Showing posts with label humor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label humor. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Good place to get pissed

I must be careful with blog titles like that, containing slang. I shouldn't take it for granted that Russian and American readers of Antipodes, for example, are aware that, in my native Australia, "getting pissed" means drinking an excessive quantity of beer... where the sense of the adjective "excessive" is rather relative.

One of my ancestral relatives in Dorset, living at Blandford St Mary, was described in the 1841 census as a brewer... but I have no idea yet of the nature of the beverage he brewed, or the place where he worked.


Incidentally, other records have enabled me to verify that, in the second quarter of the 19th century, in a tiny rural village in south-west England (Winterborne Stickland), a 40-year-old woman, Jane Woolridge, the wife of her younger husband James Skivington, could indeed give birth to a healthy son. As you can see in the census data, the name of this son was William Skivington. He became a cabinet maker, and married a local girl named Martha Coffin. (It takes all kinds of cabinets to make a world.) Later on, William became a piano tuner. Then he set up a prosperous business in Salisbury Street, Blandford Forum, with a shop on Market Place that sold pianos, organs, harmoniums, etc.


A few years ago, I visited the local museum in Blandford Forum. This excursion was described already in a blog post titled Dorset ancestral anecdotes [display].


Inside, I was thrilled to find myself face to face with a pump organ from  the Skivington music shop.


The museum curator knew all about this family, and he gave me photocopies of notes about my relatives. He even seemed to appreciate the musical qualities (or was he merely being polite?) of an ancient Anglican hymn, When I survey the wondrous cross, that I succeeded—more or less—in playing on the instrument. And I wouldn't be surprised if the Christian sounds I produced woke up all the Skivington ghosts in the neighborhood, who were surely charmed by the idea that an Antipodean member of their family might attempt, crudely, to breathe some audio life back into the old organ.


Incidentally, for readers who have been following closely all the trivial stuff I'm relating, here's a correct version, played by a competent unnamed organist, of the simple but catchy tune (from my childhood) that I was attempting to reproduce—with strenuous non-stop treadle pumping—on the archaic instrument in Blandford Forum.


Let's get back to beer. In the Blandford region, a tiny river, the Piddle, looks more like a piddling man-made canal than a real river.


Various local place names incorporate either "piddle" (Piddlehinton, Piddletrenthide) or "puddle" (Puddletown, Tolpuddle, Affpuddle, Briantspuddle, Turnerspuddle). Philosophical question: When does a piddle become a puddle? And can puddling be thought of as the same activity as piddling? The case of the Thomas Hardy village near Dorchester is amusing, in that it has been known officially both as Piddletown and Puddletown.

If you'll just bear with me for a second, I promise that I'll talk at last about beer. I still don't know what kind of stuff James Skivington might have been brewing in Dorset in 1841. But, a few years ago, two Piddlehinton lads got involved in a thriving business—more lucrative than selling organs—by creating the Dorset Piddle Brewery.


Click here to visit their website, enabling you to appreciate some of their inevitable play on words inviting you to this good place to get pissed in Dorset. I must drop in there, the next time I'm visiting my ancestral region, when I feel like a Piddle.

ADDENDUM: Well, it certainly wasn't difficult to find facts concerning the context in which my ancestral relative James Skivington was employed as a brewer, in 1841, in Blandford St Mary. In the middle of the village, there's a big and ancient red-brick brewery:


It's the home of Hall & Woodhouse, known today as Badger Brewery, whose foundation dates from 1777. Click here to visit their excellent website.


I'm embarrassed. There was an elephant in the sitting room, and I didn't even see it. This simply means, in fact, that I've never had an opportunity of strolling around Blandford St Mary (just alongside Blandford Forum). So, on second thoughts, when I'm next in Dorset, and thinking maybe about getting pissed, I won't even bother going to Piddlehinton. I'll simply look around for a pub in the ancestral Blandford context.

Unfortunately, all the old Hall & Woodhouse archives were lost in 1900 when a fire destroyed the original brewery buildings.

