Science Fiction has Betrayed Us

Zeitgeisters,

it’s 2006 already and still no sign of the rich bounty we were promised by the science fiction movies and television of yesteryear. These fanciful magic lantern shows were of course inspired by the Golden Age of written science fiction (approx.1938-1950).

Did we not envision this particular era we are suffering through now as an enlightened time of impossibly long travelators in clear plexiglass tubes? I was supposed to be able to step on a travelator here in Perth at 0855 and make my 0900 meeting in Beijing. Surely we all recall this?

Did we not imagine that items such as the following would be commonplace: floating cars with batwing doors, food replicators, recessed lighting, wall-sized telescreens, invisible helpmate computers and funky androids that served us martinis on the terrace in our geodesic dome home?

Did we not dream of a Utopian World Government that had ended famine, poverty and war, had our best interests at heart and was barely seen to govern at all; a benign Federation of Planets; a wise Jedi council?

Am I remembering this wrongly?

Nostradamus, Hugo Gernsback, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Gene Roddenberry, Aldous Huxley, George Lucas, Ridley Scott – see me after class.

Mr Trivia

Eurovision 2006: In the End, its the Finnish

Lordi – The Unexpected Winners of Eurovision 2006

 

ADVISORY: Zeitgeisters, steer clear of this blog entry if the idea of a 4-hour televised European Song Contest leaves you unmoved.
INTRODUCTION

The Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is a televised song competition that has been aired every year since 1956. Participant countries are not necessarily “European” but have to be members of the European Broadcasting Union. Which is how countries like Egypt and Turkey can qualify. Audiences in thirty-eight countries can vote for the contestants in a television poll.

That is a dry description of the event culled from the official website and the Wikipedia. If you’ve never witnessed the Eurovison Song Contest, it’s like a collision between The World Cup and an Australian rock eistedffod. Some people take it as seriously as the older Sanremo Music Festival (here if you read Italian), however this is difficult to do if you don’t enjoy middle-of-the-road pop. For the rest of us, the ESC is a kitschfest, a golden opportunity to mock and for the most part, this year did not disappoint.

The United Kingdom is one of the big four financial supporters of the contest, but is also instrumental in pulling the piss out of the ESC. The UK’s TV link man, (unseen during the broadcast) is Terry Wogan. He makes ascerbic asides throughout and takes aim at costumes, poor song choices, bad dancing and whatever else takes his fancy. For many of us, Wogan is the reason we watch.

OPENING NUMBER

Eurovision 2006 was the 51st edition and the host city was Athens. The Greeks approached the show’s opening number in a similar spirit to their recent Olympic opening ceremony. This was pointed out by my brother with whom I was watching.

So this meant much celebration of Ancient Greek culture and poetry. A mermaid sang of those Ancient Greek staples, the Sun and the Sea. These were embodied by dancers dressed as waves (poor), birds (very poor) and dolphins (even worse). The Sun was flown in on cables and Wogan described it as a “giant Terry’s chocolate orange”. It was massive and had gold-painted dancers writhing on it. As an idea it was somewhere between Studio 54 and Fellini’s Satyricon.

The number finished on a literal high note and was met by rousing applause from the Athen’s audience. Then the evening’s hosts Sakis and Maria were flown in on wires from opposite ends of the enormous stage. This was the very effect that so impressed me when I saw Peter Pan as a six-year-old at the Perth Entertainment Centre. I will say little about the inane Maria and Sakis, except that like all host-duos throughout the contest’s history they had the required ability to speak in the ESC’s official languages (French and English) as well as the tongue of the host country.

THE ENTRANTS

There were 24 countries competing in last night’s final. And mostly, the acts were undistinguished. The typical entry was a group comprising a combination of singers and dancers, rather than say a lone singer fronting a band. Full-on pop numbers generally featured more dancers and these outnumbered the ballads, which seemed out of favour, this year.

There is pop music and there is Eurovision pop. From an observer’s standpoint, Eurovision has seemed to operate with a guiding impulse to reward enthusiasm and effort over talent. The general criticism of the ESC is that the winning song and act are invariably pretty, homogenised ballads or puerile pop numbers.

