In Praise of Old Ladies Pushing Wheeled Walkers

old lady with a wheeled waler

A couple of years ago I had a job hefting cartons of wine off palettes and plunking them on a conveyor belt. One fateful day, I plunked when I should have hefted and pain ripped through my back like a biker gang mowing down a marching band.

I spent the weekend hobbling around my house, clutching a broom handle to keep myself upright. Upright in a stooped kind of way. On a positive note, I became well acquainted with areas of my carpet I’d missed when I last did the vacuuming.

My back eventually made a recovery, albeit a partial one. I could still do the odd bit of heavy lifting but not for long periods without wishing I was bobbing for apples in a barrel of morphine.

After easing up on the lifting for a while, and with the last bout of pain a distant memory, I started to think my back was 100 percent and I could move weighty stuff hither and yon like I did in my carton-hefting heyday.

An 80-pound rock in my front garden soon crushed the life out of that delusion.

With my back now a masochist’s multiple orgasm, I had no choice but to return to the hobbling and the broom handle clutching.

When Coke Calls

My plan was to stay indoors for a few days until the pain had subsided. But I had a problem. My fridge needed restocking.

I didn’t have a car, which meant I had to walk to the supermarket. Getting there unassisted, though, would be like trying to navigate the Cape of Good Hope in an iron lung. While the broom was OK for inside the house, it couldn’t get me to and from my destination unless I flew on it and, in my condition, jumping off the roof was out of the question.

All seemed lost, and then I saw it.

My late mother’s wheeled walker.

I knew my street cred was about to die a horrible death, but I didn’t care, since I needed a Coca-Cola fix something fierce. I had to buy some other items too, and the walker had a wire basket that would save me having to lug it all.

An Uneasy Wheeling

The hammering vibrations that shot up through the walker’s frame into my wrists and forearms as I negotiated my cobblestone driveway told me that this was going to be no easy trek. But they were nothing compared to the brutal jolts I copped when I tackled my first curb. By the time I’d covered a block, I felt as if I’d been king-hit by the Great Pyramid of Giza.

I wanted to do a one-eighty and head for home, but my raging caffeine addiction said, “No. You’ve come this far, don’t stop now.”

For the next half an hour, I groaned and grimaced as the walker, which was possessed by Satan, transferred the jarring vibration from every bump, hole, dip, and irregularity in the pavement into my body, magnifying it tenfold. I wondered how little old ladies could endure this torture day in, day out. They were tougher men than I.

I staggered into the main drag of the shopping center where the supermarket was located. An elderly woman seated at a table in an outdoor café, wheeled walker by her side, nodded at me as I shambled past. I nodded back. We were like two Vietnam veterans wordlessly acknowledging the fraternity and horror of war.

Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? It’s Supermarket!

When I finally shuffled onto the supermarket’s smooth floor, my smarting muscles found instant and desperately needed relief. But it was short lived. As I bent down to pick up a pack of baking soda, I won the pain lottery. And every time I picked up another item, I won it all over again.

The pain sent my mind tumbling into delirium. I was no longer in a supermarket, I was in Scientology’s L.A. headquarters, watching Kirstie Alley perform an unspeakable act on John Travolta with a penis-shaped E-meter, while a 103-year-old L. Ron Hubbard circuited the building in an open-top flying saucer, shouting, “Didn’t you people get my message? This is total BS!”

I got out of the supermarket as fast as I slowly could.

The journey home took close to forever. The pain in my back wasn’t as severe as before, but the pain in my wrists and forearms had worsened and the only way to ease it was to slow from a crawl to a lunch-hour bank queue.

The Agony and the More Agony

At long last I arrived at my front door. As I struggled to get the walker over the stoop, which had risen ten feet in my absence, somebody—I didn’t see who—plunged a set of steak knives into my back.

I entered the house with all the grace of Quasimodo bounding up a downward moving escalator.

With a breathless wuff, I collapsed on a living room chair. My back arched in pain from the impact. Thankfully, relief came quickly. Contemplation came shortly thereafter. I spared a thought for all the dear old souls who had to get around with wheeled walkers. Never again would I march obliviously past them. No, I would stand at attention and salute them with a tear in my eye.

I chuckled. Despite the pain and exhaustion, I had emerged triumphant from my appalling ordeal. I had defeated that devilish instrument of torture. I had been to hell and back with a bad back, yet I would live to hobble and grimace another day.

The chuckle became a hearty laugh, the laugh of a victor, a winner, a champion, a legend.

Then it suddenly occurred to me.

I’d forgotten the Coke.

Dissing the Lexic or Making Sense of Nonsensical Spam

naturally huge spammers

The spam that’s stormed my inbox over the years like Jason Statham with an AK47 has followed certain trends. Trends set by spammers, funnily enough, who prefer to be called electronic marketers, which is like hookers calling themselves street urologists. But I digress. The first waves of spam I copped were mostly hawking penis enlargement pills and Viagra. Then they moved on to bogus lottery prizes, non-existent freight consignments, and fake job offers, anything to entice me into clicking the malware-loaded links in the body of the emails.

Predictably, Nigerian 411 scams have been a staple of my spam diet. It’s hard to believe that a third-world country like Nigeria would have more multi-millionaires per square mile than Bel Air, but terribly ungrammatical emails sent to countless random people don’t lie.

