Archive for the 'Rants' Category

Why the Big Bang Theory is so funny – or The Frasier Principle

I went to see the Adam Sandler movie Jack and Jill with my kids last night. I loved Happy Gilmore (probably because I’m a hockey player who sucks at golf) and I thought Billy Madison was ok but  lately I have had very mixed feelings about Adam Sandler’s movies. Jack and Jill was almost universally panned by critics and that’s really no surprise. Critics HATE Adam Sandler. Yet sitting in the movie last night I got a different sense of things. The audience were totally cracking up. I don’t mean the usual snickering and chuckling you get in a comedy movie, I’m talking embarrassingly loud guffaws of laughter. The review sites tell a similar story – Critics HATE it, audience like it (well a lot MORE than the critics did anyway)

OK, so Jack & Jill probably won’t get a mention at this year’s Oscars outside Billy Crystal’s comedy monologue taking the mickey. For some reason, I really want to give Adam Sandler some credit. You see, it’s the not the material he works with it’s just the way he presents it.

This is the point of today’s Blog entry – Fart Jokes are ok, but only if the audience believes that you don’t have to be a stupid little kid to find them funny. I call this the Frasier principle.

I’m not very smart BUT I wish I was very smart. Sometimes I read books written by smart people and I feel smarter. Sometimes I listen to smart people talk and I feel smarter. MOSTLY when smart people say simple things I nod along and think, hey I must be as smart as them because I totally GET THIS!

So let’s create a TV show based on this principle. First, we need our two leading characters: the Crane brothers. They are both Medical and Psychiatric doctors, “well-to-do, with upper class and intellectual tastes and a pompous, uptight demeanor. Frasier is something of an epicure, and enjoys the finer things in life, such as wine, good food, and expensive tailoring. Well versed in the realm of literature, frequently alluding to literary legends such as Shakespeare, Edmund Burke, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, O Henry, and Lord Tennyson, among others. Aficionados of the arts, including opera, classical music, theatre, and antiquities, and possessing some esoteric and obscure interests, such as Mongolian throat singing and African artifacts. Frasier’s favourite colour is “arctic silver”, an option for a new model of BMW, which is well-established throughout the series as being his automobile brand of choice, while his brother Niles preferred Mercedes Benz. His large ego, coupled with his Harvard and Oxford education, make him extremely confident in the advice he gives on his radio show (where he comes across as much calmer and more thoughtful than in his personal life.” (from Wikipedia)

I’ve got to say, both the Cran’s are people that would irritate and annoy me were they real people.

So how do characters that irritate and annoy work so well? There are a lot of reasons this show works. There is a great cast of much more REAL characters that give the viewing audience a chance to identify and relate to the two brothers. But more than this, there is the humour of the show.

Wrapped up in refined taste and perfect intonation, surrounded by a fabulous vocabulary referencing fine art and literature is what are essentially a long list of Adam Sandler jokes. Funniest moments in the show include such highbrow topics as prank phone calls, guys running around with no pants and what is basically a load of slapstick. Here’s high brow at it’s best with Frasier in shorty shorts in a gay bar.

So, we watch Frasier and because they are smart and we think they are funny, it must be because we are so smart, right?

The Big Bang Theory employs the same principle. These are very smart guys, they talk about the origins of the universe and what the outcome of the latest CERN LHC experiment will prove. However, at it’s core The Big Bang Theory is mostly the lowest low brow there is.

How Low Brow? Charlie Sheen, funny lisps and at least 2 TWO poo jokes funny.

I know all that sounds like a reason to hate the show, but I think it’s awesome anyway. Of course that’s mostly because of all the geeky stuff that gets thrust into the face of the masses. Comics, Video Games, Science and RPGs to name a few..

What’s the moral of the story? There is none. Unless your name is Adam Sandler. Sandler could take all that comedy gold and dress it up a little smarter to score both a huge ratings hit and critical acclaim. YES it’s really that simple. I hear you thinking, “as a viewing public, we’re not that stupid!” and yet the same principle can be applied almost anywhere.

