Julescosby's Blog

Archive for May, 2010

Friends at crossroads over comical picture

Posted by julescosby on May 25, 2010

After stumbling across a hilarious picture, friends of local ham Greg Garon have a decision to make.  The exact origins of the picture are unknown, but the consensus among the friends is that it is still gut-bustingly priceless and that it has to be edited somehow to make it more enjoyable.

However, the friends, who met in university and have bonded over the years through beers, women, and various hybrid-golf games, were left collectively scratching their heads after Maurie Dungeon came across the picture on his hard drive in the process of looking for his resume.

In the picture, Garon, a film buff who doesn’t believe in ‘inside voices’, wears glasses, a gaping jaw and a glazed-over look.  It is his not his typical ‘life of the party’ shot, but the intrinsic value of the image is readily apparent.

The decision-making process spans two cities.  Through Facebook, e-mail and Skype, longtime associate Ike Bornes has been able to join the discussion.  “It’s a great picture”, said Bornes, who took a break from the rigours of a Graduate degree in Philosophy to comment.  “Just look at it!”

While the friends cannot agree on how to use it, there is a solid consensus that something must be done.  One friend suggested putting it somewhere on the evolutionary chain, but that idea was shot down because the picture is not shot in profile.  The fact that The Simpsons had already marketed a similar product it wasn’t lost on the group, but did not seem to be a concern.

Other iconic images such as the moon landing, President Bush, or even Marilyn Monroe standing above the windy subway grate were considered as inspiration, but ultimately rejected in turn.

An agreement in principle was reached to do a composite of many different images using the same face.  But then the compatriots were back to square one in that they had to decide on which images to use.

“It’s not as if we don’t know how to do it,” said friend Jim ‘JJ’ Jeonard.  “We’ve all got at least basic photo editing software on our computers.”

Indeed, the amusing demeanour of Garon, who could not be reached for comment, has lent itself to parodied pictures in the past.  Adds Dungeon, “I’ve never seen the guy take a normal picture.  I don’t know how he’s ever going to get a passport.”

At press time, the group was feverishly scanning through the online Onion archives, hoping to find some additional inspiration.

A side-splitter to be sure. But what now?

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Blow Overblown

Posted by julescosby on May 17, 2010

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Children’s author snorts coke!”

I can’t stand news is made over drug-use by creative people.  Recently, Robert Munsch, author of such perennial favourites as Mortimer, A Promise is a Promise, and the tear-jerking Love You Forever, has found his name splattered all across the news, unfavourably placed beside the word ‘cocaine’.

Art, whether it’s to be found in the form of an oil painting or in a children’s book, is fundamentally what it always has been: a poēsis, a bringing-forward of something new into the world.  The individual – or in some cases the group – is the carrier of that novelty.  Some people can do this effortlessly; most people cannot.  To force a new artistic truth is to do just that, to force something, and it can take an awful lot of exertion and a terrible toll on the individual psyche in the process.

For this reason, we shouldn’t be surprised that some of the most creative people that this big ol’ dysfunctional family we call humanity has ever produced have used drugs in the creative process.

To elaborate: take as an example another member of the creative class, Aldous Huxley.  On the one hand, Huxley warns us about overmedicating ourselves, as we can see in Brave New World, but he was also an advocate of drug-use as a means to overcome the given state of perception.

From a scientific point of view, perception is strictly a quality of the individual.  But does anyone serious doubt that the social-historical framework in which the individual perceives has nothing to do with perception? The sun has always risen in the East, and set in the West.  It has always appeared roughly the same size as the moon.  But today, the words ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’ are mere metaphors, and we know that the moon is a grain of salt to the Sun.

In any given society, there is an order of the sensible that precedes the individual.  It’s not rational; it’s not necessary; it just is. Creative people can see past the given state of affairs and they can force new truths despite of it.

Of course, there are people – creative and not – who take drugs too far, just as there are people who drink too much, or those who eat too much.  There are problems in the world, but the problems aren’t caused by the drugs themselves.