The latest batch of spam I’ve received has seen a return to penis enlargement pills and Viagra. I guess spammers have finally realized that what the world needs now is love truncheons. Mega-sized, titanium-hard ones.

Incidentally, when spammers commence a new “electronic marketing” campaign, their aim is to get one out of every million people they spam to purchase their products. Which means that people who buy spam-advertised penis enlargement pills and other questionable items are one in a million. Literally.

If I Had Me a Spammer

The other day, I was poring over such uniquely punctuated headings as “C A N A-D_ I_ A_N–…P…H…A-R…M A-C…Y…” and ” S A F_E- &_-F..A S..T –_P E..N_I_S-_-E..N_L-A..R..G E_M..E_N T!” and the word jumbles that accompanied them, when I had a brilliant idea.

I could make a swag of money rewriting spam.

I mean if there’s anything that needs a little syntax refinement, it’s spam. Am I right or am I right?

Soooooo I’d like to take this opportunity to advertise my services as the world’s first spam editor. If you’re a spammer—I beg your pardon, electronic marketer—I’ll gussy up your emails and make them so entrancing that nobody will be able to turn down your incredible range of value-for-money products. As proof of my editing skills, here are some samples of my best work and the actual electronic advertisements from which they were taken.

Lenora X. Khanel writes: Be a shagedelic Casanova. Yeah baby! Yeah! Yeah well as Beth moved past. Last night Matt is going at Cassie. Stop at the table matt. Beth said.

The Content Bloke’s rewrite: Be the world’s greatest lover. You’ll have Beth singing, “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!” as you move her past the point of no return. Matt got Cassie to do likewise last night when he bonked her on the table, or so Beth said.

Gweneth N. Loup writes: Bronte chapter twenty four year old enough. Smiled in front seat next. Thank you.

The Content Bloke’s rewrite: At 24 years of age, Bronte is old enough to smile in the front seat, which is much better than her smiling in the back seat, seeing she’s driving. Thank you for staying in the front seat, Bronte.

Leena Q. writes: Blow her away with your gigantic weapon. Answer her being called over. Hughes to bring it was Josiah. Mountain men were close to rest. May they as we.

The Content Bloke’s rewrite: She’ll be flabbergasted by the size of the pistol you’re packing when you answer her call. Hughes and Josiah were going to bring theirs over, but those two mountain men have been going at it so hard they need a rest, like we all do from time to time.

Mrs. Emma Robot writes: Greetings from Mrs. Emma Robot. I am Mrs. Emma Robot from South Africa. I am married to late Mr. Solomon Robot, who worked with South Africa Embassy in Ghana West Africa for Twenty-Six years before he died in the year 2006 after a brief illness that lasted for only five days.

The Content Bloke’s rewrite: Hello there. My name is Mrs. Emma Robot—Robot by name but not by nature, I can assure you. I live in South Africa. I was married to the late Mr. Solomon Robot, who was even less robotic than I am, which is not robotic at all. Mr. Robot worked in the South Africa Embassy in Ghana, West Africa before he died in 2006. After his death, he worked as an automated teller machine in Johannesburg but had to take an early retirement owing to a permanent back injury he suffered during a ram raid.

Impressed?

I’m available to edit all your electronic marketing campaigns seven days a week. I accept cash, checks, credit cards, and economy-sized bottles of penis enlargement pills.

Classic Moments in Australian TV comedy

The Norman Gunston Show

All of us have our own golden age of television comedy, a time usually bookended by our early teens and late twenties, when we laughed the loudest and longest at the lovable imbeciles and cantankerous dirtbags who rule the TV comedy roost. For me that time lasted only from 1973 to 1979, but what a time it was. That’s when towering British comedies such as Till Death Us Do Part, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin strafed the family telly with their side-splitting electrons.

Australian TV comedy never reached those leg-rattling heights. With such a small population and television production budgets to match, we just couldn’t approach the quality or quantity of the UK’s comedy output. Still, we turned out a few great comedy moments here and there. Some of them intentional. Some of them not so intentional.

Sally Struthers on the Norman Gunston Show

Norman Gunston was a fictional tissue paper-speckled (he was a “bleeder”) media personality who hosted and starred in several comedy shows bearing his name from the 1970s to the 1990s. There were many classic Gunston moments. I’ll never forget the time he visited an L.A. cinema that unbeknownst to him featured live sex acts on stage. “What’s playing, cowboys and Indians?” he asked the ticket booth lady. As he disappeared inside, she turned to the camera and said, “Who is that psycho?” Seconds later he stormed out with a grave look on his face and reported, “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s absolute bedlam in there. The projector has broken down, and people are up onstage, tearing each other’s clothes off.” Norman was most famous for his hilarious celebrity interviews. This is one of his best.

Iggy Pop on Countdown

Countdown was a top 40 music program that showcased live rock acts and music videos from Oz and elsewhere in the world. One of Countdown’s creators, Ian “Molly” Meldrum, presented a pop news segment on each edition. Even on the best of days, he dithered and blundered his way through it, but when a chemically-enriched Iggy Pop made a guest appearance, he had no hope. Check out Iggy’s dance moves in the following clip. He looks like he’s trying to struggle out of a straitjacket while having an epileptic seizure.