This rose-coloured aesthetic is captured by the official website. Here’s how it described Moldova’s entry in the final telecast:

“Next, it’s Moldova, represented by Arsenium and Natalia. They start the song silhouetted behind a yacht sail before emerging to sing their funky, summery song, ‘Loca’. As they sing, a dreadlocked rapper says, ‘yeah, uh’ and Arsenium stands alongside him, bopping away like Justin Timberlake. Natalia, meanwhile, goes through two costume changes, losing her skirt to reveal a tiny bikini before bursting through the sail in a wedding dress. It’s a very polished performance.”

Yep, that was one way to describe it. Another way would be to call it a sad Carribean rap based around a poorly sung line that sounded like “Every night I need a Berocca”. Natalia’s tiny bikini was a stunt that took the essence of the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction and used it to distract from the poverty of musical talent on display.

Latvia’s entrant was the mighty Cosmos. Six men dressed in cream-coloured suits of varying cuts. Cosmos was an a capella act, of whom my brother said, “A capella singers are the magicians of the music world.” He didn’t mean it as a compliment. However, Cosmos showed they had more to offer than mere vocal pyrotechnics. They also had a pathetic stick-figure robot that could do the moonwalk and at the end of the song, one singer let go of a small, lighted heart that flew up to the stadium ceiling. Awww!

Norway’s entrant showed that attractive blonde Scandanavian women ripping-off the Bond formula (violin hotties) just sounds like a good idea on paper. The next act of any note were the German band Texas Lightning with Aussie lead singer Jane Comerford. Their country song was something you might actually listen to in passing on the radio. So naturally they had no chance.

The Russian act had it going on; a lead singer with a mullet and a ballet dancer in white face trapped in a grand piano under a mound of rose petals. Think pissy music-videos from the 1980s, say The Blue Nile’s Tinseltown in the Rain and you’ll have the feel almost exactly.

Halfway through the show and Wogan had tired of the copy he had to read that accompanied the touristy images that went before each song. He said, “The write up for this says ‘Greece loves fruit and vegetables’ Laudable. No sign of a drink is there? It’s a long night, this.”

Lithuania’s entrant were an aggro pack of black-suited fellas called LT United. Wogan correctly identified their song as “a football chant.” With absolute chutzpah they sang, “We are the winners of Eurovision.” They exhorted us all to “vote!” They spiced t
hings up with an electric violin, goofy dancing and a gold megaphone. In my view, their killer line was, “We are here to represent the truth.” Unfortunately not enough voters agreed.

The UK’s entrant was one of the lowlights of the evening. Some geezer called Daz Sampson rapped in front of dancers dressed as schoolgirls. Daz obviously thought he had the cred of The Street’s Mike Skinner, but was in fact all mouth and no trousers.

The memory of Daz was soon obliterated by the all-conquering Lordi. This Finnish metal band sang an absolutely blinding piece of nonsense called Heavy Rock Hallelujah. There were reference to rock and roll angels and the Day of Rockening. Their costumes were heavily-worked and detailed with horns, skulls, illuminated evil eyes; and each member of the band was in prosthetic makeup. Wogan called them the return of the Klingons and the Orcs. They looked like the Warhammer house band. Eurovision had never seen anything like them.

From here it got a little blurry. Croatia’s entrant was a singer called Severina. Even the official ESC website shows some self-knowledge when it says: “This being Eurovision, the bottom of her dress is soon ripped off and Severina is hoisted aloft by her dancers. It’s crazy but a lot of fun.” It was actually neither.

The disappearing skirt was not only used three times during this show, but it is basically a tribute to, or plagiarised from, the 1981 UK entrant Buck’s Fizz who had this move worked out for their song Making Your Mind Up. At the strategic moment, the two boy singers whipped off the skirts from the two girl singers who were in leotards or somesuch. It caused a sensation. In 1981. 25 years later, the ESC kids are still at it.

