Monday, July 16, 2012

Please Read The Letter

Woo hoo! I made it into the 2000s: Please Read The Letter is on the 2009 album "Raising Sand", by Alison Kraus and Robert Plant. OK, picky people will also note that it was first released on the Bob Plant album "Walking Into Clarksdale", realeased 1998. Bah, I say. And humbug.
Three letters...

Dear Listener Editor;
The first time I saw it in your pages, the matches came out. The second time: the fuse was lit. And now I’ve seen it for a third time. Which makes it time for me to explode.
July 21-27 Issue 3767
It’s the replacement of poo (a perfectly good -if childish – euphemism for sh*t, cr*p, d*ng, m*n*r*, or the ever-popular French m*rd*. Excrement.) with pooh. Pooh, as we should all know is the name of a Bear. A very nice Bear. A Bear of Importance, Hunny, and Verse.
Christopher Robin did not go a-wandering in the Hundred Acre Wood with a poo. That would have been weird. Instead, he went with Pooh, Piglet, Kanga, Tigger, Eeyore, Wol, Roo, and various others.

To replace Poo with Pooh implies that the word Poo (or sh*t, etc) is also synonymous with Black, Polar, Grizzly, Koala, and Cuddly. I shudder at the thought of a Cuddly Poo, but a Cuddly Pooh makes me feel all gooey and caramel-ey inside.
And consider this: all Bears can poo in the woods, but only one Pooh can Bear in the woods.

Please instruct your writers and sub-editors that a poo is a poo, and cannot under any circumstance be confused with Pooh, who is a Bear.
Many thanks,

Dear JohnKey;
It must be very heart-warming for you to know that 67%  63%  58%  whoops  53%  um  48% er quite a few people are still quite fond of you. Unfortunately, your popularity seems to be dropping almost as quickly as a crack whore’s drawers on a Saturday night.

So, what to do? You’ve tried the race card: hauling out the water rights thing, so the Maori Party will get all divisive and divided, and you look like quite a reasonable sort of chap, smirking while you said that all you were quoting was the law. Oh, please, JohnKey: not even Winston Creepers would have used that one.
We know that all you’ve done, really, is follow what your monied instincts tell you to do: grab things that aren’t yours, things that someone else (like me, and my parents) paid for and built, and sell them to yourself and your buck-buddies. After all, you’re Mum and Dad Kiwis, aren’t you?

You know that so-called “ordinary” Kiwis can’t afford to buy any of the shares / share packages that will be offered when the power companies go on the market.  In New Zealand and simultaneously in Australia, where there's a million or so "ordinary" Kiwis. Mind you, I have to grant that your definition of “ordinary” might be different from mine. To you, ordinary is someone who earns more than $200,000 a year. Probably overseas. To me, ordinary means the other 98% of people. Here.They’re the strange little creatures you meet on those interminable photo-opportunities you have to smile so much at.
But the smile’s not working these days, is it? Not working for you, and not being put to work by you. Perhaps people have started seeing how shallow and shabby you and your pod-people in Cabinet are…


Dear God;
I’ve been reading a bit about Intelligent Design lately.
It’s an attractive proposition, until I look at myself. I had to start wearing spectacles at age 3, because my “Intelligently Designed” eyes weren’t up to scratch. It took a surgical team of fallible people to fix the major problems that Your Infallibility left behind. Mind you, I got lucky: I missed the Intelligently Designed Polio you gave us to play with.

And now, it seems your Design has cracked up again. The chances seem pretty good that I have something called “Cluster Headaches”. You must have built them into your Perfect Design as a way of teaching us oh, something – although if a human father did that to his kids he’d be thrown into prison for child abuse. Anyway, if you’ve forgotten about Cluster Headaches, check ‘em out on You’ll see a video of a man learning your ineffable lesson as he joyously experiences a Cluster Headache. I know exactly how he feels.

Intelligent Design, eh, God? Sorry, but you don’t even get an “E” for Effort.

Ignore ya later,

Listening to: Nina Simone, Greatest Hits. “Cotton Eyed Joe” is playing right now. Sublime.
Reading: War comics.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

And When I Die

In 1969 (will I ever drag myself out of the 60s?) the jazz/rock fusion band Blood Sweat And Tears,_Sweat_%26_Tears released "And When I Die". It reached #2 on the Top 40, and was, quite possibly, the last time death was rationally mentioned on primetime media in the United States of America.

