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Showing posts from July, 2007

Wax & Wane


You’ll recall that Our Planet Earth has a natural satellite that we insist on calling the Moon.

Here are some fun facts about the distance of the Moon from Planet Earth.

perigee (closest): 363,000 km
semimajor axis (mean distance): 384,400 km.
apogee (farthest): 406,000 km
So when someone does the hackneyed line about there being so many people in Beijing/Tokyo/Mexico City (et cetera) that if they stood on each others shoulders they could reach from here to the Moon, ask that person to clarify whether they mean the Moon at perigee or apogee. As you can see, it makes a difference.

Elevate the Insignificant,

Mr Trivia

My Dream Job #2


This one doesn’t need too much setting up. My new dream job is to be a pianist in a piano bar a-la Billy Joel. I need to do several things to make it happen. Learn the piano and travel into the past; legend has it that Billy Joel was avoiding a bad record deal when he was playing in that famous Los Angeles piano bar under the name Billy Martin. I don’t need to copy that, my problems with the Australian Tax Office will probably suffice.

So, I’m headed straight for La La Land in ’73, ’74 or ’75. I’ve got a scorching set list planned. Obviously, I have quite a lot of Scott Joplin via Marvin Hamlisch (The Entertainer, natch) in mind, some Grace Jones covers, Lynyrd Skynyrd (Free Bird?) and a whole buttload of Roberta Flack.

Obviously Joel’s mega-smash hit Piano Man is the inspiration. I am particularly taken with this line, “They sit at the bar and put bread in my jar and say, man, what are you doing here?” My answer would vary, from the glib, “I’m changing the world one ke…

Golf Wit


Sarcasm is often cited as the lowest form of wit. But only by really “smart” people who we all think are “sooo cool” and “funny”. You get what I’m doing here, right? The quote marks, indicate an ironic reading and therefore a sarcastic tone…

Don’t leave me hanging.

However the highest form of wit is less frequently name-checked and that’s because it’s the golfing cartoon. Or that’s what we’re saying here at The Tract, today.

Some fine examples of this art are the golfing toons of Mr Bob Zahn. His work can be seen and even purchased at the website Below is an hilarious example which I chose because it combined an office scenario with a golfing gag.

I, too, often feel the call of the links when I am in my office working on the Petersen account, back in the early 1960s. I commute through time to get to work.. More on this soon. Anyhoo, I can relate big time. This ‘toon touches the very soul of my marrow.

Behold one of many Zany Zahn Zingers.

Golfing Humour …

The Roar of the Greasepaint


At the risk of repeating myself, no one has been a bigger supporter of Cirque du Soleil than me; except possibly Ban ki-Moon Secretary General of the United Nations. The idea of combining terrific physical feats with brilliant set design and bringing it altogether with over-produced pretentious music and ludicrous new-age-y, arty posturing is one that will mark these early years of the 21st century as silvern indeed.

As Cirque du Soleil Founder and CEO, Guy Laliberte says,
“Today we still dream of enriching the lives of all those who cross our path through our actions and our creativity. We also dream of imbuing our new projects with the energy and inspiration that are the essence of our shows. And we want to help young people express their dreams … and make them come true."There are many different forms of the Cirque du Soleil now. There are arena shows like Delirium and the revamped Saltambanco and there are the resident shows you can catch up with in Vegas like Z…

Embrace Your Inner Muppet

Zeitgeisters, Bert (below right) and Ernie of Sesame Street. You gotta love them. For many of us this was the first comedy duo we ever saw perform. When I was six years old these two were my Martin and Lewis, Abbott and Costello, Morecambe and Wise.

Ernie was my favourite, naturally. I couldn’t understand why Bert was always trying to spoil Ernie’s fun. Ernie had energy, liked a laugh and knew how to enjoy life. Bert was a good guy, but he had an authoritarian bent.

I was tidying up around the house yesterday and I turned up a miniature Ernie Plushie that I bought a couple of years back. He’s something like the one pictured, but mine looks a little sadder and in need of some help from a charitable organization.

I picked up charity case Ernie and was working out where to place him (on top of the fridge? Computer?) when I had an epiphany. I realised that I had shifted from identifying with Ernie in my youth to being someone who embodies more of the qualities of Bert in my adulthood.

I a…

Guided By Voices

Zeitgeisters, it’s a given that I can’t do voices. At no point in my life has someone ever said to me, “Dude that is a spot-on impersonation of Terry Wogan (or Paulie Walnuts or Spongebob Squarepants). “ Because I have never got close to the timbre and nuance of a vocal impression. I am much like Kevin Costner in ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES (1991), in that neither of us has the slightest idea of how to maintain a convincing accent for even five minutes. (The similarities don’t stop there, both of us were international sex symbols from approximately 1983 to 1994. His career tanked there with the Wyatt Earp movie. Mine went down hill when I couldn’t raise the scratch to buy a Norgen-Vaaz franchise.)

Impersonations are a skill. It’s a technical thing, possibly akin to having a musical ear. Weirdly, impersonators are often lumped in with comedians, but only some of them are funny.

Getting the voice and some of the mannerisms right takes great observation and practise. And yet, its som…

From Hero to Zero


Need We Coke Zero? Want we the commercial? Where on the graph do need and want, meet? And What is Love Anyway? This is my way of saying that I don’t love or understand the Coke Zero commercial now found on television, cinema, iPods, and probably billboards in space.

Its all about mirroring, twin-ess, same-ness and yet different-ness. Guy in a black tie is dressed identically to his twin who has a red tie. Mr Red goes for the Coke Ordinaire, Mr Black goes for Coke Zero. There’s drinking, St Vitus Style shaking and much talking in tongues whilst remixed, mashed-up. 80s-esque beats pump out to a green-screen light show. Much like the fever dream of a six-year-old wired on something – say a caffeine-based sugary drink – and who’s spent a little too much time watching the EQ meter on dad’s stereo with defocused eyes.

Coke Zero it’s like the same, but different. Why didn’t they just pay Kate Winslett to say that whilst standing in front of the British Houses of Parliament? Tha…