Category: satire

Coming from a Shopping Channel Near You …

Sorting through my paper mountain, I unearthed this attempt at cultural exorcism from 2012:

I can’t tell you, my friends, how thrilled I am to be bringing you this next item … There it is … I mean, you only need to look at it to appreciate the quality … Wow, absolutely stunning, with every beautiful detail lovingly crafted by genuine artists … That, for me, encrypts years and years and years of matchless experience … A pure work of art that will not only beautify your home … Not only a precious treasure that will be the envy of all your friends … But an objet d’art that will be a constant delight for you and your loved ones for years and years and years to come … Just look at the charming way it catches our studio lights … Simply gorgeous … No other word to describe this wonderful piece … Not only really unique … Not only a strictly limited edition … Not only are the phone lines on fire tonight but I can tell you here and now that the last time we offered this to our viewers it positively flew away … I kid you not, it sold out in minutes … And here we are again giving this remarkable creation away at silly prices … We must be round the bend, my friends … This exclusive offer you won’t find in the shops, search all you like … Ah yes, a superb investment for the future … A truly magical heirloom that will not only give your children and your children’s children something really special to remember you by … But a lasting testimony to your impeccable good taste … Congratulations to Margaret of Greenock … Colin of Lowestoft, well done … Not only will this exquisite purchase grace the stylish collection in your own personal display cabinet … Not only will you delight in taking it out from time to time and running your quivering fingers up and down its truly sensuous lines … Oh goodness, they tell me the lines are closed … Never mind … Coming up next, my friends, the absolute highlight not only of the night … Not only of the year … Not only of my lifetime … Not only of the whole history of humankind, but …

If this sounds like a spoof, you may be surprised to learn that it’s an almost word-for-word transcript of an actual shopping-channel pitch. OK, I might have taken a liberty or two in the final fourteen words … 

 

Image result for shopping channel cartoon

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Sorted!

Well, that went well. Plenty of action, anyway. No more big piles of paper.

Plenty of small piles, though – so many that my spare room has all but disappeared. My other half looked in at one point and commented – a little tactlessly, I felt:

Thought you were supposed to be tidying up! That bin’s still empty.

I explained how some of the piles were moving closer and just awaited a final check to see if there was anything – a pleasing turn of phrase, the merest germ of a good idea – that might save them from being pulped. And then there were those pieces that weren’t much good but had nostalgia appeal … little poems I wrote to stave off the crushing boredom of exam supervision back in the day, slightly inebriated dialogues written late at night when I should have been getting my beauty sleep, hastily scribbled accounts of incomprehensible dreams I’d woken from … and there, in a pile all its own, my historical novel whose narrator’s heavy dialect made its eighty-thousand words well-nigh unreadable.

That thing? You’ll never get round to doing anything with it. Unless it’s a comic short story about a bloke who reckons he’s a writer.

When she stopped laughing, I told her it wasn’t a bad idea. I’m well known for my stoical acceptance of mild adversity. Don’t know how I’d go in a real catastrophe but that, perhaps fortunately, is for the future.

29 March, at the earliest …

Actually, anything rather than recycle something I spent the best part of five years researching and writing! One of these days, you never know, I could get my second wind and turn it into a smash-hit stage-musical or a block-buster movie-scenario. Laugh all she likes, bless her, she’d be happy enough to sip exotic cocktails on our luxury yacht moored in Monaco or Cannes …

She left, still chuckling, perhaps planning her own best-seller. Perhaps not.

My Walter Mitty moment passed and I gazed despondently at all the paper covering the carpet and single bed like giant wedding confetti. My own plan, to pass all these rough drafts through the eagle eye of my hastily-devised list of aesthetic principles, was in tatters. Night was gathering and I’d got nowhere.

Time was of the essence. I had to act and act fast or I would be crying myself to sleep in the spare room surrounded by the appalling evidence of my own failure.

Yes, time was ticking by. No last-ditch flight to Brussels for me. It was either all in the bin or else back into big piles as if nothing had ever happened. Was I a complete and utter waste of space?

And then, in a blinding flash, it came to me …

The fault lay in my plan, of course! It had been too hasty. My red lines were far too rigid. Or else far too pink and hopelessly vague. And as for that ludicrous catch-all conditional at the end, what fool would devise a set of rules which ended with Rules are there to be broken?