Graham Kennedy on Kingswood Country

Kingswood Country was a comedy series about Ted Bullpitt, a bigoted grumble bum who only had eyes for his Holden Kingswood. If his wife or another family member asked to borrow his beloved car, he’d leap to his feet in protest and roar something like, “You’re not taking the Kingswood. I just Ajaxed the dipstick!” In one episode, Ted’s wife, Thelma, won a competition where she got to cook dinner for TV legend Graham Kennedy. Kennedy used to host In Melbourne Tonight, a long-running variety show. Thelma is supposed to serve Kennedy her prized meatloaf, but the ever-erring Ted brings in a plate of dog food from the kitchen by mistake. The look on Kennedy’s face when he realizes he isn’t chowing down on meatloaf is one for the ages.

David Thai on Pot Luck

Pot Luck was a talent show that aired in the 1980s. The quality of the acts that appeared on it ranged from the bad to the naked flame in a munitions factory. David Thai fell into the latter category. Thai was a needle-thin fedora-wearing Vietnamese singer who fancied himself as a combination of John Farnham and Michael Jackson, with a dash of Bruce Lee. The flamboyant and mercilessly candid judge Bernard King, who once gave a hapless Sinatra wannabe a score of minus five, delivers one of the funniest critiques in talent show history.

Rags the Kangaroo on the Early Bird Show

Kangaroos are gentle, cuddly, harmless marsupials, right? Wrong! Rags dispels that gross misconception in this classic clip from The Early Bird Show, a Saturday morning children’s TV program of the 1980s. With headlocks, face jabs, and crotch kicks, Rags shows his bungling handler and Marty the Monster who’s the boss. Incidentally, Marty is what a gerbil looks like when you’re on drugs.

Sir Les Patterson on Parkinson

The famous British TV interviewer Sir Michael Parkinson did a number of his talk shows here in Oz over the years. Sir Les Patterson, Australia’s cultural attaché, was a guest on one. Sir Les is a creation of Barry Humphries, the comic genius behind Dame Edna Everage. How to describe him? If you took the most disgusting, politically incorrect wino you could find and passed him off as a politician, you would have Sir Les. This clip is safe for work. If you work on a wharf.

Bert Newton on the Don Lane Show

The Don Lane Show was a top-rating tonight show which was beamed into Aussie homes from 1975 to 1984. The talented and very likable Bert Newton was Don’s sidekick, as he was Graham Kennedy’s years before. Often when a major overseas guest appeared on the show, Bert would impersonate him or her during the show’s wheel segment. Here Bert sends up the whistling kettle-voiced crooner Demis Roussos. It’s thirty-nine seconds of twenty-four-karat comedy gold.

John Clark and Bryan Dawe on Lateline

Lateline is a news analysis program which is still going strong on ABC TV. Once a week, comedians John Clark and Bryan Dawe appear on the show to satirize a current news story in the form of a studio interview. In this instance it was a supertanker that from all accounts was designed and built by Mr. Magoo.

What If Every Product Were Designed by Microsoft?

Intel warhead

I have a laptop with Windows 7 on it. Not a day goes by without Microsoft bombarding it with multiple updates for the OS and other software. These consist of patches to cover yawning security holes, and various tweaks to help underperforming code lift its game. Once the updates have been installed, a dialogue box gets in my face, demanding that I restart the laptop or else. So I do. Then I nervously wait to see whether the laptop still works properly, since the updates are a lot like liver transplants: sometimes they take, and sometimes they don’t. If they don’t, I have to restore the system to its last fully functioning state before the updates came along and buggered up everything.

Microsoft has such a vast monopoly on the computer chip and software markets that unless you go completely Apple you’re forced to put up with its Keystone Cops approach to software design. Sure there are free open source alternatives to Microsoft software out there, but they’re often fraught with compatibility issues and have so steep a learning curve that you need your own oxygen supply and Sherpa guide to get up and over it. The sad truth is Microsoft has backed us into a corner and there’s not all that much we can do about it except grin and bear more updates.

Notwithstanding, we really ought to be grateful that Microsoft confines its monopolization to the personal computer world, for could you imagine how disastrous life would be if it designed every consumer product?

Soft-Top 7.0

You’re driving down a winding mountain road in your brand new Microsoft sports car when you receive an urgent update that will fix a flaw in its braking system, which you learn works only on straight stretches of road and only when the vehicle is ascending a hill. Naturally you’re in a hurry to apply the update, just as soon as your corpse finishes charbroiling in a fiery wreck at the base of a 1000-foot cliff.

HDTVista

Your Microsoft 60″ plasma TV has been acting ornery since the company despatched its last security update. It only lets you watch commercials and generates so much static electricity that every time you step near it you get a wedgie. After you install the latest update, which is supposed to correct all of the problems created by the previous update, you cop the following message: “This Microsoft television is not genuine. And next time buy the 70″ model, cheapskate.”

Intel Cardio Chip

A critical security patch to plug a hole that could make your Microsoft pacemaker vulnerable to hack attacks causes your body to function so erratically that you can’t go to the toilet unless you’re running backwards or eat unless you’re asleep. You contact Microsoft tech support for urgent assistance, and Bill Gates hurries around to give you a vaccine injection.

Windows over the World

During your Microsoft Airways flight, you make the alarming discovery that using Excel’s if function on your laptop causes the plane to spin into a nosedive, while spell-checking a Word document kindles flames in the starboard engine. If that wasn’t bad enough, a security update that inadvertently turned all of the airline’s food fresh and tasty was overwritten by another update, which restored it to its normal state.

