Sunday, October 20, 2013


What is likely to follow the warmest winter and record hot summer days this year? How about bush fires threatening. Fires that have already destroyed nearly two hundred homes - though our risk is the Mt Victoria fire according to my partner on the ground. We are currently surrounded by places that have been affected, and so many fires so close that we can only hope are routed and stopped from joining. Bushfire brigade has had to do some serious backburning to avoid that happening; which must carry it's own risk.  I haven't been on the Great Western Highway, even though our street runs onto it (thankfully, as a result of the roadworks, we have a slip road to get us to the village). The fire engines that were continuous on the first day have stopped.

We have so far survived what has taken people's houses.

Our holiday away at Ettalong Beach will have to wait.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Key to the city

Those clusters of three names are the times when there were commissioners running things. The position otherwise was Mayor through the nineteenth century, becoming Lord Mayor in 1903 while Thomas Hughes was incumbent.

The names denote the prominent force in the city: Anglo Saxon males who sport no nonsense names that any respectable citizen might possess. What's your name lad? Benjamin Palmer sir. Righto then, in you go.

I was most struck at the thought of becoming mayor of the capital city that bears your own name. Mercifully, Burdekin retreats from the grotto of Parkers and Smiths to deflect some of the overt Sydney-ness.

Another amusing* game is to do a scorecard of any mayors, lord mayors, or deputy commissioners who bear the same name

McDermott (2), Smith (2), Sutherland (2), Moore (2), Harris (2), McElhone (2)

(*or would have been amusing forty years ago when parlour games provided a distraction)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mayors, Lord and otherwise, of Sydney

Charles Windeyer 1824
John Hosking
James Wilshire
George Allen
Henry McDermott
Thomas Broughton
Joshua Frey Josephson
Edward Flood
George Hill
William Thurlow
Daniel Egan
Gilbert Elliott, Frederick Orme Darval, John Rae
George Thornton
John Williams
George Smith
James Murphy
John Sutherland
James Oatley
Thomas Spence
William Speer
John Woods
John Sutton
Charles Moore
Walter Renny
Michael Chapman
James Merriman
Stephen Styles Goold
Benjamin Palmer
James Merriman
Charles Roberts
Robert Fowler
John Harris
John Hardie
Thomas Playfair
John Young
Alban Riley
John Harris
Sydney Burdekin
Sir William Manning
Samuel Lees
Isaac Ives
Sir Matthew Harris
Sir James Graham
Sir Thomas Hughes
Samuel Lees
Allen Taylor
Sir Thomas Hughes
Sir Allen Taylor
George Clarke
Sir Arthur Cocks
Richard Watkins Richards
Richard Meagher
James Joynton Smith
John English
Sir Richard Watkins Richards
William Patrick Fitzgerald
William Lambert
William McElhone
David Gilpin
Patrick Stokes
John Mostyn
E.P. Fleming, J. Garlick,  H.E. Morton, Gordon Bennett
Ernest Marks
Joseph Jackson
Sir Samuel Walder
Richard Hagon
Sir Alfred Parker
Arthur McElhone
Archibald Howie
Norman Nock
Stanley Crick
Reg Bartley
Ernest O'Dea
Pat Hills
Harry Jensen
John Armstrong
Vernon Treatt, John Shaw, William Pettingell
Sir Laurence Emmet McDermott
David Griffin
Nicholas Shehadie
Leo Port
Nelson Meers
Doug Sutherland
Sir Eric Neal, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, Norman Oakes
Jeremy Bingham
Frank Sartor
Lucy Turnbull
Tony PooleyGarry PayneLucy Turnbull
Clover Moore

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Played your ism

Nothing remotely funny about distilling from a distance the creative capital that should reward its originator. It just got me thinking how different that sketch from last entry would look after an edit. Writers who can bowdlerise are ready to turn your wayward but inspired piece into a streamlined but stolen work.

Some of the more blatant cases in other fields such as music do make me wonder if the idea is to become so rich that, by the time your copyright theft is uncovered, you can continue, while the obscure composer is unlikely to ever reach the heights of fame and fortune, even with compensation.

Regardless of the flakes who haunt creative channels, we need to keep on going as artists with stories to tell and visions to bring to life. If we allow our artistic output and our creative control to be usurped by intellectual property theft then we're letting them win. Sure, they're going to run out of material without artisans and entrepreneurs sketching their plans and blueprints but too much damage is done to those whom they leech off, in the meantime.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Doesn't it seem a bit funny

As the primed minister sped toward the waiting commcar, its boot full of Battlelines and some discarded wedding cake, he reflected on all the things he'd fled since he became leader. He began to wonder whether he should add parquetry to his exercise regime. 

What's different here? Now it's telling a story. Even though we're intent on dishing out the usual variety of stylised scorn to a political opponent, it's no longer reportage, more gonzo journalism.

Another approach would be to move away from the target altogether. The idea of running away is an enduring one.

