Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Front Fell Off

This has to be one of the funniest comedy routines I have ever seen. It’s so well done that I never grow tired of seeing it again.

As background, the team of John Clarke and Bryan Dawe have appeared on a weekly TV news program in Australia for better than 20 years.

They do a three-minute satirical interview of someone important discussing a current event. 

Bryan Dawe is the straight man interviewer.  No hamming it up. Just-the-facts type questions. No obvious softball questions. 

John Clarke plays the interviewee, not an impersonation, but perhaps including a signature quirk of the real person, perhaps a hat, or sunglasses, or other unique trait.

The typical interview seems to unfold in three parts:
  1. Introduction and overly-solicitous greeting… “It’s nice to have you here…”
  2. Funny interview
  3. Announcement that “Time is up” and we get to see what a jerk the interviewee really is.
This episode is a political satire interview of Australian Senator Bob Collins, the Minister for Shipping in 1991.

You can find the interview at YouTube  and audio  www.mrjohnclarke.com.

The following is my transcription:

Interviewer:  Senator Collins thanks for coming in.

Senator Collins:  It’s a great pleasure, thank you.

Int:  This ship that was involved in the incident off Western Australia this week...

Sen:  Yeah, the one the front fell off?

Int:  Yeah

Sen:  That’s not very typical, I’d like to make that point.

Int:  Well, how is it untypical?

Sen:  Well, there are a lot of these ships going around the world all the time, and very seldom does anything like this happen ... I just don’t want people thinking that tankers aren’t safe.

Int:  Was this tanker safe?

Sen:  Well I was thinking more about the other ones...

Int:  The ones that are safe,,,

Sen:  Yeah,,, the ones the front doesn’t fall off.  

Int:  Well, if this wasn’t safe, why did it have 80,000 tonnes of oil on it?
Sen:  Well, I'm not saying it wasn't safe, it's just perhaps not quite as safe as some of the other ones.

Int:  Why?

Sen:  Well, some of them are built so the front doesn't fall off at all.

Int:  Wasn't this built so the front wouldn't fall off?

Sen:  Well, obviously not.

Int: "How do you know?"

Sen:  Well, ‘cause the front fell off, and 20,000 tons of crude oil spilled into the sea, caught fire.  It's a bit of a give-away."  I would just like to make the point that that is not normal.

Int:  Well, what sort of standards are these oil tankers built to?

Sen:  Oh, very rigorous ... maritime engineering standards.

Int:  What sort of things?

Sen:  Well the front’s not supposed to fall off, for a start.

Int:  And what other things?

Sen:  Well, there are ... regulations governing the materials they can be made of

Int:  What materials?

Sen: Well, Cardboard’s out

Int:  And?

Sen: ...No cardboard derivatives...

Int:   Like paper?

Sen:. ... No paper, no string, no cellotape. ...

Int:  Rubber?

Sen:  No, rubber’s out .. Um, They've got to have a steering wheel. There's a minimum crew requirement."

Int:  What's the minimum crew?

Sen:  Oh,… one, I suppose.

Int:   So, the allegations that they are just designed to carry as much oil a possible and to hell with the consequences, I mean that’s ludicrous...

Sen:  Ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous.  These are very, very strong vessels

Int:  So what happened in this case?

Sen:  Well, the front fell off in this case by all means, but that’s very unusual.

Int:  But Senator Collins, why did the front bit fall off?

Sen:  Well, a wave hit it.

Int:  A wave hit it?

Sen:  A wave hit the ship.

Int:  Is that unusual?

Sen:  Oh, yeah...  At sea? ...Chance in a million.

Int:  So what do you do to protect the environment in cases like this?

Sen:  Well, the ship was towed outside the environment.

Int:  Into another environment....

Sen:  No, no, no. it’s been towed beyond the environment, it’s not in the environment

Int:  Yeah, but from one environment to another environment.

Sen:  No, it’s beyond the environment, it’s not in an environment. It has been towed beyond the environment.

Int:  Well,  what’s out there?

Sen:  Nothing’s out there...

Int:  Well there must be something out there

Sen:  There is nothing out there... all there is .... is sea ...and birds ....and fish

Int:   And?

Sen:  And 20,000 tons of crude oil

Int:   And what else?

Sen:  And a fire

Int:   And anything else?

Sen:  And the part of the ship that the front fell off, but there’s nothing else out there.

Int:   Senator Collins thanks for joining us.

Sen:  It’s a complete void

Int:   Yeah,  We’re out time

Sen:  The environment’s perfectly safe.  .... We’re out of time?..  Can you book me a cab?

Int:  But didn’t you come in a commonwealth car?

Sen: Yes, I did, but

Int:  What happened?

Sen: The front fell off

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Financial suggestions for California's governor

Several years ago, I drafted a letter to then California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger. I had several suggestions what to do to help California's fiscal problems.

The real lack of creativity in Sacramento is thinking that California cannot print money without limit like the federal government thinks it can.

Well, just use lottery tickets as a new form of California gold:

Pay state vendors in lottery tickets.

Pay tax refunds in lottery tickets.
Pay state employees in lottery tickets.

Pay state retirees in lottery tickets

Print lottery tickets without any winners.



Here's a word to ponder: Disoriented.

Today, we use the word "disoriented" to mean lost, not knowing where one is, or maybe unable to tell right from left or up from down.
But if we think of the prefix, "dis" meaning "not" and the root "-orient" meaning "East",we can think that the earliest meaning of disorientation might have been "not knowing which way is east."

But, today, looking at a map, clearly North is the most important direction.  What happened?

The magnetic compass was discovered around 1000 A.D. and since the  needle points north, it became the new direction for "orientation" and the drawing of maps.

In early history, East must have been the primary direction.  The sun rose there and travelers might re-orient themselves in the morning and figure which way they needed to go


The moment I became middle aged

I remember clearly the instant that middle age hit me.

I was 38 and my daughter was 3. It was Halloween night a little past 9 o'clock and trick or treaters were getting few and far between.

I went to the local big-chain grocery store to get some milk for my daughter's breakfast.

Of course, milk is at the back of the store, so that customers will pick up higher-profit impulse items on the way back to the front.

I'm savvy enough to know all that, but that night, I did fall for several of them and I was laughing at myself as I put them on the counter. I told the young woman checker that I had come only for the milk for my daughter's breakfast, but now I had the impulse items too.

Then came the blow. Without malice or any thought how cruel her words were, she said, "That is so nice. I like when my parents have me over for breakfast" -- leaving no doubt that this young adult thought me old enough to be her father.

Instant middle age.