The Update to End All Updates

It had to happen. Microsoft got the bomb. All of them. Yep, that’s right. Every thermonuclear missile on the planet became a Microsoft thermonuclear missile—or Parking Lot Ultimate Edition as they were trademarked. But when a mass upgrade to a new operating system went horribly awry, well, you can guess the rest. Now Microsoft’s software design team comprises a toothless old miner and his burrow, Josiah, who are busy working on security patches to fix a nuclear winter and roving bands of cannibal mutants.

Some Internet Filters I’d Like to See

Net filter wish list

Internet filtering software is primarily designed to remove porn from web surfing, which is a real bummer if you’re into porn, but I’d like to see it expanded to block even more offensive material. The following is a list of things I don’t ever want to see in my browser again.

Billionaire Babble

If I see another quote from Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates or some other ridiculously rich entrepreneur posted online, my head is going to go sploosh like a bolognaise-filled balloon dropped on concrete. Look, let’s stare reality right in its ugly mush. You and I are never going to be billionaires. We’re probably never even going to be millionaires. That means all of these pearls of wisdom are wasted on us, so I want them disappeared from my PC monitor. While I still have a head.

YouTube Auteurs

Why do so many people who upload videos to YouTube feel the need to add blaring music to them or lame self-promotional intros that run longer than the video footage itself? Do they truly believe that anybody not in a straitjacket or higher than a telecommunications satellite is going to go “Wow! Great music!” or “Dynamite intro!” I have news for these people: nobody wants to see or hear your rinky-dink creative flourishes. They’re bloody annoying!

Do Not Adjust Your Monitor

You click on a link to a blog or website that came up in a search result. You’re taken to the home page of that blog or website, when all of a sudden your PC monitor grows dim as though it’s on the fritz. As unwashed sentiment spews from your mouth, since you think you’ll have to get it fixed or buy another, a pop-up subscription invitation appears. Spewing further unwashed sentiment, you kill the pop-up and hit the back button, vowing never to darken the virtual doorstep of that blog or website again.

I suspect that not too long ago some self-proclaimed online marketing guru posted an article in which he cited a bunch of dubious statistics that proved these monitor-fading intrusions boosted subscriptions and sales by a significant factor, and his many followers were fool enough to believe him. May he open the attachments of 1000 spam emails.

Bewitched, Bothered, and Botoxed

Have you ever seen a photo of somebody who looked better after being injected with Botox? Me neither. But celebrities, admittedly not the brightest of people, can’t get enough of the stuff because they reckon it makes them appear younger. If looking as if somebody is trying to asphyxiate them with saran wrap makes them appear younger, then they’re right. At any rate, photos of Botoxed celebrities give me the heebie jeebies. I don’t want them on my PC.

Wiki Anything

What do you think when you think Wikipedia? I think cluttered, highly unreliable information that can be edited by just about anybody. Wikipedia is what the Encyclopaedia Britannica would read like if all of the entries were voted on by the audience of America’s Got Talent. Such is its popularity that many websites now have their own wikis, which is just what the Internet needed: more poorly presented, questionable material. Nothing with a wiki in it will get past my Net filter. Bank on it.

Attack of the Very Badly Dressed Fashion Critics

badly dressed fashion critics

Have you ever stopped to think how crazy the fashion industry is? Some mincing fop in Paris decides that males would look a lot hipper in bilious green terry cloth safari suits and fire engine-red propeller caps, so every guy who doesn’t want to be labeled a dork races out and buys a bilious green terry cloth safari suit and a fire engine-red propeller cap and parades proudly about in his new ensemble, smug in the knowledge that no one can point at him and say “Look at the dork!” That is until the mincing fop decides some months later that bilious green terry cloth safari suits and fire engine-red propeller caps don’t look hip, they look ridiculous, and pronounces them out of style. Then the guy has to mothball his safari suit and propeller cap lest somebody (probably the fop) points at him and says “Look at the dork!”

If that wasn’t crazy enough, there’s the gobsmacking phenomenon of fashion critics who couldn’t dress their way into a nudist colony, bitching about what other people wear. Talk about hypocrites! It’s like Hugh Hefner scolding you for not being monogamous. People who look like a thrift shop that’s been put through a blender are in no position to tell anybody what he or she should or should not wear. But these hoity-toity ratbags do, anyway. It’s time methinks to give them a taste of their own bitter medicine.

Joan Rivers

I’ve included this delicate flower, even though she’s something of a retired fashion critic now, since she no longer does those red carpet excoriations of celebrity attire for which she is notorious. I appreciate that physical appearance shouldn’t factor into this discussion, but Joan has a face like a large blob of Play-Doh that’s gone for a ride in NASA’s 20-g centrifuge. I don’t know about you, but I have a hell of a time telling the difference between her and Mason from Hannibal.

Mason and Joan

As for Joan’s dress sense, here she is wearing a flock of black geese and a Morticia Adams knock off she doubtless snapped up from eBay. Fashion critic, her dermabrased hiney!