It would have beggared belief if I hadn’t already known what an idiot I was. But there was no time to be lost. I had to come up with an alternative set of aesthetic principles and fast! However, too much of my intellectual energy – such as it was – had been frittered away trying to decide whether old scribblings were Almost Finished or Barely Begun or Half-Baked But Could Cook Through or Good In Parts or even Patchy But Full Of Unfulfilled Potential. It didn’t help that my ability to judge was hopelessly inconsistent, veering between feverish delight and febrile despondency as my ego and id battled it out before a supremely indifferent superego.

As chance would have it (and any readers of this account who are still awake might hope) there was a deus ex machina in the form of one I’d prepared earlier – the ‘one’ in question being a set of aesthetic principles I’d devised for an epic poem about something or other which I’d never even begun – the ‘set’ in question having come to light while I’d been going through my papers but which, preoccupied as I was with the search for literary gold, went unrecognised for what it really was.

I’ll leave you with a copy, in case it’s of any assistance in your own fruitless searches, because I must take to my bed tout suite so that I can be up bright and early tomorrow morning. After all is said and done, who knows what a new day will bring?

Besides, my crystal ball’s down the mender’s …

  1.  First thought, best thought   (Ginsberg)
  2.  Intuition attains the absolute   (Bergson)
  3.  Unity in diversity   (Hegel)
  4.  Without contraries, no progress   (Blake)
  5.  The words must be irrefutable   (Orton)
  6.  Show don’t tell   (James)
  7.  Write the story only you know   (Fountain)
  8.  I write to find out what I didn’t know I knew   (Frost)
  9.  In art, the subject matter is nothing   (Maurois)
  10.  What then?  No then.   (Kafka)
  11.  Be true to the earth   (Nietzsche)
  12.  Re-enchant the world   (Brazilian eco-artist)
  13.  It is necessary to be absolutely modern   (Rimbaud)
  14.  Make it new   (Pound)
  15.  Liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order   (Proudhon)
  16.  Invent new values   (Nietzsche)
  17.  Forget yourself   (graffiti)
  18.  I is another   (Rimbaud)
  19.  See all beings in yourself and yourself in all beings and lose all fear (Eastern saying)
  20.  Only connect   (Forster)

PS  The above are paired – meant to be 10 of them but I couldn’t get the numbers right!

Bon nuit!

 

Image result for broken crystal ball

 

Image: America’s Survival

Crazy Mixed Up Universe (1/3)

Chewsday

Greetings, Earth Dwellers!

Zog from Alpha Centauri here. Just a quick radio burst to thank you for all the cool sounds you’ve been sending us. We’ve been working through the backlog – rather slow, I’m afraid, as our department for Monitoring Outer Space Signals (MOSS) is a woefully low funding-priority in the face of our impending eco-catastrophe.

Entirely self-inflicted, of course, so I won’t bore you with the details.

Our environmental disaster’s only plus is that Alpha Centaureans currently crave emotional escape and our money-making offshoot MOSS FM has attracted a little advertising revenue by broadcasting schmaltzy dance-band music from your 1920s and ’30s.

In case you’re thinking this is just another example of ‘fake news’, I’d better come clean. MOSS amounts to no more than yours truly and my old steam-driven inter-galactic language-transposer. It did have a bit of trouble with beatnik slang but is now well and truly back in the groove, daddio! Rock ‘n’ Roll came as a revelation after all those soporific crooners but (speaking as MOSS FM’s one and only DJ) I’m keeping Bill Haley and Elvis and all their hepcat pals under wraps in case, just like you, we get an outbreak of cinema seat-slashing and sexually-suggestive hip-action – whatever they are!

As my nervous sponsors would no doubt remind me, social chaos can occur without cinemas … or hips … or sex.

