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Archive for August, 2009

I torture myself unnecessarily with choosing prize-winners for my dopey contests; ‘unnecessarily’ because obviously it’s not the Man Booker Prize, the Acadamy Awards or the Nobel Peace Prize yet I appreciate immensely the thought, effort, wit and panache involved every time. So while I might set these things to play around with I might avoid placing myself in these excrutiating judgemental positions.

Having said that, I do at least owe a final podium for Bargain Basement Part I and Part II. The quality was as high and heroic as ever; and to be honest I can’t slip a cigarette paper between Simon and The Imaginary Reviewer … please accept my humble offer of a Big Fish each. And for consistent excellence both here and at Bored Neoclassical Guy, a long overdue Splendid Award for Eric.

big-fishabsolutely_splendid

Now, back to frivolity today.

Don’t ask me why but I was watching one of those fashion design competitions. The remit in this particular episode was to design an outfit for a model and a matching ensemble for a pet dog — not, of course, a Bull Mastiff, or an Elk Hound, or a Doberman Pinscher (something that still bears at least a passing resemblance to its lupine ancestry); but one of those pocket-sized numbers that fits in a handbag or bicycle basket or haversack. The sort of pooch that might even get squeezed into a bottle or a vase for all I know.

dog bag web

What struck me and intrigued me more than the fashion, though, was the interchangeability of the names of the models and the dogs.

There is a theory called ‘nominative determinism’ which states that one’s name can go some way to dictating one’s choice of career and so forth. Clearly it does not always work, or my surname — Davenport — would consign me to life as a useful desk or a comfy sofa.

The lavatory ballcock was invented by a gentleman called Thomas Crapper. It is widely believed that he invented the flushing toilet itself and that his name was the root of the word ‘crap’ and ‘crapper’; but in fact those highly useful words preceded him. So perhaps his future was prenatally and preternaturally written in, er, well, you know.

The same theory accounts for the late Keith Moon’s little-known secondary career as an astronomer, and Dorothy Parker’s as a garage valet.

So perhaps an exotic name (or at least a canine-sounding name, wierdly) at birth steers some people towards a modelling career. As long as they are also tall, I suppose.

So here’s a mixed-up list of the names of the models and the dogs from that show — all genuine, and an equal number of each. The game (not contest!) is to decide which is model and which is dog:

Lyndsay; Toni; Pepito; Molly; Danielle; Chanel; Camilla; Clarissa; Sparkle; Morgan; Nazri; Jia; Lil’A; Marilinda; Carly; Sophia; Javi; Patty Cake; Talulah; Katia; Katie; Flex.

modelorhound

Carly? Toni? Pepito? Flex? C’m’ere, girl!

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A chucklesome comment from Sali Lamo, New Yorker cartoonist: “Not to be a downer or anything, but Michael Jackson’s dying is really going to hurt the credibility of the hyperbaric-oxygen-chamber industry.”

Which is an insightful and previously neglected thought; although I would say this:  people didn’t seem to be put off running when the health convert Jim Fixx, doyen of jogging, dropped dead from a heart attack at the age of 52.

joggers bw

Even now you can’t throw a plimsoll in Central Park, Hyde Park, Stanley Park or Albert Park without it bouncing off the cranium of somebody sweatily loping around its perimeter. And at times it seems that there are more people at any one time taking part in marathons around the world’s great cities than laying on the couch watching them.

Death can kindly stop for anyone, though, and slowly drive them off in his carriage. His  lifetime-sized hourglass currently hangs over Patrick Swayze; and he has previously transported away Syd Barrett, Luciano Pavarotti, Rene Magritte, Dizzy Gillespie, Randy Pausch and Bill Hicks in the glossy landau he calls ‘Pancreatic Cancer’.

death carriage

This coach usually draws up alongside octo- and septuagenarians but can also squeak to a halt alongside the young and healthy. Nobody really knows why. Pancreatic cancer is not genetic. Bill Hicks blamed it on his energetic smoking, which certainly cannot have helped; yet Keith Richards still somehow walks the earth, while Randy Pausch never let a cigarette pass his lips.

Professor Pausch was a computer science lecturer and researcher at Carnegie Mellon whose ‘last words’ were an inspiring ‘Last Lecture‘. Which I’ll get around to watching and getting inspired by at some point. Before I die, let’s say.

The last words of Bill Hicks were a more pithy “I’ve said all I have to say” on Valentine’s Day 1994. And he was as good as his word, staying silent for his final twelve days on this world.

Bill Hicks

To come full circle, though, here are some of the great(est) comedian’s thoughts on the subject at hand:

“Does anyone remember this, when Yul Brynner died, and came out with that commercial after he was dead? ‘I’m Yul Brynner and I’m dead now.

What the fuck’s this guy selling? I’m all ears.

I’m Yul Brynner and I’m dead now, because I smoked cigarettes.’