Joan does Morticia

Suzy Menkes

My goodness, gracious me! Will you get a load of this broad? Menkes, a British fashion reporter looks as if she’s shampooed her hair with Viagra. And what’s that she’s wearing around her neck? I’m thinking a Slinky that was backed over by an SUV. I have to give her full points for being environmentally conscious, though, because clearly that jacket is a recycled shower curtain she exported from a cheap Guatemalan hotel.

Viagra shampoo

Carson Kressley

Kressley, who has more gayosity than a gerbil in gold lamé, was one of the hosts of the mercifully short-lived TV series Queer Eye. Here he is flouncing about in what looks like a vest he cannibalized from a sleeping bag and jeans savaged by a hydrophobic shih tzu. You would imagine that being a fashion critic—though he never completed his degree—he would’ve said “no” to that striped tie and checked shirt combo. As Confucius once said: always dress sober.

gayosity gone wild

Diane Pernet

It seems to me that fashion critics become fashion critics so they can get away with wearing outfits that not even a corpse would be seen dead in. Maybe it’s their way of giving normal people the finger for crossing the road to avoid them. Let’s be honest, who would want to be seen on the same sidewalk as Ms. Pernet? Why she donned this ridiculous get up is anybody’s guess. Mine is she was planning to rob a bank but discovered her nylons were in the wash so had to wear fishnets instead. And dig those funky sunnies! Area 51 called and wants its experimental jet’s wings back. Then there’s all that frippery adorning her. She must’ve gone to the local flea market and bought one of everything.

bank robber in fishnets

Kelly Osbourne

I’m not sure whether that’s Kelly or her famous old man post-op. At any rate, she co-hosts a TV show called the Fashion Police with that desiccated cacophony Joan Rivers. Fashion police indeed. They should have arrested her and insisted on the death penalty for looking like that. Clothes by Wallmart. Face and hair by head-on collision.

Head-on Kelly

You Better Shoot Down the Plane and Other Song Lyrics I’ve Got Wrong

He sang what?

 

All of us experience certain rites of passage as we make the often arduous journey from adolescence to adulthood: pimples, that first crush, getting a driver’s license, disco-dancing naked on a neighbor’s front doorstep, wearing a German spiked helmet. Okay, maybe not everyone gets pimples. But if there’s one experience we all share, it’s mishearing pop song lyrics.

Over the years I must have inadvertently rewritten more lyrics than Weird Al Yankovic. When I began to take an interest in pop music in the early 1970s, singers such as Robert Plant and Paul McCartney had to compete with gales of static and hiss from the tinny low-fi speakers of my five-dollar AM radio. Sometimes it was like trying to listen to somebody whispering to me with my head stuck down a flushing toilet. How could I not mangle the occasional song line beyond all hope of recognition?The first song lyrics I remember stuffing up were those to Creedence Clearwater’s “Better Run Through the Jungle.” I could’ve sworn John Fogharty was singing Bellarongoo the chong. Then there was the Kinks’ “Picture Book.” When lead singer Ray Davies was belting out Picture book! Picture book! I was belting out Big shot boy! Big shot boy! And nobody could tell me that Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely” wasn’t a touching tribute to Odie Cologne, the sage skunk in the sixties TV cartoon series King Leonardo and His Short Subjects.

While it could be argued, probably very successfully, that my revisionary spin on certain song lyrics is no improvement on the originals, occasionally I did manage to come up with something better. Case in point, the Rolling Stones’ “Get off of My Cloud.” The line Don’t mess around, three is a crowd was interpreted by my musical ear as Don’t hang around no union clown. In view of all the public transport strikes we had to cop here in Melbourne, Oz at the time, my version was far more socially relevant.

Delton Ron

If there was any one musical artist who caused me to mishear more lyrics than anybody else, it was the person formerly known as Reginald Dwight. As far as I was concerned, Elton wasn’t shouting Saturday! Saturday! in “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” He was pleading for Sanity! Sanity! Zap me, right between the eyes in “Philadelphia Freedom” sounded way too much like Zap me, ride the dreamy tide for me to think it was anything else. Even today, despite poring over the lyrics to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” I’m still positive that Your breakfast shoots down the drain is You better shoot down the plane.

I’m not the only one who’s had trouble with Mr. John’s vocal hijinks. A friend of mine was convinced that the line It kills me to think of you with another man in “Love Lies Bleeding” was in fact The things I could do with another man. I’m sure Elton and hubby would get a big kick out of that one.

The Hits Keep on Coming

The way I heard it, “Mind Games” by John Lennon was My Gorilla, “Beach Baby” by First Class was Bitch Baby, “Metal Guru” by T. Rex was Mittagaroo, “Once Bitten Twice Shy” by Ian Hunter was Once Bitten Twice Sharpie, and “Show Business” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC were Show Me There and Dirty Deeds and the Dunder Chief respectively.

The ’80s and Beyond

While the 1980s have much to answer for, Duran Duran and paisley sport coats for starters, they did give us crystalline sound quality via digitally reproduced music on CD and FM radio, which meant I could no longer blame cheap transistor radios for my lyrical misinterpretations. That left only pop singers’ dodgy diction because I knew that stupidity and a lack of attentiveness on my part had absolutely nothing at all to do with it.

Better watch out for the skin deep, as sung by the Stranglers in their song “Skin Deep,” sounded so close to Better watch out for the scoobies for me not to regard scoobies with a great deal of caution. By the time I was through with it, Les yeux sans visage, the French chorus in Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face,” had turned into Pleasure’s all used up. Why Prince wasted valuable studio time bemoaning When ducks cry was a mystery to me, and Billy Ocean had a damned cheek telling me to Go and get stuffed in “When the Going Gets Tough”.