Yes, quite a backlog – or back catalogue, as you Earthfolk say! Me and my trusty (if rusty) translation machine have just arrived in 1959 with no sign of things slowing up or quietening down. I daren’t look in the bulging music box marked The 1960s

whensday

dwellings, earth greeters –

zog got big ask for you –

cheepskate tranzalationing masheen on blinkers so willbe briefs – Yes to day scent out to my fello Alfie Centurions what I thinking nice armless little 1959 sing about dancering & then all heel brake loos –

longstory short – officious policee that all rite with world just if you stayhome & keep your self to your self & your windo shut now in shred & tatts – peepul all outside & play this sing over & over & do hotnew dance call it The Little Walter – even dancering to gather & singing unison –

dont care what you heard this is a crazy mixed up world – more loud even than loud speaker wheel in tell them they happy – no they shout – downside up – more happy now we can say we not happy – not happy till now – now we dance & sing to gather –

but zog hear jumpy sponsas ask who buy & sell when all just dance & sing – and zog fear spumpy jonsas pulldaplug on moss fm – so zog not so happy his lissoners so happy they not so happy –

back to the bulgy 1960s mew sick box – to zog just like your schrodingers cat – safe and sorry –

and now that big ask –

only you knowhat the box con tains –

do zog open it up –

 

Image result for schrodinger's cat meme

 

Image: Me.me

Theme (Park) From An Imaginary Western

Here’s another of my occasional Marshal Amp monologues. Yesterday I performed it – or something like it, as I kind of improvise from notes – at a local pub’s Americana night.

Two visitors from the USA were there so I was even more than usually nervous. Their gracious response, typical of so many Americans, brought home how untypical my monstrous stereotype really is!

Howdy, y’all!

They tell ya the good ol’ days is dead and buried. Uh-uh … fake news! Ah’m here to bring ya the good news … they’re back! Them good ol’ days is alive and kicking.

All ya gotta do is get yourself down to Marshal Amp’s Authentic Wild West World!

Ya heard it here first, folks. Au-then-tic. The real deal. I remember sitting on my daddy’s knee and hearin’ his stories about how the West was won. My daddy heard them stories sittin’ on his daddy’s knee. And his daddy heard ’em sittin’ on his daddy’s knee.

Can ya guess where his daddy heard ’em? (Pause.) You got it in one! That was my great-great-great-granddaddy. Got shot in the knee by Billy the Kid. Had to use his other knee for tellin’ them stories.

Only kiddin’ ya, folks, little family joke there! But I ain’t kiddin’ ya about Marshal Amp’s Authentic Wild West World. It’s so good, ya gonna love it!

Tell ya, down there we got the whole kit and caboodle! We got injuns attacking wagon trains. We got the Gunfight at the OK Corral. We got a big bank robbery every single show. We got trick shootin’ from a movin’ horse. And we got all your favourite heroes – Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill …

Yeah, great family show! Good guys in white hats, bad guys in black hats … and plenty of  hangin’s to keep the kids happy!

Very popular, too! Packed to the rafters every show! Complete sell-out so get there early … well, actually … y’all seem a sensible bunch, so I’m gonna level with ya here … the honest truth is, our audience numbers been droppin’ off lately.

Ain’t exactly sure why, folks! So we been doin’ some re-search on that there interweb. Tell ya, they got netsites on there fulla fake news. Get this. (Reads) ‘Wild West Not Wild At All.’

No cowboy hats, no Stetsons! Can you believe it? Reckons they wore bowler hats or beat-up top hats. No check shirts, neither, just thick black clothes they wore for months! Says the injuns was shocked ‘cos they use to wash every day. You ever see an injun take a wash in a movie? But you see plenty cowboys in them tin baths … and them ladies scrubbin’ their backs with them big loofahs!

What else? Oh yeah, injuns didn’t attack wagon trains much … felt sorry for ’em, apparently, tried to help ’em out! Wrote down this figure for ya. Outa every 100 deaths on the trail, only 2 or 3 of ’em caused by injuns. Wait, it gets worse! Reckons the injuns didn’t ride round and round them circles of wagons. Oh no, the only wagon circles was at night to stop the animals escaping!

Oh yeah, no bank robberies neither. Well, 8 in 40 years! That’s, er, one every … five years. Don’t sound right, considerin’ there was 5,600 US bank robberies in the year 2010. And they tell ya the West was s’posed to be less violent than other parts of the country. Homicide rates lower, no big gunfights, no mass hangin’s … sorry, kids!

