Thought of the Week
Nobody ever wants to ban their own free speech
Music of the Week
I love these visualisations, and I love Bach. What a great way to start the day!
Thought of the Week
Nobody ever wants to ban their own free speech
Music of the Week
I love these visualisations, and I love Bach. What a great way to start the day!
John Man, stereotype enthusiast and reveller, spent an uproarious evening at the opera house last night watching Smetana’s classic tale of plot development and vibrant digression, The Bartered Bride.
“My favourite part is when the village idiot stutters comically,” he said. “Now that I can’t watch blackface vaudeville anymore, I’m always on the lookout for hideously insensitive and unsympathetic portrayals of things I don’t understand.”
Man admits that he gave up trying to follow the plot of the opera as soon as he realised that nobody has ever cared about it. “It reminded me of The Phantom Menace, which is my favourite film,” he said. “Sure, they spend a lot of time discussing some elaborate legal business, but really I just want to see some sort of irritating oaf bumble around babbling in his stupid wonky way. Then I can clap.”
Though critics say that the opera is sexist, implausible, and anachronistic, Man says he couldn’t imagine it any other way. “I literally don’t have an imagination,” he said. “But I do love clapping.”
Man also says he enjoyed the music, causing everyone listening to our interview to gasp and stare. “It’s eerie how well Smetena captured the natural simplicity of song,” he said. “My five year old nephew often stomps around the house singing bits of doggerel and when he does I sometimes forget that I’m not listening to The Bartered Bride.”
Man enjoyed himself so much that he wants to see some of Smetena’s other operas, such as The Quirky Spastic or even The Hysterical Ethnic, an unjustly neglected gem of Smetana’s ouevre. “I just love clapping,” he said.
Thought of the week
Morality is less essential than awareness.
Music of the week
Though it is incredibly difficult to hear, this is a recording of the French poet Guillame Appollinaire reciting his poem “Marie.”
It has more than a little similarity to the Dylan Thomas recording I mentioned in one of my other articles. Fascinating stuff.
John Man, lawyer and coffee cosy connoisseur, tried to describe a fascinating documentary to his friends at a party the other night.
“I think I captured the gist of it,” he said, “so that’s another night well spent for me.”
Man spoke for ages, trying to convey the insightful theories that had been so convincingly narrated to him against a backdrop of brilliantly edited stock footage and award-winning cinematography. “I must have mentioned a dozen times how some study suggests something,” he said, “so there were clearly facts involved. It was so fascinating.”
Friends tried to listen attentively, though many did struggle to remember what the documentary was about. “I was quite drunk,” said one friend, “so that must be why I can’t remember what the hell he was talking about. It definitely sounded meaningful, I’m sure of it.”
Based on the polite attention he received from friends and strangers, Man was reasonably sure that everybody at the party was as amazed by the documentary as he was. “People were fascinated,” he said. “They kept asking me questions like ‘what do you mean’ and ‘what did that study actually say’ and ‘what does that have to do with anything’ and so on. It was a real talking point!”
Man enjoyed talking about it so much that sources say he probably could have talked about it all night. However, he abruptly changed the subject when a new guest arrived who turned out to have a PhD in whatever the documentary was about.
“We had basically covered everything by that stage,” said Man, “so I let the conversation move on. I didn’t want to bore everyone, you know.”
Johnny Boy, primary school student and sleuth, was initially excited when he heard that a group of semi-professional classical musicians would be touring his local podunk area.
“It’s so difficult to see the great classics of the western canon,” he told reporters. “I thought this would be a real highlight of my calendar.”
His excitement soon turned into disappointment when he realised what a dismally conventional and populist program the musicians were presenting. “I’m just as susceptible to the charming, frivolous brilliance of Camille Saint-Saëns as the next kid,” he said, “but if I have to hear The Swan one more god-damn time I’ll scream. It’s elegant and swanny! I get it!”
Though Boy tried to make the best of the occasion he found the bourgeois atmosphere of the performance oppressive and disturbing. “It was only a matter of time before the horn player got out his bloody garden hose and tried to play something on it,” he said. “But, as usual, his hose technique was grossly insufficient for the sinuous chromatic pleasures of Strauss 2.”
Most of Boy’s classmates appeared to enjoy the concert, expressing their approval with giddy bouts of laughter and unrestrained applause. “I love sounds,” said one.
Boy hopes that next year’s tour will feature a more serious group who will hopefully pay homage to the greatest musical art produced by the human race, rather than merely present the same popular diversions everyone likes. “As Adorno said: popularity in music is a sign of corruption and fin de siècle decay,” said Boy. “I really hate fin de siècle decay.”
John Man, raconteur and equestrian, has pioneered a new theory that claims to revolutionise the very foundation of mathematics. He calls it the “General Theory.”
“The basic problem with numbers is that there’s so many of them,” he said while mounting his horse. “I only just get used to the idea of ‘nine’ and then BAM there’s a number with two digits to comprehend! It’s confusing.”