The final act of any note was Sweden. The singer also remembered 1981 and dressed to celebrate this bygone era. She also belted out a disco-influenced power ballad(?) about “Invincible Your Love So Preem”. It was a little Farrah Fawcett aesthetically and a tad Bonnie Tyler musically. It was so bad that I thought it was in with a chance. Soon it was time for the voters of Europe to decide.

VOTING

The voting system is complex. I won’t go into it too deeply here except to say; no country can vote for itself; points are given to your country’s top ten picks; points number from 1 to 12 (except for 9 and 11 which aren’t included). In year’s past the voting seemed to take about two hours. This year each of the twenty-four entrant countries only announced their top three votes.

This process is a bit like watching a national election. Dull for many. Wogan called it “tedious” but he remembers back to when there were only a dozen or so entrants. I always enjoy the voting and trying to pick a winner early. Just a third of the way through the votes and my brother was tipping Finland’s Lordi who at that point only had a twenty-point lead.

There is a tendency for the various countries to vote ethnically or culturally. So the Scandanavian countries invariably vote for each other, as do the Baltic states. This leads to some strange voting patterns. In the case of entrants like Greece and Cyprus or the Balkan states, we witness the phenomenon of watching countries who have ancient or recent disputes, voting for one another. Is this heart-warming or hair-tearing?

In the end, enough of the participating 24 nations saw the joke and Finland’s Lordi won with a huge 292 points. Russia was second with 248 points and Boznia Herzegovina were third on 229 points.

Lordi is such an uncharacteristic ESC winner. All the pre-show tipsters were wrong. Although who can blame them? Lordi’s song wasn’t a ballad or a pop song. The band wore latex-rubber monster heads for crying out loud! Did the countries of the European Broadcasting Union suddenly and simultaneously grow a funny bone – or is Euro-metal on its way back? It’s too early to tell.

The winning nation becomes the host country for the following year’s ESC. As the credits rolled and Wogan realised that 2007’s show would mean traveling to Finland, he weighed it all up like the Eurovision veteran he is,“Oh good, we’re back in the cold again.”

Elevate the Insignificant!

Mr Trivia

Drive-Thru Radio

When I work late I will occasionally head home along Canning Highway and grab a burger from the drive-thru at Hungry Jack’s. For our international readers, Hungry Jack’s is the Australian version of Burger King. In fact we have both Burger King and Hungry Jack’s here in the Wide, Brown Land.

It’s an odd situation; a little like Berlin before The Wall went up, when the city was divided into different zones of control (The American zone, the Russian zone etc.) Okay, it’s nothing like that at all. Believe it or not, there’s quite a good Wikipedia entry on Burger King which deals with the Hungry Jack’s controversy quite nicely.
But I’m just warming up, folks. That’s merely a daub of mushroom sauce on the bacon wrapped patty that is this blog entry.

It was two nights ago, the telecast of the Green/Mundine fight had just finished over at the Leopold Hotel on Canning Highway in Bicton. The multitudes of fight fans in the Leopold either walked over to the MacDonalds next door or drove a couple of hundred metres up the highway to Hungry Jack’s.

So the drive thru-was packed. The line of cars looped around the store. And so I was forced to listen to the radio. I sort of listen to radio when I’m driving to work. I find the inane chatter quite pleasant. Recently I heard a fresh idea for a morning radio game-show. A “battle” of the “sexes” I believe it was called. Amazing.

However, because I drive to work functionally asleep, I don’t really “listen” to the radio. It’s okay, I’m like the sleep-walking, sleep-cooking, sleep-writing people you keep hearing about in court cases and scientific journals. They do everything while apparently awake, but have no memory of their actions later when they are actually awake. Channel 9’s Steve Leibman was one. Mike Goldman is probably one, too. And I believe Princess Caroline of Monaco.

I was in that drive-thru line for maybe fifteen minutes. The environment suffered, but at least I didn’t have to leave the secure personal bubble of my car. And so I had some uninterrupted, waking time with my wireless. And isn’t commercial FM radio in Australia a glittering cesspool of mediocre crap?

Okay Youth Group. You and your “Forever Young” cover have officially had your fifteen minutes. It’s time to go…Youth Group! And The Veronicas, you have ten seconds to vacate the premises.