Listen to this. Gun control was stricter than today. Towns prohibited firearms. Turns out the OK Corral was just one gang goin’ against Tombstone’s anti-firearm rules … and the battle only lasted 30 seconds! If Marshal Amp’s Authentic Wild West World did that, you’d be askin’ for your money back!

Oh, and the guns was mostly cap-and-ball – that’s fancy talk for a marble launched by black powder. Could go anywhere. If I was aimin’ at that buffalo head over there on the back wall, they reckon I’da missed. The only damage woulda been the burns on my shootin’ hand. And no shootin’ competitions, neither, ‘cos they didn’t want nobody knowing they was so bad. Just used to boast how good they was, so you wouldn’t take ’em on!

By the way … Marshal Amp never misses … alternative fact!

This is what we’re up against, see? Turns out the marshals was mostly vigilantes runnin’ protection rackets. Wyatt Earp … big hero of mine … lived off of gamblin’ and maybe pimpin’! The guy he made his deputy, Doc Holliday … another big, big hero … they says he was a hired killer!

They twist it round the other way, too. Says here, outlaws used to moonlight as lawmen. Butch Cassidy … forget that silly movie with the singing, he was one bad dude! … Butch Cassidy was a – get this! – security guard. Huh! Same with Billy the Kid.

Hey, maybe my great-great-great granddaddy got shot tryin’ to rob a bank … only kiddin’ ya!

D’ya know what I think? I reckon this is all one big conspiracy to confuse people, tryin’ to make ’em think for theirselves instead of trustin’ their hearts! And I blame those stupid movies, y’know, Blazin’ Saddles and Midnight Cowboy … nothin’ but farts, fools and faggots! Just tryin’ to muddy the waters …

And talkin’ of Muddy Waters, this here’s a song by him:

(To end on a Crescendo, plays harmonica and sings I’m Ready – great song to sing when you’re pumped up and which includes this apposite verse: I got a action pistol, a graveyard gun / That shoots tombstone bullets wearing ball and chain / I’m drinkin TNT, I’m smokin dynamite / I hope some screwball starts a fight / Yeah I’m ready, etc.)

Thank you, folks, and remember we allus ready to welcome you to Marshal Amp’s Authentic Wild West World! 

Adios, y’all …

Image result for western gunfight

Image: Homework 2 – Yola

Shock and Awe

For my final comedy clip, I’ve chosen a few moments that barely raise a laugh … more of a gasp, if truth be told. Very few comedians before or since can rival Bill Hicks in sheer, dangerous, furious bravery and this short sequence is something of a masterclass in satire.

The words are spare and there is as much mime as message. He doesn’t preach or hector – at least, not here – but simply allows the story imagery to do its work. His silences draw us in, making us complicit in calling a whole world of moral priority into question and leaving us with nagging discomforts that may yet – who knows? – translate into worldwide policy changes. We should Pursue such ideals with a vengeance.

I’m not holding my breath, though …

Whistleblown!

Did you know that there is now just one way to get financial support for new scientific research in Bafflesby? Of course you didn’t. They don’t make it easy to find out these things, do they? So we here at Bafileaks (Motto: Who Drips Wins) have decided to make public the following pamphlet, obtained at considerable personal risk from a display-stand in the foyer of their so-called funding agency.

Guidance About Submitting Projects (GASP)

The public needs good news. Officially authorised research from Professor Tom Eliot over at the 4 Quartets Institute has demonstrated that human kind cannot bear very much reality. Or very much in the way of tax increases. That’s why, from now on, we’re investing in science which delivers purely positive messages.

In a nutshell: if it puts a smile on our faces, you get the funding!

So here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts to stop you wasting your time and ours …

DO

  • send us inventions that will make a profit
  • produce studies that show we’re getting it right
  • offer proof that people can solve their own problems without help from experts
  • conclude that throwing money at the problem isn’t the answer
  • suggest we leave well enough alone

DON’T

  • uncover problems that require international action
  • mention tipping-points or cliff-edges
  • bang on about worst-case scenarios
  • use big words or long sentences
  • recommend expensive fixes or further investigations

We are Avid Believers in Science. We believe it’s out there … somewhere or other. So come in out of the cold, you boffins, and pitch us your plans!

Just make sure you wipe your feet first.

This is not fake news. No facts used are alternative. Only the science is fiction.