Fast forwarding to the present day, I still mishear song lyrics. As a matter of fact, it was only recently I learned that Paul McCartney wasn’t singing You’ve got to give the other fella a hand in “Live and Let Die” but rather You’ve got to give the other fella hell. I’m so grateful for that clarification because I’d always thought it somewhat counter-productive that James Bond would be keen to help the villains he was licensed to dispatch.

The Top 10 Worst Pop Dirges of the ’80s

I Hate the '80s

Every decade has its fair share of crappy music. The ’50s gave us “Giddy Up A Ding Dong,” “Martian Hop,” and “Short Shorts.” The ’60s gave us, “Sugar Shack,” “Tell Laura I Love Her,” and “Snoopy Vs the Red Baron.” The ’70s gave us “Lucky Stars,” “I’ve Never Been to Me,” and “We Do It.” And the ’80s, well, the ’80s gave us more crappy music than you can shake a Shakin’ Stevens CD at. But what can you expect from a decade that started with Culture Club and ended with Milli Vanilli?

There is so much sink-foot-into-speaker music of that grievous decade to choose from that I would have to compile many lists to do all of it justice. So I’m going to list just one category of music: the dreaded pop dirge. The dictionary defines a dirge as a “funeral song or tune” or “any composition resembling such a song or tune in character.” The ’80s dog paddled in dirges.

1. I Won’t Let You Down, PHD

I Won't Let You Down, PHDThis could well be the dirgiest. That the public actually went out and bought this record, which sounds like somebody with a mouthful of tapioca pudding, burbling to an elephant breaking wind, probably means that all hope is lost for humanity. Scratch probably.
 

2. More than I Can Say, Leo Sayer

More Than I Can Say, Leo SayerLeo has sung some fine songs over the years, but what the hell was he thinking when he put his vocal imprimatur on this soporific tune? The song waffles on longer than a proselytizing Scientologist, and did they play it to death on the radio, though it was reportedly seen shambling about biting chunks out of the living not long after.

3. Fast Car, Tracy Chapman

Fast Car Tracy ChapmanThe ’80s saw the rise of political correctness, so the dopes who decide what goes on radio playlists thought they’d be extra-progressive by letting this painful slog through setting concrete burden our ear drums. Tracy Chapman was a black feminist with a cartoonish crop of hair who sang about the deeper things of life—fast cars for one. How could they say no?

4. The Power of Love, Jennifer Rush

The Power of Love Jennifer RushThree separate songs titled the Power of Love charted in the ’80s—as if one wasn’t enough. But this was easily the stinkiest. It was a big hit at weddings. No wonder the divorce rate soared higher than a taste tester for a Colombian drug cartel in that decade with this syrupy salute to ennui symbolizing so many marital unions.

5. Waterfalls, Paul McCartney

Waterfalls Paul McCartneyPaul McCartney has written and performed some of the greatest pop songs of all time. Unfortunately this isn’t one of them. It’s a dismal oil spill of a tune that coated the airwaves in sludge. If Linda had fed Paul a t-bone steak once in a while, the former Beatle would never have pumped out this musical pollutant.

6. Classic, Adrian Gurvitz

Classic Adrian Gurvitz“Gonna write a classic. Gonna write it in the attic.” Maybe Gurvitz couldn’t get into the attic, because this is no classic. I’m not sure whether it’s even a song, since it has no discernable melody, certainly none worth discerning. Next time write it in the study or, better yet, don’t write it at all.
 

7. Take My Breath Away, Berlin

Take My Breath Away BerlinThis was on the soundtrack of Top Gun, in which Tom Cruise plays a navy fighter pilot. What a pity he didn’t fire a couple of rounds into this yowling alley cat of a dirge before it slinked out of the recording studio. If the anemic droning of the female lead singer wasn’t excruciating enough, there’s the plodding synthesizer, an interminable feature of ’80s music.

8. Girl I’m Gonna Miss You, Milli Vanilli

Girl I'm Gonna Miss You Milli VanilliThis song was so bad that the original singers were too embarrassed to put their names or faces to it, but not the two poseurs and extremely poor lip-synchers who comprised Milli Vanilli. To think they won a Grammy, which was cheerfully revoked when it was revealed they couldn’t sing their way out of a karaoke night at a seamen’s mission.

9. Right Here Waiting for You, Richard Marx

Right Here Waiting Richard MarxWhatever became of Richard Marx? Once you’ve had a listen to this stultifying track, your answer will be “Who cares!” This song is like tooth decay: it’s slow, inexorable, and when it’s finished leaves you groaning in agony.

 

10. One More Night, Phil Collins

One More Night Phil CollinsOne more night, and one less song, namely this one, would have been good. Not a song you could sing around the campfire. Not a song you could sing anywhere really, unless you mumbled it under anesthetic during a liver transplant operation or something. Collins should’ve got the chair for this atonal drivel, but he’s still walking the streets. Tell me where’s the justice in that?