I’d also like to tip my hat to actors who decide that looking smart makes all the difference. Take Tango and Cash – do we buy Sly Stallone as a bookish, intellectual type because he wears a waistcoat and HUGE 80’s glasses??? – We sure do!

Newest Military Secrets – the HORROR!

“At my signal, unleash hell”

A quote from the movie, Gladiator.

I personally think it is also 5 words spoken regularly by employees at your local kids ‘FUNLAND’ each morning. I have an image of a group of pimple faced teenagers lined up and shuffling their feet nervously. At the glass doors before them is the chaotic horde of children waiting to be let inside.. the skinny guy in front of the entrance to the ballpit looks crazy with fear as his eyes dart back and forth scanning the room for another exit. It is only the steady gaze of the world weary, middle age, franchisee that keeps the troops together. Before panic can set in, she raises her hand in a defiant salute, “At my signal, unleash hell”. The doors burst open and the terrified teens try to control the raging, primal force that is contained in 2-5 year old kids..

Help! Help! This child is attacking my shark!

Help! Help! This child is attacking my shark!

My idea is that it’s high time the Military made use of this unbelievable power.

Kids are natural weapons. The military’s most unbreakable equipment will easily be smashed by a 6 Year Old boy. It’s really just a combination of determination and time.

By far the most devastating of Military applications would be children as biological weapons. This weekend I have been nursing my 5 year old girl through a common virus. She was upset and crampy, had a headache and threw up a lot. During this time, she would not leave my side. She clung on to me like super-glued Velcro! Her little 5 Year old immune system has since beaten the virus and she is happy and healthy again. There was, however, an unfortunate side effect. While the Virus was travelling through her system, something (THE WEAPON!) inside her, transformed this cute little bug into some sort of super freaky MEGA-BUG! Now while she is happily laughing and playing (with no desire to come near at all) the rest of us poor bastards are coughing and spluttering and barely able to hold a dry cracker down…

Of course I guess there is the possibility that I’m just a big wimp when it comes to dealing with any illness…

Instant Karma’s gonna get you, Comic Book style. KAPOW!

Was John Lennon right? I think he might have been…

Some 15 years or so ago I borrowed some comic books from a good friend.  The Watchmen series, a seminal title by collectible legend, Alan Moore. I had them for ages and had EVERY intention of returning them but hey, I am a busy guy and stuff started to happen… I moved houses, jobs, and cities several times. I bought a house and had kids. I got married and divorced and along the way, as many people do, I grew out of a lot of my boyhood hobbies, including comic books.

At some point I just packed up all my old comics and games and stuff and sold them, tossed them or gave them away. Sadly, I had forgotten all about the Watchmen comics (and my truant loan) until the movie came out. Watching the film, I remembered borrowing the comics and began to feel a certain gnawing guilt for never having returned them.

Comics

Then, a few weeks ago, I was randomly going through some old boxes in my garage. These boxes have been moving with me for the last 15 years but have never been opened. I think everyone has a few of these. They were marked KITCHEN/OFFICE which was why I was searching through them, I think I was trying to find a cheese grater or a spatula… What I found was, of course much greater!  In the bottom of one of these boxes, in pristine condition, was the full set of watchmen comics. Pretty much the only comics to have survived the great purge.

I remembered that I had borrowed them from my old friend Andrew so I searched for him on Facebook, sent a message and arranged to drop them off in Canberra. I might not be the fastest, but I always get there in the end….