One of the oldie stations, whose demographic I apparently fall into, sad to say, was playing it’s usual witless selection 70s and 80s rock. Sure, The Eagles’ Hotel California is the rock and roll equivalent of the Bhagavad Gita and it is the acknowledged apex of popular rock songs dealing with the vexed subject of entrapment in ghostly hotels. But we’ve heard it. There are one-year-olds in Karachi who already know all of the words.

A brief moment of interest was provided by a syndicated American show. I arrived in the middle and left before the end, but it seemed to involve Alice Cooper back-announcing old songs and doing long, rambling bits about Alice’s Take On Life. Sample: Alice explains to some 15 year olds from an all-girl band that they shouldn’t get tattoos with their band-name, on their shoulders, because when it came time for the Senior Prom they wouldn’t be able to wear anything that showed off the aforementioned shoulders. It was unexpected.

The thing that really got my attention was one of the ads. Of course we all agree that radio ads are worse than weapons-grade plutonium and more morally reprehensible than stealing from work to pay for your gambling habit. This is a given.

But this one ad was just plain weird. It was stranger than the respectable Alice. It was more perplexing than the continued success of The Veronicas.

It was a contest for something called the Coffee Club. Which is a restaurant chain that appears to be going great guns in Queensland and New South Wales. It might be new to WA. The contest involves winning a date with a celebrity. Or the Austereo Network’s Jackie O. Among the celebrities are Better Homes and Garden’s Johanna Griggs and Ian “Molly” Meldrum who is described as “often considered to be responsible for revolutionising music in Australia”. I merely repeat the Press Release.

On the ad itself it said you could win a date with the Footy Show’s Paul “Fatty” Vautin. Only it described him as the “enigmatic” Paul Vautin.

I have to admit to quite liking Fatty. I would describe him as many things. On telly at least, he appears to be a talkative, gregarious, blokey, smart aleck who likes a laugh. Not too sure about “enigmatic” Where’s the mystery about Vautin?

The enigmatic Viggo Mortensen, maybe. The enigmatic Audry Hepburn, possibly. But Fatty has all the enigmatic qualities of a rissole. I guess the ad people could have been taking the piss, which is why I checked out the Press Release, but it seemed quite straightforward.

Or maybe some copywriter doesn’t know the difference between charismatic and enigmatic. Vautin is a little more charismatic than he is enigmatic, but only is the way that a scotch egg is a more charismatic version of that previously mentioned rissole.

To be revealed on higher plane, later.

Elevate the insignificant!

Mr Trivia

Time is of the Essence

Howdy Zeitgeisters,

Time is a Construct. Try saying that to your Boss when you’re 35 minutes late for the weekly one-hour staff meeting. This sort of University-style postulation only goes over if you’re working in a Secret Government Research Facility trying to replicate “The Philadelphia Experiment”.

And if you think, “Crappy 1980s sci-fi film starring Michael Pare and Nancy Allen” when you hear the term The Philadelphia Experiment then you need to click here. And remember the Wikipedia is NEVER WRONG.

I have time only to blog these few following words:

The Artline Pen thing, didn’t convince. Raspberry Beret remain unimpressed with my Pro-Team joggers. “At least they’re better than those old K-Mart shoes you used to have,” she said.

Our good buddies at Kane & Kane are launching Stage 2 of The Project. If you’re bullish on aggregating content for your Me Brand, then maybe they have something to tell you.

And check out Lep Loney’s Poetry Blog, because he is doing useful work in the area of self-criticism. Each of his beautiful, fragmented scraps of lyrical imagery is immediately critiqued by The Poet himself in the comments section.

For those who suspect that I am Mr Loney, I can only point out that I’m just some guy on the Web who hides behind a bogus profile image and that Time is a Construct.

Elevate The Insignificant!

Mr Trivia

Damn Fine Coffee

Hello Zeitgeisters,

If you’re an urban poseur like me, then you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about, searching for and drinking coffee. You might even be a café habitué with your own dark corner of a local coffee house.