 

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Image: Pinterest

Vox Pop

You wanna know what’s wrong with the world? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the world! What’s wrong with the world is that the world isn’t Bafflesby!

Take my word for it. I know all about this stuff. Bafflesby born and bred, that’s me, man and boy! Never set foot outside the sound of her ancient bell tower, as it happens, and never wanted to. You can’t get lost here, see? The streets tell their own story. Witchfinder Way, Gibbet Gardens, Bedlam Bridge. You can’t move for history.

I’m like a stick of rock, I am, Bafflesby through and through. I got traditions built in. That’s what these Outcomers can’t understand. They’re not like us, are they? Smell different, for a start.

Old Barry Cade says they look different, too, but I wouldn’t know. To be honest with you, I can’t bear the sight of them. Last thing I wanna see is them curling their lips at our old ways, sneering at our customs. Forever asking the rules of Bladderball when any fule no there ain’t none! You either get it or you don’t.

Same with the Festival of the Flaming Firkin. Spot a stranger a mile away by his singed whiskers, the Old’uns used to say. Used to. Not no more. Six foot under, most of them, and their wisdoms buried with them! The good old days is gone for good. Anyone says he can bring them back gets my vote, even if he is pissing into the wind.

See that mausoleum through the mullion window? That was our old Squire, that was, bless his brutal heart! Time was when every job in town was in his pocket. If you wasn’t true-blue Bafflesby, you never got a sniff. He knew we was born to it, you see, it was in our blood. Natural aptitude, he used to say, comes with the territory. We didn’t need telling what to do, all that nonsense! Nowadays it’s all, What do I have to do?

They tell them, too. Waste of money even if they are paying them less! Back in the day we never needed no training up. Hit the ground running and – Bob’s your Uncle! – you got a job for life. Not just your life, neither, the job were yours to pass on. Keep it in the family, they used to say, and the family will keep you.

Not no more. These days the thought police are everywhere. They got to have interviews. All these Outcomers talking stuff they don’t know. Asking things. We never had to ask nothing.

Same as the Facts of Life. No one said nothing. You kept one eye open and your ear to the ground in them days, then if something arose you jumped at the chance. You don’t have to go to college to cook a pie, they used to say, may they rest in peace …

Ha, fat chance of that, they’ll all be spinning in their graves! They wouldn’t recognise the place now. All these new estates, you get lost on them, with their Anyroad Avenues and Whatchamacallit Walks. Go to the end of your street and you don’t know where the hell you are. No point asking a constable because there aren’t any. And the ones in cars don’t like you flagging them down. It’s a war-zone out there.

Worst of it is, the enemy don’t wear different uniforms. Muggers, rapists, murderers … they look just like you. Once upon a time there was just the village idiot and the old witch who used to shout things at you. You knew who they were because their jobs ran in the family. They came from a long line of idiots and witches. They just knew what to do. Now they got to have interviews. Political correctness gone mad, I call it, taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. And you can’t crack a joke without po-faced prudes breathing down your neck. Anyone who gets those creeps off my back can have my vote.

What’s wrong with the world is too many creeps. Anyone takes a sledgehammer to my back door has a surprise coming, I can tell you. Can’t tell you what it is, so don’t ask, but let’s say I’m good and ready. Fort Knox has nothing on me. Time was when you could leave your back door open in case Old Mother Hubbard came round for a cup of sugar. Now you don’t know who is outside your house trying to sell you exploding clothes-pegs  and foreign encyclopaedias. And if Ma Hubbard gets both barrels, tough!

So anyone says he’ll Bring Bafflesby Back gets my vote, even if he just wants to turn it into a theme park. He doesn’t need to change anything much, as long as he shoots his big mouth off about people I don’t like so that I can too. Time was you could say whatever you wanted. Now it’s all, button your lip in case you upset every little waif and stray in the big cruel world.

Well, losers, get used to it! The candidate who gets my vote will shoot first and ask questions later. The candidate who gets my vote will always say the first thing that pops into their head just like I do. The candidate who gets my vote will promise me the moon without waiting to commission a boring old feasibility study. And after no consideration whatsoever, I have decided that the only person worthy of my vote is me. My election campaign begins here.

Image result for vote meImage: Clipart Kid