In the meantime, because these comics were lying around the house, Jason and Liam (my sons) started asking all about comic books. Being boys of a certain age, superheroes are like crack to them. We got to talking and they asked about what kind of comics I used to read when I was a kid. Thinking hard about it, I remembered that my favourites were these obscure and spectacularly unsuccessful comics by Marvel called the “New Universe”. It was a lot like the TV series: Heroes. No Lycra or capes, just the kind of stuff that might happen in the “real world”. Dudes who get powers and have no idea what to do with them. Characters who actually grow older, unlike say, the Simpsons.. I’m pretty sure Bart Simpson has been in the 4th grade for about twenty years now!
Well, I offered to take the boys out and buy them some superman or batman comics, but after hearing my story, all they could think about were these old comics. I tried the internet and some comic stores but these things were a huge failure so they just weren’t anywhere to be found. The boys were devastated and try as I might, I could not convince them to settle for anything else. By this time I was feeling pretty stupid for having built these things up into such a big deal and then being completely unable to deliver.
A few weeks later it was time to head to Canberra for work. I packed up the recalcitrant Watchmen comics ready to returned to their rightful owner. In the intervening time I’ve been asking anyone who might have a clue if they could help me find these old collectibles. I’ve been on the internet, into comic book stores and picking the brains of anyone who looks kinda geeky. I’ve had several ‘Comic Book Guy’ types sneer at the sheer stupidity that I exhibit by expecting to be able to simply order these “rare collectibles”. Worst Dad, ever…
comic-book-guy
That’s when the weirdness begins. Almost the minute I drop off Andrew’s watchmen ( only 15 years too late) I bump into Steve, who is the son of Glenn, one of my teenage besties. Steve is a Comic book guru, so naturally I ask him my question and he says he thinks he remembers seeing these old “New Universe” comics at his house!
Well, it turns out during my great sell-off/give-away/throw-away I gave a big box to Glenn and sure enough, just as I had discovered a box 15 Years later, the very same thing was waiting for me in an old archive box underneath Glenn’s stairs!
I returned home triumphant to two ECSTATIC boys with the pile of comic book stories that they had given up for lost.
Instant Karma?
Undoubtedly.

Lost your Licence? I’ll flip you for it.

Australia calls itself the Lucky Country and growing up here, I’ve always believed it. Look around, we have great beaches, great weather, great lifestyle, great grandparents, it’s really, well….. great! This is all very cool, until you take some time to think about WHY we call ourselves the lucky country. Is it because of our golden soil and wealth for toil? Our Natural gifts of beauty, rich and rare? I always thought so… But perhaps I was wrong. Maybe we’re all just hoping for a quick win. The thrill of gambling it all on the roll of the dice.. or more correctly, the push of the poker machine button. Getting LUCKY.

Nobody loves to gamble more than we do. Sure, Vegas has a great reputation, but think for a second about our very own NSW..

In 2002, Australia had 20% of the WORLD’S poker machines. By 2007, NSW alone had 43% of the ENTIRE WORLD’S poker machines..  that’s a lot of poker machines.. Think about it. The USA (home of Reno and Vegas) has 15 times more people than Australia and more than 40 times the population of NSW and yet only double the Pokies..  thats like 35 times more pokies per capita!! OUCH..

Of course, 72% of all gambling related statistics are invented on the spot for the purpose of making a good argument and this itself is only 16% likely to be true (I’d bet the farm on that..)

No matter what the numbers are, it’s clear we like to gamble. Our most famous International event on the sporting calendar is the Melbourne Cup. Even the PM stops to have a punt. We just can’t seem to stop the insanity. With all this in mind, it really shouldn’t surprise me that the rest of our system is a gamble as well.

Someone I know recently lost their Driver’s Licence. Not in a little way. Not say, sitting on 110 Km/h on the M7 from Sydney to Canberra and forgetting that the M7 is a 100 zone even though it’s WAAAAY safer than most of the 110 zones on the rest of the drive. Not that, NO. But in a BIG way. (I love starting sentences with BUT by the way..)

