Friday, August 29, 2014

What in the world is happening?

One of my favourite music albums of all time is the late great Motown legend, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s going on”.  As a teenager obsessed and in awe with the Detroit sound and artist base, Gaye’s lyrics hit me between the shoulder blades and their effect hasn't minimised over the years.
Barely a day goes by when his lyrics are not activated in my thinking by news of yet another war.

Mother, mother
There's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today – Ya

Father, father
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what's going on
What's going on
Ya, what's going on
Ah, what's going on

In the mean time
Right on, baby
Right on
Right on

Father, father, everybody thinks we're wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply because our hair is long
Oh, you know we've got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me
So you can see
What's going on
Ya, what's going on
Tell me what's going on
I'll tell you what's going on - Uh
Right on baby
Right on baby

Despite the millions of lives taken throughout the world, humanity has learned little from it. 

Regardless of one’s personal stance regarding war or ones political persuasion, we are engulfed by it, at an unprecedented level in world history. Half of Syria’s population (3 million) is now currently displaced. Refugees wander from nation to nation and the aggressors claim no geographical sovereignty, but a religious superiority, beholden and responsible to no governement 

We live in an age when ones freedom to live is being eroded by the faceless act of terrorism. It discriminates against all humanity, all races and all creeds. It has respect for no life, not even their own. The boundaries of nationalism have no bearing, neither do international laws. Everyone of us, are is in this together and to quote ― Edmund Burke  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Statistics from July 2014, confirm that conflicts around the world change daily, and are on the increase with each year. Whilst there is a common denominator in almost ALL of these conflicts, the media rarely reports it. I believe we have a responsibility to arrive at an informed decision.

It is hard to define WAR, as it is difficult to determine what constitutes one. Is it the number of casualties, deaths, damage, time and duration, geography or semantics? Below is a list of present conflicts, (not including today’s news reel).

WARS (1000+ battle-related deaths in year):
D.R. Congo
South Sudan

SERIOUS ARMED CONFLICTS (200-999+ battle-deaths in year)
Central African Republic
The Philippines

OTHER ARMED CONFLICTS (fewer than 200 battle-deaths in year)
D.R. Congo (Katanga, in addition to conflict listed above)
Ethiopia (2 conflicts)
India (2 others in addition to Maoist conflict listed above)
Burma (Myanmar) (3 conflicts)
Pakistan (Balochistan, in addition to conflict listed above)
Philippines (second armed group in addition to the conflict listed above)
United States (global war on terror)

Father, father, everybody thinks we're wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply because our hair is long
Oh, you know we've got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No Pun In Ten Did - History of The Pun

No Pun In Ten Did - History of The Pun:

The play on words is probably a child’s first venture into humour. We have all laughed at our children as they inappropriately or incorrectly, use words in their attempts to learn sentences and communicate. Often the ways things are said are funnier than the actual words used.
I grew up surrounded by such humour and it has always provided me with great amusement.  Such stars as: Hylda Baker, Jimmy Jewel, Arthur Mullard, Bernard Manning, Tommy Cooper, Ken Dodd. Bruce Forsythe, Charlie Williams and television programmes such as, Wheel tappers andshunters club, Open all hours, Last of the summer wine, Some mothers do have em, It aint half hot mum, The comedians Fawlty towers etc; have brought many a tear to my eyes.
I recall many years ago, travelling to Batley Variety Club to watch Tommy Cooper perform. I met the giant of a man outside the venue, climbing out of his Rolls Royce with the car rego TC1. Just his presence made one laugh. Even being serious, he was funny as his stage presence was guaranteed to warm the coldest heart. Part of his act was juggling rubber balls, which he never ever successfully completed. I recall he was at pains to impress on the crowd that he couldn't juggle. “People don’t believe me you know, I just can’t juggle.”  The more he explained, the more the crowd laughed, and the worse his attempts became. I think in our efforts to sophisticate humour we lose the intent. Mr Bean, (perhaps the modern day equivalent), continues to prove that we take great delight in the vulnerability of others. In a world gone mad over political correctness, and an over sensitivity to the rights of others, it’s almost a crime to laugh at the unfortunate state of another, almost!