Here in the glittering berg of Perth, Western Australia, we are blessed with some halfway decent caffeine and for that I believe we must thank the Post-World War 2 wave of European migration to Australia. See, sometimes the movement of entire populations owing to industrial-scale violence is good, because it improves the menu somewhere else in the world.

Starbucks haven’t moved in here yet. Although my conspiracy theorist chums like to insist that they have, by telling me that Starbucks already own ‘Dome’ or ‘Gloria Jeans’ , but I am too damn lazy to research the truth of this statement.

My point is this. Yesterday, I was at a seminar for work in the city. I was gabbing with some colleagues and in swift succession I did this: grabbed a ‘styrene cup, poured some hot water out of an urn into the cup, swilled in a tea-spoon of some brown powder, added a teaspoon of brown sugar and finally popped in a soupcon of full cream cow’s milk (I’m building the suspense here, people.)

And it was the best coffee I have had in a month. This hit of cheap institutional instant in a foam cup was So Excellent, that I persuaded myself out of having another.

I thought, no, that moment was as near to perfection as Aristotle and I can expect to go. This is my peak experience for the day; I will meditate on this and cherish it.

And of course go home and blog on it in excruciating detail.

Elevate the Insignificant!

Mr Trivia

 

Fashion Tip for the Miserly


Hey Fashion-Geisters

About two years ago I bought a pair of runners, joggers, sandshoes, plimsolls – what have you – from Spendless Shoes. The cognoscenti among you will recognise this as an excellent Australian business whose mission – cheap shoes for riffraff like myself – is not to be sneered at.

I’m old school, see. Money spent on my shoes is money wasted. My friends would attest to this. “He’s not stylish,” they’d say. “We love him because he’s quirky about old television shows and he knows that ALF comes from Melmac.” The footwear is simply not part of the package.

Anyhow, my partner (formerly Miss Pink, but she has expressed the desire to be known as.. ) Raspberry Beret hates my Pro-Team runners from Spendless (I believe they spell it “$pend-less”) because I once did some house-painting for my father in them. So they became besmirched and bespattered with spots of white paint.

Raspberry Beret has in the past regularly referred to them as my “homeless shoes”. And if truth be told, they always drew looks when I went walking in them (but I don’t care what the good people of South Perth think – they continually vote for John Howard, if you know what I mean.)

But yesterday I had a brainwave. I could improve my shoes and look stylish again (sorta) in the eyes of my woman.

I took an Artline 70, Black High Performance Marker and coloured in all the white paint spots. It sounds dumb. It sounds absolutely juvenile. But it worked a treat. The shoes look almost as good now as they did two years ago.

Tomorrow, I’m going to take ’em for a spin past my partner and see if she can suss out my sartorial and fiscal masterstroke.

I’m feeling positively metrosexual.

Ren Gets Out Of His Car And Dances


So Zeitgeisters,
FOOTLOOSE was on the old Free To Air. At first, I decided to ignore it. If you don’t remember FOOTLOOSE or never saw it, the film was made in 1984 and stars Kevin Bacon as teenager Ren McCormack who moves from Chicago to a small town called Bomont where Rock and Roll Music is against the law!

Why? I hear you ask. Because Rock is the Devil’s Music. And according to the screwy plot of FOOTLOOSE, five years before Ren’s arrival some kids from Bomont died in a drink-driving accident after they were out “enjoying” some of those devil rhythms. One of those kids was the son of Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow) and the good Reverend dedicates himself to preaching against the deleterious effects of R-O-C-K.

And no Rock means no dancing and that means no Senior Prom.

It all sounds quite stupid. Which is why I almost didn’t watch the film again. However, some people did believe in bullshit like that back then, and continue to do so to this day. In fact, that banner year of 1984 was also when Tipper Gore, wife of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, formed the infamous Parents Music Resource Centre (PMRC) to combat the language and ideas expressed in contemporary pop and rock.

It was the influence of busybody bodies like the PMRC that led to the U.S. record industry putting those annoying “Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics” labels on certain compact discs and audio cassettes.