Okay, pretty scary. But they coulda done that with anybody. They coulda done it with that Jim Fixx guy, too, just as easily. Remember that guy, that health nut who died while jogging? I don’t remember seeing his commercial. ‘I’m Jim Fixx and I’m dead now. And I don’t know what the fuck happened. I jogged every day, ate nothing but tofu, swam five hundred laps every morning, and I’m dead. Yul Brynner drank, smoke, and got laid every night of his life… he’s dead.

Shit.

Yul Brynner’s smokin’, drinkin’, girls are sitting on his cueball noggin every night of his life! I’m running around a dewy track at dawn. And we’re both fuckin’ dead. Goddammit.

Yul used to pass me on his way home in the morning, big long limousine, two girls blowing him, cigarette in one hand, drink in the other. “One day that life is going to get to you, Yul.” ‘

They’re both dead. Yeah, but what a healthy looking corpse you were, Jim. Look at the hamstrings on that corpse! Look at the sloppy grin on Yul’s corpse! Yul Brynner lived his life. Sure, he died a 78-pound stick figure, okay. There are certain drawbacks.”

“Does anyone remember this, when Yul Brynner died, and came out with that commercial after he was dead?
‘I’m Yul Brynner and I’m dead now.’
What the fuck’s this guy selling? I’m all ears.
‘I’m Yul Bryner and I’m dead now, because I smoked cigarettes.’
Okay, pretty scary. But they coulda done that with anyone. They coulda done it with that Jim Fixx guy, too, remember that guy, that health nut who died while jogging? I don’t remember seeing his commercial!
‘I’m Jim Fixx and I’m dead now. And I don’t know what the fuck happened. I jogged every day, ate nothing but tofu, swam five hundred laps every morning, and I’m dead. Yul Bryner drank, smoke, and got laid every night of his life… he’s dead. Shit! Yul Bryner’s smokin’, drinkin’, girls are sitting on his cueball noggin, every night of his life! I’m running around a dewy track at dawn. And we’re both fuckin’ dead. Yul used to pass me on his way home in the morning, big long limousine, two girls blowing him, cigarette in one hand, drink in the other. “One day that life is going to get to you, Yul.”‘
They’re both dead. Yeah, but what a healthy looking corpse you were, Jim. Look at the hamstrings on that corpse! Look at the sloppy grin on Yul’s corpse! Yul Bryner lived his life. Sure, he died a 78-pound stick figure, okay. There are certain drawbacks.”

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OK, no announcement just yet on the last contest. Instead, let’s for now take the premise of the literature challenge and head a short distance downmarket, into the area of popular television — specifically, for our first example, American cop and detective shows. Imagine how much more cheaply these productions could have been made:

Shoplifting, She Wrote

CSI Peoria

McMillan and Friend

Cagney

The Streets of Shawnee, Kansas

Diagnosis: Mugging

Skirting Jordan

Juvie Break

Rhode Island Five-O

Veronica Moon

The Rockford Notebook

Trespassing: Life on the Street

Aluminumside

Peashooter, P.I.

Starsky

12

12

You might like to choose your own genre, such as, for instance:

Sci-Fi: Doctor When

Comedy: Acquaintances

Entertainment: Tasmania’s Got Talent

Go on; you know you want to.

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Bargain Basement

First: the All New Horsemen of the Apocalypse competition winner. Thanks to everybody for your outstanding entries, and a compilation of the best would include at least one from everybody’s list. But this time I’ll do the whole tear-off-an-Elastoplast-quickly thing and just blurt it out.

Oh so close was our runner up, The Imaginary Reviewer, with the inclusion of equine-replacement transportation so nearly clinching it. A big hand, please, lazengennulmen. But the winner is tennyson ee hemingway. Take a bow, Sir, and your choice of award:

big-fishabsolutely_splendid

Now, given my indecisiveness I’m not sure why I do this but here we go again with another competition.

In these straitened times we are all looking for ways to cut corners, make ends meet, make do and mend, darn our own yoghurt and so forth. So I got to thinking (while stealing ever so slightly from “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue”) about how some of the world’s great novels might have been more cheaply entitled. So here is a list of Credit Crunch Classics:

Lady Chatterley’s Brother D H Lawrence

The War of the Worms H G Wells

Fahrenheit 4 Ray Bradbury

The Perfectly Reasonable Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald

For Whom the Kazoo Blows Ernest Hemingway

Atlas Raised an Eyebrow Ayn Rand

Squinting in Gaza Aldous Huxley

The Maltese Sparrow Dashiell Hammett

Zen and the Art of Mending a Puncture Robert M Pirsig

A Couple of Weeks of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez

Love in the Time of Feeling a Bit Under the Weather Gabriel García Márquez

Teatime’s Children Salman Rushdie

A Tale of One Village Charles Dickens (“It was the best of times. That’s it”)

À la Recherche du Cléfs Perdu Marcel Proust

The Gentle Breeze William Shakespeare

The Old Man and the Pond Ernest Hemingway

Paradise Mislaid. Down the Back of the Sofa, Perhaps John Milton

The Lord of the Brooch J R R Tolkien

On the Sidewalk Jack Kerouac

Catch 2.0 Joseph Heller

classics

You are charged with the task, should it please you so to do, of adding your own. Enjoy!

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