Banned from Warrior Forum!

banned from warrior forum

Okay, I have a confession to make: I haven’t been banned from Warrior Forum, though I was racing like a lemming on a rocket sled in that direction. But “Why I Don’t Post on Warrior Forum Anymore” just didn’t have the same attention-grabbing pizzazz. Think of this article’s title as my tribute to the rectitude of the saintly folk who promote their invaluable products/services on that forum and would rather floss their teeth with a hair from a truck driver’s armpit than tell a fib.

For those who don’t know, Warrior Forum is the Net’s biggest and most popular online marketing community. If that has kind of an impressive ring to it, you probably haven’t had much to do with online marketers. Now, I’m not about to suggest that online marketers are in the main a dishonest, disreputable, and thoroughly worthless bunch. Well, actually I am. Although I’m sure there are some sterling individuals among them. Just as I’m sure there are Nigerian 419 scammers who don’t want to divest you of your life savings.

Into the Marketing Maelstrom

I became a member of Warrior Forum a couple of years ago to promote a now deceased blog of mine but had only made a handful of posts there until earlier this year when I began to haunt the Off Topic Forum to drum up business for my content writing service. Warrior Forum lets you include up to five links in your signature, so every time you make a post, you add a backlink or five to your growing collection of them. The reason I chose to make most of my posts in Off Topic is that I find discussions on marketing about as exciting as embroidery.

Warrior Forum comprises a swag of different sections, including, not surprisingly, an Internet marketing discussion forum, Warrior “Special” Offers—I put Special in quotes because they’re anything but—and a copywriting forum, where you can learn how to transmute a dog turd into a Faberge Egg through the power of the written word and a garish assortment of fonts.

The Main Internet Marketing Discussion Forum is Warrior Forum’s best section and the place to go if you have a question about online marketing. What a pity the rest of the forum reeks like an anchovy with a bladder infection.

The Copywriting Forum is Warrior’s most on the nose department. There is more ego per square inch in this section than in Justin Bieber’s dressing room. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe the copywriters and the copywriter wannabes who hang out there consider their craft an important one. Why, sure it is. After the apocalypse, people won’t be running to doctors, builders, or martial arts savvy mercenaries to make life tolerable for them, they’ll be running to copywriters. While it’s true that copywriters can make serious money, so can pimps and drug pushers and they don’t tell anywhere near as many pork pies.

The Warrior Special Offers Forum is where for a $20 love offering to PayPal entrepreneurial guns can flog their surefire methods to generate aggressive streams of passive income at a discounted price. (Why should idiots pay top dollar?) What beats me is how come nobody ever stops to ask why these “special” offers are being offered in the first place? I mean if I came up with a way to get rich online, I’d want to keep it a secret so I’d make all of the money. Yet we’re supposed to believe that these marketing geniuses are so overcome with altruism they’d rather headbutt a swinging wrecker’s ball than not share the wealth with their fellow man. Of course what these purveyors of center-formatted jetsam have come to realize, and hope you haven’t, is that there’s more money to be made from the dream than there is from the reality.

The Old Kids on the Block

As previously mentioned, Off Topic was my forum of choice, though that shouldn’t be considered an endorsement of Off Topic. That would be like endorsing scabies. When I posted there just about every thread would be hijacked by a witless clique of aging lotharios and post-menopausal women looking for that one last fling before romantic oblivion came to take them all away. Getting a Brazilian from a blind guy with a weed whacker would have been less painful than reading their excruciating badinage. Considering that Warrior Forum has outlawed discussions on race, religion, and politics, why on earth couldn’t it apply the same Orwellian censorship to this lot or just ban them for being so bloody irritating?

I wasn’t all that welcomed in Off Topic, because I have strong opinions and an often acerbic way of delivering them—as if you hadn’t already noticed. Newbies at Warrior Forum aren’t supposed to have their own opinions, anyway. They’re supposed to have the opinions of the veteran members. Some of these veteran members have made 1000-plus posts on Warrior Forum, which on the time-squandering scale is right up there with collecting Paris Hilton memorabilia and shuffling along city streets in filthy clothes, babbling incoherently.

You Can’t Ban Me, I Quit!

My downfall at Warrior Forum began as a result of a thread I started on bad English grammar. I should have known such an inexcusable topic would backfire on me, seeing that a guy had already been burned at the stake for starting a thread in which he had the temerity to ask forum members about their education level. My inspiration for this thread was all the sloppily written special offers in the WSO section. Many of these were supposed to have been composed by hotshot copywriters with years of experience behind them, yet were rife with grammatical and punctuation errors. Presumably proper English usage must only be an elective at copywriting school.

Online marketing pundits recommend that text written for the Web should be crammed into short sentences and

run down the

page like this so

you can get to the

end of the text quicker if

you don’t die of boredom first.

They also recommend that you pepper your text with images, so your readers—well, skimmers really—won’t be deeply hurt and offended by the presence of too many multi-line paragraphs in a row.

I elected to buck this brain cell-killing trend by posting one long paragraph. A detractor described it as a wall of text, a minor criticism I would have normally forgiven if it wasn’t for the fact that he began his post with “um.” If including mindless verbal pauses in posts is the shape of things to come, it won’t be long before stutterers post with a stutter, and people with Tourettes insert expletives randomly in their posts. Another detractor, a fellow Aussie content writer, took the opportunity the thread presented him to gripe about all the “ar**holes” who don’t appreciate the boo-boo-laden articles he writes for them. Well, I’m sorry, mate, but I happen to go along with the ar**holes on this one. Bone up on how to write properly or find alternative employment.