The Virtue of Running Away

Anyone reading boy's own adventures of any vintage would see the problem in this proposition. Running away has its comedic uses but is not what you want in any action sequence. The brave hero is always moving forward; rushing into danger, or at least constructing an ambush in which they play a pivotal part.

But real life can at best reconstruct the lives of the fallen. It's the ones who turned tail and lived to tell the tale who can give us the best account. Our yellow bellies can tell us a great deal.

The full on coward also serves to remind us that we are not the action hero, and we're not equipped to deal with most of those situations he or she find themselves in.

Think of the scout: they are being relied on to get a first hand account and then get out alive to report back to camp. They can only do this by making a strategic withdrawal. Knowing when to retreat is a valuable skill.

It could be said that if one does a good deal of running away from things, perhaps that is a sign that they are first placing themselves in peril by their actions.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Running gag

To show you in concrete terms what I was talking about regarding the different approach to writing lyrics to writing humorous monologue, let's pick a topic.

It struck me that there was potential in this whole idea of our representatives turning tail and refusing to address the issue. Not least because we are seeing this behaviour continue in government as we did when in opposition.

If we wished to be mean we could say that this is the beavioural norm for this lot while in power. Let's write a poem using a phrase used by Amanda Vanstone when she was minister "I'm not answering your question"

I'm Not Answering Your Question

In matters of state
I keep statements 
to a minimum
State your affiliations
State your claim
What other state is there
to live in

[9th October 2013]

Now the thing about this is that it has turned out quite differently to the initial outrage I felt at hearing this servant of the people refusing to explain. I was watching some Grant Morrison interviews after watching him live at the Opera House and in one, he mentions how when writing the Invisibles, he found the characters taking the story in a different direction than he had envisaged. The same thing happens when writing poems.

Well, here's a related phrase "I've Given You the Response You Deserve" - and if you don't know where that quote comes from then this haughty, not to say witless, refusal continues to have wider application.

But to the song:

I've Given You The Response You Deserve

I've categorically stated
the long list of things I hated
ever being debated

Look, I've given you my answer

I've whirred about on the spot
Saying things, I am not
A robot with abs

Turn the cameras off
Shut the recorders down
Why have account ability

I've given you 
      the response you deserve

[9th October 2013]

I feel that to write a humorous essay using this dodging and running away requires a different approach again. You can see that the song stays with the source; it's protesting the fact that this country's preferred leader runs away a lot. Or stands on the spot and says nothing; which is even more disconcerting. I didn't consciously try to stylistically vary from the first piece and this one; that just the form it took.

In our comedy survey of this idea, we could very well note the famous use in Monty Python and the Holy Grail or the repeated motif of comedy characters running away from things - bears, savage dogs, an angry mob they've upset with their shenanigans - but we've done this in preceding entries. I'm interested in a practical example. Should we stay with politicians? with conservative politicians?

You could do a comparison that mocks both major parties:

You ever notice how when a Labor politician gets caught bungling or being corrupt, and they don't have an excuse, they just repeat the phrase that best tamps the damage (or that they fancy will do so). When a Liberal politician gets caught doing the same thing, their instinct is just to bolt for the door or answer contemptuously. 

That's alright as an approach, a premise. But it lacks the funny, it's still just observation. Take it one step further and it may matter less what the ideological make up of your audience is

But, if you're like me, I couldn't find sufficient humour in examining the idea so, if really pushed to pursue this theme, I suggest a  whammy of whimsy instead

It was only a matter of time before our elected representatives starting running away from us. All those babies they've kissed, the pensioners they've sucked up to, an ever pressing aggressive crowd.. If you had to deal with this for months on end, wouldn't your nerves be frayed? Wouldn't you feel like fleeing at the next stupid question?
Well now these most scrutinised of fellows finally get to fly in under the radar and it's all done by adopting a slacker's guide to dealing with the public and the press. Whenever a question is asked that demonstrates the reporter knows more than the candidate, feign hurt or do something that will distract from the question, anything but show your ignorance.

Because refusing to explain an extremely contentious statement you made is not a sign of ignorance.

Well, as you can see, comedy is not my forte. I cannot surmount the strong feeling I have about some subjects to enable me to write humorously about them.

I'd have to turf out the whole association of political masters writing this piece.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Hardy Ha ha

Blogging about humour without using humour, fair enough. I like the whole enterprise of raising a giggle, but I do note its prevalence and the way it has spilled over into presentation and gathered at discovery. The way that jest is used to sell product  and scoffing at institutions long enough threatens to raise new ones in their place. 

Sometimes I would like a more sober exchange on things that concern us at any given time, and for the longer period. It's not that I mean to be a buzzkill; I just think there are times when derision only does half the job. We could just keep replacing one tyranny with the next. In fact, that seems to be the way conventional politics and governance works.

I have some sympathy with the sticklers of yore when it comes to comedy - it is better to sit down and discuss the problem than to constantly make light of it, and better to seek a resolution than rely solely on mockery to sustain us.

Not that the sardonic hardarse has no role to play in setting the course, just that there must be others on the journey.