A blind bloke walks into a shop with a guide dog. He picks the Dog up and starts swinging it around his head. Alarmed, a shop assistant calls out: 'Can I help, sir?' 'No thanks,' says the blind bloke. 'Just looking.' Tommy Cooper

I had a dream last night I was eating a ten pound marsh mellow. When I woke up the pillar had gone. 
Tommy Cooper

So I rang up a local building firm, I said 'I want a skip outside my house.' He said 'I'm not stopping you.' Tommy Cooper

A woman tells her doctor, 'I've got a bad back.' The doctor says, 'It's old age.' The woman says, 'I want a second opinion.' The doctor says: 'Okay - you're ugly as well.'  Tommy Cooper
Some years ago, I worked for an outside catering company (which shall remain nameless). At the end of one day, we were carrying food back from a function into the kitchen from the trucks. One of the chefs threw a raw egg at another. The target, in return threw a piece of black forest gateaux, which resulted in twenty minutes of pure mayhem as food of all sorts whistled overhead, hit windows, cars, walls, chefs, waiters and passers-by. I can’t recall ever being so incapacitated by tears of laughter since that day. It was like the old keystone cops, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, and Three Stooges all rolled into one event. Four staff was fired over the event, but I was off like a skinny hogget before the bosses turned up. For months after, the dried egg shells and food imprints, adorned the loading dock walls, and I couldn’t park beside it without bursting into laughter as I recalled every missile thrown, and every target hit.
Words can be nearly as much fun as a well landed pie in the face. In the hands (or mouth) of the right individual, with an appropriately timed delivery, humour can lighten our day and turn a frown into a smile.  I recently sent ten different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh.  Unfortunately, no pun in ten did.  
The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play that suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect.[1][2] These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of homophonic, homographic, metonymic, or metaphorical language. A pun differs from a malapropism in that a malapropism uses an incorrect expression that alludes to another (usually correct) expression, but a pun uses a correct expression that alludes to another (sometimes correct but more often absurdly humorous) expression. Henri Bergson defined a pun as a sentence or utterance in which "the same sentence appears to offer two independent meanings, but it is only an appearance; in reality there are two different sentences made up of different words, but claiming to be one and the same because both have the same sound".[3] Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic constructions, given that their usage and meaning are entirely local to a particular language and its culture. For example, "Camping is intense." (in tents)
Puns are used to create humor and sometimes require a large vocabulary to understand. Puns have long been used by comedy writers, such as William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and George Carlin. The Roman playwright Plautus is famous for his tendency to make up and change the meaning of words to create puns in Latin.
Puns make one think, it also gets the grey matter working, for in order to understand the punch line, one has to associate the phrase with another instance of similar usage. I am not sure if languages other than English can share the same complexity, but for those able to get the subtle nuances and elements of word play, it can be hilarious. I tried implementing some instances into English language classes and failed miserably. The only one laughing was me.
So without further ado, here is a collection of my favourite puns which I hope bring a smile to your face.
The late great Tommy Cooper

Well, my wife and I were married in a toilet - it was a marriage of convenience!

You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said 'Parking Fine.'

Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off.

 So he said 'I'm going to chop off the bottom of one of your trouser legs and put it in a library.' I thought 'That's a turn-up for the books.'

Mixed puns:

A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.
Dijon vu – the same mustard as before.
Shotgun wedding: A case of wife or death.
A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead giveaway.)
She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off.
With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.

The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

Local Area Network in Australia : the LAN down under.

Every calendar's days are numbered.

A lot of money is tainted – It taint yours and it taint mine.

A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.
Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
Once you've seen one shopping centre, you've seen a mall.
Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.

Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.

Acupuncture is a jab well done. 
I've accidentally swallowed some Scrabble tiles. My next crap could spell disaster

To the guy who invented Zero: Thanks for nothing!

The person who invented the door knock won the No-bell prize.