So what makes FOOTLOOSE the greatest film of the American Cinema? Well, nothing. But we 80s kids tend to remember it with great fondness. And why not? When Ren arrives at Bomont High on his first day, he drives up in a yellow Volkswagen Beetle with Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” blaring on the stereo. He’s stickin’ it to the MAN!

Actually, he doesn’t know that Rock is banned at this point. When he discovers the Truth in the school cafeteria, he utters the deathless 80s phrase, “jump back!” to register his stunned amazement.

Later in the film, big city Ren, bursting with frustration, drives his Beetle to a secluded old building and let’s off steam with an acrobatic solo dance. This footage makes up much of the music-video that accompanied Kenny Loggin’s hit single theme song. At the time, there were a number of nitpickers who pointed out that most of this sequence was doubled by a much more experienced dancer.

Bacon disarmed this silly criticism by pointing out that when he read the script, the skill required for this scene wasn’t clear. It only said, “Ren gets out of his car and dances.”

There are many other reasons to enjoy this lightweight film. Despite the dumbness of the premise, the writing of the Reverend’s role and it’s performance by actor John Lithgow are not one-dimensional. In fact, most of the performances are well above par for a teen movie of that era. The film is Sarah Jessica Parker’s movie debut and it also features a likeable turn from the late Chris Penn as Willard.

If you’ve never seen FOOTLOOSE, don’t expect it to be anything more than it is – a well-crafted, 1980s teen film with engaging performances and catchy pop soundtrack.

But in this strife-torn era, on this ball of confusion, isn’t this what we need?

Meh? Maybe not.

Anyhow, I’ll leave you with these thoughts while I enjoy a brisk walk in the park. For here in the southern hemisphere, we are experiencing chill winter. And when I return, I’ll prepare a warm, nutritious bowl of Bird’s Custard.

Bird’s Custard, the delicious flavour never disappoints.

Celebrating Mike Goldman

Hail Zeitgeisters,

I am about to speak to youse about “Big Brother 2006”. Otherwise referred to as BB06. And yes, I refer to the Channel 10 reality show. If you are one of those who reacts reflexively and negatively to the mere mention of this program, then turn away NOW!

As a Night Owl (read ‘insomniac’) I appreciate “Big Brother Up-Late” more than I’m willing to admit (until now).

The Up-Late Show is two hours of live-streaming video of whatever the housemates are up to between 11:00 pm and 1:00 am Eastern Standard Time. Obviously, there’s some intervention from the BB Control Room – certain topics are cut away from quickly – particularly anything that might slander someone from outside the House.

As a writer-type-guy I am fascinated by the sorts of things an ever-diminishing group of twenty-somethings might say to each other around the witching hour. And believe me, it’s mostly chat.

There are often quite good juxtapositions when the Control Room switches from one part of the House to another. Say, from the egghead group discussing Noam Chomsky in the bedroom to the boys in the spa having a belching competition.

Sometimes the talk is so weird and uninformed that it leaves you gob-smacked. I’ve just witnessed a conversation about purchasing groceries for the coming week in the House. The participants were John (surf-wax hair), Dino (minus the mattress) and Gaelan. They got in that “agreeing” space that you can find yourself in when you’re bonding.

The trio were agreeing that they needed to purchase carbs, especially rice and pasta. And that potatoes are really good because you can serve them any way. Gaelan said cooked or raw. John agreed you can have them raw. No-one else disagreed. Consensus was achieved.

I’m sure someone somewhere is eating raw potatoes. Some hardcore freakin’ vegan who secretly hates food, perhaps. But it seemed unusual.

So, why is Big Brother voice-man and “Up-Late” host Mike Goldman getting props from this blog? Because the “Up-Late Game Show” which ran from the end of BB05 until last week; the one hosted by former BB Housemate Simon “Hotdogs” Deering, was dire. He was okay, but it all felt a bit laboured and unnatural.

Television’s current fad for using amateurs shouldn’t extend to hosts and presenters. Ex-BB Housemate Bree Amer from 10’s “Friday Night Games” is a case in point.

