Saturday, July 16, 2011

Television gave us Secret Squirrel business, Townsville Council gave us secret Tyrell business, Typo calls the kettle black, and the new loopy language in the paint store.

It's been a week which will perhaps be remembered for our prime minister talking crap ... literally. In an address broadcast nationally, the Mother Meerkat's exhortation to the Canberra Press Club members not to write 'crap' was unusual to say the least. 

On the face of it, this was a clear request to stop quoting her, because the glaringly obvious solution to achieve her goal would be for her stop talking. Add Bob Brown, Tony Abbott, Bob Katter and Alan Jones, and the country's dangerously high carbon mouthprint would plunge instantly. 

But writing crap doesn't always happen when someone says something. Here in The 'Ville, it was what wasn't said that caused the problem, with the City Council's secret guest list for the box at the V8 SuperPests last weekend.

It was a mysterious and ill-advised move, but The Magpie has been able to solve the puzzle and take a peek at the guest list.

In the hilarity department, he also explains why Typo earns the goofiest Gotcha! award of the year so far, in this week's natterings from The Nest.

But first, this week's How's That Again? Award goes to American paint manufacturers! (Bet you didn't see that coming, didja?)

Some background. 

Efforts to alter reality through language have always been a bit tricky, not so much a metamorphosis as a 'metaphor-phosis'.

This Kings New Clothes school of manipulating perception often results in an involuntary yelping belly laugh.     

This is particularly so in the area of political correctness, where insane people are 'selectively perceptive', the slow witted are 'developmentally delayed', which is just a step away 'exceptional', the accepted PC term for the mentally retarded, a learning disability becomes a 'self-paced cognitive ability', and a blind person is 'unsighted', which is only marginally better than the callously dismissive 'visually challenged'.

The long-standing droll yuk-yukery of the military has taken a dark turn in recent years, particularly with the Yanks. Semi-drowning waterboard torture becomes 'an enhanced coercive interrogation technique', sleep deprivation is now the harmlessly corporate sounding 'sleep management', kidnapping is 'special rendition', 'mild non-injurious physical contact' is a clout around the ear and the like, which is definitely not 'wet work' which is (usually CIA) for assassination ie murder, and the daddy - err, sorry male parent figure -  of them all is the fact that US Department of Defense was once the Department of War.

Politics itself often picks up its skirts to pick its way through the muddy streets of hard facts ('core and non-core promises', caught out fibbing is 'misspeak' - and the deeply mystifying and confronting 'budget savings,' when it applies to taxes that aren't reduced. That means that 'taxation' becomes 'savings', which has all the sleight of hand of the old joke about 'lend me $10, but only give me $5, that way, I'll owe you five and you'll owe me five, so we'll be square!'. 

The Magpie's favourite in this area came from Nixon's press secretary Ronald Ziegler when his boss was caught with his hand in the cookie jar despite continual denials - 'all previous statements are inoperative'. Running a close second was Hilary Clinton's rueful admission when pressed in an interview if she suspected that hubby Bill was a pants man playing the field 'Bill's alway's been a hard dog to keep on the porch'.

This practice is in equal parts both amusing and infuriating, particularly to serious journalists, but despite the widespread derision heaped on it, this doublespeak is spreading. 

The latest example of boneheaded shadow boxing with language comes from, of all places, the American paint - yes, paint - industry. Not satisfied with the in-house lingo that says that paints ain't paints but rather - gawd help us - architectural coatings, the industry is making an all out assault in the public arena with a new product-naming philosphy.

Some of the results make one think that these new paint-naming executives are selectively perceptive people who if not being outright exceptional are at least developmentally delayed. Even unsighted Freddy could understand that this is straw clutching as the industry struggles with a shattered housing market.

A recent article in the New York Times caught the eye with the arresting headline 'We Call It Brown: They Call It Weekend In The Country'. This old bird thinks a better headline would have been They Call It Weekend In The Country, We Call It Bullshit.  (It is after all brown).

Reporter  Katharine Q. Seelye clearly writes with a cocked eyebrow when reporting this naming revolution. Things start out sort of OK, with mood setters like Quietude, Rejuvenate, Creme Brulee and Cosy Cottage, whatever colours they may be - it's never said upfront. But then we veer off down fruitloop lane with names like - no kidding -  Dead Salmon, Lunch Bag, Arsenic, Tornado, Turbulence and Pencil. There's also something called Chequered Tablecloth, which sounds like two colours. 

Those behind the idea are happy for people to be perplexed, and you can make up your own name to go with your own blend.You can read the whole bemusing thing for yourself on the NY Times website (they apparently block direct links).

But this idea could have its uses here in Oz, with plenty of inspiration to come from the political arena. How about a Bob Katter-inspired Padded Cell White. Or a Bob Brown, whom The 'Pie reckons needs a permanent weekend in the country, could have a two-tone official party colour for houses, making them green on the outside and red on the inside. Julia Gillard would be ideal for Backstabbing Big Red, (maybe better still she could have Carbon Rapture, which would be the colour of money). Mr Rabbit would be the father of a Liberal blue hue called Volkswagen With Its Doors Open. 

On the local front, we can easily match Dead Salmon with Talking Mullet, a sort of whinging white shade with negative overtones, then there might be a Tyrell turquoise called Water Rates Debacle, Kid Crisafulli could stir his own pristine combination and call it Goody Two Shoes, while Capt Snooze has the obvious name for his bedroom walls called Zzzzzzzzz. And Astonisher editor Typo Gleeson would be a cert to create a smokey grey shade called Fab (stands for Facts Are Banned). 

It all makes The Magpie think of a colour for them all, executives and politicians alike: Proctology Pink.

Any other suggestions? Drop them into the Nest.