Man’s theory offers a much more simple and clear view of the world, dispensing with all numbers that aren’t four or nine.
“With just a four and a nine, I only have to deal with one number or the other, and that makes everything easier.”
Man is aware that his theory will be controversial and divisive, but he hopes that once standardised it will no longer be possible for anything to be divided, thus eliminating that problem for ever.
He explained the theory to us in more detail as he rode his horse around, smashing into every obstacle he could see. “Eventually, everything will look like a four or nine, and then I will always be right when I try to imagine what people mean when they refer to numbers. Did he say four thousand, five hundred and sixty-eight? Nope. it was just a nine again.”
We asked Man how his system would work, given the current existence and widespread use of numbers that aren’t four or nine. “Well, take the so-called “three”. It is quite close to four, so it is basically four. In my system it would be replaced by four. I mean, it’s obviously not nine, is it? Even a child can see that.”
Though his theory will render most mathematical operations meaningless and will prevent any further development in the field, Man is confident that the feeling of comfort and safety gained by the adoption of only two possible numbers will be far more satisfying than the chaos of trying to use endlessly different numbers. “Don’t get me wrong, I have tried forming satisfying generalisations within the current system but it’s just too difficult.”
Man was sadly unable to control his horse because he was too busy talking to us. He rapidly dismounted and let it run off in the same direction, probably forever.
“At the moment, it is still possible for people to say the wrong number,” he said. “I hate being wrong.”
As the international condemnation over Female Genital Mutilation gathers pace, campaigners hope that soon they will finally be able to drop the word ‘female’ from their slogans altogether.
“Of course we had to put the word ‘female’ in the campaign so that people knew we were talking about something bad,” said Sally, friend of Angelina Jolie. “But eventually we hope that all people will celebrate the birth of their sons and daughters without even remotely feeling the need to cut bits off them at all.”
John Man, president of the pro-mutilation group The Scissor Brothers, was outraged. “What will happen to my way of life?” he exclaimed. “I mean, female genital mutilation is obviously an antiquated, barbaric practice, but who amongst us doesn’t look at a young baby boy without feeling that avuncular urge to start sharpening the knives? I have habits, you know.”
Man’s organisation courted controversy recently with the release of a promotional video called One Baby, One Knife. The video attempted to show how innocuous and pleasing it is to attack the sexual organs of defenceless infants. “I don’t understand the controversy,” he said. “I’m always filming myself doing things with babies. I know best.”
Sally was unusually sensitive to Man’s plight, pointing out that he really does mean well and may even think has the children’s best interests at heart. “It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture,” she said, “like how it is not good to mutilate the genitals of children. Anyone could make this type of mistake.”
Man is glad that he can refer to his bronze-age practices publicly as some type of tradition, rather than as poorly justified, meaningless torture with life-long consequences. “People don’t feel comfortable criticising tradition,” he intoned knowingly. “After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This philosophy occasionally means a great deal to me.”
The British public (on the Jimmy Savile Scandal): This is an outrage! The BBC should have done more to control him. Fame is no excuse for terrible behaviour.
The British public (on the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson): This is an outrage! The BBC is being excessive. Who cares about violent assaults if the perpetrator is funny and famous?
On the other hand:
Head of the BBC in the 70s, 80s and 90s: Jimmy Savile has been raping people! Oh wait, it was just girls and sick children. Let’s not worry about that.
Head of the BBC in 2015: Jeremy Clarkson punched one of my own male producers!? Sack him.
Some chickens organised a rebellion. It was plucky.
They hatched a plan.
They were strong and unified, because birds of a feather stick together.
Bravely staring down their oppressors, they did not chicken out.
They formed a chicken coup.
They called themselves The Bolshevchicks.
Their supporters egged them on, giving them wings.
Eventually they made it…to the other side.
They won the battle. Their soldiers were seasoned.
They came from good stock.
Soon they achieved great technological wonders, like their super-winged flying craft known as SputChick.
But after some time they became yolked to their ideology.
They soon fell into schismatic groups: The Egg Firsts vs the Chicken Firsts.
They published lots of propaganda, or “Chick-Lit”.
Some of this propaganda was paltry.
They even enlisted the aid of national composers like Chickovsky to foster support.
One party was overtaken by a dominant leader: Big Bird
He did whatever he wanted to his opponents in order to maintain power. Torture, execution, you name it; it was open sesame.
He was extremely temperamental. Dealing with him was like walking on eggshells.
His many crimes were many and eggregious.
This scared everyone. They all ran around like chickens with their heads cut off.
Big Bird resorted to many tricks to crush his opponents. There was no end to his chickanery.
With the opposition crushed, he formed a totalitarian state: Chick Korea.
He controlled everything through the secret police, run by the formidable Colonel Sanders, known for his trademark execution style of immolation, featuring a secret array of spices.
Most things were regulated by bureaucrats in the party, known as ApparatChicks.
There was a lot of paperwork to be done, and a lot of boxes to tick. This work was done by the Chicken Tikkas.
