Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

Explaining Fred Basset

Saturday, 10 December, 2016

My work gets daily newspaper deliveries, and at afternoon tea break some of us like to flip to the puzzles page to try to solve today’s Target (a nine-letter word polygon puzzle). On the facing page is the comics section, which contains a typical selection of daily newspaper comics: Calvin and Hobbes, Hagar the Horrible, Garfield, Snake, Phantom, and… the venerable Fred Basset. Some of these comics are occasionally funny (well, except Phantom, which is a serialised drama) – except Fred Basset. It’s just an endless stream of what look like attempts to make a gag, but which consistently fail to deliver any sort of punchline.

So we started discussing making a blog to explain why each Fred Basset strip is actually hilariously funny, even if you, the average naive reader, don’t realise it. We’ve been discussing this for a while, and given the most recent strip, I finally decided to give it a go. So here goes:

Fred Basset 2016-12-09

This is a typical Fred Basset strip. Seemingly nothing funny, or even slightly amusing on the surface. It in fact looks like a tired retread of a “joke” that Garfield has been perpetrating for decades: animal is lazy. Ha ha.

But no, to reach this conclusion and go no further is to miss the tragic underpinning of true comedy embodied by this simple set of three panels. The titular Fred is old. He’s been doing this routine of getting up out of his comfortable bed every day for … more years than a simple dog can count. His mortality weighs heavily on his weary bones, and in his heart he knows his days are numbered.

Today, he is lucky enough to get up out of this bed once again. But Fred knows there is a good chance that this is the last day he will ever get up. The first panel is the slowly dawning realisation that he is still on this mortal coil – a realisation made thus slow by his fading mental capacities. It takes a full beat panel in the middle for him to come to terms with the fact that his eternal rest will require at least one more day of struggle against the inanities of his life, in a middle class London home with a similarly ageing couple of humans who never do anything to make his life more interesting or amusing.

In the final panel we get the double whammy of the punchline. “But not quite running!” As if Fred, with his arthritic legs and reduced lung capacity, could run anywhere any more. The fading memory of running brings to mind young days as a puppy spent frolicking in sunny fields of a never-ending summer – yet we all know that summer ends, and with it comes autumn, and twilight. Winter is coming, Fred, and you know it.

As his front paw touches that cold, hard, unfeeling linoleum floor, he feels the chill enter his body and penetrate to his osteoporotic bones. Running! Ha!

Yes, Fred, not quite… not quite. And therein lies the true humour. Dark, enfolding its ever-reaching, cold, black tendrils around the amusement centres of your soul. A creeping mist that reminds you of your own impending doom, but then laughs it off as the mere follies of a dog with human thoughts. And so we laugh, for there is little else we can do, and go about our business.

Facebook makes change that everyone likes

Saturday, 11 January, 2014

Social media giant Facebook has rolled out a change to how its newsfeed and sharing system works and, in a surprising development, users actually seem to like it. Several “share this if you like the Facebook changes” memes have popped up and spread widely across the social network. Bloggers are generally very positive in their comments about the change, and it’s hard to find anyone saying anything negative.

“I really like it,” says tech blogger Howard Freeman. “The UI change is clean and intuitive, it’s easier to find the stuff you want to see, and it just plain looks nicer. I’m seeing exactly what I want in the newsfeed, and my posts are being shared with exactly who I want to see them. I was skeptical at first, but they’ve really nailed it this time.”

Privacy groups went over the changes with a fine tooth comb. “We expected to see ridiculous opt-out changes that seriously impacted your ability to control who sees information about you,” says EFF spokesperson Wendy Smith. “Instead they made changes that even the most casual users were well-informed about and realised were exactly what they wanted. More control, more options, and it’s trivially easy to adjust the settings – although honestly, they’ve automatically changed to a setting which is exactly what every user wanted. It’s a big win for everyone who uses Facebook.”

Facebook programmer Cody Williams was taken aback by the response when the changes were rolled out this week. “We expected people to rant against these changes, start boycotts, and all that sort of stuff. I like the changes myself, but I can see that changing what people are comfortable with can cause some difficulties. I thought users would complain about the way all the controls moved around, the completely different menu system, the comment system, and the new graphic design. However, reaction seems to be good – everyone I’ve heard from appreciates the same improvements that I do.”

Even hard-core tech critic Samantha Bourne struggled to find anything to criticise in the changes. “Look, I think that thin line under the new menu bar is just a shade too blue. That’s all I have to say. Excuse me, I need to share something with my Facebook contacts.”

Aussie humour

Thursday, 6 December, 2012

This is why the Australian sense of humour beats anything the rest of the world can produce. This is our actual Prime Minister. Fair dinkum.

The Intern Menace

Thursday, 19 January, 2012

Spent a fun lunchtime today with our group of a dozen or so summer interns at work, helping Andrew S. show them how to swede a movie. We’re running a short film competition for the interns, with fabulous prizes for the best film. The idea is to get them to use cool Canon equipment and have some fun.

So today we gave them a lesson in how to make a short film. And to do so, we recreated Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. From the collective memory of the interns (without help from Andrew and me, and without any reference to a script or other material). And we shot the whole thing in one lunchtime.

We did a total of 16 scenes. Jar Jar died in the third scene. Palpatine became President of the Galaxy by winning a “Ben Hur” race, when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s ship crashed into R2-D2 just before the finish line. But the people weren’t happy and attacked Palpatine in a mass fight scene. And in the final scene, Jar Jar came back to life, but Qui-Gon and Mace Windu killed him again.

We filmed it on the lawn in front of our building. Several onlookers were eating lunch nearby – I hope we kept them entertained!

Muppets

Tuesday, 20 December, 2011

After Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and Gonzo, who is the next most important/significant Muppet?

I’m assuming this is somebody’s sense of humour…

Saturday, 21 May, 2011

Rapture: Wikipedia page on 21 May, 2011