shadow of its former glory. The timing had slipped. In the show Jerry played himself, and Jason played George. In this reunion Jerry was playing Jerry playing himself and Jason was playing Jason
playing George. As desperate as I was for this to be one of the great moments in entertainment history, what I got was more like an impersonation of one of the great shows in sitcom history. Don’t get me wrong still it was still miles ahead of any sitcom being produced now

Along with being older Jason was also fatter and balder!

Arrested Development was ground breaking and won critical acclaim. The 2013 reboot series was critically dismissed.

Friends was a stalwart of television through the 90s into the early 2000s and is another show that regularly gets touted for a reunion   Depending on the timing of any reunion Matthew Perry will have either gained or lost a lot of weight.
series. This would raise the other awkward challenge of a television reunion. The casts careers and personal lives have taken vastly different trajectories. Apparently, for some of them, no-one told them that life was going to be this way.

At least the actors, if not their careers, are still alive. Unlike the cast of Golden Girls. Sophia, Dorothy and Blanche are now in the Golden Palace in the sky. On the upside they no longer have to worry bout their weight.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Baby news

Oh glee, rapture, excitement and wonder The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child. Oh happy days. The young couple living a life of privilege have had unprotected sex. Though I am not expecting the couple saved footage of the royal rogering on iCloud.

In case any of the general public cant work it out, the world’s media have gone on to say Prince George will have a baby brother or sister.

My grade five teacher was pregnant and referred to her unborn child as “Gonzo”. Let’s stick with that.

Gonzo will be the fourth in line for the throne, regardless of gender. It must be had for Prince Harry to be excited, knowing that each time his brother and sister-in-law get jiggy with it he drops in the ranks. On the upside has fewer reasons now to cub his partying lifestyle much like his great-step-aunt Margaret. Hew can also maintain his politically incorrect/racist ways following the example of his step-grandfather.

Will Gonzo be a boy or a girl. Gush. What will it be named? Coo. Will the birth be celebrated with a commemorative plate? Sigh.

The world will watch Gonzo grow, attend and graduate from school. Regardless of the level of education completed the world will be in awe. Whether it be no formal qualification like Great Grandma (A true queen needs no qualification) or be academically talented like Great Uncle Edward the Commonwealth will wait with baited breath for the exam results. Uncle Harry, with a B in Arts (assisted by his teacher) and D in geography is well qualified for doing the odd jobs he does in between socialising.

Gonzo is will join an ever growing list of people likely to never be Monarch of Australia. Grandpa Charles is first in line to be not-king. Gonzo could also be the first royal born in Good Britain. With the Scottish referendum only days away and the “yes” vote gaining momentum Scotland may succeed from Great Britain taking 1/3 of the land mass with it.

With Scotland cutting the umbilical chord would this leave the Union Jack just being “Jack”? This would seem appropriate as it would represent the sentiment of the Scots.

I would write more but I have to decorate my house in Jack flags and bunting and settle in for 6-7 months of speculating about when the baby bump is showing, Kate’s maternity fashion, the gender and official name of Gonzo, and how quickly Kate loses the baby weight.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Unlucky 7

God reportedly created the earth in seven days. If taken literally, this is quite a feat. But just like renovation make over shows that rebuild a property in only a matter of weeks if not days you have to question the quality. There has to be a few things that God sits back during time of self reflection and thinks “ok, so I could have done better there.

Volcanoes. If nothing else it proves  that the soil – like an old hot water system – of heats a bit and as a result leaks occasionally.

Platypus. Don’t tell me this wasn’t one of his first creations as he tried out a few component parts. Duck bill, beaver body, mammal but lays eggs, poisonous spine that would eventually find its way onto scorpions and some fish.

People. Enough said?

Sure he looked at what he created at the end of each day and saw that it was good. Imagine what earth would be like if he took his time and saw that things were great.

We have a seven day week, in theory to represent the seven days of creation. Who hasn’t said if only there were more days in a week? When it comes to employment or household jobs there is always the desire for more time. Whether it is to complete more tasks or be less rushed with the tasks to improve the quality. No-one likes to create a platypus. Alternatively just to have another day to rest. God appears to have rushed both his work and his rest (on the seventh day he rested).

There are seven colours in the rainbow, and hasn’t that proved to be lucky for the LGBT community. That might explain why they really only use six colours. To be honest indigo always sounded a bit gay anyway. There is never a Leprechaun at the end of it and definitely no pot of gold.