She lost her Licence doing nearly DOUBLE the limit in a school zone. Where little kids walk around. Where MY little kids walk around. So it’s tough to be sympathetic. But (there I go again) even though I might not be sympathetic, our loving Government wants to give everyone a fair go. What does a fair go mean?? Well it means taking part in the Lucky Country philosophy. You’ve got to be in it to win it! So.. lose your licence and we’ll flip you for it. Not literally, it’s actually more of a Double or Nothing kind of scenario.. I’m not kidding, go check it out. You have 12 Demerit points which are lost for various offences. You lose all your points and you lose your licence for 3 Months OR you can gamble and instead of losing it for 3 Months and going back to normal, you can have just 1 point for 12 Months.. If, during that time you so much as fart while driving, now you’ve got a DOUBLE suspension: 6 Months..

Seriously, the only thing this is missing is two brightly coloured boxes and a Game Show host in a loud Jacket.. What’s it gonna be honey? You’ve come so far tonight.. red light cameras, mobile phone use and now a SCHOOL ZONE.. Will you risk it all and play on??

The Money or the Box?

The Money or the Box?

Look ma – no Water! What the? Waterless Washing Machines…

I love the enironment. So far, for me it’s been the best one we’ve ever had. I mean, compared to the barren winterland of the last ice age, this environment kicks some butt. It’s so GREEN. So, when I hear of a new way to save the environment I am all for it.

One thing that troubles me a great deal are recent reports of the Pacific Plastic Soup. This massive trash vortex is said to consist of all the floating debris (mostly plastic) that has collected in the Pacific Ocean. The “patch” is thought to be a massive accumulation of floating rubbish in two big vortices (is that a word? let’s just say YES) on either side of Hawaii. Sitting just below the ocean surface, it is very hard to spot using satellite imagery, but American sailor Charles Moore was apparently very spun out when, in 1997, he sailed through the soup and took DAYS to get from one end to the other! Some (like me) might argue that the Pacific Plastic Soup will soon represent our greatest environmental threat.

Pacific Plastic Soup

Pacific Plastic Soup

Others will tell you that access to fresh water is one of the World’s greatest challenges. It’s big, that’s for sure. We are in the middle of one of Australia’s worst ever droughts, and clearly fresh water is a critical issue! I found it a little ironic that here in Sydney, we’ve been watching our city get drowned under some of the heaviest rainfall in decades, rain that’s draining straight out to sea… While we wave goodbye to the countless gigalitres of fresh water passing by, we’re working on saving our future by building a huge desalination plant. This is clearly a brilliant plan (way too smart for me to understand) which takes into account all that surplus electricity, which up till now has just been going to waste! Like He-Man, we have the power!

Hang on a minute, what’s all this got to do with Waterless Washing Machines or the Water Powered Car for that matter?? Well, be patient, I’m getting to that..

Recently, British scientists announced that they can SAVE THE PLANET one load of washing at a time. Is it a miracle of cleanliness? No – it’s the waterless washing machine. This revolutionary invention doesn’t use disgusting, unhealthy, wasteful FRESH WATER to clean your soiled linens, but in fact makes use of healthy, clean, environmentally friendly, plastic polymer chips. That’s right, we’re replacing the water with just 20KG of PLASTIC.

But don’t worry, you can re-use the 20KG of plastic chips. A few times anyway.That’s called R-E-C-Y-C-L-I-N-G, it’s all the rage you know.

And think, all that water we saved can be used to wash those huge bags of plastic chips into the Pacific Ocean. Hell, it’s a long way from Leeds.

Earning your Title. What’s in a name?

This week, while listening to the news I heard a Sports Report which made mention of the recent Australian NBL Finals. My ears perked up, mostly because I managed to score tickets to the 5th and final game and it was an awesome night! The news reader described the teams as the Melbourne Tigers and the embattled Sydney Kings. It really got me thinking. HELLO!!!! They placed SECOND in the NBL. I get that we worship winners to the exclusion of all else, but since when is 2nd place EMBATTLED??? Maybe I’m missing something? Being too hasty? Once again that infallible source of truth, the internet comes to the rescue:

Embattled can mean: a crenelated molding” like the top of a crown! Crown, KINGS it all started to make sense..