My main opposition came from a Warrior Forum superstar whose sole claim to fame, as far as I can determine, is that he’s published an online marketing newsletter since 1996. Maybe that’s something of an achievement in the online marketing world, but I couldn’t help but think of a pornographer accepting an award for the best bukkake video when I read about it. The bumptious fellow posted a link to a gaspingly tedious article he’d slapped together in which he likened a pedantic former teacher and by extension yours truly to a—wait for it—wombat. Why he chose a wombat as a metaphor is a question I don’t have the intellectual capacity to answer. Perhaps it’s like that bizarre gardening accident in This Is Spinal Tap, a mystery best left unsolved.

I responded to these sundry critics in a surprisingly polite fashion for me. I wish I hadn’t. I wished I’d rained simile-rich invective upon their unwashed bonces, but in the back of my mind was this faint hope that I could still gain some clients through the forum and thus refrained from opening up the heavens. The irony is that for all of the time I spent on that colossal waste of web code, I received only one enquiry about my services. When I informed the enquirer that I charged 10 cents per word, he or she ran screaming. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Although I’ve forsaken Warrior Forum, Warrior Forum, bless its precious heart, hasn’t forsaken me. Every day my email’s inbox overflows with Warrior Special Offers. That’s what I get for being stupid enough to include my email address in my forum profile. I tried to change it to upyourswsospammers@mail.com to stem the tide but no dice. Perhaps it’s just as well. By my reckoning I could be making in the region of $158,000.00 per day if I purchased all of them. With subject headings like “You’ve Got Cash,” “You Have a New Commission Payment,” and “re: $500 Bank Transfer Successful,” I’d be crazy not to.

The Top 5 Habits of Bad Salespeople

bad salesperson

You walk into a store to buy a certain product. All you have to do is find it, take it to the sales counter, and pay for the thing. You already know that the store has plenty of them in stock and at a good price, but you end up storming out of the place without it.

What went wrong?

You encountered a salesperson who was so teeth-gnashingly bad you decided you’d rather go skinny dipping in molten lava than hand over your dosh to a store that would hire somebody like that.

This is an all too common experience for retail customers, since good salespeople, the kind that make you come away from a store wanting to go back there, are as rare as a cross-eyed tightrope walker.

So why do so many salespeople suck at selling? The answer is they’ve embraced most if not all of these lamentable habits.

1. Rudeness

This is numero uno because it’s so prevalent in the retail industry. You ask a salesperson a question about a product and he reacts as if you’d just backed over his mother in a truck. Alternatively he responds to your query as if he were granting you the world’s biggest favor, one that will cost him an arm and a leg and his large intestine. Either way, rude salespeople are great for sales, low sales.

2. Lack of Product Knowledge

You want to know what kind of RAM the computer has or how much power the 60-inch plasma TV consumes or whether the patchwork quilt comes in king-size. But the salesperson can’t answer your question and is about as keen as a slumbering sloth to find out for you. So you take your business to a store where the staff have a wealth of product knowledge and are happy to impart it. If you can actually find such a store.

3. Giving Priority to Customers on the Phone

You’re standing in line at a sales counter, the product you came to purchase in one hand, cash money in the other. Just as you go to the front of the line a phone rings, and the salesperson who was about to serve you takes the call. She then flits about the store in search of the item the caller is enquiring about. Having finally located it, she tells the caller that the store has it in stock and how much it is. But the caller doesn’t want to buy the item. He was just shopping for the best price. So, after several wasted minutes, the salesperson gets around to serving you. Well, the person who was standing behind you, anyway, since you fumed out of the store long ago, praying for fire from heaven to rain down on the bleeping joint.

Why a telephone enquiry trumps somebody physically present in a store, ready to furnish legal tender for a product, is a deep, dark mystery that only retail management can solve.

4. Dishonesty

It’s a trait often found in used car salesmen and other salespeople who get a hefty commission for flogging big-ticket items. But even salespeople who get little or no commission have been known to speak an untruth or two. Their philosophy is that if they need to tell a pork pie to get the sale, then tell a pork pie they shall. After all, where would the economy be without sales staff spouting whoppers to get consumers to buy stuff they probably don’t really want, much less need?

Dishonesty, however, has a deadly enemy: word of mouth. When you learn that a salesperson lied to you about a product, you don’t keep his villainy a secret, do you? No, you tell friends, family, and Facebook all about it. They too spread the word until hundreds, maybe even thousands, of consumers know to avoid the establishment where he plies his chicanery, avoid it like episodes of that 2013 Ironside remake.

The negative snowball effect of saying anything at all in order to get a sale is grossly underestimated by the retail industry. Silly fools.

5. Upselling

Having done your due diligence, you know what product you want to buy, right down to the make and model, but the salesperson is hell-bent on talking you into buying a different and, funnily enough, costlier model. The trouble is you don’t want it. You want the specific model you came to buy and only that model. But the salesperson does such a sterling job of bad-mouthing it that you leave the store empty handed.

Salespeople upsell, i.e. try to get you to buy a more expensive product, because they’ve been told to by store management or because they want to make more commission. Regardless, upselling is an annoying practice that, if anything, decreases sales while increasing customer dissatisfaction. It’s the retail equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot — with a rocket grenade.