Game of Thrones the people of Westeros worship the seven gods (The Mother, The Father, The Warrior, The Crone, The Smith, The Maiden and The Stranger) and there are seven kingdoms (The North, Iron Lands, The Vale, The Westerlands, The Reach, the Stormlands and the Dorne). Although this is all proving to be more than lucky for the author George R.R. Martin and for the senior management of HBO. There is not much luck for the people who live in the area. Sure the sex appears to be pretty free and easy but so is death. What does appear to be an indication of luck if penning epic fantasy narratives is to have initials in your name. Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien, Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling.

Like GoT, Japanese mythology also has seven gods. Seven Lucky Gods at that
Hotei, the fat and happy god of good health. Fat may be jolly but it is not healthy.
Jurojin the god of long life, clearly a god who did not live near Fukushima…or maybe he did!
Fukurokuju the god of happiness wealth and long life. Lucky to be a god, but not lucky enough to have his own portfolio. Like a Parliamentary Secretary, the title sounds impressive but turns out to be nothing more than number one dog’s body to the Minister. If the Japanese Gods were a theatre group, Fukurokuju would be the understudy.
Bishamonten god of warriors. War is not lucky for anyone. Ever.
Benzaiten the goddess of knowledge, art and beauty. What a patronising title. She may as well be goddess of cooking, light cleaning and babies. Secondly being the only female in the group who know at some point all of the gods are going to at least try it on. “Want to really get lucky? I’m a god!”
Daikokuten the god of wealth, commerce and trade. Another of Fukurokuju’s bosses. To be honest Daikoku (as he is known to his friends) has proven to be a lucky god for Japan, at least in the 70s to 90s. Japan was king in the manufacturing world of electronics and textiles, until Bali and Thailand discovered the art of counterfeit. All luck runs out sometime and for Dikoku and the Japanese people it was the day Tony Abbott declared he wants Japan to be his Asian BFF.
Ebisu god of fishers and merchants. Ebisu works closely with Daikoku to sell Japanese made product around the world. The 2011 tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster has put paid to any luck that the Japanese fishing industry.

If seven is so lucky why are there seven deadly sins. There were also seven Beethoven movies including five that went straight to video and seven editions in the Smokey and the Bandit franchise including four that were made just for television, not even video.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Father's Day

Dad’s were traditionally seen the source of all strength and knowledge, hence the school yard argument of “my dad is better than your dad”. Not until Master Chef or My Kitchen Rules were there arguments about whose parent could make a better risotto.

Growing up in the 70s dads were expected to be able to fix anything from a flat tyre to a hole in the fence to a broken washing machine. They were also meant to teach their sons (yes the 70s were still structured around gender stereotypes) how to do these things for when they become fathers themselves. My dad taught me how to swear when fixing things.

Normally very mild mannered and quietly spoken, but when he took off the back of that washing machine then linguistically he resorted to the language of his youth when he served in the navy.

I did also learn to fix a flat tyre. I will not have children until I can fix a fence and a washing machine. That is my vow.

Mum’s were expected to know about school things; the three Rs. Dads were meant to know about everything else. Dad’s were meant to answer the question “why?” My dad could and did. I was always amazed at how much he knew. As a teenager growing into an adult it was intimidating, how was I ever going to know so much?

As an adult I learned that it was not that dad knew everything but rather he knew a little about a lot. It turns out this is something that I did get from my dad. The ability to absorb snippets of information about a wide range of topics without getting bogged down in the details, the more trivial the better. I know that you can tell the gender of a giraffe but its horns and the shape of its dropping. I know that 90% of the world’s opals come from Australia. I know that construction is considered a sign of the areas wealth and that approximately 25% of the world’s cranes are in Dubai.

Unfortunately this type random fact, although useful in creating an impression of knowing a lot about everything  actually fill the brain preventing it from knowing much about anything. I do, however, have something to add to every conversation.

I do, just ask me.

Before the era of quinoa, reductions and deconstructions, dad’s were not expected to cook. Except for BBQ’s in which case the hot flames were clearly too dangerous for the lady folk who were constrained to making the salads, in the kitchen. My dad could make stew. I do not remember this stew fondly.

Dad’s stew did not have any flavour. Dad only made stew on the rare occasions that mum was too sick to cook dinner. On these day’s Dad also  got us ready for school. This meant that all day we knew what was going to be served up for the evening meal. Dad’s stew consisted of whatever ingredients Mum had arranged for dinner, which was always meat and three veg. One of the vegetables had to be green another one red/orange the third was up for grabs though nearly always potato.

Dad’s stew meant he took these ingredients, chopped them into pieces of roughly the same size placing them in a pot covering them with water and boiling them till all the flavour was cook out of them.

This would be served with some bread to help mop up the “gravy”.