Crown

Of course I’m sure sponsorship woes and coach swaps are not relevent to this discussion… (oops) OK – So maybe the Kings are a little embattled…

But it did get me thinking about how the modern media love to throw around these awesome prefixes! How do you earn a shot at a title? And worse – if you’re stuck with one how do you ditch it? One of my favourite Media titles is Funnyman. Jerry Seinfeld was recently in the news after being in a very serious car accident. His brakes failed and the car flipped. The dude nearly died! Yet, true to form, the headlines read:

“Funnyman Seinfeld escapes car crash”

Yeah, Hilarious! Jerry himself said it best in one of my favourite episodes (The Jacket):

We had a funny guy with us in Korea. A tailgunner. They blew his brains out all over the Pacific. (Long pause) There’s nothing funny about that”

Finished with Comedy, you’ll find it it’s gonna be hard to shake off that FUNNYMAN title. If he’s REALLY lucky Jerry might end up with former Funnyman at best..

My second favourite media Title is “Love Rat”. This is a winner. Once you have been branded a “Love Rat” by the media, never again will your name appear without this auspicious title. Threats of legal action, tears and temper tantrums will only serve to strengthen it’s Tarzan’s Grip. ONLY a wedding will shake this moniker off, and even then, it’s likely that the perpetrator will get stuck with new title of FORMER Love Rat. For some, this might be devastating, for others more surprising. I mean, really – check this dude out:

His Hotness

He’s THRILLED to be labelled a Love Rat!

It doesn’t end there. Try these titles on for size: Embattled, FunnyMan, Love Rat, BadBoy, Wifebeater, Songstress, Fashionista, Rich Kid, Winner, Loser, Quitter, Acadmedic, Actor, Author, Musician…

And LASTLY.. How do we EARN a title. What if I want to be in the news.. will the headline read?? : –

“Author Pat Devlin saves fish from Toilet Bowl”

after all, I wrote several essays during my high school years.. Surely I’ve earned the title of Author?? How about:

“Actor Pat Devlin snoozes on park bench”

Once again, how much acting do I have to do to earn this title? I’ll bet Russell Crowe would give his left nut to see a headline that began with:

“Musician Russell Crowe does something newsworthy”

… Good luck Russ! P

Buy Australian

I really do try my hardest to Buy Australian products. I have clothes made from Australian Merino wool. I drink Australian wines and local beers. I even eat Vegemite toast even though vegemite still seems to me to be a lot like something I might have scraped off the bottom of my shoe. Even recently eating out with my kids at our local Pizza place, I still try to do my bit for the country. So I ordered an Aussie Pizza. But what’s so AUSSIE about putting Ham and Egg on Pizza??

Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi

Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi

What? They don’t have Ham and Eggs in say, ENGLAND? GERMANY? AMERICA??

Some might argue that Ham and Eggs is Wales’ national dish! PIG AND CLUCKER

As Aussie as ham??

As far as I know, Pigs (and therefore HAM) were domesticated wild boars who hung around in the seedier suburbs of Europe selling crack to passing Goths. Naturally, the internet is an excellent source of detailed and accurate data on the history of pigs

AND, unless I’m crazy, I don’t recall reading about Captain Cook being savaged by Feral Emu Chickens upon landing in his Great Southern Land.

So what makes Ham and Eggs so Australian?? I really haven’t got the first clue, but further research indicates that apparently adding these magic ingredients to virtually ANY menu item allows you to immediately label it as AUSSIE! This has boundless possibilities. I’m going to take this to my local boost juice bar..

Ofcourse it’s really all the fault of Dr. Suess. Australia’s love of Green and Gold stemmed largely from Seuss’s 1960 promotional book tour during which he co-authored the now famous Australian Guide to Pizza Toppings. And at 1$ a word on a $50 bet – he did well!


August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Oct    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

EMAIL Me Updates – My Daily FIX!

Hook Me up to Pat’s Blog!


%d bloggers like this: