Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The "John Doe" Posts No.2 - And God Bespoke

Jan 16, 2010

The term ‘bespoke’, used in Britain, is (according to Uncle Wiki) derived from the verb bespeak, meaning ‘to speak for something’, and is used to refer to items that are made according to a particular buyer’s specifications. I became familiar with the term from reading the UK version of Esquire magazine, which primarily used it in relation to suits. A writer for Esquire claims that a bespoke suit helps ‘you achieve the perfect figure’ and ‘moves like a second skin’ (Esquire, Jan 2008, p. 141). The magazine then devotes several more pages to suggesting that one’s whole wardrobe be bespoken, including shirts, ties, shoes, sweaters, and even one’s scent.

But why stop there? Surely there are other items in life that one would like to have made to one’s exact specifications or to express who they really are? Here are at least five examples that I can think of that would be ripe for bespoking:

Bespoke desktop computer – Mine would have tightly fit, absorbent keys to protect it from crumbs and errant beverages. I would also want a monitor that instantly vanishes whenever someone attempts to peep at my screen and a function that automatically saves documents every ten seconds to save my paranoid self from doing so. Oh, and I’d need an Ana Ivanovic screensaver too.

Bespoke car – To truly express my attitude towards driving I would have my car do all my driving for me while I sat back and drank margaritas, and have it fitted out with mechanical arms with permanently raised middle fingers.

Bespoke Christmas tree – All layers of the tree should start at my chest level so as to facilitate the easy hanging of baubles (hence, saving my already 50 year-old back), and then be raised and lowered as required. This latter function would also allow my somewhat shorter partner to complete most of the festive decorating.

Bespoke theme music – I reckon some ‘Morning Glory’ by Oasis when I woke up (won’t the neighbours love that?), followed by some Grizzly Bear for when I’m walking to work, particularly if there’s some light rain, otherwise maybe Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solsbury Hill’, Radiohead is appropriate for pretty much any situation in the workplace (‘Paranoid Android’, ‘Everything In Its Right Place’, ‘A Wolf At The Door’, etc.), and then when I go out, I’ll choose whatever is the hit single from whatever album I bought in the past four days. Yes, I know I could just play all these songs on my iPod, but everyone should have to listen to and appreciate my musical taste, dammit!

Bespoke nose – To fit the specifications of my face.

The "John Doe" Posts No.1 - Greed: In Appreciation of Scrooge McDuck or 'Scrooge and Society'

Over the next several weeks, I will reproduce on this site the "John Doe" posts that I wrote for the seemingly-defunct Sins Weekly blog. As you will see, each of the posts was based on one of the seven deadly sins. Enjoy! - TW

Jan 7, 2010

In an interview in ’93, comic book writer/artist Don Rosa talked about the first appearance of Uncle Scrooge and the scene in that issue which, to him, ‘just seemed to perfectly crystallize the personality’ of Scrooge McDuck. This scene, Rosa argued, indicated that the reason Scrooge wanted all his money wasn’t greed at all. As his nephew Donald is leaving he says that, “You may not know it, Uncle Scrooge, but for all your money you’re only a poor old man.” The next panel shows Scrooge wondering if Donald may be right, and then he replies, “No man is poor who can do what he likes to do! And I like to dive in my money like a porpoise. And burrow in it like a gopher. And toss it up in the air and let it hit me on the head!” Rosa suggests that perhaps Scrooge’s words meant more to him than anything in his life, as it showed that ‘you’re not poor as long as you can do what you dream about.’ (Advance Comics, Number 54, June 1993, p.24)

Recently I’ve been involved in editing an article on social inclusion, which is essentially the idea of providing people with the resources, rights and opportunities to engage in society. The case of Scrooge McDuck though presents an intellectual quandary to social inclusion theorists. Scrooge has all the resources he could ever need, yet has little interest in interacting with his fellow man (or duck, as the case may be). And yet he’s perfectly happy to keep it that way. Burchardt, Le Grand and Piachaud (1999) struggled with the notion of whether the concept of social exclusion should be extended to those who choose not to participate in society (Burchardt, Le Grand and Piachaud, Social Exclusion in Britain 1991-95, Social Policy and Administration, Vol.33(1), p.227-44.). Their concern was that while the individual may prefer to spend their days sitting alone in their mansion staring angrily over their spectacles, it may not be a positive thing for society as a whole. In the end they basically create two different definitions of ‘social exclusion’, one in which voluntary exclusion is a problem and one in which it isn’t, and they concentrate their efforts on exploring the former.

But the other issue here is who the exclusion is really a problem for? Not for Scrooge I think – maybe the Dickensian version had his Christmas epiphany, but the whole point of the passage above, as Rosa understood it, is that his feathered successor wouldn’t change a thing. Really the concern here seems to be that others could benefit if the Scrooge McDucks of this world cared more about what was going on outside their money bins. But if all those who wanted to be included in society could do so without Scrooge’s help, would we really care about what that crazy old bird did? I suspect not. In other words, Scrooge’s inclusion in society would be a means to an end, but not an end in itself. Tax him for all he’s worth sure, if that’s how you think those ends can be achieved, but when all is said and done perhaps Scrooge’s preferred attitude towards society is to reject it. And, you know what, que sera sera ... not everyone wants to be a Donald, and maybe very few people want to be a Scrooge, but surely a fully functioning society is big enough to accommodate both of them… isn’t it?

More of the Same #s 1, 2 and 3 Recaptioned

Following on from yesterday's discovery, let's see how this blog's own comic strips would benefit from the use of a certain phrase:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Finger Points Outwards - No. 23

It has been suggested that all 'New Yorker' cartoons should be re-captioned this way.

Which led to the suggestion that all cartoons should be re-captioned this way.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Questions to Ponder About the Melbourne Storm's Punishment for Salary Cap Breaches

(Hooray! My first and probably last Rugby League post ever!)

1) We know that the Melbourne Storm were stripped of their 2007 and 2009 premierships and their 2006, 2007 and 2008 minor premierships, but what about the years in which they did not win anything? Shouldn't they be deemed to have finished last from 2005 to 2010? Does this mean that a team's punishment for salary cap breaches is dependent upon whether they have actually achieved anything?

2) What happens now if other teams are retrospectively found guilty of breaching the salary cap? Could we have a season in which five or six teams are unable to earn premiership points? Could we have a five year period in which no premiership is deemed to have been awarded?

3) Why should the Storm try in any game this season? Why should they turn up? Could they use this opportunity to take out the kneecaps of the Broncos back half or the Sea Eagles front line? Could other teams pay Storm players to do this? Should the Storm field a team of under-10s? What about them having, say, Rob Mills go up against Willie Mason? Can't the Storm now fix any match they play in?

4) What will Molly Meldrum do with the front of his house?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Richmond and that Stupid Draft!

In today’s Age, Jake Niall essentially argues that Richmond is being screwed over as a result of Gold Coast’s entry into the competition, in that even if they finish last they can pick no higher than No.4 (and if they finish 2nd last, could potentially pick as low as 8th). Niall’s position is that Richmond should receive some sort of compensation from the AFL. While I’m normally against this type of thing, even for my own team, I say hell yeah! You may think that the National Draft would have considerably helped Richmond over the years, but no team has been screwed over by the draft system as much as Richmond has. Don’t believe me? Read this sorry history of draft misfortunes…

1987 – Richmond gets first pick in second-ever National Draft, in which almost all players drafted do not play a senior VFL/AFL game. Uses first pick to take Richard Lounder, who plays 4 VFL games.
1989 – Richmond gets first pick in fourth-ever National Draft, in which most players drafted do not play a senior AFL game. Uses first pick to take Anthony Banik, who plays 49 AFL games.
1992 – Richmond win final home-and-away game to finish 3rd last, made to pick 7th as Sydney and Brisbane get two priority picks each (and Sydney trades both of them). Justin Leppitsch picked at No.4.
1993 – Richmond also made to pick 7th in ’93 pre-season draft as Sydney and Brisbane share first six picks, snagging Richard Osborne, Brendan McCormack and Adrian Fletcher. Richmond gets Stuart Steele.
1999 - Richmond finishes 5th last, gets 7th pick (although trades up to 3rd pick).
2002 – Richmond finishes 3rd last, gets 4th pick and trades it to Kangaroos in Carey-Kane Johnson-Torney deal. Carlton gets stripped of first two picks and pick 4 becomes pick 2.
2003 – Richmond finishes 4th last, gets 6th pick (although trades it for Nathan Brown).
Do receive 4th pick in pre-season draft, and watch as first three teams take Jade Rawlings, Nick Stevens and Phillip Read. Richmond gets Ben Marsh.
2004 - Richmond gets its only priority pick ever! Yes, I wish I was freaking joking! (Technically, they did receive a priority pick in 2007, but not until the end of the first round.) Richmond picks 1st in pre-season draft, no-one important available, resorts to picking Trent Knobel.
2005 – Richmond finishes 5th last, gets 8th pick. Scott Pendlebury is taken with 5th pick, and Patrick Ryder with 7th pick.
2007 – Rules for receiving priority picks changed. Richmond becomes first team ever to finish last and not pick first in National Draft, as Carlton receives priority pick (and trades its No.3 pick in Chris Judd deal). Richmond picks 1st in pre-season draft, no-one important available, resorts to picking David Gourdis.
2009 – Richmond finishes 2nd last, gets 3rd pick. Richmond picks 2nd in pre-season draft, after Melbourne has taken Joel Macdonald.