24 May, 2012

Community Groups Urge Carlton Supporters to Dispose of Membership Cards Responsibly

*An edited version of this little piece of smart-aleck-ery has also been posted at satirical football website The Daily Maggot.

Carlton supporters have been urged to ensure they act responsibly when disposing of membership cards in the wake of Sunday’s dispiriting 69-point loss to Adelaide. In an unprecedented joint statement released to the media last night by Clean-Up Australia; the Australian Conservation Foundation; and the Australian Council of Social Services, significant community groups have joined forces to avert the potentially disastrous environmental fallout from a spontaneous event that now embarrassingly overshadows themed rounds in the AFL’s pantheon.

“We were ready to be proactive when the Blues were defeated by the Bombers in Round 4," the statement read, "but fortunately for the environment that 30-point loss was misinterpreted by Carlton people as a one-off and so didn’t have the usual triggering effect it did during 2008-10. But now that Carlton’s hubris has been confirmed as entirely misplaced after successive defeats at the hands of St Kilda and Adelaide, we don’t want charity bins and inland waterways clogged with tonnes of navy blue plastic.”

Carlton CEO Greg Swann confirmed that additional casual staff on well-below-minimum wages would be ruthlessly exploited to deal with the expected deluge of lost and damaged card applications when Carlton’s fortunes take even the slightest upturn. “The AFL have reminded us of the need to be proactive on all levels about this sort of thing, and we have been,” Swann said this morning. “For example, in anticipation of a loss to Melbourne next week, not only has our major sponsor VISY seen fit to divert funds from Chris Judd’s under-the-table payments to research and development into sustainable membership card recycling solutions, but flying squads of trained counselors will be stationed around the ground to deal with any depression hot-spots..”

However, a spokeswoman for the Beyond Blue Foundation denied any involvement. “Look, apart from their annual begging expedition to have us come on board as major sponsors, which we strongly suspect might end up involving us in money-laundering, we haven’t heard from them at all. So in all likelihood, they’re just skirting around the edge of the issue. Like their midfield.”

18 May, 2012

The Thin Envelope I

Our boys, Moe, Larry and Curly range in age from 14-18. They’re good lads, as they say. Show me a teenager who doesn't cause issues for his parents in some way and I'll show you a teenager who's been replaced by an alien clone. But there's plenty about them to make a parent feel greatly relieved: they don't hang around with dickheads; if their mates act like knuckle-draggers, as they do now and then, they don't join in; and they have loving if occasionally humourously adversarial relationships with parents and siblings.

In short, they haven't given their folks even a skerrick of the hassles their dad caused for his parents. For that alone, I'll always consider myself very fortunate. Okay, theyre inclined to be bone lazy when it comes to study, but there are swings and roundabouts.

However, let's just pop into flashback mode for a bit and check out what their dad was up to at around the same age...

The end of a fairly eventful school year was coming up. My inner suburban Catholic boys' school was experiencing some of the cooler days that had been the signature weather pattern of that November in 1975. What was hotting up though was anticipation: we were counting down the days to the school holidays and quite a few of our Form Four class were already aware that they wouldn't be coming back.

Some had secured apprenticeships, including a couple of good mates of mine, while others had opted to seek educational opportunities elsewhere. Guys who in some cases jumped before they were pushed. Because as the school's higher-ups had been stressing all year, there was going to be something of a cull at the end of Fourth Form. Quite a few of us would not be taking our place in the senior wing for 1976, as the school's administration had droned on and on to us during the year.
There was nothing for me to be apprehensive or even mildly concerned about though, I reasoned. Maths and Italian I'd written off at around the mid-point of the year as not being worth my energy, so I'd almost deliberately failed them. But there were As in English and History and a mix of Bs and Cs for the rest. Alright, teacher comments indicated a lack of effort and application but overall I thought it was a nicely balanced report. And that might have been the problem: I had very limited reasoning powers. No fucking idea, in fact.

Although self-conscious, I wasn't self-aware, so I thought that my place in the scheme of things as a kind of forthright smartarse made me a likable sort of young fellow on the way up. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I was a pain in the bum on just about every level imaginable in almost every instance – to teachers and fellow students alike - a compulsive shit-stirrer who gormlessly believed that was an okay thing to be.

Inevitably, there was some alarming news making a bee-line for me. News that I hadn't really anticipated at all.