I couldn't work out how to fasten my seatbelt. Then it clicked.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Heroes and Villains

Heroes and villains -

Live life long enough and one is guaranteed to experience the disappointment of being let down and personal disillusionment. I can confidently say that people (from all walks of life) will let you down, as they have done me, but none hurt more than those to whom you have once heralded as a hero.

“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”  Florence Nightingale

Our lives are intrinsically linked to role models, peer pressure and authority figures from our earliest days. It’s as much a part of life as the air we breathe.  For most of us, these experiences serve to strengthen our character, melding ones view of the world. From an early age, I was drawn to idols of screen and TV. The lone ranger, Batman, Superman, The man from UNCLE , Simon Templar, Bobby Moore and a whole host of pop stars and sportsmen.

“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”  Brodi Ashton, Everneath

Those heady years of school provided more challenging role models; as It’s one thing viewing heroes from a distance and yet another standing face to face with them on a daily basis, (where the flaws and cracks are seen and felt personally).  Admiring someone from a secure vantage creates a false perspective, and in reality the truth can be quite shattering.
Barely a week passes by without news of yet another high profile icon being disgraced. Celebrities, politicians, world leaders, sports stars, financiers, bankers etc. The list increases and with it the gap between tolerable and intolerability shortens to become the norm.  Humanity desires a hero and in the absence of such (historically), will fashion its own, albeit with feet of clay. 

“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”  Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

So why do heroes let us down?

  • Unrealistic expectation

The moment we deify an individual to superhuman status, we place an unrealistic expectation on the person and the outcome. Having trust in an individual is very different from superimposing ones expectation upon them. Projecting ones hopes onto an unrealistic outcome is fraught with challenges, and those challenges are likely to disappoint.

  •  Gift Blinded

Talents and gifts are no indication of an individual’s character and integrity. I admire talented people and actively support the arts, but I don’t seek life counsel or advice on my car from a singer. As a public speaker and life coach, I well understand the influence that a microphone can bring to an individual or crowd. Its seems that these days “celebrity” turns a talented trades person into “a subject matter expert” on almost every conceivable subject known to man. Appreciate and encourage the talent, but keep things in perspective.

“Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.”  John C. Maxwell

  • False Perspective

As a youth growing up in the club scene, we used the term “beer goggles”, to describe the heady influence that alcohol had on ones view of the world. The louder the music, darker the lights and the more we drank, the more attractive the clubbers got. Waking up the next day would often bring us down to reality. Group dynamics have a way of creating confidence in individuals, and fanaticism often ensues creating impulsive responses that seem like confidence, but in real terms is an emotional response that can create an untrue perspective.

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”  Wayne W. Dyer

  • Transference

As a pastor, I am often in the situation where an individual has placed an incredible trust in me, by sharing personal and often confidential information. The expectation placed on me is quite sobering and requires clear communication as to the nature of the support and individual responsibility we jointly share. Placing an un-announced expectation on someone else creates a relationship based on the wrong foundations. Because we are able to help people through a crisis, does not make us superhuman or a hero. I stand in the gap on behalf of people, but I am not their god.

  • Vulnerability

We are most open to influence at a point of crisis. Statistics show us that there are 5 stages in life where ones stress levels are highest.  

·         Death of a loved one
·         Divorce
·         Moving
·         Majour illness
·         Job loss

It’s at these phases in life that con-men ply their trade and become most active. Some years ago, I recall a parishioner telling me of being bombarded by visits to the house and phone calls by complete strangers trying to sell her some measure of stability and comfort. These “chancers” had seen the death notices and saw it as an opportunity to pounce. They smelled vulnerability and moved in for the kill.

“Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.”  Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

It’s at times of vulnerability that a simple individual can appear like a hero. Whilst we may well appear as a superhero to someone at some point in our lives, were not! We are merely individuals with an opportunity to help someone in need. Heroes at some point will let us down and become villains.

“All heroes are shadows of Christ”  John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life

Romans 15:1-2 we who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbour for his good, to build him up.