Talking about ancestral Blandford pubs, look at this nice place:


Known today as the The Dolphin, this ancient establishment was formerly the White Hart Inn, in West Street, Blandford Forum, operated by three successive generations of 18th and 19th century gentlemen named William Skivington.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nominated for dumbest-article-of-the-year awards

I know it's far too early to start suggesting nominations for the prestigious awards highlighting the dumbest press articles published in 2011, but I wanted to get in early with this British gem.

[Click the banner to read the unsigned article.]

The gist of the article is that the happiest families are those that comprise exactly two female offspring. Tough luck for Christine and me. We're divorced since 22 November 1977 (an easy-to-remember date, 221177, which I use as the locking code of an elegant leather attaché case that I purchased in Bangkok many years ago), but I'm now frustrated by the idea that a last-minute sex-change (?) applied to our François might have guaranteed us all perpetual happiness.

The funniest aspect of the article is their ironic choice of a photo: Kate Middleton's future brother-in-law Andrew, his ex-wife Fergy and their two daughters Beatrice and Eugenie.

What a fucking beautiful portrait of eternal family bliss!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great new couple on Aussie TV

The Aussie entertainment scene will be soaring to new heights with an exciting concept of prime-time TV: the Bob & Kris Show.

Viewers of all ages are promised a mixture of family fun, nostalgia and in-depth comments concerning the political scene — past, present and future. Above all, past.

FAKERY: I hardly need to explain that the above image results from a crude Photoshop substitution of two famous hair styles. The original (excellent) photo comes from The Daily Telegraph, and I found my copy here. Having been a Bob Hawke admirer for years and a Kristina Keneally detester for an all-too-short term, I must admit that, funnily enough, I prefer my fakery to the genuine photo. Young-minded Bob looks dashing with that short sweeping cut, while Kristina's homely white-haired appearance reflects the obsolescence of her fuzzy political know-how. And in my image, Kristina doesn't stand above Bob.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hilarious prank in Belgium

To appreciate this video (spoken in Flemish with excellent English subtitles), you'll need a few preliminary explanations. Four young fellows have decided to play an ingenious prank on a Belgian phone company named Mobistar, notorious for the poor quality of its call centers. The fellows rented an office container: that's to say, a fully-equipped mobile office that looks, from the outside, exactly like a shipping container. They painted their phone number on the outside of the container, and then got themselves delivered on the back of a truck to the suburban headquarters of Mobistar, where the container was placed in the middle of the road in such a way that it prevented Mobistar employees from getting into the parking lot. Then the four fellows waited. Meanwhile, friends in front of the Mobistar building filmed the huge traffic jam caused by the container.

Inside the office container, the phone soon started to ring. It was Mathieu, the Mobistar security officer, who imagined naively that he was in phone contact with the offices of a container company called Buro-Containers. Mathieu, of course, wanted the container company to come along immediately and remove their container from the Mobistar premises. But poor Mathieu receives robotic and moronic reactions of the same kind as those of the Mobistar call center.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beware of aerial cows

One of the subtle advantages of being born an Anglo-Saxon (as the French call us) is that, while you're growing up, a lot of precious nonsense is thrust upon you, capable of sustaining you throughout life.

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon,
The little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
An audacious American flight pioneer (maybe of non-British descent) was apparently deprived of this cultural background, which left him ill-prepared for an ordinary calamity.

This "latest US news" illustration from Le Petit Journal is an offering from the online Gallica service.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nomadic beast filling its pouch

My daughter found this French video on the web:

If only the overrated Chaser's War on Everything on Australian TV had included imaginative sketches of this quality, I would have found their sense of humor less juvenile. To my mind, putting on a false beard, dressing up as an Arab and getting driven through security barriers (?) to an international conference is hardly hilarious.

I don't imagine, though, that all the kangaroo's encounters were spontaneous happenings. It looks like a staged video for a French song about a nomadic kangaroo. But it's still funny.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Five good reasons why I dislike lists

1. Whenever I see somebody's list, say, of 5 good reasons why McCain should be elected president, I can be almost certain that it'll be followed shortly after by a list of 5 good reasons, maybe formulated by the same person, why Obama should be elected.