Gift purchasing was always left to mum. All but one gift. Birthdays and Christmas there was always a Dad gift. He even wrote the gift tag. The Dad joke on the day prior, every year was “Oh is it your birthday tomorrow?” or “Is it Christmas tomorrow, I hope Santa remembers”. We were never sure if this was a joke or a statement to try and cover up the fact that Dad had only just remembered and was yet to buy a gift. Hiding in plain sight. Either way Dad’s gifts were always a cherished present to be opened last.

They were usually a little abstract but clearly represented Dad’s understanding of us kids. I think we also knew what an unusual thing it was for Dad to enter a retail area for something other than hard wear. This always added to it value, regardless of how much he paid.

Into his seventies Dad still repairs driveways, installs kitchens and buys those special dad gifts. Although he still knows just as much about everything the recall of this information can be somewhat slower. Not to fear it is all just on the tip of his tongue. Sometimes I do not know how he can still close his mouth.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Because Elephants Never Forget

original photograph,

Elephants, despite their immense strength and power, are truly gentle giants, Sure they will use their size and strength aggressively to defend their territory food and family, who wouldn’t. They are also intelligent and playful so why are they the subject of derogatory sayings and idioms?

White Elephant

This is an object that ca not be easily disposed of. They are objects whose costs, particularly upkeep and maintenance far exceed its practical worth and usefulness.

White elephants (albino) are considered holy in Thailand, and are all gifted to the King to be maintained and worshipped. This would make an excellent simile for how all elephants should be treated “respected like royalty”. Unfortunately the history of the term “white elephant” does not end there.

Not surprisingly elephants are expensive to maintain. Traditionally the Thai king, if he became dissatisfied with a subject would give him one of the white elephants to care for thereby bankrupting the person.

Seeing Pink Elephants

First of all pink elephants do exist, albino elephants whilst usually white can appear to be pink. I do not think Thai kings are known for their alcoholism, but why not after all it “good to be the king”. Princess Margaret was never to be Queen yet it did not stop her love of a stiff drink. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was also famed for her ability to consume much more than a tipple. Let’s be honest, she probably lived to the age of 101 because her insides were completed preserved in alcohol. Pickled.

Has anyone ever actually seen pink elephants in their state of drunken delirium? No, in the same way no-one actually sees stars or little birds creating a halo around their heads when they have been knocked out.

But why pink elephants, why not green zebras, polka dotted kangaroos or orange pigs. All of which would be equally disturbing, particularly if flying past.

Elephant in the room

This saying is used when people do not want to talk about the most obvious issue/truth in the room, often in meetings. I understand it this phrase if you were all sitting around the conference table in your Armani suits with your smart phones and boutique water and there was an elephant in the corner quietly minding its own business it would be unusual for no one to even mention it. Surely someone would walk in and ask, ”who brought the elephant?”

But again I ask why an elephant? Surely pretty much any animal would be unusual in this circumstance, goat, horse, tortoise. Even if we wanted to stick with larger animals, giant tortoise, polar bear or hippopotamus, or larger African animals, hippopotamus, giraffe or rhinoceros. Tell me you would not be surprised in you entered a meeting with your leather bound compendium, soy-based-decaf-latte-with-a-shot-of-hazelnut, and designer shoes and their was a rhino grazing on the kale salad. Even more surprising would be if no-one made the wise crack “wow that stuff is making him horny”.

Eating an elephant

Another idiom from the corporate world. How do you eat an elephant? Answer: one bite at a time? Elephants are big and would provide plenty of meals. So does a cow. We eat that one bite at a time too. Normally it is not the whole cow that is on our plates but rather a cut of meat, a steak, some ribs, offal. And even then people do not try and get the entire t-bone steak in their mouth at once.

I want to point out the elephant in the room here and say this is just managers pointing out the obvious.

Ok it’s a big project and probably going to be difficult in parts. Just as Maria von Trapp says “Let’s start at the very beginning”.

Even the most naïve person would not expect that a rock concert just happens, but rather intuitively know that songs have to be written and rehearsed, the stage has to be built and tickets sold.

Projects have to be meticulously planned and each interdependent step completed sequentially. Eating an elephant does not appear to be that organised. We have all seen footage of lions devouring an elephant carcass. It is a random free for all.

Sure some pieces are meatier and more desirable than others. But the top lioness is not scalding the rest of the pack for ripping into the neck, growling “growling start at the tail, finish at the trunk.”

Eating an elephant is just one bit at a time. Completing a complex project is one specific step at a time. Get the steps wrong and it will all come crashing down making you see stars. To unwind from the disaster you have a drink or two leaving you seeing a pink elephant. A partially eaten pink elephant.

If only the elephants of Africa and Asia were respected like royalty. After all an elephant never forgets.

Join the effort