With all due respect to Hotdogs, Mike Goldman can juggle the callers and the games in his sleep. Often this seems to be what he’s doing. As the months wear on, he appears to sink deeper and deeper into sleep debt. He’s a naturally funny fella and it’s entertaining seeing him navigate his way through the wee small hours without snapping or saying something quite pointed.

Goldman has the mojo and we salute him.

His website is www.http://mikegoldman.tv/

Elevate the Insignificant!

Mr Trivia

Mikhail’s Gravy

Zdravstvuite, Zeitgeisters!

Years ago, I watched a documentary on the band REM. Their method for coming up with album names involved pinning up a list in the studio while they worked on that album and band members would add names to the list as the mood took them. If memory serves, Michael Stipe said two titles came up album after album and were never used. One was “Love and Squalor” which is taken from a JD Salinger story, and the other was “Cat Butt”.

For the last few months, my band has been toying with changing its name from “To Be Continued” to something with a little more zing and pizzazz. A fortnight ago we became“Dancing with Gorbachev”.

Unfortunately, It turns out that many people don’t know who Mikhail Gorbachev is or was. Time to rectify this situation. The campaign to inform the populace about this man, begins here.

In 1985 Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev was elected the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He was instrumental in the creation of policies and doctrines that lead to the end of 45 years of Cold War, the democratisation of Eastern Europe and the near collapse of the Russian economy. You remember… Perestroika… Glasnost…. Gorby. Anyhow, go to Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge and have a read.

You might also like to travel to Gorbachev’s own site, mikhailgorbachev.org. His 70th birthday was on March 2, 2001, and a stunning lineup of 1980s politicos sent in written tributes. Read the words of former President of the USA, George Bush Senior who found it necessary to include the term “market economy” in his celebration of Gorby.

Even better is former president of Germany, Richard von Weizsäcker, who writes a long rambling screed in which he mentions, among other things, the excellence of his own wife as a hostess, and also this:

“Now under Gorbachev each socialist state had to decide its future development independently. The Press Secretary of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gennady Gerasimov dubbed this the ‘Sumatra’s Doctrine’ based on Frank Sumatra’s song called ‘My Way’.”

As Mike Moore used to say on “Frontline”: “Hmmmm”.

I would like to close with two thoughts.

Firstly, on behalf of “Dancing with Gorbachev” I urge you, if you are a young person, to do some reading about Gorby. Discuss him with your parents, etc. If you are an older person, spend just a few minutes today talking to a young person about who Gorbachev was and what he meant in 1989. Do it for my band.

Secondly, if it’s good enough for Richard von Weizsäcker it’s good enough for this blog. From now on, Sinatra, Old Blue Eyes, Cranky Franky, Francis Albert the Leader of the Rat Pack, will, within the walls of this blog, be exclusively referred to as “Frank Sumatra”.

Elevate the Insignificant!

Mr Trivia

Other People’s Ringtones

Guten Abend Zeitgeisters,

I work in an open plan office (it’s a loft or mezzanine style of thing) and it is a common occurrence to hear other people’s mobile phones going off. Graeme downstairs has a “My Sharona” ringtone and Liz, with whom I share my office, has a Madonna ringtone.

Like any other oft-heard sound, these cut into my brain like brick-saw into concrete. To be fair, my own ringtone is just as bad. If you have a Nokia 3120, then you can sample the twittering cacophony that is “Urgency”. Imagine the sound of a finch caught on a length of razor wire, then amplify it.

What I love is the reaction when anyone hears it for the first time. “Is that your ringtone?” they ask, as though I might have programmed it by accident. I have very purposely chosen a high, “top-endy” sound so it cuts through the background noise.

I propose a new piece of cell phone etiquette. Much in the same way that one doesn’t comment on how other people raise their children – especially not to the parents of those children – I think the same advice goes for ringtones. Everyone else’s ringtone will get on one’s wick. So say nothing.

So in a blanket answer to those of you who ask THAT question; Yes – that is my ringtone – and I love it.

Elevate the Insignificant,

Mr Trivia

p.s. German visitors click the Nokia link above!