It strikes me that the Americans (and we're catching this particular disease) have a really odd attitude toward death. I am not convinced that people - particularly Americans -  actually "believe" in death. Vast numbers believe in some sort of Sky God who speaks to them personally, and who maintains some sort of home for them to go to when their material body dies, so they don't actually die. It's seems to me that there are major delusional factors involved in this belief system, but wjhat do I know?

But it goes beyond that. There's a number of movies that come out every year that shows the transubstantial belief goes beyond organised regions. The Christ, Jahweh, Mohammed, Krishna, and Buddha followers aren't mentioned in films in which an adult swaps bodies with a teenager (and vice versa, of course), and everyone enjoys learning a jolly good lesson. Or the films in which preople are miraculously saved from some tragedy, but are later harvested by a vengeful personified Death, wyho seems to enjoy coming up with quite novel and spectacular ways of doingn away with people. Now, even irrational people understand that movies ain't real. But even the suspension of disbelief allows the making and popularity of movies that easily insist on the reality of "souls", "spirits", and (more sinisterly) the personification of a being that takes your spirit from you.

Then there's the language. I've notived American movies, books, TV programmes, websites, and magazines almost never use the "D" word. People don't die, and they're not dead. They pass, or have passed.

Oh, well - that's them.

I noticed this the other, and couldn't believe it. The quote comes from the story in the link, which tells of a chap who was called in to investigate a "sacred" statue that was producing holy water. Unfortunately for the goddists, it was actually sewage water, leaking from a busted pipe. But here's the quote:

You now face possible arrest. Why?Leaders of two Catholic laity organizations have launched charges against me under Section 295A of the Indian penal code. This charges a person with "deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community.”

Yeah - an actual law that protects the feelings of the religious. Sigh. If their god ain't powerful enough to protect their feelings, then what the dickens does that law have to do with it?

Reading: Potsdam Station, by David Downing. The last of a series about Berlin during WWII. Better than Le Carre at his best.

Watched: "Strange Exports: A Christmas Tale". A Finnish movie about the real Santa. Deliciously funny.

Listening to: Lana del Ray "Born To Die". Well, at least she didn't call it "Born to pass..."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

When I'm Sixty-Four

The Beatles didn't do many "character" songs - and it could be argued either way as to whether "Sixty-Four" is one or not. It was on the Sergeant Pepper album, released in 1966, and it made my Parietal Lobe reverberate the other day when I looked at something and reacted... well, here's the story.

When you drive a bus, you get a terrific view of all sorts of stupid, wonderful, beautiful, and breath-taking things. I see a lot of drivers do a lot of stupid things. To be fair, I see a huge number more drivers doing sensible, safe, and thoughtful things, so it evens out. I see old couples out walking their dog, strolling along hand in hand. Very cool. I see teenagers walking together, and I know from the way they walk that they both want to hold hands, but neither knows just how to go about it. At night-time, I don't see any men waiting at bus-stops, because they're all wearing black. I've learnt to slooow---riiight---dooown just before every bus-stop, just to look for the invisible men. The other night one of them held up his glowing cell-phone to alert me. I could have kissed him.

And I see a lot of tights. And I often see long, bare legs, topped by micro-skirts. And 90% of the time I think to myself: "Shit, she must be cold." Actually, when the legs are bare you can tell she's cold. The legs are blotchy with purple patches.

Now, I'm pretty sure that only 10 years ago I would have been thinking "Hurly burly what a girly!" Actually, I wouldn't have been thinking at all: it would have been a purely visceral reaction.

"Shit, she must be cold." It's with that murmur of concern that all my dreams of being a dirty old man run down the gurgler. Damn.

Reading: David Downing, "Sealing Their Fate". A history of the 22 days in 1941 that Germany and Japan lost WWII. Excellent.
Listening to: The Beatles, "Love". The re-mix that Giles Martin did for the Cirque de Soleil show of the same name. Also excellent.
Watching: "Castle". Absolutely and totally brainless. I love it, but when are they going to get it on??