2. It's a fact that, in our computer-oriented society, we're accustomed to numbered lists of items. [I myself am a culprit at times concerning the use of lists in my writing.] We should realize however that, while this linear style of expression might appear to be clear, it is not necessarily valid or convincing. The basic problem with a list of alleged good reasons is that it should ideally be read at the same time as a list of bad reasons, or opposite reasons.

3. A list of N reasons why something or other should be done, or believed, smacks of smugness, as if everything has been summed up nicely and completely in an itemized fashion. Reality is a far more fuzzy affair, in which almost every alleged "reason", if pushed to its limits, is of a borderline nature.

4. If God has intended us to think in terms of lists of reasons, He would have been far more explicit concerning this style of expression. Among other things, He would have provided us with a list of reasons why we should adhere to His list of 10 commandments. Furthermore, He would have told us how many items there should be in a typical list before we can get around to considering the case closed. For example, I can think of one good reason why I don't believe in God, namely: He doesn't exist! But this list is surely too short.

5. The final reason for my disliking lists is the existence of further reasons, not included in the present list. Etc...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Spoof trailer for a font movie

The Extensis company produces a Macintosh font tool named Suitcase Fusion, which is a must for people who like to play around with a variety of exotic fonts. Since they're about to release a new version of this product, they've created a splendid spoof trailer for an alleged movie named Bravefont, described as a "historical, romantic, action-adventure, science fiction drama". Produced by Orlando Caps and directed by Bauer Bodoni, the movie stars Stone Serif, Lucida Blackletter, Sean Symbol, Corvina Skyline, Gill Sans and Dom Casual.

[Click the banner to see the spoof trailer.]

It's adolescent humor of the kind that might be imagined by American college students, but nicely produced.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Religulous

Ever since his sketch on France, I've admired greatly the US stand-up comedian Bill Maher. It's reassuring that an American could be so frank and lucid.



I'm looking forward to his anti-religious movie, Religulous (like ridiculous), which will be coming out in the near future.

[Click the banner to see the trailer.]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Satire

The New Yorker cover with an image of Barack Obama and his wife, presented by artist Barry Blitt as terrorists, created an uproar.

It was intended, in good faith, as satire. The definition of this term starts as follows in my online Macintosh dictionary:

the use of humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics...

For me, there's a slight but significant hitch in this case of alleged satire. The artist has indeed used exaggeration to depict the Obama couple as imagined by their enemies, but the resulting concoction is simply not funny. There is no hint of humor or irony in this caricature, which does nothing to ridicule Obama's mindless opponents. For me, this cover drawing is far too literal to merit the title of satire.

Let's move back in time to the Nazi epoch. Many Germans looked upon Jews with delusions of a similar craziness to those concerning Obama today. The typical Jew was stigmatized as ugly, evil and cruel, caring only for wealth, and capable of taking control of weak nations (like France) that had allowed themselves to become the victims of Bolshevism. A well-meaning but unimaginably naive magazine might have thought it funny to put the following image on their cover, as an intended satire of Nazi nonsense:

Alas, far from being a humorous satire intended to ridicule Nazis, this poster was a nasty specimen of hate propaganda, designed to promote a notorious film, Der ewige Jude [the eternal Jew], supervised by Joseph Goebbels and directed by Fritz Hippler. So, you might say that there's a fine line separating satire from offensive shit. The distinction resides in the talents and desires of the individuals who are manipulating, for good or for evil, such powerful messages.

I've often felt that Americans don't always reveal a firm and subtle mastery of political humor and satire. They tend to remain too close to the literal surface, without an aptitude for handling what the French refer to as the second degree of irony, which occurs at rare moments when a skilled humorist succeeds in making fun of fun itself.

In the neighboring domain of stage comedians of the one-man-show kind, I've often been intrigued by comparisons between celebrities from Australia, Britain, America and France. It's a vast and fascinating subject, which cannot of course be handled summarily, here in my blog. In fact, it would be an excellent subject for a doctoral thesis in sociology, provided that the researcher could incorporate video excerpts into his/her thesis.

As for me, I find that the most brilliant political cartoonists, the funniest stage comedians and the most expert producers of TV satire in the world happen to operate right here in France.