The main currency was salt. Just ordinary salt, not chicken salt; that would be absurd.
However, winter soon descended. This was no Spring-chicken state.
Big Bird tried to count his eggs before they hatched; chaos ensued, and the state eventually collapsed.
The revolution was obviously chicken-hearted.
A group of people were having a normal conversation yesterday when suddenly, for no apparent reason, the foreign guy told a story about how things are different in his home country.
John Man happened to be in the conversation and described the feigned interest and death-like boredom the story generated. “We were talking about Katy Perry, and out of nowhere he launched into some story about kangaroos or whatever,” said Man. “I tried to nod or smile as his lips noisily flapped about, but I think that only encouraged him.”
Sally Galley was the only one to find the story interesting, as it revealed a fascinating cultural difference between the two countries that would be difficult to notice if you had not lived in both places. “It was quite interesting,” she said, “because it revealed a fascinating cultural difference between our two countries that would be difficult to notice if you had not lived in both places. And every time he tells that story it gets better and better. I could almost tell it myself now.”
The story eventually came to an end and the group was able to return to their charmingly off-beat pop-culture ruminations and semi-professional gossip. Unfortunately, it was not long before the foreign guy found some way to relate this gossip to some scandal or metaphorical crisis in the spiritual life of his own country.
Bob Guy was barely able to contain his seething rage. “I get it,” he said. “Different places are different. It’s amazing and all that. I just wish I could bitch about my colleagues in peace without having to contemplate the vicissitudes of the human condition every five seconds.”
We spoke to the foreign guy about his stories and asked him why he couldn’t just adopt the unquestioned cultural assumptions of his host country. “I’m like a fish,” he said, “swimming in the ocean. Where I’m from, we have a saying that…” and so on.
Man says he is happy to listen to the stories, provided he doesn’t have to care about whatever the message is supposed to be. “Sometimes they don’t even seem to have a point,” he said, “because he just trails off until it’s clear that no one can bond with him over his experiences. But at least then it’s over.”
John Man, social media activist and part time thinker, does not work in an office. He could have worked in an office had he failed at life, but thankfully he does not work in an office because he has succeeded at life.
“Just yesterday I had a job that required me to be outside,” he said. “I immediately tweeted a photo of myself and mentioned how I was not in an office.”
Man made this reference in an astonishing way. “At first,” he said, “I was going to write something like ‘what a beautiful place’ or ‘I enjoy this job I have that allows me to work outdoors’ or ‘it’s sunny and I’m smiling so I’m literally the best guy ever,’ but I decided against it. I wanted to be or appear more intelligent, so instead of those simple inane things, I wrote “another day at the office!”
Man says the response was immediate, with at least some of his friends liking the photo and others probably looking at it. He attributes this outrageous success to his extraordinary use of language in the phrase “another day at the office!”
“Let me explain,” said Man. “I was not really in an office; a quick look at the surrounding greenery and awe-inspiringly famous land-marks is enough to make that clear. What, then, to make of my apparently ‘incorrect’ claim that I am having another day at the office?” At this moment, Man held his hands together and tapped his goatee. “Well, it is all a devious linguistic ruse, you see; subtle, yet effective. I am pointing out that I am not in an office by way of highlighting the non-office appearance of my work location as if it were an office, which it is not. Classic misdirection, really.”
Man is confident that by picking up on his quirky use of language all his friends will appreciate the uniqueness of his life. “I always compare what my photos look like to what I imagine other people’s lives to be like. That’s the sort of originality you can’t get in an office.”
John Man is a dazzling young professional musician with an inspirational career. He regularly performs lunch-time recitals in churches and retirement homes, and he is on a first name basis with many of the most important movers and shakers in the industry.
We spoke to Ethel, retired handmaiden and crochet artist, who runs the monthly recital series for the South West Neo-Liberal Post-Anglican Brick Church District. It’s one of the most popular recital series in the area, and she leaves as many as three voicemails a day. “In exchange for the young musician’s time and skills,” she said, “we give them exposure. Lots of exposure.”
John Man could hardly stop salivating when we discussed this with him. “Exposure! Where? My life is meaningful after all!”
We spoke to a more famous musician who was better able to understand the challenges facing young musicians today. “The main problem with a career in music is not getting enough exposure,” said Dorothy Schnump, world-famous jazz timpanist. “At one point during my studies, my exposure level was so low I couldn’t even pay the rent! Luckily I had a friend who conducted his own orchestra for free, so with just a couple dozen rehearsals and a few hundred minutes of daily travel, I was able to get some exposure just in time.”
Man says he is dissatisfied with the way his music education has been going, saying there is too much focus on subjects that have very little relevance to him as a musician. “Every week,” he said, “we have to attend these detailed classes on professional development and the best way to pay our taxes and how to calibrate our investment portfolios, but we never get any classes on exposure. Thank god for hospital concerts and thoroughfare recitals, or all would be lost.”
Ethel is happy to be contributing something to the musical community. “I love being surrounded by young musicians exposing themselves. That’s what I live for.”