Often in the drug debate the Harm Principle is appealed to.  If someone’s drug use is seriously causing harm to others, then there is a problem.  However, the reverse rarely applies: if someone’s drug use is benefiting people, then there is a net benefit and hardly a problem at all.

So Robert Munsch and Steven Page snort coke,
So John Lennon shot smack,
So Bill Clinton smoked weed (but naturally didn’t inhale),
So Freud partook of the morphine,
So Socrates was taking something wacky at Delphi,

So…what!?

I’m not saying drugs are the answer: For most of society, they aren’t.  In a perfect world, we would see drugs not as a problem, nor as a solution.  Until that world arrives, when it comes to the drug-use of the creative class, let’s try to keep our noses out of their noses.

"If you don't inhale, how the hell you gonna get HIGH?"

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Onion readers eagerly await Gulf oil spill satire

Posted by julescosby on May 2, 2010

All around the globe, loyal readers of The Onion are patiently waiting for the venerable satirical organization to release content based on last week’s massive oil spill in the southern United States.  This spill, currently an estimated 9000 square kilometres, has been all but absent from the organization’s normally hawkish sights.

On the street, locals were expressing their concerns at the lack of speedy satire.  “Can’t they do something about how people are already talking about breaking the Exxon-Valdez record?” wondered Adam MacLeod, a long-time Onion subscriber.  “That seems like it would be kinda funny, you know, in such a competitive society.”

“What about Drill baby, drill?”, asked another fan who wished to remain anonymous, referring to former Alaskan governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s prescription for the future of American energy policy.  “I heard that they’re pretending she’d never said that.”

Indeed Sarah Palin, through her preferred medium of Facebook, has already amended her now famous campaign assertion to emphasize “Drill here, drill now”, which seems like it would be low-lying fruit for such a publication as The Onion.

A source from within the organization has confirmed that since the disaster, several editorial meetings have taken place at the NYC headquarters.  One suggestion that was on the table was using the popular Onion video format to create a Beverly Hillbillies spoof.  Another similar idea would see a harking back to an old episode of NBC’s Saved by the Bell entitled “Pipe Dreams”, where the students of Bayside High discover oil on the school’s property only to become hubristically blinded by greed.

Both ideas, however, proved to be dead in the water.

Satellite footage of the oil spill that has not yet appeared in The Onion

In actual fact, it’s not as if there has been zero content dedicated to the Gulf disaster by The Onion.  The popular “American Voices” daily segment, which showcases brief commentaries of the latest news underneath pictures of regular-looking people, had one edition titled “Oil Slick May Hit Coast This Weekend”.  But even its usually quirky and punchy format was only able to make quick references to ecosystems, gas stations, and God’s hatred of homosexuals.

“It was funny,” added MacLeod.  “But not laugh-out-loud funny.”

The confusion and desperation caused by the lack of Onion content has much more far-reaching effects than simply individual readers.  Experts are now warning about the negative effects of the economy at large.  Economists and organizational gurus have long since know about The Onion effect in the modern workplace: while eluding precise quantification, some have estimated that the time wasted by employees browsing The Onion website, which boasts several different types of media, amounts to billions of dollars drained annually from the global economy.  This figure, however large, has long been seen as acceptable.  Within the past week, however, the time that employees spend constantly refreshing their computer screens in the hope that new content has been posted.  If this trend continues, economists fear an economic drain somewhere in the trillions.

Other popular satirical institutions in America, such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report, have already delved head-first into the comedic aspect of the spill, but Joe Randazzo, the current editor of The Onion suggested to his readers that they might be waiting longer than expected.

“The devastation to local ecosystems, as well as some maritime economies on the Gulf Coast is just tragic”, he stated.  “It’s really difficult for our staff writers to comprehend, let alone mock.”

“Truth is,” he added.  “This just really isn’t funny.”

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