Now to local matters.

Sad to say, but Farmer Tyrell's refusal to say who would be invited to enjoy a ratepayer funded knees-up in the council box at last weekend's V8 SuperPests was a victory of sorts for Typo Gleeson and The Daily Astonisher.

As whispered down the MagpieFone, it seems that some original council invitees were declining for fear of being subjected to the unwaranted and savage mugging several guests were subjected to last year in The Astonisher, much of it at the behest of The Talking Mullet trying to score cheap political points.  So to a nervous-Nelly council, it seemed sensible to not reveal who was invited. So The Astonisher had the benefit of a great pincer move: attack anyone not to their political liking in the council box, or attack the council anyway for not telling them who was there.

Trouble is, The Astonisher was right for once (but so is a stopped clock twice a day): if a jolly booze-up is funded by the ratepayers, we are definitely entitled to know who's who scoffing down our party pies and sav blanc in that particular zoo. 

There was a half-hearted, half-arsed attempt to claim something about privacy laws and some associated - well, crap - but that didn't wash. 

And secrecy attracts journos like TV cameras attract Jenny Hill.

Yup, secrecy always attracts the attention of 'the medja', it's part of its job, and put together 'secrecy' with 'public funds', you'd have to be a touch 'developmentally delayed' not to see the inevitable result. 

But the really silly aspect of all this was that result was so unnecessary when The Magpie managed to winkle out the names of some of the guests. 

Blokes like Port Authority chairman Ross Dunning, coal supermo Craig Ransley (who is also His Radiance's new boss) and former Townsvilleian Greg Hallam, now the lofty say-so in the Queensland Local Government Association. Now these chums of the council operate at a level where they wouldn't give a tuppeny toss for what they would see as a piss-ant little NQ newspaper had to say about them if it was publicly announced that they were on the soggy sandwich list. 

Besides, these are the sort of blokes who a fawning Typo needs to keep on side for overriding commercial reasons. 

So it seems the council has been really spooked by the spitful bias of the paper and has been herded into making a secrecy decision which is self-damaging. There is nothing wrong with a schmoozing jolly for people who do business with the council, that is the way things are, and get, done in the modern world. But playing secrets makes it look like there is something to hide.

Very poorly thought out from a council cowed by a biased, spinning paper.   

Speaking of the SuperPests, The Moaning Mullet , apparently forgetting that self-praise is no recommendation, made much of the fact that this year she had given her tickets away to charity. Yet several people swear they sighted her going in an out of the State Government (taxpayer-funded) box, extensively enjoying our hospitality along with Mark 'Sparky' Harrison, ALP candidate for Mundingburra. It is more than passing strange that she hasn't  had a whinge about government money feeding and watering unknowns and so far non-achievers. Especially now that she appears to have been, along with Cuddlepie Wallace, appointed an associate editor of The Astonisher.

Mind you, Typo needs all he help he can get nowadays, and his reasoning seems to be an irony free zone.

In an hilarious bid to slam Peter Lindsay, Typo decided to ginger up a story about Prince Peter's use of the legally mandated travel allowance of a retired MP with the year old charge that he allegedly photoshopped pix of himself into overseas images (a claim The Prince hotly and repeatedly denies)  

Bad move.

While railing against the allegedly falsified images in an editorial, Typo decided to add a bit of zip to an aging story with a photo. 

So what did he do? 

He photoshopped Peter Lindsay into another shot of an RAAF plane!! 

And one sharp eyed reader swears that the waving arm belongs to someone else, or at least to a third photoshopped pic. Given the angle, what the hell would The Prince be waving at anyway, if he ever waved from airport stairs in the first place. We know it was photoshopped, because the pic was tagged 'Artwork by (a staff artist)', a pretty meaningless notation to the average reader.

That really deserves the goofy galoot award of the year so far. 

Enough, it now is away to Poseurs' Bar, where the old bird will be-bubble a suitable developmentally advanced companion, and talk of colours like Bedroom Blue and Breakfast Toast Brown. Who knows, there might even be a touch of vigorous non-injurious physical contact in between.




  1. Quite right.The skinny has the talking mullet and the triumvirate of state stooges partaking of taxpayer funded sweeties at Reid park over the weekend. Didn't see much froth and bubble about that in the Townsville daily fishwrapper.BTW, wet work is a term that originated with CIA's opposition, KGB.

  2. I have always been tempted to turn up at the TCC box, flash my rate notice and insist on entry on the basis that I was, at least in part, footing the bill. When I would be inevitably refused entry, I would march over the the State Guv'mint box, pin my latest rego bill and Stamp Duty assessment on my collar and demand my share of the sangers and bubbly. But my dignity won't let me...neither will the wife.

    So far as paint is concerned, the naming of the colours has always intrigued me. But maybe there is some subtle substance freemason like secrets to the names. I'll tell ya a story...

    When I was last press-ganged into painting the castle by the Significant Other, she brought home a paint called "Augathella". It was off -white with a strong hint of pinkish blue. Now, I don't know if the Old Bird has ever been to the township of Augathella (about 90K north of Charleville in the Heartbreak Corner of SW Queensland), but "pinkish-blue" is not a colour that you would normally associate with that horrid little place. The town and surrounding country is brown - relentlessly and unendingly brown. When it rains -which it hardly ever does - it turns muddy brown, then back to brown.

    Paradoxically for a town that is populated by narrow-minded, banjo playing, in-bred, work-shy,loudmouthed thugs (oh yes, I have been there), Augathella achieved some fame in the 80's when it was home to the first (and so far as I know, the only)gay shearing team in Australia. And that was way before Brokeback Mountain.

    So maybe the pinkish-blue is a nod by Dulux to the real Australian story...