With about three days of school to go, large envelopes were given out in class. My classmates tore theirs open to reveal a mass of coloured paper detailing what looked like booklists, subject requirements and the like. When my name was called, the first thing I noticed was my envelope’s lack of bulk and weight. It was thin and floppy.

There'd been a mistake, surely.

11 May, 2012

Classic Albums Augmented III: Revolver

Yes, the third in a series that adds artists' hit singles left off their contemporaneous album releases and looks at the likely ramifications. Sorry folks, but it's kind of for fanboys only.

The Beatles:

Revolver - Paperback Writer; Rain

It's a tough choice, but this August 1966 release is my favourite Beatles album. And I'm not going out on a limb there either: you won't meet anyone who doesn't at least like it a lot; and Rolling Stone magazine placed it at 3 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

All that said, it's a fantastic collection of songs and hangs together beautifully. The US version differed from the UK and Australian LP releases in two key ways: three John Lennon songs, I'm Only Sleeping; And Your Bird Can Sing; and Doctor Robert were all left off in its stateside form. And the US mix gave you a stereo separation that put vocals and a small amount of instrumentation on one side exclusively, with the remainder on the other side. Sounds weird, I know, but I really liked that dichotomy between left and right, and the separation suited the material. The CD re-release mixed it in a much more orthodox way and seemed to sacrifice the immediacy of the original.

The album represented a consolidation of what the Fab Four had started on their previous LP release, Rubber Soul: multi-tracked overdubs; sound effects; backwards guitar; a plethora of unusual influences; and additional instrumentation beyond what the Beatles could provide themselves. And the enigmatic cover, with its combination of photomontage and line drawings, was probably the first album cover to be pored over in search of hidden meanings.

It's been described as the first psychedelic album and that is arguable. I'm inclined to think of it as more of a proto-psychedelic album - the kinda trippy one immediately before the really trippy one. It opens with what was George Harrison's most exciting composition to that time, Taxman. Straight away you know you're hearing something special – the production values are bright, clear and timeless and the sinewy guitar lines echo those of the Paul McCartney song Baby, You Can Drive My Car from Rubber Soul.

Next up is Eleanor Rigby, with its Psycho-influenced string quartet backing - a stunning blend of form and content that made the music “establishment” really sit up and take notice of the Beatles’ creative abilities. I’m Only Sleeping is a wonderfully dreamy John Lennon ballad and Here, There and Everywhere is as lovely as anything McCartney has ever done. There’s a dark edge to Lennon’s She Said, She Said, commonly thought to have been inspired by a girlfriend of Peter Fonda’s, who took acid with the group during some down time in California and kept saying over and over “I know what it’s like to be dead...”

McCartney segues from the likely lad style of Good Day Sunshine to the poignant For No One and then George manages to squeeze in a third cut on the album with the Byrds-influenced I Want To Tell You. McCartney's Got To Get You Into My Life has always sounded rather Broadway to me but it's Lennon's album closer, Tomorrow Never Knows, that has become the album's signature track. With lyrics based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead and a droning, modal, raga-like feel, this song boasts sound-effect loops that were played like keyboards. Most listeners are surprised to learn that it stays on a C chord for its entire duration. It's been cited  as a profound influence by many mid-60s luminaries including Roger McGuinn and Jefferson Airplane as a liberation from the tyranny of the three-minute hit single.

So, how is it then that someone's favourite Beatles album could possibly be made even more favouriter?

I'm so glad you asked:

The Beatles' May1966 single release Paperback Writer opens with a killer guitar riff and an incoming bass run that should put any doubters straight about what a great bass-player Paul McCartney is. Paul's fast-paced lead vocal is augmented by John and George's high pitched Frere Jacque vocal inserts. The song's genesis is believed to have been inspired by an aunt of McCartney's who asked him "Wha doan't yew do one that's not about loov lahk all the rest?"

Rain is a hidden gem among Beatles songs that would sit nicely with all of the other surprises on Revolver. Lennon wrote it as a counter to constant complaints about the weather - and cited Melbourne's wintry blast on their 1964 arrival at Essendon airport as a catalyst. And just to make things a little interesting, it has backwards vocals and deceptive tempo changes.

So Which Tracks Would Miss Out?

None - even with two additional songs, Revolver's duration stays under 45 min